November 8, 2023
Today, I want to take you right back to the beginning of my own online course journey by sharing about my very first online course launch in 2016 (a $6K+ launch with a tiny email list of less than 300!).
This is a part of a series on my podcast called The Launch Files, where I share and analyse online course launch stories – the good, the bad, the flops, and the successes! My hope is that these BTS looks at online course launches (my own, my clients’ and other course creators’ launches too!) will help you truly understand the pieces that go into making a launch a success so you can apply the very best launch tips to make your own online course launches a success.
Want to hear extra nitty gritty details that I’m not sharing in this post? Tune in to the podcast episode here…
Otherwise, read on for the skinny!
I kicked off my online journey back in 2015/16 with a blog-style Instagram account (@sheislight for any of you OG readers!). In just a few months, I grew my following from 9,000 to 35,000+. From there, I launched a blog to have a deeper space to share more long-form content and value for my audience.
By having an engaged and excited readership coming from Instagram, I also grew my email list.
Meanwhile, I was also consuming as much online marketing information as I could! I would spend hours scouring Pinterest, exploring the depths of long-form blog posts, and learning all I could about the online course world.
One pivotal moment in this journey was when I was asked a crucial question: “What’s one thing people are asking you about that you could teach?” For me, that question pointed directly to Instagram, a topic I was deeply passionate about. So, I set out to create my very first online course, and I named it “Flourish on Instagram.”
During that initial launch, I was amazed to enrol seven paying students. What’s even more astonishing is that I only had a tiny email list of about 237 subscribers, and I hadn’t launched any digital products before. The conversion rate was around 3%, slightly above the average for a first-time launch.
Now, let’s dissect why this launch was a success and the key takeaways that can be applied to your online course business:
One of the reasons this launch succeeded was my genuine excitement about what I was creating. I look back at the emails I exchanged with people during that time, and I can still feel the enthusiasm and care I had for my audience. Being genuinely excited about your offering is crucial because it fuels your creativity and marketing efforts.
I had a small but highly engaged email list. To achieve this, I used a strategic lead magnet titled “5 Tips for Flourishing on Instagram.” Looking back, that title is SO vague. But at the time, in 2016, it worked. I organically grew an email list of 237 just from this one lead magnet.
While I’d recommend you be a LOT more specific with the transformation your lead magnet offers these days (vague simply won’t cut it anymore!), the takeaway is the same: an engaged list is vital to the success of any launch. You simply won’t have a successful launch without people who are bought in to the solution you’re going to provide them with.
I talked about the course before its launch, building anticipation among my audience. This approach helped generate excitement and interest.
I invited my audience to join me in the launch process. By asking about their challenges with Instagram, I engaged in meaningful conversations and directed them to the waitlist. I even created a VIP waitlist and incentivized potential customers with a checklist.
I had a very specific message addressing a particular audience: fellow bloggers. I addressed their problem, which was launching a blog to an engaged audience on Instagram. This highlights the importance of listening to your audience for both offer creation and messaging.
I shared my transformation story repeatedly, a crucial element for launching an online course, especially if you lack social proof. If you do have social proof, be sure to share that as well.
I launched the course with a live masterclass. Looking back, the masterclass’s name was a bit vague, but it’s essential to maintain consistency across your launch assets and make sure they naturally lead to your course.
One lesson I’ve learned over the years is the power of simple, low-lift launches. You don’t need to do everything to achieve great results. In the next episode, I’ll dive deeper into this and share how you can achieve five figures or more with a straightforward launch plan.
I hope you enjoyed this look back at my journey and found some valuable insights for your own online course business. Stay tuned for more insights and tips in upcoming episodes of The Launch Files on my podcast, the Expert Status Show.
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