Yep, it sure does.
Now look, I know this blog post is going to ruffle some feathers and that's ok. Plus, the irony, doesn't escape me, after all, this is a blog... on the internet.
In my 10 years of online marketing and sales, I know enough to know that it "all" works. The difference being someone's ability to commit and follow through.
However, I'm coming at this with my own experience, because in today's world, with the barrier to entry being so low and with so many resources available to us (almost too much)...
The amount of people I see struggling and receiving bad advice is shocking... and it shouldn't have to be that way.
No list, no audience, from scratch.
The Blind Leading The Blind
If you google terms like:
- "How to sell a course,"
- "How to monetize a course," or
- "How to sell a course consistently"
You're going to find tons and tons of advice and instructions.
99% of it, is wrong.
This is why your course isn't selling, even though you're doing "all the right things."
The internet does a very good job of teaching us how to launch a course, but it does a terrible job at teaching us how to sell a course.
Why is this? Two reasons.
One: 99 of 100 sources and "experts" are just regurgitating content they found somewhere else.
They create aggregated posts that rank high or please the algorithm on whatever platform they deem worthy but haven't actually grown and monetized a course themselves or turned it into a sustainable business.
Two: Maybe they have built and sold a course, but they do it using tactics that don't work anymore (i.e. create content for social media, post inside of groups, follow a launch formula... etc)
Don't believe me? Let's take a look:
- Choose a subject that sells? This is solid advice when you're creating your course... not when you want to generate more sales.
- Create your online course? Well... it's already created... so now what?
- Choose where to host and sell your course? Again, great topic to think about during the creation process but we're still not talking about how to sell a course...
- Decide how much you will charge? Great, but we still aren't talking about sales...
- Increase the value (and price) of your course? People aren't buying it now...
- Seed launch your online course? We're still not talking about getting sales...
- Market and sell your online course? I'm sorry, we can't define the word with the word. Get more sales by selling? Yes I know, but how?
There are still 2 steps left but I'm not convinced it's worth my time if the first 7 haven't shown me how to sell a course. Great info for building a solid foundation, but not a whole lot when it comes to actually bringing in cash flow.
And this is coming from a reputable source that many course creators use to host and sell their course.
So, how DO you actually build, grow, and monetize a thriving business on the back of a course in 2022?
That is what I'm going to show you.
Profitable Paid Traffic Funnel (Build Your Email List, The Right Way)
It's all about the email list. That's it.
Because everything is better once you have a warm list.
If you want to:
- Sell a book
- Launch a podcast
- Do a challenge
- Offer group coaching
- Virtual Summits
- Sell products
They ALL work better when you have a warm list.
This isn't ground breaking news.
If you've been online for any period of time, there is someone, somewhere telling you to build a list.
After all, email has one of the highest ROI:
But again, how?
So many people end up creating a "lead magnet" and begin to tell their audience about it only to hear crickets.
Hardly anyone, if ever, signs up for it except for your close circle of friends and mom (Thanks mom!).
And when someone does, the question of "how do I get more sales" still isn't answered.
Many mistake this as a sign that they need to "work harder" and "do more" to build momentum.
So off they go creating MORE content or try jumping on the latest trend to get noticed.
Only to find out they have more likes, followers, and comments... but no email sign ups or sales.
Talk about burnout, or what I like to call... The Content Creation Hamster Wheel.
Creating content has it's place, but when you're trying to get your offer up and going, it should not be your priority.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have those who preach "launches."
With their launch formulas, elaborate sales sequences, "cool" 30-step email automations, and endless video sales letters...
Not to mention all of the testimonials that rave about their "unique method" or "process" working.
I see many course creators, who are just starting out, and buy into this idea. Only to find out that when they launch, 1 or 2 people bought their course.
When they ask what happened, people chalk it up as a win because "it's a step in the right direction" it's "learning" and "your next one is going to be better, keep going!"
In reality... it's frustrating.
Why doesn't this work?
Well they would... but again, if you had a warm list.
Here's the thing, no matter what strategy you want to run with, it's going to come down to do factors:
- Getting traffic and
- Converting that traffic.
It doesn't matter what tech you have, how your sales letter looks, all the email automations you have...
If you don't have traffic, no one is going to see your offer and if your offer can't convert, the traffic is going to go to your competitor.
So what you need is a process that allows you send traffic to an offer that converts.
This is also known as a "funnel."
Creating Content Or Launching, Is Not How You Sell A Course (Consistently)
Funnels get a bad rap despite them being pretty much everywhere.
Starbucks has a funnel, The Cheesecake Factory has a funnel...
Even if you create YouTube videos and send people to your affiliate links... that is a funnel.
Guess who else has a funnel? Successful course creators with steady sales.
A funnel is just a tool that allows you to build a list and generate sales.
Let's take a look at what a simple online sales funnel looks like:
In this funnel, people are being sent from a piece of content (ad, blog, IG post, etc) to a landing page.
The landing page serves as a way to collect a person's information, such as name and email.
Once they opt-in, they are redirected to a sales page with an offer.
If they click on the "buy now" button, they are taken to the checkout page where they can complete their purchase.
Here's the thing, with any tool, there is a right way and a wrong way to use one.
It's very common to go through a sales funnel that has upsell after upsell...
And even when you say no, they show you down-sell after down-sell.
If you're not familiar with these terms, these are additional offers you make after someone has already purchased.
Many people will claim that the more you offer, the more you make, and it makes sense logically, right?
Yet, despite what many claim and how much money they earn, this type of funnel ends up hurting you in the long run...
You're training your customers to say no and second guess their original purchase. That is no bueno.
It's not how you want to make a first impression. What you need is a simple funnel that allows you to convert traffic into customers.
Ad > Landing Page > Sales Page > Checkout Page > Upsell.
And this process works...
How They Generate $70K/Month In Course Sales
Let's take a look at Renegade Soccer Training - a company that sells online soccer training and one that I personally worked with from the ground up.
At first, they started posting all over social media and that got them no where.
Zip, Zero, Nada.
They had a course that wasn't selling at $300. It was a 90-Day soccer and fitness training program. They asked themselves "What can we take away to provide our market faster and easier results?"
So rather than create something new, they repurposed their offer in a way that better served their market.
They decided to take a few pieces out and create a shorter training program that could produce results in 30-days. Then from that smaller program, took a workout and decided to use it as a free offer to build their list.
They used Facebook Ads to send people to a landing page that advertised the free workout. As people joined their list, they would see an offer to buy a 30-day online soccer training program for $27.
Once they realized that this funnel was converting, they decided to add one upsell of $147.
That upsell was the original course they intended to sell in the beginning.
This simple sales funnel allowed them to build a list and generate customers at profit or as I like to say, "getting paid to generate customers."
Even better, they didn't have to spend time creating content or doing launches. Instead, they used content as a value-add but their primary focus was the sales funnel.
They didn't start with a huge budget either. With $50/day, if they made two sales, that was enough to cover the cost of ads.
Their sales funnel was the perfect vehicle to test their offer to people who have never heard of them. They could see if their copy, their offer, their messaging were all aligned with the market or not.
Because of that, they were able to build a sustainable business on the back of a low ticket offer. They were able to reach outside their circle of influence and build their list with actual people.
Now that they had a list, they would leverage this list to sell additional courses and products.
This is how they were able to generate up to $70K months in some cases and run a business 7 years after it has launched.
So What Do I Need To Do To Start Selling My Couse?
Let's talk about what you need to do right now to start getting more sales.
1. Be More Specific
In most cases, courses are very broad and generic which means that no one can identify themselves with your course.
They see it as a commodity and if your market sees your course as a commodity - something that is easily traded - it's not going to give them much hope that it's going to fix their problem.
Focus on what your market wants, not needs, and become painfully specific in who you serve and how.
Don't tell me that you help business owners get in shape... that's way too broad.
Get specific... what kind of business owners?
Don't just tell me that you help them those weight... what's the difference between you and the person down the street?
What is your unique approach? How do you get results, consistently?
Renegade Soccer Training went from "Helping Soccer Players Train Their Soccer Skills" to "We Help Soccer Players Play With More Confidence in 30 Days With Our Progressive Stacking System."
You can almost feel the difference. It's specific and it's unique.
2. Build Your List The Right Way
Forget about launches and creating content. Build a funnel instead.
Look at your course and ask yourself how you can repurpose it to better serve your market.
Maybe there is ONE module in your course that you know your market really wants more than the others.
Lead with that.
Can you turn that ONE module into a mini course? Something that can provide your market with a quick win and is highly valuable? A little mini course that can sell for under $50?
From that ONE module, can you remove ONE element and use that as a FREE lead magnet to attract prospects?
Look at what you have now and see how you can repurpose it before you create something new.
The idea is that you have a logical way to get people on your email list and present them with an offer that makes sense so that they say "Yes!"
- Think of your lead magnet as "How to Do It."
- Think of your sub $50 offer as "How to Do it Faster."
- Think of your upsell as "How to Do it With No Effort"
3. Control Your Traffic
Rather than hoping for someone to someday see your offer... you MUST take a more proactive approach to generating traffic.
Whether it's buying access to a list, Facebook Ad, Tik Tok ads, YouTube Ads, direct mail... you need to start with ONE platform before you move onto the others.
In my experience, the real benefit of paid traffic is that it allows you to test faster. Many people think that as soon as their sales funnel is up, they expect the sales to start flowing in. This is not the case.
The process is simple but not easy and paid ads allows you to get results faster.
If your messaging is off...
If your offer is off...
If your target market is off...
... you're going to find out faster using paid traffic. This allows you to adapt and pivot - faster.
Nothing is worse than spending 6 months creating content only to attract a customer that isn't the right fit.
As far as strategy, the first thing you want to do is make sure your funnel is actually working.
To do this, I recommend spending $100/day for about three days. This will give you a good idea of how well your landing page is converting and if you're getting buyers.
Once your funnel is working, you're going to want to plug some holes.
After the testing period, you can use this simple three step approach with your ad budget
- Create an ad that gives value to the market. This can be a blog or a video.
- Use a retargeting ad to invite those that engaged with your content to join your list by asking them to sign up for your lead magnet.
- Create another ad retargeting those that visited the landing page but did not opt in.
Simple as that.
This three step process will help plug up holes in your funnel and get more people onto your list. Not to mention, building goodwill in your market by putting out value first. This typically does not reduce the cost of your lead but significantly increase the quality of the lead you generate.
As far as budget, I recommend using a 7-2-1 split using the strategy above.
- 70% dedicated to promoting the high value blog or video
- 20% dedicated to retargeting those that engaged with content and sending them to your landing page.
- 10% dedicated to retargeting those that visited the landing page but did not sign up
4. Become Obsessed With Conversion Rate Optimization
This is probably one of the biggest hiccups I see with many course creators. They do no know their numbers or what numbers to even track for that matter.
As with anything, you need to track to optimize. So let's keep things simple. There are two numbers you need to understand:
- Average Order Value (AOV)
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
If you know that your AOV is greater than CAC, you're making money all day.
If AOV is equal to CAC, you're breaking even.
If AOV is less than CAC, you're losing money (sometimes, but this is a topic for another day).
What most do not realize is that you can figure out these numbers before you even launch your ads.
You can figure out numbers such as:
- Earnings Per Lead
- Cost Per Click
- Cost Per Lead
- Cost Per Purchase (CAC)
- Landing Page Conversion Rate
- Sales Page Conversion Rate
- Upsell Conversions Rate
These metrics, or KPI (Key Performance Indicators), tells you what numbers your paid ads need to hit to ensure profitability.
AND... exactly where in your process you need to optimize, once you start running ads.
Cost Per Leads is too expensive? That means that your landing page could use some work. Maybe a better headline or a different layout.
Is your upsell converting to low? Maybe a different hook is needed...
This is how you start to treat your course as a business and make better decisions.
Keep this mantra in mind: Track The Trend & Always Be Testing!!
5. Build A Profitable Feedback Loop
What does your market want? This is pretty challenging question to answer for most.
So instead of putting the pressure on you to answer, automate it!
One of the best ways to get MORE course sales is if you survey your list and update your offer with what your market actually wants.
Ideally, you have some sort of email welcome sequence. This can be as long as a 30-day sequence, a 7-day sequence or any other kind of combination.
Regardless, you want to include a survey in your welcome sequence.
A simple 6 to 8 question survey where you ask your market their biggest problems and challenges. As you build your list, you automatically get responses from the people that matter most.
Even better, you get the EXACT copy you need to improve your ads, your landing page, your sales page, and more. This one process, when set up correctly, can provide you with a goldmine of content for years.
- Email subject lines? Check
- Bonuses? Check
- Podcast Episodes? Check
- Post for Social Media? Check
- Future Products? Check
If you want to take this up a notch, you can personally respond to the surveys that come in and truly build up on that "Know, Like, & Trust Factor." (Your competitors won't do this because it's not scalable, but that's what'll set you apart)
If you want more course sales, nothing helps you more than understanding your customer.
This is the best way to do it.
Any Extra Tips For Selling A Course Online?
A big part of getting your sales funnel to convert is remembering that your sales message is an argument.
In order for you to have an argument, you can't just make claims left and right (unless you want to be salesy).
You need to have ONE solid idea or thesis and then educate your prospect to believe the same idea (which is why being specific is so important).
You may believe that what you have to offer is the next best thing since sliced bread, but is it?
- How do I know?
- How can you make me believe that it is?
You have to educate me.
So what information does your prospect need in order to believe your argument? Let's say that we're trying to sell services that help gym owners sell more memberships through Facebook ads. What does our sales copy need to have?
Well, we might start off with a section talking about if online advertising is even effective.
After all, they can do stuff for free, right?
Then we might have another section were we talk about how Facebook is better than some other platforms.
After all, if they are going to use paid traffic, Facebook isn't the only option. There is Google, YouTube, etc.
Then, before we make the ask, we have a section on how we have a unique process that provides the best results compared to anyone else who also does Facebook ads.
See where I'm going?
Now here's the thing, even if you have these sections on your sales page, they are still just claims...
Claims do not equal sales.
You want to make sure that for every claim you are making, you also have proof and benefit.
Proof adds substance to what you are claiming. But proof isn't enough, you also need to talk about the benefit. The transformation.
Keep this in mind: "Features Tell, Benefits Sell."
The transformation is what sells, not claims.
In your sales message, you want to have Claims, Proofs, and Benefits in order to educate them on a certain belief.
If you do it well enough, by the end of your argument, people are going to want more. This is what you want. At this point you are no longer asking for a sale, you're just taking orders.
Educate first. Then ask for the sell.
‘Wow! Where does this leave me? How do I know where to even begin as a someone who wants to sell their course?’
Always put your customer first and go above and beyond for them.
Your course does not have to be perfect, it doesn't need to have all the bells and whistles.
As long as you can produce results, that's all that matters.
You can always add, remove, change your course later with feedback from your customers. This is a great way to show them that you actually care (and they feel special that you took their advice).
Now if you want to go deeper than this article, then I invite you to sign up and watch my free masterclass on "How I Turned A $27 Online Course Into $660,000 In Less Than 2 Years, Without Burnout"
This is simply what worked for me and it'll probably help you too.
Remember, you need to be ultra-specific in who your course is for and how it actually helps. Stop chasing the big sales launches and stop creating 30 days worth of content if you are currently not generating sales. Don't play yourself.
Focus on the fundamentals and become focused on building your list and moving your business forward. The internet sucks at teaching you how to sell your online course. So don't rely on it. Instead, follow methods that have worked and continue to work.
Doing so will ensure that you have the best opportunity to build a sustainable business that allows you to live the lifestyle you want.
Thanks for reading this far!
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