How I Sold Out My First Online Course

When I first launched my blog, I had no idea I’d eventually find success through the creation of my own e-course.

It was November of 2015 and I’d hit the wall – fed up with spending what felt like mere minutes with my children each weeknight, working a job I less-than-loved, and only making $2.67/hr after daycare was factored out. It was enough.

So I launched ThriftyGuardian.com, a website dedicated to helping other parents learn to find the joy of freedom that life has to offer. It began as a way to share with others how I save money, manage my time, and “side hustle” (i.e. use sites like InboxDollars to make a few dollars each month).

As the site grew, though, I began to hear from readers that they wanted more; more information on how to better manage their time and a stronger hold on how to budget their finances.

Thus the creation of my first e-course “Life on a Budget” began and today I’d like to share with you how I sold out all 25 spots in the first six days (and did so without Facebook Ads!)

Step One to Creating a Profitable E-Course: Research

Prior to creating an e-course, the most important step is always the first: know your audience and what they want. If you’re not specific in who you’re trying to help with your course, you’ll flounder and flop. Do your research and take the time to figure out EXACTLY what results you’ll be providing your students.

There are many different ways to conduct market research, such as emailing your list or posting within Facebook groups, but one of the best ways is to simply check out Amazon.

Think of the books you’ve read while developing your knowledge of this niche and check out the reviews on Amazon. Note what people found to be incredibly helpful, what frustrated them, and what more they wanted from the author. I’ve found that when asking someone directly “What do you need?” they often struggle, but by perusing these reviews, you’re able to flesh out your research without putting anyone on the spot. People don’t always know what they need, and that’s where you come in.

Step Two to Creating a Profitable E-Course: Facebook Groups

When I launched my first e-course, I didn’t yet run my own Facebook group, so I had to really optimize my time spent in others. I created a calendar in Google Docs that helped me track which groups I was in and which allowed promos when. I then trimmed up the calendar to ensure I was only posting in four groups each day – any more than that and I struggled to engage (and there’s really no point in posting links within a group if you’re not willing to engage with others! No one likes a link-dropper!)

I also kept my Facebook profile private save for one public post – the post through which people could sign up to learn more about my e-course.

Step Three to Creating a Profitable E-Course: My “Small” E-mail List

Generally I do not recommend creating an e-course in the early stages of your business. Not only will your reach probably be lower than desirable, but an e-course is a LOT of work and if you see little ROI on it, you might burn out or feel inclined to quit.

Heh with that said, I didn’t have anyone like me telling me this a year ago. So I went for it and it paid off!

At the time I had an e-mail list of 117 people, but my open rate was about 40% and overall I had a pretty well engaged audience. Had this not been the case, I probably would’ve flopped. So keep this in mind as you begin to develop your own e-course – engage, engage, engage, prior to even thinking about making any sort of sale!

Step Four to Creating a Profitable E-Course: Actually create it!

Before you begin even thinking about pricing or marketing, you need decide on which platform you’ll run your course.

Options include:

  • Running it through your e-mail platform itself and hosting any videos you create through a site like Vimeo.
  • Having it directly on your website under a password-protected page.
  • Using an e-course platform, like Udemy or Teachable.

For my first course I went with Teachable and loved it! But the most important part is to keep in mind what will work for you and YOUR audience.

Step Five to Creating a Profitable E-Course: Offer free insight first

In the last year, I’ve since run four different e-courses (and am actually launching a new one TODAY on using Pinterest!) Any time I get ready for those launches, I do a number of things to first rouse my audience’s interest and get them excited about what’s to come.

  1. Facebook lives. I LIVE for Facebook lives. It’s such a great way to quickly connect and show my audience exactly who I am and what my teaching style is like.
  2. I e-mail my list a new freebie, something related to the course that’s immediately actionable and quickly consumable, like a checklist or template.
  3. I hold at least two free webinars. And if you’ve ever attended one of these, you know that these are ACTUAL trainings, not a long drawn out sales pitch. I fully believe in giving as much value as possible, knowing there is always more to share.
  4. I have the outline uploaded and ready to go, so that if anyone is interested in the course prior to my even launching it, then can see the exact modules and tutorials I’ll be offering.

And that’s it! Again, it is a LOT of work, more than any thousand-word article can cover, but it’s completely do-able and e-courses can be such an amazing way to make money. And if you ARE smart with your Pinterest strategy (as I cover in my latest course), you’ll be able to turn that course into nearly passive income by only having to spend about 30 minutes/week marketing via Pinterest to see income from your online course.

Have you taken an online course yet?

7 Comments

  • Beth Giusti Reply

    This post is amazing and inspiring! I’m at the point of really wanting to do more with this blogging thing and I’ve heard an e-course is the way to go. I love your information and I got a lot from it! I will be taking this and running with it ❤

  • Laurie Stone Reply

    Amber, I just put your blog on my favorite list. Its so helpful. I’ll be checking in regularly. I love the idea of an online course and have to admit, I never thought of that.

  • Sue Reply

    Hi Amber thanks for the tips. I have launched some free courses online but haven’t charged for them as yet. Maybe 2017 is the year.

  • Molly Stevens Reply

    You are a dynamo, Amber. Thank you for sharing your experience. I know your e-courses will be fantastic.

  • Terri WebsterSchrandt Reply

    Yes, e-courses are the way to go. Almost as popular as self-publishing eBooks! I also checked out udemy, but my time is a bit limited. Maybe this summer.

  • Stacey Reply

    Really great tips! I am amazed by these!

  • Jennifer Reply

    Great information, thanks for sharing your steps.

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