How to Launch Your First Successful Online Course

5 min read

Are you interested in launching your own online course? If so, you're in luck! This blog post will teach you how to launch your first successful online course.

First, let's take a look at what you need to do before you even begin creating your course. Then, we'll discuss the different steps involved in creating and launching your course. Finally, we'll provide some tips for marketing your course and generating sales. So without further ado, let's get started!

How do I develop a launch strategy for my course?

For any kind of venture, using the right launch strategy can help you achieve your desired results. Now, remember, a strategy is not necessarily a fail-proof plan that you should follow to the T to achieve success. A good strategy is responsible and flexible to the various kinds of obstacles that may come your way.

Customers are a lot smarter about what courses they would choose to buy so in order to capture a discerning consumer, you first have to execute your launch in the best way possible.

This means not just writing a bunch of emails and making a few live streams and calling it a day (anyone make this mistake before). Those things are part of most strategies but aren’t structured and specific enough to actually make a launch.

So how do you launch a successful course?

There are two primary ways of launching a course. One is to sell your own course or to launch it as a partnership or joint venture. Selling your own course is the best option for new course creators because joint projects require building, fostering, and working with partnerships. While not impossible, it’s just simpler to launch one by yourself when you’re just starting out.

When choosing a launch plan, you have to consider where you are at as a course creator and what makes the most sense for the kind of audience base you may or may not already have.

  • You can launch a course with the help of affiliates or paid ads or grow your audience through your launch. This is a no-list launch strategy since you’re still working to build an audience base and is a great first-ever or phase one strategy.
  • If you already have an email list, then you can opt for a dial-in launch by marketing your course as an upcoming point of interest for your audience.
  • But if you already have a completed or moderately successful course, then you might need to look into a scale-up strategy to maintain a flux of learners into choosing your course.

Now that you’ve seen what potential launch strategies can look like, here are a couple of tips to determine when to start your launch and what you need in your launch for a successful course release.

When should you launch your course?

The short answer is that it doesn’t matter as long as you’re not launching around major holidays - like December, for example.

The long answer is up to where you’re at in course creation. Have you already sold coaching or consulting? Should you focus on scaling up?

If you’ve already started a coaching or consulting business, then your course is essentially able to write itself - you know exactly what your customers want, what they’re curious about, and what kinds of resistance they’ve had.

If you have worked on coaching clients, then launching your course can happen sooner than you think because you already have a database for potential first time students. This brings us to what are you going to need to actually launch the course?

What do you need to launch an online course?

So reviewing your absolute must-haves for having a successful course launch:

  1. A Plan
  2. A Strategy

Have a general target direction for your plan and an outline of the action items you need to execute a full strategy. A good strategy typically includes four stages:

  • Pre-launch. A pre-launch is like a preview - you showcase enough content to entice but not too much that would spoil the whole course.
  • Launch trigger. This is the opening day that you could mark with a special type of event that best suits your content and audience. Some examples include a live challenge, a series of webinars - anything that can communicate that your product is out.
  • Launch. The premiere where enrollments are finally open, and you’re doing what you can to talk to your people. You could be live streaming on your primary social platform, hosting a smaller promo for the first enrollees - anything to hype up your course’s first day out!
  • Post-launch. The work’s not done - after you launch your course, you’re going to continue to feed into the course by using the course itself to upsell your other offers. You start answering questions, supporting your student, and constantly working to improve your next launch and course.

Goal-setting around your course’s launch

Before we discuss deeper dives into those four stages, I want to take the time to quickly discuss goal-setting and picking your milestones for your launch.

First-time course creators might consider having a goal that’s like, “I want to make 10 sales on my first launch.”

That’s not a bad goal at all, but the tendency seems to be that whenever goals like that aren’t hit, people assume that their course is a flop and give up on the course entirely. Remember: creating and launching a course is a long-term investment. Like in any business venture, you also need to take the time to consider your worst-case scenarios.

What happens if you’re hitting a lower sales target on your first planned milestone? What if things didn’t work out during your launch? What’s your action plan if anything at any point goes down?

The simple answer is that you need to plan for all of it. Fortune favors the prepared as they always say.

Maybe set the expectation that 1-2 people will buy your course for the first time, but these first few students genuinely want to learn from you and can be the opportunity you need to get your course’s first feedback and testimonial. Value each and every student and never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.

Next, remember that an online course is an asset. You can sell it as many times as you want and can earn exponentially in the long run.

Launch assets you need to prepare

Your launch is going to have several moving pieces you can prepare ahead of time to help continue driving engagement wherever your learners are in their journey. Your essentials will include the following basics:

✅ A lead magnet
✅ An email list thank you page
✅ An online course launch email sequence
✅ A webinar
✅ A webinar landing page
✅ A webinar thank you page
✅ A sales page
✅ A sales thank you page

Some of the following items may be integrated or separated from this, like ad copy, live challenges, and other fun engagements that continue to keep your learners within your range of influence. If you run live challenges and other similar crowd engagement tactics, you’ll need a signup page and a thank you page for those.

How long should I spend on each phase of launching a course?

These are going to include my own hard answers, but remember to tailor them according to your course’s specific needs. A good rule of thumb is:
  • Pre-launch. A month or two
  • Launch. Two weeks
  • Post-launch. Always ongoing so you can support your learners and run diagnostics on their experience. A constant source of information to lead what improvements you need on your launch and on the course itself.

If you’re starting out without an audience, give yourself at least 90 days to build one. Work with collaborations, podcast interviews, partnerships, and other ways that can drive interest in your platform and what you can offer.

And that’s it!

Again, course launching is a long-term, high return investment for the people who are able to commit and execute a good launch strategy. While offering the opportunity for students to learn from you, you are equally learning from them on how you can improve your strategy and tailor your plans to your unique offerings.

Congratulations! You now know what it takes to launch your first course and I wish you all the best. If you’d like to delegate to our team of experts to help you design your launch strategy, we invite you to book a call with Carly here

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