Selling online courses has been a game changer for our business and my life. In this post, I'm going to show you the exact process how I used to get paid every step of the way in creating and selling my online course which has turned into a 7-figure a year business.
Here is a video of a Facebook livestream I produced the other day. Below this video is a detailed instructional post walking you through everything in the video.
Creating and selling online courses is an idea that can potentially launch your business into the stratosphere, and provide a solid foundation for more online courses, teaching, mentoring, and consulting with the followers you pick up along the way.
Aside from the purely business aspect of it, you’ll meet some truly fascinating and intelligent people who want the same things you do, and you’ll have the chance to really impact some people’s lives in a very positive way.
I recently met 32 of my students in Manhattan for a full day mastermind and it completely blew me away.
Best of all, you get paid every step of the way for teaching what you already know and would love to share with others. It’s also a totally scalable process, which can expand as your following grows, and they request to learn more and more from you.
Obviously not everyone is going to end up with a 7-figure a year business through selling online courses – but that is exactly what happened in the case of WP Elevation, and that means it can happen for anyone else too. Anyone who is committed and passionate about what they’re selling and teaching, and anyone who is willing to take the right steps to get there.
Here’s how to go about it.
Pre Selling Online Courses
To entice your audience into buying your online course, you need to pre-sell it, and the best way to do that is through a webinar where you have the chance to explain what it’s all about, and why it will help the participant solve his/her business problems. There are a couple ways you can approach this ‘pre-sell’ webinar, by conducting a free webinar or a paid one, and I’ll explain the pros and cons of both.
Conducting a Free Webinar (Sucky Idea)
This is the option that most people will recommend to you, because the thinking is that more people will attend a free webinar than a paid one, so you have a bigger audience to draw from when it comes time to sell the course. While that may be true enough, you have to keep in mind that a free webinar is free for the attendees, NOT the person conducting it.
Let’s do the Math:
- Your objective for example, is to sell 50 copies of a $500 online course, netting you $25,000 in sales
- In order to get 50 people to buy your online course, you have to get at least 500 people on the webinar, assuming a standard 10% conversion rate, AND assuming you know what you’re doing on webinars, AND you’re good at selling (which you won’t be, in the beginning)
- To get 500 people to attend the webinar, you’ll probably need around 2,500 people to register for it, given the fact that only 20% will actually show up on the day of the broadcast
- If you have an established following, you’ll need to spend time emailing, hustling, and persuading them to attend. You have to make a compelling offer about what they will learn on the webinar, and this will cost you whatever your time is worth, as well as the expense of alerting your followers.
- Without an established audience, you’ll have to spend money on advertising – for instance, if you use Facebook Ads, it will cost you between $3 and $5 per lead if you really know what you’re doing, and if you don’t, it will cost two or three times that amount.
So – to get 2,500 people to register for your webinar using Facebook Ads, at a conservative $5 per lead, the cost to get 2,500 attendees would be $12,500.
As I mentioned above, a free webinar can cost the host a ton of money.
Conducting a Paid Webinar (RockStar Idea)
If you don’t happen to have $12,500 laying around, and especially if you don’t have much cash at all laying around, a better option might be to put on a paid webinar. It might seem a little scary, trying to persuade people to attend a paid webinar when everyone else is conducting freebies, but if you’re tight on money and especially if you really want to discover your audience, a paid webinar can work wonders.
To run a paid webinar, you’ll need the following:
- A mailing list of followers which you have generated through other projects, giveaways, and maybe e-book subscribers. If you don’t have this kind of list, you’ll have to pay to get a list that includes real potential leads who might be interested in your course
- A sales landing page that you can send to people on your email list
- An app which handles ticket purchases for your webinar event
- A survey app which is part of the essential follow-up from your webinar.
Selling Online Courses Case Study: WP Elevation
When WP Elevation conducted its highly successful paid webinar, 84 people purchased seats at the webinar, paying in three different tiers: an Early Bird price, an intermediate price, and a final price, all of which netted over $9,500. How did we do it?
Create a Sales Page
The very first thing we did was create a sales landing page that included the company logo at the top to inspire confidence in our audience. We included a compelling message at the top which showed listeners that we understood their business problems, and that our online course could help solve those problems. The real key to this is that you MUST know your audience – you have to truly understand their pain points before you can sell them on a solution.
We recorded a video lasting just a few minutes, which explained what the attendee would get at the webinar, and how to register.
Here's what the sales page looked like, not pretty but very effective:
Offer a Bonus for Registering
One of the enticements offered in the WP Elevation promotion was providing participants with a copy of a MindMap, and this was shown in blurred format so the graphic could not be clearly seen.
That generated intrigue and interest that adds to the desire to attend. In our case, we made sure readers understood that MindMap would be of little value to them unless they showed up at the webinar to have it explained to them.
Guarantee, Call to Action and Social Proof
We explained that a ticket purchase guaranteed the buyer a seat at the webinar, with a 100% money-back guarantee.
Several call to action buttons were included on the sales page which allowed the reader to learn more about the webinar, and to actually make a purchase.
Screenshots of testimonials were shown, from satisfied customers we earned on other projects, webinars, and consulting sessions.
A bonus product was offered for early registration and the conclusion of the sales page offered a sincere promise to readers that the webinar would provide real value to their business, or it would cost them nothing.
The Toolkit We Used
We created our sales landing page in Unbounce, and even though it wasn’t the greatest looking effort, it still worked pretty well in persuading readers to register for the webinar. The software provided us with statistics that showed about 1,900 people visited the page, 700+ were converted (which means they clicked on a button to find out more information or to buy tickets).
Interestingly, the split test results show that the variation of the page that included a light-box popup checkout converted way higher than the variation that took them off to a separate page.
We then tied our sales landing page into an event on EventBrite, so that ticket purchases could be effectively managed. EventBrite manages ticket purchases for you, and provides data on how many purchases were made, the total purchase prices, and the different price levels, i.e. early bird, intermediate price, and final price.
It was fascinating to see the early-bird tickets sell out so quickly and that 9 people were prepared to pay $197 for this information. That is great validation of an idea right there.
To run the actual webinar, we tied EventBrite into GotoWebinar, and afterward we asked attendees to fill out a survey, which was built using the Wufoo application. This survey is an extremely important part of the whole process, because it can help determine your future direction, and because it gets you in much better touch with your audience.
Survey Questions to Ask
On the WP Elevation survey, we asked for name, email address, website, and 3 questions from the webinar to verify that the reader watched and was paying attention – we gave out prizes for survey participants answering all 3 correctly. Then we asked the following questions, and when you read through some of these, you should understand why we asked them.
- What was your impression of the webinar?
- How would you rate the webinar overall?
- Was it too long, too short?
- How was the content?
- Was the material provided in the pack useful? (This was a digital pack of goods we thought would be useful for businesses).
- Would you attend another WP Elevation webinar?
- What could we have done to make it better?
- What topics would you like covered in greater detail?
- Would you be interested in any of the following – more webinars, 6-week webinar series, a members-only website, 2-day MasterMind event, or other training?
- What other training would you be interested in?
- How did you find out about us?
- In 25 words or less, tell us why you should win the personal free coaching session with Troy Dean (offered to anyone who filled out the survey, got all 3 questions correct, and filled in the 25-word reason).
The Bottom Line in Selling Online Courses
Feedback from attendees who fill out a survey like this can be extremely useful, as was the case following our WP Elevation webinar – it helped establish the WP members’ website, and provided info on what members would want from it – templates, a forum, identification of the tools we used, and a description of our workflow processes. Of the 84 webinar attendees, a staggering 58 filled in the survey.
The webinar got WP Elevation in touch with its real fans and users, and provided the basis for the membership site that resulted. Because attendees had paid and already invested somewhat in WP Elevation, their opinions and suggestions were much more important and carried much more weight than if they’d attended a free webinar.
Generating almost $10K in revenue AND getting this type of feedback from real customers is a RockStar marketers wet-dream.
Refund rates have been minimal (less than 1%), because ‘student’ feedback is solicited at every step, so they can express exactly what they want to learn, and it can be provided. This shows us that we are providing great value to our members, and giving them exactly what they want.
Let me state that again: the best way to reduce refunds is to have your students design your course with you.
When WP Elevation first launched, the only content in the members’ site was our original webinar, cut into 6 different lessons for members to absorb, so clearly it was not necessary to have the entire online course available right from the outset. During the weeks that followed, more and more content was added, until the members’ site became a great repository for learning materials. We now have 4 coaches, 6 mentors, loads of content and lessons, and a 7-figure business – all of which started out from very humble beginnings. We also have a beautiful members' website.
The point of all this is that if you’re thinking of building and selling your own online course, you don’t need to have the whole thing there in the beginning – your initial offering will be enough until you can add more on a weekly or monthly basis.
Your #1 Takeaway About Selling Online Courses
The greatest value of the paid webinar is that it will tell you if you have a viable product or not.
If you can’t get 50 paid students at your webinar, you’ll have even greater difficulty selling online courses to a few hundred people.
You learn about your audience and about marketing to your audience through a paid webinar – and that will help you more than anything else when it comes to selling online courses. Paid webinars validate the fact that you have an idea worth pursuing and an idea worth buying into.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback.
It's your turn to rock!