Have you ever thought about creating an online course, and have had an amazing idea for one, but you were scared that no one would buy it? In this episode, I’m sharing how I presold my online course, Blissful Brand Blueprint, before I created a single lesson for this course. Yes, that’s right – I had an idea, I sold it, and people bought it, and only then did I sit down to create all the content for the course.
I had this idea of a new online course that I wanted to add to my portfolio for a while – for over a year actually! I already have 2 successful online courses; Blissful Websites where I teach you how to build a website, and Blissful Biz Academy, my premium program where I teach how to build an online business selling online courses.
But I wanted to create an online course for new yoga teachers, who are just starting out, and also for people who feel like something is missing in their marketing, who need a process to follow to build their brand and create content for social media.
It would be my starter course, which would give my students everything they need to start their business as a yoga teacher, and after that, they would hopefully be ready for my premium course Blissful Biz Academy, if they want to learn how to build an online business.
This is important – if you already have an online course and you want to add another one, you have to be strategic about it. Where does it fit into your students’ journey? Is it more advanced or more for beginners? Is it the solution to another problem they are having? Think about the journey you want your students to take with you and the struggles they have on each step.
What’s also important is that if you already have an online course, or are thinking about creating your first course, stay with this one for at least a year. I want you to create your course, launch it, and then launch it again and again, maybe every 3 months for at least a year. You’re going to learn so much and get so much better at selling it, and making it successful, and that’s the foundation you need before you add another course to your portfolio.
I didn’t do that when I started out and it was a big mistake, and I don’t want you to make that mistake as well. Because I get it, it’s a lot more fun to create the content than sell it. Creating content feels safe. You know what you’re talking about, you love your topic, and nobody’s going to judge you. Selling, on the other hand, is uncomfortable for most of us. It’s putting yourself out there. It’s the possibility of failure!
So, reversing that process is actually a really smart idea. Start with selling your product – and then create it. This way you also know that people are buying it. It means you don’t put weeks of time and energy into creating something that then nobody wants.
I was pretty confident about my course idea – I always am. I think you have to be. You have to so strongly believe in your product and that it’s the best thing out there, to have the drive to bring it to life and to sell it. But I know that I could of course also be wrong about my intuition. So, I wanted to test it and presell it and I want to share the process of how I pre-sold my course, Blissful Brand Blueprint with you.
Step #1 Coming Up With The Course Idea & Promise
I already had an idea and I guess you do, too. If not, I have an amazing resource for you to get inspired. I have a podcast episode called “15 Ideas For Yoga Related Online Courses” where I share the ideas and why I think they work, definitely check it out. So I had a rough idea, but I needed to get more clarity around what I wanted my students to achieve. What was the outcome when they went through the course? What would be my course promise?
I knew I wanted to share my branding process, (which I also use when I work with my website design clients) and that’s simple and straightforward, and I wanted to give them what they needed to get started on social media and create content. This is something a lot of people in my audience struggle with. They don’t know how to position themselves to stand out in the sea of yoga teachers and how to grow their following. The promise I came up with is that I would give my students a step-by-step blueprint to create your brand and build your dream community.
Step #2 Think About The Course Content
What did I want to put into the course? What modules, what lessons? I used to plan this with a lot of post-it notes stuck to a wall, but this time I used a board in Asana, an online tool to manage tasks and projects. I created a board with columns for every module and tasks for every lesson and then moved things around and edited it until I was pretty happy. I didn’t do this in one session though. This took a few weeks to really ripe. I also shared my work in progress with some people, asking for feedback, and moved things around and around until it felt like a really good program that I was excited to create.
This was the biggest task for sure. How long this takes depends on your idea. Maybe you already have it all structured in your head, maybe it’s just a rough outline and you need to think it through in detail.
Step #3 Decide On The Name & Price
Choosing a name for an online course is never easy. I came up with a list of ideas and shared it with my mastermind and ultimately decided on Blissful Brand Blueprint. I wanted to have Blissful as part of the name because I use it in all my courses and in my podcast. The word brand also needed to be in there because it’s about building your brand, and I liked blueprint because it’s a step-by-step process to follow. I don’t know if I’m 100% happy with the name but you know what? It doesn’t matter. The name is never going to make or break your online course. You just have to make a decision and move on, and that’s what I did.
Moving on to the price – I knew I wanted to position this course as my entry-level offer, so it would be cheaper than my other courses. So, I think in the future I want to sell it for $297. First I set the price for the pre-sale at $197. But somehow that didn’t feel right, and I believe that when it comes to pricing, you really have to listen to your intuition and how you feel about it because if you don’t, you’re not going to be able to sell for that price confidently. Whatever price you choose, for any offer you create, you need to own it.
I didn’t feel good about $197, so I decided to sell it for $117. I know that’s still a lot of money, but it’s a really attractive price for what people would get. Because the price is pretty low I decided against a payment plan. Just $117, plus VAT where applicable.
Step #4 Creating The Sales Page
For this, I also needed some screenshots of what the course looks like, so I set up the course in Teachable, the course platform I use. Here I added the course thumbnail and the first lessons, and took screenshots from the curriculum to use on my sales page. I also created a course logo in Canva (*affiliate link) with just the name Blissful Brand Blueprint in 2 different fonts. You can have a look at the sales page here, it’s set to waitlist right now but you can still get a good idea of the content.
Technically, you don’t really need a full sales page when you pre-sell your course, especially when you sell it with a webinar like I did. You can also send people right to a checkout page where they can pay. But because I already created online courses and sales pages I simply duplicated one of my existing sales pages in WordPress and changed the content.
Step #5 Set Up a Free Workshop & Invite Your Email List to it
I created a meeting on Zoom for this. I didn’t pay for the webinar upgrade, I just used the normal meeting functionality, because I think it’s also nice for people to see everyone else on camera, it’s a great community feel. Next, I created a registration page where people could sign up for the workshop. I called the workshop “The Essential Brand & Marketing Blueprint for Yoga Teachers” and I added what I would teach in the webinar and for whom it was to that page. I use WordPress and I have a template that I just duplicate, but you could also use the landing pages in ConvertKit or Leadpages, a tool to build landing pages. Choose something that’s easy for you to set up.
I first mentioned the workshop in the PS in my weekly newsletter where I shared a new podcast episode and then I sent out 3 more emails the week before that workshop to my list. l also mentioned it on social media, I created a post for Instagram and talked about it in my Instagram stories and of course, I also shared it on Facebook. What I didn’t do is run ads, and I don’t recommend you do ads for an untested program. 300 people signed up for the free webinar, which was great.
Step #6 Creating The Workshop Presentation
I wanted to give a lot of value, and of course, introduce my new offer and give people the chance to buy it. This wasn’t my first webinar, but creating the slides for it is always a big job and takes a few days. I had 103 slides, (yep, that’s a lot!) but you want to go through them super quick, so people stay with you and don’t get bored or distracted by other stuff.
Now, when you want to pre-sell your online course, you don’t have to create a full-blown webinar as I did. You can also do a Facebook live for example, and just talk and share. But having slides to follow is helpful because it gives you structure, especially for the selling part.
In my slides, I shared the promise of the course, the modules, and what they would learn in each and when they would be available. Now it gets tricky. Because I haven’t created any of the content yet, but I knew that when people bought the course, I had to deliver.
I decided to drip the content and publish 1 module with all the lessons in it per week, so it would take 5 weeks before they had all the content. I also decided that the start date would be 2 weeks after the webinar. This felt good, I knew I was able to create all the content in that time and have some buffer space in case something happened.
Now, I’ve already created a few online courses, so I know how much work goes into creating the content and how long it takes me. Normally I can get one, maybe 2 lessons done in a day. When you create your first course, I would recommend that you create the content for your first module, maybe even your first 2 modules, before you pre-sell it. This way you will know how long it takes you and you can plan accordingly, and you’ll also feel more confident selling it. Because, as I said earlier, selling is uncomfortable for most of us. Your voice might change and get quieter, you might miss things and rush through it for example. That’s why you want to have some slides to follow along. When you have slides to talk through, it’s actually much easier.
If for example, you want to do a Facebook live where you teach a yoga workshop and then introduce your online course at the end, you can set that up in Zoom and broadcast your Zoom live to Facebook. You go live in Zoom and then you click on the little dots in the bottom right-hand corner and choose to go live on Facebook as well. It will then ask you where on Facebook (could be your Facebook page or group) and boom, you’re live on Zoom and on Facebook.
This is such a cool feature! Zoom also allows you to share your screen. This means you can start your workshop with you on camera, you talk or teach yoga or whatever you want to share, and then you can say “Hey, I prepared some slides for you to show you what I created, let me just share my screen with you” and you switch to that!
After the live workshop, I set up a replay/sales page with the recording and the information about the course, what was in it, and the buy now button. Again, I use WordPress but you could also set this up in Leadpages. I shared this page with everyone on my email list, so not only people who signed up for the workshop, and I also sent more sales emails about the course to everyone on my list, shared it on social media, etc. There was a deadline to sign up, one week after the workshop, and some last-minute emails and all that.
I sold 32 spots and made around $4000. 10 was my minimum number of students I wanted, any less and I wouldn’t have created the course, I expected 20 sales or so, so over 30 was really amazing. If you are one of my students in Blissful Brand Blueprint, thank you so much for putting your trust in me!
Step #7 Creating The Course
I pre-recorded all the lessons, uploaded them to Teachable, and published a new module every week, but you could also deliver your course in a live format and then use the recordings for your future launches. This depends on the kind of content you want to share. In my case, because it’s more about marketing and strategy and examples, I like to prepare things and the live element isn’t really important.
I’ve now finished creating all of the content and I’m really proud of it. And there you have it, that’s how I pre-sold my online course before creating a single lesson.
If you’re still unsure if pre-selling your online course is right for you, here are 5 reasons why it’s such a great idea:
Reason #1 Pre-selling is a big validator of your course idea – you want to have a pretty good idea if the course will sell before you create it. Even when you use other validation techniques like interviews or market research, you never really know for sure if it’s going to sell before you actually do it.
Reason #2 Pre-selling also helps you build confidence about your course – if you are maybe a little bit unsure if you can really do this, nothing builds confidence more than getting paying students through the door, right?
Reason #3 Pre-selling helps you build momentum and accountability – by selling before your content has been created you have no choice but to deliver. Once you sell it you’ve got to get it out there. This can be really helpful for people who are struggling with seeing things to the finish line.
Reason #4 Pre-selling allows you to get immediate feedback from actual students, especially when you deliver your content live. all of that feedback is really valuable so you might want to tweak your course content before you actually do a full-blown launch after the presell.
Reason #5 The final, really important reason, is that pre-selling helps you with cash flow. You can bring in some revenue to help with some of the expenses to get that course off the ground.
As you can see, there are a lot of plusses to pre-selling your online course. In the end, it’s your decision if you would want to go this route, or if you’d feel more comfortable creating your course so you have that part out of the way and then start selling it.