When I got started with online courses I tried just about every "guru" strategy out there from SEO to Pinterest to posting on Instagram and Twitter multiple times a day.
I did ALL THE THINGS that I thought other people were doing to get people to buy their courses, but I ended up with low course sales and income that was wildly unpredictable.
That's when I decided to try something different.
Within four months I was able to take one $97 course and scale it up to over $10,000 a month in revenue using ONE simple automated funnel. Here are screenshots from my SamCart account for each month so you can see the progression.
Month 1: November 2017
Month 2: December 2017
Month 3: January 2018
Month 4: February 2018
Month 5: March 2018
Okay, for some of you, $10k a month might not be that big of a deal. But I know for most people just starting out, $10k a month is a REALLY BIG DEAL. So I want to share exactly what I did to quickly growing my course sales month after month.
1. Stop doing ALL THE THINGS
Blogging, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Groups, SEO, Snap Chat... AHHHHHHRGH! The list goes on.
This is what we are told we NEED to do to "grow our audience." And those things can help. Maybe you get a lot of traffic from ONE of these sources, and if so, that's fine. Keep on doing what your doing.
But the best thing that I did, was to STOP doing all of these things and focus on creating JUST ONE FUNNEL that actually worked.
2. Create an "Educational Journey"
Sending people who don't know you DIRECTLY to a sales page DOESN'T work (at least it didn't for me.)
People need to get to know you BEFORE you ask for a sale.
Formats that work well for this are:
- Free mini courses,
- Workshops, and
- Educational video series
These formats give people a chance to see you in action. Potential students can get a feel for your personality and teaching style before they buy (which reduces your refund rate). And you get a chance to show people what you actually know, which boosts your credibility as an instructor.
Your customer journey should always include these 3 things:
- Tell people who you are and why you are qualified to teach on the subject.
- Educate people on the BIG problem that your course solves.
- Solve a SMALL problem that gets them one step closer to solving the big problem that your course solves.
You can also highlight how your product has helped others, or the results that others have achieved from working with you once you get into your sales sequence, but I've found that people do not like to be sold to during the pre-launch phase when they are still getting to know you.
I use a free 5-Day Challenge that provides loads of value upfront. I include tutorials, action assignments, accountability check-ins, and the ability to interact with me.
3. Automate, automate, automate
This will save you time so that you can work on other things like creating/improving your course, interacting with your students, or (gasp!) relaxing.
I automated my educational "Challenge" using ConvertKit (to capture emails and send automated email sequences) and Teachable (to drip video content out over 5-Days -- and to deliver my actual course.)
Personally, I can't recommend these two resources enough. However, you could use any other email automation provider/course platform that you like.
4. Don't be afraid of paid ads
The entire first year I was in business I REFUSED to use paid ads. I was determined to get all of my traffic FOR FREE because I had a VERY limited budget.
Here's why that mindset is bad for business...
Paid advertising makes your monthly income more PREDICTABLE.
Relying on social media, SEO, and "word of mouth" will keep your income in flux, which will keep you struggling month after month.
If you want to see profits faster, start experimenting with paid advertising.
I know it can be scary to pay for advertising, especially when you have a limited budget. That's why it's important to start SMALL and SLOWLY scale up so that you can collect DATA along the way.
I knew what my potential students were searching for online, so I created a blog post on a topic I knew they would be interested in. Then I used Google Ads to target keyword phrases that were related to the topic of my blog post.
Note: I started by spending just $5-$10 a days on Google Adwords. Once I saw that my funnel was working (i.e. I was earning more than I was spending) then I started to increase my daily ad spend a little bit each week.
Within the blog post I included a signup form so that people could sign up for my free Challenge which led into a sales sequence for my full course at the end.
This worked well because I wasn't trying to pressure people into signing up for something. I was respectful and chose to provide valuable information on a topic I knew they were interested in without the expectation of them doing anything for me in return. If they decided they wanted to learn more from me, I simply gave them an opportunity at the end.
I was really skeptical that this would work because this approach is so indirect and non-pushy, but 62% of people who viewed the blog post signed up for the 5-Day Challenge.
5. Know Your Numbers!
This is REALLY important. In fact, it's almost impossible to become profitable without this piece.
4 numbers that are CRITICAL to your success:
1. Sales Conversion Rate (find it by dividing leads by sales -- then multiply by 100.)
For example, if I get 100 people to sign up for my Challenge and I end up selling 6 courses, my conversion rate is 6%.
2. Revenue Per Lead (find it by dividing total sales revenue by total number of leads.)
For example, if 100 people sign up for my lead magnet and I end up earning $5000 in total sales, my revenue per lead is $50 per person.
3. Cost per Lead (find by dividing total amount spent on advertising by total number of leads.)
For example, if I spend $1000 on ads to get 500 leads, my cost per lead is $2.
4. Profit per Lead (find by subtracting cost per lead from revenue per lead.)
For example, if my revenue per lead is $50 and my cost per lead is $2, then my PROFIT per lead is $48.
Your revenue per lead will tell you how much you can spend on advertising without losing money. That's why it's so important to track your numbers. I track all of my numbers on a weekly basis so I can closely monitor how my ads are performing.
Once you start collecting data you'll quickly see that becoming profitable is nothing more than a simple math equation.