You’ve decided to develop an e-course. You have important concepts or skills to teach others and you are excited about it.
Developing a curriculum is somewhat challenging – you need to create those units of study, and all of the learning activities that are going to be exciting, fun and valuable. But you can always sneak-peak on other courses and test your beta with a very patient friend, who’s ready to go through all your stuff over and over again.
The second huge aspect of launching your course is attracting the real participants. If this is your first course, you probably don’t have an email list; an active blog; and your social media accounts are all just personal.
Now you have to become a “quick study” in marketing. Actually, you could take an e-course in marketing your e-course. Or, you can use these tips to reach out to potential participants and see if you can “rope them in.”
Who will benefit from your course? This is something you need to think about in the very beginning. There is no point in developing a course unless you know there is a market for it. Basket weaving may be a great hobby of yours, but unless there are plenty of people who want to learn this craft (and there aren’t or prove me wrong), all of your work will be for naught.
There are, however, courses in the obscure and weird niches that are still profitable e.g. one teaching you how to downsize and build a tiny house or card magic tricks.
To verify the demand, get on forums and social media sites, joining groups in niches that are related to your course. Monitor the discussions. Browsing and participating in those will help you identify the most common problems beginners have; the type of guidance they need and whether anyone is willing to pay to learn that skill faster.
Once you have discovered where your audience hangs out, stay there and start participating. You need to become known as somewhat of an expert, and you need to develop relationships. It’s not just fellow group/discussion participants, it’s also who they know that they may ultimately recommend your course to.
You may not have a reason to set up a website yet – this is really for more seasoned e-course instructors who have multiple courses. But you certainly can develop a blog that will address some of the topics that will be in your e-course.
You will need to market your blog on your own social media accounts but also on the forums and in the groups that you have begun relationships with. If you take the time to craft interesting (and fun) posts, then you can refer people to them, as those topics come up for discussion.
Whether you are on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or more, begin to post tips related to the content of your course. If, for example, you are going to teach a course on freelance copywriting, what little tidbits can you throw out as bait?
And as you do that, pre-announce your course as something that will be expanding on those little tidbits in detail, so that participants will have the skills they need. Provide a link to subscribe to your email list, so they can be notified when the course is launched.
If you have already launched your course, you can apply the same tactics, but with a link to an enrollment form.
Depending on the course topic, you can find sites that will “take” your course and even help you market it to their visitors/users. Sites like Udemy are comprehensive and cover virtually any topic. Other sites are niche-related.
This is easier than you think, given the great tools for video creation you have access to. Get on a live video platform (e.g., Facebook Live or Periscope) and talk to people. Make your videos short and very regular – one a day if you can do it.
Come up with little snippet lessons that relate to the course you will be launching. Be casual, let your personality shine through, and, most important, be entertaining. Above all, you want to motivate people to want to learn what you have to teach them and to believe that it will be a fun learning experience. Many people who have difficulty with public speaking find that they can create amazing videos when there is no live audience.
Here’s one great case study: Bob Heiling had zero followers on Periscope. Yet he committed to just showing up every day Monday through Friday with a 5-minute video on a topic he felt passionate about. He did that for six months straight, with no excuse. And the effort paid off - when he decided to enter the knowledge commerce market and launched an e-course with Kajabi, he earned $200,000 in the first month.
The lesson? Show up every day and do the work no matter what.
One of the things you can do via live video is tell your own story. How did you become interested in your course topic and how did you develop your expertise? What do you have to share that will make them experts too? Everyone likes a personal story – share yours.
If live videos still don’t seem like your piece of cake, go on Instagram.
There you can mix those up with some good old photos. Make solid use of hashtags, because people will search for topics related to yours and find you. Use great visuals and write captions that will drive readers to your snippet videos (which in turn will drive them to registration for your course). If you want some great ideas, you might check out Foundr Magazine on Instagram. You can use quotes that relate to what your course will teach, along with amazing photos.
Once your blog is established, create some more in-depth posts once or twice a month. These will go deeper into some of your course content, and offer some type of an “upgrade” (e.g. a list of resources, a worksheet, etc.) in exchange for signing up for your email list or for sharing the post with five of their friends.
One of the best ways to promote your course is to give rewards for joining your email list or for sharing your course information. In exchange for the actions they take, you will put their names in a pool and draw one on a regular basis for an Amazon gift card.
If there are other e-courses on related topics, contact those instructors and offer an affiliate program for referrals. These may be as high as 50%, but if this will get you enrollees for your first launch, it will be worth it.
Consider having an open-close launch. If you have a cut-off point for enrollments, you will set up a sense of urgency among those who are hesitating. There are people who just have a tough time making a decision and need a little push.
You may actually have an “evergreen” course, one in which people may enroll at any time. Once you have launched that first session with a closed-cart launch, you can then provide open enrollment.
Even if you have only 4-5 enrollees for your first launch, your goal is to get really positive testimonials from those participants. To get these, it will be important to offer incentives so that you get 100% of those enrollees to sing your praises. This is important material that you can use to promote. People listen to others before they listen to you.
This is a tricky strategy, because you have to place those ads in the right places, and that is not always easy to do. Before you spend money on this, consult with other e-course instructors in related niches and find out what has worked best for them.
This takes time and a process of building relationships with influencers in your niche. But if you can build those relationships, and influencers are impressed with what you are offering, they will be willing to promote your course. Sometimes, offering incentives will be necessary, but they are well worth it. After all, this is where your target audience will be.
Can you implement all of these strategies today? Of course, you cannot. So, pick those that you can do right now and add more as you go along.
Remember, establishing yourself as a great e-course instructor takes time. You have to be patient, do all that you can to promote yourself and your course, and be happy as enrollments grow steadily over time. Those that have made it in this “business” have not taken shortcuts. They have built up a following slowly by offering courses that their audiences need and want. they have promoted themselves and their courses through a variety of methods, and they have developed a following of satisfied students. You can do the same.