Episode 004. Why My First Course Launch Flopped and 5 Mistakes to Avoid With Yours
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My First Ever Course Launch
I created my first course in June 2016, around three months after launching my website and business. The course was called “WordPress in a Weekend” and the promise was simple: I’ll show you how to set up and design your WordPress website in a single weekend.
But despite my best intentions and big dreams, my course wasn’t exactly a huge hit.
I had around 10 students enroll over a 6-week period, and I brought in a grand total of $1,000 (give or take). And at the time, I remember that $1,000 honestly felt like SUCH a huge amount! But in hindsight, I had ZERO clue what I was doing with my first launch and I made some killer mistakes that drastically curbed my sales.
My Launch Strategy
Let me run you through the “strategy” (yes, the quotation marks are needed) that I used for my first launch, and then I’ll highlight five of the biggest mistakes I made. My hope is that by sharing these mistakes with all of the new and aspiring course creators out there, you ladies will know what NOT to do and be able to hit a home run with your very first launch.
So, my first course was called WordPress in a Weekend and I sold it for $97. I hosted my course and my sales page on Teachable* (which I still use to this day and recommend).
I actually hired a copywriter to help me spruce up my course sales page and this was a BIG MISTAKE on my part. I’d written the sales page myself, and as is the case for most newbie entrepreneurs, I had no freaking clue what I was doing with it.
The copywriter herself was lovely and she did a great job, but she was basically just taking my own words and making them sound a bit more enticing. What I should’ve done instead of investing in a copywriter was purchase a course or template that would teach me how to properly structure my sales page. I don’t have access to the old sales page for WordPress in a Weekend anymore, but I’d put money down that it was missing the vast majority of sections that I now include on every single sales page I write.
My freebie that was the lead-in to my WordPress course was a free 8-day email course called “Beginner Blogger Bootcamp”. It was MASSIVE, around 10,000 words in total, and jam-packed with value.
During the actual launch itself, I probably sent around 3-4 emails to my mailing list. Truthfully, I don’t remember the exact number or even what I said in the emails! But I DO remember that I didn’t make any sales on the day that I opened enrollment, or for at least a couple of days after that (and yea, it felt super shitty!).
I also didn’t have a set date when I was “closing” enrollment. Instead, about a month after I launched the course I decided to raise the price by $50 to hopefully encourage more signups. This worked pretty well and 3 or 4 people joined my course right before the price increased.
And that was it! That was my entire “strategy”. AKA: I really didn’t have one.
Now, before we dive into all the ways I totally messed up my first launch, let me just take a quick sec to pat myself on the back for the two things that I did get right.
What I Did Well With My First Launch
My course had a clear promise and result, and it solved a specific problem for a specific group of people. This is one of the golden rules of successful businesses: All viable businesses and products solve a specific problem for a specific group of people. Remember that!
The course itself was actually pretty good. It was actionable, there were videos and tech tutorials, and I even created an ebook to accompany each of the modules. Several of my students messaged me to say they were able to quickly set up their WordPress websites with the help of my course, which was a pretty great feeling.
5 big Mistakes To Avoid with your launch (aka: How I totally Effed Up My First one)
I kept the course a surprise from my audience. I had no “pre-launch” phase whatsoever; I just dropped the course on my audience out of nowhere. I do NOT recommend doing this. Your audience needs to know exactly when your course is opening for enrollment and they should be EXCITED at the thought of joining you.
I didn’t provide my students with any extra support, like a private Facebook group, beyond the course content itself. Having that extra layer of support and community is great for student engagement, completion rates, and student results — which leads to awesome testimonials for you, the course creator!
I didn’t do an open/close cart launch. In other words, I opened enrollment for my course on a certain day but didn’t have a set date for when enrollment would end. My plan was to keep the course open indefinitely and have it available for purchase year-round (this is called an “evergreen” course). I ALWAYS recommend doing an open/close cart launch for your first time creating a new program. Why? One word: Urgency. And that leads me to mistake #4…
I didn’t include any bonuses with my course. This was killer. If you want people to join your course, you need to give them a compelling reason to act now instead of waiting. A great way to create a sense of urgency throughout your launch is with the help of bonuses. Your bonuses can be templates, swipe files, a Facebook group, Q&A calls, etc. You can also do early-bird pricing, a 48-hour bonus, or some other type of “disappearing bonus” to create that sense of urgency.
I made the course content first instead of launching the course first (AKA: I didn’t
”pre-sell” my course). Bad move on my part! Why? Because by the time my launch rolled around, I’d just poured every ounce of energy into creating my course content (and my free email course) over the last 6 weeks… and I was EXHAUSTED. I was totally burnt out from basically the day I launched my course, and I spent two weeks in bed recovering. This is why I always recommend launching first, then creating your course — and why that’s the strategy I teach my students inside YFCL 2.0!
Have you launched a course before?
If so, how did it go? If not, what’s holding you back? I’d love to help you package up your magic into an incredible program and then get it out into the world!