I've been asked over and over again about how I launch my online programs, so today I'm spilling the beans behind the $10,036.80 launch of my Brand, Build, Blog course (BBB: A branding & blogging course for holistic biz owners) to an email list of just 400 people. This course has since sold another $4,049.59, since it's an evergreen course and is available year round (numbers up to date as of Oct 11, 2016), bringing it's 8-month total to $14,086.39.
Pin me to save me for later! 👆
I'm going to break down the timeline of the course creation, launch timeline and sales, plus my secret weapon to creating this profitable online course.
I've often been asked how I come up with my ideas for online courses, and to tell you the truth, the idea for them usually comes to me fully formed in my head ... but only after years of developing my own personal skills and knowledge in the area that I'm going to teach and being able to break large concepts down into easy to understand steps.
For example, in 2014 I launched Mama Mojo, an 8-week online course for busy moms who want more energy, balanced hormones, and to calm their digestive systems. While the idea of the course hit me like a lightning bolt, it was based on my 6-month program that I took one-on-one nutrition clients through for 5 years before that. I guess you can say it was 5 years in the making. I knew the 6-month program worked, so I just translated it into an online version. That course went onto sell $11,114.90 with 2 launches spaced 6 months apart.
For BBB, I had been doing one-on-one Biz Strategy Sessions where people kept asking me about their websites. They didn't know how to design them, they needed help with the copy, and just generally wanted to know how to use SquareSpace better. This is where I started feeling that there was a need for this sort of information so I wouldn't have to waste my time repeating myself over and over again.
So, back in 2014 before I launched Mama Mojo (at least an entire year before BBB landed in my brain), I invested in a branding course that was the base of my $20,000 re-brand. A year after that, I invested in a different course that taught me branding AND website development. 4 months before the course idea came to me in late 2015, I had invested in a copywriting course. All of these courses taught valuable and needed lessons in a general sense, but nothing that was geared just towards holistic health practitioners.
There were no copy templates just for us, and unless a fellow holistic practitioner was really interested in design and web development like I was, it would be hard for most nutritionists or essential oil advocates to take the same courses and translate them into a finished profitable website. I knew there was a need, and so I took the best, most actionable concepts that I had learned from those 3 courses, added my own personal spin and experience with them after developing my own website on SquareSpace, and voila, Brand, Build, Blog was born in my head.
Then I just had to get it into a form for others to learn from and formally launch it. No biggie 😳.
Here's the timeline so you can follow along my course creation journey:
Launch Timeline 2015
This process of launching Brand, Build, Blog in July actually started in early 2015. How could that possibly be? Here's how:
- Started gathering and testing steps to brand a holistic business on my own website in May.
- Blogged regularly starting in July to see how fast I could grow my email list now that I actually knew how to. This included testing the response to several blog posts on the topic that I was thinking of selling in an online course so I could see how my audience responded (I used the content upgrade method that I outlined in this blog post).
- Offered one-on-one Biz Strategy Sessions starting in October, where paying clients kept asking me the same questions about branding, web design and development, copywriting, and blogging.
- In November, I started writing down my ideas of what I would include in a branding and blogging course, which I originally was going to call "Website in a Week".
Launch Timeline 2016
- Decided on the name "Brand, Build, Blog" and registered www.brandbuildblog.com on January 23rd, 2016.
- Started brainstorming all the individual modules and lessons on Post-It notes and a white board, which turned into the final version below.
- Wrote a point form outline in Microsoft Word of what the lessons would cover and turned that into a free opt-in or lead magnet. Basically this was my brain dump of everything the course would include.
- Completed all designs, colour choices, and logo design for this new sub-brand ... only because I love branding! **not necessary**
- Set up a landing page for the upcoming course with the outline as the lead magnet. Other than designing a new front cover for the PDF, this took all of a few hours since I already had the outline completed last month. Click here if you want the checklist for yourself.
- Started sharing the checklist opt-in page on my personal Facebook page, business FB page, and my general email list (which was only at about 100 people) about the upcoming course, and how they could get on the course interest list by downloading the checklist at the landing page above.
- Decided on pricing, which was hard because I wanted to keep it super affordable even though I knew I was going to build a behemoth of a course that had as much content as courses that I had paid up to $1,000 US for. Ultimately I decided on 3 different packages, started at $149 Canadian. People keep telling me to raise my prices! I just might do that when I update the course in January.
- Designed the sales page.
- Decided, with a major push from my mastermind partner, to soft launch the course (i.e. actually sell it) ... without having any of the content made. Like, none. This scared the shit out of me, but I knew it was the only thing that would force me to get the content DONE. I decided to do a webinar where I would show my target audience how to use SquareSpace, with a super short pitch for my program at the end with a 20% discount since it would be a few weeks before they got any of the content.
This was actually perfect to soft launch my course, because if no one purchased, I'd know that the course more than likely wasn't going to sell much, and I wouldn't have to waste hundreds of hours creating something that would never create much income for me.
- To lead people to sign up for the webinar, I wrote a blog post on SquareSpace versus WordPress, since I knew not a lot of my target audience even knew about SquareSpace. I needed to show them how easy it was to use, since my course was based on it, to stop their objections on that subject before they would sign up. That blog post went live on March 11th, so that gave me a week to get people to sign up for it. 64 people signed up for the webinar, with less than 10 showing up live (about average for me).
- I pitched my program during the webinar with the 20% discount that ended on March 21st at midnight, so they had 4 days to decide if they wanted a discount on the course in exchange for being patient with me while I made the content! Between the live attendees and people who watched the replay, I sold 9 spots for a total of $2,367. Now since I had sold a course that didn't exist, I had to actually make it! This wouldn't have been so hard had I not been taking part in a special travelling program doing about 20 to 25 essential oil classes a month across Ontario and Canada. I recorded the first two lessons of Module 1 in a hotel room 👊.
- Over the next few weeks, if I wasn't teaching oils classes, I was recording and editing the lessons for BBB! Each lesson has a video ranging from just over 5 minutes to over an hour, and some have worksheets and done-for-you design and copy templates. Lots o' work, to say the least.
- I released Modules 1 and 2 on April 23rd, with a total of 11 lessons to get everyone started.
- I decided to give the Basic version of BBB to any business builders on my essential oils team for free, since when they grow their business, I grow mine. Double score.
- Module 3 was released on April 28th with 4 more lessons.
- Module 4 was a meaty one because it's where all the copywriting templates and design lessons take place. The first 4 lessons (of 7) were released on May 13th.
- The rest of Module 4 was completed by May 24th.
- Module 5 was released on May 26th (only 3 lessons).
- Module 6 was released on June 11th (originally 4 lessons, with an additional bonus lesson on how to create recipes cards in SquareSpace added in August).
- The last module, module 7, was released on June 20th! The course was officially complete ... except for the bonuses of 25 quote templates to use for social media (available to the Deluxe and VIP members).
- The customizable quote templates were completed and released on June 25th. 👉
PHEW! I'm obviously slight masochistic for trying to launch an online program while taking part in a 4 month travelling program for essential oils, but ...
Launching an online program is like having a baby: there's never really a right time.
Pre-selling my program was like getting pregnant, because once that happens, you've got to see something through to the end, right? 😉 But that wasn't really the end, because I hadn't officially launched to my entire list. I was only halfway done! Now we go into formal launch mode as most of you would know it.
- by the time I got to July, I had shared the checklist from a few new blog posts and grew my overall list to 400 and the targeted leads list to about 110 people.
- on Tuesday, July 5th, my massive email strategy was launched. By Monday, July 19th, I'd sent out a total of 16 sales emails to various segments of my list. This means that my entire list didn't get all 16 emails, but some got more than others based on if they clicked to the sales page or if they signed up for a webinar (ConvertKit for the win!). Here's how the emails went with the resulting sales:
1. Tuesday, July 5th - AM - to entire list - What's your why? *No link to the sales page
2. Tuesday, July 5th - PM - to entire list - Announced course + 24 hour fast action bonus (office hours bonus ending in 48 hours + entire launch bonus of how to design beautiful content upgrades that convert ending on July 18th)
Sales = $354
3. Wednesday, July 6th - to entire list minus purchased - 24 hour bonus ending (office hours)
Sales = $1950
4. Thursday, July 7th - to entire list minus purchased - Announced "How to use your website to find paying clients" webinar on Wednesday, July 13th
Sales = $601
5. Saturday, July 9th - to entire list - Aggravating email leading to blog post titled "7 reasons why your holistic health website sucks". Link to register for the webinar at bottom of the post.
6. Monday, July 11th - to entire list minus purchased - My story + my why. Linked to blog post titled "Why I deleted my $10,000 website". Link at bottom of email to sales page
7. Tuesday, July 12th - to entire list minus purchased minus people already registered for webinar - Reminder that webinar is happening tomorrow
*** Webinar occurred on Wednesday, July 13th. I pitched BBB at the end with a special bonus offer expiring within 48 hours ***
8. Wednesday, July 13th - to webinar attendees minus purchased - Sent webinar replay with info about the done-for-your Pinterest pins template bonus that ended in 48 hours
Sales = $697
9. Thursday, July 14th - to entire list minus purchased minus webinar attendees - Flash bonus! I recycled the Pinterest pins bonus from the webinar and offered it as a 48 hour bonus to those who didn't attend the webinar. Since they wouldn't see the replay with the bonus offered to those who signed up for the webinar (and vice versa), I could use the same bonus twice
10. Friday, July 15th - to webinar attendees minus purchased - Pinterest pins bonus ending + my own business statistics of the traffic and reach that Pinterest gives me
Sales = $975
11. Saturday, July 16th - to entire list minus purchased minus webinar attendees - Pinterest pins flash bonus ending, used same email as #10 above
Sales = $227
12. Sunday, July 17th - AM - to entire list minus purchased - What's holding you back? Invite to attend a live Q&A with me later that day (FYI: no one showed up! Ok, one person did, but they had already purchased)
Sales = $227
13. Sunday, July 17th - PM - interested leads (those who had clicked to the sales page from any of the previous emails) minus purchased - Free preview of the About page lesson, which is one of the longest lessons in the course at over an hour, where I show them the copy templates AND where I built the entire About Page of our case study website live on the video. This showed them how easy it was to use SquareSpace, how I was giving them all the copy templates so they could write their own site, and give them an idea of my teaching style.
Sales = $147
14. Monday, July 18th - 6 AM - entire list minus purchased - Frequently asked questions and reminder that the Designing Beautiful Content Upgrades that Convert bonus was ending tonight
Sales = $147
15. Monday, July 18th - 2 PM - entire list minus purchased - Last call to enroll + the module outline and all lesson titles included
Sales = $147
16. Monday, July 18th - 8 PM - interested leads minus purchased - super short email that the bonus is ending in 4 hours
Sales = $1042
My last sale before the bonus ended at midnight was exactly at midnight!
Sales over the next 10 days after all bonuses ended = $521
Phew! That actually felt good to analyze after the fact. Now I know exactly when purchases were taking place after what emails. Super cool, right?
TOO MANY EMAILS?
Never before have I ever done a 16 e-mail launch. It felt super uncomfortable sending them, and I thought to myself "this is WAY too many emails, my list is going to hate me and unsubscribe!". You know how many unsubscribes I had? 28 unsubscribes from 400 people. That's only 7%.
I'm actually happy that they unsubscribed. Wait, what?! 🤔 Why would I be happy that people are unsubscribing from my email list? Because they more than likely were never, ever going to buy anything from me. I'm running a business, not a freaking charity! If I don't make money, I can't pay my bills and I can't afford to keep offering all these valuable blog posts for free. I eventually have to get paid.
At the end of the day, a whopping 93% of people weren't annoyed that I sent a lot of emails, because I offer them tons of value the rest of the year (and during this launch, too) and have only launched an online program once. Even if they weren't going to purchase (this time), they liked the info enough to stick around through a few extra emails. I love my readers!
So no, 16 emails was not too much! Next time I'll probably add a few more in to targeted segments.
DO I REALLY NEED A TIME SENSITIVE BONUS?
Before I was ready to formally launch in July, I was deciding whether or not to even do one time sensitive bonus, much less 3. I was like "I just got finished making 44 video lessons in 2 months ... I'm exhausted. I don't have it in me to create 3 more bonuses!". But, as you can see from the sales and email timeline, just because I'm not motivated by time sensitive bonuses, it looks like the majority of people are.
The total sales of the July launch was $7,035, and $4,488 of sales were on the days when bonuses were ending (and emails were sent out with countdown timers). That's almost 64% of sales that were more than likely triggered due to bonuses ending.
And you know what? The office hour bonus that triggered $1,950 worth of sales in one day (the highest in the launch)? Only 3 people showed up over the 6 weeks of calls with me, sometimes only one person showing up who ended up getting an entire hour with me alone. And none of them were the ones who bought because of that bonus, but were from the original people who purchased before the course was even created. That's just craziness.
This tells me that people weren't motivated by what the bonus exactly was, they just had FOMO and were motivated by it ending!
So yes, you should have bonuses, and yes, your bonuses have to be good. But the mere fact that you even have bonuses ending is probably enough to trigger over half of your launch sales. Cool, right? I'm such a nerd 🤓.
IF I DON'T GET SALES FROM ONE EMAIL, MY PROGRAM MUST SUCK
When I first wanted to sell online programs so that I could stop seeing clients one-on-one, I thought in a very "if you build it, they will come" kind of way. Like, I know what's best for them and know what they need, so I'll spend weeks or months building it and the sales will come in because I know they need it.
The real world doesn't work that way. That's why there are million or billion dollar budgets for marketing. People don't know what they need, they know what they want.
You have to sell them what they want and give them what they need. However, they're usually not as educated on the subject of your program like you are, so it takes time to properly educate them on why they should want, much less care, about your program.
We're pitched to buy things all day, every day. Yours needs to stand above everything else, which is why you can't just send one or two, or even three emails.
You've got to take them on a journey, with their results from investing in your online program as the destination.
This is what a launch does, and when done properly, most people don't even realize that they're being sold something. Because we're not selling, we're serving. There's a difference.
Learn how to Launch
Here's the deal: if you've never launched an online course or program, you're not going to know how to do it the first time. Or maybe even the second. Or the third.
If you're serious about having a 4 or 5-figure (or bigger) launch of your online programs, maybe it's time to invest for realz into a program that will teach you the ins and outs of launching.
When I knew that I wanted to launch Mama Mojo back in 2014, I invested $997 US into a program to teach me everything I needed to know. At that point I had invested in B-School, my first real investment in any sort of online courses, and I loved it, so I figured all online courses rocked as much as it did. Turns out I was wrong.
The course I invested in was a disappointment. It's not that I didn't learn a few new things, because I did. It's that I really only learned a few new things, and when I'm going to spend $1,000 on something, I want to learn a lot of new things.
That's when I found Mariah Coz of Femtrepreneur. Her transparency and willingness to give so much value in her free blog posts and webinars won me over, and when she was launching her program called Launch Your Signature Course (LYSC), I was ready to invest again ... even though I had already invested money into the same topic before.
I was nervous that her course would be like the last one, but it was so amazing that I have to share it with you. Everything that led me to sell over $14,000 of my course this year (so far) is because of LYSC.
It's because of her course that I knew how to pre-sell and test if my program was worth the hours I would spend creating it. It's because of her, her videos, and her worksheets that I knew what emails to send and when. It's because of her that my little $147 program has sold over $14,000 in 8 months.
Her system lays out launching so easily and there's so much volume of training (literally everything you'd ever need to know about launching) that I'm still watching modules almost a year later. And I never go back into courses once I've completed them.
By the way, Mariah grew Femtrepreneur from brand-new to a million dollar business in less than a year. She's the real deal, and has got the goods to back it up.
So go forth and launch your online programs, and see your mission spread to hundreds or even thousands more people than you could ever reach one-on-one.
I wanna know: have you launched an online program? How did it go? What went well ... and what didn't?