Ultimate guide to launching your online course or product
As an infopreneur, your brand is all about your expertise. You’ve got a growing audience waiting for you to show them how to do that thing you do best… and you’ve got an idea for the perfect course or product to do just that. But where do you start? In this article, I’m sharing the process behind launching your newest product or course. If this is your first time venturing into this territory, I’ve got ya covered on where to start.
Let’s dive in!
Hone in on your topic
Before getting wrapped up in the logistics of your latest info-product or course, you first need to hone in on your topic. Arguably, this is the most critical and toughest part of your product (speaking from experience). If you are creating an educational product, chances are you have a decent background with a depth of knowledge to select from.
I don’t have any quick and easy ways to finalize your topic, as it truly depends on each brand. For my brand, blogging really helped identify which topics I had passion for (and could talk your ear off about), as well as what my audience responded to. Sure, a few topics come to mind, however you don’t have to create one product that encompasses everything. You can branch off into future products, or even develop more specific offerings down the road.
I remember writing a blog post at a coffee shop, with the header “branding”. It was in Evernote, and was a sort of brain dump of ideas, rather than a fully structured post. What began as one post, evolved into a blog post series, and later into a full-fledged e-course. Branding is my passion in design, and therefore it made sense to center my brand around that topic.
But maybe you don’t have a blog quite yet, or you find yourself passionate in multiple pursuits. If this is the case, take some time exploring what you could write an entire blog post series on — even if it never gets published.
Consider your audience
If you have an established brand, with an audience of any size, the second step in launching your offering is to consider your audience. A great e-course or product can’t achieve successful sales unless your audience has showed interest. Gauge what questions they are asking you through email, which instagram posts receive the most engagement and which blog posts achieve the most shares.
You also don’t have to feel too restricted by your audience. Maybe you offered a freebie a year ago, that was super successful in getting subscribers to your inbox, but you’ve found that isn’t really the type of audience you want to speak to. That is completely okay. Just remove the freebie (as painful as it may seem), and brainstorm who makes up your ideal audience for your topic.
If you are new to the online world, and don’t have anything to reference quite yet, put some teasers out there. Smaller facebook groups centered around your topic idea are a great place to start. Peek around and see what questions are being asked, and which have the most engagement. I wouldn’t advise you base your entire offering off of these facebook groups, but they serve as a great starting point. I would also warn you from getting caught creating something that is too similar to what’s already been done. This can be an easy trap to fall into when basing your product off of an audience other than your own. This is just a starting point :).
I would also warn you from getting too knee deep into a course/product without first testing the waters. This doesn’t mean you have to create a free course, e-book or other product. You can simply write a few blog posts, share your insight on social media, host a free webinar or Periscope. Make sure you have a few people who show interest in your topic, and who become aware of who you are.
Once you know who your audience is, build a profile for them. What types of questions do they have, what are their struggles, and how can you help? The more you understand about your audience, the better your product will be geared toward them.
How will you deliver your product?
Once you’ve got the topic + audience in mind, the next step is to determine which type of product you will offer.
Here are a few info-products to consider:
- Physical product
- Digital product
Does your topic conduce itself best to a full-out e-course, or would a digital product be more appropriate? Determine whether how your content best makes sense for your customers. If it is a premium product, consider incorporating as much “done for you” concepts to save them the most time. These can include templates, e-mail copy, or worksheets. I have a mixture of a few delivery methods in the Share-worthy Design course, because I know everyone works differently. For this upcoming launch on April 27th I’m adding a physical product component through printing the in-depth course workbook! (stay tuned… you will get one for free if you are one of the first few to sign up!)
You can also offer tiered pricing if you are feeling especially ambitious! Select 2 or three delivery methods and separate them by price. Maybe the lowest tier is a simplified e-book over your topic, and the highest tier is a premium e-course with case studies.
Lots to consider in this step of the launching process!
Write your product/course content
Now down to the nitty gritty! It’s one thing to brainstorm your offering all day in Evernote, and a whole other thing to actually create the darned thing. Spend some time outlining your offering first, then schedule enough time to finalize content. Though I have videos for my e-course, and often speak candidly and off script, I write out each lesson. This helps me fully consider the entirety of the course, and plan accordingly. These notes also help me create slides that guide the students through the lesson.
Organize your content in a way that guides the customer through the process in the best light. If there is a particular order you’d like your students to go through in your e-course, be intentional about navigating them through your topic in way that is easiest to digest.
Select a platform
With a wealth of platforms and tools out there, it can be SO easy to get paralyzed when selecting which platform works best for you. I know I am definitely guilty of pulling out my calculator and determining which product generates the most profit on my end through minimal transaction fees.
If this is your first go at an info-product, I’ve indicated below with an asterisk (*) which ones I recommend you start with. I’ve done thorough research on this topic for my own offerings, and wasted WAY too much time testing products that aren’t the right fit. Here are a few recommendations to help guide you:
- *Teachery: A self-hosted e-course platform. I’ve switched to this platform for my course, and have no regrets. They offer the best rate for transaction fees (aka 0%) if you purchase the lifetime one-time-pay option. If you are new at e-courses, I recommend not diving knee deep quite yet with the lifetime plan, and suffer through transaction fees from one of the lower tiers first. Test it out, and make sure it works for your business.
*Affiliate link — I use this software myself for the Share-worthy Design course.
- Teachable: A self-hosted e-course platform. Great alternative to Teachery, and offers more customization. I’ve heard great things about this platform. With more customization comes more time fiddling with the platform and less about launching your e-course. Trust me, I’ve been there (see next bullet point)
- OptimizePress: This is a WordPress theme or plugin. I used OP for my entire course over this last year, but recently switched to hosting on Teachery since WordPress in general is too complex for my needs. #aintnobodygottimeforthat I still use OP for my landing page + sales page, since it allows for the most flexibility on my own domain.
- Wishlist Member: This is the membership plugin that I used to supplement OP. I would recommend this plugin if you are on WordPress.
- Memberful: An alternative to Wishlist Member. I’ve heard mixed reviews, but overall great things about this plugin.
Digital + physical products:
- *Gumroad: A great tool to sell your products. They are on their own platform, therefore you can use it if you are on WordPress or Squarespace. Gumroad offers the ability to have a subscription product, physical products with shipping info, or even hosts your videos for you if you have a recorded workshop for sale. I use this tool, and highly recommend it. Super easy to use and get started.
- Squarespace: You can purchase a commerce account to easily sell your products, or even services.
- Shopify: If products are your thing, and plan to make it a huge part of your business, I would advise hosting your site on the Shopify platform. They have created a great tool to streamline the selling process.
Develop a brand design for your offering
Now we’re getting to the fun stuff! I honestly did things out of order for my e-course, because I couldn’t wait that long before designing the branding for the course. I totally geeked out over it, and knew as a designer it would take some time for me to commit to one design for myself. Designing for yourself is tough business, y’all.
Before diving into design, you need to first determine whether you should create a fresh brand for your offering (ie: new logo, colors, type, the whole shebang), or if your product/course should be tucked under your current brand design. If you aren’t sure what the answer is to this branding quandary, I’ve released this lesson for free. So go ahead and watch the free lesson from the course, and determine which is the best plan for you. I’ll say that there is no one right and universal way to brand your products, and that instead there are a number of things to consider. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it in the free lesson.
Here are few elements to consider designing for your product:
- Primary course/product logo
- Typography selection
- Color palette
- Layout style (for e-books, or workbooks)
- Photography style
- Illustration aesthetic
Spread the word
Last, but certainly not least, is spreading the word about your latest offering. This is the icing on the cake, and you definitely should not neglect it. Promoting your course or product should be a priority in your process. Share behind the scenes peeks on instagram, write blog posts relating to your topic (practicing what I preach here!), and create images that show your potential customers what you’ve created.
I’ve got a whole slew of ideas for you in the Share-worthy Design course, and even walk you through how to easily create these branded images on your own. Don’t feel afraid of sharing what you’ve worked so hard on. Yes, you might lose some of your audience when you start selling… but that only means you are refining your audience to those who want to hear you and support you. I’ve been guilty of allowing that fear to prohibit me from spreading the word, and I’m sure sales suffered because of it. Lesson learned though, your audience wants to encourage you and see what you are up to! They follow you, or subscribe to your newsletter, for a reason. Show them what you’ve been up to!