Online courses are an incredible way to share your expertise and knowledge on a particular topic, while also delivering incredible value to those who seek to learn what you know. If you’re launching an online course for the first time, or relaunching a course you previously launched but didn’t get the results you were expecting, it can feel a bit overwhelming.
So in this post we’re gonna share our no-fail online course launch checklist and break down online course launching at its best!
What Makes an Online Course Launch Successful?
The same thing that makes any launch successful… a strong offer. To ensure a successful online course launch you want to consider a few things:
- Is there a demand for what I want to teach by people who want to learn it?
- Has someone out there successfully launched, or is currently successfully launching, a similar course idea or topic?
- Can what I want to teach be consumed as a course?
If you answered yes to all of those questions, then you have a strong foundation for a successful online course launch.
How Do I Launch an Online Course?
Launching an online course consists of a few phases.
- Ideation: Brainstorming on all of the potential ideas that you have expertise in and could deliver as an online course.
- Market Research: Doing your research to ensure that you answer the top two questions in the section above.
- Planning: Mapping the outline of your course and planning for the assets you’ll need as part of your launch.
- Selling: Decide on your specific offer and get out there and get people in!
- Creation: Teaching your content to those in the course.
- Reflect: Reflecting on the experience you created by gathering feedback from both your students, yourself, and your team.
- Adjust: Continually make adjustments to optimize the marketing, selling, and delivery of your course.
What Types of Strategies Should Be Used for an Online Course Launch?
Well there’s two schools of thought on this:
- Sell first, create second (and typically run it live at least the first time)
- Create first, sell second (and run it pre-recorded with or without a live element)
The benefits of the first option are that you first establish there is a demand for the course before spending a whole lot of time and energy creating something people aren’t actually gonna buy. It’s important to consider if you are able to easily tweak the content week by week if you’re running it live, to address the needs of the people going through the course.
They’re pretty much helping guide the creation. To the same end – you don’t want to spend a whole lot of time and energy creating content that doesn’t actually address the needs of the people you’re trying to help, in the flow by which will serve them best.
The second option works best if you already have a proven framework or process that you’ve tested out live in some capacity. For example, either through 1:1 done for you or done with you services, or in a live group format. That way you have evidence the framework or process already creates a result.
Your Online Course Launch Checklist & Template To Make Sure You Do It Right
How that we’ve discussed the initial steps you should take before launching an online course, let’s review an online course launch checklist you can easily follow step by step.
Step 1 – Craft your offer.
Use this step-by-step 6 W’s framework to guide your offer creation:
- Who: Clarify Your Ideal Client – Who is the dream client for this offer? Who would get the most benefit and highest outcomes from going through this experience with you?
- What: Describe the program + promise – Brief explanation of the container. How long is it? What format (group, 1:1, DIY course)?
- When: Set the launch date – When does it start? What is the actual date they will gain access to the program / course and how will the schedule unfold?
- Why: Highlight the promise + and the benefits – What are the outcomes they can expect from this offer? This should describe the transformation. Where will they be at the end of this experience? What will they walk away knowing or being?
- How: Outline the deliverables – What do they get in terms of tangible assets or deliverables? For example, private portal of # of trainings, private Facebook group, etc.
- How much: Explain investment options – Pay-in-Full: Avoid discounting and include value-add bonuses instead. Payment Plans: Typically coaches will extend payment plans only through the course of the deliver, but there is also the option to offer an extended payment plan. You can consider deposits or down payments for people to secure their spot that will lower the monthly investment.
Step 2 – Decide by which method you want to launch your course.
As discussed above, you’ll want to decide if you want to pre-sell your course, then create, or create first then sell.
Step 3 – Map out your launch dates.
There are quite a few considerations when deciding upon a course launch date, so you’ll want to take some time to choose. You always want to choose your launch date first (as we did in #1 above). From there you can reverse engineer all other phases of your delivery and marketing plan.
Then, you’ll want to decide your pre-launch, launch, and post-launch windows.
Step 4 – Design your marketing plan.
Your marketing plan is essential to the success of your launch. You’ll want to consider the following:
- How you will start to gain visibility and seed the course before you start selling. Consider how you can start creating attraction on social media, within your email list, or in other creative ways.
- By what methods you’re going to sell your course. Will you host a challenge or webinar? Market directly to existing people on your list in a pre-sale? Make a special offer to existing clients to cross-sell them into your course?
- How will you drive traffic to whatever method you wish to use to sell your course. Think about the potential for both organic traffic like: social media platforms, your email list, affiliate partnerships, and paid traffic like ads on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Google.
Step 5 – Outline your customer journey and fulfillment experience.
This is very often an afterthought once the course launches, but in reality is the most crucial part! Imagine spending all of this time and energy on your attraction and marketing, converting people into your course, and then failing to deliver on your promise to those that invested in you.
Not only does it create an underwhelming experience for them, it’s not a wise or effective way to do business. Effectively delivering on what you promise, wowing your clients, creating an impactful experience… that is what creates repeat clients and referrals. And helps you to find joy and purpose through the impact you’re creating with your course.
Step 6 – Assess your needs.
This is super important and actually should be done in tandem with your marketing plan, customer journey, and fulfillment mapping. One reason why some coaches don’t reach their goals for launching anything, be it a course, a program, or whatever else, is because they don’t have the appropriate pieces or support in place to successfully execute their launch.
Launches become overwhelming, create distress, breakdowns, and disappointment when you don’t have a solid plan in place. And it’s not that every detail needs to be dialed in, but when you have at least a high level plan with some of the details dialed in, it takes the pressure off figuring out other things (and breakdowns) as the launch progresses.
So, you’ll definitely want to take some time to reflect on what it’s going to take to successfully reach your launch goals, and then make sure that you’ve got the key pieces in place to execute BEFORE you dive in.
Step 7 – Dial in your messaging.
This is both the fun and challenging part. Having a clear message, strong copy, and a solid offer will help to ensure you call forward the ideal client for your course.
Doing exercises like creating your ideal client avatar, customer interviews, or market research calls will help you to develop strong messaging which will attract the right people. Your messaging should be as specific as you can get it.
Your ideal client should be able to picture themselves in your words, and clearly understand the value and benefit and transformation that’s possible should they choose to enroll in your course. Messaging that is too broad, or speaks only into the pain points, or more to what they actually receive rather than the transformation and outcomes could attract people that aren’t ready to enroll in your course.
And although it can seem honorable to want to serve as many people as possible, a launch is an investment of both your time and the people that follow you, and you want to honor that too!
Step 8 – Create your project plan.
When executing any launch, it’s helpful to have both a marketing plan (or strategy) and a project plan. What’s the difference?
As mentioned above, your marketing plan focuses on what key activities are taking place within each phase of your launch. Your project plan is a more detailed roadmap of what needs to happen when, by whom, and in what way to support the successful (and less stressful) execution of your launch.
Using your marketing plan as your guide, start by developing a week by week guide for each of the phases of your launch. Then, take time to consider what specifically gets to happen to support each of those activities.
What assets are you going to create? Who is involved? You can use a project planning software like Asana or ClickUp to map out the more detailed version of your project plan, or even a simple Google spreadsheet will do.
Pro tip: Look at your project plan together as a team each week to ensure everyone is aware of the priorities and can hold each other accountable to the parts of the launch they own.
Now that you have an online course launch checklist to stay organized and on task, it’s time to get to work and create your most successful launch yet!
It’s typical to hear coaches say that launching is stressful. And we’ve all seen those ads about automating and evergreening your launch so you can avoid the stress.
But launching can be super fun and create amazing results if you have the proper planning, systems, and team in place to support it. And to get clarity on those things, using an online course launch checklist will help you know exactly what will support you!
Remember – it doesn’t need to be perfect, you just need to start.
Want an easy to follow project planning online course checklist that you can use for ANY launch you’re doing? It even includes the activities you should plan for during each stage of your launch from pre-pre-launch to post-launch! Grab it below!