The Startup
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The Startup

Ugly Confessions From an Online Course Seller

Most Online Course Creators Will Never Tell You This

Photo by Sander Sammy on Unsplash

Today I’m going to walk you behind the scenes of selling online courses.

But first, some context:
I’ve been selling online courses for a decade. And I’ve sold courses at all price points you can imagine. From dirt cheap ($1 free trial periods) to $2000 courses.

I’ve created online courses because I love to do so. It’s been really a passion business. But you know what? Even passion can vanish with the ugly truth you’re going to hear.

Here it is:
Most people who bought my courses DID NOT get results.

Ouch.

You see, I was in this business to change people life’s (and mine in the process). Sounds cheesy, I know. But I swear to God it’s true.

I noticed a common pattern: Most people simply didn’t take action.

You see, most creators simply look at how much money they make. They don’t understand that money is just part of the equation. You can only build a business on the long term with customer satisfaction.

Getting your clients results fuels your business with testimonials and mouth referrals.

Can you spit on those 2 essential marketing levers? I can’t.

You may hate or love Amazon; they placed the customer at the center of their business. And they grew to almost $ 2 Billion market cap.

Focus on the results, not the sales

Most of my clients didn’t get results. They bought my courses and went back to their daily lives. Only a minority took the bull by the horns and made it happen.

I started to dig deeper and asked people why’s that the case. What did I miss? What could I improve?

And truth is… there wasn’t anything they pointed out I’ve done wrong.
I overdelivered. I added unannounced bonuses. I gave them more bang for their buck.

But guess what? The results were the same.

I realized that online courses are not different from any kind of information product. May it be a book or a good ol’ audiotape.

How many books on your shelf did you read from cover to cover?
And how much of this small percentage did you actually apply?

Ugly. I know.

The “high-ticket” fallacy

High tickets gurus will tell you that selling the high ticket is the best way for people to engage because they put skin in the game. But that’s not true.

I saw people getting results on 50 bucks courses, and people who never even watched more than one video on a $2000 course.

The difference? Determination to change their lives.

While it may seem easier to make more money by selling to fewer customers and increasing your prices, don’t think that higher prices equal more action.

Picture this:
You’ve done a great job at marketing your stuff. Now comes the moment of truth. They realize that the course you’re selling can change their life. Forever. They deeply feel inside them that the insights they’re going to discover in your course will solve all their problems. In that high euphoria state of mind, you’ve sold them on the idea.

But they may not have the money. So what do they do?

They think with their emotions and shut down their pre-frontal cortex. They max out their credit cards. They borrow from their mother-in-law. They do whatever they can do to get their hot little hands on it.

The problem with emotions is that they don’t last. (Noticed “motion” in “emotion”?)

So what I like to do is some form of repelling. I deliberately make them cool off in all my marketing material. I tell them about the rainbows but also about the dark sides of anything I’m selling. I tell them that if they’re in debt — I don’t want them to buy.

How will they run a business if they can’t manage their budget to buy enough toilet paper?

While I can’t change human nature, I can at least help them make better decisions and avoid financial nightmares.

Action Takers are… Action Takers

Taking action is not related to a price tag.

Taking action is a mindset.

I saw with my bare eyes that there’s no correlation between spending $49 or $4900 and results.

Sure, for some, the higher price may be an incentive to take it seriously.

But for others, selling at higher prices can backfire.

How’s that? Many feel like a piece of crap because they didn’t take action and spent crazy money on a course.

The Psychology Of Eradicating Inaction

Let’s be clear: We can’t eliminate inaction. But what we can do is lower it.

Your goal as a creator who sells online courses is not only to create (and market) a great course. You’ll also have to take care of what happens in the backend.

One of the methods you can use is what I call “course-chunking.”

Instead of selling a “complete system to go from dead broke to hedge fund investor,” chunk things down:
- Show them first how to pay off their debt and how to get their daily finances right.
- After that, show them how to make $100 extra.
- Then, show them how to make a full-time living,
- and so on.

Humans underestimate how long a project takes but overestimate how quickly they can get things done. Plus, don’t forget that we’re all impatient. Creating smaller courses with more tangible outcomes will help.

(And selling courses with smaller outcomes does not mean selling them for cheap. But that’s a story for another day.)

Another path to explore is to leverage urgency and FOMO in different ways:
- Instead of selling a lifetime access, limit the access to the course to a specific month period (3 months, 6 months, etc.)
- Bonus in life coaching sessions

Finally, you could also leverage what I call the “personal touch”:
- Keep checking in about their progress. Make sure to tell them that you’re here to help.
- Offer them a short personal coaching session to keep them going

Most creators don’t care once they catch the fish. What they do is they continue on their journey to sell more.

But not to their existing clients!

Marketing 101: The most profitable persons on your email list are your clients. Not those who didn’t buy.

If you want to succeed badly as a course creator, here it is: It’s not just about selling courses. It’s about changing people’s lives.

If you truly internalize this sentence and apply it to everything you do, you’ll crush your competition who are not thinking long term. Maybe not by tomorrow, but the compound affects those who play the long game.

If you’d like to level up your content creation, click here to sign up for my secret emails (safe link to my website)

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