073: Sell Your Course Before You Create It

If you are a service provider and serving clients one on one but want to leverage your time, this blog + video is for you.


Package Your Services as An Online Course

Let’s say you are a service professional. You are trading your time for money. You are serving your clients one on one. Now you are thinking how can I leverage my time?

Well, one way to do it is to package your services into an online course. But creating an online course involves a lot of time investment and money and know-how on how to set things up.

Plus, you have to research your idea and really know whether there is an interest. Before you go out and spend your time and money, researching your topic, creating your course, and setting it all up, I have one tip for you to consider:

Tip No. 1: Consider selling your course before building your course.

Now this may come as a new idea or you may have heard it before. In either case, I want to share with you my personal experience in my course creation journey so that you learn from it and avoid the mistakes that I made in the process.

About two years ago, I created my first online course. It was for my personal development site called Reflection Pond and the online course was called, “Happiness Gameplan”.

I invested a lot of time in research, I re-scripted my video at least four times before I went out and shot a single video and I bought a highly expensive camera to record all my videos, all on credit card because I was banking on the idea that I will make up the money when I sell my courses. It was to be my best work ever. It was a 45-video, six-module extravaganza that I spent a year and a half building. This included all the time I needed to research, write the script, shoot the video, edit the video, set it all up, researching different platforms to host the course and then, finally I launched it.

Sadly, I launched it to crickets. Not a single sale.

Market Validation is Key to Your Success

The step that I had missed was to actually find out if somebody was interested in that topic at all and whether that somebody was in my audience. I had already spent time building my list and my audience but I had not figured out whether or not my audience wanted to hear from me. It was a message I wanted to share so I went out and made my course.

This is not a smart way to go about it. You must first see whether or not there is interest in your topic.

So when it came time to build an online course for my current business, my web design business, I took plenty of time to figure out whether I wanted to invest my time and money in creating it and whether there was an interest in it. And in doing so, I avoided the number one mistake that most online course creators make and that is to build a signature course, a large course, and investing a lot of time and money without finding out whether there is a market for it, whether there is traction for your topic.

What are Your Clients Asking You to Solve For Them?

The way I went about creating my course, really came from my clients. I had a client who was doing live workshop. And after the live workshop was completed, he wanted a place to host it on his Squarespace site. So he hired me to build his online course home, and automate the delivery of the course once somebody purchases the course. This was a real life client who needed a real solution to his problem and that was to host his online course on his Squarespace website. After he hired me an idea popped into my mind. What if there were other people out there who also wanted to host their course on their Squarespace website. This actual project gave me the idea of creating an online course.

However, I was not ready to spend more time building it without knowing whether there is really an interest for it. So instead of creating an online course, what I did was, I created an online workshop. As a Squarespace Authorized Trainer, I had already been doing online workshops for about a year, so this came very easy to me and it was an easy next step to build. I pitched it to my audience and it turned out that they were interested in it. After there were sales for my online workshops only then I was ready to build my online course. When I had the online workshop, I carved it out as a three-part live session. So I would prepare the content in the weeks between and then go live and present my powerpoint presentation and hold my live workshop on the topic.

And in doing so I realized that there was a lot of nitty gritty details involved in hosting a course on Squarespace. I was able to really dive deep in every step needed in setting it all up. After the online workshop was over, I decided to then take the next step and turn it into an online course. So the next thing I did, I pitched my online course to my audience. I presented the value of hosting their course on Squarespace and then invited them to join the online course.

Once there were sales, actual students who wanted to be part of my course, only then did I go and build that online course.

Now this can be very nerve-racking for many course creators because once you have students then you are supposed to go and build in a very limited amount of time. For some people this may work because it gives you a real deadline because you have to publish content by a certain date because there are actual students waiting for that content. On the other hand, it may be very stressful.

Create Your First $200 Mini-Course

The way to solve that is to create a mini-course, a small course, instead of creating a large, signature product. At least that is my experience and that is my suggestion that for your very first course it should be a small, let’s say, a $200-$300 mini-course. In my case, it happens to be a three-module course with multiple videos, but all the content can be consumed in two and a half hours. So somebody can sign up to the course on a Friday, binge-watch all the videos on Saturday and host their course on their Squarespace website on Sunday. So that’s what I did. I created a small mini-online course and that was much more feasible for me.

Of course, that month when I had to deliver the videos it was crunch time all the time and of course, it was a very intense and a lot of pressure to deliver on time and create a good product at the same time. So it can be very time consuming and intense but it is for a short amount of time and you already know that there is an interest.

So in that way, I avoided the second mistake that online course creators make and that is to create a big course as their first course.

Tip #2 is to create a mini-course $200-$300 that you can produce within a month.

So those are my two tips for you if you are considering online course creation as a way to leverage your time to create revenue avenues from your website: Create a mini-course and then host it on your Squarespace website.

If you’d like to know more about this online course that I referred to, it’s called Host Your Online Course. It is a three-part online course instantly available when you sign up. You can learn more at sophiaojha.com/hyc. To help you create your first online course, I’ve created a step-by-step guide that you can download for free. Just go to sophiaojha.com/guide.

Thank you!

Get Your Free Guide: How to Sell and Create Your First $200 Mini-Course

Download my 5 Page PDF where I share with you the exact 11 steps I took to sell my online course and create sales before creating the online course.

How to sell your course before creating it. Mini-Course

how to sell your online course

My biggest lesson ⎯⎯ Sell Your Course Before Creating It

In summary: Before you invest countless hours and dollars into creating your online course, my tip is that you get some commitment from you audience before venturing out to create it.

Your Turn:

What do you think of the message in this blog article? Do you have a course created or are you planning on one? If so, let me know in the comments what your course is all about/will be about. Chime in! I’d love to hear from you!

~ Sophia

Free Live Training

Want to learn about what options you have when hosting an online course on Squarespace? Then come to my free live training. You will learn:

✔︎ the 3 benefits of hosting your course on Squarespace,
✔︎ visual examples of course page layouts you can design inside Squarespace,
✔︎ the 7 things you need to have before you can sell your online course and
✔︎ how you can leverage your Squarespace site and save time & money.  

Hello! Glad to Meet You!

Squarespace Authorized Trainer Sophia Ojha

I am Sophia - the person behind this website. My intention is to provide useful content that helps solopreneurs, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations to build trust with their audience, grow the number of beloved fans as well as happy clients. I'm a Squarespace Authorized Trainer and a Certified ConvertKit Expert.

I love helping people through producing my weekly video tutorials and blogs, live workshops and online courses. Also, I work directly with clients in all aspects of content and email marketing strategy + implementation as well as designing high-converting Squarespace websites. Let me know in the comments if you've got a question and I'd be happy to help.