Over the years, I have found that I really love to learn from other people’s experiences, whether it’s income reports or behind the scenes, project recaps, anything like that, especially a launch debrief, which is what I’ll be sharing today – the launch of online course.

The last few months, I have been launching the first round of my new program, Content to Clients. This program helps service-based business owners create a marketing plan and a content plan to help you save time and money, to help you get consistent clients so you have consistent income, so that you have more freedom in your business. 

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In the late fall last year, I decided I wanted to figure out a way to help more of my previous clients. I didn’t necessarily want to try and reach brand-new clients, though I’m certainly not opposed to that, but I wanted to see if there was something I could provide to help those past clients. I always believe that the easiest clients to get are ones that already trust you, and that’s usually people who have worked with you before.

I thought about some things that I noticed my clients have in common. I thought about common questions I get when working with clients and people who DM me on Instagram or email me, whatever. I do get a lot of website questions, like what to use for this, how to fix that. I also get a lot of questions from clients about what email marketing software to use and how to start using Instagram, what blog category should I have, what are blog categories, that kind of stuff.

Then, I also thought about one of the things I have gotten complimented on the most over the years: my content.

This isn’t something I’ve done once or for three months. It’s something that I’ve done for six years and I’ve seen a lot of results from. Many of my clients have mentioned in their inquiry forms that they watched a video or read a blog post and decided that, hey, I think you know what you’re talking about. You seem really trustworthy, really approachable and I want to work with you.

Thus, the idea for my online course Content to Clients was born.

I did an outline of things that I could cover to see what could fit together in one online course without being too overwhelming or too scattered. Basically, it walks people through how to layout their website effectively, create content and then promote it to get clients in the door with that client and with the help of your website. I wanted to be sure that the name of the program was clear and showed people what it was about.

Sometimes I feel like it can be tempting for entrepreneurs to want to come up with a name that’s really trendy or descriptive or fun, like the Arrow Collective or something. I don’t think that’s a name of anything. If it is, I’m really sorry. I wanted something that was going to make sense. I brainstormed some ideas for my online course with my business friends, my husband and even my sister.

After I came up with the name and had the firm outline of content that would be covered in the program, as well as all the logistical details figured out, like the price and the length of time, it was time to start creating my sales page. I followed a process that James Wedmore, a business coach and internet marketer that I follow, a process that he talks about called Monetize Before You Make It, which is pretty much what it sounds like. I created the sales page and started pitching it to people before I had fully completed and created all of the program content. I only had the outline at this point.

To help create the sales page for my online course, I combed through past client inquiries and reader surveys to see the exact words that people were using to talk about their struggles. So much of the sales page is literal verbiage that I have had clients and followers say to me at one time or another. I had a link to an application instead of a buy now button, because I wanted to make sure that people in the program were all a good fit and on the same level, which there were a handful of people who inquired about it, either informally or formally, and were not a good fit. I had to turn them away.

Then, I needed to start building my email list for my online course launch.

Another thing that James Wedmore has taught me is to do free workshops or webinars just as a list building exercise, like not associated with pitching anything or anything of that nature. In November, I held two free workshops that were topics related to what I will be covering inside Content to Clients.

I promoted these workshops on social media and to my existing list. Most of the people who registered were people new to my list. Only about 18% of people or, to save you the math, that’s about 10 to 15 people showed up live. Then, more watched the replay. On the first two workshops, I just did a pretty soft sell for my program, so kind of did the workshops partly as a list building exercise and partly as a way to start mentioning my program.

My first workshop was on November 1st. My second one was on November 15th. I had my first three members enrolled and paid before Thanksgiving. After these workshops, I started sending a weekly email to a segment of my list. The segment was made up of people who attended the workshops, who opted into certain freebies, who were my most engaged and who had worked with me or bought from me before.

It was right around Thanksgiving time that I actually decided to hire a copywriter to write some emails for me. It’s someone I’ve collaborated with before, and someone that specifically concentrates on online course launch emails. Her name is Margo Carroll. She was the best to work with. I’ve hired a handful of people for projects over the years, and she is at the top of the list. I’m not kidding. The experience of working with her and how thorough she was during the process blew me away.

One of the things she did that I think mattered the most is that she interviewed 10 of my past clients. She did this to get some insight into what it’s like to work with me. This showed Margot that the direct access to me is one of my clients’ favorite things, and that needed to be highlighted in the email copy. In addition to the client research calls, I also gave Margot access to all of my reader survey results from the last two years. All of this research gave Margot insight into my clients’ and audiences’ struggles and gave her the info she needed to craft the emails to market my online course.

Now, to be clear, she did not write all of my emails. I only had her write six of them. In December, which was my last full month before enrollment ended, because I was going to be ending enrollment before January 7th, because that was the first day of the program, I upped my promotion emails to about twice a week at this point. I also included more of my list in some of those emails. I knew that just because someone didn’t opt into a certain freebie or buy from me previously didn’t mean they wouldn’t also be interested in my program.

I was also planning to do one final workshop right after the new year. I also had some emails about that going out as well. During December, I also started talking about my program more on Instagram and a little bit on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The latter three were just automated posts. On Instagram, I would talk about it on my Stories and, also, did some regular posts on my feed as well.

Now, a new feature rolled out on Instagram some time in December as well called the Close Friends List.

Basically it lets you share Instagram Stories only to people you include or put on your Close Friends List. It feels a lot like the MySpace Top Nine, but there’s not a limit to how many people can be on there, as far as I know. People do not get a notification when they’re added to a list. If you post a story only to them, there is a little box that says like, “Only shared with Close Friends,” up in the top right corner.

I wanted to test this feature, so I added people to that list that were either on my email list or people that I interact with quite a bit and thought might be a good fit for my online course. I did talk about my program to all followers as well, but I did a few extra Stories to this Close Friends List a few times. Ultimately, this didn’t really have any effect, didn’t have any results. I did get two members from Instagram, but one was from a private DM conversation and one was a follower that was not on that Close Friends List.

By the end of December, I had five more members join. Now, something I did when I launched this program is set some goals. I set good, better and best goals for the enrollment. My good enrollment goal was four people. My better goal was to have 10 people. My best goal, and the cap on the enrollment total, was 20 people. Basic math, I was just two people away from meeting my better goal coming into 2019.

Now, moving on, on January 3rd, I held my last free workshop. Now, in all honesty, I knew this wasn’t great timing. People are not totally back into work usually. I mean let’s be honest, actually the whole launch wasn’t the greatest timing with it happening over the holiday season, but live and learn. I sent a reminder email about the workshop the day before, since the last reminder had been before Christmas. I had my workshop, and I had some bonuses for people who signed up before the end of the workshop and, also, even if they signed up by the end of the next day. That’s when enrollment ended.

It ended up only one person enrolled during the workshop. My tenth member came from Instagram. I mentioned earlier that two members came from Instagram, so one was in December and one was in the last few days of enrollment. I also had a few last emails going out after the workshop to everyone who attended or signed up. I had separate emails going out to my list to everyone else who didn’t sign up for the workshop at all. These, ultimately, did not bring any additional members, even though they did have a higher open and click rate than past emails that I’ve sent.

Looking back, overall, the one thing that worked the best during this online course launch was directly reaching out to people, whether that was either email or over social media. Things that did not work were my webinars, they were not super effective, having a super long, unnecessarily long launch and my bonuses didn’t really seem to entice people at all.

For my next online course launch, I’m going to do some different things.

I’m going to have a much, much shorter launch. This online course launch was only so long because I felt like I needed to kind of warm up my audience some more. Since it was the holiday season, I didn’t want that crunch time, close cart time, to be right during Christmas, which it almost kind of was anyway. Luckily, I will not have to deal with that in the future.

I could have also adjusted my start date and maybe started the program mid-January instead of right after the new year but, again, live and learn. Instead of doing webinars, I think I will instead be creating a video series to launch my online course. Y’all know I love video and, not to toot my own horn, but I’m good on video. I want to leverage that and see if that converts better than webinars.

Some people do ads during launches as well. I’m not sure if that’s something I’ll be trying in the future to or not. I have not decided that yet. I’ll also be shortening the program for the second round this spring, because I don’t want the program to crossover into the summer months. People get too busy and don’t truly finish the online course. They’re not coming to calls and that kind of thing.

I also got feedback from people who didn’t enroll as to why they didn’t enroll. I can take that feedback into consideration for different things about the program. I will be getting feedback from the current members during and after the program. Since this was a beta launch, I want to use this time to make it the best that I can.

That is the full recap. In short, it was basically two months of launching my online course, three webinars and I got 10 members. It was a $6,000 launch. I hope this was helpful to see, or hear actually, a full behind the scenes of a launch of a program. If you have questions about anything, I’m a pretty open book so feel free to DM me on Instagram.