38 Things Nobody Talks About When Launching An Online Course

I’ve earned over a million dollars from creating and launching online courses.

To get to that point, I’ve done it all: launching an online course in the health and wellness space when I was brand new, selling evergreen products that are always for sale at low price points, and creating high end programs that cost thousands and are only available to purchase during a launch window. 

One thing I’ve noticed is that there are certain things about launching an online course that nobody talks about.

From marketing and technology to “sweat equity,” I want to share what I’ve learned over the years so you can save yourself some of the frustration and emotional ups and downs that come with launching an online course.

Keep reading if you plan to launch a course or program soon – or if you’ve launched before and you want to see what other humans go through during a launch.

Launching an online course

Table of Contents

What It Takes To Successfully Market An Online Course

Until you’ve completed a launch and earned five or six figures from it, you don’t know exactly what might be missing… that could get you from mediocre to kick-ass results.

Here are some things you might not expect, that tend to yield amazing launch results:

Selling online courses

1. Sell Your Ecourse Individually As a Proof Of Concept First

I’ve made this mistake myself, and it’s one I see newer business owners make all the time. They jump from an idea to creating an ecourse before they go through the process of trying to sell it individually first.

If you can’t convince someone through a one-on-one conversation in person, over the phone, or via email/social media that this course is going to be beneficial for them, you won’t be any more likely to sell it by doing a big marketing launch for it online.

This doesn’t mean you need to sell your online courses via 1–1 channels, but if you’ve tried to sell a course that was a flop, going back to that person-to-person interaction can tell you where you might have missed the mark in your description or design of your ecourse.

Facebook ads for online course

2. A Big Facebook Ad Budget Doesn’t Guarantee Your Course Will Be Profitable

Spending a lot on Facebook ads doesn’t automatically lead to sales. You could be targeting the wrong people or building a list of potential customers who don’t want or need your product. You could also be running ads directly to a sales page that isn’t converting.

The bottom line is: dollars in doesn’t automatically guarantee dollars out when you’re doing ads.

3. You’ll Procrastinate On The Important Stuff (But You’ll Do Better If You Prioritize)

You’ll always leave the most important thing to the last minute (like finishing your sales page or webinar presentation) but if you get it done early, you’ll do so much better.

Having your sales page done ahead of time means you can get feedback on it from an advisor, your peers, and even potential customers.

An additional bonus to having your webinar presentation outlined and ready to go a few days before you present is that you can run through it and practice your delivery.  This both reduces stress and improves your results!

Product launch videos

4. You Don’t Need a 3-Part Video Series To Launch Well

You don’t need to create a complicated 3 video pre-launch sequence to sell well, but there are important things to think about for your marketing campaign to work.

It’s easy to assume that the “formula” for launches is what makes other people’s programs and online courses successful or profitable. But in my experience, it’s not the format (videos, audio, PDF downloads, a social media challenge, a webinar, or a combination thereof) of your pre-launch content that matters … it’s the message and the clarity of your product promise.

5. Don’t Model Your Launch Based On Someone Else’s Course

From the outside looking in, you might think that a certain tactic of someone else’s launch (like a video, an ad campaign, or an affiliate promotion) is working wonders. But behind the scenes, the business owner might know that this particular piece of their launch was a loss-leader meant to get them on someone’s radar – or they might have even wished that they had waited to send that particular email.

That’s why it’s always better to plan your launch based on sound marketing principles that are informed by your own business, clients, and goals.

6. Your Affiliates Aren’t Going To Sell Your Course For You – That’s Your Job

Getting affiliates on board for your online product launch is great, but it’s not going to guarantee the success of your online course. In my experience, only 20% of affiliates really promote well.  Even if you’ve got big names or someone with a large audience, they’re not responsible for selling your ecourse… that’s your job.

Yes, you can do your best to create amazing affiliate resources to make it easier for your partners to help promote, but remember: they’re also busy business owners with their own goals and projects. Don’t depend on them to reach your goals.

Getting course affiliates

(Fancy affiliate dashboards are great, but ultimately having someone who really believes in your product is what makes an affiliate successful.)

7. Offering Payment Plans Will Impact How Many Sales You Make

Pricing your online course is one of the trickiest parts of launching. With an information product, you can really charge anywhere from $10 to $10,000, depending on the value it brings to your ideal customers.

One thing that will impact how many sales you make is whether or not you offer a payment plan. Sometimes people want to sign up, but they just don’t have the money in their bank account today.

Giving people the option to pay in installments makes it easier for them to say “yes.” (Be prepared to follow up on defaulted payments, because credit cards do expire!)

8. Your Course Name Matters, So Don’t Be Cheesy

People make a judgement call about your online course based on the name, so make it memorable and clear… don’t try to make it clever and don’t be cheesy. (I’m guilty of this one!)

Changing the name of course down the line is a lot of work, so spend some time brainstorming on your course name. Run it by a few of your ideal clients before committing.

I like to think of course names in a few different ways to see if they have that “longevity factor”… Could this be the name of a book? The name of a live event? Would someone recommend it to a friend by name alone?

9. Launching An Online Course Means Answering Questions About It

While you’re promoting your program during your pre-launch marketing campaign, your job is to be present to answer questions about the course.

Unless you have someone on your team who is dedicated to answering these questions, this is your time in the “sales person” role. Make sure you don’t leave too many last-minute tasks to be done during this period.

You might find that you’re spending a lot of time answering some of the same questions about your ecourse on social media and email. Take note – these are the things you’ll want to add to your sales page in an “FAQ section”.

Online course branding

10. What Your Product Stands For Is Just As Important As The Problem It Solves

People buy into the “why” and the ethos behind your course just as much as they buy into the “what.”

Many online courses are designed to educate or solve a particular problem in someone’s life. If you dig deeper into why you’re so passionate about this particular issue or topic, you’ll be able to give people a reason to join you that goes beyond the shallow stuff.

Oh, and if you’re just creating an ecourse because you wanna make some money, people will sniff that out and your launch won’t be as successful. Reconnect with your reason for being in business (beyond the money) and allow that to come through in your marketing.

11. Plan To Spend a Lot Of Time Writing Emails & Copy (Or Hire It Out)

Every time I launch, I’m reminded of how much writing is involved!

Whether you plan for it ahead of time or you hire someone to help you map it out and get it written, it’s important. Your ability to write compelling emails that get people to open and click to your sales pages and pre-launch content is key to a successful launch.

12. You’ll Be Tired Of Repeating Yourself, But Don’t Stop Repeating Yourself

By the time your launch wraps up, you’ll be so tired of repeating your message. From the core promise of your product to the benefits people will experience as a result of your course (or simply that the cart is closing), you’ll have repeated yourself more than you thought possible!

But it’s important to keep going. People need to hear it.

It can take up to 12 touch points for someone to connect with an idea and take action on it (like clicking that buy now button, ka-ching!). So don’t stop at 11!

Ecourse copywriting

13. Plan To Spend At Least 10 Hours Writing Your Sales Page Headline

I’ve already mentioned that creating an online course involves a lot of time spent writing your copy… but one area that doesn’t get enough attention is the headline.

This could be the headline of your sales page, the headline or title of your webinar opt-in page, or the subject line of your “last call” sales email.

Put more energy and time on these “high leverage” words. Instead of coming up with something clever, use the words your ideal clients tend to use to describe their problems.

The Technical Side Of Creating An Ecourse

One of the biggest hurdles to launching an online course is the technical side. From taking payments and delivering your ecourse to doing all the marketing, there are a ton of different things to figure out.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years of creating ecourses and developing the software that powers many of the most popular courses space today.


14. You Don’t Need To Invest A Ton In Tech Stuff (Until You’re Ready)

I bootstrapped my business and in the early days I didn’t spend a ton on tech tools. I don’t think you need to, either. Although all of the money I made from selling my online courses was re-invested right back into making them more successful the next time around, I didn’t sign up for pricey software until I was ready.

At the end of the day, people aren’t going to care what tech tool you’re using to run your online course as long as they get the results they signed up for. I say this as the creator of a course and membership plugin for WordPress, so that’s saying something!

That being said, when you are ready to upgrade and up level your courses, working with the best tools can bring in a great return on investment.

Hiring a techy VA

15. Hiring A Techy Virtual Assistant Is Good… Until It Isn’t

I often see people looking to hire a technical virtual assistant before they get ready to launch an online course. While you don’t want to spend unnecessary hours setting up your ecourse yourself if that’s not your strong suit, I also want to caution that you’ll still need to learn the basics.

Hiring tech help is good, but you need to know enough about the technical tools you’re using to be dangerous.

Think about it: even if you find and hire the best virtual assistant who knows all the technical ins and outs, this person could bail on you, have a medical emergency come up, or otherwise disappear right when you need them most. If you need to hire someone else in a pinch, you can explain what needs to get done.

16. Choosing Your Membership Site Plugin Matters (But It Might Change)

One of the most common questions I get asked is: “what’s the best membership site plugin out there for running an online course?!”

Truthfully, there are a ton of great options. It all depends on your current cashflow (see point #14 above) and on the features you’re looking for.

For example, many people love our AccessAlly Pro membership plugin because it’s focused on the user experience and on design. But there are other membership plugins that are a little more “bare bones” and still get the job done, like Wishlist Member or OptimizeMember.

The most important thing to look for in a membership site plugin is whether it will integrate with the systems you’re using (whether that’s the payment system or the email marketing system you plan to use), and if it will give you the ability to switch to a different system down the line.

Having used a number of different plugins over the years, I love that I’ve been able to progressively upgrade as my business has gotten more sophisticated and successful.

Online course members area

17. Design and User Experience Matter – Before, During, and After The Sale

Branding and design matter because they communicate to people exactly what you stand for and what kind of experience people can expect.

One thing you don’t want to do is to have an amazingly high-end experience on the “outside” of your ecourse during your marketing campaign, then slap together a members-only area that leaves people scratching their heads.

You want whatever experience (high end, quirky, fun, etc.) you have before people sign up for your course follow through to the sign up process and the delivery.

That’s true mastery. People will love you for it – and tell their friends about it!

18. No Matter How Many Times You Test Your Tech Stuff… Poopoo Happens

This happens to the best of us – techy or not! No matter how many times you test things, there always seems to be an unforeseen issue or snafu that comes up during a launch.

We’ve had our hosting server go down at the exact time that a big promotional partner sent an email about our launch. We’ve also had times where someone’s credit card didn’t process so they re-tried…and got charged more than once.

Yes, sometimes your internet goes out during a webinar or your microphone wasn’t on when you hit “record” on that video take. Files get overwritten, passwords don’t get sent like they should, and there are weird browser issues that you didn’t anticipate.

My best advice? Poopoo happens, but it doesn’t mean you’re a bad business owner – you just need to be prepared to handle the tech tangle when it comes your way.

Launching an online course gamification

19. Most People Don’t Finish The Online Courses They Buy (But You Can Help Them!)

You probably already know this, but most people who purchase an online course don’t end up finishing it. They start out with the best of intentions, but busy-ness and life gets in the way.

Your job as a course creator is to make it easy for people to finish – and most importantly, to take action on – your course content so that they get the results you promised them.

You can do that by really thinking through and designing your ecourse with the student in mind. Add gamification and progress tracking, and offer support that extends beyond the course materials. This is usually where the magic of having a group or another method of ongoing access to you really comes in.

20. Figuring Out The Tech Stuff Should Not Be a Last Minute Item

Launches are stressful enough as is it is; you don’t want to leave the tech stuff to the last minute. Instead, figure out which systems you’ll be using ahead of time so you can make sure they all play nice together… that will then free you up to focus on being present during your launch and marketing campaign.

Don’t put yourself in the position of sitting on hold with tech support the night before you send the next launch email to see if they can fix an issue.

Set up the tech systems ahead of time and sleep soundly at night.

The Launch Rollercoaster: Emotional Ups and Downs

I’ve been describing launches as a rollercoaster ride for years, and for good reason. There are a ton of highs during a launch – from a happy customer writing to thank you for changing their life – to really crummy lows like your PayPal account getting frozen so you can’t accept payments.

Here are some of the things I’ve personally experienced, and how you can “go with the flow” even when you’re a little ragged from your launch.


21. Your Online Course Idea Is Brilliant… Until Someone Else Launches A Similar Course Days Before You

It’s amazing how the courses other people are launching can affect your confidence as an entrepreneur. You might, for example, be planning a fabulous ecourse… only to see that someone else has already done it. And it just takes the wind out of your sails.

Don’t let it get to you. If you’re really passionate about the topic and you know you can help people, then it doesn’t matter that there are other courses or instructors out there.

In fact, competition in your space is usually a sign that there’s a market for the type of product or course you’re thinking of creating.

Your people might also prefer to learn from you, and they may decide to learn from more than one person. I’ve taken many courses about marketing, parenting/birth, and computer science. I’ve also read many books about the exact same topic… and no one is telling authors of popular topics like productivity or self-help to stop writing about these things!

Launching an online course

22. You’ll Hit Refresh On Your Inbox Like a Cocaine Addicted Rat For Hours On End

I hate to admit this, but when I’m doing a launch promotion I turn into a “check the stats” junkie. I find myself checking the “sales folder” in my inbox every few minutes or checking our dashboards to see how many opt-ins our site is getting.

It’s bad! But I’ve come to realize that this type of addictive behavior is part and parcel of the launch rollercoaster.

(Oh, and in my early days when the launches didn’t bring in a ton of sales, I was a mopey rat. I still checked the stats, but was often met with a depressing “no new emails”.)

23. You Might Want To Puke Before a Webinar…And You’ll Still Be Sad About Your Turnout, No Matter How Great It Is

I still get nervous before putting on a webinar, even though (a) I’ve practiced and (b) I know exactly what to expect by this point.

Speaking of which, no matter how many people show up live I still feel like I could have had a better turnout. That takes me back to my early webinars and tele-seminars, where the only people who called in were my parents!

But when it comes right down to it, the best part is really connecting with the people who are there live. No matter what the numbers are (or aren’t), I’m grateful for every single person who shows up and I give it my best for them.

24. You and Your Team Will Get Burned Out From Launching

I think there’s a lot of power in the “open and close” launch model. A deadline gives people an incentive to sign up for the online course.

But if you’re only bringing in revenue into your business during your big launches, there is a lot of strain on you and your team. If your entire business is built on the big splash launch model, it can burn you and your team out. It also causes a lot of financial uncertainty because your launch needs to reach certain goals in order for your business to stay profitable.

That’s why I love mixing online course launches with more evergreen “always available” products and programs, so you’re not ever left in a desperate situation…people can feel it when you’re marketing from a place of fear.

25. You Can Invest A Ton In Top-notch Branding and Design… But If Nobody Wants What You’re Selling, You’re Outta Luck

Launching an ecourse

This is a sad reality, and I’ve seen it happen to too many good entrepreneurs. You can invest a huge budget (5 figures, even!) into your site’s branding, design, and video production…but if you haven’t figured out the exact course people are looking for, you won’t make the sales you’re after.

I’ve already mentioned that I believe branding and design is important for launches, especially as the market gets more sophisticated and evolved. But I don’t think that working with “high end” stuff is what makes launches successful.

At the end of the day, people still buy into the promise of the course and what results they’ll get out of it. Period.

You need to nail your marketing message and make sure that you’re creating what people want and need.

26. You’ll Look Back Fondly On The Days Where Taking a Shower Was Normal

During particularly intense launches, you might step one foot out of bed and rush to your computer to check your email, follow up with people and tasks, and scurry around to keep your launch on track…

That kind of dedication might help you pull through heavy workloads and answer a lot of questions about your course on social media, but it’s unsustainable. Especially for anyone who lives with you and who might prefer to see you shower on a regular basis!

Launches are short, intense sprints; be sure to maintain a good focus on the big picture.

27. You’ll Want To Pull The Plug On Your Own Launch

Ahh yes…this is something I’ve counseled many people on. Trust me when I say that it happens to everyone, myself included: you will doubt your product and your launch.

You might want to cancel the emails you had planned to sell. You might want to go completely quiet on social media mid-way through. You might want to pull the plug on the whole online course.

But here’s a secret: most of the sales come right at the end. The last day of a launch is usually the most profitable. If you don’t stick to your plans and tell people that your cart is closing and the special offer is expiring…you’ll probably miss out on the best part of your launch and at least half the sales!

28. You Will Think That Your Launch Results Reflect Your Worth As a Human Being

You might start taking every sale or lack thereof as a reflection of your self-worth as a human being.

Don’t. How many sales you make, and whatever comments people share with you about your launch or your ecourse, does not reflect your value as a business owner or person.

It’s just one of the things you’ve created in your life – with many more where it came from.

Designing Your Online Course With Sweat Equity

Creating an ecourse that you plan to sell online is a lot like building a house. There are two basic ways of getting it done: you can hire someone else to do it…or, you can put a lot of your own time and energy into learning how to design, build, and decorate a home.

The first way requires you to invest money and other resources to complete your project. The second method requires you to invest time and energy into learning and implementing. The second way is called sweat equity, and it pays off.


Launching an online course rollercoaster

29. Late Nights & Little Details

When you’re doing something for the first time, you just don’t know what you don’t know yet. That usually means little details you didn’t anticipate (whether it’s a tech trick to hook two systems up, or a marketing concept that simplifies your whole launch sequence). It also means some late nights.

Even to this day, with incredibly detailed launch plans and a team to help implement everything, there are little details that we don’t think through and late nights are spent to get everything ready for big launches.

That doesn’t mean that it never gets easier, because launching does get easier! But it’s almost impossible to predict every little thing that needs to get done during a project like creating and selling an ecourse.

Online course amount of work

30. Creating an Online Course Is 3x The Amount Of Work You Think It Is

It’ll only take “this much” work…

Here’s why it takes 3 times the amount of work you estimate to create an ecourse:

  1. There’s the work of planning your launch – this is 1/3 of the time involved in creating a successful product.
  2. There’s the work of launching the course itself – this is the time it takes to tell the world about your new course in a compelling and effective way. (Hint: this doesn’t happen overnight.)
  3. There’s the work of creating the course curriculum and delivering the content – this is the part most people plan for, but the other two parts are just as important and crucial for a profitable course!

31. You Will Need To Re-Create Your Course Content After You Launch

Chances are that no matter how much thought you put into your course design, you’ll want to re-do parts of it (or all of it) once you’ve had real live students go through it.

This is a good thing! Having real feedback from paying customers means that you can make your course better for future students. With feedback, you are also given the opportunity to tweak your course for current students.

Taking constructive criticism well enables you to make necessary alterations that will cut down on the number of questions you get. In turn, you will find that your testimonials and marketing becomes easier… because people will have better results to report!

32. The First Week Of Your Online Course Is Key To Reducing Refunds

The first week of your online course is crucial to establishing the tone of your course and getting people off to a great start. It’s really tempting to try to cram everything you possibly can into the first module or week of a course…but you don’t want to overwhelm people.

Instead, focus on putting together an amazing overview of what people can expect from the rest of the course. This will give them a big picture understanding of what they’ll be going deeper into in future weeks.

Make sure that the first week delivers at least one of the promises you made in your marketing. A solid delivery will help to reduce refund requests. It also lets people know they were right to trust you in signing up!

Course first impressions

33. The Smartest Thing Is To Re-Launch, Not Create A Second Course

Ahh… creative entrepreneurs, am I right? We love the constant creation that comes with having a business.

In the world of ecourses, the smartest thing for most business owners is NOT to create a second course but rather to focus on improving and re-launching their existing courses.

It’s so incredibly tempting (and I’ve done it myself!) to move onto creating the next ecourse, because that’s what you do: you find new places to solve problems for people. But if you can use your creative mojo in attracting new potential clients and really honing in on the power of the course you’ve already created, you’ll be more profitable and effective.

Resist the temptation to throw away all the hard work you’ve done on your launch and ecourse! “Reduce, reuse, recycle” totally applies here, as there is no “throw away work” in business.

34. Launching A Lower Price Point Course Is Just As Much Work As a High End Course

Deciding on a price for your online course can be tricky. It can be tempting to start low because you think you’ll sell more at a lower price point…but in my experience, it’s just as much work to launch and sell a lower price point course as it is a higher priced program.

The reality is that the “to-do items” will be the same no matter what, so you might as well price well and offer something substantial if you’re going to put in the work for it. A small ebook or mini-course might be a ton of work for little money, unless you’ve got legions of fans who are going to buy it.

Launch your ecourse

35. Plan Your Meals Ahead Of Time & Make Time To Exercise

I can’t emphasize planning ahead enough, especially in terms of your health. Think ahead about the busy-ness that a launch entails, and pre-plan some meals or have something available nearby that’s healthy.

From yoga poses to taking a walk, you need good fuel to stay energized and positive to deliver top-notch webinars and reply to questions.

You want to be able to focus on your launch, and you can’t do that well if you’re immobile and subsisting on crackers and chocolate…

36. You Might Wonder Who These People You Live With Are

The craziness of business is fun for many of us ambitious business owners, but I do my best to put family first. Don’t let your family members become strangers.

If my husband needs some TLC, or if my parents are coming to visit from out of town… I make it happen. The people who are closest to you are precious – and we don’t know how much time we have with them. The business will be there when I get back.

I also let people know when we’re entering into a busy launch period, so they don’t expect me to be as available as usual. But my priorities are definitely in the “family first” camp, even during a launch.

37. Everything Takes Longer Than You Think It Will

I’ve alluded to this already, but it bears repeating. Undertaking anything as amazing and business-changing as creating an online course or product takes time and dedication… and it doesn’t happen overnight.

But it’s worth it. In the end, you’re building a legacy that will impact hundreds and thousands of people.

Yes, you’ll spend more time than you want to admit tweaking your sales page and reviewing your marketing materials and course worksheets, but that’s what sets successful launchers apart from those who only dream about creating an online course.

38. By The End Of a Successful Launch, You’ll Start Thinking About When You’ll Do It All Over Again…

This might sound crazy after everything I’ve shared, but there are a lot of very positive emotions that come when you close the cart on a launch.

You’ve got one more marketing campaign under your belt, eager new students to teach, and you might have brought in more money than you thought possible in such a short period of time.

Some of us celebrate by unplugging from the web for awhile, and others just start thinking about all the things that should be done differently next time.

What Are Your Launch Lessons?

I’d loooove to know what your big launch takeaways have been and what things you’ve noticed that no one talks about when it comes to creating an online course.

Leave a comment below!


56 Responses to 38 Things Nobody Talks About When Launching An Online Course

  1. Having been through this process more than 10 times, I can identify with every word of it!

    Here’s what I’d add – especially for people who are doing it for the first time: just because you didn’t get as many sales as you hoped, doesn’t mean your course can’t still be a success in the future.

    Although some people hit it out of the park on their first swing (and these are the case studies we always read about) – it’s FAR more common for first-time course creators, especially those who still have small audiences, to only get a handful of paying students – like 10-20. My first ever course was in that range, and I thought about throwing in the towel. I’m glad I didn’t, since I kept going, kept growing, and now have a six-figure coursebusiness.

    If your launch didn’t go as well as you hoped, get feedback – both from your buyers, your non-buyers, AND from mentors who are more experienced in course creation. There’s probably something about your content, messaging, or execution that can be improved, leading to much better results in the future.

    • Love this Shayna, thank you so much for sharing your experience. You definitely hit the nail on the head with looking toward the future and ongoing re-launches after making tweaks to your offer or course. And congrats on growing from an intimate group of customers to now into the six figures!

    • Hi Shaya
      I needed to hear this – I just launched my 1st course ever and did my first live webinar ever to sell. I got 4 people on the webinar and not buyers :-( I already know some of my issues (ie only about 40 subscribers to my website, my website is being rebranded, I heavily leaned on my FB ads instead of focusing on good blog content, etc). But I still have faith and believe that I can regroup this quarter and relaunch better in the 2nd quarter. Articles like these really help!

  2. Girl, I love this! I’m launching 3 things this year (well, 2 new and one relaunch!), so this is really timely.

    I want to add one thing about launching that I learned from Denise Duffield-Thomas—don’t scratch your program if you “only” sold 1. Create a really great program for that one person. xx

  3. I love how honest and straight up this post is. I’ve been planning my first course launch and some of these really gave me the reinforcement I needed to structure some things a certain way. Thanks Nathalie!!

  4. Nathalie

    Amazing insights as ever – thank you! One of the things that I have noticed people don’t talk about launching an online course is that there will be times when you want to tweak it “one last time” or second guess your launch date “Mercury is in retrograde” or question whether or not anyone is going to buy it, or re think your opt in and sales funnels or throw in a million more bonuses because you’re struggling with mindset blocks about value and price or you’re concerned about being visible and fear “failing”.

    Of course, these are all forms of procrastination about pushing the “go live” button and actually launching your program out into the world. I *may* or may not have experienced one or more of these myself ;-) 2016 is definitely the year of the launch for me.

    Another thing that people don’t talk about in terms of launching is the importance of completing the program as a participant yourself first. Does the structure and content actually deliver a learning experience that enables each participant to achieve their desired results? Do the outcomes of the program match expectations created by the headline it’s taken you 10 hours to write? What testimonial would you write about the course? Is there more content and value in what you’ve produced than someone could discover after 1/2 hour on Google? Is your course pitched at the right level? What’s missing? The list goes on… creating a course and launching it and re-launching it relies on attracting the right audience and importantly on delivering exceptional quality, value and results to that audience.

    Launching is definitely an essential skills set for course creators – thanks again for sharing these insights!

    • Thank you so much for chiming in with your experience Lara! It’s so true that we get into this second guessing game with ourselves. And I love what you brought up about checking the value of what you’re creating against expectations (and headlines!) to make sure what’s inside matches what you’re marketing!

  5. Thank you – this is great stuff and is just what I need right now. I really appreciate hearing the what we need to know before we start (rather than this is the way to make lot of money).

  6. yes. yes. yes x 38.
    I wish I wrote this.
    You’re amazing.
    I’d like to send this to every one of my past and future clients.
    And to myself….daily.

  7. #26!! Two years ago, my business goal was to be able to work from home in my pyjamas – little did I know that once things took off, you’d rarely have time to get out of them!

    I underestimated just how all consuming a launch is – the pre launch marketing (with the associated “selling feels so icky” blocks), monitoring the payment gateway and membership registration process (because – of course – the plugin is updated the week before your enrolment closes, and breaks the payment setup that you spent a month painstakingly creating), and then the mad dash to finish creating the materials because – gasp! – people did actually sign up…

    The takeway? If you are going to launch a course, make sure it’s one that you will run more than once. I can’t wait to get to the elegant fine tuning stage, as opposed to the flat out panic creation mode!

  8. Yes yes yes!!!

    I just wrapped the 2nd launch of my year long mastermind and I’ve experienced all of this. I’ve launched other things and have learned the lessons of planning, timing and pivoting.

    Now I wrap my launch at. 3-day spa hotel retreat by myself where j run my final webinar and send my final emails.

    Last I year still got sick on my retreat after the launch, this year … I upped my Self-Care and play time and felt so much better. And has more success in my launch as well.

    The Divine Self-Care Mentor :)))

  9. Oh, this is all SO true it’s scary….
    For me #1 is the biggest. It’s also the best “crickets” preventer!
    The emails part was so huge for me, that I procrastinated it till last min, so it was not done properly, or not done at all. Every piece in your launch formal is vital!
    Thank you for putting up this great reminder. It kicks, SO good!! ;-)

  10. Thanks for helping us realize that the launch roller coaster happens to all of us, even when you have repeat success. I can shout “ditto” on numbers 23, 27 and 30! Great post. I’m bookmarking it for future reference and as a “sanity saver” when I think I’m the only one going crazy over a launch. ;-)

  11. Nathalie, I adore you and your messages. Thank you.
    This is a timely article because I have finally completed my course and am currently doing a Beta test with students from my first launch.

    This has been the hardest project I have ever undertaken. I have been a teacher, coach, consultant..but creating an online course and a funnel for launching was a challenge I never could have imagined.

    I felt like quitting so many times mostly because getting all the pieces of the components to communicate with each other was so frustrating.

    My advice to newbies like myself, write down the steps you take, screen shots are a good idea as well, because in the confusion from jumping between platforms you tend to forget the steps you did once before. Wish I had done this at the beginning.

    Also, when people rave about a platform, try before you buy!Find out how helpful and speedy their help desk is. Support is almost more important than the platform.

    Thinking of contracting out part of the job? Monitor very closely in the beginning. I tried this with one company and luckily caught a fraud early on. Lots of screenshots but no activity despite claiming 4 hours of work, then wanting my paypal login info so he could refund my money. Ha! Fortunately, a report to the parent company nipped this in the bud.

    People often comment that it is best to sell the course before creating it, but in my limited experience it is better to work backwards. True, you do not want to create something for which there is no demand or need, but remember a Dr does not wait to have clients before completing her education.

    Now that my course is complete, I can accurately use info from the course for promotion. This is my next big task, but I feel like a huge weight is off my shoulders.

    8 modules, 1 survey, a 22 page report, 10 contemplative exercises, 10 videos, 10 transformation tools, 13 charts and graphs, 50 illustrations, 9 downloads, 15 mindfulness practices…I can draw from parts to help people say yes to my program :)

    Despite having a very small group for my first beta I am not discouraged. Quite the contrary. I feel inspired and excited and look forward to tweaking and promoting.

    For everyone out there who have already accomplished and succeeded the online market, I bow down to you. To everyone else, I know your pain:)

    Time to carry on.

    • Great advice Natalie & loved your enumeration Ronalynn – really brings it home to me (contemplating designing an online course) the work involved.

  12. Oh man, there were some great tips in here. I’ve never launched a course before, but I’ve got a sales page up. Now I’m at the Tell People About It stage, and I’m nervous and procrastinating. This helped. Thank you!

  13. Nathalie for the win! Nathalie always delivers value that’s why I subscribed and continued to though too much in my inbox and too busy. Was about to Unsubscribe after a long time on your list “THEN” this post. I am just about to launch my first online course after much time and work. Will read in full tonight… And I REMAIN subscribed Thanks Nathalie!!!

  14. Brilliant post Nathalie and just when I needed it.

    There is a massive amount of work and you are learning to master over 65 different skills and technologies to pull it off and that is with out doing all the writing and planning.

    I find the hardest thing is the mix of frustration, overwhelm and procrastination that comes every time you have to test your broken funnel again or send out another support ticket for the the autoresponder integration that just won’t work.

    I believe there is something to be said for paying big money for a quality product platform where everything plays well together (once you have tested your product idea.)
    I have invested hundreds of hours learning the technical stuff and I know I have hundreds of hours of learning to come to really understand this industry.

    I take my hat off to everyone here who have their sleeves rolled up.

    • I totally hear you on investing in the tech that talks to each other seamlessly, for sure! It’s one of the reasons we built AccessAlly, actually. :) And thank you for your comment, hats off to you too :)

  15. A million thanks Nathalie! You never fail to give us your best. We’re all so fortunate to have you in our corners.

    I’m preparing my first launch and I really appreciate you telling it like it truly is. Doesn’t mean I won’t have challenges along the way, but you’ve identified some pinch points I hadn’t thought of. Like Brooke said, this is worth book marking to read along my launch journey!

  16. I am launching Sunday and this was so timely. I kept it open and just came back to it again and again today. Loved it! Shared in my weekly email as well.

  17. Ok so I’m launching TODAY! My webinar starts in 15 minutes yikes! Your post covered every single emotion, struggle, thought, doubt I’ve had this entire week. Thanks for making me feel better and knowing this is completely normal :)

  18. I definitely love/hate how intense this post is! I’ve been pondering for a while about how I could make this happen, and this post has been the reality check I needed about what kind of skills I’m going to need (and how to judge how feasible the whole idea is! scary stuff!)

  19. Thanks for this list Natalie. I have just been through my first launch and my ECourse is in progress, “happy mealtimes”. It’s all about helping busy parents enjoy mealtimes with their families, fussy eaters in particular. The launch process was exactly what you said. It was so hard emotionally and I have definitely learnt so much from it. Without webinar ally, I would have been really stuck for interacting with my audience. I love it! The numbers were 80% of what I estimated which wasn’t too bad for a work at home mum with two little girls. I am thinking of switching the course to be evergreen as the stress of the “marketing” wasn’t great for me. I also think parents are busy and may be wanting to get going immediately on the content.
    A great experience and I think I had to go through it first hand to really identify with every point in this post!

  20. This is brilliant!

    I am just starting to explore creating online courses this year,

    and this list is helping me feel like I have avoided costly crash-bangs, even before I begin!

    I have launched a few smaller (and fun) art projects during which I learnt to allow for tweaks and feedback and sleepless bursts, and have learnt to make time and create breathing space for play and rest.

    Thanks for an awesome what-I-didn’t-know-I-didn’t-know post!

  21. Nathalie, as a Coach Virtual Assistant I have had my share of program launches and can say that I learned a few more things from your tips. You share such depth and insight that I can believe you have been up to your elbows in your launches. Thank you for sharing these tips — we’ll be using them as we launch our first collaborative Help Me Get It Done project in March.

  22. Yes, the truth is out! E-courses take a lot to create.

    I build them professionally and my service package is for 50 hours to create a 5-module course and I’m fast so you can imagine what it would take others to make a ‘good’ course.

    I’m also the proud teacher of RonaLynn above and her course is solid. Kudos to her to get that puppy made… like giving birth. Eh, RonaLynn?

    And even the pros need to follow Nathalie’s advice and experience about tweaking and delivery quality.

    Nathalie, your words of warning re: big leaps before testing the market is bang on. Best to start with a mini power course :0)

    Best regards,

  23. Great article! I don’t have any plans to create an online course, but I’ve shared this with my networks and am holding onto it in case I decided to launch one in the future.

  24. I totally get the points you’re making here. I tried to launch something last year and made a complete hash of it but I have learned a lot from that and soon going for it again. Better prepared, more patient and more than anything enjoying the journey more this time round. As you say, just because something was not a success, doesn’t mean it is not still fundamentally a good idea or that you have no value as a business owner. Just gotta do better! Feeling resilient x

  25. This is absolutely BRILLIANT Nathalie! Every one of these is so true and hits the nail on the head. Most people are woefully unprepared for the in-game changes and stressors and pivots necessary for a good launch. Thank you for spending the time to lay all this out so perfectly.

    ;) Sean

  26. Thank you for being real. I believe all the success stories, but I think it is easier to shine the light on all the good and not reflect the sweat and hard effort that comes along with it. Reading this does not scare me one bit to launch (my first) online course. It makes me be even more prepared and excited. Thank you for the insight. Much appreciated.

  27. Thank you so much for sharing this! I am just beginning to think about putting together my first paid course, and needless to say, it’s overwhelming. This gave me a great idea of what to plan for.

  28. You have made so many great points! I will be saving this post so I can refer back to it again in the near future. Looking forward to reading more from you. Thanks!

  29. Excellent post, Nathalie. You’re awesome! I found this blog today and I just love it. Thank you for sharing this great informations with us!

  30. Nodding away as I read every point. GREAT post, thanks for being so generous in sharing your experiences. I too will be bookmarking this for future reads as I prepare to launch :-)

  31. So happy to find kindred spirits. My first launch plan is moving ahead while delayed with snafu-s. Yes, taking WAY longer than carefully anticipated. Your comments brought a chuckle!

    Found your post in between waiting for a tech to get back to me about phone connection issues and breaking down and getting into the shower, not before realizing that the keep-it-going dark chocolate stashed in the freezer had already been consumed :(.

    Kudos to everyone who has the perseverance to hang in there with this stuff. Whew!

  32. Girl! You are amazing, I have just started my first course …so I am full of emotions , having people like u really gives me inspiration to continue this proyect!