#216: 4 Ways to Sell an Online Course

Don’t have a website? Don’t know how to make a sales page? Surprise! You don’t need either to sell an online course in your health coaching business. In this episode Michelle shares how – and it’s easier than you think. Working on a course idea? Join our FREE 5-day Create Your Online Course Bootcamp starting 10/16. Register at HealthCoachPower.com/bootcamp

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4 Ways Health Coaches Can Sell an Online Course

Health coaching can be demanding of our time. We have appointments on the calendar, we have clients booked months in advance. And you have to be there– present, listening – even if you’re having a bad day.

But with online courses, you get freedom. I’ve run online courses while my babies were napping in my arms. And I’ve run them while traveling around the world. 

Let’s  walk through how to sell an online course so you can find this freedom, too.

The pre-sale

Good news: you can sell your course before it’s even built. A-mazing. 

Ask your audience what they’re interested in. Then invite them to put their money where their mouth is and sign up now – at a ridiculously low price. 

They’ve got the interest. You’ve given them an incentive. You’re off and running.

I’ve done this by describing the intended course in an email and accepting payment through a PayPal invoice. Super simple. 

You can even say if I get X number of people signed up at this crazy low intro rate, I will build it for you – then you only build the coursr if there’s enough interest. Fail fast, you know? Only pursue projects that are worth your time. 

(Note: If you simply ask  people if they are interested, they may say yes. That doesn’t mean they’ll buy when the time comes. Instead, let them put their money where their mouth is.) 

By pre-selling, you’re basically getting paid to build the course. So smart!

The beta course

For the beta approach, you’ll build a bare-bones version of your course before you start selling.

(Don’t spend a lot of time and money. Don’t get flashy. You can add more later.)

The idea is to get some people to go through your course and give you feedback. Where are they getting stuck? What problems are they having that your course doesn’t address? What are they loving?

They get a deal. You get super helpful information so you can improve your course. Win-win.

You can sell the beta by email, just like you might for a pre-sale. Pick a select audience and let them know why they’re being chosen. You might target people you’ve already talked to about your topic, or people who attended a workshop you gave.

​​Tell them about the course and give them a very, very simple way to buy (a PayPal button works!). Be clear this is a beta run and that the reduced price reflects that. 

Pick up the phone

Yes, you can use a web page or email to sell your course…but selling within a one-to-one conversation works really well.

You can do this with a beta course. You can do it with an established course you’ve been running for years. It can be easier to enroll people over the phone than with an email or website – they love the personal attention of a phone call. That personal touch is magic.

You’ll also be able to do market research at the same time. You’ll hear their needs, their questions, their concerns – it’s all useful information, whether they sign up or not. 

Selling one-to-one over the phone also offers you flexibility. Let’s say you’re going to change the price: just tell the next person you talk to what the new price is. It’s not published anywhere. You don’t have to explain yourself. You don’t need to talk to your web designer. 

This flexibility is super helpful when you’re growing and changing and making lots of decisions. Nothing’s set in stone. You can adjust on the fly.

If they’re in, sign them up over the phone, just like you would with a private client. Done. 

What about a sales page?

A sales page – you know, a big headline and photos and a “buy” button – is actually a pretty advanced move. 

It takes a lot of work to be effective: you need to understand the sales process, use effective copywriting and design, understand your clients, get testimonials, use the right tech, etc.

Luckily, you don’t need to do it right out of the gate. Phew. 

When you are solid with your course, though –  you’ve done the testing, everything’s working – this is the time to invest in a sales page and scale.

The biggest benefit of a sales page is that it can put your business on autopilot. You can be vacationing or sleeping…and someone somewhere on the internet is signing up. 

An effective sales page lets you sell anytime, any place.

Get ready for online course success

No online course goes from idea to perfectly complete overnight. You want to start on a small scale. Test, iterate, figure out what works. 

This is how all the big courses started – otherwise, they never would have gotten off the ground. And this is really good news! It means starting an online course is totally within your grasp. 

Be sure to join our free 5-day Create Your Online Course Bootcamp starting 10/16/22. You’ll walk away with a fully fleshed out course idea and an outline that is ready to rock. Go to healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp to sign up. See you there!

Full transcript:

Hello there health coaches. We are back for a final episode. It's this little series that I've been doing about online courses. And the reason behind all of this is because I real, I really come to this moment recently where I'm like, I am so lucky. Like I just wanna share this with all of you. I've realized that yes, health coaching helped me step away from my previous career in advertising, health coaching in many ways, gave me my life back, gave me the freedom that I needed to raise my kids the way that I wanted to raise my kids, and I'm still raising them. But health coaching can be somewhat demanding of our time. Like we've got appointments on the calendar, we've got clients booked months in advance, and you have to be there, right? You have to be there. You have to be present with your clients, even if you're having a bad day, you get something going on in your life.

You've gotta be present with your client during this session. But, with online courses, you know, I'm really starting to appreciate the freedom that I've had because of online courses. And yeah, of course it means like I can take vacations almost any time that I want, but it's also like in the little everyday things. So for example, my son was super sick last week. He was just super congested, you know? So of course I did all my health coach things. I gave him immune boosting herbs and he used his Netty pot, which I totally got my son a Netty pot for Christmas last year. Doesn't every 11 year old use a Netty pot and love it? Mine does . And then his throat was so sore, he was gargling with apple cider vinegar and Caen pepper, and he was still congested. So what would you do?

Like, go ahead, shout it out. What is your favorite way to help with congestion, especially during these fall colds and this terrible time of year, everybody seems to be getting sick. Well, here's what I did. I gave him peppermint oil. Do you use peppermint oil? I'm not like a big essential oil person. You won't hear me talk about it a lot, but I do love a good bottle of peppermint oil. For this reason, we dabbed it on his cheeks and his forehead and under his nose to help clear his nasal passages. And it works. I mean, it really works. And I felt like he was old enough to use it now, whereas in the past I was like, It's gonna burn your eyes and you're gonna scream, you're too young, you don't understand. But I was able to explain to him how to use it, and it was very successful.

Anyway, throughout all of this, I'm like, You know what? Work can wait. My kid needs me right now. My kid needs me to explain to him how to apply pepper oil to his space . If that's not health coach mom life, I don't know what it is. So even though like, yes, of course it takes effort to succeed in any kind of business, I'm so, so appreciative of what the online course model has done for me and my business and my kids and my whole life. I mean, I've run online courses while my babies were napping in my arms. I remember those days. I've run online courses while traveling around the world, literally in all different continents. In fact, I've earned over a million dollars through online courses while raising my family, while having babies, while doing all the things. Today. I wanna talk more about that because you can sell a course lots of different ways.

It's not necessarily what you see out there. There's lots of other sort of behind the scenes ways to sell an online course. And I think you're gonna find this rather eye opening. Now you might be thinking, That's nice, Michelle, but I don't have an online course. Or, That's nice, Michelle, but no one's buying my online course. What's the deal? I would encourage you to definitely sign up to join my free five day live boot camp. It's starting real, real soon on October 16th. It's called Create Your Online Course. And we're gonna do it together in just five days. Registration is free at healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp. Let's see if we can shift your business model towards an online course kind of situation so you can experience this same freedom of time that I've been describing to you. Again, it's our free five day bootcamp to create your online course and you can register.

Now, I want you to do it because this is a one time event. You don't wanna miss it. Go to healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp. All right, so let's say that you've gone through the bootcamp, you've put together your online course, you have it, and then you're probably thinking, okay, what comes next? There's gonna be some kind of webpage that describes the course and makes it sound really enticing with a buy button. And but wait a minute. You know, I don't have a webpage, I don't have a website. How many of you don't have a website? That's okay. How many of you have no idea how to build a webpage of any kind? That's okay. But what we're all thinking of when it comes to online courses, you know, with the big headline and photos and those buy buttons, that's called a sales page. And coaches often ask me about sales pages.

How do I put together a sales page? Michelle, I'm just gonna put it out there that having a sales page is actually actually a pretty advanced move. Like that's a fairly advanced way of selling your course. And it's almost always my answer. You don't need one or you don't need one yet. Most courses, most of my courses do not have a sales page right out of the gate. And here's why they take a lot of work. I mean, they really take a lot of work to be effective. They take psychology, like you have to understand the sales process. They take copywriting and graphic design. You've seen them and an in-depth knowledge of your clients and what they wanna get out of the course. You need testimonials. You need the tech set up to allow for that buy button and to accept payment. It's just like, it's a lot of moving parts for sure.

So if you have a course right now and it isn't selling well, I'm just gonna throw this out there. One possible reason could be that your sales page isn't working. And I wouldn't be surprised because like I said, they're a beast. When I have to put together a sales page, it's like a major product project, rather, it's not something that I just sit down and bang out in an hour or two. Now, if you don't have a course, just breathe a sigh of relief like, Oh, I'm so glad Michelle just left me off the hook. I don't have to create a sales page if I create a course and I definitely don't need one right away. That's my point. There are other, there are better ways to sell your course that you can use right from the get go. So let's talk about those, because again, there's what we see when we go on the internet and what we see when we check our inbox and when we're on social media, what we think people are doing to run their businesses.

And then there's like what they're actually doing behind the scenes. And I promise you those can be very different things. It's so interesting. Like sometimes what you see on the outside of someone's business hardly at all reflects what's going on on the inside. So let's talk about these easier ways and quicker ways to sell a course. You can use them right from the get go. One of the best tactics that I ever heard have ever used, and it's really not talked about very much, it's called pre-selling. Have you heard of pre-selling? Is that something that you've ever been introduced to? It means that you can sell your course before it's built. Isn't that amazing? You can ask your audience if it's something that they're interested in and if so, you're kind of asking them to put their money where their mouth is. You're saying you can sign up now.

And you give them a ridiculously low rate. So they're incentivized to do that. I've done this simply by describing the intended course in an email and accepting payment through a PayPal invoice. Like super duper simple. You can even say, you know, if I get X number of people signed up at this super duper low intro rate, I will build it for you. Otherwise you're not gonna build it. Cuz why would you, why would you waste your time if nobody's willing to buy it at this SuperDuper low rate? They're not that interested. So, you know, fail fast. You decide, okay, this project is not something I'm going to pursue. Everybody gets a refund and you don't waste the time. This is terrifically effective because if you just ask, it's much easier to just ask. You know, Hey, would you want this course if I developed it?

Was this something that you would want? If you just ask like that, they'll, they'll probably say yes. Like they're likely to say yes. They're likely to tell you what they think you want to hear. That's just human nature. Sure, that sounds good. Amazing. I love the sound of that. But that's not enough because until they act with their wallet, you don't know if they really mean it. You could build the whole darn course and they could tell you along the way, Yes, yes, yes, they wanna buy the thing and then they never actually end up buying it. So pre-selling, to me it's like the ultimate way to validate a course idea and to earn money right off the bat. So you're basically getting paid to build the course. Doesn't that sound smart? And if someone that you follow, like just think about this. Who's somebody that you follow in the industry or even maybe in a completely different area of life, you follow them, you really value what they have to say.

And if they asked you if you're interested in a course that they're considering making wouldn, wouldn't you be like, Yeah, wow, this is a phenomenal deal. I'm gonna get it for half off, but you're like, I'm gonna buy it anyway. , I already love everything this person does. Maybe they're offering it to for even less than half off. You would feel like you just made the smartest move ever. You're getting in on the ground floor, you're going to be a founding member and they would know that you really do want the thing. So then they build it for you. I actually did this with my Healthy Profit University's core curriculum. It's a big comprehensive course you guys, before I put the time into creating it, you better believe I didn't just sit down and start working for months on end and hope that somebody was gonna buy it once it was finished.

No, no, no, no. I asked my list who would want this kind of course. Here's what I think it's going to look like. Here's what I'm planning. I asked them to sign up during this presale period at a very reduced rate. Boom. I had my first, I think, think nine or 10 members right away. Okay? So that's the presale who likes the idea of a presale? I cannot recommend it highly enough, but I wanna tell you about some other approaches as well. Here's something different. This is the beta approach. A beta is when you're gonna build your course before you sell it. Yes, but just like very, very bare bones, you're not gonna spend a lot of time, you're not gonna spend a lot of money. It's not flashy, it's not fancy, maybe it's not even complete, but the bones are there. Later you're gonna add more resources.

But for now, you want some people to go through the course and give you feedback that you can learn from. Where are they getting stuck? What problems are they having that your course doesn't address? What are they loving? You know, you wanna get that kind of feedback. So the same thing with the beta. You're not gonna put together a big old sales page for it yet because the course isn't even complete. So you're not ready. So instead selling as a beta could be done via email like we just talked about. I would pick a select audience and let them know why they're being chosen. Because later, once the course is actually complete, you might wanna launch it again to the same group of people. So just a select group. Let them know why they're being chosen. Maybe they're people that you've spoken with previously who can't afford private coaching.

Maybe they're people who participated in an event that you did recently. You wanna like pick people who you think would be particularly interested. Tell them about the course and give them a very, very simple way to buy. Again, like a PayPal button. You just need to be clear this is a beta run and that the reduced price reflects that. And you know, this is what they should expect. But, so you could do it that way just in a simple email or a very simple webpage. Nothing, Nothing anymore than just some texts on a page. I actually find though, that it's more valuable to sell by phone. So just like you would have a conversation with a potential private health coaching client, you're gonna get on the phone for that consult, right? You could have a similar consultation with somebody who's interested in your course. Cause it's the exact same thing.

It's a person who has a problem to solve and they think you can help them. Whether you can help them through private coaching or with your course, it kind of doesn't matter. It's the same conversation. So this way you're selling your course, but in that phone call you're also doing market research. You're hearing what their needs are, you're hearing what questions they have When you start talking about your course, do they have concerns? Do they have reservations? All of that is going to be so useful to you whether they buy or not. So it's very, very worth having the phone call. You're still developing the course, right? And you're developing all the messaging around it. So if they wanna sign up, just enroll them over the phone. The way that you would do with a private client, you can either take a credit card or you can send them an invoice and then get them set up on the back end.

No sales page required, no website, no buttons, none of that , just SuperDuper old school. Now I did this a couple of years ago when I was trying out an idea that I had for a thyroid program in my health coaching business. I knew it was needed. There were a lot of women in my audience who were suffering. A lot of them are very confused about their thyroid. So I put together something pretty bare bones and this was exactly how I sold it by phone as a beta. And you know what? Even if your course is fully built, even if you have all the bells and whistles and you've been running your course for a while, you still have the option of selling one to one. That's what it's called. Selling one to one, buy phone in a conversation. That's where the sale is taking place.

So honestly, it can be easier to enroll a client by phone because that person is like, Wow, I'm getting all this personal attention, I'm, I'm think I'm buying into an online course, but someone cares about me enough to talk to me. That's a really good feeling. They can ask their questions, they feel heard. You are hopefully coaching them through the process of making a decision. So you'll see this a lot with higher end courses. Think like a course that's $2000, %3000, maybe $5,000 or more. Those are typically exclusively sold by phone because you're more likely to make that high ticket sale that way. So, even once your course is fully built and you're selling at full price, you can keep the sales mechanism the same. I wanna say one more thing about why selling by phone can be so effective.

But I see a question here from Judy and Judy says, Hi Judy. She says, What percentage off would you sell your beta course for? I think it depends largely on like how beta is your beta. You know what I mean? Like, are you eventually going to have videos and right now it's just PDFs? Are you eventually gonna have like 10 modules and right now you only have two? Or did you really build out the whole course and there's just a couple of things missing. So kind of hard for me to answer, but I would say roughly half think 50% because that's just a very easy thing to communicate. I'm offering it to you now for half off. Sounds like an incredible value. And then like I said, it, it could be more, you know, you could offer it for like 75% off if you were like really bare bonesing it. . But something where the, the client is like, I can't say no to this. You know, that's kind of where I would be going with it.

Judy says, I have an eight module almost done one to one program. Okay? So if it's yes, if it's almost done, but you want those first few, you're not releasing it to your entire audience yet. You want your first few people to go through. I really like the idea of half price. I just feel like that becomes a no brainer for people. And then you get what you need, which is the experience of somebody going through your course. I guarantee that you find the holes that way. I always do. I mean, gosh, I've been running some of the same courses for years and years and years and I still find the holes, meaning I still find, oh gosh, I really need to insert a lesson there or I really need to change the way I talk about that.

So by having somebody go through, it's insanely valuable for you as a course creator. So here's the other thing that I wanted to mention about selling by phone. When you're selling by phone, you can pivot on a dime and maybe you know that because you've been doing one on one coaching that way, right? How many of you have gotten on the phone with a potential client and changed your price on the fly? I'm not saying you should necessarily do that, but you know how easy it is. So you can do the same thing with an online course. Like let's say that you always sell by phone and then one day, because this happens, you're going to be raising your price. Um, you can just do that. The next person that you talk to, you just offer them at a different price. Or if you're changing something else about your course, you don't have to update a sales page, you don't have to plan ahead and hire the designer to make the changes.

You just get on that next call and it's like, boom, . It's a different offer. That person never saw the offer before because it wasn't published publicly on a sales page. So this can be super duper helpful again, especially as you're growing and changing and making decisions and it's not all set in stone yet. So at this point you might be wondering why anybody on earth would use a sales page cuz I just told you all the reasons why you don't need one. So if all these other options exist and they have these nice benefits, is a sales page a bad thing? Not at all. There is definitely a time and a place for selling your online course with a sales page. The biggest benefit I would say is that once you have it set up that way it can all happen on autopilot. I know this is the dream and I've lived it, so I wanna tell you it's real.

You guys, you can be vacationing in Greece having wine and seafood, or you could be at home sleeping in your bed and yet someone somewhere on the internet is seeing your wholesale process, it's automated, they're signing up and revenue is coming in literally while you are asleep. That is the biggest benefit. The ability to sell anytime, any place and the ability to sell one to many instead of one to one because many, many people can visit your sales page and buy. You don't have to have an individual conversation with each and every one of them. So I would say a sales page is really best saved for you. When you are solid with your course, you've done the testing, you know it's working okay, now would be the time to invest in and build that sales page and scale the growth of your course. But we're gonna save talking about sales pages for another time cause that's a whole other beast.

My point today is that no online course goes from idea to perfectly complete overnight. So I wanna set your expectations for yourself. You can start on a small scale and you should test, iterate, figure out what works. This is how all the like big courses started because otherwise they probably never would've been successful. They probably still wouldn't be around today. And this is really good news because starting an online course is totally within your grasp. So I can't wait to see what you all build in our boot camp next week you're gonna walk away with a fully fleshed out course idea and an outline that is ready to rock.

So again, go to healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp, Sorry I stumbled on that, healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp and sign up now and I will see you there. Thanks for joining me and I'll be back next week. Take care of everybody.