“Choose a date, right now, when you will launch and write it down on your calendar.”
When I hear a speaker say that in a live training or workshop, my heart sinks. While I know the intention is to get listeners to believe they can launch and to set a date to make it happen so they have something to work towards, the reality is, very few people will actually be ready to launch by the date they chose.
I’ve been helping people to plan a launch for their online courses, products and memberships for many years now and the one thing I know to be true is that in order to successfully complete a launch, you need to have a launch plan.
Choosing an arbitrary date in the future doesn’t take that plan, and everything it entails, into account.
How Long Does it Take to Plan a Launch?
When you are planning a launch online, there are a lot of things to consider. So many, in fact, that I’ve written a separate blog post all about it. You can read What to Consider When Planning a Launch right here.
The main thing that is going to determine when you’re able to launch is the size of your email list. Once it’s reached 300-500 engaged subscribers, you’re ready to start your launch process. The good news is that you can be planning your launch while your list grows.
Planning a launch is more than just choosing dates on a calendar. Block out a day when you can really concentrate on formulating your launch plan. Yes. I did say a day. This is important work you’ll be doing and you don’t want to be interrupted.
Planning Your Online Launch
Here are the things you’ll need to consider;
What type of launch do you plan to do? There are many different types of launches, from multi-part video series, to social media live launches and one-day webinar launches. You can find out more about the various types of launches here.
What are the tasks you’ll need to complete? This, by far, is the biggest part of your launch plan: listing out all of the tasks.
Let’s say you plan to do a beta launch of a new course with one pre-launch video and a sales video. Not only do you need to script, record and edit the videos, you’ll also need to create landing pages so people can opt in to receive the video, you’ll need to host the video, and send emails giving people the link so they can watch them. There will be social media content to create (both paid and unpaid) to promote the videos, etc. If you don’t list out all of the tasks, you’ll never be able to determine how long of a launch runway you need.
What type of help will you need to hire? Regardless of the type of launch you decide to do, it’s likely that there are going to be some areas of the process where you are outside of your genius zone. Maybe you aren’t sure how to edit video, maybe you want to hire a designer to create a slide deck for your webinar. Here are some of the people you may want to consider hiring as contractors to help you with your launch.
If you are bootstrapping your launch and can’t afford to hire anyone to help you with things like social media, webinar creation or copywriting, make sure you add in enough time to your plan to not only do these tasks yourself but to also learn how to do them. Deciding you want to script, record and edit your own videos, for example, is going to take you weeks if you’ve never done those tasks. Make sure you plan for it.
How many hours can you dedicate each week to the launch? Be very careful of over committing yourself, particularly if you have an outside job, or 1:1 clients. It’s very easy to start off strong, working on your lunch breaks, around clients, in the evenings and on the weekends to get this done. But this is one of those times in your life when you need to pace yourself. Too often I see people giving it their all for the first few weeks, and then realizing that launching a course or membership is far more work than they’d anticipated, giving up just short of the launch actually happening.
My most successful launch clients are those who realize that they cannot complete a launch in the margins of their everyday life. If you have 1:1 clients you work with, consider making your launch a “client” and blocking off the same amount of time each work for it as you would for a client. If you are working another job, choose one night or one weekend day a week to work on your launch rather than planning to do it in whatever spare time you have.
How will you stay organized? Launches have a lot of moving parts. Random pieces of paper, post it notes and half filled notebooks aren’t going to get you where you need to be. I love planning out launches on a whiteboard or with post it notes, but once I have the plan done, I move it into project management software, like Trello or Click Up.
How does everything fit into your existing calendar? Once you’ve figured out the timeline for your launch itself (usually 7-10 days), you‘ll have to see where and how those days fit into your calendar. Make sure you account for your pre-launch activities and, if you need to hire contractors, time to find, hire and train those contractors.
How Long Will It Take to Launch Online?
Once your plan is complete, you’ll see that most launch plans take several months to implement. Certainly, there are exceptions, but a well done, well-thought out online launch takes time. When a new client comes to me with no list and no lead magnet, I tell them to plan on a minimum of three months of work to get their list built and all of their tasks completed.
That timeline relies on the fact that they will have 5-10 hours a week to work on their launch. If they have more time, that can be shortened up, but there are some tasks, like building an engaged email list, that may slow the process down.
For most people, the idea they are going to launch in the next month, or even in six weeks just isn’t feasible unless they already have a strong list, have launched before or have a product they know converts well.
When Should I Plan to Launch a Course or Membership?
Every year I have people who come to me in October and November wanting to start working on their January launches. That just isn’t enough time.
Here’s a general timeline I like to use when working with clients.
There is definitely an art and science to planning a successful launch. Some tasks can be completed concurrently, and for some you’ll be waiting around for one thing, allowing you to work on something else while you wait.
Without a solid plan, however, with some time built in for missed deadlines and unexpected issues, it will be difficult to keep your launch on track.
If this all seems like a lot, no worries. You can hire me to set up your launch plan for you. You’ll find a list of my launch services under “Work with Tracie” right here.