I’ve bought a lot of online courses in my day. Most of my clients have as well.
Courses on creating an online business, courses on creating courses, courses on creating memberships, even courses on launching.
Yet, despite all the courses teaching them how, many people never launch an online course or membership. Why is that?
Why Most People Never Have a Successful Online Launch
Most courses you buy online teach a lot of strategy. There are great online programs that go deep into the psychology of selling, of what helps people consume content and what will help your clients move the needle in their own businesses.
Some of those courses also teach you launch tactics and strategy. The best ones also cover a bit of technology. So, if you have all the tools you need to launch, what is holding you back? In many cases, it’s that you have too much information, but not enough confidence. Even though you have all the tools you need to launch an online course, you’re stuck – like something is still missing – something buying another course will help you figure out.
What is a Launch?
Before we go deeper into creating a launch plan, let’s talk a bit about what a launch is. An online launch is a process by which you offer a course, membership or program to ideal clients who you’ve gathered on an email list and have spent time nurturing and getting to know better. Because you’ve taken such good care of them and offered them so much value, they now know, like and trust you and can’t wait for you to offer them the chance to work with you on a deeper level.
What Goes Into an Online Launch?
When you’re ready to sell your new online course, membership or program to the people on your list, you typically first invite them to join you for a free masterclass, webinar, challenge or live event. During that event you offer even more value, teaching them something that addresses a challenge they’ve been having. When the event is over, you then offer them a chance to go deeper with you by joining your online program.
Why is Launching a Course or Membership So Hard?
It all sounds pretty straightforward. Yet each year thousands of people join programs and intend to launch but never do. I’ve been working with launchers for over five years now and here are the reasons I’ve found for the lack of launching.
How to Launch an Online Course or Membership
There are a lot of reasons people will give for pushing back their launch date. Here are just a few…
1. Don’t Wait to Finish Your Own Course Before Launching It
One of the most common reasons is that they feel like they can’t launch is because they want to wait until they have a solid course of their own that answers every single question anyone ever has had about the topic they want to teach. While this seems to make sense, a problem arises when hundreds of hours are spent creating and perfecting a course that no one wants to buy.
The best way to avoid this is to only create a course after you’ve sold it. This is called a beta-launch or a seed launch (if you’re in Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula world) and it involves selling people the concept of the course you plan to create and then surveying your participants during the delivery to be sure you’re creating exactly the course that they need. For more info on selling courses before you create them you may want to check out this video on selling a course before you create it.
2. Don’t Wait For Everything to be Perfect
Spending time making sure each component of a launch is perfect is another reason people frequently give for waiting to launch. Usually they’ve seen someone else’s launch that they want to emulate and they don’t take into consideration that the other person likely has been in the business longer and has a team of people helping them to create the perfect “launch.”
The irony is that until you’ve done one or two launches that weren’t perfect, but were profitable, you won’t have the money you need to hire help to create your perfect launch. Be wary of comparing your messy backstage, where you can see with glaring clarity all of the problems and imperfections of your launch with someone else’s front stage – the polished finished product that you are supposed to see.
Let’s put the idea of a perfect launch aside. There are no perfect launches. Even the big gurus don’t have perfect launches even though they bring in millions of dollars. Things go wrong. Always.
3. Don’t Start by Building a Beautiful Website
This is the #1 reason I hear people give for waiting to launch. In fact, it’s probably the biggest mistake new online businesses make when preparing to launch online. In fact, many people actually do their first launches with a small, functional website that they put together themselves and then save up money from those launches to pay for an upgraded website down the road.
Creating a beautiful, fully SEOed website takes time and money that most new launchers don’t have. Far better to spend time and money focusing on building your email list so you can launch to the people who love to hear from you than it is to create a website that few people will see.
A simple website that explains a bit more about you and your experience, and offers your lead magnets is all you really need to get started.
Here’s What Stops People From Launching
Even when someone takes the time to finish all of the things they think they need to have to launch (even though that’s not the case), they often still don’t launch. So now that we’ve looked at why people say they are waiting to launch, let’s take a look at what’s behind those reasons.
Here are the real reasons people don’t launch…
1. They Don’t Have a Launch Plan
All of the training in the world won’t help you if you don’t have a plan for how you’ll accomplish your launch. Although it can be tempting to randomly choose a launch date several weeks or months in the future, the reality is without a plan it’s not likely that launch will ever happen.
And once you’ve missed one launch deadline, it becomes much easier to keep pushing that launch date out until months or even years have gone by and you still haven’t launched.
There are a lot of things to consider when putting together your launch plan, dates on a calendar for when you’ll hold your masterclass, and open and close cart or just a few things you need to consider.
When putting together your plan you need to think about all of the tasks you’ll need to accomplish and who will do each task. Are there some things on the list that you don’t know how to do? Will you need to hire someone to do those tasks for you or will you need to add time to the plan to learn how to do them yourself? If you need to hire someone, you need to build in time for them to be onboarded and learn you business before you can expect them to produce the high quality work you’ll be expecting.
If you’re doing a launch that includes a masterclass, you’ll need time to write scripts, create slides if you’re doing a webinar, time to record, time to edit, and time to upload and publish. It can be very surprising how long each step can take, particularly if these are things you’re doing for the first time.
2. They Lack Launch Accountability
It can be lonely to work by yourself on something. And if the people around you (your friends and family) don’t understand the concept of launching it can be doubly frustrating because you are not only missing the accountability and support of like minded people, you often have to justify the time you’re spending on putting together your course launch to the people you’re closest to.
Accountability is so important to a successful launch that I’ve built it into my Get Launched! 5-week Bootcamp in a big way. The small groups I take through the bootcamp each session really get to know each other and hold each other accountable during our weekly Zoom sessions. They know each others’ businesses, they know the struggles they share and they are able to support and care for each other during the process of creating their launches.
If you don’t have a group of like minded people you can use to hold you accountable during the your launch planning, try looking in the FB groups for some of the courses you’ve bought and see if they offer accountability groups.
3. Lack of Confidence in the Launch Process
Sometimes it happens that people will get all the way to their launch open cart period (yay!) and then when they open the cart they don’t immediately get the sales they expected so they decide it was all a bad idea and give up mid-launch. They don’t send all of the open and close cart emails they know should go out because suddenly they are doubting their very existence and why they ever thought this whole launch thing would work.
Guess what – sometimes launches don’t work the first time. There can be a thousand reasons why, but if you give up before you give it your all, you’ll never know what those reasons are. Most sales during open cart come at the very end. People need time to think and process before they buy and if you panic and decide not to ever send another launch email because your first day didn’t go well, you’re leaving behind those people who want and need what you have to offer but just needed time to think. You’re abandoning the people who need you most.
4. Pressure to Have a Six-Figure Launch
Launches are a lot of work. There, I said it. Even though it may seem as everyone around you is pulling off six-figure launches in their sleep, the reality is you’ll never have a six-figure launch if you haven’t had a first launch.
No matter how many courses you take, how many webinars you attend, or how much work you do, your first launch is going to have a huge learning curve. You don’t know what you don’t know, right?
Yet so many would-be launchers pull the plug on their first launch because they feel like it won’t be successful enough. Let me be the first one to tell you that you need to get a first launch under your belt before you can even consider looking towards a six-figure launch.
Instead of thinking your first launch needs to make you thousands of dollars, why not reframe your thought… Why not make it your goal to just have a launch you’re proud of? Waiting to launch until you can make thousands and thousands of dollars is like saying you’re going to wait to learn to walk until you’ve won a marathon. Ridiculous, right?
Use What You Have to Launch Your Online Course
If you really want to have a successful launch – choose one process you already have. Maybe it’s a book, maybe it’s a course, or maybe it’s something you learned online. Follow that process to a “T”… every single step. Learn from it, take notes, decide what will be different next time but keep moving forward. Reframe your mindset to understand that any completed launch is a successful launch and that there’s alway room for growth.
If you’d like help with launching your online course or membership, you may be interested my Get Launched! 5-week Bootcamp. In it we take everything you know about launching and use it to get all of your launch tasks done – in just five weeks. It’s a small group program and you can join the waitlist right here.