Behind the scenes of a $120,000 online course launch

Ever wonder what the BTS of a 6-figure course launch looks like?

Today, we’ll be taking a little stroll down memory lane as I share exactly what went on the very first time I passed that $100K live launch benchmark as a course creator!

It was 2019…

I had just polished up my second-ever launch of my Square Secrets Business™️ course (the one that teaches you how to build a successful web design business) and it was safe to say that we wayyyy exceeded our goal.

I’m not joking. This launch seriously kicked my first launch’s (to the tune of $40,000!)

Ready to see how my (then) tiny two-woman team ran that first 6-figure course launch?

(Included exactly when in the launch the sales started pouring in and why, plus the things we totally screwed up and would never do again?)

First some backstory on launching in my business in general:

So, as I said, this launch was specifically for my second course Square Secrets Business™️ (or ‘SSB’ for short.)

So even though this was just my second launch of SSB, we had previously launched my first course, Square Secrets™️ a handful of times.

(And we’ve clearly been around the block with this whole launching thing many times since 2019, as we are now getting ready to hit that $2M mark in total online sales!)

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How long was our first 6-figure course launch?

Okay, so on to what happened sales-wise. The course was open for enrollment for 8 days (Friday – Friday) and we enrolled 99 students in that time, generating $120,300.00 in sales!

Pre-launch:

In the 5 days leading up to the launch, I hosted 5 live videos on Facebook & Instagram. You can see them here:

The purpose of these videos was to build a little hype before the launch.

We also shared these videos with my email list to get them to head over and watch them, and get them even further warmed up and wanting to commit to taking that next step in their business-building journey!

We also boosted the videos with $500 of ad spend to put them in front of our site traffic and page likes.

We wanted to boost them to our email list, and track ROI of how many people saw the ads and then converted, but we’ve long since given up on trying to figure the tech of that out with Facebook, because the back end of the Facebook ads manager is a nightmare. (End rant.)

We have absolutely no idea how many people saw the ads and then converted, so I’m not willing to spend more than $500 on something where I can’t determine a ROI.

I personally don’t think it did much (especially since we couldn’t get the tech of showing it to our email list to work) so yeah, I really don’t think those boosted videos made any amount of difference really.

We also sent 3 emails prior to the cart opening to get the excitement going, and to get people to put launch day in their calendar!

During live launch week:

So after our little week-long pre-launch warm up period, we opened the doors to the course and the sales started coming through as follows:


As usual, we had a flurry of sales right when cart opened! These are the people on our list who already knew they wanted to enroll, and were just waiting on the next open enrollment period to be able to join us inside the course!

Then you’ll notice another spike in course sales just before that Early Bird period ended. Because #FOMO.

Then, as expected, we experienced a dead period on the days after early bird ended as urgency to enroll drops off.

Then we had an increase in sales immediately after our mid-launch week webinar (where we offered a live free training on finding clients as a new web designer, and a fast-action bonus if they enrolled within an hour of the webinar).

Then our final bump in sales happened just before cart closed.

Offering extended payment plans for your online course

I think it was 2 launches prior to this one where we actually started testing extended payment plans (rather than just offering our usual pay in full price or short-term payment plans of 3-4 months)…

So as soon as cart closed, we sent another email to our list saying basically “Hey, if you wanted to get in but couldn’t due to price, here’s an extended payment plan to make it a bit easier for you to get in.”

The few times we had done this in the past, we got another rush of sales, so clearly, making the price a bit easier to manage over a longer period of time was just what some people’s budgets needed, so this was something I was super happy to keep offering and testing the next several launches.

The obvious downside of an any payment plan is that I was pretty much acting as people’s bank, and when it comes to making good on their purchase, some people like to fall off the face of the earth and straight up ghost you. So since we were the ones assuming that risk, we calculated that into the regular payment plan and extended payment plan prices.

(Meaning students can expect a pretty hefty savings when they decide to pay up front and save everyone the hassle!)

Reflecting on our first 6-figure course launch

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What went well…

  • We killed our enrollment goal first off and got our best conversion rate yet! (1.8% during that launch!)

  • We had a crazyyy number of bundle purchases that round! (Students can choose to purchase our Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️ courses together for a savings).

    Out of 99 students, 49 chose this option instead of just SSB alone, so introducing the bundle increased our launch revenue A LOT.

  • We had documented everything needed to turn our site into and out of ‘course launch mode’.

    In the last launch, I changed everything over on our paigebrunton.com site to announce the course was open for enrollment. I then took screenshots to show future team members what needs to be changed. Basically, it made it super easy to hand that task off to my VA (virtual assistant) and for her to change the site over perfectly herself.

  • I had documented EVERYTHING from past launches, absolutely nailed our processes down to the last teeny tiny job, so it could pretty much all be handed off to my assistant. I feel like in this launch I got to where I wanted to be, doing the jobs only I could do (Facebook lives, and webinars) and nothing else. My assistant could do everything else without me. So basically, it was a big accomplishment removing myself from the day-to-day of launching.

  • Holding a call with my assistant just before the launch started. She looked over all of the tasks she had assigned during the launch, and anything she had never done before and wanted clarification on or assurances on, we took the time to go over anything she was unfamiliar with.

Suggested reading:

What didn’t go so well…

(A.k.A launch lessons learned)

  • We tried using Zoom for our webinar instead of Crowdcast as usual, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t like it at all.

    I made the switch because I was using Zoom for podcast recordings at the time and figured I’d use one software for the both. But Crowdcast genuinely had a better system than Zoom for webinars so I went back with Crowdcast for the time being.

  • Subscribers kept getting emails after opt-ing out of launch emails.

    Turns out, our email marketing system ConvertKit had some issues with link triggering (which enables us to let people opt out of sales emails) and therefore, people kept getting emails after opt-ing out. #awkward

    So you can bet we hopped on chat with their customer service team to make sure we had that all ironed out for next launch.

  • Our email open rate was stellar that launch (we deleted a ton of cold subscribers just before launch because we had been accumulating a couple thousand robots on our email list apparently) but one email did terribly with a 15% open rate. (Our average email open rate during a live launch is around 30%).

    When we looked into it, we noticed that email has done badly for the past 2 launches as well. Finally we caught on that our subject line sucked and we needed to find a new content topic for that email. We’ll be changing that emails content next launch!

    So moral of the story: track those launch email stats so you can tweak them for better open rates and click rates in the future!

  • We get a ton of emails in the 6 hours before early bird cart closes and regular cart closes.

    Some people were frantically sending us emails and when we didn’t get back to them right away, a bit worried they’d miss the deadline. We’re going to keep in mind to be checking emails every half hour just before a cart closes to help these folks out and calm their nerves about missing the deadline.

  • We got a lot of complaints from people in the EU about having to pay VAT and people wanting us to find a way around paying it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do anything about it, but can totally see that people are annoyed by having to pay it. (I hear you, I’m not a huge fan of paying taxes either.)

  • I totally screwed up the bundle pricing and didn’t read it over again with a fine tooth comb before launching the sales page.

    We had 3 sales of bundles before realizing that the price was wrong and it was $100 cheaper than it should have been. Meaning 3 very lucky ducks got the bundle at an extra special discount, haha! We fixed it, and thankfully no one noticed. We were prepared to give the extra $100 discount to anyone who noticed and was upset by the price being $100 less the day before, but no one did.

  • Earning this much in revenue in a month legitimately freaked me out back then. The feeling was actually not as enjoyable as you’d imagine. I clearly had some money mindset work to do!

So there we go, that’s a little sneak peek back in time at our first ever $100K+ course launch!

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