How I built & launched my online courses

I know a lot of y’all also have online course building dreams, so today I want to walk you through what building and launching a course actually looks like behind-the-scenes!

P.S. This is just a high-level over view of what you need to do in order to build & launch that fab new course you have in mind…

If you’re in need of a little more hand holding, and could use those down-to-the-detail steps from someone who’s done it all before, then I invite you to join the waitlist for a brand new coaching program I’ll be announcing v soon!

NEW Course Creator Coaching Program!

Coming Soon! Join the waitlist to learn when applications officially open!

JOIN THE WAITLIST

Ok, so the first time I built an online course (my Squares Secrets™️ course) I had fairly clear guidance on what I needed to be doing since I was going through Mariah Coz’s Accelerator program at the time.

Then when it came to build my second course Square Secrets Business™️, all I had to do was go back in my Asana tasks from the first build/launch and create myself a process template using those same steps!

I then tweaked it to better fit my business—the softwares and programs I use, the way I like to work (focusing in on one major task at a time) and the things I discovered I enjoyed doing during a launch vs. the things I couldn’t stand doing and therefore needed to outsource, or find another way to achieve a similar or better result!

How I created & launched my first online course

Online course creation step #1:

Research, plan & build an email list (that’s right, I said ‘email list’)

In the very beginning the first thing I do when I go to build a course is going back to questions I’ve been asked about my course topic.

So this means…

  • searching for keywords in my inbox from past emails I’ve received from people asking me my process for doing that thing

  • looking at the type of questions people had been DM-ing me with, or asking me inside of Facebook Groups

  • search past blog post comments

  • look into which search terms people tend to be typing into my website’s own search bar, as well as the any questions, phrases, or keywords that Google Analytics tells me are sending the most organic search traffic my way

  • reviewing survey answers to see how people speak of their issues related to the course topic…

    Yep! I love me a good audience survey!

    You as the creator get access to an endless idea-goldmine for what to be covering inside your course materials, and you also have added bonus of being able to give your audience exactly what they are asking for! Win-win!

    Suggested reading:

So, I basically brainstorm about the course topic using all my past interactions with people in my industry and audience as inspiration.

I make sure to determine my ICA or my “Ideal Client Avatar.’ A.K.A the one very specific type of person I hope to attract and serve with my course.

(Pretty hard to create a legit helpful course if you don’t have a clear idea of who it is you’re helping and what stage of their journey they tend to be in when they stumble upon your business!)

Suggested reading:

I determine my ICA’s pain points – the ones that have them so fed up they are prepared to spend actual money in order to find a solution to their problem.

I then create an opt-in gift that is the perfect first step BEFORE someone like them would take the course.

So for my Square Secrets Business™️ course (the one teaching you how to build a successful web design business) my opt-in gift was onHow to find your 1st or next web design client’ since that felt like the obvious first step for someone wanting to start a design business…to find their first paying client!

And why would I go giving away some of my secrets for free like that when my goal is to get someone to pay me money for access to my hard-earned wisdom through my course?

To start building an email list of subscribers that are highly interested in my course topic!

Nobody is just handing over their email address these days. You need to be offering something of actual value. Something so good they’d probably have to pay to find it somewhere else.

Now this doesn’t mean you have to devote the next 3 months creating a 300 page PDF that you’ll then give away for free. Creating something valuable means that when they are done, they will have a very clear actionable step and an immediate takeaway that they can easily implement and experience a quick win with!

Something to make them think, “Wow, if her free content is this bomb, imagine what it’s like to be a student inside one of her paid courses!”

Suggested reading:

Online course creation step #2:

Build out the actual course

So next, I outline my course and each module, rearranging modules and content to however makes the most logical sense.

Pro-tip! Sticky notes work perfectly for this type of visual planning where you are constantly rearranging the order to fit and make the most sense!

I want my students when they take my courses to turn off their brains and just easily follow through the steps, so I really take time to ensure I’ve put everything in the best order possible.

I then head into Asana, my project management tool of choice, change it over to ‘calendar’ as opposed to the default ‘list’ mode and then put all the course building tasks into the calendar for each and every module.

I normally create the course in order of how it will be consumed, with the exception of if I have guest experts—I tend to create that module earlier on to ensure if they need to cancel and reschedule an interview, I’m not promising students something that I don’t know with certainty will be in the course.

(Both of my courses were only partially finished when I launched them!)

We also do a lot of prep before I ever record the first module to make the recording part more batch-able and seamless.

We design the slides, the workbooks, and the checklists. I also prepare my questions for the guest experts (generally taken directly from emails, blog comments and survey responses), and outline the content of all the slides.

Then I record, record, record. I optimize the videos and other course content (workbooks, checklists, etc.) by reducing their file size to make sure they aren’t slowing down the course and making it clunky, and then upload it to my course hosting platform, Teachable.

Suggested reading:

Pssst! Wanna Pin for later?
How I built & launched my online courses

Online course creation step #3:

Prepare for launch!

The backbone of any launch is the sales emails, so the most important thing which I do here is to write those emails.

These emails truly are beasts, so don’t think that ‘write launch emails’ is some quick task you’ll rattle off the night before you open cart.

It can take you a few days or a week of full-time work.

They are again the most vital and important part of a launch, so writing fabulous, long-form, information-and-story-telling-rich emails that meet potential student where they are, calm fears and show them the result they’ll experience at the end of the course is v important.

I also get all the tech set up on my sales page (like any countdown timers I’m using to create urgency, or a little chat bot feature I use on my site only during live launches).

I set up the checkout pages, test checking out from start to finish to make sure the tech is working, and all new students will get their course welcome emails automatically, and the follow up emails to remind them of any live Q+A calls.

I also decide on the content of my webinar, a live free training or workshop I host during launch week to get people hyped up about the topic, and get them thinking more about their need for assistance in that area.

So I create any scripts or slides I’ll need for that, as well as the landing page I’ll direct people to sign up for my webinar if they aren’t already on my list, and set up the tech behind wherever I will be hosting the webinar.

I then map out in Asana every single thing that happens during the live launch and assign tasks to myself and my assistant accordingly so nothing accidentally falls through the cracks in all the excitement and busyness of launch week.

Online course creation step #4:

LAUNCH!

This is the fun part, welcoming all the fabulous people you’re going to be serving and helping them finally get over whatever hang up they were stuck on!

… It’s also the stressful part if I’m being totally honest.

If by the end of a launch you feel like you got hit by an emotional truck, just know that’s totally normal.

But that there are also so many steps to take to make sure the process is a smooth one, and each launch is that much easier and better than the last! (More on that in the next step!)

In this time I strategically send out emails over the course of 2-3 weeks to build hype, announce enrollment is open, and then provide helpful content on my topic to showcase my expertise!

I also hold normally 1-2 webinars and we are constantly in the inbox and live chat answering questions in this time, solving payment problems, etc.

Online course creation step #5:

Post-launch

The work doesn’t just end the day cart closes and the course launch finishes…this is actually when the work really begins!

If you’re like me and launch before the course is even fully ready, you’ve got to finish creating the content.

Don’t underestimate that task and how much pressure you’re going to feel, because now you’ve got all these new students enrolled that you’ve made all these promises to you now have to deliver on!

You might also host live Q+A calls like I do, or provide some sort of other mentorship if you – say –offered a VIP option or special upsell during enrollment.

I also suggest getting a massage in this time, or doing whatever destresses you most‍♀️ (because again, the stress is real!)

Then finally, you’ve got to get serious about asking for testimonials and feedback from your students to update any future marketing materials with!

Wondering how you’re going to make it all come together?

You don’t have to build and launch this thing alone! Applications for my NEW Course Creator Coaching Program will be opening soon! You can hop on that waitlist below!


You’ll also love . . .

How I built & launched my online courses