Wondering what it’s REALLY like to create and launch a digital course? I’m sharing all the details from my four course launches over the past year, plus tips on how to sell your course and what to do and not do when it comes to marketing. Learn from my mistakes!
Welcome to our Course Creation mini-series! From August 26, 2021 – September 23, 2021, we’re bringing back a mix of fan favorites episodes from 2020 all about digital courses, plus a brand new interview with course creation queen Amy Porterfield herself! If you want to create an online course, this series is for you.
Curious what it’s like to launch an online course?
Today I’m walking you through the journey of how, in six months (July 2019 – Jan 2020), I was able to earn nearly $150,000 from my online course, The Six-Figure Blog Academy.
But it wasn’t easy… here’s how I did it, plus the mistakes I made so you can learn from them and not have to repeat them yourself!
I break down the details all about…
- how I first created my course
- how I approached my first “soft launch” and then my first “official launch” (where I actually LOST money!)
- what I did for a Black Friday promotion (and won’t do again)
- how I totally transformed my launch model before my second “official launch” in January 2020–when we achieved a gross revenue of just over $100,000!
If you want to read the full debrief on my course launches, I have all the numbers and details for you here in this launch debrief.
This episode is jam-packed with helpful info, real-talk and inspiration. Let’s get into it!
What you’ll learn in this episode:
- What I recommend you do BEFORE you launch your digital course to the public
- The biggest mistake people (including myself!) make when it comes to hosting webinars
- Whether or not to offer payment plans and how to price your course
- The fatal mistake I made that put my company in debt for the first time ever
- When and how to bring in affiliates for your course
- How I turned a failed, in the red launch into a six-figure launch only THREE months later! Plus the key strategy I implemented BEFORE my six-figure launch that was paramount to my success
Subscribe and Review
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If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post.
Also, please leave an honest review for The Success with Soul Podcast on Apple Podcasts so we can improve and better serve you in the future. Plus, you could be featured on a future episode during our listener spotlights. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and I read each and every one of them.
And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts to get automatic updates. My goal for this podcast is to inspire those who seek flexibility and freedom in their lives by making something happen with holistic, soulful, step-by-step strategies from me and other experts.
Links + Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
- Check out the incredible Digital Course Academy free resources here!
- If you are thinking about launching a digital course someday, do yourself a favor and save some major headaches and expensive trial and errors by taking my mentor, Amy Porterfield’s, free quiz to discover your personal path to creating a profitable digital course here. In less than 2 minutes, you’ll figure out action by action what steps YOU should take based on YOUR goals, audience, and business level.
- If you’ve ever wanted to build a digital course but haven’t actually DONE it, then you need to join me and Amy Porterfield inside her FREE Facebook Bootcamp group, The Digital Course Kickstarter: A 30-Day Bootcamp
- Read all of my income reports here
- Follow me on Instagram @katekordsmeier and @rootandrevel
- 074: How to Earn Passive Income with Online Courses with Jacques Hopkins
- 073: How to Create Passive Income with Online Courses
- 072: How to Create an Online Course with Amy Porterfield
- 023: The 10 Tools I Use to Run My Online Course Business
More Ways to Enjoy Success with Soul
- Download on Apple Podcasts
- Email me new episodes
- Don’t forget to join our free Success With Soul Facebook community for follow-up conversations about the podcast episodes and where I also often go live to answer your burning questions. Hangout with like-minded bloggers and heart-centered online business owners exchanging priceless feedback, encouragement, and other golden insights from the trenches.
Kate Kordsmeier 0:00
Welcome back to the Success with Soul podcast. This is Kate Kordsmeier, your host and we are doing something a little bit different for the next few weeks. In honor of digital course Academy opening up, we are going to do an amazing series all about online courses. To kick things off, we're actually republishing some of our favorite episodes on the subject of digital courses, as we're leading up to open enrollment for digital course Academy which starts on September 21 2021. So throughout the next few weeks, you're going to hear all about digital courses and how to create a profitable, scalable business using your course from all different kinds of experts, including Amy Porterfield herself, myself, yours truly, and some other experts that have come on the show before. We're also going to give you the opportunity to get a bunch of freebies over the next month and a half while we are in this series of online courses. So stay tuned. And if you have any questions or you want to learn more about how to create a profitable online course head to Katekordsmeier.com/DCA to learn more. And now for an oldie but a goodie. Welcome, welcome. Welcome. It's Episode 22 of the Success with Soul podcast. I'm your host, Kate Kordsmeier. And today we're doing something real fun. So I actually recorded this episode back on August 5, live in my free Facebook group Success with Soul, you'll probably notice that I talked to some of the people who are alive on the facebook live with me throughout the episode. So if it doesn't really make sense to you, that's what's happening. But I still think it's gonna be really fun for you to listen to this recording. And hopefully you were even able to tune in live if not, definitely go join our free Facebook group at Katekordsmeier.com/Facebook so that you can be a part of future episodes. Today we're diving into digital courses, and I am sharing how I have been able to earn over $200,000 from my online course the six figure blog Academy in just one year. It wasn't easy. I'm sharing how I did it plus the many mistakes I made so you can learn from them and not have to repeat them for yourself. So without further fanfare, let's get into it. You're listening to the Success with Soul podcast with Kate Kordsmeier x journalists turned CEO of a multi six figure blog in online business. But it wasn't that long ago that Kate was a struggling entrepreneur who lacked confidence, clarity, and let's be honest money. But all those failures, experiments and lessons learned helped Kay create a thriving business that impacts 1000s and brings freedom, flexibility and fulfillment to her life. If you're ready to do the same and make something happen with holistic, soulful, step by step strategies from Kate and other experts, you're in the right place. here's your host, writer, educator, Mom, recovering perfectionist, bookworm and sushi connoisseur Kate Kordsmeier.
Welcome to Episode 22 of the Success with Soul podcast. I'm your host, Kate Kordsmeier. And we are doing something a little different today and recording live from Facebook. So this episode actually isn't even going to air until September 10. So all of y'all that are attending live with me today are getting a sneak peek at this episode. And you're going to get to participate in it and maybe even hear yourself on it or at least hear your name mentioned when I talked to you from the chat. So I really want this to be fun and interactive. I want everybody to be as involved as they want to be. But please, it's so much more fun for me to hear from you in the chat. That way, I'm not just talking into the void. And like I said, then you can hopefully get featured on the podcast as well, which will be really fun. So let me make sure my podcast is actually recording. Okay, it is technology is hopefully going to be on our side today. I know a lot of people have have had storms and lost power. And we've been lucky in Atlanta that that has not happened. Let's hope my internet cooperates. And we will get started. So I put up a poll in the Facebook Live. I'm not even sure where it shows up for you all. But I have a poll here of Do you already have a digital course. So I'm publishing it now. I would love for you to. If you see the poll somewhere, go ahead and click the button that corresponds with your answer whether or not you have a digital course yet or not be great to just get some background and see where everybody is in there. personal journey as I am going to be sharing my personal path to creating a six figure course here today. So thank you, I see four people so far five people, not yet but I'm interested is the answer. Okay, awesome. So that is great, you are in the right place. So let's get started, I keep saying that we're really going to get into it. Now, just to give you guys some background in six months from July 2019. So just about a year ago. And really, if we want to just go for the whole year, through today, I have earned over $200,000 from my online course the six figure blog Academy. And that number might be really impressive to you. It might be small potatoes, everything is relative when it comes to money I have found and success. And so I want to put that disclaimer out there. But whatever your reaction is, when you hear that, I want you to know that it wasn't easy, and that you're seeing at least the middle of my journey. So don't be don't compare your beginning to my middle. But I am going to show you here's how I did it. And plus, you know, the mistakes that I made, so you can learn from them and hopefully not have to repeat them yourself. So let me come back. Okay, we've got one person who says, heck, yes, they have a course. And that's awesome. A bunch of people that don't have one yet, but are interested and a few that says yeah, but nobody really knows about it. Okay, so you're in the right place, I want to start by sharing some of my journey. And if you've been following along at all, you know that in January 2020, I had a launch of my course the six figure blog Academy, we call it six FBA. And it was a six figure launch, as in, I brought in a gross revenue of over $100,000 in two weeks, which is like mind blowing to me, I never could have imagined that that would have been in my future when I set out to create my course. But that was the final destination. And I want to rewind and talk about how I got there. So we're going to go through some of the different launches that we did, because I had a few flops. And what I did differently at each one because every single time I launched the course I changed at least one thing, if not a few because I was constantly learning lessons. And then I'm going to share those with you and lots of other tips of tips and advice. Okay, so if you have questions as I'm chatting, please just drop them in the chat. I've got some of the lovely ladies on my team here that are going to be compiling the questions at the end so that I can answer them. And if I see them, and they're, you know, relevant to what I'm speaking to, I'll try to answer them live in the moment. Please interact with me and engage, it's going to be super fun, and I'm really excited.
Okay, I also want to share briefly that and we'll talk more about this a little bit later. But I am going to be talking about Amy Porterfield digital course Academy because this is the program that I took in between my October launch and my January launch my October launch, I lost money, it was horrible. I felt like quitting and giving up and throwing in the towel. And then in January, three months later, I made $100,000 in two weeks. And it was totally because of Amy Porterfield digital course Academy. She is actually launching this course next month and I am so proud to be an affiliate because Amy is a digital course Queen and I got so much value from this course myself. So more to come. But just an FYI, when you hear me say Amy or DCA, you'll know what I'm talking about. And if at any point during this, whether you're listening to this on the podcast or you're live, you want to discover your own personal path to creating a profitable digital course, I highly recommend taking Amy's quiz. So we'll have the link in the show notes. And we're dropping it in the Facebook Live Chat as well. It's Katekordsmeier.com/coursequiz. Hopefully Mara can just drop that in the chat for me. And I can keep moving along. So hopefully if you're attending live, stay here and then once we're done with the episode and the the talk, go Take the quiz and then share your results with me. Now we're in this Facebook group. You're all in this with me together, I want to see people's results. I want to hear what you what you're thinking what your plan is. So please share whenever you get your quiz results, and I can't wait to see see what you are. Hey Tosh from New Zealand and Samantha from Portugal. I love having an international audience. So cool. Okay, so Mara just dropped the link to Amy's quiz in the chat. Let's get into it. So I got the idea to create my course the six figure blog Academy, six FBA after I started publishing income reports on my blog, route and revel. And I just felt like I had read other bloggers, income reports myself. And it was so helpful and inspirational to me to not only just see what was possible in terms of an income from blogging, but also to figure out how did they do it? And how could I replicate some of what worked for them and make it work for me. So I started publishing these income reports, you can find them at Kate kordsmeier.com, as well. And just search income reports where we've got like some buttons at the top where you can read back through like archives from the years, and I started getting tons of questions from people wanting to know more how they wanted me to go even deeper than I was going in these reports. And so I felt like I had something to share people, there was clearly a demand. And so I thought I should do a digital course it had been on my mind for a while I had been following me and some other people in this space, and knew that it could be a really big revenue driver for your business. And so I was really intrigued by the idea. And I felt like I had had a good concept. So before I launched to the public, though, I did a beta test period. So I did choose, some people will say you can pre sell your course before you even create it. And I didn't want to do that for a couple of reasons that I won't get into right now. But instead, what I wanted to do is create my course, before I sold it, because I already knew that I had a market for it. So I got people to sign up for the waitlist for the course it was free to join, then I surveyed that audience, that group of people that had signed up for the waitlist. And I asked them a ton of questions about their blogging journey. What did they want to know, where were they struggling, you know, so that I could really create the content around the needs of my people. And then I created the course. So I built out the whole thing. And then I did a beta program for just 10 people where they could join, I think we, when we launch, it was just for $197. So it was way cheaper for them to join. At that level, I only opened it up to 10 people and they had to provide tons of feedback throughout. And they had to complete the course in 30 days. So you had to be really serious about this and really be willing to go all in with me. And this was so valuable because I got to survey the beta testers throughout the entire 30 day period, I could tweak the course and make improvements based on their suggestions before officially launching it to the public. It again also kind of proved that there was a market for the course. And I earned almost $2,000 and $1,970 from the beta test program, which I didn't actually even include that number in the gross revenue of the 200,000 that I was talking about before. So that was an added bonus to I was able to get a little bit of revenue coming in. Plus I got to get tons of feedback and get my course ready to really launch to the public making sure it was in a great place. But again, I was all about kind of this like slow burn. In the beginning. I didn't want to go all in with like affiliates and Facebook ads and you know all the things I really wanted to ease my way into it so that I could create sustainable success. So what I did next is I did a soft launch in July of 2019. And I think the beta launch we did in May, if I remember correctly, so may 2019. I tweaked everything, got it ready to do the soft launch in July. And what I did after the beta program for the soft launch is I just emailed my list so I didn't run any ads. I didn't create fancy like funnels and crazy automations I just created one email series for my list to go through over the course of I think a week and I just let it ride. So I am a student of Kate Northrup, this was such a do less way to dip my toe into launching without totally stressing myself out about all the marketing and shiny objects out there. And I didn't have a huge list at the time. So my blog Bruton rebel had a large list but those weren't the people that were interested in creating a blog themselves. Those are people that were interested in my health and wellness content. So I had a small list of just over 1000 people on it. And we just sent a A series of emails over the course of a week to my list. And we really didn't do anything else, I probably went on Instagram and just like talked about it a little bit. But it was very, very do less. And we made about $18,000. So it converted really well. And this was like such a good way to dip my toe in and just give me that like, Oh my gosh, this could really work, right? Like I could really make some serious money and make a serious impact by having a digital course. And I knew that we could only go up from there, or so I thought. So what happened is now I have a bunch of stats written down that I could share with y'all let me know in the chat. Are you interested in hearing like, how many students was this? How many? You know, did I do webinars or ads or affiliates? And what was the conversion rates? Do you guys want me to get into that kind of nitty gritty detail? Or do you want me to keep this a little more high level? Let me know in the chat. And I'll let you guide this episode. This is exactly why I wanted to do this live so that I could give the people what they want. Again, this was just the soft launch was really an easy way to get started. And it really built my confidence to know that this is something that I could do. So we had 34 students enroll in this July soft launch. And so then we say we had our first official launch in October of 2019. So we took a few months off we retooled things, we came up with a more intense marketing strategy. And add some more advanced features. We toyed with Facebook ads, which I'll get to in a minute, we had a few. We created like an email funnel for people to go through, we added a live chat feature to our sales page, which we tweaked a time I did a webinar. And let's see, I had a more like official affiliate program like really to start it was just some friends and the beta testers who promoted as affiliates, but I started to kind of build this out a little bit with each subsequent launch. So okay, Michaela saying she loves nitty gritty details. And Katie says stats are fun. Alright, awesome. So I'll share a little bit more about the specifics. So for that first soft launch, I already said we had 34 students enroll. And one thing that we did is we offered a payment plan or a pay and full plan. And we actually found that 26 over 26% chose the payment plan. So this was a really good memo to me to say you want to make it easy for people, if we only offered the pay in full, we would have missed out on a lot of those sales. So we're giving it people options to it still, it's not a subscription. It's not something where you could pay, you know, pay for two months and then cancel, you're legally required to pay for all of the program because you're getting the entire program at one time. But I'm willing to space out the payment so that you're paying, you know, a much smaller amount over the course of a few months rather than one big chunk upfront. Okay, Tasha says would love to know the ins and outs of how you started. It's great to hear the highs and lows and growth. Thank you, Tash. Andrea would love to hear more, but not too detailed, love high level to get as much general info as possible. Okay, I agree. I'm going to kind of do a little bit of a combo here. So I did do one live webinar, just one on sponsored content for my soft launch in July. I really didn't have a clear strategy for this webinar, I had just heard Oh, webinars are a good way to sell your course. So pick a topic that's relevant to your course and do a webinar. So I did this one, we had a 0% conversion rate as in literally nobody bought. So it's not all Rainbows, right? What I've realized, and I'm going to get into at the end, I'm going to share kind of 10 key takeaways and lessons that I've learned on my path to creating a successful digital course. But one of these things is that I gave too much away on the webinar, I overwhelmed people. And even though they got so much value out of that webinar, because I had so many people email me afterwards or let me know in the chat. Oh my gosh, I learned so much. I've never learned this much on a webinar. This is amazing. What it did is it left them feeling like they needed time to implement what I taught on the webinar, versus being hungry and feeling ready for more. Right so I didn't make them feel like I have to get this course to learn more. I made them feel like I already have a long list of things I need to do. I'll get the course later after I do some of this stuff. And the topic was just super nation. beginner bloggers can't do sponsored content right away when They got started. So a lot of our audience who was just curious about the topic wasn't ready to, you know, go for it all the way. I wanted to just put that out there. It's not all rainbows. And the good thing is that even when something flops you do learn a lot from it, if you really debrief afterwards and look at why, why didn't this work and ask your people? I mean, do not be afraid to ask. So from that soft launch, again, I'll just share we had 29% of our sales came from affiliates. And like I said, Those affiliates at that time, were just some of my friends in the industry. And then the beta testers who had already been through the course, and some of those beta testers were like, Yeah, I'd be an affiliate and earn a commission, just telling people that I liked your course. Cool. So we did get quite a bit of sales from affiliates, it was a good lesson that partnerships like that are a great way to increase your revenue. Okay. So fast forward, then we go to the October 2019, like first official launch, where I'm going all in and doing more than like, just emailing my current list. So I had big plans for this launch, I felt like if this soft launch was able to generate 34 sales and almost $20,000 worth of revenue, my second launch, like let's double it, right, let's get $40,000 worth of revenue and 70 students, and that that's the goal that I set for myself. And I went into that launch. And by the end of it, I was just a puddle of tears.
I had 28 students enroll, which now in hindsight, I can look back and say, That's amazing, I got 28, I reach 28 more people and I was able to help 28 people start their blogs and create a career and a life that works for them. That is huge. I wish I had been able to see that at the time. Because at the time, all I could see was that I enrolled less students in my first official launch than I did in my soft launch. And that was like, what, what happened, I was supposed to double I can't believe this. So a couple things that I'll share stats wise, and then I'll kind of give you my honest evaluation of what happened. Because I do want to be honest with y'all, I think that sharing the good and the bad can be equally helpful because being an entrepreneur and owning your own business, and being your own boss is amazing, of course, I mean, I wouldn't trade it for anything. But it is also freaking hard. There are good months. And there are bad months. And there are busy seasons and seasons of rest. And it's just a constant ebb and flow. So I feel like I would be doing all a disservice to only share those feast periods and leave out the famine. So that's why I wanted to take this episode to share the entire path of my journey thus far. And I'm still on my journey. Like I said, I'm in the middle, right, I'm not at the end. So I'm still going and still learning, still launching and trying new things and tweaking and learning. So come along with me. So I got 28 students to enroll, which could have been great, except that I decided to hire a Facebook ads agency to help us with some paid traffic. And this was a huge mistake. It was a first time ever in my business that I was in the red as in, I spent more than I made in this launch. So that I am somebody I'm very privileged to say this, I want to recognize that full on before I say this, but I have never had a penny of debt in my life, including student loans. And so being in the red being in debt was a complete and total mindfuck. For me, pardon my French, but there is just no better way to describe it. It messed with my head, big time. And I really I was in a dark place. And I felt like clearly I'm not cut out for this. And I couldn't figure out at the time, what I want to learn from from what had happened. And I felt like I should just give up. But what I realized was that the Facebook ads we had targeted toward our route and rebel audience. And that's not who was going to buy my course on blogging. That was two totally different groups of people. And so the Facebook ads didn't convert, I should have been more on top of it to say, oh, they're not converting. So let's tweak or turn them off or try something else. But because I had hired this agency, I thought, well, they're doing that for me, right? So I wasn't on top of it. And so we saw they saw that these ads weren't working and they kept they just like double down on them. So while my course brought in Let's see $14,409 in gross revenue, I spent $17,879 on ads. So I lost money on this launch. And that was just such a tough pill to swallow. So, needless to say, we stopped working with the ads agency, I went into like a little hole of self pity for a little while. And it wasn't really until so right after this launch. I think the cart closed, I saw that I lost money. I saw that I didn't meet my goals. I went into a pit of depression. And then I went to Amy Porterfield entrepreneur experience live in San Diego. And I am so glad that I went to this event because not only did it actually help me figure out what did I do wrong here? Why did my this launch not do as well as my first launch? And what could I change because I was I was looking at it myself. And I couldn't see it, I couldn't see what I was missing. And I figured it out at Amy's event. And on top of that I heard from people like Amy Porterfield and Rachel Hollis, and Jasmine star, and these huge names and people that I admire so much. And they told me all about how they've had hard times in their business. And they've lost money. And they've had partnerships crumble, and they've had launches flop, and they've wanted to give up too. And even though it sounds so obvious and cheesy now, at the time when I heard that, I mean, it was so powerful to me to see these incredibly successful women saying, Yeah, I've been there too. And I still struggle with with self doubt and insecurity and wanting to give up sometimes, because it's so hard. It just really resonated with me and gave me this newfound energy of like, they got through it. And so can I. And one of the biggest things that I learned about what I did wrong is that I did not grow my email list at all between that soft launch, and then this October launch. So I essentially went back to the exact same group of people that I had just tried to sell to two months before. And I tried to do it again. And I was able to get 28 people from that same group to say, Okay, yeah, now's the right time for me. And that's great, because there are people on your list that it's going to take some some time for you to nurture them and for you to show them the value and convince them that working with you is going to provide them with the results and the transformation that they're looking for. So it's not that you shouldn't like if they didn't buy at one point, no is not no forever, no as usually not right now. So it's not to say you shouldn't try to sell to the same people again. But I really should have focused on growing my list in between that time and providing more value to my, my current subscribers, and to the people that were already in my audience with what Amy calls the pre launch runway. So we're gonna get into that in a little bit. But the gist is that you have a few weeks, usually like at least 30 to 90 days of time leading up to when you open the doors for your course for enrollment. And you take that time to really get people primed and ready and in the right mindset to join once those doors open. And so it's all about sharing freebies and value and helping your people as much as possible, while also growing your list and priming them to be ready to buy when the card opens. So
then we did this very quick Black Friday promotion where I just thought, you know what, I wonder if we could do something for Black Friday, where we could give a big discount and get some revenue back into the business. I just kind of needed like a cash infusion to help me weather the storm that I was currently in. And so we didn't do a full on launch or anything like that. Again, this was just emailing my list. Again, I had not grown it at all, but I said okay, I'm gonna just email my list and see who's open to joining this black friday promotion. what we ended up doing was giving a $1 trial for one week. And so you could get into the course and you could access all of the content for $1 for one week, and then after that week was up, you would automatically be charged and into the course for ever. And you could choose whether you did the payment plan or the painful option of course and unless you cancelled, so if you had to email us before the seven days were up to say, this course isn't for me, I'm not interested. And so then you wouldn't be charged. So it's just the seven day free trial, right? A lot of companies do stuff like this, especially like tech companies where you're trying out a tool or something for a short window of time, I thought it was going to be great. And as I started seeing the sales come in, it felt like it was great, because we had, let me see if I have the number written down. I didn't write it down. Okay, we probably had 100 people do the dollar trial. And I was like this, this is working like gangbusters. I'm so excited. And what I found was that, at the end of the week, only 15 of those students stayed in the course. 80% chose the payment plan as well. So we were able to generate $10,784 in gross revenue, which was awesome. It was exactly the cash infusion I needed. I got a handful of new students that I could help and connect with. And it was beautiful. But that means that like 85% of those people who did the trial did not stick around. And that hurt, you know, right? At first, I thought, Oh, my gosh, my course must be terrible. Nobody wants it. And then we started digging into some of the steps. So with our program, the software that we use, we can see did people log in? How much of the course did they get through? What was their experience in the course? And we could ask them when they wrote to us to say I want out? What Why? What could we do to change your mind or to make it better? And what I found is that we had a ton of tire kickers, we had a ton of people who just saw the dollar trial. And we're like, Yeah, what the heck, why not? Most of those people never even logged into the course. Those that did watched like one video. So it did give me a confident met some of my confidence back that okay, it wasn't me, they literally just like saw this, this really basically free offer, thought, What do I have to lose, and then didn't make the time to actually see if this was something that they wanted. So when the trial was up, and they hadn't had a chance to really look at it, they they backed out. So I will say I probably will never do $1 trial or something like that, again, solely because it was a lot of administrative work on our end to get people into the course and then get them out of the course and process refunds and cancel payments and all of that. And it just didn't really feel like it was worth it. And it was very mentally stressful for me because it was hard not to take it personally. But that was our little black friday promotion, we'll probably try to do more promotions like that in the future. Not like the dollar trial. But like, let's do something fun for Black Friday and try something else. Again, this was like very do less launch, we had zero email funnels, we did zero live webinars, we spent $0 on ads or paid traffic, we let our affiliates know that we were going to do this. So we did have 27% of the sales from this black friday promotion did come from our affiliate. So again, affiliates were great. And we had a high conversion rate about 8% on our sales page. So it worked well. But the actual promotion itself is not something I would do again.
Alright friends coming in for a quick break here because I've got a secret to share with you about something that literally nearly tanked my business last year. So here's the story. After I figured out the formula on how to create a profitable blog and business doing what I loved. I knew I wanted to teach others how to do the same. And what was now my course the six figure blog Academy. After all, not only do I love teaching and helping people, but I knew it would be a lucrative way to monetize my blog beyond ad sponsors and affiliate marketing. So after my first soft launch was successful and brought in nearly $20,000, I naively went into my second launch and spent a ton of money on Facebook ads. Once I accounted for all of that ad spend I ended up actually losing money and was in the red for the first time in my life. Oh my god, it was so stressful. And pretty much every day I wanted to throw in the towel and just quit and be a stay at home mom. So at first I didn't know what I did wrong. I was just so upset. But it wasn't until I went to Amy Porterfield entrepreneur experience event that October that I learned how to launch from the Queen of digital courses herself, Amy Porterfield, I realized it takes a ton of intentional planning to launch the right way. And I'm so glad I took her advice, particularly for the pre launch runway. So in my second official launch, I increase my revenue by 7.5 times and I actually made over $100,000. From that launch in January 2020. I could not have done this without Amy's course, the Digital Course Academy. So if you are thinking about launching a course someday, do yourself a favor and save some major headaches and expensive trial and errors by taking Amy's free quiz to discover your personal path to creating a profitable digital course, you can do that Katekordsmeier.com/coursequiz, you might as well make sure that every action step along the way is your next best move. So you don't waste valuable time and resources. In less than two minutes, you'll figure out action by action, what steps you should take based on your goals, audience and business level. Again, head to Katekordsmeier.com/coursequiz and get your results today. It's free.
So this is November, right, and I've had this bad launch, I just had this kind of trying experience, testing my emotional fortitude, with the black friday trial promotion. And I'm kind of ready to quit. But at this time I buy DCA Amy's course, which is all about how to create profitable digital courses. And I learned so much I mean, I went through this thing real quick and took a million notes. And then I went back through again and again figuring out my exact strategy. And one of the things that I can relate to with Amy, if you have been in the six figure blog Academy before, you'll know that I am a very step by step, here's a roadmap, do this action, do this step. And you will get these results. And each thing builds on the other. And it's like this is a proven system. If you follow it, it will work. And that is what Amy provides in digital course Academy was like, here is the exact system to follow. Do this and you will get results. And so I i did exactly what she said, I retweet every tweet. Is that a word? Maybe I tweaked our webinars again. Totally. We did a brand new webinar, change the topic change everything about our strategy. We got really serious with our email funnels, we got even more serious with our affiliates. We let's see, I got to look back at some of my notes here to see what are all the things. So yeah, we changed everything. I made the most changes to my webinar strategy, and both in what I taught but also in how I followed up with people after they registered. That was really big for me, because the previous webinars, people would sign up, they'd attend. And if they didn't buy, I didn't do anything with them. I never followed up to talk to them again about the course or to answer their questions or to address any of their objections or anything like that. I literally just was like, Alright, thanks anyway, and did nothing. So that was a huge thing that I changed. We switched from teachable to kajabi for our platform where we hosted the course, that allowed us to have a lot more functionality that I needed. And I hired a copywriter. She's a great friend of mine who helped us redo the copy on our sales page to try to increase our conversion rates. So what happened was we launched again in January. And as you know, we made 100 $100,052 in gross revenue. So we had 89 students enroll in the course 64% chose the payment plan versus pay in full. So again, make it easy for your people to say yes to getting your course. It's great, I'd much prefer people to pay in full, it's way less work on our end. So we do give bonuses and discounts for people who are able to pay in full. But think about the fact like if I didn't offer a payment plan, 64% of those people probably would not have joined the course. So that was really huge to be able to offer that. Instead of doing one live webinar, we did four live webinars. And instead of having a 0% conversion rate, we had an 11% conversion rate meaning that 11% of the people who are watching the webinar live purchase the course. So that was huge, and clearly Amy's tweaks and suggestions about not teaching too much and changing the way that I followed up and although 11% with live conversion, so that's kind of a separate, separate thing, actually. But I learned so much about webinars from DCA. I did spend a little bit on ads I did on myself, this time, I kept it really simple. I spent just under $2,000 on ads. So obviously, my profit I was way in the black. And I think the ads actually did work pretty well. And really what I spent ads on was growing my email list because like I said, what I learned from the soft launch to the first official launch was I didn't grow my list at all, I didn't have a pre launch runway. So from October to January, that's what I really focused on and changed a lot. So my ads that I did on Facebook, were really for growing my list getting people to opt in to some of my freebies. Rather than doing ads like Sorry, my dogs barking because we have a delivery coming. So real life live recording. So my ads were not like retargeting people to try to get them to buy the course it was just getting people onto my list. And then once they were on my list, I could nurture them, and put them into some funnels and give them some gentle invitations for how they could join me. So in this launch, 54% of the sales came from affiliate. So again, affiliates were huge in our success. And that copywriter that I hired, she got us to a 7.4% conversion rate on our sales page, which was freaking amazing. And we actually had seven different email funnels. So
it was a lot of work, I'm not gonna lie, there's a lot of moving parts, a lot of technology trying to figure out, you know, okay, if this, if they do this action, they get put in this funnel, and then if they buy, they get taken out. And if they don't buy they go this way. And it's complicated, right. But again, I was so glad to have DCA because it literally walked me through every step of it. So I would go to the tech library, and I would watch the trainings where they literally tell you exactly what to do and how to set it up and use this tag and do this action and blah, blah, blah. It made it so much easier. So it was complicated, but it was doable. And we did it right. And so every single lunch, you can see we changed something. My philosophy is to always be learning and tweaking and improving. We changed our bonuses. That's right. Okay, so here's some other things we changed. We had a bunch of bonuses that we offered in the first few rounds of launching. And we saw that they weren't really converting that well. So we changed some of our bonuses. We tried different enrollment links. So it sometimes we've been like carts open for a week, sometimes carts open for the January launch, it was cart was open for two weeks. So we tried lots of different things, have timetables and seeing what works well for our people, we changed our price. Pretty much every time I've launched, I've gone back in and I've improved the course. And I've made a lot of changes. And so we've increased our price. And it was funny, because after the launch where I lost money, you know, I was so upset, and I'm talking to my husband, I'm asking him, what could I have done differently. And, like an obvious thought is maybe it's too expensive, maybe people didn't want to buy it because it was too much. And at the time, I think the course was like four, four or 597, I can't remember but around $500, let's say. And I was listening to Amy's module about pricing your course. And she really convinced me that the biggest indicator of the success of your course is how confident you are in the value of it. And I think that I wasn't feeling that confident, not in the value, but I just wasn't feeling confident to really sell myself, you know, it was still like a new a new thing for me. And so I listened to her lessons, I talked to my team. And then I was like, You know what, I think we need to double the price of the course. And we made a lot of improvements and changes so that I could feel really confident that it was worth that money. And turns out Amy was right, of course, because we sold twice, what almost three times as many courses in January as we did in October. And the course was double the price. So it was not an issue of the course being too expensive. Okay, what else do we change? We tried different webinar topics, which is always tweaking and learning and honestly like I've had successful launches now and a six figure launch. I'm still gonna go back into DCA and some of my other resources and figure out what could I do differently How could I improve because there's always things we can do better, right? So that was a lot of information to throw at you. Before I get into the kind of wrap up of the 10 key takeaways, I want to come into the chat and see how you guys are feeling. what's what's some of the big takeaways that you've learned from this? I want to hear I want your feedback. So let me know I see Natasha saying, Oh, my what an experience to have to go through a loss of income is not fun. No, it is not. It was a very trying. Thank you for your empathy though. Tash says, Wow, all of that knowledge pretty much for free, I would have made the most of the trial, even if I didn't sign up. That's crazy to not make the most of seven days and mentoring. I know, I agree. I mean, I think you know, it's a busy time of year for people. So it's not a I'm not really faulting the people. But it just made me realize that when you do promotions like that, you know, people, people, you're going to get the tire kickers, basically, you're going to get the people that are like, Oh, good deal. Can't say no to a good deal, but really don't have any intention of taking it seriously. Natasha says competence is a challenge a lot of the time. Yeah, it is it mean, it still is for me. And it still is for Amy, and it still is for Rachel and like those women that I said that, I think when I saw these huge successful entrepreneurs that I have looked up to, for so long admit that like, they doubt themselves, too. It was just so eye opening to me to realize, oh, that never really goes away. Because what you've realized is that confidence doesn't come from the result, right? You're not confident because you're a certain weight, or because you make a certain amount of money, confidence comes from within. And if you're putting that confidence and that self worth and that self love on an external source, then you're never really going to feel confident, right? You're not addressing the root cause. So I think that when you do that, it helps a lot to be able to convey your value to people when you value yourself. And that's something I'm constantly working on. Andrea says appreciate you sharing your black friday and price change experiences, knowing your worth is huge. And placing a value on that is not easy. It really isn't. And I want to share one other thought. So placing $1 value on your worth is not easy. And I think one of the things that people forget when they're pricing and something that I was reminded of recently, is that you're not just pricing yourself saying this exact course or this one hour coaching session with me or whatever the product is this ebook, this program, it's not just the value of like, how many hours did it take me to create this thing? Because it's a lifetime of your knowledge and experience and your trials and errors that you're bringing to the table? It's not? Well, it took me five hours to create the course and my hourly rate is $100 an hour. So I'm gonna charge $500 for it. That's not a great way to calculate your worth. Because that's leaving aside. What about the 30 plus years of life experience that got you to this point, and all of those lessons that you learned? You got you have to account for that in some way too. So I think that's important to remember when you're trying to figure out your pricing and balancing that with like, Well, what does the what is the market willing to pay, right? Because you can say, Oh, well lifetime of experience. I mean, it's worth a million dollars, but nobody's gonna pay a million dollars to take your course. So I think finding that balance is key, but remembering that it's a lot more than just like the hours that took to create something. Okay, so my 10 biggest takeaways, and we've talked about a lot of these already. The first one, number one do a pre launch runway, one of the most valuable things I learned from Amy is the necessity of doing this pre launch runway. And it was the hardest lesson that I learned between my July and October launch. So I feel like I've kind of said what I needed to say about that. If anyone has questions about the pre launch runway, let me know but Amy has an entire module and DCA that explains how to do a pre launch runway and what to include. So definitely check that out when the doors open if you're interested in DCI. Let's see, for my pre launch runway I did weekly Facebook Lives for eight weeks leading up to my January launch where I would talk about a topic that would prepare my audience to buy my course when it launched in January. So I was providing tons of value to them in advance. And then I also created a couple course related freebies to grow my email list. So I have a quiz that basically is like, what kind of blogger Are you or if you're asking the question like what should I blog About, you can take this free quiz. And then I also created another quiz that was about if you're ready or not to become a profitable blogger, and turn your blog into a business. So I started running Facebook ads to them. And again, I didn't put a lot of money into this. But I got some simple tricks that I got, again, from DCA, there's some Facebook ad advice in there as well, I was actually able to get a cost per lead of 32 cents, which is like unheard of industry standard is like two to $3, sometimes three to $5, a lead depending. And I was getting 32 cents, and I was doing it myself, and I am not a Facebook ads expert. So this was really powerful for me to see. And again, I wouldn't have been able to do it without DCA. I also created six course related blog posts during this time, and I expanded our affiliate program and really, really worked with our affiliates to encourage them to start sharing our freebies leading up to the launch. So not just promoting our stuff when the doors were open, but actually priming their audience to join once the doors open by letting them know about things of value for those eight weeks leading up. So all in all, my pre launch runway grew my email list by let's see 4647 people. And I absolutely attribute much of our success in January to to this pre launch runway. And it was also a really good lesson in making sure your ads are converting well and to the right audience before spending 1000s of dollars, which like I said, we did not do in our October launch, and was why I ended up in $3,000 worth of debt. Okay. The second biggest takeaway that I got from all of these launches is not over teaching. So Amy really stresses to not teach too much on your webinars in the past, I basically taught an entire module of my webinar or of my course on my webinar. So I gave people tons of value, and lots to do after the webinar to start monetizing their blogs, which at first seemed great. But then when I saw these webinars didn't convert at all, I realized I was giving away too much and leaving people. What I thought was people would think, Wow, if her free content is this good, her paid content must be amazing. But I think people actually left the webinars thinking, wow, I have so much to do already. I don't even need her course right now. So Amy taught me how to provide value in a way that leaves people wanting more and incentivizes them to take the next step with your course. And that changed everything. So again, I went from a zero to maybe a 1% conversion rate to an 11% conversion rate. And this is just live on the webinar. So if you have 100 people on your webinar, I sold 11 courses during that webinar. So this was a big game changer. Again, pricing yourself right number three, this is my number three takeaway. So when I first launched six FBI, I sold it for 497, I offered early bird discounts of $100 off then I raised the price to 597. And I just quickly realized after these two launches that the course was worth so much more than that. And if I wanted to attract those serious bloggers into my program, I can make improvements to the course and raise the price. So again, for my January launch, I doubled the price to 997 and chose not to offer any monetary discounts. So instead, I opted for like time sensitive bonus freebies. And this worked like gangbusters. We had nearly three times as many students join at the much higher price and I felt really good about the value that I could then provide to my students at that level. Okay, number four, and I mentioned this already offer a payment plan. So speaking of price, I also learned how important it was to offer a payment plan to make my course more affordable for students who couldn't afford to come out of pocket that one large lump sum upfront. So as you can see from all of the stats that I share, more than half of my students opted for the payment plan. And that's so great to see because it helps get more students into the program and allows me to make a larger impact and reach more people. There is a caveat, though that I want to share, which is that people's payment plans fail. Credit cards expire, people move or they reach their credit limits. People try to get out of paying and go missing Coronavirus hits and people are out of work and they ask for extensions or they need to cancel because they can't afford it. So keeping up with payment plans can be really tough. We have been trying and mostly I think we've gotten to a good place now with how we deal with failed payment plans. But there are a few that just end up we just lose the money. Right. So that's another thing that I want to mention. I remember when I told people that you know I had a six figure lunch, my brother made a joke about like, why am I babysitting for your kids for free if you just made six figures in two weeks, and I had to say, Well, I didn't just get $100,000 deposited into my bank account, I had to pay out my affiliates, which were half of my revenue. And then over half were on payment plans. So over time, I will earn $100,000 from those payment plans. But in January, it was like 30,000, or something, you know. So it's not just like one big lump sum, it's going to come out over time as those payment plans get paid out and forth. So along those same lines, I think this is number five, the fifth big takeaway for me was to refine your refund policy. So with every launch, we would get more clear and specific with our refund policy to avoid confusion later, I'm now very proud of our current refund policy. We actually, since going evergreen in April, it's now let's see, April, May, June, July, we're in our fifth month of being evergreen, we have had one refund request. And let me tell you, it was an outlier. I won't get into the details. But basically, my team and I are like we've had zero refunds. And that is huge. So we did have quite a few refunds in January. And that made us realize that we need to create a more clear and specific policy that also protects us a little bit more again, getting rid of those tire kickers right. So I'm now very proud of our current refund policy. But I don't think we could have started out with something quite so robust, I think you have to do in order to learn and see what works for you and your people and what feels right to you. But I think just refining your refund policy is something that is important to do over time. Another thing that I haven't mentioned, my six big takeaway from all of these launches, is don't panic when your launch starts off slow. So we always get the bulk of sales during the last 24 hours. And I have heard from dozens of my other course creator friends that this is the case for them as well. It's part of why we build in that scarcity and urgency into our marketing because it works. People need a deadline to push them to take action. So I actually don't think of it as being sleazy or gimmicky or something like that, it's actually taking care of your people, by giving them what they need. They want this result, right, they want the transformation that you can give them, but people need that extra push in order to make it happen for them. So that's what we're doing. So the point is, wait until your cart has closed before you worry about sales, which sometimes we would get, you know, we'd have like an early bird special on day one. So we would get some good a good number of sales in the first day. And because people are excited, oh, the cards finally open, you've been talking about it. And here it is. So day one was usually pretty good. But there's that little period in the middle, especially on days where like you didn't do webinars, and there wasn't really anything happening, we wouldn't get a single sale, and it was so easy to start spinning, and then feel like oh my god, I'm never gonna sell another course. Again, this is a total flop. But then we build in a time sensitive offer or we'd host a live webinar and we'd offer a fast action bonus for enrolling while live, we would just get an influx of sales. And then again, on the last day the customers would start pouring in. So trust in the process, do the work. And it will work. Lesson number six, listen to what your audience is saying. So after each launch, we would send an email to all of the people who didn't buy and ask them why they chose not to enroll. And the responses we got were literal gold. Not only did it help us inform our marketing strategy and messaging moving forward, because we were able to address specific pain points and challenges and objections in our messaging for the next launch. But it also helped us to tweak the course to better suit our audience. So listening to your people and asking them is so important. And we did this all the way through, right. Like before we even created the course we've listened to the comments that we were getting in our DMS and on our blog post for this income reports. And then we did the beta launch. And we got tons and tons of feedback from those people to inform how we would present the course to the public when we first went live. So we asked, we listened to what people were saying during the launches and even what they were doing. So this is another thing during the launches. Like for example, we used to sell a VIP package where I would offer one on one coaching, but almost nobody bought this package and we realized But it was likely because we already offered group coaching and our regular course. So people wouldn't feel like oh, I need even more coaching. So we pivoted, we removed the one on one offer and added in more group coaching, raise the price of the regular offer. And Wallah, our revenue skyrocketed and our students were happier. So that was a great lesson and just like paying attention to what's happening during the launches, personal interaction as much as possible is the seventh eighth night. Yes, seven, I think I'm on seven, you guys got to keep me in line here on can't count should have numbered these personal interaction as much as possible. So there's two ways that we did this. One is having discovery calls. So I would offer a free 15 minute discovery call to people who had questions about the course or just wanted to make sure it was the right fit for them. And this resulted in a 72 to 100% conversion rate across all the launches. On the January launch 100% of the people who I had a discovery call with went on to buy the course. So this was hugely successful and really didn't take a lot of time. on my end. The funny thing was, I probably had a dozen or two calls. And almost every single person had the same exact question, or really, it was a fear, they had the same exact fear was, what if it doesn't work? What if I fail at this? And so I got really good at how to address that question. And then I started including it in more of my messaging, when I would go on Instagram, when I would, you know, send out an email when the cart was closing, that's what I was addressing is that objection, that fear, right? So again, listening to your people, we also added a live chat feature on our sales page. And I can't say that it works super well. It's really nice to have, and it does result in a handful of sales. And we use Active Campaign for our email list. And for just $9, you can add this feature to add a live chat feature. So it's not necessary, but nice to have feature that I think is worth it for nine bucks. But again, it just kind of add some of that personal element where you can answer people's questions quickly.
Oh, my diva is amazing. Mara just went in and put on my notes that I'm on number nine. Thank you, Mara. Okay, so number nine is to utilize affiliates. This again, from my mentor Kate and Kate Northrup is very do less. So, you saw from our stats that pretty much over half of our sales come from affiliates, and we're continuing to build out that program to better serve our affiliates every single day. So what the way we set it up currently is that they earn a 50% Commission on all sales, meaning if Suzy says, Hey, you guys to her audience, hey, all you should go check out Kate's blogging course if you're interested in blogging, it helped me do X, Y and Z. And then her friends go to that link and buy the course, Suzy makes 500 bucks because she gets half of what the course costs. So it's a win win for everybody. And it means means that I don't have to go and do so much of the marketing myself. I can have other people who have had success with the course and who believe in the product, do it and we're reaching people that I wouldn't have reached otherwise, because they've got people in their audience that aren't in mind. So affiliates are awesome. We actually have a whole episode on how to use affiliates with Laura sprinkle. I can't remember what episode number it is maybe 14, something like that. But go back through the podcast archives. If you want to learn more about affiliates. We also had built in like leaderboards with fun prizes. We had a private Facebook group to help our affiliate strategize, we would send weekly emails with action items that they could take to increase conversions. And we'd even offer like personalized strategy sessions to every affiliate who registered so it can be hard to give away half of your earnings to affiliates. But again, you just have to remember that these are sales you wouldn't have had otherwise. So would you rather not have a sale and make $0 or in my case of my courses, let's just call it 1000 bucks, then have an affiliate and make $500 Yeah, I gave away 500 but I made 500 that I wouldn't have made without them. So it's still a win for you. Okay, number 10. The last tip, keep your ad spend in check. So we have spent a total of I don't know 17 $18,000 in ad spend including our agency fees and they did not result in a lot of revenue. Like $5,000 worth of revenue total came from our ads. So we took a huge loss, doing Facebook ads 12, over $12,000 of lost revenue from Facebook ads. And that was really hard to swallow.
But in the end, once the rain began to stop, and the sun started to shine again, thank God, I learned many hard lessons. And now I know exactly what I need to improve for future Facebook ads. And I start off really slow, and ramp up only after I see that it's working. I do have a bonus takeaway tip to share. Let me come back to the chat. Oh, great. Mara also put Laura's episode. It's Episode 11. All About affiliate marketing in the chat if anybody wants to check that out. Thank you, Mara. Bonus takeaway tip is extend the cart if you want to, it's your business, and you can change things. So after our last two launches ended, we decided to extend the cart for one extra day, just 24 hours since we kept hearing from our audience that they had just missed the deadline. They really wanted into the program. We didn't want to turn them away. And it actually worked really well. Now, we didn't do it in this sleazy like, Oh, we were always going to extend the cart. But once we heard from our people that they wanted it like, Okay, give the people what they want. So in our October launch, we did this, and 18% of our overall sales came from the card extension. And then January, we did it again. And 15% of the sales came from that card extension. So it cost us nothing. And it got a lot more people into the program, which felt really good. Okay, that's it. I just went over by like five minutes. That's pretty good. I was trying to stick to an hour. So a lot of you have stayed tuned through the whole episode. I'm so excited. Let me know in the chat. How are you feeling? Are you going to go take Amy's quiz? What questions do you have? I want to answer anything that might be helpful to y'all. So let me know in the chat. And then while I'm waiting for the lag to catch up, let's see, I have a couple of notes here for my team. So I did want to just talk about expenses, too. I mentioned that, you know, I didn't just get a check for $100,000 deposited into my account after I had a six figure launch. And that was because of payment plans and paying out affiliates. But there's other expenses too, that come up. And I just want you to know a little bit more about like what to expect and some things that you can keep in mind. So there's payment processing fees. Like if you use stripe or PayPal, you're going to have to pay credit card processing fees, right. So that's a fee that you'll have to pay. We also had software expenses. So you'll have like an online course platform like kajabi, your email service provider, we use Active Campaign, you have a webinar service provider. So we use demio, a checkout system we use Sam cart, so all of those expenses can add up we use Zapier to connect some things that don't have integrations. So those are some expenses that you could expect. And none of them are super pricey on their own. But they do add up over time, although I think they're very worth it. And let's see Facebook ads obviously some of the agency fees, you've got refund requests and failed payments and then of course like if you have a team or even just contractors that you work with whether it's copywriters or community managers or VA, whatever, you have to pay out some of the people on your team as well. So there are some expenses associated with digital course creation. Okay, Natasha says many good points and yes, I will try the quiz. Awesome. Natasha, come back and share your quiz results. I'm dying to hear what you get. Samantha love the extended cart and early bird savings launching in October with my courses. Congrats, Samantha. That's awesome. Yeah, I hope you took copious notes during this and I wish you much luck on your launch and hopefully you can join DCA and get some some of Amy's magic juice to sprinkle on your lunch as well. Alright, y'all, I think that is it for today. So this was so fun. Thank you to everyone who tuned in live. If you are listening to this on the podcast after the live recording has happened. Then come over and join our Facebook group Success with Soul and you can get in on some of these other live recordings in the future. Have a great day everybody.
Hey y'all, Kate and Amy here wanted to jump in and tell you all about digital course Academy which as we mentioned is opening for enrollment soon. In the meantime, you can sign up for her free today. Course Kickstarter 30 day boot camp at Katekordsmeier.com/coursebootcamp. If you have other questions or want to know more about digital course Academy You can also head to Katekordsmeier.com/DCA and be alerted when DCA opens up again this year, and you can also learn all about our bonus offers
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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