25 Things You Need to Know Before Launching Your Next Online Course

Have you tried to launch an online class or program? Is teaching a course online uncharted territory for you? Even for those of you that that have already launched an online course or membership program, you know just how difficult it can be and how much work goes into a launch. We know, we have been there more than once….

With Namastream 2.0 launching this week, now is the perfect time to launch your online business. But there are a few things you should know before you hit the “publish” button on your online content. This post will tell you the 25 things you need  to know before launching an online course, training program, or membership site in the health and wellness industry. Many of these strategies are lessons we wished we had known before our first launch. They will make your launch easier, less stressful, more profitable, and most importantly, help you grow your online teaching business.

In this blog post, we focused on the five distinctive phases of any launch. The first phase is Mindset. Having a solid positive mindset for your launch will set up you for every upcoming phase. The second phase is Creation. Creation is so much more than just filming, recording, or outlining your program. Creation entails market validation, product creation, and mapping out your launch strategy. Moving right along, the third phase is Voice. You need to define and hone your voice, not just in how you speak to your students, but through every interaction you make online. Phase four is the Heart of the launch. Surprisingly to some, the “heart” of your launch is not your content itself, but how you share your content with your community. The final phase of your launch actually takes place After you’ve put your program up for sale.

Don’t be intimidated by the complexity of launching an online course! By breaking down the process into these five stages, you will be able to tackle it all (we promise). A launch is a whirlwind of work and energy, but it is so worth the time, sweat, and wisdom gained.

Phase 1: Mindset

1. Prepare yourself for the rollercoaster of online business. If you have never launched an online course or program before, you have never experienced the wave of emotions that come along with it. Know that the excitement of your first few sales can be followed by a request for a refund. The fear of launching your online program will likely dissolve when you hear how your teaching is positively impacting the lives of your students and clients. Take it from us; we have been launching programs and software for years now -- the highs outnumber the lows; the fears will soon be surpassed by the excitement. But then you’ll get a negative comment on a Facebook post and the cycle will start all over. Be Kind, Be Brave, Be Love. Take it one step at a time and prepare yourself mentally for all the emotions.

2. Strengthen your team and support system. Not only do you need to prepare yourself emotionally for the rollercoaster of a launch, you also need to gather your team. Do you have someone that can help you in a pinch? Do you need a designer? A friend to help you shoot your videos or set up your Facebook Ads? Even if you are a one-woman show, you’ll need support. Do your friends and family know the big task you are about to take on? Be clear about your needs and expectations and be willing to ask for a little extra support. Maybe you need to ask someone to pick-up the kids from school so that you can have a few more hours of dedicated work time? Maybe you need to tell your friends that in the coming few weeks you can’t commit to any big plans while you are launching? Maybe you need to skip book club this month? Setting expectations early will reduce disappointment and will help to strengthen your relationships during this crucial phase of your business.

3. Invent and design something new. Please don’t think you can just re-create your offline offering, online. Teaching online requires a different approach. Your online community isn’t coming to you because you just happen to teach at the closest studio. Your online community is coming to you because you connect with them; you are exactly who they are looking for in a teacher. Keep that front and center in your mind. Create the online course that they need, not the one you just happen to know how to teach.

4. There is no time for procrastinating. As you’re starting your launch process, you will have a million things to complete. Prioritize your tasks and keep to the list. Just because creating a beautiful cover image is easy and fun doesn’t mean you should spend more time on it. Get those hard but difficult things completed first (we’re talking about hard, time-consuming things like building your functioning website, growing your email list, doing customer outreach, and product-validating with your community).

5. Plan for self-care throughout the entire process. Try to plan as much daily self-care as you can. Make a plan to set aside time each day for yourself, maybe that is meditating, chanting, 30 minutes of flow first thing in the morning, or reading a few pages of fiction before bed. Don’t lose yourself in your launch. Taking the time to plan your meals ahead can save you so much stress on those busy days. Here are 5 Healthy Habits Any Entrepreneur Can Implement that have helped us through busy launches in the past. Something that works really well too is to plan a way to reward yourself after the launch. Maybe a fun haircut? Dinner out with your partner? A digital-free weekend with the family in the mountains? Having this kind of reward booked on the calendar can really help motivate you during those long hours.

*Bonus* Have you taken our simple quiz to see what it reveals about your readiness for teaching online?

Phase 2: Creation

6. Focus on your people (not the tools). As you start to plan out the kind of online course or program you will create, don’t get lost in the tools or gear you need. This is the online entrepreneur's favorite kind of procrastination! Focus instead on your community. Will your program serve your community in the best possible way? Communicate with your people as much as you can through the whole creation process, they are who you are doing this for. Build it for them.

7. Solve a Problem. By focusing on your community, you should be able to learn and be well aware of the problems your prospective students and clients are facing. Is your online course or program directly solving one of those problems? People buy because of the why; not because of the what. Your community of yogis that love surfing might identify with “Intro to Inversions for Surfing Yogis” but they will want and needHow Surfers Can Strengthen Their Back through Yoga Inversions”.

8. A smaller, low priced class takes almost as much energy as a larger program or higher end product. The launch strategy and time commitment is just as big for a small online course that is $30 as it is for a $500+ program. Think long and hard about how you price your product. If you haven’t already read How to Price Your Online Classes, do so now.

9. Know how to write copy for your audience. Teaching online means selling online. And the biggest skill you need to sell online is the ability to write good copy. You will need to write for your website, for your sales page, for your social media posts, and for your emails. We cannot stress the importance of either learning either the basics of copywriting or investing money in hiring someone who can capture your voice authentically in words. Learning how to write copy was one of 8 Things We Wish We Knew Before Starting our Business.

10. Complete your program as a student. Even before you start selling your online course or class, take the time to run through all the content yourself. It is also great to offer a heavily-discounted beta version of your programs, where you offer a deep discount in exchange for comprehensive, real-time feedback from your students. Having the perspective of your students will be key for the next phase of your launch.

 Phase 3: Voice

11. Invest in crafting your messaging and voice. You can spend all of your time on lovely beautiful branding and design, but if your messaging or product offering is off, it will be hard to sell. Having the perspective of your student front and center means you can craft the messaging directly to his or her needs.

12. Your course name is as important as your content. You have spent hours, days, or maybe even years, learning your craft and creating your content. Do not rush the naming process for your online programs. That course name is going to show up everywhere, so think long and hard about it before committing. Just because it resonates with you, doesn’t mean it will resonate with your customers. Use their words, NOT the words you think they will use. Perhaps go back to your community, ask them for their input. Maybe even do a poll of your top three names. The power of words are strong; make them work to your benefit.

13. Brainstorm how are you going to communicate online. Selling online is very different than selling in person. Is social media going to play a large role in your online marketing presence? Can you commit to creating a newsletter? You can’t expect that your community and client base will magically find you online. You need to reach out to them, connect with them often, and show them why you have something of value to offer that solves a pain point in their lives.

14. Prepare to repeat yourself. As a teacher, you have patience. Here is your opportunity to put that patience to use. Be prepared to repeat yourself throughout the launch of your online course. The same questions will keep coming up (sometimes from the same student), so answer them thoughtfully. Buying online can still be scary for some students. It might take emails, a phone call, and even a second phone call to make the sale. Know that this is normal. You know that repetition is an opportunity for practice (and improvement) both on the mat and in business.

15. Ignore the negative voice. As you launch your online course, there will come a moment (or two) when it all seems too much, too hard, and too risky. Ignore those negative voices. You have to push past this. Reaffirm in yourself why you are launching an online course or program and squash that voice that is telling you to quit. When that negative voice appears telling you quit, take a few moments to read: Finding Inspiration and Bravery to Teach Yoga Online and Why You Should Start Before You Are Ready.

 Phase 4: Heart

16. Creating any class or program or business is 10x more work than you think. Yep, it’s true. Get ready to work hard. Creating your online business is going to be much more work than you ever anticipated, but it is sooo worth it. As you break down the tasks, try to give yourself a little leeway. Your website developer says your site will be ready for your launch in one month; prepare for six weeks. You think filming a 30 minute video is only going to take an hour? Give yourself an afternoon to do it right.

17. Learn the techie stuff as you go. You are a teacher first; you have honed your craft. Be it yoga, fitness, or nutrition. Don’t worry about learning the techie stuff; you can learn as you go. We’ve created loads of resources to help you learn the techie side of online teaching. Come into our Free Facebook Group, discover our free Soulful MBA Resource Library, or join the inexpensive Soulful MBA premium training community.

18. Give your students quick wins right away. As you build your online classes or programs, make sure to set your students up for success. Those first few days are critical for the success of your new program. Make sure your students can see the value in your content right away. Your students are looking at you to teach them something, so ensure they have something practical they can apply in the first lesson or two.

19. Embrace the early mornings and late nights. Welcome to the world of being a wellness entrepreneur. You are probably launching your online offering while still teaching or working with clients face-to-face. Those early mornings and late nights might be the only chance you have to get work done on your launch. We like to think we do some of our best creative work after the kids go to bed and the house is still.

20. Learn from now to prepare for your next launch. “What?! Another launch? I am just in the middle of launching my first online course!” We know it might feel overwhelming, but right now, in the middle of a launch, is one of the best times to see and recognize what is working and what isn’t. Did you build your following enough to reach your target goal? Did you start planning far enough ahead? Six months from now, you might forget these details. Take the time to make note of them now in your journal before you forget.

 Phase 5: After

21. Know that most customers won’t fully complete your course or regularly take your online classes. Think about it...did you really read every page of every textbook in college? Probably not. So don’t be disappointed if your students skip a video or two (or 10). Know that they were trying to get the most out of your content. They don’t know how much time and energy you spent on each piece of content. This is the reality of teaching - and that’s okay. (Some say that as many as 97% of students will fail to complete an online class.)

22. Connect with each and every student. Prioritize taking the time to speak to each and every one of your students who purchased from you. Is the content exceeding their expectations (you hope so). If you have too many students to personally reach out to individually, use your private Facebook Group. There is no excuse for not knowing how your students are doing in your program (check in with them at the beginning, middle, and end of your online course or program). If it’s a recurring membership, aim to check in at least once per quarter. Connect, help, and listen as much as you can. Your students are the number one driver of your business - make sure they are taken care of.

23 .Be prepared for churn. This is something we have seen a lot of our teachers struggle with emotionally. Know that students will come and go and just because they joined one of your online classes, doesn’t mean they will join the next. They might sign-up this month and quit next month. If you have created a membership product, expect a churn rate of about 10%. Anything less than 10% means you are doing really well. Anything more than 10% means you need to look at your offering, speak with those that have cancelled, and try to learn from their experience to better serve your existing students.

24. Know that your sales number has nothing to do with your value as a teacher. Maybe this is your first launch and the very first time you have ever sold something online. You are used to selling out every class you teach… and you only sold five memberships to your online program. That is okay. Own those five sales, make sure those five students have the best experience possible in your online classes. Know that, over time, your launches will become bigger and more successful. Starting small allows you to really refine your offering and connect to each new student you bring into your online programs.

25. Re-launch instead of creating something new. By this point, you will have a whole list of things you can improve upon. When you are ready to create your next online course, instead of creating a whole new course, simply re-launch the one you have already made. Tweak the offering, improve on the content, and launch with a bigger community. Perfect the course offering you already have until you sell it out capacity every.single.time. you launch. Only then is it time to move on to creating something completely new (and hopefully complementary to your existing offering).

{If you found these lessons useful, you should consider joining our Soulful.MBA! The Soulful.MBA is a community for small business owners like yoga teachers, studio owners, health coaches, nutritionists, fitness and pilates instructors, and anyone who dreams of growing her/his wellness business online. The MBA combines tactical trainings that teach you the HOW of online business within a warm and engaged community of your peers. If you do healing work in the world and have dreamed of scaling your business online, welcome home!

If you found this post helpful, you should check out our free on-demand masterclass: Become an Online Teacher.


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