Recently I decided to create a course on something several clients and readers often ask for help with, and I launched my first (free) course to help bloggers and infopreneurs find a niche that is both unique to them and profitable.
Even though I didn't do a massively public launch, I've seen results (in sign-ups) and engagement that I'm really proud of. The process of getting there wasn't without (a lot of) hiccups and bumps, though, and I realised that as first-time course creators, there's several mental hoops we need to jump through to get to the point of creating a course we're proud of (and it doesn't even have anything to do with the content itself, because that's the easier part).
When you aren't properly armed and prepared, the process can often be overwhelming and take much longer than it needs to, and that means only one thing → endless procrastination, which is just a big no-no when you're trying to make big things happen for your blog or business.
If you're already planning your first course or are considering offering courses to better serve your target audience, here's 4 key takeaways from my own journey that I hope will help you get started on the right foot (and unlike me, save you hours of struggling and doubts):
1 / Be open to change
This has been the biggest and most difficult realization of them all. You see, the planning stage of creating a course (obviously) includes researching and brainstorming what your audience and niche needs and picking a subject based on that.
So, that's what I did - I started off with one idea, let's call it Idea A . It turned out to be an incredibly ambitious project (in retrospect), and while working on it, I had to battle a lot (a lot) of overwhelm (and the subsequent fear of taking action). I couldn't get clarity on my lesson flow, I really dreaded my scheduled 'writing time', and weeks went by without me making anyway headway.
Worst of all, because I was so focused on creating this incredible free course, I couldn't get myself to accept that it just wasn't working. I was so fixated on "getting it done" that I completely dropped the ball on everything else - so no blog posts, no social media, no product creation, and I just let the overwhelm completely get the best of me. A terrible idea, obviously.
That's when I decided that I had to step back, and reconsider my plans for the course and be open to the idea of changing my plans (the topic) for the course. When I went through all my planning sheets, I realised that I had too big an idea, and I had to change my direction for the course, and make it more specific, which brings me to the second thing...
2 / Specific sells (and makes your life 1458x simpler)
Even though I still believe my ambitious first course idea is a good idea, it's probably something I need to tackle at a later stage in my business. At this moment, I need to consistently produce value for you, my readers (through posts and free courses), so that you get familiar with me and gain value from the content I put out.
Also important: I want visitors that come to my website to be clear on whether I am (or not) for them, because if you're building a niche blog or business (like I am, and like you must too), there will be people that don't love your content or who you don't serve, and that's alright. There's someone else that is a better fit for them. Quite like in life, you can't possibly please everyone.
Anyway, once I realised that my initial course idea was perhaps best saved for later, I dug a bit deeper. I looked into the content I was planning to include in the course, and I realised I wanted to focus much more on one specific aspect, namely finding a unique niche for your blog and business, because if I haven't made it clear by now, your niche is both what sets you apart and also what helps guide every decision decision you make for your blog and business, big and small.
So that's what I did - I built my first free course on the very, very (very, very, very) important subject of finding your niche, and you know what?
Being specific made the entire process 1458x simpler and more enjoyable. I didn't have to find "motivation and productivity" hacks to get myself to do the work, the lesson flow was self-evident, and it took me one week to get the entire course planned, designed, written, and up and running on automation.
There was another thing that played a role in me getting the entire course up and running that quick, and that's next on the list.
3 / A launch date is a must (and make it public)
Now, notwithstanding the first course creation attempt that dragged on endlessly, the only reason I got everything done is because I set a launch date for myself.
As in, proper scheduled it in Google Calendar (once it's in there, you bet it's happening!) and announced it to everyone around me - my husband, my parents, my friends, and just anyone that asked about my work.
I don't know about you, but most people function best when there's a public declaration, and therefore, their 'reputation' and 'honor' is at stake, because you know there's more chances hell will freeze over than that you will fail to live up to your promise. I'm the same.
If you don't want your first course launch to be an endless odyssey that only leaves you feeling less inspired and more stressed, set yourself a launch date and tell anyone and everyone that will listen about it.
If you're one of those savvy bloggers and readers, and you know with every launch comes a "launch strategy", so don't miss my last thought on the subject.
4 / Launch the way YOU want to
I'll let you in on a secret - I never officially "pre-launched" (or even "properly" launched) my course (gasp, right?). All I did was put up a plain landing page (which I want to update and make 'better', but I'm not letting that stand in the way of publishing the course), write a blog post to promote the course and scheduled several posts on Pinterest for it using the wizard tool (and only Pinterest scheduler I use and recommend), Tailwind*, and I wrote an email about it to the best club members ever (a.k.a my email list). That's it.
I may not have had a 1000 people sign up for the course in these two weeks, but I know for sure that people that did sign up are super interested in the subject because I didn't do any fancy sales talk (and I am thrilled to be of help to them).
I'm not saying that this is the best way to do it, or that it's even the most effective way to do it, but having been through the overwhelm of first creating the course, I didn't want having to plan a launch strategy and pre-launching my free course to be yet another story for procrastinating and not putting out the value in the course for an even longer period of time.
Make it simple for yourself. Do what feels right for you, and not what works for someone else you may admire.
If this your first course or your 10th, remember that done is better than perfect, because perfect doesn't exist, and if you're waiting for that, here's the truth - you're never going to launch and all the fantastic content you create will never get the audience it deserves.
So find your way and make sure you get your course out there. One of my favourite things about blogging and online business is that you can always go back in and fix or update things even after they've been published. Make use of that!
It's always much easier to update an already decent post or product than it is to repeatedly begin from scratch.
Since I don't want you to leave this post without making a decision to change, think about and make a note of the one thing you're dreading most in the process of creating a course or the one stumbling block you face.
That's all, make a note of it.
Tomorrow, once you've let it sink in, make a plan for how you will overcome that - do you need to refine the course topic?, do you maybe need to change the way in which you're delivering your course content?, are you being too ambitious with the scope of the course? - just find a way to get moving and getting it done.