This is a guest contribution from ProBlogger Expert Ellen Jackson of Potential Psychology
If you are going through hell, keep going – Winston Churchill
In December last year I hit publish and launched my first online course. I’d love to tell you that I sat and watched the dollar metre click over as funds swelled my Paypal account but this is not a rags to riches tale. It’s more The Little Engine That Could.
I was unschooled in online marketing of an e-product (Read: I had NFI. Case in point – don’t launch a month long course days before Christmas.)
I wrote the content, created the slideshows, pulled together some videos and a workbook and hit the publish button.
A week later I had five students. Three were my friends.
Two students were active participants in the course.
I loved working with those two students but with the late nights and the cost of coffee required to produce scripts, videos, presentations, course notes and workbooks I was earning less than one cent per hour.
I told you it wasn’t a rags to riches tale.
I gave up for five months. Didn’t touch a thing.
Then I attacked it again. Creative pursuits get under your skin like that. You’re tormented you but you go back for more.
I’ve plugged away for another five months. I think I can, I think I can. I’ll soon relaunch on the incline of a steep learning curve. It’s been an exercise in grit and determination but psychologists say that perseverance trumps talent on the path to success. I’ll run with that.
Here’s what I’ve learnt the hard way, in order to save your sanity.
- A wise man said, ‘You don’t learn until you launch’. He was right. You really don’t. Until you hit ‘go’ you know nothing. Maybe your course and marketing is perfect? Maybe it’s not. Only your audience can tell you and they can’t do that until they see what you’ve got to offer. I learnt that my audience (small as it was) loved my content but I had no idea how to the message out there. Next step? Understanding the marketing process. Step up, launch and learn.
- Make all the mistakes. My initial sales funnels sent prospects to the cul-de-sacs of the internet. I forgot to factor PayPal fees into my pricing. My course content was overwhelmingly complicated. My branding was ugly. I did it all then I unpicked it all and did it again, better. The beauty of the internet is that you can go back and fix what didn’t work the first time. Don’t wait for perfect. Perfect will never come. Strive for excellence instead.
- Pay for expertise. With limited budget but unwavering determination I initially confronted landing pages, Facebook ads and autoresponders convinced I could figure it. Wrong! It was long, slow and painful descent toward insanity. I called in the experts. My business coach, a dab hand at the sales funnel and its intricacies, took about three minutes to sort out what had taken me days to tangle. Experts have expertise that you don’t have. Save your sanity and employ their help.
- Be patient. Life is a long distance event and so are your online projects. Nine months in and I’m still refining. I’m still learning. I’m still working out what I’m doing. Even as I face a second launch I remind myself daily that this is not make or break. It’s another little step on the long road to success and I’ll learn from the bumps and potholes, as will you.
- Paddle your own canoe. Paddle your own canoe. Paddle your own canoe. Chant it with me because as soon as you compare your content, marketing, branding, success or lack thereof with others on the internet you will slide into despondency and utter procrastination. I went there. Learn from my mistake.
- Don’t believe the hype. There is no one way to ‘create an online course in minutes’. Nor is there a ‘simple strategy for money-making courses.’ You know your content. You know your audience. You know your marketing style. Experiment and find what works for you. Creativity is producing something new from your ideas. Test and try them.
- Don’t underestimate yourself. All achievement comes from a modicum of talent and a whole lot of hard work. I know I’ve done tougher stuff that this before. So have you. Be like The Little Engine. Believe you can do it. Turn ‘I think I can’ to ‘I thought I could.’
Onwards and upwards!