What I Learned From Selling my First Online Course 

Selling my first online course was full of ups and downs. In my experience, anything related to growing a business comes with all sorts of emotions and feelings. Often the self-doubt and fear is a primal safety mechanism to stop ourselves from putting ourselves out there ‘too much’ but even with that knowledge, it doesn’t make the fear and self-doubt any less real. 

There was a knot in my stomach when it came to selling that never fully went away. It felt awkward. After a year of sharing just free content it was quite a shift to start selling a course. Once the course started my self-doubt was running wild, asking me all sorts of questions like ‘are people getting enough from this course for what they paid’ and ‘what if people hate the content or don’t get my planning method at all’?

What I learned from selling my first online course

From the first run of my course I learned a hell of a lot; about myself, about selling online courses and about people’s learning and decision-making learning habits.  If you’re planning to launch a course or have an idea in your mind for one, I hope this post will encourage you to go for it and prepare you for a few of few of those ups and downs that come up along the way. 

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

There were a lot of things that tested the boundaries of my comfort zone as I was selling and running my course. I say it’s important to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable because when you’re doing something new, launching a course or starting a new business this will at some stage start to test the boundaries of your comfort zone. 

I’ve found it’s important to confront the emotions and feel the feelings in order to grow, both your comfort zone and your business. Try to feel those uncomfortable feelings, acknowledge them, question what they’re really trying to tell you and whether it’s a real threat (more often than not there’s no real high-level threat like your head is trying to tell you there is). The great thing about pushing past the feeling of discomfort is the feeling of elation and excitement on the other-side. 

Selling doesn’t have to feel icky

When I started out selling the course I put off talking about it and posting about it until far too late. All because I felt awkward about the selling, especially after a year of putting content out there for free. I started to almost will the course not to sell because it meant I wouldn’t have to do the scary thing and actually run the course. I realized I was more comfortable with the idea of failure than success. Giving up was an easy way out for me to go back to hiding under my rock and never have to sell anything again. This links back to the comfort zone thing.

It was when I started to create the course content that my mindset around selling shifted. I could see that my course was PACKED with so much value. It was becoming something that would have really helped me when I was in my first 1-3 years of growing my business as a side-hustle. Once I started to see the real value in there it helped me sell the course in an authentic and genuine way that didn’t feel icky. If you’re selling a course that you wholeheartedly believe in it’s a lot more likely that you won’t feel icky about the selling. 

Wooden desk with spring blossom and notebooks on the desk

Some things are better taught in-person

I had the best feedback on the planning part of my course where I shared my 3-step planning method. The messages that I had in response to this part of the course made me beam from ear to ear. My 3-step planning method lends itself to being taught online because it’s a process. Sure you can edit and tweak my planning method so that it works best for you and your business but it’s a case of following the steps to creating an action plan that will help you make some exciting changes in your business. 

I’ve just finished week 2 and I’m thrilled to say I’ve got a 12 week plan!! It literally felt like a structure emerging out of the mist of my brain fog. So chuffed, thank you! And the best bit is how excited I feel about each of the focus areas!

Karen - The Happy Side of 40

The difference with making that plan happen is that productivity is a very personal thing. There’s no process you can follow to make your dreams come true, there’s no step by step method. The tools and methods that work for one person will be completely different to the next. And so, I found the make it happen part lends itself much more naturally to my 1:1 work where I can offer some ideas on the tools that might work for each person and they can experiment between our calls. 

The make it happen part is also when the challenges start to pop up that can stop people from making their plan a reality, I found that through 1:1 conversations I can also help people overcome their individual roadblocks and personally cheer them on and give them the support and encouragement they need. The lesson here is to think about what you want to teach in your course and consider the practicalities of teaching it online. What can you teach online without having to be there to explain each detail?

Have a clear focus to your course

I piled EVERYTHING into this course, all of the productivity tips and tricks I could think of because I really wanted to help side-hustlers make their plans a reality. What I didn’t realise was that, as a result I had created an overwhelming amount of content for my students.  I tried to cram in way too many topics, some of which could have been courses in their own right. Think hard about what will be most impactful to share in your course or workshop and focus on that. Don’t be tempted to do what I did and pack all-of-the-things into one course and end up overwhelming people. 

Working at a wooden desk with a cup of tea

The best way to learn is to take action

As ever experience has taught me so much. This ties back to my endless belief that if you want to do something whether that’s start a business or launch an online course you just need to START. Starting is quite often the hardest bit but no amount of research will teach you what experience can. So, get your ideas down on paper, make a plan and just start. You’ll learn the most impactful lessons along the way. 

Lessons from selling my first online course & what I'll do differently next time