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how to launch an online course
Grace Lau

How to Launch An Online Course in 2023

Last updated: January 26, 2023

With the global e-learning market surpassing USD 315 billion in 2021, and a 2028 value projection of a cool USD 1 trillion, selling online courses is a great side hustle or full-time gig.

If you’re already producing free video tutorials on platforms such as Youtube, you might be able to monetize that by turning your video tutorials into passive income through selling courses.

To ensure phenomenal success for your online course, launching it in the best way is crucial. In this guide, we’ll cover the essential online course launch checklist so that you get it right the first time.

How Do You Plan A Course Launch?

You’ve got a decision to make—launch your course solo, or combine forces with someone else to launch it as a joint venture. Joint ventures require some good industry connections and key relationships, so if you want to get cracking quickly, consider a solo mission.

To plan your course launch, split your efforts into two definitive stages: pre-launch (we’ll call this phase one) and launch (phase two).

Phase 1: Pre-launch

This phase can be a few weeks or a few months, depending on how big your launch is. This is when you build your course’s audience and find out everything you can about them.

Establish your target audience

To establish your course’s target audience, start joining social media groups to engage with the people you plan to sell your course to. Becoming a trusted community member is a great way to forge connections and create a loyal band of advocates for your course content. In addition, experiment with social media ads to build awareness for your brand and courses. If podcasts are your thing, reach out to creators to participate in shows to boost your following.

The people you meet in social media groups and industry forums are great candidates for beta testing your course. Create a course schedule and then offer these folks a heavily discounted course price in exchange for in-depth course feedback—this helps you to understand course usage and tweak your course content if necessary before the official launch.

During this phase, the key activities are to:

  • Establish how much your target audience already knows about your course’s subject.
  • Pinpoint the knowledge gaps that your course’s content will fill.
  • Find out your target audience’s pain points and decide how to pitch your course as the solution to their problems.
  • Discover the type of content your target audience likes to see on social media platforms.
  • Conduct competitor research to see the current state of the market and where your course will fit.
online course statistics
Image sourced from Statista

Reach out to your target audience

An estimated 4.03 billion people used email in 2021, which is why creating and nurturing an email list is your best friend when launching your course. Start your course email marketing campaigns by introducing your content as the answer your audience needs in their lives. Consider including discount coupons in your email marketing as incentives for people to register their interest in your upcoming course.

Reaching out to your audience involves doing whatever you can online to boost your course’s awareness and generate excitement about it. This way, when your course actually launches, you’ll have a warm audience ready to sign up.

Write plenty of blogs about your online course to give your audience an idea of what to expect. The benefit of blogs is that you’ll quickly increase your organic search visibility online and hopefully drive more users to your course sales page. Speaking of which…

Create a course sales page

You need somewhere for your followers to sign up for your course—a sales page is that place.

Your course sales page must identify who your course is for and clearly communicate why it is the solution to their problem. Explain the specific results and outcomes that your attendees can expect to achieve. Incorporate your course’s outline and any previous testimonials or social proof to demonstrate your authority and industry trustworthiness.

online course checklist

Phase 2: Launch

In this guide, we’ll look at a five-day launch; however, the length of your launch may be shorter or longer.

Day 1

There’s plenty to do on day one of your course launch.

  • Write a blog post announcing your launch – keep it short and sweet to highlight the course benefits and main features, together with social proof and reviews if you have them.
  • Send a launch email to your marketing list – send your email list directions to your course sales page with an attention-grabbing headline and a clear call to action.
  • Announce your launch on social media – create visuals to promote your course launch for different social media channels (you’ll have a head start on this, as your research phase involved finding out what kind of content your audience likes).
  • Run a social media live launch event – use Facebook Live or Instagram (or both!) to run a live virtual event. This is the time to showcase your course launch and discuss why your audience should sign up for it today.

Day 2

Create your email marketing sequence
Day two, and it’s time to roll out your email marketing sequence. This is a drip feed strategy that sends tailored messages to your email list throughout the rest of your launch. The right email sequence will build anticipation, trust, and urgency to sign up to your course.

This first email’s focus is on why you created your course, who needs it, and a course features overview.

Create a course-inspired webinar
Webinars are a great way to generate interest in your online course and help your users visualize how it works. As with your marketing emails, use a webinar to share your story and highlight the course benefits. Real-time reviews are incredibly valuable—for example, if you have students from a previous course, include them on your webinar to discuss how this course helped them and what they learned from you.

online course

Day 3

Day three is all about boosting your course’s social proof status to encourage course sign-ups.

Social media social proof
Get on social media platforms and share previous course quotes from satisfied students and direct your audience to case studies. These tactics work to persuade people to sign up for your course if they’re unsure. While you’re there, don’t forget to share a link to your webinar from yesterday on social media.

Send a second course launch email
Send the second email in your email marketing sequence, which should include as many examples as possible of happy previous course students and testimonials. Add a webinar link to invite people on your email list to watch the webinar replay.

Top tip: use email marketing software integration tools to ensure GDPR compliance.

Day 4

Send a third course launch email
The third email in your email marketing sequence happens today. This email must work to address your audience’s conscious and subconscious objections. Create this email in the form of FAQs to answer any lingering doubt your audience may have about signing up for your course.

Include the answers to questions like:

  • How long do students have to buy the course?
  • How long will students have access to the course?
  • Are there payment plan options?
  • Is there a money-back guarantee?
  • Will all the course content be available upon sign-up?
  • Who is this course right for?
  • How much time does the course take to complete?

Run a live Q&A

It’s time to go live again! Get in front of your audience and engage them to successfully launch your course. This live Q&A will follow a similar format to your FAQs email, so take the time to reassure your audience that signing up for your course is the right thing to do.

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Day 5

Your course launch is now drawing to a close, and it’s time to announce the last call.

Send a final course launch email
This email acts as your audience’s last chance to sign up. Use it to provide a course overview, one or two reviews, any final launch discounts, and a clear call to action.

Final social media promotion
Reinforce your marketing email by doing one last push on social media platforms. This promotion must include final discounts and demonstrate that it’s your audience’s last chance to get your special course sign-up offer.

online course launch

Post-course Launch

Once you’ve launched your course, it’s not the time to take it easy. This helps you to provide your students with excellent customer service throughout their course progression.

Online Course Launch Checklist

You now have a proven strategy to successfully launch an online course. To wrap up, you can find below the online course launch checklist in summary form:

  1. Decide if you’ll launch your course alone or as a joint venture.
  2. Establish your target audience and their pain points.
  3. Conduct thorough competitor market research.
  4. Build rapport with your target audience by joining social media groups.
  5. Create and grow your email marketing list.
  6. Write blog posts about your upcoming course.
  7. Build a course sales page.
  8. Create a series of targeted email marketing campaigns to promote your online course.
  9. Undertake day one launch activities – blog, email, social media posts, live launch event.
  10. Start your course launch email marketing sequence.
  11. Create a course webinar (enterprise video conferencing makes this easy).
  12. Send your second course launch email.
  13. Share social proof and webinar follow-up instructions on social media.
  14. Send your third course launch email.
  15. Run a live Q&A.
  16. Send your final course launch email.
  17. Final social media promotion.

Final Thoughts

Determining readiness for launch can be difficult. We hope this online course launch checklist will help ensure all necessary steps are taken. Remember that even if your launch day doesn’t go as planned, opportunities for improvement and success can still arise in the long term.

We highly recommend reading our ultimate guide on how to create and sell online courses if you’re interested in learning more about creating online courses from scratch, it offers a step-by-step guide that is easy to follow and comprehensive.

When you’re ready to launch your online course, Payhip is ready to make your journey an amazingly effortless one. Start by signing up for a free account on Payhip today.

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