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This post and podcast episode has a fully frosted bonus Masterclass that goes along with it.
Yes, I’ve helped peeps launch course sites. I’ve also launched a course of two or thirty myself in the past two years so today I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of what I know a whole lot about…serving up courses and challenges online.
It’s mighty sweet to have an epic course site with fancy plugins that drives peeps to your products and services like hotcakes and syrup – but, what do you do if you’re not rolling in the dough and you’ve got an idea for your first course OR you’d like to create one of those really neat X number of day challenges that you’re giving to your peeps as a freebie optin.
Do you have to wait to start serving up your somethin’ special until you have gobs of money for a fancy course site???
Nope, you don’t have to break your piggy bank or spend gobs and gobs of time creating, serving up and dishing out your first challenge or course as a freebie or a paid offer no you don’t!!!
In fact – you can do this for the price of FREE. No kidding you can.
If you’ve got a website right now that’s running on WordPress.org and you have an email service that’s automated you can instantly serve up your first course or freebie challenge in just a few easy steps and you’re off to the races.
With what I’m about to share with you you’ll be able to upgrade your tech as you hit some really sweet milestones in your business so you can deliver what you want in a way that’s budget friendly and fits you just right!
Special just for you I’m serving up my favorite steps for creating the easiest most scrumptious tech bits for your first course or freebie challenge out there.
Are you ready for this! Let’s go.
Step 1: Course or Challenge?
Take your pick it’s really easy to decide what you’d like to do here.
Course if you’d like to sell this thing and make some money online and challenge if you’d like to use this thing to grow your list like hotcakes and syrup.
I vote for challenge first and course second that way you’ve got a freebie challenge to share with your peeps and that turns into a course that can be purchased from you to help you earn your first dollars online. YAY!!!
Step 2: Structure this somethin’ into tasty tidbits.
OK so you know course or challenge, but where stuff starts to take a turn for the worse early on is in deciding how long this somethin’ is going to be. How many days, weeks, months, once weekly, every two weeks – good gracious!!!!
It never ends. The decision paralysis that takes over when you’re creating somethin’.
Keep this simple.
Do not do what I did.
For my first challenge circa February 2014 I created 21 Days To Your WordPress website with you guessed it 21 different days of challenge content YIKES!!!
It was 21 videos and I wanted to cry after day 5. It also used WishList member as a course plugin and I made a boo boo that got all 125 peeps locked out of the challenge on the first day because I didn’t know exactly how to use it.
Then, for my first course in April 2014 I made a huge site building course called Making Headway on how to build a website from A-Z. #saywhat???
Do not do this!!!
For my most recent challenge I created a 5 Day Brand Frosting Challenge and delivered it via Facebook Group doing live videos each day that were 10 minutes or less soooo easy and for my new courses I’m doing hour long webinars that I turn into mini courses that have about 4 – 6 parts with15 minute videos.
This is simple. This is completable for you as the course/challenge creator and someone doing it can complete it too!
I first heard about having your opt ins be something easy to complete from Tara Gentile and it really changed the way I looked at my freebies for sure! I can’t remember exactly what she said, but short and sweet was what I took away from it.
You want simple, short and sweet.
Simple for you to do and deliver on and simple for your person to make it all the way to the finish line.
Trust simple. Be simple. You’ll feel so much better for your first go round if you don’t try to tackle everything and it’s mother on a topic. Simple doesn’t mean that you’re not giving huge value by the way it just means that you’re getting really focused on what you’re delivering and serving it up quickly with no fluff.
You’ll be tempted to make your first course be huge so you can price it huge, but don’t. Just say no. Don’t get me started on pricing – I’m not about to tackle that can of worms in this post, maybe another time.
Step 3: Don’t invest in tech upgraded anything until you can pay for it with money you made from selling your course.
Yes being fancy is really nice, but it’s not so nice if it starts costing you money to run your fancy stuff and you aren’t selling enough to pay for your fancy. That plain sucks and it happens more often that you think because when you’re thinking about your investments you overestimate how much you’ll sell and then you’ll go nuts when you sell less than you planned.
Course sites are all the rage right now. They’re the rage because they are absolutely hands down worth every penny you pay for them – but, if you’re just launching your first something there are ways to test the waters and get it out there and upgrade your tech at each new stage of money you’re bringing in.
Plus, those tech upgrades are harder to use and something you have to learn how to do versus being able to use what you have without jumping over new tech hurdles to get there.
You’ll be spending so much time on fancy tech before you know it that you won’t have an extra minute of time to spend building your course or challenge or growing your list. So it’s wayyyyy better when you save the fancy stuff for when you’ve got that huge list or that proven revenue stream.
Plus, it’s way easier to upgrade than it is to downgrade for sure.
Step 4: Content before tech.
I’m #guilty of launching and selling courses before the content was created. I did this with a whole bunch of my beta tests because it was a model that was getting lots of traction in 2014. But, you can save yourself a ton of worry and be more focused by creating your content first and then popping it on your site.
In Amy Porterfield’s new course Courses That Convert she talks about having your content created and everything ready to go BEFORE selling it. I absolutely LOVE that because having done courses both ways now it’s much better if everything is ready before you sell it.
Step 5: Know the power of password protected pages.
If ever there were a dirty little secret to launching a course or challenge that no one would ever want you to know about or no one ever tells you it’s password protected pages. You can 100% use these to test out your course and challenge for FREE if you’re using WordPress.org.
Here’s how you do it.
- Take the number of days of your course or challenge and make that many pages + one welcome page and one bonus page (if you’ve got bonuses.)
- Password protect each page with something special and write it down and make a note of the link to each page and keep it handy. I love Google Docs for the passwords and page links.
- Open up your email provider like Mailchimp, Aweber, ConvertKit or whatever and start a section for peeps that buy your course or opt in for your challenge. Send everyone a welcome email with a link to your welcome page and the password to get in. Then send an automated email at the time frame (one day later or one week later or however you’re serving up your challenge or course time wise) pop in the link to the next page and the password.
- Repeat the step above for each day until the end.
I used that same system to deliver my courses and challenges in early 2014 and it worked like freaking magic.
Now let’s talk about the downside.
(This is the stuff that everyone wonders about when using this method to launch something.)
Course sites with plugins to run them password protect and grant access on a per user basis. So will my course be “secure?”
Nope, it’s not secure because anyone with the password and page link will see it and have access to it. But, here’s the thing – even with a course site and a plugin the same thing can happen if someone gets it from you and shares it with someone else.
That’s why this way of running your courses and challenges should be used to test your ideas and help you see if you’d like to take this to the next level and use a course plugin once you’re comfy with the time and money investment of using a course plugin.
Can’t I use a free course or membership plugin from WordPress as an option versus password protected pages?
Yes, you can – but, even the free plugins make your life more complicated in the early setup and testing stages because you’ll be learning something new and supporting anyone with tech issues too.
How does this work with the theme I’m using?
It works with any theme pretty easily, but if you’re a user of Headway Themes (my favorite theme) you can take this setup and make it 100% look, feel, and act like a course so that all of the pages inside your course or challenge are all together and looking fabulous – also without costing you any extra money.
Then, when you’re ready to move into a course plugin you can keep the setup you have and change the password protected pages to course plugin pages with WishList Member so all the content is still right there without skipping a beat.
Phew, I’m about exhausted in jotting all this down, but I hope it saves you a ton of time and money because I’ve been getting oodles and oodles of questions in my inbox about what to do if you want to sell a course or run a challenge on a really tight budget.
So that my friend is how you do it and do it mighty well!
Oh and just in case you’d like to see this in action. You can grab the Making Courses Masterclass replay. In an hour I’ll show you how to set this whole thing up so you can have all the tech bits out of the way and you can focus on the content you’ll be serving up.
If you’d like to hop in and join me for Making Courses it’s your bonus with sprinkles on top for reading this whole big old long post.