The painful truth to why your online course is NEVER going to sell!

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Let’s face it we have all had this dream: — “I will create an online course then post about it on my social media and sell some. Hey, if that works maybe I will run a few paid ads and who knows maybe I can sell some more. After all, I read on a blog you can even make millions if you do it right.”

The dream sounds so convincing, so simple, so easy, so certain.

That dream is actually a nightmare! A commitment-nightmare of content creation, black holes in time and money, and around every simple assumption there is months if not years of grind and work.


Two main factors.

  1. If your reputation and Social Proof is already high you can charge more for your courses and you may already have a very engaged audience list.
  2. If your reputation is low and you are unknown, you will either have to give your course away for free or charge very little, until you have built your reputation and gathered a significant following.

Building a professional reputation is a life long process. Why would you assume somebody seeing your course for the first time would instantly want to buy it from you and not from somebody more established?

So, the answer is automation, right?

You will be willing to lose a lot of sales but if you can get your ad pricing low enough and generate enough traffic then you can recover your costs with a self-funding funnel, right?

So now, not only do you have to build a course you have to build a sales funnel, install pixels, build email sequences and possibly build tripwires and lead magnets so that the ‘cold traffic’ from ads will at least give you their email address. Because Cold Traffic (people who don't know you and only see your ads) needs to be warmed up first before they buy.

Even then people might check you out before they buy. They may do a search about you! So now you need to build a ‘Shadow Funnel’ where you post on social media, start a podcast, build a YouTube channel and have all of that content linking back to your sales funnel.

Yes, all this works in theory but channels like reputations take years and years to build and even when this is all built there is no guarantee you will ever sell a course.

Just to get going after you have built your course to then build basic sales funnels, email automation, sales pages, hero stories etc. will often take 3 months to build from scratch, before you even start testing your first ads.

Instead of dinner at mine, let’s go to the MarketPlace

So what is the shortcut to avoid the content creation nightmare? Place your course on a Market place such as Udemy where there is already traffic looking for courses.

But you will sacrifice control on how much you can charge for your course. If the Marketplace decides to run a promotion on your course and discount if from £199 to £9 they can!

You will be in a bloody ocean of sharks. Course creators who do not care about the subject but who are just looking to rip off the best selling courses and create competition. Beware if you become a best seller on these networks because before long a very similar looking course to yours will soon be competing with you, driving your course price down to the lowest common denominator.

Building your own community from cold traffic though to warm and hot traffic as outlined in Nik Maguire’s book Beyond PPC (Free copy here)

This is a long and slow process where the dream of running one Ad to suddenly build an entire business is increasingly less likely into today's market of rising Ad prices and online competition.

So how do you overcome this course selling nightmare?

Let’s not be pessimistic, the struggle is real but the rewards are still out there.

The truth is you have to be realistic and plan your strategy carefully.

  1. If you have established a reputation in an area, stay in your lane.
  2. If you can identify warm or hot traffic (people who know you already to some degree) start selling there before you run cold ads!
  3. Consider releasing smaller courses first, for a lower price, where you can create a simple entry point into your universe for new students.
  4. Consider outsourcing the “build phase” of the 1st three months to a specialist company. (If you are building your course on then you should check us out at This is a one-off cost but if you are starting out can be the difference between success and despair.
  5. Be willing to take a long term view on your returns, but…

…When you get a sales-funnel that actually works you can see unlimited upside when you get it right!

You can awake for the course selling nightmare if you set your expectations, build your team and dig in with the grit and determination to win. This is now a crowded marketplace and ad costs are rising all the time BUT good content will always sell if it is in the grasp of the right student.

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Making Teachable Reachable through sales funnel solutions! Sell more courses online.

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