Case Study: Launching a Course in Just 2 Weeks and Getting Paid Before You Make It

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In this video, you'll learn:

How to launch your very first online course — and get people to buy before you even create it! Watch the video to learn:

  • Shane's 5-step Online Course Launch Strategy.
  • How to keep your online course email marketing simple and effective.
  • Why you should build your sales page first, before building your online course.
  • How to ensure you give your pre-sale customers a positive purchase experience.

"This is the best, most concise and most valuable video on the topic I have ever seen! Seriously, I watched hundreds of hours of marketing videos, purchased dozens of high priced courses from all the "big gurus" … but THIS man, wow it is just so helpful. Cause you get so easily overwhelmed when learning Marketing so you procrastinate forever… but to see that it can be so simple and straight forward gave me so much confidence. Thank you so much!"

Fabian Gru

Online Course Creator

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Got Questions?

Is there anything else you would like learn about creating and launching online courses successfully?

Are there any questions you have after watching this video?

If so, leave Shane a comment below!

  • Robin says:

    Hi Shane, Thank you for the excellent content. Can you talk further about your tech stack, pre & post-production elements for making your course videos, graphics & ppt creation, and finally… presentation skills advice? I know you could make a whole video on just these items alone, but I’m interested in your overall video production roadmap for course creation. Thanks again!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Indeed that goes a bit beyond the scope of what I can cover in these videos. But these are very good questions. Let’s make sure we cover these on an upcoming live session. We’ll be doing a livestream with Q&A later this week.

  • Chad says:

    I guess there are 2 critical questions(feel free to call it “objections”) at this point:

    1) What if you don’t have a following (email list or social media followers)?
    2) What if just a few people bought? Refund or keep creating the course?

    • Johan says:

      Yes, i am interested in these questions as well.

    • Mark says:

      Exactly the same questions I have 😉

    • frankvoce says:

      Same for me……

    • helena nylander says:

      Yes, same as Chad and Johan and Mark 🙂

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Hi Chad,

      1) If you have zero audience, you need to start with a “borrowed” audience. I.e. you first need to find someone who has an audience and who you can collaborate with or find some other way to get in front of someone else’s audience. This requires networking and elbow grease, basically.
      Alternatively, you do content marketing until you have your first 50-100 email subscribers and then do this launch.

      2) Depends on the conversion rate. If I have 100 people in my audience and only 5 of them buy, I’d go ahead with the course. If I have 1,000 people and 5 of them buy, I’d refund and try to figure out what went wrong.

      • Steve says:

        Shane, these were the same questions I had, more so #1 than #2. And right up there with trying to create the ‘perfect course’ is the other problem of having no audience to use to validate and/or promote the course to.

        Having an audience to email to validate the interest in the course is part 1. Part 2 is then having the same audience validate the course further by actually buying the course.

        But with no home-grown audience (an email list) this is not an option.

        Off the top of my head, I thought that maybe one can use affiliate traffic by doing the ‘pre-launch’ on either WarriorPlus or JVZoo and then trying to get affiliates to promote with at least one email to their lists. Granted, this would cancel the ability to do validation part 1. Mostly it would be about validation part 2, if people buy it, then that’s a good thing. But then I’m not sure how the ‘backwards creation principle’ of the course would work, in that you do the sales page and the offer first before even creating the course.

        However, if the salespage states when exactly the course will be ready, and there is a 50% coupon to get the pre-sale price for the course, maybe it would work.

        Any thoughts?

    • hanne says:

      Same questions here.

  • online says:

    Hey Shane, great info as always. Simplifying everything works so well that it looks achievable to me. Just wondering what tools you use that work well together for you? Funnel map, Email Marketing, managing your mail list? Very interested to know so instead of me trialling everything, get to know what integrates with each.
    Also list building. I am thinking from what I have seen, it is more about the soft launch using content, than running ads. But how do we get people to sign up to that? Just advertise blog/strong content and then once they step into the funnel, keep them happy with more valuable information? Thanks Shane very much appreciated.

  • Christina H says:

    What did the ribbon look like on the site?

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Hi Christina. At 12:40 in the video there’s a recording of the ribbon as it was shown on the site.

  • Baris says:

    Hi shane, i have been following your advices since 4 years so this was a well reminder for me. What i would like to say is i miss your online marketing advices so much. They made huge impacts on my business. I wish you continue on online marketing advices as well as others. I respect all of your approches. Thanks for eveything.

  • till.deuschel says:

    Hi Shane,
    Thank you for the video. Just to understand better. Would you send everyone who enters your funnel the pre-sale email (e.g. after they got your free checklist) or would you send it to people who already are with you quite a while? Thanks a lot

  • Charles says:

    Thank you for this great video.
    What if no one buy the pre-sale offer ? Would you recommand going on the steps to give a chance to sell at least one ?
    What was your numbers (%) of conversion rate ? (nb clicks)/(list size) and (nb sale)/(nb clicks).

  • Graeme says:

    Hi Shane,

    Another awesome video! I really enjoy all of the videos you make but the videos in this series are really hitting the spot!

    I am an A-level Chemistry tutor and as the academic year comes to a close I have all of these ideas of courses I could create over the summer time. Courses that I think would really help my students.

    But, I have been stuck in a state of “paralysis by analysis” for over a year…

    I tell myself that I need to get the green screen right, or buy the right camera or get the right video editing software or get the right lights…

    One of your previous videos solved this problem for me.

    And then when it comes to marketing the course I tell myself that I need to have so many people on my e-mail list or what will I do if I create the course and no one buys it…

    Until I watched your video…

    In about 15 minutes you had me convinced that I could validate one of my course ideas using your Rapid Implementation Model.

    Absolutely brilliant!

    Now, I do have two questions…

    If I have several course ideas for my students could I build a quiz in Thrive QuizBuilder where they could pick the one that they would most be interested in and post the quiz to social media? My audience is on Instagram and YouTube.

    You do plan on showing us how to build the course in Thrive Architect using your Rapid Implementation Model? My only concern is that I wouldn’t be able to create the course in two weeks because I have never built one before.

    Keep the awesome videos coming our way!


    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Graeme!

      Yes, I think using a quiz or survey to gain more feedback is a great idea!

      And your point about the timeline is valid. Of course, it helps to have experience, to be able to execute a course this quickly. However, keep in mind that you can “create as you go” as well. If you have the expertise, you can validate your course and give students access to “module 1” after a couple of weeks. While your students go through that, you can create the next module. You don’t have to release it all at once.

  • Lynn says:

    Thanks Shane, excellent help topics. Would be interested in how to word the videos. Can you make a video on that? Thanks again. Have a great day.

  • interstate81 says:

    Greetings from day 6 of Challenge 44. I call it the “I bought it, you break it” challenge. At what point in this living hell should I start working on my first course?
    Yesterday was a wakeup call about the realities of video editing. Here, I watch your videos, now you can watch mine. Winning sucks!

    • Michael H says:

      Good story. Everyone’s story is an Olympic Saga to them, even if it’s not in the Olympics. The theme is the same. Struggle, effort, failures and then a meaningful victory. What is Challenge 44?

  • Alan says:

    I would like to know how you host your videos – probably not on your website host, do you have a favorite? Also, you are tagging email responses, are you using Mailchimp or some some other mail provider?

  • Kevin says:

    Hi Shane, as always, thank you for your work and Thrive products and videos like this one. I’ve been a Thrive member now for many years and have appreciated your tools and perspectives all along the way.

    Could you please comment on these questions (I realize they don’t apply to everyone):

    1) I’m in my late 60’s and have a ton of lifetime knowledge built up in writing, copywriting, programming, and using voice to improve productivity on building professional Word/PDF documents and Windows programming. I think I need different websites and copy and focus for writing/documents with graphics, voice documents, and voice programming. What’s the best way to choose a topic to focus on? It only takes a few days to get domains and build a decent website with Thrive tools, but generating the content and audiences could be a lot of work. What do you think? (I’m trying to travel the piece of the path from head->email audience so I can connect email audience-> to this course.

    2) Could you please say something about subscription pricing? For example, the audience size of voice-users is small and fixed, so selling them one product once is not a long-term business, I think. (Kind of like your Thrive membership subscription, I suppose).

    Thank you as always!

  • giuseppe says:

    Great videos, Shane. I have a question about the pre-launch: if you don’t have a big list of subscribers and a very few people get the tag interested for my pre-launch product what do I have to do? If only a small number of people buy, I mean 1 to 3, what your suggestion is? do I have to go and finish the course the same or…..what?

    Thank you for any help with this and thank you so much for all of the others TT products and courses. You help me change many things in my work and carrier

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Giuseppe,
      This will depend on you. If you have 3 people pay you 200 then you’d get $600 to create the course AND you then have an asset to start marketing and continue selling.
      If you feel this investment is not sufficient to make it worth your time you can first spend some time finding partners or a bigger audience.

  • elis says:

    what would be your strategy if you got no audiance at all? is it still possible ?

  • claudia says:

    I love the roadmap. May I ask with which programme this was created? Thank you so much for all your Videos. So awesome!

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