This article originally appeared here, republished with permission from the author.
I often see new instructors posting in social media groups with the ever familiar sentence: “So, I’ve just finished my course, how do I get my first sales?” – if only this question could be answered in a simple Facebook comment!
When it comes to marketing, promoting and selling our online courses, there is a lot more to do than many people think, and the most important thing that online instructors need to learn, is that selling a course is a long term game that requires a careful concoction of multiple marketing efforts (targeted to your audience).
Just like any good business, nothing works in isolation; and when it comes to marketing online courses, there are many moving parts. There is no ‘one’ strategy to marketing and selling online courses – successful course marketing involves the strategically engineered juggling of many different components.
The top online instructors have thorough marketing plans for their online courses before they’re even built – just as any successful business would for their products and services. If you haven’t done this yet, don’t panic – it’s never too late to start.
Help people for free before you sell to them
The first thing you need to get comfortable with, is that you are going to have give some stuff away – the old ‘speculate to accumulate’ scenario. Your audience need to get a taster of your content before they are likely to hand over their hard-earned cash to you.
Every time you put a piece of content out to the world, you are increasing your chances of being seen, heard and found by your target audience. The more you come up in search results when your audience are typing in searches for your course topic or services, the more likely you will be to get their custom over your competitor.
Content = customers. It’s as simple as that.
So, the answer to the question of ‘how do i sell my course now it’s built’?, is:
Create lots and lots of content in your topic area and make sure it is everywhere that your target audience hangs out.
‘You mean I have to create even more stuff?’ I hear you scream!
In short, yes. BUT, you have already done most of the work…
In this article, I will show you how you can make every second of effort that you put into the content of your course, absolutely work it’s backside off for you in terms of marketing.10 Ways To Increase Your Online Course Sales (From ONE Piece of Content) @CordinerSarah Click To Tweet
1. Publicly publish a selection of your videos
YouTube is one of the biggest search engines in the world, and if you’re not on it, you’re missing out on serious exposure.
My Google Analytics tell me that a significant percentage of my online course sales come from my YouTube videos – and many other online instructors attest the same.
Take a selection of your short course videos (it’s up to you how many but about 10% of your course videos is a good guide), and publish them on YouTube.
Ensure that your video title and description includes as many of the keywords that your audience will be typing into search engines as possible, and absolutely do not forget to add the links to your full course in the video description.
Directly uploading your videos into Facebook instead of just sharing a YouTube link can also increase your video views on Facebook. So every time you publish a video on YouTube, try to get into the habit of uploading it to your Facebook Page too.
2. Transcribe your videos
Send your short videos to a transcriber so that your video content can be turned into text. Obviously if you script your videos you will already have this done, but I personally film all of my videos script-free, and then get them transcribed afterwards.
Once you have that text, there is a plethora of marketing uses it can be put to. You can find great transcribers on sites such as Upwork, which is where I found my transcriber.
3. Edit the transcription into a long form blog post.
This very article/chapter, was originally a 2 minute video from one of my courses. After getting it transcribed, I then did some significant editing (the way I speak doesn’t always translate well into written form). Then I added in some new content, including breaking it up into numbered bullet points and further explanations. I find this method really helps me overcome writers block too, since it gives me a ‘starting point’ to work with instead of facing a blank page.
4. Send the edited transcription to your mailing list
Email marketing is a great way to make online course sales, as the chances are that your subscribers already know, like and trust you to some degree. Sending them helpful, informative content can significantly increase the likelihood that they will eventually buy from you. Including links to the blog post version and YouTube video is a great way to increase traffic to those places, and of course, having your course appropriately hyperlinked in all of these places will take those interested straight to it.
If you often struggle to think of good content to send to your mailing list, I’ve found that this is the easiest way to create informative emails.
5. Edit the transcription into short form social media text posts
I recently read a statistic in a Sumo article that said over 30% of all web traffic comes from social media. That is HUGE. Using social media effectively can significantly increase your online course sales and you don’t have to be using paid advertising.
Firstly, you need to make sure that the people you are sharing your content with are your target audience. There would be no point in me posting my latest blog post on online course creation tips on social media, if nobody i was connected with was interested in online course creation.
Using tools such as TweetDeck, I have slowly grown a following of Twitter followers, who are largely my target audience. Using advanced search and targeting on LinkedIn, I have grown a connection base of professional with job titles who are mostly my target audience. On Facebook, I have joined numerous groups where my audience hang out. This means that every time I post, it’s going out to people who actually want to see it.
Back to the strategy – edit your original transcription into a shorter text post for social media. When people are on social media, they are unlikely to want to read a long post. So keep it short, and include a link back to the full blog post for those that do want to read more – and obviously, a link to your online course.
6. Create infographics and images
Another strategy I have used that worked well, was to lift helpful hints and tips that came out of my video transcripts, and create social media image cards with the tips on. Visual images can attract the attention of social media users more than plain text does.
These need to be a little more than just an inspirational message. Pick out actual tips.
I put the title ‘Online Course Creation Tip’ at the top of each of mine, then the main tip in the middle, followed by my website URL at the bottom (you want people to come back to your site where they can find your courses).
I have a Google document where I list all of my hints and tips that I pull out of my videos, then I send it to a graphic designer to turn into social media images.
If your video teaches a process, procedure or model, you could also create an infographic or diagram.
7. Extract the audio
Many people like to listen to information when they are driving, commuting or exercising, so having your content available in this medium can open up a whole new segment of your market for you.
Turn your videos into MP3 files. You can add these to a podcast, Soundcloud, iTunes and online radio sites. There are lots of free websites out there that allow you to do this for free; simply Google ‘convert MP4 to MP3’ and a whole host will come up for you.
8. Add your long form article to LinkedIn
It’s worth looking into whether your audience are on LinkedIn to see if this is a worthwhile strategy for you; but if you do have an audience there it is well worth publishing your article on your profile as a published post. Include your original video in the post. I’ve got a huge amount of business from LinkedIn purely from sharing posts and status updates that ensure my (targeted) connections know what my expertise is.
9. Submit a guest article to industry blogs and magazines
Find online blogs and magazines in your industry and submit your article to them as a guest post. Many online blogs and magazines are hungry for good content and are often willing to post your content on their sites.
This gets you automatic exposure to thousands, tens of thousands and even millions of viewers that someone else has built. If your content suits the target audience of the blog or magazine, you may also be likely to get a regular guest column. Bam, free marketing to a target audience. It’s a win-win for everyone.
An easy way to find blogs and articles in your sector is to create a list of keywords that people Google when searching for your course topic, and one by one, type them into Google with the following: [write for us]. Eg, I target people who are searching for tips on online course creation; so I would type into google ‘Online course creation [write for us]’ and it will bring up all of the online magazines in that genre that accept guest article submissions. I then create a massive Google sheet from the results and send out an editorial version of my video-come-articles whenever I produce one.
Just be aware that many sites prefer that your article is original and not published anywhere else, so you may have to edit your transcript again to make an ‘editorial version’.
They usually allow one link back to your site and or social media, so make sure that wherever you link to that there is a very clear pathway to the online course that you are promoting. Better yet, set up a pop-up lead magnet on the page you send them to that offers them something for free in exchange for their email address (known as a lead magnet). That way you can capture traffic from the guest blogs as new leads. You can do this using tools such as LeadPages or Sumo.
10. Share all of the above products on all social media platforms
Now you have multiple pieces of content in multiple forms, it’s time to get it out there as much as possible. I use Buffer to schedule all of my social media posts, and this includes all of the above forms of content for maximum impact. Every few months I’ll check my Buffer analytics for my most popular posts and ‘re-buff’ those particular ones to go out a second time around later in the year.
So there you have it. From ONE short video of just a couple of minutes long, you can create more than 10 pieces of content to market, promote and more than 10x the sales of your online course.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg! If you really want to make some serious sales, there are many more awesome marketing strategies that you can start implementing today.
If you would like to learn more in depth tips with how-to demonstrations on how to successfully market, promote and sell your online course, I share detailed strategies on how to make your course a best-seller in this course.10 Ways To Increase Your Online Course Sales (From ONE Piece of Content) @CordinerSarah Click To Tweet
Sarah Cordiner is an education expert, author, speaker, trainer, award winning online course creator and CEO of Main Training. With 11 years in business in the education industry and over 5,000 students in 121 countries – Sarah encapsulates a mesmerizing marriage of education and entrepreneurship as the EDUpreneur’s internationally acclaimed leader in ‘profitably educating your marketplace’.
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