July 30, 2022

4 Lessons From $1.228M in Online Course Sales

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In today’s issue, I want to share 4 helpful lessons from selling over $1.2M in online courses.

Online courses are an incredible way to earn extra income. I know creators selling anywhere from $1,000 per month to $100,000 per month just by sharing the knowledge they have acquired.

But, I also know hundreds of people who are struggling with their online courses: poor sales, low completion rates, no testimonials, zero affiliates, etc.

So today, I’m going to show you how I improved sales, increased completion rates, acquired more testimonials, and built a successful affiliate program.

Let’s dive into the lessons.

Lesson 1: Improve Revenue by Building a Course Marketing Plan

Let’s be honest. If you can’t sell your course, the rest of this list becomes more difficult to execute.

So, when you decide to launch a product, it’s a good idea to have a marketing plan that generates interest.

When I go to market with a new course, I promote the course 12-15 times before it even launches.

Self-promotion can be tricky and uncomfortable, but if you approach it through multiple channels, you can have a successful launch without overwhelming or irritating your prospective customer.

I stagger my promotion via LinkedIn, Twitter, a LinkedIn Newsletter, and my email list of about 8,000 at that time.

(Note: if you don’t have a large email list, read this to start building one).

Need some help promoting your course or product?

Here’s a copy of my promotion plan for my course, The LinkedIn Operating System, including a few examples so you can see how I drummed up $90,000+ of sales in 31 days.

Lesson 2: Improve Completion Rate by Setting Course Expectations

There is nothing worse than starting an online course without understanding what to expect. How long is it? Are there any resources?

At the beginning of my courses, I tell the student exactly how long the course will be. Then, rather than just move right into the teaching, I encourage them to set aside the time right then, in their calendar.

It will usually sound something like this:

“This course will run about 60 minutes total. In order to reap the benefits of this course, you must finish it. So, here’s my recommendation: Since you might take notes and pause often, please carve out two, 45-minute blocks in your Google Calendar right this moment to finish this course. I’d highly recommend doing it in the next 7-10 days to increase the likelihood that you finish.”

I also share the resources up front and label each resource so it’s clear which lesson they belong to.

Doing these 2 simple things will greatly increase the chance that people actually finish your course.

Lesson 3: Increase Testimonials With a Front-Load + Intermission Strategy

The average online course has just a 13% completion rate. Wild.

So, If you only ask for testimonials at the end of your course, you’ll get very few, especially if you only sell a few hundred courses.

If you want to drastically improve the chances that you get more testimonials, front-load with value, and then create an intermission.

  • Front-load value: Obviously, your entire course should be valuable, but there is nothing better for students than logging onto a course and getting immediate value in the first 10-20 minutes. Don’t ramble or meander. Get to the biggest value straightaway.
  • Ask for testimonials at an intermission Once you’ve delivered high-value up front, use a well-timed intermission to ask for testimonials. I’ve found that 70% of my testimonials come from the testimonial capture at intermission vs. the end of my course. If you’ve done a good job, don’t be afraid to ask early.

A bonus of the intermission is that you can use this time to reset expectations, such as letting the student know how much time they have left and teasing out the rest of the lessons to improve that completion rate.

Lesson 4: Increase Affiliate Sales by Removing Promotional Friction

There is nothing more powerful than students selling on your behalf. When they do, it’s almost a guarantee that people will buy.

There are 2 problems:

  • Most affiliate programs pay a low % to their students
  • Most people don’t know how to actually promote your course

At the conclusion of the course, I record a 34-second video that pitches the student on becoming an affiliate.

I pay out 35% vs the standard 20%-25% because it’s literally free money. Don’t be greedy. Incentivize!

I also make it simple to sign up by linking directly to the affiliate program, and then I go one step further which makes a huge difference.

I include a pack of templates that the student can use to talk about the course on social media, on a podcast, in an email, and with friends.

I call this removing promotional friction. The student doesn’t have to think about how to promote the course because I’ve done the work for them.

This has led to over $45,000 in affiliate sales for me and over $15,000 in payouts to happy students.


Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

1. ​The LinkedIn Operating System:​ Join 16,000 students and 30 LinkedIn Top Voices inside of The LinkedIn Operating System. This comprehensive course will teach you the system I used to grow from 0 to 470,000+ followers and $4.8M in income.

2. ​The Content Operating System​: A multi-step system for creating a high-quality newsletter and 6-12 pieces of high-performance social media content each week. Join 7,000 students here.

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