What I've learned from $3,394,480 in Digital Course Sales
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Monetizing knowledge through digital courses is no longer a distant dream but a tangible reality for many creators.
But if you're like most aspiring course creators, the path to success can seem like a mystery.
You've probably been bombarded with conflicting advice, big promises, or maybe even discouraged by the fear of failure.
In today's issue, I'm going to share with you five lessons I've learned through my own journey to over $3,000,000 in digital course sales.
From building in public to understanding the importance of accessibility, I hope these insights offer a unique perspective into an industry that's crowded with noise.
Let's dig into what works and what doesn't, based on real experiences, real numbers, and a genuine desire to help you succeed.
Lesson 1: Building in public generates massive attention
When I built my first course, The LinkedIn Playbook, I worked on it quietly at home.
When I launched it, I had high hopes that it would generate massive interest.
In the first month that it was available, I made $11,781, or about $380 per day.
Contrast that to my updated version of that course, The LinkedIn Operating System, released in July of 2021. I built that course completely in public.
I shared each day's wins and losses, metrics, revenue, etc. It took me 91 days to build it, and in the first month, I made $94,651, or $3,053 per day.
Both products generated roughly the same amount of landing page views, but The LinkedIn Operating System converted 2.7x higher even with 3x the cost, partly because people could see what I was building, and were invested in the journey.
Lesson 2: Accessibility breeds word-of-mouth
When I look around the digital course space, I see a lot of people with significantly smaller communities than mine, trying to sell a "masterclass" for $1,499.
The amount of trust and nurturing needed to get someone into a high-ticket deal like that is pretty massive, IMO.
I price my products at an affordable rate, make them as valuable as possible, and simply ask people to tell their friends if they enjoyed them.
The result is an incredible word-of-mouth affiliate campaign. I've paid out over $138,000 in affiliate commission to generate $395,200 in sales.
This is why I recommend that people price things to be accessible and create a WOM machine. It's easy to recommend a $150 product to your friends.
$1,499? Not so much.
Lesson 3: Social proof drives promotional success more than what YOU say
When I promote my products, I always see a spike in sales. But, one promotion has outshined them all - and it's extremely passive.
Once per week, I'll share a simple testimonial or DM from a happy customer.
When I share them, my course sales go up about 2x to 3x.
The words of your customers will always convert prospects at a much higher rate than your own. Every beautiful testimonial is a chance to convert more prospects into happy customers.
My normal days do between $3,500 and $4,500 in course sales, whereas a day where I share a testimonial will often result in $10,000 or more in course sales.
And even more impactful? There is someone talking about The LinkedIn Operating System online, somewhere, every single day. With 17,000+ customers, that's the power of word-of-mouth.
So remember, use testimonials to drive your sales!
Lesson 4: 80/20 Give/Ask is Key
You may have read the above and thought that promoting 1x in 7 days is a lot, but it's not in the overall game of content I'm creating.
I typically create 50 unique pieces of content per month on LinkedIn, and 55 on Twitter. Out of those 105, I'll share a testimonial about 8-10 times.
That means, at most, I'm promoting less than 10% of the time.
The golden rule that I've found to be effective is to make sure that you are giving value 80% of the time or more and promoting 20% of the time or less.
Lesson 5: Brevity is your friend
My first course, The LinkedIn Playbook, had a 45% completion rate (the average for course creators is 13.8%) because it's short - only about 75 minutes.
Idea.Audience.Proof.Product, a course I didn't promote much, had closer to a 25% completion rate, because it's much more robust, clocking in at 3.5 hours.
I truly believe the latter was a better, more helpful course, but it doesn't matter if people don't get through it. In hindsight, I would have made it much shorter.
I think the longer you are in the creator space and the more well-known you are, the longer and more robust your courses can be.
Just getting started? Keep it short.
Teach people what they want to learn in 45 minutes or less, and you'll increase your completion and adoption rate.
Well, there you have it. My 5 best pieces of advice for selling your digital courses online.
- Building in public generates massive attention
- Accessibility breed word-of-mouth
- Testimonials drive promotional success
- 80/20 give/ask is key
- Brevity is your friend
But, remember - none of these lessons matter if you never get started.
Good luck out there.
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