This blog post may contain affiliate links to products and services that I use myself and recommend. If you purchase one of these products or services using the affiliate link, you will pay the same (or possibly even get a discount!) and I will make a small commission. Thank you for your support.

I get it – you want ‘the plan’ for success as a course creator.

Over the 20+ years that I’ve been doing tech and marketing, I’ve never sat down and mapped out the formula for success.

I know this map like the back of my hand, but EVERY SINGLE COURSE CREATOR or entrepreneur creating courses has asked me for the formula. Over the years I have taken countless clients and students through this formula, but never actually mapped it out.

Until now.

The Plan For Success

“But Kim, my business is different…”

“But Kim, I don’t need to do this part…”

I hate to break it to you, friend, but your business is not that different, and although you CAN skip over steps if you want to, you will not have the same results as you would if you followed these steps.

Ready? Let’s dive in!


1. Know Who Your Customers Are

It’s tempting to think as broadly as possible about your target audience (this course is for EVERYONE!). It might seem logical, after all, why wouldn’t you want to sell to as many customers as possible?

“When you speak to everyone, you actually speak to no one.” 

By getting very specific about your ideal customer, you can develop messaging that reaches and connects with him or her, because where there is one of them – there are 1,000 or 10,000… or more of them.

This is true in both B2C and B2B marketing.

Knowing your ideal customer intimately is vital to your marketing success. Everything from your landing pages and sales pages to your website to your emails to your paid advertising relies on this.

Take the FREE BUYER PERSONA INTERACTIVE ACTIVITY then work through it to get extremely clear on who your buyer persona is.


2. Establish Your Authority

In order to become known as an expert in your field/industry, you need to get out in front of your audience! The best way to do this is to start generating free content to distribute around the web.

Now, because you’ve completed your Buyer Persona interactive activity (above) you already know where your Buyer Persona hangs out online, so the best way to reach them is to go there!

Do they spend time on Youtube? Great! Film some videos on topics you think that your Buyer Persona would be interested in and get them on your channel!

Do they spend time on Linkedin? Great! Write some Linkedin Articles on topics you think that your Buyer Persona would be interested in and get them on your Linkedin profile!

Allow your people to find you (attraction marketing / organic marketing) through this free content, and get to know, like and trust you. The Know > Like > Trust HAS to be established if they’re ever going to buy anything from you.

The added benefit of doing this is that it allows you to filter out your most popular pieces of content (through that channel’s analytics) so that you can continue to hone in on your Buyer Persona’s pain points – and help solve them, building even more trust and establishing yourself as an expert.

Spend the next 30 days creating the kind of content you think that your Buyer Persona would love and start distributing it on the channels where they spend time.


3. Start and Grow Your Email List

Your email list is GOLD!

With social media you can get in front of your audience when THEY want to see you – if you’re lucky enough to reach them.

With having your own email list you can get in front of your audience whenever you want to!

Despite what you’ve heard, you’re going to have a heck of a time selling if you don’t have a list of email subscribers who you’ve nurtured.

Start by reading How To Build An Email List From Scratch and Email Automation Software For Your Online Education Business. Choose which Email Marketing Service Provider you are going to use, set it up, and get your first lead generation funnel started! Need help?


4. Create Your Value Ladder

Imagine if you were able to increase the value of EVERY. SINGLE. SALE. in your business? If you could instantly increase your revenue by 30%, 50%, or more?

That’s what having a well thought out (and executed) value ladder does for you!

Simplified, your Value Ladder is the products and/or services that you are currently selling, or are going to be selling, mapped out in ascending order of price and value.

The first step on your value ladder is always your bait, freebie, optin, or lead magnet – the free product you give away in exchange for their contact info.

As people ascend the value ladder, the value level increases as does the cost to continue up the ‘ladder’.

It’s called a VALUE ladder (not a PRICE ladder) for a reason – the ascension is based on value first, price second.

Develop your Value Ladder. This may change over time, but you need a starting point.

  1. Start with your optin or lead magnet
  2. Develop your first conversion offer – something that will turn anyone that is a qualiܴfied lead into an actual customer. It should cost less than $50 and should take less than an hour to consume, with immediate results.
  3. Develop your next offer, which builds further credibility and costs roughly 10- 20% of your main offer. This should require some implementation on their part but it will get at least one result almost immediately and make the person feel good about themselves and YOU.

You want to take your product or service and divide it into Low End, Middle and High-End. Keep the High-End a bit elusive (don’t SELL it) until they’re well into your funnel. You can mention it, but don’t base your marketing around it. You want to get him or her to invest in the Low End product and then have them upgrade to the middle or high-end as soon as possible.


5. Delivery Methods

How are you going to deliver your products and/or services?

If you’re offering consultations, coaching or 1:1 sessions you’re going to need an online booking system. My favourite is Book Like a Boss! (Bonus: when you use that link, then use the code ‘brainygirl’ at the checkout you’ll get 30% off any Book Like a Boss plan!). I’ve used ALL of the online booking systems and this one, by far, is the most time-saving money-saving system.

If you’re offering online courses you’ll need a Learning Management System. As a Thinkific Expert I’m biased 😉, but you’ll need to make a choice and get your LMS set up. If you’re looking for expert guidance to get your Thinkific site set up, check out how we can help here.

You probably know you need a website. But do you know WHY??

You own 2 assets online – your website, and your email list.

Having a professional web presence is no longer an option. Your potential customers are not using Yellow Pages to find you. They’re using Google. And if Google can’t find you, then… well… how are you going to reach your potential customers and students?

First of all, Facebook (or any other social media site) is NOT a replacement for a website.

Secondly, if you don’t have the money to hire someone, and are not tech-savvy enough to do it yourself (or are using this as an excuse), then you’re going to have a hell of a time making it as an online business owner.

Why You Need a Website AND a Thinkific site | Thinkific Expert Brainy Girl

There are many reasons you need a website:

    • Each page or blog post on your website is another page that Google can show to your potential customers.
    • It provides a means of contact between web visitors and your business.
    • It allows you to showcase your knowledge, thus establishing yourself as an “expert”.
    • It provides ‘social proof’ through client/customer/student testimonials and/or awards you may have won and/or other businesses or organizations who have featured you.
    • It captures web visitors and converts them to leads and/or customers.
    • It provides credibility, showing web visitors that you’re an actual business. In fact, 30% of consumers won’t do business with a company that does not have a professional website, and 75% of consumers admit to making judgements on a company’s credibility based on their website.
    • It allows potential customers to research before they purchase.
    • It allows potential joint venture partners to find you.
    • It’s WAY more affordable than paid advertising.
    • It levels the playing field between you and your competitors. ANY business can have an outstanding website now.
    • Your website acts as your primary brand presence and content machine.

The price of having a website is much lower than the cost of getting left behind.

My primary website is built on WordPress using the Divi theme. If you want to set up your own WordPress website, follow this guide:

    1. Register for a hosting account and domain through SiteGround (start with the StartUp plan).
    2. Use the SiteGround Wizard to install WordPress.
    3. Download one of the free WordPress themes or install a paid theme (I recommend Divi or another one of the Elegant Themes).
    4. Install the theme.
    5. Customize the theme.
    6. Customize the dashboard.
    7. Install WordPress pluginsHere are my must-have plugins:
        • Accept Stripe Payments – You can create a product in the plugin then use a simple shortcode to put Stripe “Buy Now” buttons anywhere on your site for a product or service. You can use it to accept donation via Stripe also.
        • Convertkit– if you’re using Convertkit as your email marketing service provider then you’ll want to install the Convertkit plugin to make adding your CK forms to WordPress easily.
        • Duplicate Page – Duplicate Posts, Pages and Custom Posts easily using single click. You can duplicate your pages, posts and custom post by just one click and it will save as your selected options (draft, private, public, pending).
        • Embed Plus Plugin for YouTube, with YouTube Gallery, Channel, Playlist, Live Stream, Facade – YouTube WordPress Plugin to embed and customize a YouTube gallery (channel or playlist), YouTube livestream (and premiere), YouTube short, or standard YouTube video on your WordPress website.
        • Leadpages Connector – If you’re using Leadpages for any landing pages then you’ll want to install the Leadpages Connector plugin.
        • Ninja Forms – Ninja Forms is a webform builder with unparalleled ease of use and features.
        • Pretty Links – My absolute favourite plugin! Shrink, track and share any URL using your website and brand.
        • Redirection – Manage all your 301 redirects and monitor 404 errors.
        • Sassy Social Share – Slickest, Simplest and Optimized Share buttons. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, WhatsApp and over 100 more.
        • Yoast SEO – A mandatory plugin  – irst true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.
    8. Improve the security of your WordPress website.
    9. Learn How to Auto-Update your WordPress site
    10. Create a new blog post on your website.
    11. Learn how to improve the SEO of your WordPress website.

6. Copy & Design

Good copy and design sells!

If you’re going to be selling your products and/or services you’re going to either need to learn the basics of copy and design, or have the budget to outsource your needs.

What do you need copy and design for?

  • Landing pages – optin pages, thank you pages, tripwire pages, sales pages, web pages
  • Forms – query forms, application forms, course evaluation forms, web forms
  • Emails – nurture sequences, course welcome and completion sequences, abandoned cart sequences, funnel sequences
  • Social Media Posts – regardless of which social media sites you’re posting on
  • Paid Ads – Facebook ads, Pinterest ads, Google ads, Youtube ads, Linkedin ads

The good news is that you don’t have to be a copywriter yourself to write great copy! Shortcut your learning curve with copy templates like these ones.

When it comes to design, there are basic design principles you’ll need to understand.

One of the biggest issues I see clients and students making is focusing on the design instead of focusing on the marketing behind the design!

Taking into account your buyer journey: When they land on a blog post, how will you get them into your funnel? When they’re about to leave your website, how do you keep them there? How do you want to lead them through your website to your offer(s)?

Designing from a marketing perspective will increase your conversions exponentially.


7. Funnels

Just the word funnels makes the most fearless entrepreneur shiver.

Sales Funnel Definition: A sales funnel is a series of steps that companies use to persuade prospects to become customers. The sales funnel is each step that someone has to take in order to become your customer.

1. The Awareness Stage (Top of Funnel) – This is the moment at which you first catch a prospect’s attention. At this stage, they are looking for an answer to a question that they have, and are discovering you through Google, social media posts and advertisements OR they’re being introduced to you by someone else sharing a tweet, a blog post, or a Youtube video.

2. The Interest Stage – This is where a prospect turns into a lead. Specifically, they sign up for a free resource that you are offering and opt into your email list. At this stage they’re doing they’re research (who or what can help them achieve their goal?), comparison shopping, and considering all of their options.

3. The Engagement Stage (Middle of Funnel) – At this stage, your lead is consuming the free resource that they just opted in for. They are taking action and getting results from the tips you’ve taught them, which builds their trust in you. At this stage of the funnel your goal should be to establish yourself as the expert, build your credibility, and deliver value – so that the prospect can be confident that they’re on the right path. Delivering case studies, testimonials, webinars and free trials at this stage is a great way to move them down the funnel further.

4. The Action Stage (Bottom of Funnel) – This is the stage where you pitch your course or product to them and the lead becomes a customer.

5. The Fan Stage – At this stage, you’ve already converted your lead into a customer. Now they are consuming your online course, and getting value and results from it. This will make them compelled to come back for more or for higher-end courses, and to recommend your courses to others.

The ultimate purpose of your sales funnel is to drive prospects and potential customers to purchase your digital products, online courses, and even services if you offer them.

Again, you don’t necessarily need to learn how to build funnels yourself. Need help?


8. Driving Traffic

Once you have a working, converting funnel you’ll need to drive traffic to it – ‘traffic’ being people.

Organic Traffic – sending people to your funnel through content you’ve distributed around the web (ex. the link in the description of your Youtube video leading to your optin page). Organic traffic doesn’t cost money, but it takes time and energy instead.

Paid Traffic – sending people to your funnel through paid advertising (ex. Google ads). Paid traffic should be a part of your traffic strategy – not your whole strategy, because ads are only effective as long as you’re pouring money into them. Warning: do NOT employee paid traffic until you have a funnel that is converting!

Retargeting– advertising to users who have not taken the desired action (ex. putting a Facebook ad in front of someone who visited your course sales page but didn’t enroll/purchase).


9. Raving Fans / Repeat Buyers

Whew! Hopefully by this point you’ve followed all of the previous steps and have people enrolled or completing your course.

But it’s far from over!

Your job, at this point, is to do everything you can to help those who have enrolled/purchased get the intended results and turn them into raving fans and repeat buyers.

Ultimately these raving fans will go out and tell others about your course thereby bringing even more traffic and customers to you, and will likely purchase other services, courses or digital products you offer.

If you help your customers get results, they’ll reward you with more sales!

What to do AFTER your students complete your course! Thinkific Thursday #1