Building an Audience vs. Launching Your Online Course: Which Comes First?

by Louise Blakely in Podcast
July 18, 2023 0 comments

Do you grow your audience before launching your new online course, or should you put your course together and see how that first launch goes? The common advice is to grow your audience first, and while yes, audience growth is vital as a course creator, I believe in a different approach. I'm sharing that with you in this episode.

In this episode, I share: 

  • Why no audience, or a small audience, shouldn't hold you back from creating and selling your first online course
  • What you need to know about your audience in order to create an online course offer that they will buy (because an audience doesn't guarantee sales)
  • Ways you can leverage your existing network and connections for course sales, even if it's not your own audience

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Enjoy the episode!
Lou xx

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View full transcript here: 

Welcome to the Online Course Creator Show. I'm Lou Blakely and if you're new around here, welcome! If you've been listening for a while, it's so good to have you back. Now, today's episode and context is all about whether you should build your audience first before you launch your online course or if you should launch your course first. This is a much talked about topic. It's much debated and something I always see people asking questions about online and all that kind of thing. Now, everyone has a different take, but, after helping people create courses online since 2015, I have a very strong view on this and that's what I'll be sharing with you today.

So should you build your audience first or launch your course first? If you have an audience, therefore, you have an audience to sell to, obviously, which is a huge advantage, and some of you may already have a large audience, and there's no doubt that this is an advantage if what you create in terms of your online course is something that appeals to that audience. However, if you're a service provider or freelancer, I'm willing to bet that your audience isn't that. Big Freelancers like to help others first before themselves, and absolutely no judgment there, because I have been there and done that. But in today's episode, hopefully maybe I'm gonna shift your perspective of actually whether that's necessarily. It's not gonna stop you from getting out there and creating and selling an online course. So big audiences actually don't automatically mean lots of sales, and that's a really important thing to consider. If you do have a big audience, it doesn't necessarily mean that all of those people in there want to buy your course. And let's not even get into engagement right, like it does depend on how engaged your audience is. Even if you do have a big audience and you just think you've got all these followers and you can just put something out, people automatically going to buy it, I want to remind you that it's still really important that you're finding out what they want, what their challenges are, what their frustrations are and what their goals are, what they desire, where they desire to be. You need to find out all of that before jumping into creating a course for them, because just creating the course and maybe making it the exact same thing as what you do in your services, but at a lower price point because it's self-studied in an online course. If we just assume that because they you know there's people that pay the higher price to work one online with us that they will buy, we may be in for a little bit of a shock. You still need to strategically create an online course offer that sells and you know this is exactly what I'm going to be walking you through in the free bootcamp. Now, if you're one of those people that think, well, I don't even I have a tiny audience, small audience. Maybe you don't have an email list or there's like 50 people on it and you know you don't post that regularly on social media and you don't really have a following. But you've been in business for a while, you have had clients and maybe you've got a few business networks and that kind of thing, I actually think that you probably have a bigger network around you than what you realize Now. It may be a business group, some kind of networking thing, people you're already chatting with who maybe can't afford your private services but are following you, maybe for the value that you'll share or in the hope that one day that we're able to work with you and you know your higher-end services, your freelancing services, that kind of thing. Now, these groups or these kind of network can actually come in really handy when it comes to launching, even if it's not your own audience. Like, maybe, if you're in a business group, you may think, well, I don't own that audience, but you know there's so many business groups out there. Like, how can you leverage the network that you've already got? Or it could be, how can you leverage a relationship that you've already got? Like maybe you have someone in your network who could actually help you sell this, like get creative here. How can you tap into other people's audiences if you really do not have an audience of your own? So if you feel like you're starting from scratching, you can't launch that course yet because you don't have an audience. I want you to, you know, look at this in a different light, because I'm sure that it's not entirely true that you don't have an audience. You just don't have an audience in that traditional sense, like social media followers and an email list. But who else do you have around you? What groups can you tap in that kind of thing? I think that's really important and it can be extremely helpful when you go and launch that first online course and you can actually have a really successful launch, just kind of tapping into these people right Now. When it comes to audience growth, one thing that I really want to point out is that growing your audience isn't kind of a never-ending part of this business model. Yes, it is important. It's always going to be important, even if you already have a decent sized audience. It's not something that you just stop one day and never keep doing. It's something you need to focus on forever. With an online course business model, however, at what point are you going to say my audience is big enough, now it's time to launch that course. Is it going to be 300 people? Is it going to be a thousand people? Is it going to be three thousand people? And what's gonna happen when you get to that number and you still don't feel quite ready to launch? Now, I have seen this a lot. Where do you actually draw the line? It can be a full time job to just focus on audience building and still never feeling like you've got it sorted to launch. It can go on forever. So audience growth can be never ending. So when is enough enough, and when are you gonna launch that course? So instead, this is what I recommend that you do I want you to grow your audience and launch your course all at the same time. In fact, I want you to do them together. So how do you do that? Start with running a free launch event, and by that I mean a webinar, a master class, a free workshop, a challenge, a boot camp, a virtual conference, a summit any of those things. Get people to sign up to that launch event in exchange for what you're going to provide to them for free. Now this is the audience growth part, and it's a really solid way to attract people into your world in a short space of time, because there's urgency added, because there's a start date, or, if it's a webinar, there's a particular date that it's happening. Okay. Now the beauty of this is that, within a few days, they will get a ton of value. They will build a deeper level of trust with you and you will have the opportunity to actually showcase your authority and what you know on the topic. This is how you build relationships really, really fast, and then, at the end of that free launch event, you can sell your offer, your online course. So this strategy is by far the best option when you do both at once, because you're building trust, authority and relationships very quickly. You can tap into those around you the first time you do this. Like I said before, that existing network, it doesn't necessarily have to be an online audience. The other bonus is that there's a reason for people to get in your world, like there's actually a reason that really benefits them to sign up for this thing and get that value from you. And the beauty of this is that you can test your offer out within a very short period of time, rather than thinking of different ways. Like I always say, the true way to validate your course is to get people to pay for it, and this is how you validate your course very, very quickly. So this is going to give you that vital feedback you need in terms of validating that course and hopefully you will start to make some revenue back from that online course offer straight away. Now this is the win-win. So, when it comes to whether to grow your audience first or launch your course, it's not an either or it's both at the same time. The two complement each other. Yes, audience growth is important, but so is making money. So get out there, start running these free launch events and start launching your course. Thanks so much for listening today. I hope you learned a thing or two and you're ready to take action.

Have a great week and I'll see you in the next episode.

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