How to Increase Your Online Course Sales From ONE Piece of Content from Sarah Cordiner
This article was originally published on 17th July 2016 and has been one of my most popular articles since. So it felt appropriate to give it a freshen up, update and republish on 17th July 2019!
An online course creator’s first challenge is to create an online course.
After creating an online course, the next major task is to attract and retain paying students. There are endless ways to promote, market and sell your online course, get more students enrolling in your courses and to make your online course go global. I mention over 10 ways to get more paying students in my article “insert”.
**Note: I also have a top-rated online course “How to market, promote and sell your online course”
In this article I am going to share with you how you can promote, market and sell more of your online courses using content marketing – but specifically, how to get the maximum use out of just ONE piece of content by getting it to work for you over and over again, in many different formats, over a long period of time.
Essentially, I am going to show you how to produce a year’s worth of content to promote your online course, from one single piece of content – such as a simple 2-minute video!
Watch my video on “How To Create Tonnes of Content To Sell Your Online Courses”
I produce a lot of content, with hundreds of blog articles, hundreds of videos on YouTube, 7 published books, over 50+ online courses, thousands of historic posts on social media and much more. I don’t produce all of this content because I like working hard, I produce all of this content because I love it when stuff works hard for me.
And from my own personal experience, online content is the business investment that just keeps on returning – over and over again.
The best bit – it doesn’t have to be hard to produce a lifetime worth of attention-grabbing, income-generating content!
I often see new online course creators posting in social media groups for Edupreneurs and course creators with the ever familiar sentence: “So, I’ve just finished my course, how do I get my first sales?”
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 course creators 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 profitable business model, 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 online course marketing involves the strategically engineered juggling of many different components.
The top online course creators 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 havn’t done this yet, don’t panic – it’s never too late to start.
In this article, I am going to show you the simplest and most effective way to get started in producing lots of evergreen content to keep your online course continuously in the eyes and minds of your most perfect paying online course students.
Giving is Receiving
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. I call it, Edupreneurship – which is all about educating your market for commercial purposes.
Your audience needs 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 gets you exposure; and educational content gets you paying customers. It’s as simple as that.
So, the sustainable answer to the question of ‘how to sell an online course’, is ‘create lots and lots of educational content in your topic area and make sure it is everywhere that your target audience are likely to stumble upon it’.
We cannot create a business, or create online courses and then expect our customers to come looking for it. We have to present it to them, frequently, and in as helpful a way as possible if we are going to win their business.
‘You mean I have to create even more stuff?’ I hear you scream!
In short, yes. BUT, if you have created an online course, then 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.
There are many other components that you can add to this, as this is by no means an exhaustive list of course marketing methods – I go through lots more in my online course marketing course.
Here are 12 ways to dramatically increase your online course sales and get more paying students in your online course from just one online course video:
Pick your most popular video
First, you want to pick a piece of content that you’ve created that is the most popular. I’d recommend your most popular video. This could be a Livestream video that you posted on social media, one of your online course videos, or a video that you have on YouTube.
To determine if they are popular or not, you want to look at the number of views, shares and comments they have; whether they are watched to the end; your YouTube analytics (go to your YouTube channel > video studio > analytics > top videos) and also your Google Analytics to find your most popular videos.
How to find your most popular videos on YouTube:
Publicly publish a selection of your online course 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 course 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.
You can ‘schedule’ your videos to publish on YouTube over a period of time and I would highly recommend you spread out your posting on YouTube.
If you don’t, your videos will all go out at once and spam all of your subscribers. Also, YouTube favours channels that post content regularly, rather than sporadically.
To schedule video publishing on YouTube, simply press upload a video, and instead of ‘publish now’, select a date and time that you’d like it to be published and it will go out automatically at that time.
To get the best results as a ‘Edupreneur’, you want your videos (and other content) to come up as search results when your potential students type in their questions to the search engines.
To ensure that this happens, I title my YouTube videos as often as possible with the question they are most likely to type into Google – eg, your public videos as far as possible should be titled “How To xxx” or an equivalent.
I also add my website URL to my videos, or the URL to my online course academy, so that if my public videos get shared by other people (hopefully that happens!) then my website and online school is being promoted to new audiences at all times.
Ensure that your video title and the 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 online course in the video description – after all, the whole point of this exercise is to promote your online course!
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.
Transcribe your videos
A great way to duplicate your content in many formats, is to transcribe your online course videos or how-to videos so that you also have them in written form, and can enable closed captions.
Send your short videos to a transcriber so that your video content can be turned into text. You can do this in a number of ways, but my favourite (because it is the quickest) is to use the online tool ‘Rev.com’.
The second best thing about this service is that not only does it send you the text transcript of your videos, it also sends you the closed caption file formats so that you can add closed captions to the original video on YouTube, social media and other platforms you may have it hosted on.
When over 85% of Facebook videos are watched with the sound OFF, closed captions are critical if you want your video to get noticed.
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.
Edit the transcription into a long form blog post.
This very article was originally a 2 minute video from one of my courses “How To Market, promote and Sell Your Online Course”.
After transcribing the tutorial video, 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 bullet points and further explanations.
I find this method of turning tip videos into articles really helps me overcome writers block too, since it gives me a ‘starting point’ to work with instead of facing a blank page.
Send the edited transcription to your mailing list
Email marketing is a great way to increase your online course sales, as the chances are that your subscribers already know, like and trust you to some degree – they wouldn’t have chosen to join your mailing list of they didn’t!
Sending your email contacts 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.
Edit the transcription into short form social media text posts
A recent study showed that social media continues to be one fo the most popular ways for people to discover content and people that they want to follow (and buy from).
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 appropriate content sharing and advanced search and targeting on LinkedIn, I have grown a connection base of over 28,000 professionals with job titles who are mostly my target audience. On Facebook, I have joined numerous groups where my audience hang out and regularly help people by answering their questions and providing free advice. 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 video 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.
I find that I can normally get a good 20+ social media posts by extracting excepts and snippets from one single blog post.
Create infographics and images
Another strategy I have used that has worked well, is to lift one-sentence helpful hints and tips that come out of my video transcripts, and create social media images with the tips (and my web URL) on.
Visual images can attract the attention of social media users more than plain text.
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).
You can use great image creation tools such as Canva to make eye-catching images for your social media accounts.
If your video teaches a process, procedure or model, you could also create an infographic or diagram, which are very popular. Again, make sure your web URL or online course URL are on these, as the idea is that people will share them!
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 tools and 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.
Alternatively you can create a Podcast using the audio extraction of your training videos. Even more platforms, no extra work!
Add your long form article to LinkedIn
I joined LinkedIn over 8 years ago when it wasn’t much more than a place to share a glorified version of your resume, however it has continued to assist in me developing powerful relationships and has resulted in many lucrative contracts – including the personal development training contract with a national bank for 2 years!
LinkedIn now has over 500 million members and is where Fortune 500 and ASX listed executives and decision makers hang out. Even if your target audience isn’t corporates, millions of business owners, speakers, and suppliers call LinkedIn ‘home’ too.
LinkedIn allows you to post ‘posts’ (like a post on Facebook for example), as well as ‘Articles’ (like blogs which ‘live’ on your LinkedIn profile).
Publishing your content as an article on LinkedIn is another great way to get lots of additional exposure that you wouldn’t otherwise have got and can lead to course sales and more.
Include your original video in the article too. 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 and how I can help them.
Submit a guest article to industry blogs and magazines
Publishing blog articles on your own website and social media accounts is one way to get lots of traffic to your site and new prospective customers discovering you through online searches. However, when you get published by bloggers and magazines with their own already established membership of readers, you get directly into the eyes of potentially hundreds of thousands of people.
Find online blogs and magazines in your industry and submit your article to them as a guest post.
Many online blogs and magazines need regular, quality content and are often willing to post your content on their sites if it is generous, helpful and informative.
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.
How to find magazines and bloggers to write for:
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].
For example, if your audience are likely to be reading blogs and magazines about ‘marketing’, then you will want to write articles for marketing bloggers. So here is what you would type into Google to find a list of bloggers that accept guest articles in that niche:
I have created a massive Google sheet from the results and send out an editorial version of my video-come-articles whenever I produce one, and very often get published.
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.
Turn your long form articles into published books
Ever wanted to become a published author? As soon as you have created an online course, you have created all of the content for a book! With a bit of extra writing and some great editing, your transcriptions can be turned into published books.
With billions of Amazon users, this is another great way to make a marketplace work for you and find you new customers and students for your online courses.
I have now published 7 books, 5 of which have made it to number 1 best sellers in their categories. With very little effort, I get a cheque sent to me from Amazon once a month, and on top of that a trickle of new clients who have taken up the free offer that I put on the front inside page of every one of my books for a free online course.
It’s a no-brainer for every expert!
Following my success in writing and self-publishing 5 number 1 best selling books, I have an online course on ‘How To Write and Self-Publish Your Own Best-Selling Print book and eBook’ which you can access on the free trial of my academy.
Share all of the above products on all social media platforms
Now you have multiple pieces of content in multiple formats, it’s time to get it out there as much as possible.
But, this doesn’t have to be hard either! There are lots of free and cheap tools out there that automatically publish your content to social media for you – whether it is videos, links, articles, images and more. You simply load all of your content into the software, and BOOM, it’s set and forget – your content is published for you.
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.
I also use Missinglettr to create automatically generated and auto-published promotional content for my blog articles – which keeps my articles on promotional campaigns for up to 12months without me having to do a thing!
So there you have it. From ONE short video of just a couple of minutes long, you can create TONNES of content to market, promote and sell your online courses.
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 for your online courses that you can start implementing today – all in my courses in my Edupreneur Academy – which you can get on a 30 DAY FREE TRIAL 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.
Author: Sarah Cordiner
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