how to launch your ecourse to a small list of subscribers on a budget

In the online business world everyone talks about list size. Like many things in life the bigger your list size… the better!

But what if you’re starting out with nothing? What if you’re trying everything to get people on to your list; you’re blogging, you’re Facebooking, you’re Pinning and Instagramming and Periscoping… but your list just isn’t growing?

Let me tell you this little nugget of embarrassment for me, but inspiration for you. I am horrible at list growth. I am a lazy marketer when it comes to free activities that build a list. I want to be better. I just don’t do anything to be better. I should fix that.

Why this is GOOD news for you!

I am living breathing proof that a big list isn’t necessary, it is a “nice to have” for sure, but not a deal breaker. I launched Create Your First Online Course to 512 people who had probably never heard of me before. To get those people I ran Facebook ads that cost me $1,354. I sold 24 course at $497. My total sales were $11,928 with $10,571 in profit.

My Launch Stats

My online course launch statistics the profit lovers create your first online course

I had the $1,354 to risk on ads, you might not and that is ok! In fact I would suggest you test your course idea with less. I used $100 of my $1,354 budget to test if people were even interested in my opt in. When people were signing up thick and fast I knew I had the right lead magnet (freebie download) and the right target audience using Facebook Ads.

I was confident that at the very least I would break even by selling 3 courses. If I didn’t sell anything more than that I had grown my list by a whopping 512 people anyway. Of course there was a chance I would sell nothing, however part way through my launch series I had people already asking when they could purchase so I was confident I would make sales.

You don’t need a huge list. I didn’t have one to start with and I don’t have one now. You can grow your list and increase your income at the same time. I spoke with someone a few months ago who said she had been told not to launch her course until she had 1000 subscribers. She had no idea how to get there, she had 67 people sitting on her list after blogging her heart out for 12 months. How soul crushing is that! I give her kudos for not giving in. I shared my story with her and she bit the bullet and launched to just 67 people.

High conversion, small list

You might think there is no chance she made a sales with just 67 people, but she did! She sold 7 course memberships at $297 giving her total sales of $2,079. She then took $500 of that and used Facebook Ads to grow her list by another 150 people. The next time she launched she had over 200 people on her list and sold 11 course memberships bringing in $3,267.

The rule of thumb is that you should convert 1% of the people who land on your sales page. So how did just 67 people result in 7 sales? Small well loved lists of people who follow all that you do often have much better conversion rates than big lists. Often they love what you do and can’t wait to purchase that first thing that you offer, they will jump at the chance to get their hands on your first product. A word of warning is that you do need to keep growing your list so you have fresh prospects entering all continuously. You don’t want to reach a point where you have exhausted your list.

My list growth vs sales

The key here is that you need to be nurturing your list. Many business owners in both the online and offline world are too scared to send out emails in case they get it wrong, so they do nothing. They also fear the un-subscribers, they don’t want to risk losing anyone. The results is a list that goes cold. People forget about who you are and why they signed up. Often they will have found a solution elsewhere, so someone else made the sale. You will have missed out.

Grow your list or create your course?

My suggestion will always be to create a high value opt in that you think your potential members will get value from. Run some low cost ads and see what response you get. If you get a good response then keep that ad running while you pull the first module of your course together then test out a small launch. You can then drip feed the rest of the course so you can create as you go. Nothing’s as motivating as paid up members wanting their next chunk of content (just remember you MUST deliver what people have paid for). Most of my courses have been created this way.

The cost of waiting for the magic 1000 subscribers

the cost of waiting to launch your online course

It took me one year to surpass 1000 people on the Create Your First Online Course list. I was slowly adding people but others were dropping off almost as fast so it felt like I was never going to crack the golden four figures. I still made just short of $50,000 with a list of under 1000. Had I have waited I would have missed out on that cash flow. Maybe I would have had a super dooper launch with 100 people all purchasing at once. It sure would have looked amazing for my marketing. I could be using “I made $50,000 during my first launch!” all over my sales pages. It sounds so much more impressive than $50,000 in 12 months right? The fact is that I needed to pay my bills, and I was ecstatic to make that amount over 12 months. That is HUGE amount of money and I did it with very little risk because I followed 7 important steps.

The steps matter, don’t skip the most important one!

If you want to launch to a small list make sure you have the steps in the correct order, you must test your course idea out first with a simple opt in. This will ensure you don’t build an entire course that no one wants to purchase. As soon as you see a positive response to your opt in offer you can get started on your course content. If people love your opt in offer and open your emails each week to read, watch or listen to your content then taking the next step to selling content is much easier.