The Benefits of Selling Your Wellness Course Before it’s Launched

June 04, 2024

What’s the last thing you pre-ordered before it was officially released?

A video game for your kid? The next book from your favorite author? The latest iPad? 

Most of these items went on pre-sale before they were officially finished and ready for release. You should do the same with your course, too.

After all, any seasoned creator will tell you that the journey from idea to launch isn’t a straight line. It’s a process, a back-and-forth dance between brainstorming, validation, creation, and refinement. So, you should sell earlier than you think to test your ideas before investing in a full launch.

This blog will delve deep into this process, starting with an idea and ending with a polished, market-ready product. To help you along the way, you’ll learn from expert Michelle Leotta, founder of Health Coach Power and Business Coach, from her talk at our previous Programs Summit event.

Let’s get started promoting and then building your course. Yes, in that order. 

Validate your program ideas early

Imagine you’ve come up with a great idea for an online course. 

You fall in love with building a program around that idea. 

You assume that because you love the idea, everyone else will, too. 

It’s tempting to skip idea validation, but it’s in your best interest to resist. 

Instead, take out a sticky note and a Sharpie and write this down: I am not my ideal customer. After you’re done, post the note somewhere you will keep sight of it.

Your ideal customers – the people who will open their wallets to pay for your program – aren’t in the same headspace as you. It’s critical to consider the unique value your potential program can offer these ideal customers relative to the other alternatives in their minds.

Ask yourself what your clients are doing

These alternatives can include doing their research, following “experts” on social media, and – let’s face it – doing absolutely nothing. Many people will live with their status quo if it’s not too uncomfortable or there’s low urgency to change. Remember: inertia also refers to a body at rest and staying at rest. 

“These are everyday people you’re trying to reach,” says Michelle. “Your opinion of your course doesn’t matter. You have to step out of your practitioner head and into theirs to validate your course idea before you do anything else.”

“Your opinion of your course doesn’t matter. You have to step out of your practitioner head and into theirs to validate your course idea before you do anything else.”

Michelle Leotta

We’ve previously written extensively about niching down and validating your program idea. You can find a step-by-step guide over here

The beauty of failing fast

If there is a lack of interest in your program during the validation phase, it can be tempting to take it personally. Michelle suggests an alternate mindset. 

“If the market doesn’t seem to be there for your program idea, that’s valuable information,” she says. “It’s just data and you should be happy to learn it now before you build out all the materials and spend time creating a program that nobody will buy. If you’re going to fail, you want to do it fast.” 

Sell before you build

Michelle says that pre-selling your online course is the final validation step. “As long as you know who the course is for, what problem it’s going to help them solve, and a general outline of what you plan to cover, you’re good to go,” she says. “You can start making money on that idea tomorrow.”

“As long as you know who the course is for, what problem it’s going to help them solve, and a general outline of what you plan to cover, you’re good to go. You can start making money on that idea tomorrow.”

Michelle Leotta

Are you a little worried nobody will pay for a program that doesn’t exist yet? Don’t be! It happens all the time in other industries. 

  • Exploding Kittens founders sought to raise $10K through Kickstarter to build out their game idea. They ended up raising $8.7M in 30 days from 219,000 backers who invested based on their belief that it would (eventually) be awesome. 
  • Curated subscription services, like Birchbox, also operate on a hurry-up-and-wait model. Customers pay upfront for a monthly box of beauty items, even though they aren’t sure of the exact contents until the box arrives. 

There are many more examples, from concert tickets to luxury bags. The point is that many people will pay for the promise of a future product they’ll love. And once you have their votes of confidence with pre-payment, it’s time to start building your Minimum Viable Product, or MVP. 

Good enough is a great place to start

Your first kick at the program will be rough around the edges. Your program shouldn’t have inaccurate information, but it might have a typo or two or be missing an image. And your first-in customers will be okay with this approach because of your price point and positioning.

“I want you to make it a no-brainer price. I want you to make it something that sounds ridiculously good – I would recommend at least 50% off what you intend to eventually charge,” says Michelle. “Then be transparent about it. Tell people it will eventually sell for $1000, but they’re getting in at $300. Tell them how much you value their input as founding members and they can expect excellent support and help from you.” 

“I want you to make it a no-brainer price. I want you to make it something that sounds ridiculously good – I would recommend at least 50% off what you intend to eventually charge,”

Michelle Leotta

Your beta program still delivers excellent value

People love a bargain when they perceive the offer as high value, so this reduced price should entice sign-ups. If it doesn’t, it’s a signal that warrants your attention. The problem your program helps to solve either isn’t something they care enough about to pay for or they don’t understand the value. 

Note that Michelle doesn’t recommend charging $0 for your beta course because when people have no skin in the game, they’re less likely to actively participate. 

Build quickly but thoughtfully 

Once clients commit, you should build your first course in the easiest way possible. 

“Other course creators can spend tens of thousands of dollars hiring a video production and editing team and having designers do all the graphics and handouts for the course,” says Michelle. “I want you to start by spending as little as possible and earning right away because you can always make it better.”

“I want you to start by spending as little as possible and earning right away because you can always make it better.” 

Michelle Leotta

You need to make some preliminary decisions about the format for your beta participants. For example, imagine a pelvic floor physiotherapist working on a course to help women control urinary incontinence through diet, relaxation techniques, and strengthening exercises. It might not be appropriate to include a group component. Given the private nature of the issue, some participants may prefer to remain anonymous. 

Tracking client progress through your program 

Before investing the time, energy, and budget to build a professional-grade program, ensure you understand the experiences and impressions of your first group of beta testers. 

  • Learn what they like most about the program. Conversely, what could they live without? Is there anything they wish it included? 
  • Get insights on how it flows. Where do participants need clarification? Is anything broken in the program you need to fix before launch? 
  • Now is a great time to gather testimonials you can use for future marketing efforts. 

Ideally, you’re running your beta program as a fixed-date program with a single cohort that progresses through together. The Module Enrollment Summary report allows you to view individual client progress breakdown by module:

An example of a Module Enrollment Summary Report in Practice Better, which can help give you feedback once you sell your program before it's finalized.
An example of Module Enrollment Summary Report in Practice Better. Track your beta program’s progress to get feedback before refining and launching the polished program.
  • If you have daily modules, the goal is for clients to get through the content in that module in about a day. 
  • If it takes somebody much longer than that to work through the content, it might indicate that you need to make a change. 
  • Conversely, if a client is getting through your weekly modules in a day, that might indicate that you need to add more complexity or coaching support to your program.
  • Collecting direct client feedback with mid-point check-ins can round out the data picture presented through reports. 

This is just the tip of the functionality iceberg. For a detailed breakdown of how you can use Practice Better to track the progress of your program participants, check out the on-demand video featuring Practice Better Success Coach Brittany Andrejcin. 

Sell and create your course with confidence and style

Knowing your ideal customer’s needs is paramount when selling and creating your online course. Let their feedback be your guiding star. With the right tools, you can track your course’s progress, ensuring that it evolves into a product that is both loved and needed. So, remember these tips, get started on your course creation journey, and watch as your idea transforms into a reality that educates, enlightens, and empowers.

For more expert-led sessions on creating your online course, check out Programs Summit’s replays.

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