$7,755 and counting... sweet & sticky take-aways from my first copywriting course launch.
Exactly seventy days ago, I launched my very first copywriting course.
From a sales standpoint, it has lived up to its lovely (but oh so lengthy) title… How to write words that sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the Hottest Day of the year.
It was a complete blast to both create and sell.
So much so, that I thought I’d write an in-depth article on how I pulled the son-of-a-bitch off, that way other people with creative things they dream to create and sell can have a blast, too.
So, here’s how I did it.
Let’s start at the beginning (long before there ever was a copywriting course).
I had just graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in marketing and was roughly one month in at a small advertising agency in my hometown when I realized I was a shit employee (and that I could make a lot more money on my own).
So, I quit the gig and decided to pursue my marketing and writing passions as a lone rider.
For the sake of time, we are going to fast-forward here –– I’m twenty-five now, it’s been exactly two years since I went rogue and today I run a one-person creative writing shop called Honey Copy that grows badass brands with pretty words.
But, today, we’re going to focus strictly on how I created and launched my copywriting course…
Though, before we get to that little bit, let me pull a Simon Sinek on you and tell you "Why?”
Why I decided to launch a copywriting course.
If you run a service business you eventually stumble into a nasty thorny smelly dilemma –– scaling. Unlike product-based businesses, like condom makers, service-based businesses have to trade time for money.
In other words, I can’t just design and manufacture a condom once and then market the hell out of them.
I, instead, have to show up personally and trade my time for money, every time I make a sale at Honey Copy.
So, to grow, I had two choices –– I could either hire more writers or create a product to sell in addition to my services.
I explain why I’ve chosen not to hire writers in this article.
But, long story short, the brands who work with me want to work with me (not my name on another writer’s work). Not to mention, I just fucking adore writing pretty words for brands.
So, I decided to do something bat shit crazy, create and sell a copywriting course. Here is, step by step, how the whole damn thing went down…
Step One… I built a very modest (but powerful) email list.
When most aspiring entrepreneurs, marketers, freelancers and snow cone vendors hear the words “email list” they think of an impossible unreachable number –– like 100,000 subscribers.
Internet marketers are constantly boasting about their fat lists with tens of thousands of subscribers and this creates the misconception in the rest of us that the only way you can make money online is if you have an audience the size of a small city.
This is bullshit.
I know it’s bullshit because, over the past seventy days, I’ve sold approximately 119 of my copywriting courses accumulating $7,755 in revenue (which I keep 97% of).
At the time of launch, my email list consisted of about 2,000 people (I kind of hate the term subscribers).
What these big internet marketers don’t tell you is that the average email open rate across all industries is 20% and for big bulky lists it’s usually far less than this.
In addition, when these internet marketers boast about massive million dollar launches, they often times aren’t even keeping 25% of the revenue –– most of the money is going to affiliates, employees and agencies they’re partnering with.
Knowing this, you realize it’s possible to make a nice chunk of change if you build a more engaged email list and keep your expenses extremely low on the course you create.
For the past year, I’ve been running a killer marketing newsletter called Sticky Notes. I send it out once a week to my small list and it averages anywhere between 45% - 50% open rates.
I think this loyalty stems from me consistently sending out a free (and extremely valuable) email to my Sticky Notes email list each week. I invest about 5 hours in each email I send out… here, here and here are examples of these little gems.
Step Two… Through my freelancing and weekly emailing, I established a very clear need.
At the time when I was just starting to think about a copywriting course, the service side of Honey Copy was growing hand over first.
Two lovely things were happening to spark this growth spurt –– I was developing as a writer and brands were starting to hear about the tiny but mighty creative writing shop.
As demand increased, so did my prices. And, unfortunately, I found myself turning down lots of brands (specifically startups) who didn’t have the budget to work with me.
While I knew this was necessary to grow, it bothered me because I loved (and still love) small brands who care about pretty words. So, I decided to create a cheaper way for brands to write better copy on their own.
This idea essentially birthed my copywriting course (or guide rather), How to write words that sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the Hottest Day of the year.
But, before I started designing it, I spied on my competitors.
Step Three… I did some reconnaissance on my competitor’s copywriting courses.
Like most online courses, there’s quite a bit of competition in the world of copywriting courses.
So, before I started designing my course, I looked at a few competitors offering copywriting courses who I very much respected.
I saw some major gaps and quickly realized there was room for a high-quality more creative focused copywriting course at a more affordable price.
While most copywriting courses priced themselves at $500+, I knew I could create a competitive advantage by pricing myself at just $97 and that’s exactly what I did.
Step Four… while creating the course I kept it super simple and decided to host it on none other than Gumroad.
Instead of going with a traditional course hosting site like Teachable, I decided to just create the course as a webpage on my Squarespace website and made the page only accessible with a password I give to customers after they make payment.
I was pleasantly surprised to find I could create a course far more beautiful than one hosted on something like Teachable. And, not to mention, in half the time because I didn’t have to learn an entirely new platform.
In addition, I’ll add another note here. Many times, course creators think they need to design a massive course to add value to their customers. But, something like 90% of all courses go unfinished because there is so much garbage and fluff in there.
My copywriting course is short and sweet, somewhere around 10,000 words in total, but every single word serves a purpose and every single sentence unveils a copywriting gem. In designing my copywriting course, I went for quality over quantity.
And, finally, I decided to sell my course on one of my favorite platforms on the internet –– Gumroad.
I chose them for two reasons…
One, it’s ridiculously easy to set up and sell anything on there, I’m literally able to sell a link to a webpage on that platform.
Two, It’s ridiculously easy for customers to make payment, find out just how easy by buying my damn copywriting course.
Not to mention, Gumroad’s mission really resonates with me. If you have a second read this beautiful Medium piece written by Gumroad’s founder.
Step Five… I gave every single person on my list a 50% discount right off the bat.
Ever since the first breath Honey Copy took, I’ve sought to design a brand that gives customers more than they pay for.
While I had been sending out a free email to my Sticky Notes newsletter for a while, I thought the folks on my list would really appreciate me giving them a discount and early access to my copywriting course.
It turns out, they did.
In just three days I sold sixty-seven of them for approximately $3,336.80.
Yes, I’ve done the math. If I offered the course at full price I would have made nearly $7k in just three days. And, yes, I think if I would have offered the guide at full price to my list they would have bought it as ferociously because I’ve since sold just as many at the full $97 price.
But, it was my way of saying thank you, I suppose.
Step Six… I created a sales funnel of sorts to generate ongoing passive income with my copywriting course.
After the initial launch of my copywriting course, I wanted to figure out a way I could sell 3-5 of them a week on an ongoing basis.
So, I created a 5-part email sequence for new Sticky Notes Subscribers. The sequence consists of very valuable and hugely entertaining emails centered around writing, marketing and creativity and I’ve sprinkled a few soft sells in their for my copywriting course.
This email sequence has helped me achieve my goal of making 3-5 sales a week at the $97 price point.
Sweet & sticky take-aways to remember and apply when you build and launch your first course.
Okay, so that’s how I did it. And, yes, I know I just threw a lot at you. So, below I’ve put together a list of key take-aways you can apply when you build and launch your first course…
It helps tremendously if you already have an audience.
List engagement matters far more than list size.
Make your course better, price it cheaper or do both.
Size of course is not always indicative of value.
The small win is a big launch, the big win is consistent income.
On that note, be sure to build out a sales funnel.
Traditional course building sites aren’t always the answer.
In fact, just use Gumroad.
People like and appreciate discounts.
If you have any questions or need an ink-slinger for your next course launch, don’t hesitate to send me a note at email@example.com.
By Cole Schafer.
You gotta check this out –– Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.