12 ways to market and sell your online course

So many course creators think that creating the course is the end of their efforts. But, unfortunately, courses don’t sell themselves. Discover 12 ways you can market and sell your online course.

The brutal truth about online courses, is that the amount of money and impact you make, is in direct proportion to how much marketing you do.

You put so much effort into creating your courses, and you want your students to come out of your programs feeling like their life has been changed in a positive way.

But you can’t do that if there’s no one going into it in the first place.

12 ways to market and sell your online course

Marketing is something that never stops and requires constant effort applied to it. In this article, course expert Sarah Cordiner shares the 12 methods she personally uses constantly to market and promote her own online courses.

They’re strategies that you can implement right now – without spending any money on paid ads – so NO excuses to get started!

Marketing vs promoting

There are two main ways of sharing your online courses with the world, in marketing and promoting. I often hear people say, which one should I be using? And the answer is both of these strategies strategically. However, in this blog post I’m only talking about the free organic content marketing method. 

This particular method is a much slower, much harder work, much longer-term strategy for course creators to use. So, why would you use it? The answer is, because this method is all about creating authority-based content.

It’s about producing content, and putting it out on the internet in a way that your customers can find you. It’s all about putting out this trip wires, so to speak. Where your audience will come across your work naturally, organically, by chance, through their everyday searching and scrolling and googling and YouTubing. This is where people are looking specifically for you. And it’s your content that comes up in their search results. 

I like to think of content a little bit like a spider’s web. Every time you produce one single piece of content, whether it’s a social media post, or a blog article, or a YouTube video or a live stream, or appear on a podcast, or go on a summit of some kind, you are adding another ring to that spider’s web with every single piece of content.

And what happens is, over time then, your area of capture grows and grows and grows. The more rings on that spider’s web, the more things you’re going to capture. And the great thing is, that web just gets bigger and bigger and bigger over time. And that’s your goal when it comes to using the strategies I’m going to share with you today. 

So here we go! I’m going to share this next 12 tips with you as if you have produced just one single online course video. So, imagine you have one single video that you have recorded for your online course, it might have been just a two-minute tip video where you delivered one simple tip.

1) Publish course videos on Youtube

You’ve got your online course videos and I recommend that the first thing you do is take a selection of the videos from your online course and publish them on YouTube.

What I tend to do is take anything from 10% to 35-40%, and I know that sounds like a lot, but go with me. I go over to YouTube and I schedule a video to release one by one, over a period of time.

The most important thing here is that in the description of your video on YouTube, you say something like ‘this is an extract of my online course, which you can get here’. And then obviously, you stick in the link to your online course so people can find it. 

The other way to make sure that people can find where to go and buy your course from, is to then also go into the comment section of your YouTube video and put the same comment in there.

On the right-hand side of your comment, there’s a tiny little dots you can click on, and just press ‘pin comment’. It will just make sure that that comment is right at the very very top of all of the comments on your video. 

2) Transcribe your videos

Moving on to tip number two. So, the second thing I then do with my videos, is I get them transcribed. What I use is a tool called Rev.com. You simply go into Rev, connect it to your YouTube account, select the videos that you want the transcription and the closed captions for.

It is a paid service, but for me, when you see all the things that we’re going to do with it next, it’s well worth that little bit of an expense. If you don’t have that money, as I said, this is about free strategies as best as possible, you can obviously transcribe those videos yourself if you are on a budget. 

With that transcription, you can improve your course in two ways. You add subtitles, and you add the transcript. Both are really helpful for those who might be hard of hearing or what to see the text, a lot of people watch online courses with the sound off. So, now we’ve already improved our courses, as well as increasing our marketing efforts. 

3) Create a blog post from the transcript

Tip number three is we’re now going to take that text transcription we’ve got and turn it into a blog post. Because the whole purpose of that post is to demonstrate your credibility in particular area. And in some way, then promote a product or a service that you’re offering.

So, all of your blog articles should be serving the purpose of pointing people towards your products and services. That’s why you do them. And of course, on top of that, they are adding rings to that spider’s web to capture more people. 

4) Use your email list

If you have an email list, fantastic! All you’re going to do is copy and paste that blog article and send it out to your email list. Simple as that. So you can then build up this relationship of your email list.

Maybe it’s just your list that you offer the discount for the course too, as a thanks and a benefit to being one of your subscribers. But this is another fantastic way now to keep that list warm, to engage with them, to provide them with helpful content and again, remind them that there is a course along the lines of that video content that they can go and buy. 

5) Social media text posts and tip cards

So you’ve now got this blog post that you’ve created from the transcript of one single video. And now, what I like to do, is I print out my blog post and I prop myself a highlighter pen and I just highlight some of the little sentences that I think are nice on their own, that work really well by themselves. And then I simply schedule them as social media text post. 

Then I load them into some auto-posting software. There’s lots out there. Personally, the one I use is Buffer, but there are loads of other different social media auto-posting softwares that you can use.

I just take those little snippets of text from my blog articles and I pop them into that social media posting software, and I have a few month’s worth of social media, just basically ready to pop out. 

The next tip  that I use to increase the exposure of my online courses and just create engagement, conversation, people liking and commenting and following, is to then take some little snippets from your blog article that came from the transcript of your video and turn them into social media tip cards.

Now, I like these to be more than just some inspirational quotes. It’s more powerful if you are educating people, if you are looking to share yourself as an expert. That you’re providing tips, you’re providing information as much as you possibly can to prove that you know what you know, so that people can then be more convinced to go by your course. 

6) Use the audio from your video

All right, number seven is: we’re thinking about different learning styles! People like to see, people like to watch, people like to listen. So what we’re going to do now, is we’re going to take out the video and extract the audio from it only. So, a video is an MP4 file, you’re going to simply want to save as MP3 file and that gives you the audio. 

So now, we can again, up level our courses here. All we need to do now is to go back into our online course and we can add the audio files to our courses. And the other cool thing is, now you’ve got the MP3 file, you can do lots of other stuff with it as well.

Perhaps, you want to start your own podcast. But you kind of go ‘ah, I don’t know what kind of content to create’. Go and create a podcast, upload the MP3 file, voila, you have an episode. 

You can also submit audio files to online radio sites. A lot of online radio sites are free or very cheap to sign up to and allow you to create your own radio show. So you can have that going on as well as a podcast. Remember, every single thing is an add to that spider’s web ring. 

7) Post on Linkedin

Tip number eight is to go back to the article that you created from the transcript from your video and go and publish it on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms out there. It currently has over 300 million users. It is a fantastic place to get yourself in front of key decision makers, influencers, lots of your target audience are likely to be on there, regardless of what industry or niche that you’re in.

If you’re not putting content on these platforms, you simply are missing out on an opportunity. I mean, even if you publish on these and got one student, that’s one more student than you have right now. 

The interesting part is that you can create a published article on LinkedIn. So not only can you post like you would post on social media, but you can actually write an article.

That article is then published on the LinkedIn platform, and it gives you the opportunity to then share that LinkedIn article into LinkedIn groups. Some of which are hundreds of thousands of members strong. So it’s again, a really powerful place for you to be. 

8) Guest article on other people’s blogs

Tip number nine, is you’re going to take your blog article and submit it as a guest article to other people’s blogs. Other people have spent years building up their own audience, and there’s huge online magazines, online bloggers out there who have a massed audiences and readership basis of tens, hundreds and thousands, some even millions.

What you can do is request to be a guest contributor. You can submit your article and most of these platforms will then basically link back to your website or a link that you provide them. 

Not to mention, you then basically earn yourself bragging rights. You take those logos of those big publications. And on your website, you put your name, as seen and in, and you can put these logos of those major publications and link them back to that article in that publication to prove that it’s true. And voila, credibility just goes poof! 

9) Publish a book

Hands up who wants to be a published author in 2020? It is a fantastic strategy to really lift your credibility. I don’t know why, but the second you have the word author after your name, your credibility just goes higher.

This is when suddenly, podcasters are interested in interviewing you, it’s when conferences want you to help you on their stage as speaking. So it can be extremely powerful!

Not to mention, as soon as you put your content on another platform, where there are millions of shoppers, you automatically open up the opportunity to obviously be seen more, get found more and make more money. 

What you can simply do is after you have done this with one, two, three, four, five, six, lots more videos, you’re going to have loads and loads of blog articles. I waited until I’ve done this with about 50, 60 videos, and I had about 50, 60 blog posts. Well now, you have the content for a book!

10) Get speaking gigs

Okay, right, so tip number 11 to get in front of even more people to get your course in the hands of even more people, is you want to now start doing some speaking. I really did build my business by volunteering my time to speak at conferences for free.

When other speakers were charging money, I spoke at summits and do live streams in other people’s Facebook groups for free. Because there is again, a collective audience that somebody else has done all the work to build and pull together and you now get basically turn up, show that you’re the expert in something. 

11) Speak on podcasts

Now, tip number 12, this is the last tip I’m going to give today. Speaking on podcast. Go on to Google and type in something like ‘the top 10 podcast in your niche’ or ‘the top 10 podcast for type of individual’ and it will come up with all of these lists of podcasts that are out there.

Reach out to that podcaster and offer that podcast for the opportunity to make affiliate commission from any sales from your online course. That incentivizes them, not only are they getting free content, they’re also going to make money from you as well. That’s the best way for these people to accept you. 

Now the great thing about podcasts is that you keep getting found over and over again. Every single time that podcast releases a new episode and gets more followers, their followers and listeners will often go through and listen to every episode that’s on the podcast.

So it’s amazing actually how long this method will come back and work for you, because you’re usually allowed to promote something at the end. 

12) Get a VA

And now, I’m telepathically hearing people going ‘But Sarah, I barely have time to scratch my butt. How on earth am I going to do all this stuff?’ Well, here is where my final tip comes in and the answer is: you don’t have to do any of that at all. You can actually get someone help you do all of this stuff.

What I would recommend that you do is you just focus on recording a video. Just the video. That’s it at the beginning. Then, go and get yourself a virtual assistant, and they’ll do all the rest for you. 

You’re the one that gets the benefit from basically doing a two-minute video at the very very beginning and then all of the rest can be put on autopilot and boom! Your empire now grows, your student numbers massively increase and you have yourself a very profitable online course and that is the end.

After 10 years of being in this industry, and being post-graduate qualified in teacher training and curriculum design, Sarah Cordiner has created a suite of online courses tailored specifically for online course creators that include ALL of the above essential learning criteria and more.

Photo by Christin Hume