How to plan and sell a profitable masterclass
Want to share your expertise, help people and make money? Find out how to plan and sell a profitable masterclass.
I’ve been planning and selling masterclasses for many years now, and thought I’d share some insights into what it takes to put one together and make money from it.
Why create a masterclass?
Everyone has expertise that is valuable to someone else. It could be expertise based on your qualifications and professional expertise, for example if you are a nutritionist or a solicitor.
But it can also come from personal experience in solving a problem, such as finding an easy way to navigate red tape, or teaching yourself to play a musical instrument from scratch.
Creating a masterclass is a great way to share that expertise with people who would benefit and make their lives easier. It can also earn you money and grow your reputation.
Unlike creating an entire course, a masterclass takes less time on your part to put together, and is less commitment for people to buy – they will invest less money and spend less time on it – which makes it an easier product for you to sell.
It can also make a useful ‘tripwire’ product in your product ladder. By this we mean it’s an entry level product for people who may not have bought from you before, and a good way to test the waters with you and see if they like you and think you give good value for money.
Some people who buy your masterclass may later go on to buy more significant purchases such as courses and working with you 121 or in groups.
How to come up with an idea for your masterclass
Once you have decided to create a masterclass, your first job is to come up with an idea for it. There are a few considerations to take into account when doing so:
- It needs to solve a common problem
- You need to have a clear audience for it
- You need to be able to offer expertise or advice that works
- You need to be able to offer that advice within an hour
If your masterclass contains too much information it may be better to reserve that content for a course, and instead look for a more bitesize idea, or solve a part of the problem rather than try to tackle the whole thing.
The problem you solve also needs to be painful enough that people will actually want to spend the time and money with you on the class to solve it.
To give you some examples, our masterclasses generally tend to solve specific issues that people face when starting and running businesses. Here are some popular masterclasses we have run in the past:
As you can see when you click on the links above, each class defines three important things:
- A clear audience for the class – people who want to solve this problem
- A starting point – how the problem is affecting them now
- An end point – where they will be after watching this class
When planning the idea for your masterclass, you need to be very clear about all three. Not just because it will help you sell your class later on, but because your class should be created with THIS audience in mind, and needs to take them from their starting point to their end point – in an hour or less.
(Our Webinar Masterclass takes you through the planning and creating of masterclasses in more detail.)
How to plan your masterclass
Now you know what problem you want your masterclass to solve, for who, and the journey the class will take them on, you are ready to plan your class.
I always spend at least a day planning my masterclasses. I start out with the beginning of the journey – where people are right now. And I follow the process to the end point, where they have solved the problem.
There are many ways to plan a masterclass. Usually for me I have a clear idea when I start as they are problems I myself have found solutions to in my business, so I take people through the process that has worked for me when solving it.
Sometimes I already have content I have created to help solve a problem as part of a larger course, and I can take the structure and even some content from that.
More recently, a new resource for planning content has emerged: ChatGPT. While I don’t recommend relying completely on ChatGPT (and if you have pricked a masterclass topic you know well, you won’t need to), it can help if you are stuck on where to start in planning your masterclass, or just checking you haven’t missed anything.
Speaking of which, once I have an outline of my class I research online to see what other people suggest in blogs and articles, to check I haven’t missed out any gems of knowledge or better ways to approach something. I always want my classes to be the very best resources for people who take them.
How to create your masterclass
Once you have a structure for your masterclass, it is time to create it. I use two pieces of software for this: a way to write my scripts (Pages or Word) and a way to create my slides (Google Slides, Keynote or PowerPoint).
Why write a script? I find that scripting my masterclass has several benefits:
- It reduces stress because you don’t need to think on the day – just read!
- It ensures you don’t miss anything important or make a mistake
- It stops you potentially rambling, going off topic or losing your thread
- It guarantees the quality of your class
- It gives you a resource to use afterwards
I write my script slide by slide, using a simple key to indicate when I need to change slides: //. Like this:
As I write my slides I think about what I will visually show, and build my slide deck in conjunction. I have a number of different types of slide to keep pace, deliver information and make my classes (hopefully!) visually interesting:
- Divider/section title slides
- Image slides
- Text slides
I have a set style for my slides to build brand feel and consistency. I use the same font and font size, and same background colours. I try not to put too much information on slides as they can look daunting, and lead people to read, rather than listen.
Here’s a snapshot of what my slides look like, taken from my upcoming Sales Masterclass:
I start the class by outlining what I will cover, and end it by summarising what they have learned. I also try to give actions people can take, to ensure it has value and they can feel confident in making changes.
To this end, I often try to include a workbook – as I am doing with the Sales Masterclass I have recently created. I have my workbooks professionally designed, and turned into editable PDFs. This means people can print them out and write on them if they like. Or edit and save on-screen if they prefer.
You don’t need to go to that cost/extent if you don’t wish to or have the budget. You can create a workbook in Pages or Word, add your logo to the top if you have one, and save it as a PDF. This can look absolutely fine, and is something I have done in the past.
Once you have finished your script, slides and workbook, proof read them to check for typos, and to ensure your ‘change slide’ markers are all in the right place. I proof mine several times, but even so sometimes, annoyingly, spot a typo that has slipped through the net when delivering the class!
How to sell your masterclass
There are a few more things you need in order to run and sell your masterclass, stratum with a platform to run your live class on. (If you are running your class live; you can also sell a pre-recorded class if you wish.)
There are a number of software options you can use. We use Zoom Webinar, but there are plenty of other companies who provide webinar software. You don’t need to buy it monthly – you can sign up and cancel before it renews. Some people livestream their class using YouTube or other platforms.
Wherever you host your class, you need a way for people to sign up for and access it. Here’s what we do. We use Leadpages to build sales pages for our classes and Thinkific to sign people up and take payment. Once people sign up and pay, our email marketing software, Drip, sends them an email with the link to watch the live class.
So, to break this down you need:
- A sales/sign up page
- A way to collected registration details and payment
- A way to send the link to watch the class
Some people use Eventbrite to manage this process, though be aware they will make a charge for each sale.
Once you have a sales page, you need to promote it so people can find it. If you have an existing audience – on social media and/or a mailing list – you can share it with them. And not just once; you’ll need to share information over time, explain and demonstrate how your masterclass will help them, and remind them about it so, when they are ready to buy, your sales page is front of mind.
Remember that people go through a journey or process before buying: they need to discover what you are selling exists (top of the funnel), they need to weigh up information and take the time to make a decision (middle of the funnel), and they need to be reminded or incentivised to buy (bottom of the funnel).
You need to have enough sales activity going out to nurture people through the funnel until they are ready to buy. (If you need help with sales, we recommend watching our Sales Masterclass.)
If you don’t already have an audience ready to share your masterclass with, there are a number of options for getting it in front of the right people:
- You can write guest blogs and promote it at the end
- You can try and get PR coverage for it by sending out press releases
- You can get people who have the right audience to promote it for you as affiliates
- You can partner with another brand and cross-promote each other’s offerings
- You can pay for ads on Google or social media
- You can share on social media using hashtags to help people find it
- You can promote via platforms like Eventbrite
How to run your masterclass on the day
On the day of your masterclass you need to make sure you have everything ready to go. Test you can access the software you are running it on, and print your script out well in advance. I recommend doing this at least a day before in case your printer runs out of ink or refuses to work!
The day of your masterclass, send a reminder email to everyone who has signed up, with the link. Some platforms might do this automatically for you, so check their settings.
When it is time for your masterclass, make sure you are somewhere quiet with good, reliable WiFi and have your printed script, a pen for notes and a glass of water handy. Turn your phone on silent and keep out of sight/off. The last thing you want in your class is to be distracted by calls and emails coming in!
Open up your webinar software a few minutes before the start time to allow people to enter, and check they can hear and see you. I also share my slides at this point just to check everything is working.
Remind people they can ask you questions at the end, then turn off the chat box – you don’t want that distracting you either. And, this is a big one… make sure the class is recording.
By this point you’ll have everything ready – the tech is up and running, and you have your script and slides. All you need to do is read the script and change slides!
What happens after the masterclass?
At the end of the masterclass/question time, thank everyone for attending and end the class. Your software will then process the recoding. If you have promised everyone who signed up a copy of the recording you will need to send that out, plus any other resources.
If you’ve used YouTube you can send the video as an unlisted link, which means that only people with the link can watch it. The risk here is that they may share it with others.
We upload our masterclasses now as videos directly into Thinkific, our learning platform. This means that only people who gave paid, and therefore have logins for the masterclass, can watch them. It also means we can neatly add all resources in one place.
The resources we usually include are:
- The video recording
- A copy of the class slides saved as a PDF
- The script saved as a PDF ebook (with // prompts removed)
- A class workbook
Including the masterclass as a package in this way also creates a resource we can continue to sell as an evergreen product. Or include elements from it in another courses.
This way, our masterclasses give plenty of value to our business. We sell them as live classes, as evergreen products, and as elements to add value to other courses and classes. We can also bundle them up for social offers, such as Black Friday sales.
Can you create and sell a profitable masterclass?
I hope this article has given you a helpful insight into what it takes to create and sell a profitable masterclass. You just need to:
- Come up with an idea for a masterclass
- Plan a structure/outline for your masterclass
- Create and write your masterclass
- Sell your masterclass
- Run your class and send information out afterwards
- Use your masterclass as an ongoing resource/source of income
It might seem daunting if you have never done it before, but like many things in life, it’s far less scary once you simply follow each step. And just think – how much fun could you have creating and sharing your class, and what kind of income and benefits could it bring you?