Presell & Profit: How to Pre-Sell Your Online Course

Updated on June 16, 2023

Want to create an online course but are worried that you won’t get sign-ups or generate revenue once you launch it?  This is a common and understandable worry among course creators, who want the confidence of knowing that there’s a demand for their course materials and that they won’t make a loss on the time and money they’ve invested. 

Pre-selling a course is an effective way to gauge the level of interest among your target audience and generate revenues up-front. If you’re successful in encouraging people to sign-up before your course goes live, this will give you peace of mind while also providing funds for the project. 

In this comprehensive article, we’ll discuss the benefits of pre-selling courses and share our top tips for doing so effectively. We’ll also show you how to pre-sell a course on a WordPress website using Sensei LMS, a Learning Management System plugin. 

What is Pre-Selling?

Pre-selling is the process of promoting and selling a product or service before it is fully created or launched. This approach is commonly used by online course creators, educators, and trainers who want to validate their course idea and gauge interest before investing time and resources in creating the full course. 

This approach can be very effective, especially for creators and entrepreneurs who are designing and launching their first course and are still building their following. Pre-selling allows course creators to test the market and get feedback from potential customers before launching the course.

Pre-selling is also beneficial to customers, as they can secure their enrolment in advance (especially if the course will be open for a limited time or available to a limited number of students), and often at an early bird price. Course creators often ask early bird customers for input on what topics and information they’d like to see covered, and this helps them feel more invested in the course as it launched. 

Why Pre-Sell Your Course?

There are multiple advantages to pre-selling an online course. The key benefits include:

  • Validate your course idea: Pre-selling a course gives creators an opportunity to test the waters and determine whether there is a demand for the course before they spend more time and money and invest resources in the project. 
  • Generate upfront revenue: Pre-selling can provide course creators with upfront revenue, which can be used to cover the costs of course development, such as hiring content creators, designers, or marketing professionals. This funding reduces financial risks and allows course creators to invest in creating a high-quality course without worrying about recouping costs after launch.
  • Build an audience: Pre-selling can help to create a buzz around a course and generate more interest among target consumers and website visitors, especially if you have a well-designed pre-sale page that outlines exactly what the course is going to entail and what unique value it will offer. 

The goal is to generate hype and create a sense of excitement among those who are looking for a new course or have already signed up for your course. This interest can lead to increased sales once the course is launched, as those who have pre-purchased the course are likely to share their excitement with others, leading to word-of-mouth marketing. 

Pre-selling helps course creators grow their email list and social media following, providing a valuable audience for future marketing efforts.

  • Gather feedback and ideas: Pre-selling a course provides a golden opportunity for educators and creators to gather feedback, ideas, and suggestions they can use to improve and enhance the product before it launches and ensure that it caters to the target market. 

Things to Decide Before You Pre-sell a Course

If you have decided to pre-sell your course, it’s important to maximize the impact and make your pre-sale strategy as effective as possible. Here are some key factors to focus on before you embark on your pre-sale campaign:

Your Target Audience

Identifying your target audience is crucial for a successful course pre-sale. You need to determine who your ideal customer or student is to ensure that your course content aligns with their needs and preferences. This will also enable you to optimize your marketing strategy and generate high-quality leads.

To identify your target audience, gather information about prospective web visitors and students, including their demographics, interests, and pain points. Market research can be helpful in gathering feedback and data through surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, and online polls. Competitor analysis can also provide valuable insights into the target market.

Course Pricing

Careful consideration of the price of your pre-sold course is crucial for managing customer expectations, sales, and perceived value. It’s important to strike the right balance so that prospective students feel they’re getting value for their money while also generating profit.

To determine the appropriate price points, factor in development costs, target audience, and competitor pricing strategies. Creating a pricing strategy involves calculating projected profits by subtracting projected revenue from the total cost of designing, launching, and running the course.

Offering discounts or incentives can help boost pre-sales, but it’s essential to know the course’s launch price before running promotions. Check out this guide for tips on pricing online courses.

The Unique Angle of Your Course

As online education continues to grow in popularity, it’s essential to make your course stand out from the competition. To achieve this, you need to emphasize the unique selling point (USP) of your course during pre-sales.

There are various ways to differentiate your course, such as providing exclusive content, focusing on niche subject areas, incorporating innovative teaching methods, and offering a diverse range of resources.

Identifying gaps in the market and conducting market research and competitor analysis can help you determine unmet needs and what your target audience is looking for. By highlighting the uniqueness of your course and addressing unmet needs, you’ll be able to attract customers and stand out from the competition.

How to Pre-Sell Your Courses With Sensei LMS

Sensei LMS is a Learning Management System plugin for WordPress that gives creators all the functionality they need to set up online courses that are divided into courses and modules. The most advanced plan is Sensei Pro, which costs $179 per year and includes the entire range of features and blocks in the Sensei ecosystem.

Sensei LMS

You can easily create course access periods for your courses with Sensei, and this will make it possible for you to set up a pre-sale campaign. Here’s an overview of how to do that:

  1. Create a new course by going to Sensei LMS> Courses> New Course. You don’t necessarily need to develop the course at all at this stage, just set the title and description. It would be helpful to add relevant featured graphics.
Creating a new course with Sensei
  1. Set the access period by opening the Settings tab on the sidebar. You can choose a start date and an end date, or leave the end date open. We recommend setting a start date that isn’t too far in the future but gives you sufficient time to complete the task of creating your course. You want to have enough time to ensure that you are 100% happy with the content and structure. 
Set the course access period
  1. In the sidebar, create a new product that links to your course. This is what enables you to sell through your course through WooCommerce. Note that Sensei has tight integration with WooCommerce and so you can set up any pricing structure using WooCommerce extensions.
Linking a product to your course
  1. Optionally, use the Groups and Cohorts feature to cater to classes, groups of students, and corporate clients. This is an excellent feature for educational institutions, training facilities, and all kinds of businesses and organizations that want to purchase multiple seats in your course. It’s useful to set access periods here so that you can start the course when the entire group is ready to join. 

Sensei Case Study: Art of Accomplishment

Art of Accomplishment

Art of Accomplishment is an online course website that uses Sensei LMS to create impactful and unique courses based on coaching and self-discovery, using everything from ancient spiritual practices to neuroscience as part of their methodology. 

Aside from the fact that the courses are extremely interesting, we recommend checking out Art of Accomplishment’s website if you want an example of successful course pre-sale campaigns. Their courses are only open for limited periods during the year, and so they use email collection as a way to generate interest among students to entice them to enroll when the next access period opens. 

Strategies for Pre-Selling Your Online Course

When marketing a course that hasn’t been released yet, having a solid plan in place to increase sales and make your pre-sale campaign successful is crucial. To achieve this, consider implementing the following tips and tricks:

Create a Landing Page

The first step is to create a dedicated landing page for your pre-sold course. This is important because it provides an accessible central hub for prospective customers to sign up, learn about the course in detail and make pre-purchases. Visitors should be able to get all the information they need and sign up or make a payment with minimal effort. 

To create an effective landing page, it is essential to highlight the course’s unique selling points and include testimonials or social proof from satisfied customers. A clear call-to-action is also crucial, encouraging visitors to take action and make a purchase For more tips, check out our guide to creating winning course landing pages.

Using Sensei LMS, course creators can design visually appealing pages for new courses that double as landing pages, particularly with Sensei Blocks. Sensei Blocks are interactive elements you can add to landing pages and other parts of your WordPress site. We particularly like the Interactive Video block, which you can use to add an enticing introduction and boost engagement. You could also add Flashcards and Image Hotspots blocks to give students an idea of what to expect and get them excited about the course. 

Offer a Freebie

Offering a freebie, such as a mini-course, cheat sheet, or ebook, can be a highly effective way to entice potential customers to sign up for the email list and generate interest in a pre-sold course. By providing valuable content for free, you can demonstrate your expertise and build trust with your audience. This can help to increase brand awareness and generate leads for future marketing efforts.

In addition, offering a freebie can be an excellent way to build a customer list. By requiring an email address in exchange for free content, you can collect valuable contact information for potential customers. This information can be used to create targeted marketing campaigns and follow-up communications to nurture leads and increase conversions.

If you use Sensei LMS, you can create free mini-courses quickly and easily to provide potential customers with a snapshot of what the premium course includes. By providing a taste of the course content, customers can get a feel for the value of the full course and be more likely to make a pre-purchase. This can also help to build trust and credibility with potential customers by demonstrating the quality of the content.

Write Relevant Blog Content

Creating educational blog content related to the course topic is essential for establishing yourself as an authority in your niche and generating interest in the course. By sharing valuable information and insights, course creators can demonstrate their expertise and build trust with their audience. This can help to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to the course landing page, and ultimately lead to more pre-sales.

To create engaging and informative blog content, it is essential to start by understanding the target audience. What are their pain points, goals, and interests? What kind of content do they engage with the most? Once you have a clear understanding of your audience, you can start creating content that resonates with them.

Our top tips for writing effective blog content include:

  • Focus on proving value: Your content should provide real value to your audience. Focus on solving their problems, answering their questions, and addressing their concerns.
  • Use storytelling: Stories are a powerful way to engage with your audience and make your content more relatable. Use examples and anecdotes to illustrate your points and make your content more memorable.
  • Be visual: Incorporate images, videos, and infographics to make your content more visually appealing and engaging.
  • Use a conversational tone: Write in a conversational tone to make your content more approachable and relatable. Use simple language and avoid using jargon or technical terms that your audience may not understand.
  • Optimize for SEO: Use relevant keywords and optimize your content for search engines to increase visibility and drive traffic to your blog.

Host Webinars

Hosting webinars is an effective way to gain some extra revenue to fund your course, as well as further position yourself as an authority in your field. Webinars are a great way to connect with your target audience, build relationships, and provide value to potential customers. Additionally, webinars can be used to promote your course and talk about how it complements the topic of your presentation.

During your webinar, you can talk about the benefits of your course and how it can help your audience achieve their goals. You can also provide a sneak peek of the course content and answer any questions that your audience may have. By doing so, you can create a sense of excitement and urgency around the course, which can increase pre-sales and revenue.

Don’t Launch Your Course Too Late

Timing the launch of a pre-sold course is critical to its success. Launching too late can result in lost interest and diminished excitement among potential students, while launching too early can mean that the course is not fully developed or polished enough to meet customer expectations. Therefore, it’s essential to carefully consider the optimal launch date for your pre-sold course.

To determine the optimal launch date, course creators should consider several factors. These may include the course development timeline, market trends, and competitor activity. 

Offer an Early Bird Discount

Offering an early bird discount can be an effective strategy for incentivizing pre-purchases of a course. It provides several benefits for both course creators and potential customers, including generating interest, increasing sales, and rewarding early customers. 

It’s important to make it clear that the discount won’t be available once the course launches. This is the motivation customers need to purchase your course ahead of time. By creating a sense of urgency, customers are more likely to make a purchase and avoid missing out on the discount.

Figure Out Your Promotion Channels

Identifying relevant channels for promoting your course is crucial both before and after the launch. Before the launch, you can use social media and email marketing to generate hype and create a buzz around your course. If you’re looking to use paid ads, the Jetpack Blaze ad network is available for users, which you could use for your landing page to drive traffic.

Jetpack Blaze

After the launch, it’s important to continue promoting your course to keep the momentum going. One effective strategy is to network with other content creators in your niche and appear on their podcasts or guest post on their blogs. This can help you reach a wider audience and establish yourself as an authority in your field.

You can also submit your course to the Sensei Showcase for additional exposure. The Sensei Showcase is a directory of online courses built with Sensei, which allows potential customers to browse and discover new courses. Check out our guide to promoting your online course for more tips on this topic. 

Pre-Sell Your Course With Sensei Pro

Pre-selling courses offers a range of benefits for course creators and educators. It allows you to generate revenue to design and develop the course, create anticipation and excitement, generate leads, and increase sales.

If you’re creating courses for a WordPress site, we strongly recommend using Sensei Pro, a learning management system plugin that makes it easy to create engaging, high-quality, interactive online courses. With Sensei Pro, you can set course access periods, which is essential if you want to set up a course that can be pre-sold as you develop it in the background. 

In addition to its course creation features, Sensei Pro’s features will help you design an effective pre-launch campaign. For example, you can add interactive Sensei Blocks to your course landing page to engage prospective customers. Before you start pre-selling, it’s essential to develop a strategy to target key audiences, encourage sales, build hype, and motivate customers to act early to secure the best prices and deals.
If you’re ready to start pre-selling online courses, Sensei Pro is an excellent tool to boost profitability and increase your chances of success. Get started with Sensei Pro today!

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