Email courses have become an increasingly popular tool for creators and online entrepreneurs to build their brand, share knowledge, and generate revenue. Unlike standalone ebooks or video courses, email courses leverage the power of an engaged subscriber list and the convenience of delivering bite-sized lessons over time directly to subscribers’ inboxes.
For solopreneurs and small business owners, launching an email course can be a great way to establish your expertise in a topic, build relationships with your target audience, and earn income through both paid course enrollments and upsells. Email marketing automation technology has made it easier than ever to create and deliver serialized content while still maintaining a personal touch.
If you’re wondering how to get started with your first email course, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll walk through the key steps for researching, planning, creating, promoting, and managing a successful email course as an online creator or small business owner. Whether you already have an engaged email list to market to or are looking to attract your ideal students from scratch, we’ll cover email course best practices tailored to maximizing your impact as a solopreneur. Let’s dive in!
Determine Your Niche and Audience
The first step in developing your email course is identifying a topic niche and target audience that represents an opportunity to provide value. Conduct market research to get a sense of viewer interests, pain points, and willingness to pay for education around your area of expertise.
You may want to create surveys and interviews potential customers to gain direct insight into the problems they face and training they desire. Examine search volume and trending topics in your niche as well. Ensure there is sufficient demand for information on your chosen course topic before moving forward.
Once you have a course topic in mind, compile buyer persona profiles of your ideal students. Include details on their demographics, interests, goals, challenges, and the outcomes they hope to achieve. Getting clear on who you are creating this course for will allow you to tailor the curriculum and marketing to meet their needs.
Plan Your Course Structure and Content
With your high-level topic and target audience defined, it’s time to map out the structure and content of your email course.
Determine the number of modules or lessons you want to include. Typical email courses contain 5 to 10 lessons delivered over weeks or months. Remember to pace out your content so students can digest each lesson before receiving the next.
Create an outline of your curriculum, organizing related lessons into modules if appropriate. Each lesson should clearly define and teach one concept while moving students progressively closer to mastery of the topic.
Decide which formats you will use to deliver your lessons. Most email courses utilize text-based lessons, but you may choose to incorporate video tutorials, audio interviews, worksheets, or other multimedia content as well.
Write lesson descriptions your students will see upfront explaining the concepts covered and value provided in each section. This helps attract sign-ups by articulating what’s included.
To enhance engagement, include assessments, exercises or worksheets within your course content. This allows students to apply what they are learning through quizzes, reflection questions, calculators, and more.
Choose Your Email Service and Platform
To deliver your email course content seamlessly, you will need to choose an email service provider and optional membership plugin if you plan to gate or drip-feed lessons.
Popular email marketing platforms like ConvertKit, MailChimp, MailerLite and others provide the tools to send and schedule your broadcast emails. Evaluate options to choose one that fits your budget and features.
Key factors to consider are ease of use, email deliverability, automation options, analytics, and integrations with webinar or membership platforms you plan to use. Most services offer free trials to test out.
If you want to restrict full access to paying students only, use a membership plugin like MemberMouse, MemberPress or Restrict Content Pro that works with your email service. This allows you to grant logged-in members access to gated lessons.
Set Up Your Email Course Delivery
Once your email platform is selected, it’s time to configure the delivery settings for your course.
Create opt-in forms for visitors to sign up for the course – pop-ups, embedded in website pages, landing pages work well. Offer a lead magnet like a free downloadable checklist to incentivize sign-ups.
Set up automation flows for the student lifecycle – welcome and onboarding emails, lesson delivery on a schedule, reminders, completion certificates, etc.
Write promotional and follow up emails to continue driving registrations. Share testimonials, behind-the-scenes looks, and samples from the course to build buzz.
Test every aspect of your email course delivery before launch. Confirm your content displays properly across devices, links work, automations send properly, and students can access gated lessons.
Promote and Sell Your Email Course
Marketing and selling your email course is critical for attracting students. Here are proven strategies:
Promote heavily on your website blog, social channels, and anywhere you have an audience including paid ads if budget allows. Run early bird specials.
Partner with influencers, brands, or organizations in your niche to expand reach via guest posts, promotions, sponsored content etc. in exchange for revenue share.
Pitch to niche media outlets and podcasts to get the word out. Offer journalists free access to review your course.
Consider free and paid traffic sources like organic search, Facebook/Instagram ads, Google Ads, directly reaching out to potential students through email outreach or LinkedIn.
To maximize revenue, offer bundled packages like your course plus coaching calls, bonus materials, software trials, etc. Provide payment plan options as well.
Continuously Improve Your Course
The work doesn’t stop once your course launches. You should continuously gather feedback and refine the curriculum over time.
Survey students at course completion to gather feedback on their experience and suggestions for improvement. Monitor course engagement analytics for dropout points.
Use feedback to tweak issues in content flow, technical issues, confusing concepts that need clarification, desired additions like more examples, etc.
Add or update lessons over time, improving and building on content regularly vs. leaving the course static. Consider bringing back students by releasing new bonus modules.
Stay on top of trends and changes in your niche and incorporate relevant updates into the course frequently to keep it feeling fresh and timely.
By continually optimizing your email course and staying connected with past students, you can maximize satisfaction, referrals, and repeat sales over the long-term.
Launching a compelling email course provides a tremendous opportunity to build your brand, nurture relationships with an engaged audience, and generate revenue through memberships and upsells over time. By following the steps in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to planning, creating, marketing, and managing a successful first email course as an online creator.
Remember to stay laser focused on delivering incredible value to your students first and foremost. With smart email automation, consistent promotion, and a student-centric mindset, you can establish yourself as a leader in your niche while achieving your business goals through your expertise. Ready to get started on your first high-impact email course? The opportunity is yours for the taking!