Today I wanted to share a bit more behind-the-scenes of how I actually brought the program to life — for those of you wondering what steps I took, what tools I used, and the resources I found really helpful when getting this baby ready for launch!
This post is jam-packed with information, so grab a pen and pencil, a hot cup of joe and get ready for some massive learning.
Oh, and just so you don’t miss it — I have an awesome free resource to help you plan out your entire course, including the initial outline of who it’s for, what it is and what it’s called, all the way to the breakdown of which videos and worksheets need to be created, recorded/designed, finalized and added to the membership site. It’s all inside of the Free Irresistible Offer Planning Kit. You can download yours by clicking the image below.
Alright, let’s get into then.
Step 1: Outline what I want to create + who it was for.
This step is all about getting everything out of my head and onto paper (or a Google Doc) so you can then flesh out the rest of the details later.
I have a Google Doc template I use for each new product idea that helps me get clear on what the offer is, why I want to create it, what the delivery model will look like, who it’s for and so many other things.
Want a copy of my Google Doc to help outline your offer?
Step 2: Get feedback on idea.
The next step, once I’ve fleshed out the main details for the program, is to validate my idea. In other words, make sure people are actually interested in it.
I choose to send out multiple surveys to my community to get their thoughts and feedback on what I’m creating. One before I commit to an idea to see what topic they’re needing the most help with NOW and the other once I’ve decided on the idea and want to get their feedback on what they’d like to learn about the topic.
I think this is a crucial step that most people skip. I think mostly because creative entrepreneurs become really attached to an idea and fear that people will reject it before they can create it. For me, if nobody is interested in what I’m creating, what’s the point in creating it?
You have to know there are people waiting to buy before you create something! This can save you a ton of time and heartbreak in the long run.
Want to know the exact questions I sent out in my first survey?
Step 3: Create a brand moodboard + style direction for the program.
I do this step pretty early in the process so that I can create a consistent look right from the start.
Plus, it’s one of my favorite steps so I really can’t help but jump into it.
First, I start by creating a Pinterest inspiration board, and then curate the photos down to create a distinct style direction into a brand moodboard. From there, I choose my color and font palette.
A tip for those DIYing your course design – keep some things consistent between your main brand and this new product. I like to keep my fonts pretty similar no matter what and then I get a little more creative with the colors and textures I use. Overall, though, I have a pretty consistent style that is modern and clean with simple typography and pops of color. That is carried across every brand I design.
Step 4: Create an opt-in page for people interested in the idea.
Once you know that people are interested in your idea and you have some sort of concept of how you want everything to look, it’s time to put up an opt-in page so people can jump on the waiting list to hear more.
It isn’t absolutely vital that you have the style and branding done before this, because you can just use the same look as your main brand for this page.
Here are the details that went into this step:
- create list in Infusionsoft
- create opt-in page and thank you page
- write welcome email and follow-up sequence to keep them engaged (since I launched opt-in page in March 2015, but didn’t launch program until August 2015)
- promote this opt-in page in blog posts, emails, social media
Step 5: Create a more detailed outline.
Next, it’s time to get even more specific about your offer. This is where I like to get clear on exactly what I’m going to teach during the program and make an outline of the content I’ll need to write and record.
It helps to review your surveys and any feedback from your audience really thoroughly here to make sure you’re including both what you think they need to know, but also incorporating the things they said they wanted to learn.
Want a copy of the same Raw Course Outline Google Doc I used to create my course?
Step 6: Draft my sales page copy + send to editor for tweaking.
Next up is sales page copy. Dun dun dun…
I know this can be a huge mountain to climb, but once you have a more detailed outline and you’re clear on who you’re creating program for, it makes this step much more doable.
If you want to learn my 8-step process for writing sales page copy, check out this blog post.
Step 7: Reach out to experts to provide bonus trainings for program
Once I fleshed out what lessons I’d be teaching in my course, I knew I wanted to provide a few extra resources to help members with the rest of their sales page. I put together a list of 3 people I would love to contribute bonus trainings to my program and they all said yes!
If you’re interested in having guest contributors for your course, make sure you reach out to these people well in advance to give them plenty of time to put together their training for you. Two of the bonus experts put together video trainings, which was amazing. If I would have only given them a few weeks notice, the trainings most likely wouldn’t have been as in-depth as they are.
Step 8: Turn my detailed outline into a working draft of my course content.
Here’s where you take step 5 and get even more detailed. I know, you thought it wasn’t possible, right?!
This is when I listed out the exact videos I would need to record and what they would need to cover. If they were screencast videos, I outlined what steps I needed to cover. If they were presentation-style videos, I outlined which slides I would need and what content would go on each slide.
Then, it’s time to create your slide decks and prepare everything for the actual recording.
Step 9: Record + edit training videos.
This is always one of the hardest parts for me. I procrastinate this step so much. I’m going to say that this was the next step, but just know that I was recording videos up until a few days before members got access to the membership site. So, really… this step spanned the remainder of the steps. ;)
Luckily, I record my videos pretty much in one take so the editing process is super simple.
A few tips I’ve learned when recording training videos for an online course:
- Keep recording even when you screw up so that everything is in one file and you just have to delete the parts that were messups, rather than combine multiple files together.
- When you do mess up, make a “click” sound or some other obnoxious noise so that your video editing software recognizes the high pitch and you’ll be able to quickly see where you messed up and which parts need to be deleted.
To help me keep track of each video and worksheet I needed to create, I used a Google Spreadsheet to note where that piece of content was in the process. The spreadsheet included columns for:
- Content created (yes or no)
- Link to content (to help reference it quickly)
- Recorded/Designed (yes or no)
- Final? (yes or no)
- Added to membership site (to, you know… make sure I actually added it to the membership site)
- Total video time (so I could note that on the membership site if I needed to)
- Wistia link for the videos (so I can reference the video quickly)
- Amazon S3 link for the worksheets (so I have a quick way of finding each worksheet link without needed to login to Amazon S3)
- and a few more…
It’s pretty intense, but I can’t tell you how much this spreadsheet helped me in the long run. Without it, I would have been jumping back and forth from video to video trying to find the content, wondering if that one video had already been recorded and searching for the link to add to the membership site. Crisis averted because of this spreadsheet.
Want a copy of the Course Modules Content Grid (Google Spreadsheet edition) to help you keep track of everything?
Step 10: Create workbooks.
I write my workbook content AFTER I record my videos, so I know exactly what I covered and what other content I need to include in my workbooks.
Then, I designed a workbook template and sent the content to a designer on my team to make everything look pretty.
If you can outsource this step, I highly recommend it. Even with me being a designer, I know how much time the process of designing every workbook can take. If you like to design your own stuff, I recommend creating a template and having a VA or designer customize each workbook for you.
Step 11: Design sales pages.
I leave this step close to the end, because if I don’t, my mind will be obsessing over it the entire time, wanting to tweak things every day. It also takes a bit to get your sales page copy just right, so I make sure that is solid before I start the design work.
Once I do get to this step, I couldn’t be more excited. I mean, you guys know how much I love designing sales pages. I have an entire course on the topic.
But, I know how overwhelming this step can be, because not only do you have to figure out how to actually build your sales page, but then you also need to connect your sales page to your payment button so people can actually buy your course.
To help you out, I’ve included a visual overview of your Course Tech Map inside the Free Irresistible Offer Planning Kit to show you how everything connects together and give you my best recommendations on which tools to use for each part.
Step 12: Design membership site.
I leave this step until the very end once I know exactly what content needs to go on the membership site (how many modules, how many lessons in each module, etc). Details tend to change during the creation process, so if you can wait till closer to launch to design your membership site, you’ll probably save yourself a ton of time.
Plus, it helps to be able to add the videos and downloads straight into the membership site while you’re creating it. You’ll see how everything looks together and be able to make tweaks to the design.
Pssst – have you heard that I’ll be launching a new program that teaches you how to design your own gorgeous eCourse membership sites? It’s true! If this sounds interesting to you, just click here to sign up. You’ll be put on the VIP list and get to hear more about the program before everyone else does.
Google Docs – this is pretty much where I keep all of my content for the program (worksheet content, video outlines, program outlines, launch emails, etc).
Typeform – this is the tool I used to send out my survey.
Leadpages (aff link) – this is the tool I used to create an opt-in page and pop-up box for my Interested list before the program had launched.
WordPress – I use WordPress.org for every site I create. Easy for content management and integrates with the other software I use to design my sales page and membership site (see next tool).
OptimizePress (aff link) – this is the WordPress theme/software I used to design an opt-in page, the sales page and the membership site for the program.
Wishlist Member (aff link) – this is the WordPress membership plugin I use to create new members and protect my course content. OptimizePress does come with it’s own membership plugin, but I think Wishlist is much easier to use. Also, it comes with so many add-on options in the Happy Plugins store that you can pretty much get this member plugin to do anything you want it to do.
Wishlist Member for Infusionsoft – I used this WordPress plugin to create an automatic registration process for new members so that once they purchased, their member account was automatically set up and they could jump right into the membership site.
Infusionsoft – this is my email software, my shopping cart software and my affiliate program. I love the ability to tag and communicate with people depending on where they are in the purchase process.
Keynote – I used this program to design the slides for my presentation-style videos.
Screenflow – I used this program to record and edit all of my training videos.
Wistia – I used this tool to host my videos. I used to use Vimeo, but based on looks alone, I switched to Wistia for it’s super clean look when you embed a video onto a web page.
Amazon S3 – I use this site to host all of my downloadable worksheets. You could host your content on WordPress, but I don’t recommend it. Too many files on your site could really start to slow things down. And even though I have a Dropbox account, I choose not to host the worksheets for members on there, because I tend to move folders around, which causes links to break and chaos to strike. I like it better that everything is in one spot and I know it’s not moving anywhere. Plus, it barely costs anything each month to use.
There were a few resources that were super helpful when I was getting this program created and launched into the world that I wanted to make sure I shared with you.
Ecourse Launch Formula (aff link) – This program is everything you need to launch your first, second and even third online course. Besides the amazing content to help you from idea to launch, it also has a great community to receive feedback on every stop of the course creation process. The course isn’t currently open for enrollment, but you can hop on the waiting list to learn more about it.
How to Launch podcast episode by Amy Porterfield – This podcast episode and free download were a dream when I was just starting to flesh out the ideas for my course. I’m pretty much obsessed with everything Amy creates, and this was no exception.
Irresistible Offer Planning Kit – this is a free resource I created to share some of the exact checklists, Google Docs and planning sheets I use when creating my Irresistible Sales Pages eCourse. It will help you get super clear on what you’re creating, keep track of the content you need to write/record and show you a visual overview of how your course tech will all work together. Did I mention it was free? Click here to get access to it immediately.