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How I did $6659 in sales for an online product I had not yet created (while working full time)

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Man, I hate to begin with “It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post” but to be honest, I’ve been very much in doubt about what to do with this blog. Since it is not a strategic part of my business, I have never been able to justify spending a lot of time writing blog posts here.

So for the past months, I’ve been spending more time on launching a couple of products for the Danish market as well as working for a couple of enterprise clients in my consulting business. And that is exactly why I’m writing this blog post today. I want to take you behind the scenes in a launch I recently did for my Danish audience.

Now, while I’ve had this blog for six years now, I launched my Danish website RasmusLindgren.dk over the summer of last year (2014). I recently added a couple of blog posts but it wasn’t really started as a blog and I do not plan on blogging regularly in Danish. Instead, the site serves mainly as a platform for my personal brand in Denmark as well as outlet for the products I’m currently creating (one of them I’m gonna discuss in this blog post).

One of the reasons that I’ve been focusing on the Danish market is because of traction. I’ve simply found a lot of traction in a short period of time. As I mentioned, I’ve had this blog for six years and I have approximately 3,000 subscribers on my newsletter. For my Danish site, I got almost 1,200 subscribers in the first three months. And that was without a blog on the site! Because of this, I felt that I needed to leverage this flow of people to my newsletter (I, of course, used a free gift to attract people to my newsletter, just like I’m doing on this site.

In this blog post, I wanted to show you exactly how I leveraged a list of 1,200 people and generated $6,659 in sales (basically in profit since the only expense is credit card fees) for an online course I hadn’t created at the time of the sales. I used a kind of special launch model that I will get into in a moment.

I want to let you in on why I decided to launch this online course.

It all started with me taking a consulting contract for three months. Now while this is rather profitable (I make around $60,000 over the period of three months), it also meant that I was chained to an office desk for 37 hours per week (plus the time used on commuting). With two small kids at home, that does not give me much time to take over the world with my own products. I simply knew that unless I did something proactively, three months would have gone by without me doing anything else.

I figured that I needed some kind of external accountability that would hold bme accountable for doing something outside of the consulting contract. And what better thing to do than to sell something before you have it created! Once you have paying customers, you basically HAVE to find the time for creating the product.

Let us dive into the subject of the product I sold.

For the past couple of years, I have created several online courses, some more successful than others. I also have more than 15 years of experience from the IT industry, 6 of those working with e-learning companies. And just a couple of months ago, I started working on my second book (my first book was about being a lifestyle business rockstar) . The new book I’m currently working on is going to be about how to create market and sell online courses based on your expertise. The book will be in English and I will probably create a blog post at some point on the whole book creation process, but more on that later.

Anyway, because of this, I had all this structure knowledge about creating online courses as I had already created the model for doing this for the book. That meant that it was an easy thought to create an online course on how to do online courses (talk about meta here… ). And  because of the traction on the Danish market, I decided to do this course here.

And now we get down into the launch process.

First, I warmed up my list and flushed out all the people that might not be that interested in making online courses. I eliminated them using the famous “rack the shotgun” method. And since Denmark is a small country, I decided to offer a free two-hour workshop on online courses in my office.

I originally planned a small thing with perhaps 10 people. That way, I could get some feedback on what people were struggling with and use this in my online course (as well as in the marketing). But after only a couple of hours, 65 people had signed up. My office can probably only hold around 70 people, so needless to say, I had to hurry in and disable the signup page as this wasn’t done automatically.

Suddenly, with just one email that probably took me 10 minutes to write and schedule, I had to come up with a two-hour workshop for 65 people on a pre-determined date. Awesome! Public accountability in effect.

Whenever you’re offering something for free, people don’t feel as committed as if they paid for it, so in the end around 55 people turned up for my two-hour workshop. In the end of the workshop, I pitched my online course (on online courses). Basically, I just planted the idea in their minds. On the same day (when people got online again), I did a couple of sales.

Over the next couple of days, I had scheduled some emails to people who had attended the workshop (not my full list). Some with content and some with reminders about that my early bird offer for the online course was about to expire. The campaign lasted almost a week. In the end, I ended up selling 11 spots to people who were on my workshops. A 20% conversion. Not too bad!

After this early bird offer, I did another campaign to my full list that also lasted for a week. As the dust settled, I sold 18 seats in the program totaling $6,659. I had already announced that I would have a maximum of 20 people in the program (as I also included a weekly live FAQ over six weeks and wanted to make sure that everybody got a success and time for questions).

I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t sell out. However, I quickly got over it as I then had to come up with a six-week online course and I hadn’t even done the introduction at that time yet.

What started as an exercise in public accountability and ensuring that I would get something done while consulting full time ended up with me having to deliver the six-week online course which I had sold to 18 people. We started April 1st and so far it’s going really well.

Since then I’ve actually re-opened the enrollment and the following launch did even better (but that’s for another post :)).

How can you apply this?

First up, you can start by simply setting some dates and then inviting people to some kind of event. It doesn’t have to be a physical workshop like what I did. It could be an online webinar. It might seem overwhelming to start a webinar but I actually had fun when I did my first webinar. And since I’ve done a ton of webinars.

Once you start filling up spots on the webinar, you suddenly find yourself in a situation where you have to get a presentation ready by a fixed deadline. Then you, of course, need to sell something on the webinar or your time would be wasted. At the end of your webinar, make sure you put a date for when you would start your online course or give information about your product. That’s one of the best tips when it comes to selling with webinars.

By simply selecting two dates and scheduling some emails to your list (and if you don’t have a list, you should start building one now), you suddenly have to create and launch a product.

How’s that for motivation.

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8 Responses to How I did $6659 in sales for an online product I had not yet created (while working full time)

  1. whatmore says:

    Motivating indeed

  2. Zbynek says:

    Rasmus,

    I see this approach being implemented by more and more people nowadays and I think it’s spectacular!

    As you mentioned, it creates a leverage to make things happen (when people sign up and pay) and simultaneously you don’t have to create anything upfront (no wasted time/energy in case no one signs up).

    And there’s another powerful thing. I consider myself to be a perfectionist and I tend to be my biggest obstacle – trying to prepare for every possible scenario (which might not come true), build automation systems (in case I might need them 2 years in the future) etc. This way I get exhausted after some time doing secondary things, while the main idea isn’t created/finished.

    So doing this the way you described takes away all the unnecessary overthinking and forces to think and do only the core things.

    Thanks for sharing your steps.

    • rasmus says:

      Hey Zbynek, thanks for commenting.

      Yep, specially for perfectionist, it’s a great strategy.

      Instead of focusing on the “perfection of the product” you end up focusing on “perfection of the deadline”, meaning that perfection is now to do the work required before the (very public) deadline.

      So, it’s basically babysteps in order to cheat your brain, and make you money.

      /Rasmus

  3. Kim Willis says:

    It’s a smart strategy. I’ve used it and it works well. Great way to test the waters with your audience before you commit time and resources creating a product that may not have a market. Thanks for the tips Rasmus!

  4. søren says:

    The online course sale was that video mp4, or pdf, powerpoint, excel, word files that people cut download on this website?

    The payments how was that problem solved online?

    How was the email list build up whit people and time it took to do it?

    • rasmus says:

      It was video lessons (a total of more than 6,5 hours) as well as downloadable PDF with action plans and resources.

      Payments was all handled (quite easily) with Simplero that I recommend everyone who want to sell informational products use.

      I built up my list to 1174 people in less than three months. I did this with a free e-book as well as a couple of webinars. I used Facebook ads to drive traffic and did a single webinar with someone who already had a list.

      /Rasmus

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