Whenever we get to talking about creating and launching online courses, the question inevitably comes up.
“But isn’t the tech stuff going to be hard?”
“Can you still create a course if you’re not tech savvy?”
Here’s my thought: if you’re here now reading this on the Internet, you are tech savvy enough to create and launch a successful online course. You do not need to know how to code, how to program, how to build websites, or any of that.
Today, I’m breaking down step by step the tech you need in order to launch a successful course.
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First, let me start off by saying that I have had my fair share of tech problems, I have hacked together more than a few wonky tech solutions, and I have tried just about every single “solution” out there when it comes to building and launching courses.
I’ve created 6 courses in the last 18 months alone, and launched more than 50 times.
I’ve “been around the block” when it comes to figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
Right now, if you’ve never launched before, I guarantee you there are probably 100 little tiny details and nuances you haven’t even considered yet - and probably won’t consider - until you’re in the middle of your launch and thinking “oh crap! How am I going to do that thing? Ughhh….” and then it’s too late.
This has happened to me many times.
But I do NOT want it to happen to you.
After YEARS (yes YEARS) of experimentation and trial and error, I finally feel like I have found the best course systems humanly possible. I’m going to show you those today.
I will also say that NOT using these systems from the get go, because I was so freaking cheap (just so damn cheap) has now cost me thousands of dollars. Oops!
Migrating my courses and email lists over to the current systems cost me money
Overpaying for solutions that barely worked and still required tons of input from me cost me money
The fact that I literally hit a wall where I was TERRIFIED of making sales (because our systems were crumbling under the huge growth in my business and 10x increase in sales) cost me money
I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did, which is why I’m spilling my course tech secrets today.
When I first started building and selling courses years ago, I didn’t know what I was doing (obviously).
I didn’t know if I’d still be doing it 3 years later. I didn’t know what would happen - so I didn’t want to invest too much up front (plus I had like $0 to spare so I really HAD to start with free-only options).
However, this meant that I was using technology and platforms that were barely functioning. I was hacking things together.
My biggest mistakes when launching my first course was choosing platforms that wouldn’t grow with my business.
I chose things that were good for beginners but didn’t scale, so this created more work and maintenance and admin down the line. This has caused me so much pain since then.
Pin that, baby!
Things you need to consider when choosing your course platforms and tech:
- Scale-able: You want to choose systems that are beginner friendly but empire equipped. What would happen if your business went from having 20 students to having 200 students? What would happen if you got 1000 students? Would your system still hold up?
- Passive: Think about how passive your systems are now. Are there tiny admin tasks taking up your day? If you went away for a week, would your courses still run smoothly? Are you doing unnecessary tasks because your platforms or systems aren’t that great?
- Automation: Does your platform have the ability to automate your tasks? For example, when someone signs up for this course, they get that email, and then an invitation to this forum. You want to make sure you can set up automations in your systems so you’re not doing that stuff yourself, or paying someone to do it (automate, then delegate).
- Protected content: This one is pretty obvious, but how protected is your content? I was definitely having some real issues with people sharing their log-ins, forwarding their friends my courses, and all sorts of other headaches before I started using my current systems. You want your content to be protected and in a course site that looks good and works well.
- Ease of use: Here’s what I believe - if you can’t use your platforms yourself and make changes yourself, you don’t really own it. I say this all the time to WordPress users who do not know how their sites work, and therefore need to ask their developer to make changes, you are at the mercy of those systems and let’s be honest, you don’t even truly own your site if that’s the case. I want you yo use systems that are so easy to use, anyone could figure it out, but that also have all of the features of the big, fancy, complex systems. This is my criteria for everything now - it has to be easy to use but also have the features of the most robust software.
- Affiliates: You need to be using a platform that makes affiliates very simple. If you do’nt have affiiate capabilities, you’ll be smacking yourself down the line for not thining ahead. Just because you might not need this feature TODAY doesn’t mean you won’t need it a month from now. Keep that in mind. (I am obsessed with Teachable because they pay out my affiliates for me. This feature alone is literally worth it’s weight in gold).
- Profit sharing: This matters to me but is something that comes into play down the line. Now that I have joint products with other course creators, the ability to sell products together is a must. This is also absolutely necessary for webinar bundles that I do. Doing these things used be extremely painful and such a huge hassle. Now I just set up a co-author, set their percentage, and Teachable does the rest. one of those features you never thought about until you had it, and now you wonder how you ever lived without it.
Let’s get right into my personal tech stack for creating and launching.
I do offer some alternatives to what I currently use as well.
Course Platform Software: Teachable
Teachable is my favorite thing. As my friend Melyssa said, “I feel the same affinity for this platform as I do my dog, which is strange, but I just want to hug it”. And I agree. I don’t get “obsessed” with tech. Because I’m not super techy anyway.
But I am obsessed with Teachable.
And you actually get 3 FREE months of the Teachable Pro Plan when you join Launch Your Signature Course™! Just one of many, many bonuses :)
Why I’m obsessed:
- It is so freaking easy to use. Extremely intuitive, very simple to navigate, it’s like “Squarespace for courses” which I love.
- Extremely robust features, meaning that if I want to customize something or do more advanced things, I can. It will never hold me back.
- This platform will work for me whether I have 100 students or 10,000 students. And since my business grew so fast recently, this became a real issue. Now I have peace of mind knowing that my course system isn’t going to fall apart or become too much maintenance if I make more sales!
- Affiliates and auto-payouts
- Replicating courses
- Co-authors for profit sharing
- Sales pages that are super sexy
- Integrates with everything
I can’t gush enough about this. Seriously - if you can at all swing it - invest here. It covers 99% of your bases. Worth every penny and more. I just wish I had used them sooner!
Email System Software: ConvertKit
Oh ConvertKit, why was I such a dummy and take so long to start using you? I resisted for so long, and it has literally cost me thousands of dollars.
The day I switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit was the best day of my business’s life. Because my open rates went from 30% to 60% OVERNIGHT.
That means that 2x as many people were seeing my emails for my launches.
I knew I was having deliverability issues with MailChimp, but I had no idea how bad it really was. Now I can do some math and say that the fact that I was using MailChimp potentially cost me TENS of thousands of dollars if not six figures in sales. Think about it, only half of my potential customers were even seeing my emails. Gives me a panic attack just thinking about this!
So increasing my deliverability will increase my launch sales, for sure.
But on top of that, ConvertKit specifically has a lot of features I feel like are important when you are launching.
People can opt out of a launch, without unsubscribing to your entire list.
- You can create a tag and just have people click one button if they aren’t interested in your current launch, meaning you keep them as a subscriber but they won’t get annoyed by launch emails that don’t apply to them right now.
- You can tag people who purchase, and then remove them from your launch emails. No need for someone who has already purchased to continue getting all of your promo emails.
- You can set up some really nice onboarding and check in emails when people purchase your product, which I think is awesome for customer/student experience.
- You can send MORE launch emails to the people you have tagged as “Interested in: Topic of Course” or “Lead: Topic of Course”. For example, the people who opted in for the Launch Your Signature Course™ lead magnet have shows significant interest. I have them tagged in ConvertKit from that download. Those people will receive a special bonus as VIPs (do you want that bonus? Click here to get your 90-Day checklist and get on the list) and might receive a few extra emails towards the end of my launch since they opted in as extra interested.
I’m obsessed with ConvertKit, and in general it’s something you just need for your business whether you are launching or not. I’ll be writing a more in depth article about why I switched to ConvertKit and how I use it soon, but right now I wanted to really highlight why I made it a priority to start my launch on ConvertKit.
(Do yourself a favor and switch now before your list gets more complex and you wish you had done it before!).
Collecting emails for your pre-launch: LeadPages
Okay so we all know I’m obsessed with LeadPages. (Do you like how I said I wasn’t obsessive about platforms and then totally keep saying that? Ha!).
But this platform really comes into play when you are launching your course, and you need to start generating interest with a landing page. LeadPages can get you set up with a coming soon page or a “free mini course” lead magnet page in minutes.
Below, you can see how the LeadBox opt in pops up over my landing page when someone clicks on the "Get your free course launch checklist" button! This helps me keep my opt ins organized and track conversions.
I use LeadPages every day.
You will set up opt-ins in your site using LeadPages, you will track your conversions in LeadPages, and you might even use their templates for sales pages. I personally will be using their upsell templates this launch, excited for that.
You will also need LeadPages to deliver your launch webinars. Your registration, thank you, and live pages will be LeadPages webinar opt in pages.
Recording your course videos: Screenflow
Most online course videos are a presentation on the screen, with the teacher speaking over the slides and elaborating on the points made in the presentation.
Other courses are more “technical” and are screencasts showing someone the ins and outs of a program or software. You might be showing someone how to set up Evernote, how to use an accounting software, or how to code a website.
And other courses are more “hands on” where the instructor has taped themselves making something, drawing, painting, or playing guitar (as examples).
For the first two types of courses, you will want to use Screenflow! These screencasts are ideal for using with Screenflow. I personally love this software.
You simply press a hotkey and you are recording your screen (and your voice!). I was VERY nervous about the technical side of recording my courses until I started using this program.
Not only does it record your screen for either presentations or screencasts, it also has a very simple and easy to use editing software. So when I edit my videos, I can do it all inside screenflow.
Sales Pages and Splash Pages: Squarespace
This one is a little redundant, because technically LeadPages does landing pages and sales pages, Teachable includes sales pages which are awesome, and even ConvertKit does landing pages and sales pages too!
But I still personally use Squarespace sites to create badass sales pages.
I like the customization, I like how easy it is to use, it feels like the perfect amount of customization and simplicity (whereas usually if you have simple you pay for it in lack of custom options).
In Launch Your Signature Course™, there are tech trainings and tutorials that walk you through all of these options, with plenty of examples. You want to use the program that works best for you, so we’ve got you covered!
I also like using Squarespace Cover Pages for my landing pages for my upcoming courses.
Here's my Webinar Rockstar™ cover page, above.
And my Launch Your Signature Course™ opt-in page is a Squarespace cover page with a leadbox connected to the button.
Like I said, there are tons of landing page options with the other software we’ve already talked about, but I just love the Squarespace cover pages designs. They are pretty sleek.
No matter which program you use for landing pages, I always feel like you “know” what program it is built in. Squarespace has an artsy look, LeadPages looks very marketing-y, and ConvertKit templates are also very distinct looking.
It really depends on your style!
For creating sexy course slides: Keynote
I love Keynote for webinar presentations and slide decks and my course slides. You can create really professional designs really simply (we have a full tutorial about creating sexy slides in Launch Your Signature Course™!).
I personally like the features of Keynote better than any other slide software I’ve used before (including Google Presentations and PowerPoint).
It makes it simple to create slides that fit your brand and make your course slides look like a million bucks!
For creating workbook and PDFs: Pages
I get so many questions about how I create my PDFs, Checklists, Cheatsheets, Workbooks, and all other PDF materials for my courses.
My secret is Pages!
People compliment me on my course workbooks all the time and I feel like I cheated because Pages is so freaking simple to use. (And obviously, we have tutorials about making awesome PDFs and workbooks in Pages inside Launch Your Signature Course™).
It’s also how you can create those fun little “page images” where it looks like a workbook page has some physicality and looks a little bit more “real”. Like this:
For audio recordings and videos: Blue Yeti Mic
I have talked about this mic before because I also use it for my webinars! It is inexpensive, good sound quality, and used by tons of your favorite podcasters and entrepreneurs.
I recommend this mic - I use it myself for all of my videos and webinars. I even recorded my band’s demo using this mic!
So those are the main platforms and tech you’ll need to create and launch your own course.
One thing I have to tell you - don’t get overwhelmed if you’re not sure how to use these programs right now.
Everything seems difficult before you really dive in.
It’s the “unknown” that feels scary. Once you open up the program and have someone walking you through exactly how to use them, it becomes very simple to us!
That’s why we included tons of tutorials and tech trainings inside Launch Your Signature Course™. We want you to know that we’ve got you covered, and we don’t assume anything. So if you’re a beginner, we’ll show you where to start. And if you’re ready to do a few more “advanced” things with your course tech, we can help you with that too.
Are you ready to launch your signature course?
Get started today by downloading the FREE Course Creator Starter Kit!