If you've ever created and launched anything into the world, you'll understand how difficult that process is. You'll know how very close you came to not putting it out there and just how many practical and emotional hoops you had to jump through to achieve your goal.
Launching my first online classes in September 2015 was no different. The process from conception to launch was, to be honest, pretty horrific.
Today I'm taking you behind the scenes and sharing some of the most important lessons I learned whilst creating and launching these classes in the hope that you can learn from (or just sympathise with) my mistakes and challenges.
If you've got any questions about creating and launching your own products or services, scoot on down to the bottom and leave your question in the comments. I'll answer as best I can.
1. Start small
The online classes were never part of my plan. I'd actually been working on a larger, flagship programme, but was finding the size and scale of the task overwhelming. Aside from the massive amounts of content creation involved, the learning curve for creating and launching a premium product is huge.
Working on a smaller scale with these classes meant I could get a finished product out more quickly, giving me the confidence and motivation to continue with my flagship programme.
When you look at the products and services that those around you are putting out in the world, it's easy to feel like you've got to go big or go home. I disagree. Starting small will help you:
- Test your ideas with your audience.
- Give you confidence and motivation to continue with something bigger.
- Create income more quickly.
- Get to grips with a lot of the the technical side of a launch so it's not so overwhelming when you do it for a bigger product or service.
2. Everything can be figured out...eventually
Two things during the process almost had me give up entirely.
First was the new VAT Moss legislation. Talking about it gives me nightmares and my brain can't handle this stuff well. But if you sell digital services to anyone in the EU, you need to be aware of how this legislation might affect you.
Second was finding a way to deliver my course through my Squarespace website. It wasn't at all as simple as I first thought and I began to crumble with despair.
I reached out for help in another Facebook Group and was directed to Lauren Hooker, founder of Elle & Company Design. I contacted Lauren to see if she could help me find a solution.
Lauren, whose own website is built using Squarespace and who designs Squarespace sites for her clients, was more than happy to help and told me exactly how she sets up her own online courses through her website.
MASSIVE. Sigh. Of. Relief.
The important thing is to NOT do what I do in these situations which is to lose my cool, panic and imagine the worst case scenario. There's always a solution.
3. There's always a silver lining
My new programme, launching in the next month or so, will be centred around helping entrepreneurs write their website and write for their business. As part of that programme, I wanted to include some bonuses to cover important areas outside of my expertise.
Since the programme will cover all things wordy, it made sense to include something to help with the visual side of business too.
Thanks to my earlier problem with Squarespace, I now had a contact who knew all about beautiful design. I reached out to Lauren again and asked if she'd be willing to record a bonus section for the course about the visual branding side of websites. She said yes!
That would never have come about if I hadn't reached out about my Squarespace problems earlier in the year.
4. The pursuit of perfection is a fool's errand
I wasn't happy when I launched the classes. Not happy at all.
I used Screenflow to record Keynote slides on my computer screen but couldn't get the aspect ratio right when I exported to Vimeo. The result was font that looked stretched. A minor thing (which I've subsequently fixed), but in my mind, anyone buying the course would be thinking, "this is rubbish".
I used my computer's inbuilt microphone to record audio. Nothing terribly wrong with it, but it would've been better with an external mic. I wasn't happy about that either.
And the actual content? Well, once I got started, I realised I could go on for years adding and changing and making it better. There would always be something else I could include.
What I've found helpful is to stop thinking about the products I'm creating as static. Instead, they're in flow. What I put out the first time is just version one. Many more versions will follow. But by definition, version two can't happen unless version one's already been put out in the world.
Get your product or service out there and update and improve as you go.
5. Validation is nice, but it'll never be enough
I received some great feedback and reviews from the first and second rounds of the classes. One of my favourites was from Laura, a talented artist who wrote to tell me excitedly that she'd sold £620 worth of artwork right after taking the Money Mindset class and doubling her prices.
I cried when I read that. And when I told Keijiro about it later that day, I had that overwhelming feeling of, "this is why I left my job, to do something where I actually feel like I'm making a difference to people's lives."
But what I noticed was that whilst every bit of positive feedback gave me a burst of energy and motivation, it was never enough. Soon enough that feeling would disappear and I'd start wondering again whether there was really any value in what I'd created.
The lesson for me here (and the one I want to share with you) is that whilst positive feedback is brilliant and important, what's more necessary is for you to be able to give yourself the validation you need.
6. Self-doubt is part of entrepreneurship. Better get used to it
What slowed me down more than anything in the entire creation process was the voice of self-doubt. Every step of the way I was faced with thoughts like these:
"No one will buy them."
"They're not good enough."
"They're not long enough."
"They're not professional enough."
"Other people have already done this, but better."
"Is this really what you want to teach?"
"You don't know enough about this subject."
It took so much of my energy getting past these thoughts and self-doubt is, without question, something every entrepreneur struggles with.
Plough ahead and for goodness sake, don't let it stop you.
7. Earning money while you sleep is a feeling that'll never get old
Several times I woke up to find people had joined the classes overnight, whilst I'd been sleeping. It's the moment when all your hard work and overcoming all the doubt and challenges totally pays off. Maximum freedom has always been a driving force for me. The desire to be free (in every sense of the word) is what's kept me working this hard for this long.
If you have access to a computer and a WIFI connection, that sort of freedom isn't a crazy fantasy. It's absolutely possible and if that's something you want, I encourage you with all my heart to move towards it. Don't expect it to be easy, but know that it's most definitely possible.
Over to you...
Blog posts without comments are like the Simpsons being pink instead of yellow - WRONG WRONG WRONG! So add your voice to the comments below and share:
- Any questions you've got about creating or launching an online product - I'll answer as best I can.
- Lessons you've learned from creating and launching/selling your own products and services.
Love and courage,