Should I Create an Online Course, a Membership, or an eBook?

October 23, 2020

Listen On: Apple Podcasts | Spotify

If you’ve THOUGHT about launching a digital product, one of the first questions you would likely have had is WHAT to create – a course, a membership or a smaller digital product like an eBook? I have experience in all three, and in today’s podcast episode I am going to tell exactly which one I think you should focus on, and why.

Let’s dive in!

online course

Overview

In 2018, I launched my very first digital product: a signature online course called Hashtags Aren’t the Answer. It was offered at $597USD. A few months later, I launched it again – this time, as a membership, priced at $997USD for a year. Later, I relaunched it again as a course for the same investment. I’ve since launched and re-launched that particular product a number of times, as well as creating an ‘evergreen funnel’ to sell it on autopilot.

At the same time as Hashtags Aren’t the Answer, I launched a shop called The Social Shop in which I sold low-cost social media templates for prices ranging from $27 to $45. These templates and resources are available all the time, and people can come and purchase one or a few of them on an ‘as needed’ basis.

Around a year later, I decided to launch ‘The Blueprint Series’ – a range of lower priced courses which were ‘deep dives’ into different elements of marketing and online business. My original intention? To create and launch a new one every six weeks. I started with a podcast blueprint and a Facebook Ads blueprint, before quickly realising that the time and investment involved in creating new assets over and over wasn’t sustainable, and ‘shelving’ my plans for more.

Finally, earlier this year I ‘retired’ my first signature course and created and launched two – Socials That Sell, and Launch Your Wildly Successful Podcast.

Over the course of my online course journey, I’ve created and launched courses, a membership and smaller digital products, which gives me a unique insight into the pros and cons of each.

My verdict?

ONE single flagship online course for the win.

Not a membership.

Not a low cost eBook or digital product (or even worse, an army of them).

Let’s discuss why.

The Problem With Low Priced eBooks or Digital Products

You might be considering starting with low cost eBooks or digital products. Usually, the thought process goes a little something like this.

“I’m new to this, so I’ll start with something small to dip my toe in the water”.

Or maybe, something like this:

“I can charge a smaller amount for a little mini course, so I’ll start there because it’ll be easier for me to sell”.

Let me give it to you straight.

It is THE SAME AMOUNT OF HARD to launch and sell a $500 or $1000 product as it is to sell a $50 or $100 product.

The time, effort and optimisation time that goes into both is often almost the same. You need to create the content, the assets, the funnels and all of the collateral whether your offer is $200 or $1000.

The conversion rates – which means the percentage of people who see your offer that buys – are often very similar too, which means that you will need to attract MANY, MANY more people into your audience to make the same amount of money. Case in point? I’ve sold many, many more of my shop products than my signature digital course, and yet the revenue that they bring into the business is just a tiny percentage.

The Problem With Memberships

A membership is usually an offer priced between $29 and $299 a month. In most cases, people can leave at any time. Usually, they focus on a community element as well as new content being provided.

Memberships are touted as a great option for ‘recurring revenue’, which means that your members will pay once and then continue to pay every month for as long as they are a member.

Sounds great in theory, right?

Here’s the problem.

The average “stick rate” for a membership is three months, meaning that people will stay for three months and then cancel. So, rather than revenue which ‘stacks’ over time as new members join, your churn rate means that you will constantly need to look for new members to replace the ones leaving.

You are also obligated to continually update the membership with new content as well as nurture the community element, which means additional time each month.

Instead of a traditional membership, I recommend structuring your online course with all of the ‘best’ elements of a membership without any of the downside.

Specifically, I recommend that your online course is limited to a year of access rather than lifetime access. This specifically overcomes one of the biggest problems with online courses, which is the poor completion rate. With a specific and limited container of time, students will be more motivated to do the work and get the result they purchased the course for in the first place – a win on both sides.

Another benefit of adjusting your course in this way is that it provides you with an opportunity to offer ongoing access to the community and content beyond the 12 month period at an ongoing rate. This ensures that you are properly compensated for the time you spend managing the community and making ongoing updates to the course content, something that usually isn’t considered and which will become a considerable burden if you offer ‘lifetime access’.

The second way that you can structure a course to mirror the benefits of a membership is to offer an accessible payment plan over 3, 6 or 12 months. This provides you with ongoing ‘recurring revenue’ even without a membership business model, and allows you to ‘stack’ your revenue and grow your monthly recurring revenue over time.

These changes give you the ‘best’ elements of a membership, without requiring the ongoing commitment of content creation, dealing with churn rates, and ‘cancel any time’ members leaving, and the other frustrating elements of running a membership business model.

Why a Flagship Course is the Best Digital Product For Your Business

Truthbomb: Creating just ONE Flagship Online course is the simplest, quickest and most effective way to create, launch and scale a digital product to $1 million and beyond.

A flagship course will put you on the map, and allow you to become known for one thing.

It will allow you to focus your marketing efforts, and to optimise your funnel so that you can create MORE revenue with your one product, rather than trying to do the same with five different products.

It allows you to spend time making it the BEST it can possibly be, which means better testimonials, better results for your students and more referrals.

And it ensures that your audience isn’t confused by who you are the ‘go to’ for.

The trick?

Avoiding the inevitable ‘online course shiny object syndrome’ that comes after you create your first online course.

It goes a little something like this: “Oh, I’ve created one course, and now I’ll create another so that I can be EVEN MORE SUCCESSFUL”.

No, no, no, no… and no.

More courses will dilute your focus, optimisation efforts, ability to scale and will confuse your audience especially if your courses are on a range of different topics.

I’ve created memberships, eBooks, low priced courses and flagship ones too and, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, I can confidently tell you THIS:

Creating and sticking to ONE flagship course will put you on the map, allow you to simplify and focus your efforts and allow you to price and position yourself for profit too.

Want to Know More?

My Launchpad program teaches service providers how to swap clients for courses and create, launch and scale a flagship digital course.

It officially launches in November with foundation student pricing and bonuses; to join the waitlist head to www.steviesayssocial.com/launchpad.

Links and Resources:

Other Free Resources:

  • Want to start a podcast? Check out my free INSTANT ACCESS masterclass now. Click here.
  • Want to create a signature online course? Download the free checklist with everything you need to know. Click here.

Enjoy this episode?

If you enjoyed this episode and the Stevie Says Social podcast generally, I have a favour. Please take two minutes to subscribe, and to write a rating and a review. You can do that on Apple Podcasts right now by clicking here. If you are an Android user, you can follow the podcast on Spotify here. Those actions will help the podcast reach more people, and I would be truly grateful. Thank you so much.

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Should I Create an Online Course, a Membership or an eBook?

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