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5 Steps to Take the Fear Out of Launching Your E-Course or Program

5 Steps to Take the Fear Out of Launching Your E-Course or Program

tcb-farideh-ceasar
 

When you’re building your empire, one of the best ways to get buzz and gain sales is to launch that new product or service you’ve been working so hard on.

Launching is a coordination of all your marketing efforts to push your one new offer. If you don’t launch it, it will likely go unnoticed.

Even something as small as a blog post can be launched. Think about it: after you’ve written a blog post, you share it on various social media platforms, send it out to your newsletter, and reference it in online forums.

When you’re launching something big—like a new product, business, website, program or e-course—there is a lot more at stake. As a launch strategist, my clients often tell me that one of the biggest surprises about launching is how much fear they face.

Launching your e-course or program is scary, but it doesn’t have to be.

If just thinking about your next launch has you shaking in your shoes, here are 5 ways you can take the fear out of your launch.
 

MAKE A PLAN

For every 10 minutes spent planning your launch, you save an hour.

Start by creating a checklist for all of the little items that need to get done. Warning: As your checklist grows, you may feel fear and self-doubt creep in. Try to push past those feelings and keep going!

Next, create a calendar for all of the important dates, then give each checklist item its own due date. This will help you break down your checklist into manageable chunks.
 

ASK FOR HELP

No great idea was ever launched alone. Ask for help by creating a list of “champions”:

  • Who are the people who believe in you or your mission?
  • Who are the friends you can talk to, who won’t tell you that you’re crazy?
  • Who are the family members who will help you run errands, clean your house, or get groceries on launch day?

Put all of these people on one list and start assigning jobs to them. Reach out to them, tell them what you’re doing, and ask for their support. Communicate your appreciation and watch your champions line up to help make your dream possible.
 

RECOGNIZE YOU ARE UPLEVELING

In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield introduces the concept of “upleveling.” He explains that every time you reach beyond what you’ve done before, you’ll hit your “upper limit.” This is the point at which individuals get sick, sabotage their success, or just quit.

The way through this is to recognize that you’re breaking ground on what is possible for you and to be very kind to yourself in the process. Instead of pretending that you’re not afraid, take a moment to recognize all that you’re doing. Acknowledge the nagging doubt inside of you, then decide that all of this is possible and press forward.
 

MAKE PEACE WITH 80%

When it comes to launching, something always goes wrong. And usually, multiple things will go wrong. This doesn’t mean your launch is not a success; it’s just the nature of launching.

The more you try to make your launch “perfect,” the more disastrous your launch will be. Keep the mantra “80% is good enough” in mind, and repeat it over and over to yourself. When you do this, your launch will 100% successful.
 

DO IT WITH THE FEAR

Launch with the fear. Your fear is not a sign of future failure! Don’t wait until you feel completely confident, because that day will never come. All successful people take action, even in the face of fear.

Take a look at your checklist, the champions who are helping you, and the self-imposed limitations you’re facing, then let go of your need to control the fear and make your launch happen.
 

Take Action Now

Use your launch as training to become an even better coach. While you face your fears, you’ll be able to continue to connect with your clients where they are now and help them to be courageous.
 

Farideh Ceaser is a musician turned launch strategist. After 15 years on the road touring as a musician, Farideh switched gears and now helps entrepreneurs launch their big ideas and online courses. She regularly delivers her wisdom in the form of a ukelele and a song here. Grab your copy of Farideh’s free 30-Day Launch Checklist & Calendar at www.launchyourcourse.com

4 Ways To Customize Any Photo To Work With Your Brand

4 Ways To Customize Any Photo To Work With Your Brand

guest-linda-johannessen
 
“I’d know that shade of yellow anywhere; I can tell you exactly where that image was published!”
“Brushy, handwritten font? Love it. Know where that came from!”
“I should send her a link to this; I know she’d love it because it’s all navy and stripes with a few gold details.”

In a perfect world, these are the things we want people to say about you, your site, and your brand. (Of course, we also want them to say things like “She changed my life!” and “You need to hire her, like, yesterday!” … but you understand what I’m saying.)

The branding of your site includes more than your writing voice and how you frame your offerings. Your branding reaches down to the studs and bolts – the colors, fonts, and even the types of images you chose.

And unless you have one of those rare money trees, you probably can’t hire a photographer to shoot new photos for every.single.thing you post. Good news! You can customize absolutely any image to make it match your branding + you.

Here are four ways you can do just that!
 

Opt for for a consistent ‘feeling’ in the images you use

If your site has a lovely, overexposed, afternoon-light sort of vibe, you probably want to stay away from supersaturated images with lots of bright reds or royal blues. If you’ve got a bright site with lots of primary colors, a pastel-y photo might look out of place.

Thankfully, with some very, very basic photo editing you can make (almost) any photo match your branding. Turn up the saturation to make an image more colorful, turn up the ‘brightness’ to make it more dreamy and washed out, or just make it black and white so it won’t clash with your colors!
 

Choose images that match the colors in your branding

This tip isn’t so much about customizing photos as it is about customizing your photo search. When you designed your website, I’m sure you and your designer had a few conversations about colors and the feelings they conveyed, right? If the colors in your header and social media icons have been carefully chosen, why not carefully choose the colors in your photos?

I can see that Coaching Blueprint uses deep blue and marigold, so I would choose this image of a city
linda1
rather than this.
linda2
I might choose this image of a family
linda3
rather than this one.
linda4

Most image agencies will have a ‘search by color’ option which will make this a million times easier.
 

Add a wash of color that matches your branding

Braid Creative does a great job with this, adding a transparent corner of sunflower yellow to most of their images – which ties into the yellow in their header and their yellow ‘learn more’ buttons. Anytime you see an image with that yellow corner on Pinterest, you know exactly where it came from.
 

Always top your images with the same fonts

Adding text to your images makes them more Pinterest-friendly and a font that matches your header? Well, that’s polished as all get out. If you’re not sure which fonts are in use on your site, check out What The Font. Looking for a bit of font + image inspiration? Shauna Haider and Love Grows Design both do a great job.

See? Easy peasy! In no time people will be able to separate you and your images from everyone else.
 
Linda Laegreid Johannessen is the founder and CEO of YAY Images, a stock image agency that’s the Spotify version of affordable, licensed images. For just $9.90 a month, you have access to 5 million (!!!) images that are perfect for blog posts, newsletters, and social media. She’d love it if you took advantage of a free month of photos or followed along on Twitter.

5 Steps to Take the Fear Out of Launching Your E-Course or Program

3 things to know for a successful E-course launch

tcb-farideh-ceasar
 

The creation of an e-course or group program is an important part of the evolution of your business. Hopefully, you see your practice expanding beyond 1:1 work and offering products and programs to generate passive income.

Before you invest hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into an e-course, here are 3 things you MUST know for a successful e-course launch.
 

DO YOUR RESEARCH

The biggest mistake I see coaches make again and again is launching an e-course that no one wants to buy. It’s easy to assume that if their paying clients enjoy the 1:1 program, they’ll be more than happy to pay for a group program or e-course. This isn’t always the case.

Begin your research by directly asking your clients what they want learn as well as how they want to learn it. You’ll want to gather up enough feedback to help yourself answer these questions:

  • Would they prefer PDF or video format? Or both?
  • Would they feel comfortable discussing in a group what you discuss together in private?
  • What would an e-course need to include to make it BETTER than your 1:1 program?
  • What would their hesitations be? Why WOULDN’T they buy an e-course (other than money)?

My favorite way to do this research is to have face-to-face conversations with existing and potential clients. Tip: I record our conversations so I can replay them later and identify the keywords they use when discussing their problems and desires.
 

GROW YOUR LIST & CONNECT

While you may have a full practice of 1:1 sessions, you’ll need a much larger list to sell an e-course or a group program. Not only that, your list needs to be engaged and trust you.

There are millions of ways to grow your list. Facebook ads, webinars and speaking engagements are just a few. Choose what works with your natural strengths and ALWAYS be growing your list for your next launch.

If you notice your open rates are declining, consider “scrubbing” your list. This means removing duplicates and individuals who haven’t opened your email in a long time. While this will lower your list numbers, it will give you a far more accurate count of who is a possible buyer. It’s better to start with a smaller list of customers who will buy from you than a massive list of subscribers who won’t.
 

THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES

Know that no matter how big your list is or how great your research, there is no way to predict the success of your first group program or e-course.

With that in mind, keep an eye on your budget and sales goals. Go lean on your expenses in your first run and treat it as an opportunity to test. If you don’t see success right away, tweak and try again. Oftentimes, a failed program that sold zero spots only needs a few more tweaks, after which it sells out in no time flat.
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TAKE ACTION NOW

If you’re itching to create a future e-course or group program, can you set up three face-to-face discussions to learn more about the needs of your clients?

If you need to grow your list, what is one list building activity you can pursue this month with ease?
 
Farideh Ceaser is a musician turned launch strategist. After 15 years on the road touring as a musician, Farideh switched gears and now helps entrepreneurs launch their big ideas and online courses. She regularly delivers her wisdom in the form of a ukelele and a song here. Grab your copy of Farideh’s free 30-Day Launch Checklist & Calendar at www.launchyourcourse.com

Beyond 1:1 coaching – how to create an e-course that will stand out from the crowd

Beyond 1:1 coaching – how to create an e-course that will stand out from the crowd

guest-heather-thorkelson
 

Guuurl, you’ve been running your coaching practice for a while now, and I know you’re ready to take it up a notch and reach more people. You probably have a boatload of ideas for courses and programs but everywhere you turn, there’s a coach who’s already done something similar and you don’t want to be all same-same.

Fair point.

So how do you create a unique and high-value experience for people that stands out? How do you pick a topic that people really need help with and that’s distinct enough for people to associate with your name? (Think Danielle LaPorte and her Desire Map)
 

Here’s my two-step approach:

1) Make a list of everything that your clients struggle with – every single little darn falootin’ thing. No matter what type of coaching practice you have, you’ll have noticed trends in the niggly issues that your clients come to you with.

Think of the negative thought spirals they find themselves in time and again.

What are they waking up sweaty thinking about? What’s preventing them from moving forward? List every thought or emotion (or lie!) you can think of. Get into their brain.

2) Now look at the list from Step 1 and circle every issue your clients struggle with that’s actually super no-brainer easy for you to manage/deal with/overcome.

THAT’s your sweet spot. That’s your area of genius.

An example of this was when I noticed a streak of “comparison-itis” flaring up with many of my clients. It was really holding them back and on the one hand, I could sympathize because everyone else’s life looks so glamorous on the interwebs. But on the other hand, it had been a long time since I’d felt the effects of “comparison-itis” myself and I knew that’s where I could add huge value. I created an e-course called Kick Comparisonitis to teach people the tools they need to thrive in a glossy online world. It was a huge hit!

Next is how to put it all together. This part can be a little daunting as well, but if you take a step-wise approach, you’ll have an outline and plan in no time.
 

Here are some key points you’ll want to consider when creating an e-course:

 
1) Will it be self-directed or guided by you? This is a key piece because not only does that latter require more of your time investment, but also because depending on the subject matter, some people need more of a hands-on approach. Your subject and how you structure the learning will largely inform whether people can purchase and go at their own pace, or if there’s a set timeline for taking the course and you guide them through it.

2) Will it take place during specific dates or will it always be available as an evergreen product to begin at any time? Very similar to Question 1, this is a question you need to ask yourself in terms of how you want this course to fit in to your overall business model. If it takes place during specific dates, you’ll need to launch, and re-launch every time you run the course. On the other hand, an evergreen course will just be available on your site and you’ll be responsible for regular promotion to be sure it’s getting in front of fresh eyeballs. What feels right for you?

3) What’s the launch plan? It’s always good to start launch leaking a good 3-4 months in advance (check out AnneSamoilov.com for loads of launch resources). Start looking at what time of year is a good time to launch (Pro Tip: the middle of summer and Christmas are not ideal) and then work backward to ensure your content is ready on time, but also that you’ve mentioned it enough in your newsletter and on social media so that it’s on lots of people’s radars when the cart opens.

4) How will the content be structured? Are there videos? (and where are they hosted?) Downloadable PDF’s? Pre-recorded guided visualizations? External resources for reference?

5) Based on the content you’re trying to deliver, how many modules do you need? Is it one module per week? How much content will people need to get at one time, to make progress?

6) What bonuses are you offering? Will you have some additional theme-based downloads or guides, some expert interviews, or some other cool freebies that you’ll offer to sweeten the pot? It’s also worth considering if these would be available only to those who sign up during Early Bird pricing, or to everyone. It’s important to have a strategy for getting people excited about all the value they’ll receive.

7) Price point – is there only one? Or will you have 2-3 tiers based on different levels of access (to more robust content or perhaps access to you via 1:1 or group sessions)

8) How many people do you want to cap the course at? This depends on whether it’s live – on certain dates – or evergreen. You’ll want different numbers depending on how you plan to format the course and how much personalized interaction people will get from you.

9) What kind of activities or action items do you plan to include? Adult learning principles show that people learn best when they’re given homework or tasks to take action on. Think about a simple but powerful activity you can include at the end of each section or module to drive home the learning.

10) Is it going to be a downloadable course that people can go through on their own or one that participants have to log in to access learning modules? If the course is going to be more than a PDF and you’ll have modules that participants can access online, there are loads of great platforms out there to host your e-course. You have options from self-hosted software like Wishlist Member which integrates directly into your WordPress website (and which you have complete control over) as well as externally hosted and run platforms (Examples: Journal Engine, Udemy or Ruzuku).

 
Yes, there are a lot of working pieces. But start with a great concept where you know you can add value, then work through the list above to fine tune what it will all look like. In no time, you’ll create an e-course that is unique and powerful that you can run over and over again, and this takes your business beyond the one-on-one client session.
 

Heather Thorkelson is an small business strategist for location independent entrepreneurs over at the Republic of Freedom. She’s a firm believer that it’s entirely possible to live as we dream, and spends her days proving it. Currently slow traveling through Europe, Heather can often be found in Sweden and sometimes in the Polar Regions. Get on her newsletter or say howdy over on Instagram or Pinterest.

Tips for coaches when Writing your first E-Course

Tips for coaches when Writing your first E-Course

guest-abby-kerr
 
Over the past two years, I’ve happily made a huge discovery in my business, one that has led to my increased professional satisfaction, deeper client progress, expanding my reach, and a multiple times increase in revenues. My discovery? I adore creating and teaching online courses. As a former high school educator with a Masters degree in Teaching, the craving to teach wasn’t new to me, but it didn’t occur to me until year three of my business that teaching my clients could be not only profitable but hugely emotionally rewarding.

For many coaches, moving beyond 1-to-1 coaching is one key to sustainable income. And as many coaches find, teaching or facilitating an online course, a group e-workshop, or an email challenge brings a new way to enjoy relationships with your clients and a refreshed appreciation for the work you love.

But not every coach has a background in teaching or facilitation. And not every coach considers herself a highly proficient writer or content creator.

That’s okay. You don’t need to have majored in English or been a classroom instructor to be a great teacher.

But you do need to wrap your mind around several truths about writing an e-course. No worries — I’ve got you covered.
 

Here are some tips for the coach who is writing content for his or her first e-course:

  • Write content in the same voice as you would converse and aim to set the same tone you’d set were you coaching in a small group or 1-to-1. No need to sound erudite or lofty just because this is a course. Think more small group, less podium in a cavernous lecture hall.
  • Understand how people learn — one concept at a time. Think of how we’re taught math in school. We aren’t presented with the full scope from counting to calculus in kindergarten. Rather, we start with counting, move on to basic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, then on to geometry, pre-algebra, algebra, pre-calculus, and (if we’re really mathematically inclined) calculus. When a student is learning calculus, chapters one and two are not about counting and basic math operations. The same should be true of your e-course content. What “level of math” do your people, the people for this particular offer, need? Geometry? Great! Do geometry, or even just one part of geometry, in this e-course. Also keep in mind that your client arc may not span the distance from counting to calculus. Maybe your people are pre-algebra and algebra people only, and so your brand conversation focuses only on pre-algebra and algebra. When your clients are ready for pre-calc, they move on to a different coach or provider. And you get a whole new batch of clients who are perfectly primed for pre-algebra and algebra. Find your point of entry respective to what your Right People want and need to learn TODAY and teach from that place.
  • Keep your scope of content small, tight, lean, honed. Coaches tend to love big, juicy, holistic conversations. This is a gorgeous frame for your client’s entire journey, but in the context of an e-course, you’ve got to segment the conversation. The smaller the slice, the more profound the teaching. Instead of teaching skillsets A through J inside one course, how about skillsets A and B?
  • When it comes to writing style, err on the side of being brief and clear in how you express yourself. Instead of saying something in 50 words of flowery poetics, can you say it in 10? As with so many things in life, in teaching, less is more.
  • If you teach something theoretical or conceptual, be sure to back it up with real life examples. We all need to understand how ideas translate into action in order to really grasp them and see the possibilities for real life application.
  • Be mindful of multiple learning styles. People not only learn by reading, but also by listening, watching, doing, using sounds or music, and interacting. How you can build in components of each learning style to your content? I love teaching for people who share my dominant learning styles, which are Verbal-Linguistic and Intrapersonal. However, many of my clients are strong Interpersonal, Logical-Mathematical, and Visual-Spatial learners. So I build in elements to my course materials that address these learning styles. The bonus is, creating more visual elements for my material than I normally would usually helps me understand what I’m teaching even better. With a visual, I am much quicker to see gaps, notice interesting connections I might have missed, and find elements I can expand upon in this or future courses.

Overall, the gist of this advice is to keep it simple and clear, always aim to hone down scope while providing lots of real-life applications and examples, and pay attention to how other people learn (i.e. people who are not necessarily wired like you). Take these tips into writing content for your first e-course and you’ll be well on your way to a teaching-and-learning experience that’s as great for you as it is for your participants.

What are your best tips for writing content for a coaching e-course? Share them with us via Facebook.
 

Abby Kerr is Creative Director of The Voice Bureau, a boutique brand voice development and copywriting agency serving solo-owned and small businesses. She is creator of The Voice Values paradigm for branding. Subscribe to her e-letter, Insider Stuff, for your complimentary brand voice self-assessment. Then tweet her to share your Top 3 Voice Values.

Abby lives in the PNW and is a home cook, a dog mom, and a fiction writer.

Beyond 1:1 coaching – how to create an e-course that will stand out from the crowd

25 questions to ask when planning a coaching retreat

guest-heather-thorkelson
So you’re thinking of planning a coaching retreat, hmm? Fabulous! As someone who has run a few of my own (in Iceland and Peru) I can tell you from first-hand experience that they can be profound and transformative experiences for both the participants and you. They can also be complete stress-bag nightmares.

As with all things in online business, we only see the highlight reel of what others are doing. We see smiley photos full of glowing faces on retreat with a sublime sunset background. But not many people talk about the work that goes into to planning, prep, and execution of a large (often international) event. It’s even less often that you hear any mention of the dark side of the retreat business.

Personally, I’m not interested so much in what went really well…there are tons of tips and advice out there on how to make sure your event is a huge success.

What I’m fascinated with – and what I’m sharing with you today – is everything you need to know or put in place to ensure things don’t go sideways.

Trust me; problems with accepting international payments, having a high drama diva on your retreat causing headaches to the other participants, or mismatched expectations causing problems between you and your retreat co-leader are all things you want to avoid at all costs.

Retreats are wonderful but they do require a lot of emotional energy. Set yourself up for success from the beginning, and the rest takes care of itself.

What do I wish I’d considered before running my first retreat? Here are 25 ideas:

1) Do I like being responsible for the happiness of a group of 8-15 people I don’t know well (or at all?)

2) What is my ideal guest for this retreat? What type of person are they? What are they currently craving in life? And importantly, who are they NOT?

3) Where will it be held? Does the time of year need to be taken into consideration? (Both for retreat location – rainy season vs dry season for example – and also for participants home countries – March break anyone?)

4) Will there be an option for people to have their own room and if not what’s the policy for people who decide they don’t like their roommate?

5) What’s included in the price? (retreat only? meals? international airfare? travel insurance?)

6) How will it all be insured?

7) How can I legally accept payments for a retreat in my state/province if I am not a travel agent?

8) In the event of a medical emergency, how will it be handled?

9) What are my deposit, payment, and refund policies?

10) Will I have an application process and if so, how will that be handled? also: how will I reject applications nicely?

11) How will I price the retreat in order to ensure profit?

12) Who will book the venue and any extracurricular activities? Who will follow up with those vendors to make sure everything is in order close to the retreat date?

13) What kind of information do I need to include in the information packet? (if not provided by the venue)

14) How will retreat guests get to and from the airport to the retreat location – what parts of travel to and from am I responsible for?

15) Do I want to collaborate with another person? If so, why? Does it feel less intimidating than doing it alone? What if they don’t pull their weight or there are tensions between us? Will I have a partnership contract in place and who will put that together?

16) Who is responsible for the marketing of the retreat? Me alone? 50/50 between my partner and I? The retreat venue?

17) What is the minimum viable attendance in order to split even? What’s the ideal number in order for it to be profitable?

18) What is a price point that I know my audience would be willing and able to pay?

19) Many retreat venues require a non-refundable deposit to hold the place for your event. Where will I get that funding?

20) What will happen if some people sign up and make a deposit (which I use to make a down payment at the retreat centre) but not enough to make the retreat viable? How will I refund their money?

21) What kind of contract will retreat guests need to sign? And medical form?

22) What is my contingency plan if I end up with a “problem guest“? i.e.; a diva who’s making other retreat guests miserable.

23) How much downtime will guests have? How much of each day will be full of activities?

24) What is the mix of activities I am going to offer? Think mix of physical activities like yoga or zip lining through a Costa Rican rainforest, coaching exercises that require guests to go deep and use a lot of emotional or mental energy, etc.

25) What is the theme of my retreat? What can people expect to do, be, or receive after it all over by having been a part of it?

As you can imagine, this list is really a jumping-off point. Next steps are writing down all of the other questions that these questions bring up, and making a list of everything you don’t know and need to find out. Then go out there and ROCK your retreat like an old pro.

Heather Thorkelson is an small business strategist for location independent entrepreneurs over at the Republic of Freedom. She’s a firm believer that it’s entirely possible to live as we dream, and spends her days proving it. Currently in Sweden, Heather can often be found in Peru and sometimes in the Polar Regions. Get her regular tips over on Instagram and say howdy over on Facebook or Twitter.