May 16th, 2017 E-Learning

When starting your online business selling courses you will realize that in order to be successful you have to  incorporate some form of marketing.

I often encourage people to start marketing their business sooner rather than later. In certain circumstances it makes sense to sell your course even before you  make it!

Next to your final product your marketing efforts are going the most important part of your business. You can have the best course in the world but if no one can find it then it really doesn’t matter. The problem is that there is so much information out there about online marketing that it can be overwhelming trying to determine what to do.

I have written in the past about some proven techniques you can use for promoting and marketing your course(s). This includes things like traditional content marketing, paid advertising, networking, and others.

My advice is to pick one or two and dedicate your time to those. Very rarely does marketing pay off in the very beginning. It takes time so if you can commit to one or two methods. You will see results quicker than if your efforts are spread out.

As you search for the right promotion method for your business there are a few “traps” to avoid. These techniques are borderline scams (it all depends on how they are marketed). As a general rule-of-thumb: anything that seems to promise great gains for little effort probably belongs in the “scammy” category.

People fall for these faulty promotion methods simply because they don’t know any better. There’s nothing wrong with that as we all need to start somewhere. My hope is that with this article I can educate those of you who are just starting out in online business so that you don’t waste your money.

Here are some techniques you should flat-out avoid as you start your journey creating & selling online courses:

Paid Backlinks

As you create your website you will realize that the search engines (aka: Google) have the potential to be the lifeblood of your business. If you are found in the search then your sales message is in front of more people. The more people that see your offering the more sales you will likely make. Pretty simple.

What isn’t so simple is achieving first-page rankings in Google.

As you research ways to boost your site’s popularity you will come across services that will sell you backlinks. There was once a time when Google put a heavy emphasis on the total number of sites linking to your site (i.e. backlinks). It is still an important factor but you simply cannot purchase these links. Well, you can but your going to pay a heavy price when Google removes you altogether from their search.

Online Press Releases

Now this one isn’t necessarily scammy since most services like PRWeb do actually syndicate your press release on online outlets. However, let me just be clear that it’s a complete waste of money. I have never heard of a situation where someone paid $200+ for a press release to be published by PRWeb and it resulted in sales. Yes it feels good seeing your business “blasted” on the internet. But these articles disappear over time and you will probably be the only one reading them.

Save your time and money. Instead of writing a press release write a blog post instead. Or, pay $200 to have four blog posts professionally written and put them on your site. You will get far more for your investment this way.


Speaking of blogging, you may be tempted to take some shortcuts if that is a method you wish to use for promotion. There are hundreds of auto-blogging solutions out there that promise search engine traffic with little work.

Remember what I said regarding these too good to be true promises? Run far away from these. Sites running auto-blogs are primed to be removed from Google. The content they put out is garbage and Google recognizes this.


Seeing a trend? Anytime a technique has “auto” as part of its name then you should look the other way. 🙂

There are services and software available that will automatically leave comments on sites with articles related to your course niche. I’m sure you’ve seen these before, and chances are you have had a few on your own site!

They are annoying, they don’t work, and they will waste your time.

Instead it’s better to leave actual comments on articles you find interesting. Participate in the discussion and at the very end you can leave your website or business name as part of your signature. If you have a thoughtful comment then most people are okay with this.

Done-For-You SEO

Let me preface this with the fact that there are definitely legitimate firms that will run your SEO campaigns for you – just know that they require an investment of thousands of dollars a month for a minimum contracted time period of six months.

If you find a service that is ridiculously low priced then it’s not worth your time. If you feel like $500/month is expensive I can promise you that it is a rip-off. No one can perform the SEO you need for just $500/month. What they will do is purchase some backlinks and write an article or two.

The result? You will be $500 poorer with nothing to show for it.

This same warning applies to the hosting companies that have SEO upsells for an extra $29/month. There are some big (reputable) companies that offer this so beware!

Truth be told, when it comes to SEO you are better off learning the basics and doing it yourself.


If you know of a technique that simply doesn’t work for online business then please leave a comment below – your experience will help someone else!

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter

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