Selling Courses? Avoid This!

stacking-coinsEvery day I get the opportunity to discuss people’s goals of creating and selling an online course.

Sometimes I am asked about course structure.

Other times questions revolve around certification management.

But most of the time I find that the questions I am asked are very much centered on one thing: features.

Don’t get me wrong, features of your learning management system are extremely important. You want something that is powerful but nimble so that you can create a dynamic learning experience.

But here’s the truth: features won’t make or break your course.

Caught In The Weeds

It’s not uncommon for me to have three or four back-and-forth emails with a prospective customer for LearnDash where we are discussing ultra-specific functionality.

It’s clear that these individuals have put a ton of thought into the-exact-way-the-course-must-work.

My general recommendation here is to pick some of the critical course components (no initial course offering should have more than 3-5) and evolve from there.

If you don’t force yourself to move on from feature specs, you’ll never get to market. You’ll constantly be stuck in the weeds.

You can spend as much time as you like worrying about features, but if it were me I would be less worried about those components (if a feature doesn’t exist, it’s always possible to build it). Instead, my focus would be on answering questions like:

  • Is there a market for this course?
  • Do I have a market presence?
  • How will people find my course?
  • Why does my course matter (what is the unique selling proposition)?

These are the critical questions that need answers from the start even before you launch a course. If you don’t have an audience, a defined customer base, a marketing plan – you have no sales. The features mean nothing.

If you are in the process of building out your course offering remember to keep these items in mind. Addressing these things first will be far more beneficial for your course in the long-run.


Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Twitter | LinkedIn

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