There’s plenty of talk out there about marketing your products and services, but a lot of expert launch strategies involve intense email sequences (that often overwhelm your list), pay-per-click Facebook ads, lots of bonuses, product bundles, and so on.
And while they may be helpful for some, these strategies can quickly get complicated and overwhelming for most creative business owners, especially those who are a one-man team.
Launches don’t have to be complicated, salesy, or manipulative.
If you’re preparing to launch a new offering - whether it’s a service or a product - you’ll walk away from this Ellechat with a new perspective on launches and gain some tangible steps for successfully promoting your new idea to your audience.
Episode 6 Livestream Replay
Episode 6 Podcast
Ellechat is now available on iTunes! Listen to the episode by clicking the link below and be sure to subscribe to stay up to date on new episodes.
Lauren Hooker: Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week's Ellechat. It's good to see so many of you tuning in today to talk about a simple approach to.
Launching, I just got out of a launch for Freelance Academy, and it is a lot of work. For those of you who have launched services and products in the past, or maybe you're approaching a launch, you know all the stress and time and effort that can go into them.
You also might feel a lot of pressure because you want the launch to go well, and a lot of people have different takes on launches, and they can get pretty overwhelming. A lot of people have a lot of different components to their launches. They tell you that you need a lot of bonuses. They tell you that it needs to be a 10-day launch, and you need to send out a bunch of emails every day, and you need to do Facebook ads, and Instagram ads, and all these different things, and you might feel very overwhelmed. I know I do.
Every time a launch comes around, which is usually twice a year for me with my courses, one for Adobe Illustrator Basics in the spring, and one for Freelance Academy in the fall, I always consider doing all the things, and then I have to remind myself that I'm one person with two part-time assistants, and I love to try to simplify things and make things easier. I believe that if you're strategic and you go about it the right way, you don't need a super complicated launch. You can have a successful launch from taking a simple approach, so I'll be sharing my simple approach with you all today. I've shared about my Freelance Academy launch in the past. I actually did one of these Ellechat webinars on it last year that I'm happy to link too on the show notes.
I go into depth on some of the topics that I'm going to be talking about here, so you might want to check that out, but yeah, so I want to just dive in. Another reason I wanted to do this webinar in particular was every time I was talking about the launch and strategies for the launch with my husband, Jake, who is very business-minded, he kept throwing out ideas, like, "You could do this for the affiliate program or you could do this for Facebook ads", and they were great ideas, and he was seeing them based on what some other people were doing inside the industry and out, and every time he said it, I would have a response that I have thought through really well for the Elle & Company audience, and he said, "Lauren, you need to do a webinar on this. You need to tell people about why you're doing things differently and switching things up from a lot of the people in this industry", so here we are. I hope that you all find it helpful. I want to start out by saying if you take nothing else out of this Ellechat, focus on number one, building trust with your audience.
Preparing Your Launch
1. Focus on building trust with your audience
I say it time and time again. I know I've said it at least once in every Ellechat to this point, but building trust is the key to getting clients to book you and customers to purchase your products. People are not going to buy from you unless they trust you. Number two, be strategic. Really think through why you're doing what you're doing, and don't just take other people's word for it, and I'm going to share some strategy throughout this webinar, but focus on building trust and being strategic. That's much more important than doing all the things during your launch and adding onto it.
We're going to take a look at what to do before your launch, during your launch, and even after your launch, how to prepare and what you should be thinking about, and really how to simplify things on all ends. Your launch begins long before launch week, and you all notice already. Preparing in advance can make your launch week a breeze, or if you don't prepare, it can make it a bear. There's a couple of things that we did to prepare before Freelance Academy launched a couple weeks ago, and we started planning months and months in advance. Number one though is always focusing on building trust with the Elle & Company audience.
I always try to think about how my content is benefiting other people, why should people on the internet, strangers on the internet care about my business, let alone my offerings, and so throughout the year, not just when launches are coming around, I try to offer helpful content through the blog, through these webinars, now through the podcast, and try to consider how it will benefit those who are following along. This might seem like I'm repeating things, that I can't stress how important it is enough. If you want your launch to go well, if you want people to purchase from you, you have to win their trust, and so always consider how the post that you're sharing, even on social media are benefiting other people. "Why should people care?" I was talking to a local business person in my area yesterday about blogging, and he was saying, "Isn't it weird to share about yourself?", and I said, "I find it so much easier to share because I'm not sharing about myself. I'm trying to share content that's helpful for other people."
Take the me out of it, and focus more on your customers and clients or potential customers and clients, so think about how throughout the year, year-round, even if you're not launching, but especially if you are about to launch, how you're going to get content out there and how you're going to build trust with your audience. I recommend blogging. It's been extremely helpful for me. Webinars are super helpful, podcasts and at the very least, social media, but really consider that.
2. Focus on growing your mailing list
I underestimated just how helpful mailing list could be for a launch until I started working with Bryan Harris. I guess it's almost two years ago now, who really taught me a lot about list building, and especially list building in order to launch. Your list, believe it or not is going to be one of the most effective tools for a launch because of a couple of reasons. Four big reasons. One is direct access to potential customers, so when people are following along with a blog, they have to remember to return to that blog.
People are following along on social media. They're scrolling through when you're trying to interrupt their scroll, but in an inbox, you're getting direct access to people. You can tell them exactly what's going on. I think there is some statistic, and I've written a blog post on this too that I'll link too on the show notes of why mailing list is so important, but 70% of people say they always open an email from a business that they love and trust, so direct access is crucial, especially during launch time when you're talking about purchasing a product or a service, and you're trying to encourage people to sign up for something, so direct access is huge. Follow up with your audience.
When people come to the Elle & Company blog, they may never return again, but if they sign up for a content upgrade or somehow get on the list, I can follow up with them and remind them of Elle & Company and remind them to keep coming back. Also, the benefits of using a list, you get more insight into each individual follower. If someone clicks on a link but never ends up buying, you can send an email back to that person because you know that it's a hot lead, that they're at least interested in it enough to go and click. You can see if they clicked on it a couple of times, so you might go back after the launch is over and offer them a discount because you know that they're interested and approach it that way, so you have a lot of insight and analytics into each individual follower, and also, the potential for greater engagement as well, and better one-on-one engagement. I always try to get people to email me back when I send out a mass email to my list, and I'm always shocked at the number of people who do take the time to reach back out, and it creates a connection, sort of it being a one-way conversation.
It becomes a two-way conversation. It's not public all over social media, and it feels more intimate between you and the people who are following along with you, so a list is extremely helpful. I can't stress it enough. If you're trying to build your list, I also have a blog post on that that goes into greater detail about how I was able to grow my list through content upgrades, easy opt-ins on the homepage, and also these webinars. Every time someone signs up for the webinar, which those of you who are tuning in live know, your email address comes in, and I'm able to invite you to subscribe to the newsletter, so yeah.
Utilizing a list is so important, and especially building trust through that list is really important as you're preparing to launch. I can't stress it enough. I was very skeptical and was proved very wrong when I launched Freelance Academy for the first time. I will talk about a list again in just a second.
3. Determine the duration of your launch
As you're preparing for your launch long before you actually launch, determine how long it's going to be. A lot of people will tell you you need a 10 plus day launch with tons of emails, and for some people, that works.
For me, that's entirely overwhelming and I know when I'm following along with someone and they have a 10-day launch. It's exhausting for me too, so most people will buy at the beginning or right at the end. People who are really excited to buy will probably buy on that first day, especially if you have an incentive or a bonus, and then people who are going back and forth on whether or not to buy, when the pressure comes and you're getting right to the end of your launch, they're going to buy. It's the in between that people usually don't buy, and so with that in mind, I thought, "I'm not going to do a 10-day launch and exhaust everyone. I'm going to do a seven-day launch max. One week to give people enough time to think it over, to send one email a day max because I don't want to push it."
Maybe on the last day, send two emails just because it's the last day, knowing that most people are going to buy right at the beginning or right at the end, so determine how long you want your launch to be.
4. Map out your launch schedule using a project management tool
Like I said, three months in advance, we mapped out the launch using Asana, and we just set up its own project and said, "14 weeks out, 13 weeks out, here's what we need to do. 12 weeks out", and we mapped out the scope of the launch. This will be easier for you once I talk about all that could be included in your launch and what to focus on, but I really think it will simplify and really help you organize all of the details of your launch if you use a project management tool.
It doesn't have to be Asana. If you're familiar with Trello, Basecamp, anything else that you use all the time, use that, but Asana was super helpful for us for mapping out the tasks involved before, during and after the launch, especially if you have an assistant. Me, managing a team with two part-time assistants. Super helpful to have just that home-base for the project through Asana, so be thinking ... Julie asked, "Can you suggest me free project management tools?" Asana is a free project management tool.
You would think it wouldn't be because it's so helpful and so useful, but Asana is free. Trello is free. Basecamp isn't free. If you all know of any other free project management tools, feel free to drop them in the comments section, but I couldn't. Yeah, Melissa agrees Asana is the best and she put a unicorn because a unicorn jumps across the screen when we get a lot of work done. Really great incentive.
Annie said, "Freedcamp is another free one". Kind of like Basecamp too, so that's good to know. Thank you, Annie. All right. That's the four things to do before the launch. Build trust, which you should always try to be doing, build your mailing list, determine the duration of your launch, and map out your launch schedule.
Building Your Launch
Now, building your offering with your launch in mind. Those are the things to do ahead of time. If you haven't built your offering yet, here are some things that you can do to do it with your launch in mind. If you have built your offering, they should be helpful for you too. I think that they should often go hand in hand.
1. Run through a validation process
When I'm thinking about creating something new, I'm thinking about how I can launch it at the same time, and so building it, and then thinking later, "Oh no. How am I going to launch this thing?" I talked about this a lot in that webinar on launching Freelance Academy, but we ran through a validation process. If you have an idea for a product or service but you're not sure if it would resonate with your audience, go through a validation process to make sure that there would be an interest in it. I know a lot of times, I guess like, "I think that this would be helpful and I think people would want this", and I go through the entire process of creating a course and coming up with all the content, and then I launch it, and no one is really interested in it, and so I wanted to prevent against that with Freelance Academy last year, and I ran through a validation process.
I took a select member of people from my list at random, and I broke it into three groups. I think I had 50 people in the first group, 100 people on the second group, and 150 people in the third group, and I reach out to them to say, "Hey, I'm working on a new offering. I would love to get your feedback on it. Let me know if you're interested." If they said they were interested, I send them an email with an overview.
Actually, I send them an email with a link to a Google Doc that had an overview of the course. All that would be in it, the price point, kind of like a landing page, a sales page almost, and then I asked them to fill out a Google Doc or a Google form that is with questions, and I said, "Would you purchase this course? What could I add to it to make it better?", and some of those questions, and if they said that they would purchase it, I invited them to go ahead and pre-order it. What happened through that process was I was able to see one, if people were interested and if I should even bother spending my time creating Freelance Academy, two, I was able to really think through the facets of the course. They told me things like, "We would really love a course community". I don't think I would use this facet of the course, so I was able to tailor it to the needs and wants of students, and I was able to learn their language.
A lot of their feedback, I was able to use in the sales copy when I actually went to launch Freelance Academy, so a validation process can be pretty in depth if you need it to be. It can be really simple if you need it to be, but it will make things a lot easier on you in the long run if you go through a validation process to make sure that yes, people actually really want what I'm making, so consider that, and I have more details about that that I'll link to you on the show notes.
2. Make a list of how you want others to benefit from your offering
I think too many people approach launches with, "How can I make money? How can I make the most amount of money possible during this launch?", and yes, money is important to keep your business running, but if you're only focusing on money and you're not focusing on how people can benefit from what you're offering, you're missing the point, and it just ends up feeling very salesy and manipulative when you are trying to launch.
The way I like to approach it is ... The show notes will be available on Monday on the blog. Sorry. I just saw a comment about that. The way that I love to approach launches isn't, "How can I make the most amount of money possible?"
I believe that will come if I do it honestly, but I try to approach it as, "How are people really going to benefit from what I'm offering?", because if I focus on the benefits, then they will want to buy, then I'll have great testimonials when I go to launch the next time, and it will just keep getting better and better. I believe in the power of testimonials, so yeah, so make a list of how you want others to benefit from your offering. For me, I wanted people to actually follow through on the course. A lot of people buy courses. I'm not out just to make money.
I really do want to help people, and so for me, that looks like offering live webinars. I really wanted to be interactive. I want people to be able to ask me questions and really personalize the content to their business, so I do live webinars. For me, that also looks like challenges, and so I put three challenges throughout the course, and that hopefully encourages people who are taking Freelance Academy to take action on it if they know there's a price like three months of free coaching with me for one of those challenges, and for me, it also looks like dripping the content. Instead of people getting the content all at once, I drip the content every two weeks.
They have time to actually work through the modules. They can ask for a feedback in the course community, and that way, they're not going through it all in their own, so I wanted to think about how people could benefit from it. What was the most important aspects of the course? What did I want people to take away? This is the same for products.
This is the same for services, whatever it is you're offering. How do you want others to benefit from it?
3. Build your offerings around those benefits
Instead of focusing on what everyone else is doing, do what's best for your people, your tribe, your potential clients and customers. Think about what that looks like.
I think when you think about the key take aways for people, and build your course around that, to me, it makes me feel better about selling a course of selling an offering because it's not just about the money, and I think if you do it right, the money will come. I've seen that time and time again, so consider things like pricing and packages. Pricing is a whole other ballgame, but think about the benefits of the course. For me, I priced Freelance Academy a lot higher than Adobe Illustrator Basics because I know it was chock-full. Not that Adobe Illustrator Basics isn't, but I wanted this course to be a premium course.
I really wanted people in the course to feel like it was a big investment, that would be worth the investment, and actually by pricing it higher, I found that there is a lot more community in the course that people are actually taking it seriously. It actually just started this past week, and people are going crazy in the course community, and really excited about it, and I feel like at that high price point, it forces people to take it more seriously. Packages, "Are you going to offer multiple packages or you're going to offer one?" For me, I wanted one package. I didn't want number one, to keep up with a bunch of package differentiations.
Number two, I'm not just out to get people's money, so I didn't want to offer just the video lessons, and not the community and all these other things. I wanted everyone to be able to have the same experience. I knew that it would create more camaraderie around the students, so for me, it wasn't necessarily about tiered pricing, which can be really helpful for you for making money, but I just left it at one, so simplify your launch by just thinking through these things. I won't even call it 'Being strategic'. I would just call it 'Being honest' and looking out for the people who are going to be purchasing from you, so think about that as you think through how your offering will benefit people.
Think about the number of attendees or if you're going to limit your offering at all, whether it's students, customers, clients. Are you going to limit it or are you going to leave it open, and why? How often are you going to offer it? If it's something like a course, is it going to be evergreen and available all the time, or is it only going to be available once or twice a year? If you're offering products, maybe you're offering them all the time, that maybe there's a special kind of product that you're offering that you put a limit on around the holidays or something to really increase the number of orders or increase hype around what you're offering? Think about that.
Are you going to have any live components, direct content? Are you going to have any bonuses during the launch? A lot of people love to have bonuses like they'll launch their course on a Tuesday and have launch bonuses, and then they'll have weekend bonuses, and then they'll have other bonuses. I just do two bonuses on the first day, and that's usually a discount and a one-on-one Skype call with me. Usually, some great advice that I got, and I don't even remember who told me this, but when it comes to bonuses, they should address people's biggest fears in buying the course.
If someone's biggest fear in purchasing your product or service or your online course is that it's too much money or it's quite an investment, then consider offering a discount for a short amount of time during your launch. For instance, one of the biggest fears for people purchasing Freelance Academy was applying it to their business and following through on the course, and so I thought the Skype one-on-one call would be a helpful way to help people with that fear, so consider that. Are you going to offer bonuses? When are you going to offer bonuses, and how can you offer bonuses that address people's fears and calm their fears about purchasing whatever it is you're offering?
4. Brand your offerings to make it appear more professional
I personally love this as a designer. For some of you who aren't designers, this might be entirely overwhelming, and you might think, "Lauren, you're not simplifying this launch for me at all", but when you brand your offering, you make it more recognizable and you help set it apart. It's the same reason you brand your business. You want it to look professional, you want it to look top-notch, well thought through, again building trust. Good design helps to build trust.
If this topic is totally unfamiliar to you and overwhelming to you, I actually wrote a blog post on how to brand your offering this week on the blog, so you can go back to the Elle & Company blog to see that or I can also link to it in the show notes for you, but I walk you step-by-step through choosing colors, choosing fonts, how to create a simple logo for it, and all that good stuff, so be sure to check that out.
Then, focus on one to three key outlets for your launch. We've talked about what to do before the launch. We talked about building your course or your product or your offering around your launch, with your launch in mind, and now, let's focus on one to three key outlets for your launch. This is where I really try to simplify and not do all the things.
1. Consider a mailing list
We just focus on one outlet or two outlets like blogging and a mailing list or a mailing list and social media, or maybe even just a mailing list. That's what I did last year. I hardly focused on social media at all and just focused on the mailing list for the launch, but start out small, and then you can always add on later, so choose one to three key outlets, and I would suggest if anything else, if you don't use any other outlet, use your mailing list. For all the benefits I listed earlier, I really do ... I've seen it firsthand.
I've done many launches without a mailing list, and then now, a couple launches really highlighting my mailing list, and the ones that were really focused on my mailing list have done exceedingly well compared to the others, so utilizing a mailing list can be really helpful. How do you do that? I like to keep things fairly simple by having emails throughout that launch week that makes sense, so one, announcing that course is now available for enrollment, and then some follow up ones. I actually shared that in the other webinar for Freelance Academy, so be sure to take a look at that if you're interested in what my strategy behind that looked like, but one of the main things I do even before launch week is to prep my list and prep people through a problem-agitation-solution sequence. You're preparing people, and start saying, "Hey, I just launched this today. Go ahead and buy it."
I like to show people their need for whatever it is I'm offering beforehand, and so there are a bunch of different strategies and sequences you can use for your list to do this. I use the problem-agitation-solution sequence, but I'm about to do a blog post on a bunch of different sequences that you can use that I'm hoping to use in the future too, so I'll keep you all posted about that, maybe even do a webinar in that one or an Ellechat, which should be a podcast in the webinar. The problem-agitation-solution, I send it out on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday before launch week, and again, it's to prep people for the course and show them their need for it or prep them for the offering, whatever it is I'm about to launch before I actually announce my offering, so the problem email ... The reason if you're tuning into the webinar and you're seeing this live, I have some icons there. The problem email is to show people something that's going wrong that they might be able to relate to.
It's like when you have something in your eye, and it's itchy. That's the problem. Agitation email is to agitate that problem a little bit more, so you have something in your eye, and now it's really itchy, to the point where you really want to find a solution for getting it out of your eye. Maybe there is a spec in your eye at first. It wasn't bothering you too much.
You're trying to blink it out. Now, it's really itchy in the agitation phase, and so that email, you're not providing a solution yet in the problem email or the agitation email, and then, the third email is that solution email. For Freelance Academy, the problem email for me focused on people having no clue how to run a creative business, how I had no clue how to run a creative business, and I encourage engagement, encourage people to email me back and let them know if they could relate what was their biggest business goal and what was keeping them from reaching it if they could relate to my story. The agitation email, I wasn't fixing the problem yet. I was just making it as agitating a little bit more.
Three freelancing myths that I shared those and just telling people that I bought into those freelancing myths. Could they relate? Were they buying into any of them? Which ones were they buying into? Then, the solution email should be like going to rinse the spec out of your eye, whatever was agitating it.
It calms everything down. It makes the problem go away, and so for the solution email, I talked about booking clients in advance. If you're going through a launch and you're wanting to use your list, which you should, consider doing a sequence to prep your list ahead of time. Consider the problem-agitation-solution. I did that on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday before the launch.
On Monday, I announced more details about Freelance Academy, and then on Tuesday, enrollment opened, and that was launch week from Tuesday to Tuesday, so use some strategy. If you're going to use an outlet, use some strategy there. It doesn't have to be over the top. You can keep it simple, but do a really, really good job on whatever platform you choose. I would recommend starting with your mailing list, starting with the sequence like this, putting a lot of time and energy into writing these emails and making sure that the copy sounds good, and then you can add on with social media if you want to, your blog, which I would encourage you to do later, but start out small. That's really how you can simplify.
A couple of tips for utilizing your list. Like I said, research different launch sequences. It doesn't have to be the problem-agitation-solution sequence. There are a bunch out there, and I have to share more with you all in the coming weeks. Start the sequence leading into launch week, so don't just start a sequence with launch week or I say week.
Your launch might be longer or shorter depending on your audience and whatever it is you're offering, and those benefits that you listed earlier, but start that sequence ahead of time to prep your list and show them their need for whatever it is you're offering. Spend the time writing those thoughtful emails. Spend a lot of time on copy, and then encourage engagement. Ask people questions at the end. The huge benefit of utilizing your list is getting right in people's inbox and having a conversation with them, so a question at the end.
Make it relatable. Start a conversation with them. Set aside time to answer questions with them and answer emails. I set aside a bunch of time during launch week to just connect with people. I even for pre-orders this year gave people my phone number and told them to reach out to me if they had any questions, and they would call me, and were surprised that I answered, and I just talk to them one-on-one about the course, so for me, being available is huge, but that engagement is really important to me, so yeah. Those are some tips for utilizing your list during launch week.
2. Consider your blog, social media, etc.
Again, I know I'm pushing a list, but one to three different platforms that you should focus on the first go-round. Your blog, social media, come up with a thoughtful launch strategy. If you're going to use a platform, come up with a thoughtful way to use it. Think of how you're going to use that platform.
For me with the blog, especially when I was launching Adobe Illustrator Basics for the first time, I wrote a blog post on ... I forget how many. It was like 40 ways to use Adobe Illustrator for your blog and business, so it wasn't just, "Hey, Adobe Illustrator is coming up soon. I want you to purchase it." It was trying to show people their need for it.
A lot of times, people buy off emotion, so focus on the why. Don't focus on all of the features of whatever it is you're offering, but focus on the outcomes of it. The outcome for that was how you're actually going to be able to use Adobe Illustrator to make all of these different things that you need for your business, so consider how you can do that with your offering on a different platforms that you choose. Then, you can slowly add on to your launch strategy each time, so once you've mastered maybe using your list for a launch the first go-round, you can slowly add to it the second go-round. For me, I hope that my courses continue to launch year after year, so I'm okay with taking it slow.
I know I don't need to do all the things the first go-round because if I do a really good job with just using my list in year one, then I can add all in by maybe utilizing Facebook ads the next year, so I started out with Freelance Academy last year just using my list, and this year, I add in an affiliate program. We were going to do Facebook ads. It was too much, so we just did one thing, the affiliate program. Next year, we might utilize Facebook ads, but I feel like it's important, especially when you're trying to simplify, to master one thing and do it really well, and then you can slowly add on to it time after time. Some things that you might consider adding in the future, you might consider an affiliate program. You might invite former customers, clients, students to promote the course and get commission from promoting it for every person who buys.
You might do pay per click Facebook ads and explore that a little bit more once you have your current launch strategy down pat. You might consider extra bonuses. Maybe you don't just do launch bonuses. Maybe you add a few more in there. You might do a challenge. For Adobe Illustrator Basics last year, I did a February brand challenge for the whole month of February, and then the course launched in March, so I try to think about how I could prep people for the launch through doing a challenge.
Over time, you can slowly add on to your launch strategy, but start out slow. Like I said, focus on your list. Maybe you just focus on blogging, and then you can slowly add on over time, and I feel like for me, that simplifies things a lot and keeps me from having to do all the things, but like I said, if you take nothing else out of this, focus on building trust and being really strategic during your launch. Think about why you're doing things and how it's actually going to benefit the people purchasing from you, but I'm happy to answer some questions now. I know we're a little bit early on this, but if you have any specific questions, feel free to ask them in the questions section. I'm going to go ahead and get started on these.
Suzanne asks, "Can you share some ideas on what's different when you're trying to launch something when you're fairly new in the business game? I know you always suggest to share a lot of great content and build a following before starting to sell, but are there any great tips on what to do when you have a small following because you are new in the game and want to sell something while building your business?"
Usually, Suzanne, I suggest that you ... This is the reason I suggest offering services before products, because for products, it usually takes a lot of people to buy it in order to justify the cost the products or how much time goes into creating it, whereas with services, you need just a couple people to purchase, and so launching a service, you only need a few people to buy, whereas launching a product, you might need more people to buy in order to bring in more income. That's what I usually suggest.
If you're trying to launch something when you're fairly new in the game, I do. A lot of times, I suggest building a following before launching something for a couple of reasons. One, the validation process that I talked about a little while ago where you truly get to know the needs of your audience when you have an audience there. You can see whether it's worth spending the time and effort building that product, building that service, building a course, whatever it is before you actually build it, and then launch to crickets. I think especially when you're first starting out, time is crucial, and how you spend your time is crucial, and so it'd be much easier to have services while building your audience, rather than spending so much time and effort coming up with a product or a course, and then when you launch, no one buys it.
I hope that makes sense. That's a really good question. Thank you, Suzanne.
Melissa says, "Have you found a sweet spot for the length of your launch/enrollment period, one week, two weeks?"
I think one week is perfect, especially if you are putting the bug in people's ear ahead of time doing that PAS sequence.
Two weeks just feels really long for everyone involved. It feels really long for you. It feels really long for the people following along with you, and like I said, people usually buy right at the beginning or right at the end. You don't have as many people buying in between, so I usually say one week. Melissa said, "Yeah, it felt like an eternity".
I did a 10-day launch for the first round of Freelance Academy, and it was exhausting and I feel like it was just a successful, this go-round, and it was only seven days, so yeah, I think you can shorten it and have success. Back when I was limiting the number of students for Adobe Illustrator Basics, I opened up the course and sold it until 40 seats were gone, and it's sold out in the first 15 minutes, so my launch period was 15 minutes. It just depends. If you're trying to get as many students as possible, then one week, but usually, limiting the number of students or the number of spots available or products or whatever it is creates a sense of urgency for people to buy.
Melissa also asks, "How did you decide on launching each of your courses once a year versus more often, i.e. twice a year?" That's another really great question.
When I first started launching Adobe Illustrator Basics, I offered it twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, and I've gone back and forth on whether to make it available year-round. I found that when I only launch it once a year, it builds excitement for the course and I have a lot more people enroll for that once year enrollment. I also have live components to each one of my courses, and I drip the content, and so for me, if I offered courses, if I offered Adobe Illustrator twice a year, that's five weeks of the year or 10 all together. Five for each round of it that I need to be available in a course community for people asking questions that I'm doing live webinars on the weekends on Saturdays, so it takes a lot of time for me too, so it's two-fold to create more interest in the course and encourage people to buy when I do launch it because it's only available once a year, and also because there's live components. With Freelance Academy, it's a three-month course.
I'm launching modules every two weeks, and then once a month, I have a live webinar, and there are challenges and everything else, so yeah. That's why I offer each one once a year, and for me, one in the spring, and one in the fall. It gives me time to prepare for a launch for it, but I know that people like Kelsey from Paper + Oats who I think registered ... I don't know if she's in here live, but she does the InDesign course, and she's great at it, and she launches it a couple times a year, so I think it just depends, but that's my reasoning behind it if that's helpful.
Justine says, "Hi, Lauren. I'm sure your audience is different, but when you say building an audience, is there a number you're aiming for, 1,000 on your list, 5,000? Any ballparks you have would be so helpful."
1,000 is a great place to start. I think that first 1,000 on your list, that is awesome, and that's a great number to shoot for. For me, when I was ... I should have said ago when I was building my list with Bryan here is I doubled my list size, so that was a good benchmark for me, but I think a thousand is great. Also, keeping in mind, I would also have a goal for how many people like a conversation rate, so if you have a thousand people and you're trying to sell a hundred spots or a hundred products or whatever it is you're selling, then know that 10%, which is a huge number for a conversation rate is going to have to convert.
It just depends on how many people you're trying to get to purchase your product, course, service, so keep that in mind. I need to look up with what the average conversion rate is. I think 10% is pretty high, so keep that in mind as well. It's going to look different for everybody, but I think that's a good place to start. How many people do you want to buy, and then, so if you say that you want a hundred people to buy, and you're hoping for a 10% conversion rate, that means you need to have at least a thousand people on your list.
Sophia said, "How far in advance do you begin putting together the prep work for your launch, planning the blog posts, the emails, etc.?"
I try to do it a couple of months in advance. For Freelance Academy, we did at about 15 weeks in advance, and then with the craziness of the summer, I didn't keep up with that as well as I would have liked to, but there's grace there. I tried to do maybe three months in advance. That would be about 12, 13 weeks, and that's because ...
Yeah. Melissa was saying two for conversion rate. 3% is a solid percentage to shoot for. I thought it was a lot lower. I like that, Melissa. Thank you for weighing in, but that's just the prep work.
Yeah. I try to plan a couple months up. Kelly said, "Do you have any suggestions/tips for launching a service versus a course or a product?"
I would approach it fairly the same way, even doing a PAS sequence and all of that, and making yourself even more available for things like following up on emails, maybe inviting them. I didn't give people my actual phone number.
I use Google Voice, which gives you a number for free actually that routes people to your phone, and you can choose to accept the call or not, so I did it that way, and I found that everyone who called me ended up purchasing the course. I think that that is even more important for people who are going to work with you on services, so if you are launching the services, and you have an enrollment period that you want people to book you, which I think is a fantastic idea because then, you can book your client calendar in advance, I would follow the same things that I talked about here focusing a lot on your mailing list, maybe you also focus on your blog and social media as well, depending on what that looks like for you and how much you want to add on, but do the PAS sequence, have an open enrollment period. Maybe you don't offer bonuses. I wouldn't necessarily offer discounts on services, but maybe you offer some kind of incentive with an extra facet or your service added on or something like that. I hope that makes sense, but definitely making yourself available.
Any other questions? I'm going to wait just a second to see if any other ones roll in. Like I said, I'll link to that Freelance Academy validation post. It was actually in Ellechat, but it's also a post that you can find on the blog because I think that you might find that extremely helpful as well.
April asks, "I've been freelancing for a while now, but how does launching a service work while you don't have an email list yet?"
Maybe you don't have an email list, but you can do the same thing on social media and on your blog, and yeah, that's what I would suggest and try to focus on building your mailing list as you can.
Melissa says, "Me again. How did you decide on an affiliate percentage?" For me, my affiliate percentage was 40%, so anybody who purchase Freelance Academy because an affiliate referred them, that affiliate would get 40%. The course was $697.
They are making a couple hundred dollars for each person who signed up for the course. For me, different people have different takes on percentages, for commissions. I wanted it to be worth people's while. I wanted them if they were promoting the course and if someone was going to buy the course that wasn't going to purchase the course otherwise, then I wanted it to be worth their while and I wanted to give them an incentive to share, and so 40% felt like a solid percentage for people. I know for me, if I know that I'm getting a higher percentage and I'm not just making 10%, then I'm much more inclined to help promote whatever the offering is if I'm just being honest, so I wanted to treat my affiliates well and make them want to participate in promoting the course year after year as well.
That was my reasoning behind it for what it's worth. Suzanne said, "Maybe a bit off topic, but how do you go at this launching services when you have again a very small, new following being a new business?"
I would say the same way. A small following, you could have a thousand people following along with you who just have a very passive interest in your business, or you could have a hundred people following along with you that love everything you do and you have a ton of engagement. I don't think that followers necessarily ...
I think that numbers can be deceiving. Actually, the guy that I was talking about earlier that I met up with yesterday and I was talking about blogging and just some business strategy with, he has 17,000 followers on Instagram, who like his pictures and everything else, and he said, "Lauren, I've been tracking how many people from Instagram actually come back to my site and buy, and it's like no one buys". He has services and products. He's booked out on services, so he's trying to focus on products, and he said, "No one". 17,000 people and no one comes back to his site to buy, and so followings can be deceiving, so if you're focusing on engagement with your following and you're really getting to know people and starting conversations, you can still have a successful launch.
I think it's the quality of the people following along. I don't necessarily think it's all about the numbers. The numbers are helpful, and you can definitely do things like percentages that I was talking about before for conversion rates and all of that, and you do want to grow your list, but I think also, fostering that trust and engagement with people, it's super important too. Does that answer your question? I hope so, Suzanne.
All right. Shakira asks, "I'm launching a membership site. Would you suggest the same strategies?"
Yes. I wish I had done something like this with the librarian.
I might even in the future as I update it, but yes. Absolutely. For anything that you're launching, this approach works, especially that PAS sequence and all of that, definitely, and maybe even if it's an evergreen thing like my library is evergreen, maybe you offer some bonuses and special incentives for people to purchase within a window, so maybe a one-week window to create hype around it either when it launches or maybe during a certain time of a year, but that's what I would do. You got me thinking now about the librarian how I can create some more hype around that. All right.
I think that's it for questions. If you all come across any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section on the blog when the show notes go live because I'll be happy to answer them there too, but thank you all for taking the time to join in the day. I hope it was helpful for just simplifying a launch strategy, and again, it goes back to building trust and being strategic, and I really think if you're authentic and you're thinking about people's best interest, you're sure to have a better launch than if you're just thinking about the numbers, so yeah. That's my take on it. All right.
I hope you all have a great week. Next week, I'll be talking about 12 ways, proven ways to drive traffic to your website, so if you're having a lot of trouble building your list and growing your following, you'll definitely want to tune into that one. I think that's often people's biggest hang up with blogging or having a website is getting people to actually see it, so I have a dozen tricks up my sleeve for that that I'll be sharing with you next week. If you go to my account on Crowdcast, you can click on, and my face is around here somewhere on here, that you can click on my account, and go ahead and register for that one. It's already up, or you can go to elleandcompanydesign.com/ellechat, and go ahead and register there too.
I hope to see you all in another Ellechat very soon. Best wishes with your upcoming launches, and I'll see you all later. Bye.