How to Create a Million Dollar Online Course

June 5, 2019

How do you create a million dollar online course?
It took me three years to create SOMBA, my signature online course, and make $1M with it. But it doesn’t need to take three years. I know people who created their signature online course in their first year of business.
In this episode, I share my story to inspire you to create your own million dollar online course. This is your chance to avoid the same mistakes I made and profit from the lessons I learned along the way.
Are you more of a reader? Scroll down for the full blog post!

What you will get out of this episode:

  • Why an online course isn’t the first thing you should create (2:04)
  • How I discovered webinars for me and created 100 webinars in 1100 days (3:49)
  • Agonising over my signature course – and finally getting clear on it (10:00)
  • How I sold 50 spots for my inaugural class (19:13)
  • Coming up with my own framework (22:30)
  • Making over $300K in the first year of launching SOMBA (24:41)
  • Hitting the million (28:41)
  • The 3 crucial elements to creating your online course (29:07)


Creating a Million Dollar Online Course – My Story

When I started my business in 2014, I thought I needed an online course right away. I barely had an email list, only a few followers and no audience to sell my course to, but I created one nonetheless. 
When I did a free beta round, 134 people signed up and I got great testimonials. But I soon realised that I didn’t just want to do a small online course. I needed a signature program in order to create a bigger community and live from my business. 
I had no idea what that signature program should be. What I did know was that I needed to create more content. I had been so focused on creating my first online course that I hadn’t spent much time on creating content for people to consume. 
Blogging took me too long so I started doing webinars. People had to sign up with their email address to participate, which worked well back in 2014. Today, I would recommend you create content that people can consume without having to sign up – so called non-gated content – alongside the content that you give to people after signing up. 
Within 1100 days, I had done 100 webinars and was selling them without really having a community. I knew that the trainings were full of valuable content and that I could use them for my signature course. I just didn’t know how yet. 

“So basically you have nothing to sell”

In 2016, I was still selling my webinars as packages. I had started working with a new coach and in our first mastermind call, he asked the group: “What have you got to celebrate?” I told him that I’d just had a $230K launch and sold out all my mastermind programs. This is what he said to me: “So basically you have nothing else to sell now.” It was exactly what I needed to hear. 
I was following other business coaches and saw that they had created their signature course in their first year of business.
I asked myself, “How did they do that? How did they know what their ideal client wanted?”
Today, I know that everyone has their journey and things don’t move any faster by being frustrated. And what really turned a switch in my head was that comment of my coach. 
I wanted to announce my signature program as soon as possible, even though I didn’t know what it was yet. Funny enough, the time pressure caused me to wake up one morning with a clear idea in my mind of what my signature course should be about.

My Course Idea Takes Shape

I wanted to create a program that was better than the MBA I had done at London Business School. There had been no education about entrepreneurship during my MBA, so I wanted my course to be all about entrepreneurship. I wanted female entrepreneurs to learn how to run an online business. SOMBA – Sigrun’s Online MBA – was born.
My webinars became my online library on entrepreneurship. They contained everything on how to run a successful online business: How to create an online course, how to launch, how to build a team, how to do copywriting. I created 12 modules that provided a curriculum. The course wasn’t going to be one of the many short 8 to 12-week programs already on the market. I designed it to be a thorough 12-month course. 

SOMBA Becomes My Million Dollar Online Course

I announced SOMBA in my next webinar and offered the participants to join the inaugural class for $1,000. The first ten people to sign up would get a one-on-one call with me. 50 people signed up.  
Even though I hadn’t created all the content yet, my signature program was here to stay. I got to work and created more content and a community and most of all, I analysed who had joined and what they needed. 
Within the first year, SOMBA revenue hit $300K. Each launch grew bigger as I enlarged the community, worked on my list building and started publishing a podcast in August 2017. With more visibility and content, SOMBA became more and more successful. In 2018, the revenue from SOMBA hit the million dollar mark. 

3 Key Lessons to Create Your Million Dollar Online Course

Over these three years, I’ve learned a number of lessons. Here are the top 3 to get you going on your own million dollar online course.  

Lesson 1: Know your ideal client

I can’t emphasise this enough. Start with one-on-one sessions to really understand what your clients want. Then you can move to group programs, tackling their issues and offer your clients the support they really need. 

Lesson 2: Determine how you can be different

What can you offer that other people are not offering? It may feel as if everything already exists, and to some extent it’s true. I didn’t invent hot seat calls, nor weekly office hours. But I combined the two to make my program unique. 
Don’t take over someone else’s structure or course and do the same. Wait until you have the idea that makes your program truly yours. 

Lesson 3: It takes time to reach your goals

It’s probably not possible to reach your goals and become successful in just a few weeks. But if you have a profitable idea and set a reasonable goal, like creating a signature course people are happy to pay for, you can do it in 12 months.   

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