How to Secure Speaking Opportunities to Grow Your Income

Digital products are a great way to diversify your income, and yet many independent business owners feel uncertain about how to use social media to sell their products. We all know by now the impact that being visible on social media can have on your business, but maintaining a consistent presence everywhere does have the potential to become unbearable and exhausting (especially with constant algorithm and platform changes).  

After two painful burnouts, I learned an invaluable lesson: It is possible to sell more and do less on social media and the first thing you need to do is understand what “season” your business is in. 

Not sure what I mean? I’ve got you covered – let’s dive in. 

Choose a social media platform (H2)

As a business owner, it’s important to know why you’re investing time and resources into something. So, let’s start with platforms you can use to sell digital products on autopilot. 

Instagram (H3)

With nearly one billion monthly active users, Instagram is one of the most popular social networks worldwide. That means that no matter what your business is, your target audience is very (very) likely be hanging out on Instagram. 

 

Some other things to note about Instagram: 

  1. Organic reach is down (competition is up!)
  2. Paid ads are complicated
  3. It’s harder to grow followers today, but easier than ever to drive sales (more on that later)

TikTok (H3)

Like Instagram, TikTok boasts one billion active users. But unlike Instagram, TikTok snagged the title of the most downloaded app in the world.  While business owners (myself included) originally thought the platform was just for teens who wanted to learn dance trends, it’s now crystal clear that TikTok is joining the ranks with other powerhouse social media brands and lots of independent businesses and potential customers alike are on this platform now. 

 

According to Retail Touchpoints, 72% of users report making purchase decisions based on something they saw on Instagram. And Marketing Dive tells us that one-third of users have made a purchase right from an ad (cold traffic). 

While AdWeek reports that nearly half of TikTokers are buying stuff from brands they see on the platform. The survey shows that 15% of all adults and 36% of Gen Z have made purchases based on TikTok. 

 

Pro Tip: There is no doubt about it, both Instagram and TikTok are worth the investment for independent business owners. They can both bring lots of value to your digital product sales strategy. 

How to sell on social media without burnout (H2)

Now that we know how important it is to have a presence on Instagram and TikTok, how can we leverage social media without doubling our workloads or hiring an entire team? We’re all familiar with the sense of creeping burnout that can come from the relenteless demand of social media. 

 

The key to selling more digital products on autopilot is using social media in a way that matches the “season” that your business is in.  

 

You’re in a season of visibility if: (H3)

  • You’re in the research or pre-launch phase of your business.
  • You’re growing your warm audience.
  • You want to be seen as an expert in your industry or niche.

 

You’re in a season of engagment if: (H3)

  • You need feedback from your audience.
  • You need to confirm a new idea or initiative is something people will pay for.
  • You want to chat one-on-one with potential clients.

 

You’re in a season of lead generation if: (H3)

  • You’re building a waitlist for your next launch or offer.
  • You’re booking discovery calls for your business.
  • You’re building anticipation for something.


You’re in a season of closing sales if: (H3)

  • You’re lauching your latest offer!
  • Your shopping cart is open.
  • You’re welcoming in new clients or students.
  • You’re answering any last questions people might have.

 

Once you understand what season your business is in, you’ll be able to use only the Instagram and TikTok features that correspond with that season. Hello, autopilot.

How social media algorithms work (H2)

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of which features to use to sell digital products on social media, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how the algorithm for each platform works. The algorithm has one simple goal: get people to spend more time on the app. That’s it. 

 

If your content is valuable (meaning people re-watch it, comment on it, share it, or save it), you’ve accomplished that goal. One thing that you’ll see across both Instagram and TikTok, is that short-form videos are being prioritized. Why? Because they check all of the boxes for content that keeps people on apps longer. 

 

According to invideo, In 2020, 96% of consumers increased their online video consumption, and nine out of ten viewers said that they wanted to see more videos from brands and businesses. In fact, as of 2022, an average person is predicted to spend 100 minutes per day watching online videos.” 

 

Later Market Research tells us that in 2019, users spent a weekly average of six hours and 48 minutes watching online videos, which is a 59% increase from 2016. There’s no way around it: using short-form videos is the number one way to increase brand awareness, trustworthiness, and sales on social media. 

 

What else should you keep in mind while posting? Instagram has confirmed that they take a few things into account when it comes to pushing content: 

 

  1. Information about the post. These are signals both about how popular a post is–think how many people have liked it–and more mundane information about the content itself, like when it was posted, how long it is if it’s a video, and what location, if any, was attached to it.
  2. Information about the person who posted. This helps them get a sense of how interesting the person might be to you (the viewer), and includes signals like how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks.
  3. Your activity. This helps Instagram understand what you might be interested in and includes signals such as how many posts you’ve liked.
  4. Your history of interacting with someone. This gives them a sense of how interested you are generally in seeing posts from a particular person. An example is whether or not you comment on each other’s posts.

 

That means that social media should be less about talking to “followers” or “subscribers” and more about talking to a human who’s reading your actual words. In other words, t should be less about focusing on likes and comments and more about direct messages, shares, reposts, and actions taken.

 

It’s important to remember that this is relevant no matter what season your business is in.  . 

 

Pro Tip: Selling equals helping. This is the key to not coming across as pushy or inauthentic. If you focus on the relationship the sales follow. Trust me. Using the season’s method to sell digital products on autopilot using short-form videos

Now that we know which social media platforms to focus on (Instagram and TikTok), what kind of content those platforms like (videos), and why the algorithms like that kind of content (they keep people on the app longer), we can zero in on how to sell on autopilot. 

 

Find out which features you should use for your season  (H2)

Visibility season (H3)

  • Instagram Stories: specifically use the visibility stickers like location, mention, and hashtag.
  • The 5-3-1 method: go into one of your hashtags on your recently published post and like five posts, comment on three, and reply to one story.
  • Hashtags: use up to ten hashtags in storie, and 30 hashtags in posts on Instagram. 

Engagement season (H3)

  • Calls-to-action (CTA): in your posts, ask people to share and save (both increase your engagement rate). 
  • Instagram Stories: specifically use engagement stickers like polls, question boxes, the emoji slider, and quizzes.
  • Chat sticker: use the chat sticker to open up a private chat with people most interested in the upcoming course topic that you’re building out.

Lead generation season (H3)

  • Direct messages: have potential customers and clients DM you a code word to get more information about what you’re collecting leads for. 
  • Instagram Stories: use the poll sticker to ask if your viewers want the link for your opt-in or landing page. 
  • Close friends: mark leads as “close friends” and then send them special pre-launch stories.

 

Closing sales season (H3)

  • Direct messages: ask followers to direct message you in captions and end your stories with a CTA to *reply* to your story with questions.
  • Instagram Stories: use poll stickers to ask questions about what’s holding them back and then follow up in their DMs. 
  • LIVE: go LIVE every day to talk about your product or service. 

 

So, there you have it! Coaches, service providers, product-based businesses alike can use this information to sell digital products on autopilot using short-form videos on social media. 

 

Just remember to stay focused on whatever season you’re in. Once you know that, you’ll know where to focus your efforts on social media which allows you to get more out of the time and energy you invest into each platform. 

 


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Try This Online Course Launch Strategy

Are you waiting until launch week to begin marketing your new course? Ditch the traditional launch plan and check out Amanda’s tips for how to generate momentum, leverage your waitlist, and drive sales for a successful launch. You’ll have the tools you need to launch a successful course this time and every time.




If you’ve ever tried creating an online course, you’re probably familiar with this scenario. The days are flying by and you’re frantically trying to put together the course you’re getting ready to launch. You’re writing, filming, editing, setting up your student portal, and feeling as if you’re running a marathon each day as you get closer and closer to the launch day (the one outlined in red on your calendar). 

Launch day comes and you’re nervous and excited. It’s finally time for you to announce you’re amazing new online course on social media. You’re ready to hit send and make this incredible offering available to your email list. The one you’ve been working months to carefully and intentionally craft just for them.  

And then…crickets. Talk about disappointing, right? 

The thing is, you know the course you created is amazing. You know you are capable of helping so many others with this information. So, why aren’t people buying? Where are the students you gleefully envisioned putting sticky notes on the wall for?

They’re multiple steps away from hearing about your course. Why? It’s simple because you spent all of your pre-launch time creating the course instead of promoting it.

All too often, independent business owners will decide to create a new offer and won’t share it with anyone until “launch” day. They tease that they’re working on something exciting. Or that they’ve even got a great course they’re working on creating. But they aren’t sharing why their audience should actually care or consider buying until launch week. By then, it’s too late to make an impact and move your audience into a buying mindset. 

Your audience needs to know before the course is available that they want to buy it. In fact, you should be thinking about your launch week as the opportunity to gain visibility for your next launch. 

So, how do you ensure your audience knows whether or not this course is for them before it’s even available? The answer is a strong waitlist strategy within a strong launch runway.

How to plan your online course launch runway 

Don’t make the mistake of waiting until launch week to start marketing your new course. If you’ve waited until launch week to start marketing, your audience won’t have enough time to decide whether or not your course is for them, which means they likely won’t buy it. We have to hear about something multiple times before we take action on it, and you want those touchpoints to have already happened before launch week even begins. 

This is where your launch runway comes in. A strong launch runway for a brand new offering should last about 12 weeks. You won’t be selling during all 12 weeks, but you will be preparing your audience for the launch with the four phases of your runway.

Pre-pre-launch (eight to 12 weeks out from launch) 

During this phase, your job is to bring awareness to the problem that your audience has and that your new course will solve. It’s highly likely they don’t know what the problem they have is. This is because they’re focused on a symptom of that problem, that they’re mistaking for the actual problem. The problem before the problem. 

For example, a problem my audience often has is not having a system for batch-creating content. The way that problem manifests itself in their business is that they are overwhelmed by content creation. They never feel like they have time to create content and they are stuck on the content creation hamster wheel. 

If I polled my audience and asked how many of them struggled with not having a content batching system, I wouldn’t get many responses. But if I polled them and asked how many of them struggled with being overwhelmed by content creation, I’d have a ton of responses. That’s the problem before the problem, and that’s where your launch strategy begins. You want to create content that showcases how they can solve the problem they currently are aware of. If I was coming up with content topics for the above example, they might look like this:

  • Five ways to save time when creating content
  • The one thing I implemented to save hours creating content
  • Using content to bring in a steady stream of clients

All of which would address the pain point, help solve the problem of not having enough time to create content, and educate on the need for a batch creation system (the course solution). 

Notice that you won’t be pushing the course yet. You’re simply setting your audience up to see that they need to do the thing that your course will teach them to do.


Pre-launch (four to six weeks out from launch)

Once you’ve spent some time opening their eyes to their problem, and helping them become problem aware, it’s time for the pre-launch phase. During this phase, you want to set up the idea that your offer is the best thing to help them solve their problem.

Here you’ll spend time giving them information on how to solve the problem. Ask yourself what it is that your audience needs to know or do before implementing that solution. What are the basic steps they’re going to take? How can they begin to implement what it is that you are teaching them?

Going back to the example I gave previously, the problem is that my audience doesn’t have a content batching system in place. My solution is my membership, which teaches them to do just that. Thanks to the last phase, they now know they need to whip their content creation into shape (hopefully by batching). Now it’s time to take it to the next level and make them aware of my offer. 

Some examples of content I could put out during this phase would be:

  • The first to batch creating your content
  • Content batching 101
  • Content creation made simple

All of which would be incredibly valuable education that helps them make progress towards solving their problem. This is also where you would let your audience know that if they’re ready to get serious about solving this problem, you’ve got something coming up that will help. 

And this right here is where the waitlist magic comes in. 

Within these piece of content that has provided them with incredible value, you’re going to tell your audience about your upcoming course and share the link to sign up. Let them know that it’ll make solving their problem even more simple when it’s launching and that by signing up now they can get in on a special deal (or whatever incentive you’d like to offer, for example, extra worksheets, 1:1 time with you, etc.) by signing up for the waitlist.  

The beauty of this strategy is how seamlessly it flows together from making your audience aware of their problem, to demonstrating your value and expertise and hooking them on your course. 

Visibility boost (a week before launch) 

By this point, you’ve done the work of pushing people onto your waitlist and are getting closer to launch. Frankly, this phase is like an added bonus and you may want to skip it for your first launch, especially if you’re short on marketing bandwidth.

At this point, you’re focused on increasing awareness and providing your audience with added value.  This is where things like webinars, social media challenges, pop-up podcasts, and so on come into play.

You’ll want to time your visibility boost a few days before your course launches and you want to start promoting it roughly two weeks before that. 

The visibility boost can be used to funnel more people to the waitlist, and it’s typically a good way to connect on a deeper level with your current audience, which will hopefully lead to a sale. It can also be a great way to attract new people for future launches. 

That said, it does require extra work to make happen and you don’t absolutely need it to make your waitlist strategy work (though it definitely helps). So it’s up to you whether you want to include this step.


Launch week

This is where you sell, sell, sell by talking all about your course. By the time launch week starts, the goal is to make sure that as many people as possible already know whether or not your course is for them. However, there are always fence-sitters, so showing up and selling is important. 

This tactic is important not only for the launch you’re currently working on but also for future launches. Throughout this entire process, you attract new people to your brand and, though they may not buy this course, they may be convinced of your value and expertise, making them prime customers for the next one. 


Build momentum with your waitlist 

Now that you’ve got you an ideal client on your waitlist and are interested in your upcoming online course, what happens? 

1. Mark your calendar 

Set the date for when your course becomes available to your waitlist for the day before it becomes available to the general public. Making your course available to your waitlist early is an incentive for people to sign up for it in the first place. Not only that, these early bird sign-ups will give you momentum at the beginning of the launch. 

In my experience, sales tend to trickle in throughout the week with the biggest batch occurring at the end of the launch week. With a waitlist strategy, you’re going to flip those numbers. You’ll end up with most of your sales on day zero of your launch – and that social proof will help your momentum throughout the remainder of the launch.

2. Set up your incentive 

One of the most successful incentives in my experience is a discount code. Because we all love to save some money! It’s also easy and automated so it’s not a lot of extra work on your end. I also like to share bonuses as part of my waitlist strategy but you can offer whatever incentive you want that you think will appeal to your target audience. 

Whatever you decide to use, be sure to set it up early so that you don’t have to worry about it when the sales start coming in.


3. Write your emails 

The people that have signed up specifically for the waitlist are considered hot leads because they haven’t just said “yes, I want more information about this topic”, they’ve raised their hand and said, “yes, I’m specifically interested in this course.” This means you don’t need to send your waitlist a lot of sales emails to warm them up, they’re already open to buying. 

Instead, give them a sneak peek of what’s to come to get them excited. Remember to also reiterate that they have early bird access and can sign up for the course a day before everyone else. Emphasize the urgency of that offer by reminding them that their bonus for being on the waitlist is only valid for that one day.  To help you nurture these hot leads, check out this list of eight emails to send to your waitlist!


4. Launch

It’s finally time to open the doors and welcome your new students to your online course thanks to the steps outlined in this strategy! Thanks to the time and effort you put into creating a strong launch runway, your audience was not only aware of your course but also understood the way it would solve their problem before your launch week even began. Not only that, you leverage your waitlist to drive sales and build momentum for a great launch week.

Wishing you the best of luck in your upcoming launch, my friend! 

 


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How to Create a Transformational Online Course

As an online course creator, you never want your students to walk away from their experience feeling disappointed. That can happen when expectations are misaligned or the curriculum isn’t designed to engage and excite learners. Don’t let this happen to you. Steph shares her most effective strategies to help any independent business owner create an outstanding online course.  Time for some real talk: most of the online courses out there suck. There, I said it. What do I mean by that? They have super low completion rates, which means most students aren’t even watching all of the content, must less getting the results they were promised. That means no ravings fans to refer the course to others.  This sadly seems to be the norm these days. According to Teachable, online courses have a completion rate of just under 10%, meaning most students don’t get any results from the courses they’re investing so much in. I think that’s devastating– for both the students and the course creator. The abundance of ineffective online courses has caused a lot of people to think that they just don’t work well at all. Wrong. They just have a bad reputation. I’m on a mission to change that by helping you create an exceptional transformational online course!

Why a lot of existing programs suck

First, I want to say that it’s not your fault that your course isn’t performing well. Most of the guidance about course creation is about how to sell the courses, and not how to create a truly transformational curriculum. That makes sense since most of the support comes from people with marketing backgrounds. A lot of people have decided to go the DIY route and just wing it. This is understandable; it doesn’t seem too complex and you’ve seen a lot of other independent businesses launching courses all the time. But would you attempt to fly an airplane without some guidance? Or step in and take charge during an open-heart surgery? You might say that those examples are a little dramatic. After all, this is just an online course. But let me be clear: courses can also be life-changing. After all, if you didn’t want to make an impact, you wouldn’t be doing this in the first place.  Courses have the power to change lives! Well, at least the excellent ones do. Read on for some tips on how to keep your students engaged so they finish your online course and get those spectacular results that they deserve! 

Here’s why your completion rates are low

From my experience, both working with Stanford professors and online entrepreneurs, I see four main reasons why completing your course is so dang hard for students. When some (or all) of these things happen, it gives your learner the excuse to push your course off and into the digital graveyard, never to be resurrected again. This little progress halting monsters are confusion, procrastination, boredom, and overwhelm. You want to avoid these at all costs. Let’s break them down one by one.

Confusion

This is when you’re students have no clue what’s going on or what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re thinking, “Wait, what am I supposed to be doing? What do I do next?” They’ve been dropped into a new experience and trusted that they would be shown the way, but they’ve lost track and don’t know what action steps to take next.

Procrastination

We’ve all been there—knowing there’s something we should do right now but putting it off repeatedly. Your students say to themselves, “I’ll come back to this later when I have more time to focus.” This happens when your learner is required to choose between competing priorities. And, unsurprisingly, your course loses. In most cases, procrastination leads to a mad dash right before the deadline to get stuff done. In an online course, procrastination means your student ghosts, never to be seen again. Both confusion and procrastination contribute to…

Overwhelm

Your student says to themselves, “Ah there’s too much to do, I don’t have time for all of this.” This usually happens when you accidentally overload your learner with too much content. In this case, they won’t end up absorbing anything at all. We are so excited and eager to give our learners everything they need to reach their goals that we sometimes overdo it. The trick is that less is more.  It might sound more appealing to accomplish something in three steps versus eight, but the reality is that you’re more likely to reach the end in eight smaller steps versus three big ones. 

Boredom

The worst one of them all. This is when your learner thinks, “Ugh, who cares? What does this have to do with anything?” When your learner isn’t engaged with the experience and/or doesn’t see the relevance, they lose their momentum quickly. Why would you keep going if you just… don’t… care? It seems like our attention spans are getting shorter all the time and, when it comes to online courses, this couldn’t be more true. So we must keep our learners engaged! 

How to create a better course 

Fear not, course creator! There are simple tweaks you can make to your course to make sure that your students stay on track and move forward toward their amazing transformation. The remedies for our little monsters will not only help your learner as they move through your course but have the added benefit of simplifying your creative process as well! I like to think of these as the jewels that bring extreme power, like in Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet (for my Marvel fans out there).

Structure

To combat confusion, give them structure. Adult learners like to know where they’re headed. Let them in on the structure because it helps organize information. Your learners will spend less time focused on how all the pieces fit together, and more time on the content itself, if you’ve spelled it all out for them upfront. It also sets clear expectations for what they are going to learn and when. This then reassures them that they’re on track to reaching their goal.  

In practice, this looks like making sure that your content is laid out in a clear order and grouped in ways that make sense. You can provide a roadmap of the course journey or workbooks that students can fill in as they go through the course. Even a simple agenda will reassure your students and keep them engaged. 

Ease

Address procrastination by ensuring your course is as easy as possible to move through. Any friction in your course can be an easy excuse for a student to simply bail (and we don’t want that!). They’ll be less likely to save it for later (which, let’s face it, never comes) and more likely to act if the next steps are relatively easy to accomplish. Action means higher completion rates, and higher completion rates mean more transformation and happier students.  Adding ease can be as simple as making sure that your lessons are bite-sized. A good rule of thumb is to keep your lessons under ten minutes. When you’re doing something like a workshop, sprinkle in activities to break things up!

Connection

When learners are bored, they need more connections. Connection to the material, connection to the transition between learning points, or connection to other people who are on the same journey. Keeping things relevant for your learners is key for engagement. Put things into context to help avoid the dreaded “why should I care?” question. Doing so will help keep your students engaged even during the drier parts of your course.  In practice, this looks like including examples, case studies, and stories in every lesson. Demonstrate how the activities you’re asking them to do connect to the promised transformation of the online course.

Simplification

It’s part of your job to ensure everything you’re giving your learners is truly essential to move them toward their goals. When in doubt, ask yourself, “If I took it out, would my learners still be able to get to their goal?” If the answer is yes, it goes. But you don’t necessarily have to throw it away. Hand on to these less-essential elements of your course to use as bonus topics or to use as a free lead gen magnet in your marketing strategy. 

Pro Tip: Transformation does not come from knowing what to do. It comes from knowing what to put into action!

To foster more action in your course, you need to adjust your mindset.
The old mindset asks, “What do my students need to know?” But really, we need to be asking, “What do my students need to be able to do?” Instead of focusing on what topics we need to talk about or what information we need in our content, focus on what action you want your students to be able to do. This helps you to think about what essential information is required to accomplish that and what activities you should include in your course.  Beyond thinking about how to give your students success, think about what you need to optimize your enjoyment, money, and time.

Above all else, I want you to be proud of your online course. So proud that you can’t stop bragging about how over-the-top amazing it is because you’re absolutely in love with it!
The reality is that if you aren’t confident in your course’s effectiveness, or don’t enjoy delivering your offer, your students aren’t going to like it either. Don’t love being on Zoom calls? Then teaching your online course live is probably not the way to go. Love interacting with students? Make sure to schedule lots of opportunities to connect, like hot seats or 1:1 coaching sessions.

Short on time? Then promising weekly check-ins with students is probably not reasonable.
I hope that this article empowers you with the tools and mindset to create a transformational online course that works just as much for you as it does for your students. At the end of the day, these tools are just that — tools. They aren’t rules that you must follow. Rather, guidelines on how to give your students the best possible results. The truth is, infusing your course with one or two of these tips can make the world of difference. Adding all of them can take your online course from meh to marvelous!

Now, go and have fun creating an amazing online course, you rockstar.


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