I remember signing up for Marie Forleo’s free copyrighting class a long time ago. I loved it so much, that I wanted to purchase one of her flagship online courses: Copy Cure.
The course was around ~$300 at the time. Now it’s well over $1,200, and Marie opens the door to this course only once or twice a year. The process is a show unto itself. As the launch gets closer, Marie starts sending emails about her free copyrighting videos. Once people get sucked in, Marie opens her cart, and it’s only open for a few days.
I’m sure she makes a ton of money — and to be fair, Copy Cure is worth every penny — and boy, would I love to make the kind of money she probably does.
But here’s the truth.
I’m not Marie, and while the money sounds too good to be true, I don’t even want to be Marie. As long as I make enough to pay for my necessities, which include rent, monthly bills and fees, coffee shop visits, and the occasional splurges, I’m a happy side blogger.
Honestly, the very thought of planning for the once or twice-a-year mega course launch gives me a migraine. It’s all just too much! I’d rather make less and have a headache-free life.
And if you’re anything like me, I have good news!
My online course—Side Income with Canva Templates—is evergreen. Meaning, I sell it year-round and make money year-round.
In fact, last year I made a little over $4,600 every month, on average, from selling this course. And I don’t have to do anything special for it. The course sells on its own.
What I’m about to share with you is more of a case study than a step-by-step, how-to guide. Different creators have different, unique reasons for why they choose a certain marketing tactic. I’m sure the big fishes out there like Marie (who has teams of employees working on various aspects of her business) have their reasons for periodic sale windows.
As for me, I’m a happy one-person creator. When I started my blog, all I wanted was to create a semi-passive income stream that can run on its own. And I’m glad to say that I have managed to do just that with this online course!
Here’s how I’ve done it:
How I Came up With an Evergreen Online Course Idea
To be honest, my course was always going to be evergreen. As I was saying earlier, the very thought of doing periodic sales gives me a headache. I’m not making this up, guys! Recently I started selling my blog writing workshop, and I have to promote that thing every quarter. And I kid you not, if it weren’t for my amazing students, I wouldn’t have bothered doing it because I hate the promo period and the sales pitches. UGH!
In any case, before I talk about how the course sells on its own, let me start by sharing how I came up with the idea for the course.
I spent time and effort building an audience
Before the online course, there was the blog (and the email list.)
Back in 2020, I was making less than $3k per month from my blog. To be fair, the blog was less than two years old, and I knew very little about how things worked.
Still, I loved blogging, and the money wasn’t bad for a side hustle. I dreamed of one day making more than $5k per month. And for that, I would invest a lot of time every week just learning the ropes.
Even though I was a total newb, I had a few things going for me.
People seemed to like my blog posts.
They also seemed to want to be a part of my tribe - which is just a fancy term for my email list subscribers.
By March of 2020, I had over $3k subscribers and about 500-ish daily visitors to my blog.
All that is to say that I had an audience. Not a huge audience, but still a decent-sized audience.
I paid attention to audience behavior
I like looking at my website traffic, bounce rates, reading times, etc.
Think of it like being validated.
The more people come to my blog, spend time reading, and sign up for the email list, the more I feel motivated and determined to do the work. So, I would obsessively track my traffic and other data on Google Analytics and on Google Search Console.
In doing so, I noticed something interesting.
Around early March 2020, one of my blog posts — where I wrote about how I was making several hundred bucks per month selling Canva templates — kind of blew up. This one blog post shot up on Google’s Search Engine Result Page (SERP) and soon replaced my Pinterest traffic (which, until then, used to be my primary source of traffic) with organic Google traffic.
This increased traffic was a clear indication that people were interested in the topic. And where there’s interest, there’s an opportunity!
I tested my idea before I committed to building the course
I had the idea that I could create an online course and try to sell it. But I was still skeptical. My time was short, money shorter, and I didn’t have the luxury to create an online course only for it to tank completely.
So, I tested my theory with my existing audience, a.k.a. my email list subscribers.
Even before I made the online course, I did something else.
One evening, I sat down and made a landing page for a pre-sell. I had decided to host the course (if I were going to make it) on the Thinkific platform. Thinkific is totally free to start with, and you can stay on a forever-free plan with certain limitations, which makes it great for beginners with little budget.
Pre-sell: When you sell a product even before the product is available.
So, the idea was that if I sold and made $2,000 during the pre-sell period, I’d assume there was actual demand for the course and would proceed to make the product.
But if I didn’t sell and make at least $2k, I’d refund everyone and scrap the idea.
The next day, I sent out an email to my 3k+ subscribers, and lo and behold, within the pre-sell window (it was likely a week or so if I remember correctly), I had already made more than twice my minimum expectation.
The demand for the course was validated, and so I buckled up and started working on it. A month later, the course was live and ready to be virtually shipped to all who purchased it during the pre-sell window.
Now that you know how I came up with the idea for the course, let’s talk about how the course sells on its own.
How I Sell My Evergreen Online Course Year-Round, on Autopilot
Unlike Marie and many other online creators, I do not launch my course once or twice a year. The online course — Side Income with Canva Templates — is always available for anyone to purchase. It’s been a little over two years, and I’m still making multiple four-figures every month from this course.
It’s not a lot, but it’s enough. As I was saying, in 2021, my average monthly sales came to be a little over $4.6k, which is actually quite nice if you consider that I don’t do any active selling. Most of it is passive income at this point.
That said, I do have a system in place. I did the initial work (way back in 2020) to create this system, and the same system is still holding.
Here’s what the system looks like:
Step 1: A blog post on the topic drives organic traffic to my website
This is actually the very same blog post that I wrote way back in 2020. It still shows up on Google’s first SERP and drives a significant amount of organic traffic every single day.
Step 2: A free webinar on the same topic gets blog readers on my email list
If that blog post I mentioned above is the bait, then a free, pre-recorded webinar that I offer inside the blog post is the hook. The webinar isn’t anything fancy — just a short video I recorded on my computer, where I share a few tips on the subject.
No one has to pay for the webinar, but they do have to sign up for my email list.
And that’s the hook. In digital marketing lingo, it is also known as a “sales funnel.”
Step 3: An automated email sequence takes a subscriber from a free webinar to a paid product
If the start of the sales funnel is the blog post and the free webinar, the end of the funnel is the final purchase, which in this case is buying the course.
The funnel takes an interested party from being just curious, to actually opening their wallet and paying for the course.
My funnel is pretty rudimentary. It involves three emails (which are sent out automatically using my email service provider, ConvertKit. Automation = zero ongoing efforts once you’ve set things up.)
Email # 1: “Thanks for signing up, friend! here’s your free webinar!!!” OK, maybe not exactly those words, but similar.
Email #2: An introduction of who I am and what I do + “OK, How was the webinar? Did you like it, Then I bet you’ll love my online course on the topic too!” I send this out a couple of days after the first email.
Email # 3: This is the final email and goes out a couple of days after the second email. “Haven’t signed up for the course yet? Believe me, my students actually love the course, so I think it’s worth signing up for. Here’s a link to make a purchase, just in case.”
I have paraphrased the emails (with certain exaggerations,) but essentially, the message is the same.
Why This Evergreen Sales Strategy Works
Well, that’s anybody’s guess.
I was thinking that perhaps the cheap price (only $175 or two payments of $95) is the reason why the evergreen strategy works for me.
But I don’t think that’s the case. In fact, I have seen others selling courses or services at a much higher price point year-round.
What I have come up with is this: If you sell the right product to the right audience, they’ll buy.
That said, these are the things that are working in my favor:
- My course is a fairly novel concept. Before I started teaching this topic (how to sell Canva templates), not many were doing it. So I had the advantage of being the early adopter.
- Topics that help people make money tend to be popular. Since my course teaches how to start a side-income stream selling Canva templates, the idea resonated with my audience. And I believe it continues to do so.
- While the subject matter is a novel idea, it’s not a difficult one. Canva, for example, is a super easy-to-use graphic design program that anybody can master within a day or so. The ease of the topic, paired with its novelty and cheaper price point is likely appealing to many people.
- It could also be that my audience just… likes me??? Heh 😉
Believe it or not, my simple and straightforward strategy with a minimal sales funnel has been working wonders for the last couple of years, and selling my online course every single month!
Occasionally I may go and tweak the blog post a little to add more value and more current and relevant information, and sometimes I may change the emails and/or the landing page too. But they’re nowhere near as much work (or stressful) as doing a mega launch periodically where all your sales rely on timely emails, stellar sales copies, and whatnot.
I’m not saying that evergreen sales strategies are better than the periodic ones, just that they’re different and easier if you have the right product to offer to the right people, especially if you’re a creator like me who likes to keep things simple and fuss-free.
Give it a try, will you?
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