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Who Will Buy It? The Marketing of a Course

Toni was so excited to have determined an idea for her future e-course that she would use to launch her online business. Her course would help entrepreneurs get a handle on their business’ paperwork, figures and tax return reporting.

And after struggling with what to teach and writing too much content, she discovered she actually needed to consider her future students were bookkeeping newbies and her original work was too complicated and overwhelming. Through this she discovered she actually had 3 courses to offer! 

You've spent time creating your eCourse to scale your freelance business - now it's time to market it. Here's what you need to know.


Her next challenge was to market her course.

Who was she going to market her course to? This was an important question so Toni took some downtime to brainstorm after reading some advice online in blogs and groups she had joined.

Here were some of her thoughts:

Approach her new network

  • In the beginning of developing her online business and course idea, Toni joined and participated in about 10 online groups in Facebook and Google+. In those groups, she learned what her target market, or ideal customer, needed in terms of bookkeeping and taxation knowledge. Toni could approach these groups and individual members to see if they were interested in her course.

Free trials

  • Once Toni had completed her first course (the content was still written on streams of random paper), she could offer her online course for free to select people in exchange for constructive feedback, using an online survey. Her first thoughts were her friends that had online businesses and needed this knowledge.

Tap local markets

  • Though Toni wanted to develop an online business, it didn’t mean she could only work with people at a distance. There were many small businesses in her town that most likely did their own books and needed better information on working with them. She could join local business organizations and present her course as a business solution.


But she didn’t have the heart to create a whole course.

Toni was excited at her marketing prospects and was more enthusiastic to get her first course done. However, while she had a lot of course content, albeit it on 1,000 pieces of paper and in her head, she didn’t want to spend hours and hours creating a course that might not fly.

She needed a way to create a smaller version of a product that was of high interest to her target market. Something that she could quickly create that provided one or two results for her customers, made her some immediate income, and helped market her and her future business.

Her brainchild of an idea was to create a mini power course!

What if she took one of her course goals and converted it into a 2-lesson course – something that was short and sweet but with impact?

Her customers would get immediate results, get a sense of her work style, get on her mailing list and be a potential future customer. This was the ticket!


Toni reviewed all her course ideas and goals and decided on the following focus for a mini power course. She would take the first goal of her future course on ‘bookkeeping with ease.’

Her first goal was to help entrepreneurs follow her simple paperwork organization framework for a decluttering their home office.

She could offer 2 lessons to organize their office within hours and maintain it that way:

  • Lesson 1: Provide the framework and teach them how to use it in 3 steps.
  • Lesson 2: Shopping tips for finding the most useful office organizers.

And, as a bonus for Toni, the mini power course would become the first module in her future course.

Not only could she create this mini power course in under 20 hours, she would have something to sell, gain feedback on her wee course, improve it accordingly, build up a market and have a list to share her bigger offers.


With the idea and content set, Toni needed to finalize 3 things:

  1. Choose the right course platform, look and feel
  2. Develop an engaging course
  3. Create a simple website with a sales or splash page

She needed to choose the right course platform.

Toni realized that in her mini power course and future courses she wasn’t going to be providing videos or an online group, but rather giving narrated and written instructions, worksheets & tools (spreadsheet, etc.), diagrams of organizing office paperwork, illustrations of how to fill in forms along with inspiring visuals.

This would mean she needed something fairly simple to access content like using password-protected webpages or maybe a basic courseware package.

She knew she had to develop an engaging course to conquer boredom.

Toni had taken courses before and found that ones that only provided written text and then questions were not very effective.

She wanted to ensure that her learners were learning and that she took care of their learning journey. On her initial brainstorm, she came up with these ideas.

  • She decided to add some quizzes that tested their knowledge at certain points along the way. She could use a quiz maker for this and embed in here course pages.
  • She would add some partially completed financial statements or spreadsheets and ask students to complete them to arrive at a final version shown in the answer key.
  • For the mini power course, she could ask them to create a Pinterest board and collect images of office looks they would like to inspire them to complete their organizational tasks.

Last, she needed a simple webpage and sales page.

Toni decided to tap into the people she met in her online networks to help her build a starter website and sales page. She had a budget in mind and would use the new website as a launching point for her mini power course.

Over time, she would add to the website and include another mini power course or a fuller course. Eventually, she would target clients as their year-end accountant and think about leaving her corporate job.

She knew that planning and patience would help her realize her business and life dreams. The future looked bright for Toni.

Kelly Edmonds Dr. Kelly Edmonds helps entrepreneurs, academic institutions and corporations create, design and teach online-based courses. A leader in the e-learning field she’s won seven educational awards, presented at nearly 30 education conferences and published in a number of journals. And all the while helping hundreds of people learn better through research-based instructional design. Learn how to plan your next e-course with her E-Course Starter Kit.

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Yes, please!

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Eve

    Excellent advice here Kelly. Some of your ideas I’ve never considered. This process helps me to keep away from the overwhelm feeling.

    • Wonderful! No matter what is said about courses, they are intensive pieces of work. Thanks for your comment :0)

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