Turning Your Book Into an Online Course (and vice versa!)

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If your book is non-fiction and teaches something of value, it’s pretty easy to break the chapters into sections and create an online course by repurposing the content.

Perhaps you don’t have a book just yet? On the flip side, creating a book from your online course can make the task of writing a book all the more easier. With transcription services such as Rev and Trint, it’s easy to have our audios and videos transcribed into text, offering us plenty of content to work with when it comes time to write a book.

Why Online Courses are Ideal for Authors

Think about it, once you write your book, the content is created. Now, of course, you will expand upon the information from your book and add additional content, or else why would anyone join your course when they could just buy your book, right? But the foundation of your course can be crafted from your book, and then you add additional content, bonus materials, video tutorials, audios, teleclasses, Zoom sessions, a closed Facebook group for support, and access to YOU on a more personal level. For your tribe, that’s priceless.

Not to mention, online courses make a great upsell inside your book funnel.  If you’ve set up your book properly prior to publication, then you will have an opt-in inside your book, meaning you offer your readers a valuable freebie in exchange for their contact information. That freebie links to your signup form for your mailing list, which gets your readers onto your list and into your sales funnel.

Why is this important? Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t give us the contact information of our readers, so it’s up to us as authors to collect that information. Offering a free gift through an opt-in link inside your book will allow you to capture that information, and once your reader is on your mailing list, you can offer your online course, which is the next logical step if they enjoyed the content in your book and want to delve even deeper with you.

Evergreen vs. Live

If you decide to launch an online course, you must first decide if you want an evergreen option, meaning your students can enroll anytime, or you will host a live launch, where you have a dedicated launch at certain points throughout the year, making the course only available during that time and everyone starts the course together on the same day. Both have their pros and cons. I offer both types of courses, but I typically host a new course live the first time around and then turn it into an evergreen product that I can promote at the back of my books and on my website.

To Self-host or NOT to Self-host

Once you decide whether you want your course live or evergreen, you will need to find a platform from which to deliver the content. This is where you have options.

Self-hosting: If you self-host your course, you will need to add the content to a website that you own and pay for web hosting. You will likely need a plugin for the membership site software, and you’ll need to be somewhat tech savvy to design the membership site or else have the funds to hire someone to design it for you. In either case, you’ll need a decent knowledge of how the backend of your site works in order to manage your students, payments, and list integration.

Dedicated platform: For this option, you would host your course(s) on a dedicated platform such as Teachable, Kajabi, ClickFunnels—there are many to choose from, so do your research. You will pay a fee to host your courses there (usually monthly with discounts if you select the annual plan) and they will handle the payments, but you will likely pay a transaction fee and credit card processing fee for each transaction. Many dedicated platforms even offer a built-in affiliate program so your students can promote and share your course in exchange for a commission, providing you additional exposure for your course. These platforms are ideal if you would like to create a school, bundle your courses, or create a membership site.

There are many dedicated platforms to choose from, and I've tried almost all of them over the years. My current platform of choice is ClickFunnels for their ease of use and pre-built sales funnels that make it easy to host a membership area for my students, market the course with a highly converting sales page, offer payment processing integration, upsells and everything needed to sell and market my courses in one convenient place.

There are also course marketplaces such as Udemy or SkillShare, where you can add your courses to their platform, and as an added bonus, they have members and students of their own, so you don’t need to be continually driving traffic to make sales. The downside to course marketplaces is that they will often discount your course, so it's not an ideal place to host your course primarily, but it's an excellent additional place to add your evergreen course to make some extra income.

Estimating Your Course Launch Income

Here’s some simple course math you can use to gauge how much you could potentially make on the live launch of an online course (or any product you are launching), in relation to the size of your mailing list. Follow this simple formula:

Size of Mailing List  x  $ of Program x .03 (3% conversion rate)Launch $

Example:
Kayla has a mailing list of 1000 subscribers. Her online course is priced at $297. On average, she should be able to convert at least 3% of her list (granted they are a targeted and engaged list) during her product launch.

1000 (subscribers) x $297 (price of product)  x .03 (3%)  = $8,910

When I learned this formula, I had already been running my online courses for a few years. I went back through my launch numbers and applied the formula to see how accurate it is, and to my delight, it’s spot-on, give or take a few percentage points. Some products convert better than others, so 3% is a good average, and for me, that’s low-balling it. Now I know I can use this formula each time I price out a new product to get an idea of how much I will bring in during its launch based on the size of my mailing list.

What if you don’t have a mailing list? When it’s done right, your list will naturally grow during your course launch because you will offer free content in the form of blog articles, free trainings, cheat sheets, reports, etc.

Ready to Learn More?

I'd like to invite you to join my online program: Online Courses Made Easy

Having seven online courses of my own, I've dabbled in everything from self-hosting to dedicated platforms to online course marketplaces! I've hosted live launches as well as evergreen (enroll anytime) offers. I've had a TON of trial and error over the years, and if I can save you some of the headaches and teach you a clear path to success, one that's easy to replicate, then I'm happy to share that knowledge with you!