Beta Courses: The Better Way to Launch a Digital Course

May 7, 2022

Online courses. Everyone in the online space has released one, and I don’t blame you if you want a piece of the action. 

And you know what? I am here for it. Creating and launching an online course is one of an entrepreneur’s best decisions.

Let me explain why.

The case for launching a digital course

The market for online courses has exploded in recent years, and for a good reason. We as a society have always prized learning and education, but for the longest time, it was out of reach for most people. One would either have to go to an expensive school (if you could even get in) or pack up their lives and move somewhere to learn a new trade. 

Everything changed with the rise of the internet.

When people say that we now live in the information age, they mean that knowledge has become the world’s most valuable commodity. Today, anyone can access all the information they need without leaving their home.

The skyrocketing demand for knowledge has proved a great boon for entrepreneurs who want to share their skills and earn money. A 2021 report on e-learning revealed that the global market for courses is projected to reach $457.8 billion by 2026. The U.S. e-learning market alone is currently worth $60 billion, which means are people out there who profited off their brains.

And you could be part of that.

All that’s left to do is to create and launch a course.

The “beta” way to launch your first course

In my long career as an instructional designer, I’ve worked on my fair share of course launches, and I know what works and what doesn’t. Of course, one can argue that there is no one way to launch online courses, but I speak from years of experience when I say that there is a “beta” way to launch your first course.

I’m talking about a beta course.

What’s a beta course?

The beta course method is the best way to launch your first course. And you may be thinking, “Deb, what do you mean by a ‘beta course’?”

We often hear people in the tech sector talk about beta testing. It’s the stage where, after creating a working product prototype, you share it with a focus group to check for bugs and issues and ask for feedback (both good and bad) so you can make improvements before the public rollout. 

The Japanese also have this concept called kaizen, which loosely translates to “change for the better.” It is a business philosophy that allows entrepreneurs to continuously improve every aspect of operations. 

The overall goal of kaizen is to make small changes to make the business more nimble, more effective, and ultimately, more perfect. Now, I don’t believe in perfection, but I think we can get closer to that ideal over time.

I use the same strategies when it comes to course launches. The first iteration of your digital course will be far from perfect. But by launching a beta course, you get to gain access to fresh pairs of eyes who can shed light on your material, with the ultimate goal of continuous improvement.

What makes beta courses better?

I’ve observed that many entrepreneurs hold off on launching their digital courses until they’ve attained their idea of perfection. They want to get their product right before releasing it to the public. It sounds like a good idea on paper, but let me tell you why it’s not the best strategy for course launches.

Perfection, like many things in life, is difficult to define. The idea is vague at best, and you will find it challenging to determine your success criteria without some sort of barometer for comparison. Releasing a beta course allows you to gather critical insight that will help you improve your curriculum.

All successful digital courses have undergone multiple transformations throughout their lifespan. By releasing a beta course, you get to focus on a framework for a minimum viable product (MVP) without wasting time on refinements for a product that will likely change.

With each iteration of your beta version, you edit and tweak your curriculum to fit your audience’s reactions better. Creators don’t always see what requires changing, but your audience will not hesitate to tell you what works and what doesn’t.

Waiting too long to launch your course also prevents you and your business from moving forward. For every day that your product isn’t on the market, you miss out on a mountain of opportunities that could help elevate your business. 

You also get to sell the offer more easily since it’s listed at a discounted price. People are more interested in your course because it’s cheaper, and two, enjoy giving feedback and becoming part of the improvement process.

Beta courses create a valuable avenue for connection between you and students. Many of us are in the coaching business because we want to make an impact on people. We want to show our methods to help others. Interaction is a critical component of the beta test, and when you focus on helping and connecting, that’s when the value of your course comes shining through.

How Rebecca elevated her coaching business by going beta

One of my students and clients, Rebecca, successfully applied these principles to elevate her coaching business. For eight years, Rebecca had been a professional coach when she decided to pivot from one-to-one coaching to the one-to-many model. 

She launched her first beta course to 1,000 (cold) email list subscribers and 700 Instagram followers. The course was initially priced at $500, with 17 people signing up for the launch. She used feedback from her inaugural cohort to improve her curriculum. Rebecca launched her second iteration at $1,000 with 12 students signing up. I’d consider this a very successful launch. 

How to launch a beta course?

It might seem that the e-learning space is becoming too crowded and saturated, but that is just a testament to the growing demand for niche knowledge. I know that digital courses are set to become an essential source of knowledge in the near future, and any coach who wants to scale their business should start sooner rather than later.

Through my signature program, The Beta Launchers, I can help you successfully launch a beta course to start your course business, reach more people, and create more revenue.

Join the list for my signature program and join the thousands of entrepreneurs who have created a positive impact on others and elevated their careers. I can’t wait to meet you soon.

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