Business, Content, Growth, Marketing,

Making the first sale – 5 things I learned

Making the first sale and then another $700 online from selling a course was an amazing feeling.

It was definitely one of the highlights of my entire online business career. If you don’t know my story, I’ve been trying to build a business unsuccessfully for a number of years. From developing niche sites to hosting a podcast, I had never been able to make any real inroads into developing a business.

Since I started producing my show, a Dad’s Mission For Success, I’ve been carefully collecting all the questions that I get asked. I was doing this so that I knew exactly what people were looking for and I could build a course to address those needs.

The time came and I thought I had enough of a brand to build something however I can’t really take all the credit.

I was at the gym with my good friend Tom from Integrated Fitness & Nutritionwhen he said this:

“Mate, if you gave me a list of things I could buy that cost less than $200, I’d give you my money now..”

This comment hit me to the core. I had been planning a massive, A to Z course that would cover everything when in actual fact, my audience just wanted the answer without all the fluff!

I mapped out all the equipment I would recommend in a spreadsheet and placed it into five modules; foundations, audio, lighting, camera and editing & sharing. I then included four lessons in each module.

But again, it started to get out of hand and I found myself making the course bigger and bigger at which time I could feel the overwhelm setting in.

Before it got too out of control I thought I better try and sell it. Sure enough Tom had told me that he would buy it but what about everyone else? Was this something they were looking for?

So I posted on Facebook that I was going to launch a course and I was accepting BETA users for a heavily discounted prices of $45. To my surprise, 17 people purchased the BETA course before I had even created one lesson!

I was over the moon every time I checked PayPal and the balance was increasing. I also took this chance to pull a face at my wife who had been on to me about making money from all this work! 😉

Here I am about to reopen the doors to the public and I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned from this process so that you too can create and sell something amazing!

1. Keep it as simple as possible

What I found from this entire process was that people didn’t want an overly complicated film school approach. My audience specifically wanted to know how to achieve great look video at an affordable price point and without the confusion and jargon that goes along with video production. Listening to this cry for help, I could build and deliver a product that was valuable and easy to understand.

2. Don’t  guess what you think your audience will want, ask them

if I hadn’t of asked Tom what he thought about my idea in the beginning, I probably would have spent months and months building an overly complicated film school product that wouldn’t have sold. By listening to what your audience is telling you but also doing some investigative work and seeing what pieces of content are your best performing, you’ll have a clear definition of what they want. What if you don’t have an audience? Never fear, take a look at my very first video “How to create things people actually want” for a couple of ideas.

3. Listen to what people are saying

This doesn’t necessarily have to be what they are saying to you. If you’re like me and are in loads of Facebook groups, have a bit of a lurk. What are the problems that are being expressed most frequently in these groups? Which of these problems can your skills solve? Just by listening you can understand the issues and the language used to describe these issues which will help in writing your sales copy.

4. Before you build anything, have a clear vision on the product and ask for pre-sales

When I first heard of this I was sceptical. Why would someone pay me for something I haven’t created yet? However, what I found was because I had created so much value for my audience already through my show and the Webinars I had done, people were already primed to buy. So for this to happen, I believe you first must 1, create value for audience as much as possible with no pitching and 2, have a super clear outline of your product and the expected outcomes if someone were to take your course.

5. Be ready to work hard and long hours

As a side hustler I’ve got a very limited amount of hours that I can spend creating, marketing and interacting with my audience. I had once believed that because I had worked so hard to get an audience that I would instantly be able to sell to them. Boy was I wrong. When I launched my course, my friend Yasemin said “get out there and market the crap out of it!”. That’s what I did. Anyone that would listen over the course of 7 days I told them about it. I did interviews, I did calls and I wrote emails, any chance I found to market my course I did for 7 days straight. It paid off in end.

These five lessons have been incredibly important to the successful launch of my BETA course. I can’t wait to see what happens with my public launch! I’m so fired up to get it into the hands of as many people that I can!

Have you sold a course online? What were the biggest takeaways from your experience? Do you have any lessons to share?

This article has been republished with permission, and originally appeared on

James Tew

Founder & Host at James Tew
James is a dad of four daughters who, when not playing dress ups, helps entrepreneurs and professionals build trust and authority through video. He focuses on three key areas; building the confidence to be on camera, removing the overwhelm when it comes to the tech and how to produce content that builds authority in your niche. As a regular contributor to, James' videos are seen by thousands of entrepreneurs and professionals every week. His YouTube channel, is where you'll find all of his latest content.

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