Looking at how to beta test your online course launch – ethically
How many times have you bought a course or “passive” offer and felt jilted or ripped off by the educator? I think we’ve probably all had that experience at some point. Recently, a listener reached out about a situation a friend of theirs was having. They’d bought a course and were unhappy with how they were treated as a student. And this email really brought up a lot of thoughts for me on ethical beta testing.
Because here’s the thing – the true purpose of a beta launch is not (or should not be) to pull in a ton of students and make more money. I think this mindset has become fairly prevalent in our industry – that we should create our course, and launch it at a low price to pull people in quickly. And that that low price is meant to be a reward for buying in early. The true purpose of a beta launch SHOULD be that you’re using it as a way to test out your material, and to test out your ability to teach and give this transformation. Because no matter how much you prepare, there will be holes in your material. There are going to be questions you never considered. A beta launch is meant to help you create a firm foundation for your course – not to be a marketing ploy to pull in a lot of students at a low price.
I know that what I’m sharing today is not what most people in our industry believe and teach, and I’m sure I’ll get some push back, but I’m really tired of the standard of education in our industry. Which is why today I’m walking you through my 5 steps for ethically beta testing and launching your course.
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Grab my entire year’s worth of content prompts
- This week’s action step: Have you had an experience where you bought a course and later felt jilted by the educator? I’d love to hear your story – send me a DM over on Instagram!
- This week’s book recommendation: Verity by Colleen Hoover
- Find me on Instagram and tell me you completed this week’s action step: @mrsamandawarfield
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Rather Read? – Here’s the Transcript!
*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate.
How many times have you bought a course or quote, unquote passive offer and felt jilted or ripped off by the educator? I think we’ve probably all had that experience at some point. And recently a listener reached out about a situation. A friend of theirs was having, they had bought a course and were unhappy with how they were treated as a student.
And this email really brought up a lot of thoughts for me on ethical beta testing and launching. Because here’s the thing, the true purpose of a beta launch is not, or should not be to pull in a ton of students and make more money. But I think that this mindset has become fairly prevalent in our industry, that we should create our course and launch it at a low price to pull people in quickly.
And that that low price is meant to be a reward for buying an early. But the true purpose of a beta launch should be that you’re using it as a way to test out your material and to test out your ability to teach and give this transformation you’re promising because no matter how much you prepared there will be holes in your material.
There are going to be questions you never considered. A beta launch is meant to help you create a firm foundation for your course not be a marketing ploy to pull in a lot of students at a low price. And I know that what I’m sharing today is not what most people in our industry will even teach.
And I’m sure I’ll get some pushback, but I’m really tired of the standard of education in our industry, which is why today I’m walking you through my Five Steps for Ethically Beta Testing and Launching Your Course. You’re listening to Chasing Simple Episode 119. And I’m your host, Amanda Warfield. Let’s dive in.
I want to start this off with a quick disclaimer, I don’t know what course this was. I don’t know who the educator was. It wasn’t shared. I didn’t ask. I don’t care. And this isn’t meant to attack anyone or anything like that. But I do think it’s a really important learning tool for all of us that are.
Going to quote unquote, create passive income, right? If we’re going to be putting courses out there. So often we are told that passive income means that you can create it and forget about it, and that’s just not true. And we’ll get to that in a moment, but not only is this great course study, essentially for creating passive income, but it’s also really important core study for the ethics of beta testing for the ethics of.
Throwing offers out there without thought to what the future may hold. Now, there are always going to be things you cannot predict 100%, right? There’s a lot of different things woven in here, and this is not a black and white case study in any way, shape or form. It’s just meant to get you thinking about the future of your business in the quote unquote passive income products that you’re going to be putting out there.
So background, this person bought a course and after some time had passed, noticed that the course was no longer being sold. When they reached out, they were told that it was no longer for sale, but if there are any updates, they would still receive them. Okay, that’s fine. That is not crazy. That’s not abnormal.
Sometimes we do create an offer that we think people are going to love. And they don’t. Or we decide that’s not a direction we want our business going in and that’s okay. As long as you’re continuing to serve people, in the way that you had said you would write well about a year later, the educator launches a brand new course on the same topic with many of the same
lesson titles. I don’t know if I’m sure the lessons were updated, but it was the same general information. Right? The students, the former students were removed from the community aspect of the program that they initially brought into and then were told that they could stay in if they bought the new program.
And then a few months later we’re invited. To become an affiliate of the new course, which is a pretty strong indicator that they have a pretty good idea of what that new course is about.
Here’s the deal you can and should reiterate your courses. People out there that are calling courses and other digital offerings, passive products. Are not entirely truthful. Yes. They’re scalable products and offers, but you have to stay on top of them and keep them updated. You should be reiterating your material over and over and over again to make it better.
When you decide to launch something at a beta level, you’re testing out the material and how it works for others, because. No matter how hard you work on your course, the first iteration is only going to be okay. So you have to test out that material. You also have to test out your ability to teach that material because courses are not supposed to be information they’re education, and you should be giving a transformation.
And that’s a different rant for a different episode, but of course it should not just be information that you’re handing to people. That’s what content is for. If you’re going to actually be teaching something, that’s what goes into a course. So again, no matter how hard you work on your course, the first iteration is going to be okay.
the problem with this isn’t that the course was redone or that it was no longer being updated. The problem is that in this scenario, the beta students lost access and privileges that they were given through that community. So
when you launch something at a beta level, the price is often low. And this is not a marketing ploy or it shouldn’t be, but instead is a way of rewarding. Those that trust you and buy into, what’s not going to be the final outcome. If someone buys your course without testimonials, word of mouth, et cetera, these are your people and you want to make sure you’re treating them accordingly.
And when I first launched Club Content Batching, it was a four week course that I taught live on zoom. And those first students invested $67. Now it’s a full membership group coaching program and it costs $127 a month because I’ve taught it live so many times and I’m constantly reiterating and updating along with giving live support coaching.
But those initial students, they’re still inside the membership at no additional cost. When I decided it was time to upgrade from a course to a membership, they all immediately were grandfathered in because way back in July, 2020. They put down their credit card numbers on a course with no history, they trusted in me.
And I want to make sure that they’re repaid for that trust 10 fold. And the same is true for any student that buys in at a lower rate, whether they are catching a sale, they got a special coupon code, or they just happened to buy in before price increase. They are locked into that rate for the lifetime of their membership.
It’s not a marketing ploy, it’s a reward for trusting in me and the material before the next iteration. Because again, it will never be finished. It’ll never be done, which is why I want you to stop holding yourself back from launching and waiting for your, your course to be perfect and to be ready for updating.
This is also why I recommend a live launch versus pre creating your course, which you can learn more in episode 77, The Fastest and Simplest Way to Create a Successful Offer.
So the problem isn’t that the initial courses people bought is no longer being offered or updated. It’s the fact that they were told they were going to have community aspect and then they lost access to it. It’s a fact that they weren’t rewarded for buying into this first iteration of what they’re doing.
they bought in, when this course was a mere fraction of what it is now, I’m sure they bought in when it was not fully fleshed out, because it will never be fully fleshed out. Right. But they, they bought in at an earlier level. And then essentially we’re told you can buy it again. Now that it’s better. And that is not the way to treat your beta students.
It’s not the way to treat people that are. Buying into what you’re doing. And again, I don’t understand the logistics. I don’t know anything that went on on the other side of things. We have one side of this, but when you’re going to create some kind of membership or passive product membership is definitely not passive, but membership and or passive income.
Of course you have to think longterm what you’re going to be offering, what you have the ability to offer. And how you’re going to treat those that buy in. How are you going to treat your students? These are all things that you have to be thinking of. So now that we’re on board with making sure we’re having ethical beta launches, how do we do it first again?
I’m always going to encourage teaching your course live. Three times. This allows you to pivot and update material each week, based on your students’ needs questions that you get so on and so forth. And it also allows you to focus on the launch and the marketing and the messaging versus building the course we can get so wrapped up in creating a beautiful course that we forget about the launch aspect of it.
And then we end up disappointed and, or we forget to focus on the material and actually educated our students and not just. Giving them information. And then when you don’t get great testimonials and you don’t get those messages of people saying, wow, this changed my life. You’re upset. The first three to four times, I launched Club Content Batching the only course material that I had was a word doc with my teaching outline.
That’s it? That’s all I had first three to four times that I launched this. Now after every single live lesson, I want you to rewatch the lesson and write down every question that you were asked and put it in your teaching outline. This is going to be so important for knowing what material needs to be added and what material it needs to.
Maybe be more clear next round. And then at the end of each live round, you’re going to encourage your students to fill out a survey that tells you what you need to update. Yes, it’s great. If your students have nothing but nice things to say, and you’ve got a ton of testimonials for the next lunch, but the only way to actually improve the course is to get them to tell you the things that you don’t want to hear, make sure those questions are in there.
after that, after you’ve got all of those answers, you’re going to spend some time updating your outline. You’re going to add in any additional support that might be needed and you’re going to launch it again. Yes, Padma. Hello. You’re going to teach it live and follow the same steps, and then you’re going to do it again.
And if you really want to make your course the best they can be, you’re essentially going to have two to three beta launches, not just the one. And that doesn’t sound fun. That doesn’t sound sexy. We want to jump in and have everything perfectly finished and completed and ready to go and tied up in a pretty little bow.
And we want to make the real money right away. But if you want to make sure that you’re really giving your people the very best thing, multiple beta launches is the way to go. So once you’ve gathered enough data, now you can decide what the future of your course will be, and it might be drastically different than you originally envisioned.
And the scope of it might be drastically different, which is why I would honestly recommend keeping things super, super simple. During your beta launches, don’t promise community and don’t promise all of these bonuses and things that are going to take up more time than maybe you’re willing to give, keep it simple.
And then you can add on if you need. For example, I had not at all planned to turn Club Content Batching into a group coaching membership. I meant it to be honestly a mini course, but after all three live launches, the feedback that the students gave me was they loved the material, but they wanted ongoing support to be included.
So I had to say, okay, well, if I keep hearing this, this is a common theme. This is something that they need and want to get the most out of this course, this material. But then when you change the scope, you give those three rounds of beta testers access. You, grandfather them in, you say, wow, you really helped me make this what it is, what it’s going to be.
You helped me lay the foundation for this. I really appreciate that. I want you to stick around and be part of this forever, essentially.
When you thinking about passive products, quote-unquote scalable products in your business. I want you to think long and hard about what the future of those are going to be. What is realistic again? You’ll never have it. Perfect. And I don’t want you to spend years waiting to create something because you’re not sharing.
You’re scared to make the wrong move. We’re going to make mistakes in business, but. Keep it simple from the start and it’ll help you grow so much more and it’ll help you serve your people better.
The bottom line. If you want to ethically beta test your material, you have to make sure that you’re treating those people with respect because yes, time is our most valuable resource, right? It’s the most limited resource that we have, but let’s not pretend that money is not also a valuable resource. And if someone is putting their credit card number down and giving you their money for your help, that’s a big responsibility.
That is not something to be taken lightly. And I think sometimes when we think about scalable products and offers. It’s easy to forget that every single person that buys into that scalable offer is a person, is a student that has bought into you and is putting down their money for you and for what you can do or what they think you can do for them.
So make sure you’re treating those people with respect. Yes. Pam may agrees and then if you are ready to do your beta launch, keep it. Don’t worry about figuring out where are you going to host the course, get zoom pay for a month or two as zoom. Make sure you have a word, doc, outline your material, and that’s all you need to host your course for the first few times.
That’s really all you need beta tested a few times. Don’t just beta tests at once. I know that that is not the common, information that’s put out there. We want to put out our material as fast as we can. But I’m here to tell you that growing a sustainable business with a strong foundation takes time.
So this week’s action step, have you had an experience where you bought a course and later felt jilted by the educator? I would love to hear your story because I know this person is not alone in this. So send me a DM over on Instagram, or shoot me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org. And I would love to hear your story.
Now, this week’s book recommendation is Verity by Colleen Hoover, which is kind of ironic because it also deals with a lot of ethical questions, but essentially an author accepts a job to complete a series of really incredibly successful author who has been injured to the point of no recovery and cannot actually finish the book series herself.
So she goes to this couple’s home to work on the book so that she can, you know, look through all the author’s notes, be in her office and figure out like where she wanted the books to go, all of that. And she ended up falling in love with the husband, discovers a lot of information that makes you really wonder what the truth really is.
And. Frankly. I don’t know what to think about what actually happened to still to this point. And I read this months ago, but it doesn’t even incredible read very much worth your time. All right. My friends until next time, I hope that you will go out and Uncomplicate your life and biz.