Amy is an online marketing expert and educator and the host of the top-ranked podcast, Online Marketing Made Easy.
If you think building an online business has been tough — maybe your results don’t look like everybody else’s or you think everything is taking longer than it should — know that I have been in your shoes. It took me three tries to have a successful launch.
After each launch, I learned something new that I could apply to improve my next attempt. Launching an online course isn’t easy, so I’ve shared some of those lessons below for entrepreneurs who might be struggling with impostor syndrome, email lists and more.
1. Kick imposter syndrome to the curb by establishing credibility.
I teach business owners and entrepreneurs how to build their online businesses, and my first course was an absolute flop. My second course didn’t go much better because I was terrified to put myself out there again. I struggled with imposter syndrome; chronic self-doubt and the sense of feeling fraudulent overpowered my feelings of success and undermined my competence. I was continuously discounting the expertise and knowledge I did have due to my previous failure.
I’ve found that people often feel like they have to be the “expert of all experts” when building their business, especially if their business focuses on educating others. But the truth is, you don’t. In fact, I believe you only need a 10% edge on your customers. From my perspective, if you’re even just a bit ahead of your audience and you have gotten results, you have exactly what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
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Another aspect of imposter syndrome was my anxiety about what others would think of me. I recall thinking, “Who am I to be teaching this? I am way out of my league.” Luckily, my husband stepped in and gave me the best piece of advice: Do not worry about what others think of you because they aren’t thinking about you. What’s important is showing up for yourself and making yourself proud. And when you do that, it’s so much easier to put yourself out there and make an impact for others.
2. Give it your all from the get-go.
Because I had been bloodied and bruised during my first launch (at least, it felt like I had), I decided I wouldn’t give my second course launch my all. But, my good friend gave it to me straight and also shared excellent advice: “If you aren’t going to go full out, don’t bother doing it at all.”
In all honesty, that launch wasn’t a huge moneymaker. But I did everything I needed to do to put things in motion and lay the foundation. In my 11 years of digital-course experience, I’ve learned that you need to give 100% of your efforts to one course or service that you can launch over and over again to be profitable.
Trust me when I say that laying the foundation of your course or business is the hardest part. I challenge you to get deep in the trenches the first time around so that you don’t have to do it again. You can then tweak for your second launch based on how people respond to the first, but the initial level of work will be out of the way.
3. List build, list build, list build to create lasting relationships.
A crucial mistake I made before my second launch was not nurturing my email list. Sure, I had drawn 600 people onto my email list with my lead magnet, but after that, I left them high and dry. (It was not one of my proudest moments.) I had spoken so little to my email subscribers leading up to the launch that I was actually scared to email them. All of a sudden, my subscribers got an email that said, “Hey, check out my video series.” But the problem was that they didn’t even remember who I was, let alone have any interest in my video series.
Here’s the lesson: Show up every single week with new, original content. Every week, your name should be present in their inbox. Through nurturing your subscribers and providing them with free weekly content, they will be ready to buy once your launch arrives or you have a new offer.
4. Avoid kitchen-sink syndrome.
In my early days of being an entrepreneur, I fell into “kitchen-sink syndrome.” I packed every single tip, trick and strategy that I knew into my course. This was my attempt to prove just how knowledgeable I was about my course topic, make sure my customers’ questions were answered and justify the price.
But more is not always better. It’s not your audience’s job to sift through all the details or services you offer to find the results they need; it’s yours. People are not only looking for your expertise but also for you to be a teacher. Your audience is busy and looking to you to get their solution as quickly and efficiently as possible.
5. Don’t be afraid to show up on video.
Direct-to-camera video of any kind is important. I waited way too long to embrace video because I was insecure about how I appeared on camera. One lesson that I learned was more women who are just like me might find it helpful to see examples of other women entrepreneurs showing up no matter what. Video can help grow your audience and build strong relationships with them. The awkward feeling eventually goes away, especially when you focus on making it about your audience and not about you.
I do things in my own way, and I do what feels good for me. Don’t think you have to run your business exactly like somebody else. Just do it the way you want — as long as you do it.