The Complete Online Course Launch Checklist – Your Blueprint for Success

You’ve poured your heart and soul into crafting an extraordinary online course you know will offer immense value to your audience. Now comes the exciting part! It’s time to unveil it to the world so as many people as possible can reap the benefits of your brilliant insights and so you can start earning from your new course!

But where do you start? A course launch has so many moving parts that it can feel overwhelming. With all the crucial tasks involved in an online course launch, you can easily slip into analysis paralysis - leaving your course gathering dust while your potential students flock to other course creators.

Don’t let that thought stress you out or keep you up at night. While every course is a bit different, all launches follow the same fundamental process:

  • Set the Stage for a Successful Course Launch
  • Decide on the Timing for Your Launch
  • Complete Pre-Launch Tasks
  • Run Your Live Launch 
  • Follow-Up with Post-Launch Tasks
Online Course Launch Checklist - Launch Process

I know, it looks like there’s a lot to do! However, we’ve outlined all your tasks for you .

All you need to do is work your way through and check off each as you go.

Before you know it, you’ll have a highly profitable course launch under your belt, and you’ll be ready to get to work on your next one!

So let’s dive into that launch process now…

Set the Stage for a Successful Course Launch

One of the big differences between a profitable online course and one that languishes in the nether regions of the internet is the foundation it’s built on. To make sure your course shines out from any competition, make sure you complete the following activities.

Online Course Launch Checklist - Infographic

Set Your Business Goals for the Course

Goals are essential for any marketing plan because they provide direction, motivation, and focus. Having specific goals for your course also give you a way to measure how successful its impact has been on your business.

For example, if your goal is to build an email list of leads for your other products, you can use week-to-week subscriber growth to measure your course’s success.

If you aim to gain new coaching clients at the end of your course, you could measure the number of strategy calls you book with potential clients.

Here are some examples of goals you might have for your course:

  • Increase brand awareness and reach a wider audience.
  • Generate passive income through course sales.
  • Establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche.

Choose a course goal that ties in with your overall business goals. Then identify how your online course will achieve that goal and how you will measure success.

Identify Course Outcomes for Your Students

Next, you’ll define the learning objectives and outcomes for your students. What will they be able to do once the course is complete? How will that impact or transform their lives?

Let’s say your students are solo service providers struggling to attract new clients. Your course might teach them how to run virtual workshops to attract and convert prospects to clients. The outcome could be that they’ve run their first workshop and booked their first client. 

Defining course outcomes will help you choose appropriate marketing strategies and create content that resonates with your ideal student. 

Describe Your Ideal Student Persona

Your ideal student persona is the individual who would most benefit from your course. Describing your ideal student is something you did when you designed your course, but you need to summarize that persona again since it also drives your marketing plan.

In your description, include everything you have learned about your ideal student so you can choose the most effective marketing methods and channels.

Your ideal student persona should include the following:

Online Course Launch Checklist - Ideal Student Persona
  • Demographics: age, gender, location, education level, job titles, etc. 
  • Goals and motivations: in other words, what they want to get out of the course.
  • Challenges and pain points: what problems do they hope the course will solve?
  • Dreams and aspirations: how do they hope the course will transform their lives?
  • Learning style and communication preferences.

Create your ideal student persona using feedback from your target market and what you already know about your students.

Define Your Course’s Unique Value Proposition

Your unique value proposition (UVP) clearly articulates the distinct benefits and value your online course offers your target audience. 

Clarifying your UVP is essential for attracting the right students and setting realistic expectations. Like your ideal student persona, your UVP will help you create the appropriate launch and marketing materials.

Think back to the course outcomes you listed before. Then, ask yourself these questions to help you craft your UVP statement:

  • What specific benefits will students get out of your course? 
  • How are your students’ lives improved after they’ve completed your course? 
  • What makes your approach different from others?

For that last question, you’ll need to know a bit about competitors’ courses. Research what’s being offered in your niche to identify how your course differs.

Finally, create a concise statement for your launch and marketing plan that describes your UVP in terms of your target audience, the benefits the course offers them, and what makes it unique.

Craft a Catchy Course Title    

Choosing a good title for an online course is crucial for attracting potential students and conveying the essence of the course. It should be:

  • Clear and specific.
  • Short and catchy.
  • Optimized for keywords you’re targeting.
Online Course Launch Checklist - Craft a Title

The title should also communicate the benefits students will gain from taking the course. For example, if the course helps students learn a specific skill, mention that skill in the title.

Test your title ideas with other people to get feedback. Ask your friends, colleagues, or potential students for their thoughts on the title. You can use their feedback to refine the title and make it more effective.

Remember that a good title can make a massive difference in the success of your online course, so take your time to choose the best one.

Establish a Marketing Budget

To keep your marketing budget under control and realistic, start by identifying the marketing channels that you’ll use. Each of these channels has different costs and can require different budgets. Once you have identified the marketing channels, estimate the costs of each. 

For example, if you plan to use Facebook advertising, you must estimate the cost of running ads, targeting, and testing. If you plan to use influencer marketing, you will need to calculate the cost of collaborating with influencers and producing content.

Once you have estimated the costs, allocate your budget to each marketing channel. You should also set aside some budget for unexpected expenses and testing. As the launch approaches, you’ll keep track of costs and adjust as necessary. 

Identify Potential Partners to Help Promote Your Course

Will you enlist the help of anyone else in your online course? You could create and present the course with a partner or use an expert for one part of the course where their expertise is needed. You might have an affiliate program or get an influencer to promote your course. Create a plan for doing this and identify everything you need to do before you get started on your online course launch checklist.

Decide on the Timing for Your Online Course

The next step is to decide on the precise timing of your course launch. There is no “best” time for every course. It depends on various factors, but a good guideline is to allow at least one month to build buzz and grow your audience. 

Timing for the launch itself depends on how long you want to keep enrollment open. The length of time your enrollment is open is up to you, but it’s usually one-week maximum.

Look at your ideal student persona and determine if a particular time of year or phase of your sales cycle would be optimal for your students. You might also time your course with a product launch, a slow sales period, or another event in your business or the market. 

The 3 Stages of an Online Course Launch

Once you’ve laid the foundation and set the timing for your course, there are 3 stages to the course launch. 

Pre-Launch. You’ll spend most of your course launch time during this stage. This includes laying out your content schedule, setting up funnel pages, creating content to build buzz and grow your audience, and testing all the moving parts.

Launch. This is the big day but also includes the entire time the shopping cart is open.

Post-Launch. At this stage, you must wrap things up, monitor results, follow up with students, gather feedback, and start planning the next course. 

Online Course Launch Checklist - Stages of Launch

Your online course launch checklist is a document that lists all the activities you need to do before, during, and after your launch. It makes it easy to get everything done by showing you what to do next. 

Worried you’ll miss something? We’ve compiled the most critical tasks for each stage of your launch and broken them up into 3 checklists. Then you can customize everything based on your own launch strategy. That’s the ultimate joy of a checklist! 

Let’s start with the largest one, which is for the pre-launch stage:

Create a Pre-Launch Checklist

You’ll do most of the work to set up your course launch while in the pre-launch phase. 

Complete and Test Your Course

The first step is to ensure your course is complete and the content is ready for your students.

  • Check your curriculum landing page. This is where students go once they sign up. Make sure it displays correctly and includes everything the student needs to get started.
  • Upload and organize content. Log in as a student and make sure everything displays correctly.
  • Create branding and images. Colors, typography, logos, images, and other features should be consistent with your brand.
  • Set up student onboarding email sequence. Check that the onboarding emails your students will receive after signing up are loaded and ready to go.
  • Test all links and content. Check each link and make sure everything works and is ready for students.

Decide on Pricing and Offers

Next, you need to set the pricing for your course and decide on any special offers or discounts for the launch period. 

  • Set a price based on market data and ideal student profile. Pricing should be strategic. For example, you could set a lower price if you want high enrollment and plan to monetize through upsells and offers. If the course itself is the final offer of your sales funnel, set the price as high as other high-value courses in the market and promote it as such.
  • Plan any offers you’ll make. For example, a special price or bonus for people who sign up early.
  • Decide on any cross-sells or upsells. These are related offers you can present during the checkout process, such as bonus coaching sessions or a larger online academy membership.

Set Your Launch Schedule

Your launch schedule can be broken into two parts:

  • Pre-Launch - The time you spend on building your audience and buzz about the upcoming release
  • Cart Open - The number of days the course is open for enrollment

The best practice is to generate excitement for your launch about a month or so before the cart opens, but it could be longer. If you're starting with no audience at all, you may want to spend 2 to 3 months building an email list first.

Next, you need to decide how long to keep your shopping cart open. Most courses have the cart open for about 5 days to 2 weeks. That’s the period of time when people can enroll in your course. For a first-time launch, a week is plenty to give prospective students enough time to evaluate your course, but not so much time that they procrastinate about joining.

Include early bird specials or any other pre-sales in your schedule too. For example, you could offer the first 10 students a bonus coaching session. Or you could offer a set of templates for customers who enroll in the first 2 days. That also gives you the opening to get some testimonials to add to your sales page and emails during the launch itself.

Create Your Course Sales Pages

Next, you’ll create your sales pages. These are how your prospective students will learn about your course, pay for enrollment, and receive information on how to access it. 

Most online course platforms have the option to create these pages right inside the platform, so that you don’t have to sign up for extra tools. They also provide templates for layout and wording, so that you don’t have to come up with something from scratch. 

  • Main Sales Page. Your main course sales page needs to include:
    • An attention-grabbing headline that captures the visitor’s attention and leads them to read more.

    • A compelling introduction that creates interest and excitement, addressing the problem or pain point your course solves.

    • A brief and easy-to-understand description of what the course offers. 

    • Social proof in the form of testimonials or case studies.

    • The course curriculum, including topics covered, format, and any materials the students will get. 

    • A list of the benefits. Paint a picture of the student’s life after they’ve taken the course. 

    • Any credentials, qualifications, and background of the instructor that will lend expertise.

    • A call-to-action that tells the visitor what they need to do right now to join and get started getting the benefits the course offers. 

    • If you're not sure what to write, get inspiration from proven templates inside your landing-page builder or course platform. And remember to go back to the course outcomes you wrote out earlier, since those should be included on your sales page.

There are also a few other essential pages you'll need when selling your course. These should be built into your course platform and will usually have options for layout and wording you can use:

  • Upsell Page (optional). This is the page people see directly after clicking on the ‘enroll’ button on your main sales page. It’s where you offer any add-on or high-price options.

  • Checkout Page. This is where your students pay, which kicks off the onboarding process.
  • Thank You Page. This page thanks the student for signing up and redirects them to the curriculum page.

Make sure you test all the pages in your funnel and that all the links work. Look for ways you can optimize pages and remove potential bottlenecks. 

Online Course Launch Checklist -Sales Page Flow

Build an Audience and Generate Buzz

You’ll get the highest conversions at the start of your launch when you create enticing and engaging content to build an audience and get them excited about your upcoming course. If you offer high-quality content that helps members of your target audience solve problems they’re facing, they’ll be hungry for more. Then, when you put your online course offer in front of them, they’ll buy it.

Step 1: Build an Email List: 

One of the most effective ways to sell your course during your launch is through email. If you don’t have a list, you can start building one by offering valuable, free content that people receive in exchange for their email address.

  • Create a lead magnet. You only need one or two pieces of free content to start building your email list of potential students. It can be a webinar, checklist, video series, or anything else that will give your subscribers quick wins related to your course.

    Webinars are easy to set up and run. It’s like a mini-version of your course and can be as short as an hour long, where you teach participants how to do something. Then you have the chance to pitch your course at the end.

  • Set up your opt-in page. This is the page where people provide their name and email in exchange for your lead magnet. For a free webinar, it would be a registration page. Once your list-building opt-in page is set up, you can drive traffic to that page using some of the buzz-building tactics below.
  • Write an automated follow-up email series. You then need a follow-up email series that starts nurturing relationships with your new subscribers. They enjoyed your lead magnet, and now they get messages that reveal how much you can help them. Gradually offer more value as the launch gets closer.  
    For example, you might introduce yourself and your story, offer tips from the upcoming course, and then tell people that if they enjoyed your emails, your course includes far more

Step 2: Build buzz for your course launch

There are a million tactics for building buzz and excitement about your upcoming course. Pick a few and see which ones work best, focusing on those you enjoy doing most and which you think will reach the most potential customers.

  • Social Media Posts. Teasers, stories from past students, content clips from previous courses, sneak peeks, and livestreams. 

  • Social Media Groups. Answer questions and comment in groups with a tagline for your course (but make sure you’re following the group’s rules on promotion).
  • Blog Posts. Create blog content on topics related to the course. One idea that works well is to offer a series of related posts. 
  • Videos. Post videos on related topics or sneak peeks on sites YouTube. Series work well here too.
  • Live Streams and Webinars. Run weekly live streams or webinars to build buzz, as well as doing a registration-only webinar as a lead magnet. 
  • Guest Appearances. Find blogs, YouTube channels, podcasts, and other content to appear on. 
  • Challenges. Create a challenge for the 5 days leading up to your live launch that offers a small win each day. This is also a great way to get people onto your email list.
  • Early Access for Current Customers. Offer a free trial run, and you can then ask participants for testimonials that you can use for social proof.
  • Content for Affiliates. Create material for partners to share, like social media content or email swipes. 

Create Content for the Launch Period

You’ll also need some content specifically for when your course launch is live.

  • Write Your Launch Announcement.

    One of the most critical pieces of pre-launch content to create is the launch announcement, which you can share on social media, with your email list, on live streams, on your website, through advertising, and anywhere else you can reach your audience.

    Your course launch announcement should include:

    • Course description, including the goals, outcomes, and benefits.

    • A short bio introducing the instructor.

    • Information about the format of the course, like length, delivery method (e.g., self-paced or live), and any materials or resources that will be provided.

    • Target audience, describing who the course is designed for.

    • Any requirements or prerequisites.

    • Course price and payment options.

    • Enrollment deadline.

    • A strong call to action.

    • A link where students can quickly and easily enroll. 

  • Write and Schedule Your Launch Email Sequence

    Spend time in your pre-launch stage creating and scheduling an email series for the launch period and after. This is typically one week plus reminders on the last day. You’ll need to include follow-up messages for feedback and testimonials or possible down-sells.

    Your email sequence for a launch that has enrollment open for 6 days could look like this:

    Email #1 – Introduce your new course, connecting the free content you’ve been sharing with the course itself. 

    Email #2 – Go into more detail on what the course entails and how your ideal students will benefit from it. 

    Email #3 - Tell your story about a challenge you faced and how what you’re teaching in the course helped you overcome it.

    Email #4 – Introduce more topics from the course and showcase some testimonials or case studies. 

    Email #5 – Write about the benefits of the course again, but in a way that addresses possible objections.

    Email #6 – Remind your subscribers of the biggest benefit and remind them of the details and that the cart is closing today.

    Email #7 - Alert subscribers that enrollment is closing in a couple hours and this is their last chance to get [your special deal].

Schedule and Monitor All Content

Now, it’s time for a final check to make sure all your content is ready. Here are a few things to do at this point in your pre-launch stage:

  • Schedule all automated content - such as email follow-ups, announcements, and social posts.

  • Test automated content - to make sure it posts correctly and in a timely manner. 
  • Test all links and buttons - for enrollment, special offers, and checkout sequence. 
  • Monitor publishing of your pre-launch content.
  • Keep an eye on your metrics - such as subscribers, followers, and engagement.

You may want to post a countdown timer as another final piece of pre-launch content. This is a timer that counts down the days and minutes in real time as the launch approaches. 

If you decide to create a countdown timer, put it on the course sales page, your blog, and anywhere else you’re promoting the launch.

Live Launch Checklist

It’s launch day! Now what? When you get to the day that your launch is live and your course is open for enrollment, here is what you need to do:

  • Check one last time to make sure your sales page is visible.

  • Announce the launch on each channel where you decided to promote.
  • Remind your partners and affiliates that the launch is live.
  • Monitor all launch content publishing, including emails, social media, and any other places you’re publishing content.
  • Publish any non-automated content according to your editorial schedule.
  • Turn on any ads you’ll run during the launch period.
  • Keep an eye on your first sales. Watch out for errors using a tool like Hotjar to check sales page interactions.
  • Watch for questions and other emails and be ready to respond quickly.
  • As questions come in, add them to the FAQ on your sales page. This will help to cut down future inquiries.
  • Reach out to the first students to ask for feedback and testimonials. If you have early students, this is your chance to reach out to them.
  • Add new testimonials to the sales page.

Notice that this checklist is a lot shorter than the pre-launch one? If you do all the prep work and content creation in advance, your live course launch is a relaxing and fun time when you can interact with potential students and enjoy watching those sales come in. 

Post-Launch Activities Checklist

Remember that after the launch, you still have things to do! You may be spending most of your time with your new students, but check these tasks off your list too.

  • Thank everyone involved in the launch and ask for feedback. This might include team members, outsourcers, affiliates, and partners. Make sure you don’t leave anyone out.

  • Review launch metrics. You should have a few key KPIs you can check to monitor progress. These could be new leads, conversions, revenue, etc.
  • Pay commissions to affiliates.
  • Watch post-launch emails to leads.
  • Monitor onboarding emails to students.
  • Contact leads who didn’t enroll in the course and offer them other options to keep them in your sales funnel.
  • Ask for feedback from students. Note changes to make and create a plan for making improvements.

And finally, the most important item on your online course launch checklist:

  • Choose a new course topic and start getting ready for your next launch!

Once you have one successful course under your belt, you can start building a whole online academy, membership site, client training library, and more. If you’re tired of doing 1:1 coaching or consulting, you can shift away from that work and build an entire business around online courses. You can even make the bulk of the course delivery automated so you can earn passive income and gain the freedom to pursue other passions!

Get Our Free Online Course Launch Checklist PDF!

Ready to Launch Your Course and Skyrocket Your Revenue? 

Now that you know what’s involved in launching your online course, it’s time to take action and start transforming lives as you generate new income for yourself.  Your next step is…

Request our Online Course Launch Checklist by clicking on the button below:

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Just enter your name and email. We’ll send the checklist right to your inbox.

Then all you need to do is work your way through the checklist to get your course out into the world.

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Teach Yourself. Then teach your audience.



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