First off, I want to mention that there are several things that you should consider before you run your first mini-course. These mini-courses are designed for quick challenges, you can set one up for anywhere from 3 to 7 days, if you are in the fitness world, 10, 14, 21 and 30-day challenges are very common. Find out what the average Free Mini-Course duration is in your niche and start there. You can always adjust up or down if you feel the material you are covering need more or fewer days to be of value.
Yes, I said it! It needs to be of value to the recipient. Don’t set this up thinking you should pummel the subscriber with pure offers for your product!
That said, this works really well for solo-preneurs who have an online course or are planning to have an online course or class, as well as one-on-one coaches, yoga teachers, artists and others offering personalized services.
So let’s get started.
One of the main requirements to make this work is: you have to have a paid email service, that lets you set up automatic email delivery workflows.
As You are a solo-preneur and have to make every penny you spend count, this might be a bit – oh my goodness, can I afford that – kind of thought process going on at your end now. But here is the reality to get you back into your comfort zone: you can start with MailChimp, which starts at 10.- per month (that’s really only 2 cups o’Starbucks a month!) So, do you think you can set a goal to sell one of your products, maybe an eBook or Guide, for 10.- per month? Is that a reachable goal? I think it is. Therefore, the cost of Mailchimp for that month has already been paid for!
So back to our Mini-Course design.
If you have a course already, or a service offering or bundle offer, you should design your mini-course to lead towards your product – think of it as the pre-work necessary to really enjoy your product (like cooking the pasta before you can enjoy eating.)
Or you could use part of your course like a preview course. Just make sure that you don’t stop in the middle of a process – that will only lead your customer to confusion and dissatisfaction of not having accomplished something. Make sure you use a good break point, where the participant of your course can achieve some satisfaction by completing something.
Now that you are clear on what to put into the content of your mini-course, we need to set up an opt-in, preferably and inline opt-in – depending on the platform of your website, you may need to install a plug-in (I’m on WordPress and I’m using Bloom for the curious of you.) The plug-in should be configured beforehand if possible, as you will need to insert it into your landing page. Dedicate a separate list for your mini-course in your mail service provider account so you can market to them after the completion of the course. Add a segment to the list, something like ‘finished course’, so that you know when a subscriber is done with the course and may be ready to get a standard marketing message from you. Or you can ask them if they would like to be on your newsletter subscriber list after finishing the course, so they can continue to receive great content from you.
Once the opt-in is setup, head over to your mail service provider and set up your automatic workflow – use the same list you are using for your opt-in!
Automatic Workflow to the rescue!
In your automatic workflow setting, set up a welcome email so go out immediately after a new signup to the list. Decide how many emails you need in you mini-course, set them up labeling them day 1, day 2, and so on. Schedule each email to be a day apart (if it’s a daily challenge) or any duration appropriate to your challenge. I like to send my mini-course email out at the same time each day, so my subscriber will know when to expect them.
Now it’s up to you to setup your emails – use templates if they are available or make your own. Use canva.com for free graphics to brand your mini-course to your solo-preneur brand.
Don’t forget, once you have setup your first email – no matter if you are designing it yourself or just making changes to a pre-designed template – save that first email as a personal template! That will make it easier to create the following emails, as you will already have the layout done and just need to edit the information for each individual day.
When you have designed all your emails – send yourself a test of each of them. Then forward them to a good friend and have them proofread your emails! It’s sometimes crazy – we can not see our own spelling mistakes (even with sire’s help 😉 ) – that’s why it’s really great if we have someone look at it with fresh eyes and alert us of anything we may have missed. If you don’t have anyone who you think can do that, copy and paste all your test into a word document – or start writing it in a word-processing app first. Then find an English editor (try fivver.com or freelance.com for inexpensive help – or if you have a college around, maybe find an English major, get creative) and ask them to edit your document. It’s worth the effort, trust me!
One major note: at the end of the course, make sure you offer them something. As in selling them something. Does not need to be expensive – as I said before, a 10.- eBook with more on the topic of your mini-course would be a great offer here.
Ready to Land
When all your emails are set to go, it’s time to head over to your website and create a landing page for your mini-course. This is where you use the opt-in, use the same branded headers and images than on your emails. Give a short description what people can expect to get out of the course, the duration when they can expect their emails to come. Repeat your opt-in offer a few times on your page to make it easy for people to sign up. Also, make sure you mention that it is a free course.
Make sure your links and buttons function on your landing page. Always double check and test!
Ok, you are ready to show your course off to the world.
If you already have a list, you can promo it asking you peeps to forward to interested people. You can use this mini-course setup for JV promotions, where you give away free content. OR you can advertise this on Social Media. Social Media is still an inexpensive way to get traffic to your site and adding leads to your lists. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube – these are all social media channels on which you can advertise. In addition to paid content boosts, make sure you are posting the link to your landing page with CTAs to ‘Sign Up To The FREE Challenge’ on all your social media channels!
If you decide to do boosted posts on Facebook and Pinterest, make sure you create FB and Pinterest specific images to get the best exposure – canva.com is a great free tool to keep you images consistently branded and providing you with an easy way to get just the right size for each social media channel.
Now off you go and make it happen! Happy Mini-Course Creating!
P.S. Don’t forget to market your free mini-course on your own website =)
Market on the Front page – unless it fights with the offers. Consider the blog sidebar – the greatest blog billboard space – use it to advertise the free mini-course. Use your opt-in plugin as a widget or design a graphic for the sidebar and link to your landing page.
And before you wonder about GDPR – YES, you can still collect email addresses. You just need to be transparent about the fact that you intend to email them later and give them the option not to be on your email list – i.e. an unsubscribe link on the bottom of your emails. Your email service provider should have added that by default! If you are in the EU or doing major business in the EU, make sure you have the opt-out button on your signup form not automatically checked. EU users now need to give unbiased consent to be on your mailing list. But hopefully you are providing such awesome content that everyone WANTS to be on your mail list =D
So, to conclude, no matter how, just make sure your Mini-Course Sign Up and Consent are easy accessible for your visitors. Happy Creating.