Lessons I learned from running my first online program

As you may know, this year in July (2017) I ran my first online program!! Running an online program was something I had wanted to do ever since I did BSchool back in Feb/March 2016.

Waaayy back then I knew I wanted to run one but I had no idea what I would create. Fast forward to June 2017 and I was marketing my first program – Manuscript Mastery – a program that helps female entrepreneurs learn how to write their first book and kick-start the process of actually writing it!

The program went for 8 weeks and in that time thousands of words were written, it was a wonderful experience and I connected and facilitated the learning process for 12 fabulous female entrepreneurs who are well on their way to writing their first book!

Below are the lessons I learned (won’t be doing that again!) and the things that worked well (yes, I will do those things again!).


Lessons I Learned
(Won’t be doing that again!)

Lesson #1 
Know where you’ve advertised your program
It sounds simple haha, but in a flight of fancy I decided to list the Manuscript Mastery program on Eventbrite, only to realize that in fact it wouldn’t work with the automation/backend component of the program. It only occurred to me after I’d created it on the Eventbrite platform that because it’s not hooked up to the sales page it wouldn’t automate the thank-you email or have the person’s email go into my list in the backend etc. Anyway, I thought to myself, “Oh, it’ll be fine, no one will find it on Eventbrite, so I’ll just leave it and remove the listing later.” 

Well! Low and behold a fabulous woman DID find the listing and DID buy the program on Eventbrite, so, it took me a while to work out how to find her details in my backend, as I didn’t know she’d bought the program via that platform. The lesson here is – know exactly where your customers are coming from and don’t assume that because you don’t send people to a certain website, it won’t be found – because it just might.

Lesson #2
Have a waitlist if your program is not evergreen
In a similar turn of events, when your program is running or finished, be sure to have a ‘waitlist’ page put up. I had a lovely woman buy the program in the last week of this round because my Waitlist page had not been put up. So, she’s excited to join Manuscript Mastery when it runs again in January 2018. Again, I overlooked the fact someone might buy the program when I wasn’t promoting it.

Lesson #3 
Be aware of how long things can take and factor that into your timeline
I decided I wanted to send the hard copy manuals in the mail. WOW!! This was a massive time underestimation on my part. I thought it would be fun to send the materials to participants in the mail, so I toddled off to Officeworks and explained that I wanted 12 manuals created. 

It went something like this: 

Office works assistant (OWA): How many pages madam? 
Me: 100 pages per manual. 
OWA: Wow, that’s over 1000 pages of printing and binding madam? 
Me: Uuh, yep! Yes, that’s right. Great!
OWA: Oh, that will take 3 days. 
Me: Really, oh no…

I had planned on being able to have them printed, bound and posted all in 1 day. My oversight put me back. This new learning of the timeline meant that the materials would arrive at people’s houses on the day of the program actually starting AND I would have to express post them…wow! 

So, yes, that’s what I had to do. I had no idea that 1000 pages was a big deal, I thought that was just a gig Officeworks would be used to. Haha, oh how wrong I was!

I love the idea of printed materials, but on further assessment, this may be something that I have to stop offering in future as it is quite a lot of work, time, money and organization.

What Worked Well
(Yes, I shall repeat these things!)

What worked well #1 
Marketed for a month
I decided to market the program for one month – I did this in my newsletter, on Instagram and minimally on Facebook (I didn’t do any sophisticated Facebook advertising) so my marketing activity was pretty organic and I just shared the program where I could and hoped it would get seen.

What worked well #2 
Using Facebook & Instagram LIVE
Facebook LIVE – this was hands down probably the BEST thing I did. I decided to do 1 Facebook LIVE each week during the marketing of the program. I did Facebook LIVE on my Facebook business page and also Instagram LIVE. Without a doubt, each time I did a live, I sold a program. I found this really rewarding I do believe that people really, really connect with you when you’re live on video, so I recommend you jump on the LIVE bandwagon!

What worked well #3
Using a good backend member portal
Use a member portal (if you’re going to use one) that is sophisticated, so it quickly and easily generates passwords for program participants without you having to fuss around sorting it out if something goes wrong. A couple of participants couldn’t remember their passwords, but my tech team had organised the backend so well so it was a cinch for participants to quickly and easily generate a new password themselves.

What worked well #4
Talking on the phone with people.
I was more than happy to speak to people on the phone if they wanted to find out more about the program. It was wonderful to connect and find out where people were at and what they wanted to achieve.

What worked well #5 
Having a small established following can be great when you launch.
I had a small, established online following. I play on Instagram and Facebook mainly and I have about 2,000 people on each platform so a percentage of those people follow what I do and were therefore aware of me and the program I was launching.

What worked well #6 
Having a podcast can be great for people to get to know you too
The Ladies Lounge podcast has given me fairly good exposure too, so even though I don’t advertise any of the Beautiful Business books, programs or events on that podcast, I am present and being listened to each week by people, so this could have played a significant part in people being aware of who I was too.

My last thoughts…
All in all running my program was so wonderful on a bunch of levels. It was absolutely beautiful to connect with people, help people write, help them to become more creative and enable them to develop themselves further. This program journey has been truly inspirational. 

I always wanted to run a book-writing program so people could write their own books after my two books had been so wonderful for me and have been the main pieces of marketing for me in recent years. 

If you want to learn how to write your own book for your business and raise your influence with your writer’s voice, join the VIP waitlist for Manuscript Mastery coming in January 2018 click here

All my best wishes and more to you, what book do you long to write? Let me know.

Lots of Love,

Emma Franklin Bell xo 

P.S. Did you know thousands of coaches and consultants have downloaded their FREE copy of my latest book Your Beautiful Business? Download it for FREE here!

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