List Building or Launching?
As an eCourse expert there’s a question I am asked a lot: Should you focus on list building — creating a large tribe — before launching a product? Or, can you launch a new product online successfully with just a small list?
There’s a rule in the online marketing world, that you should have at least 1,000 subscribers before launching a product. And frankly it makes me really angry.
Guess what? I launched my first ever eCourse to a list of just 140 people!
But let’s back up a little bit, because before I launched a course, I had to launch a business.
I launched my business in January 2012 while I was working full-time in a soulless corporate job. It was hard work! I was not one of these overnight success stories. My list growth was agonizingly slow.
Being a trainer and coach myself, I saw pretty quickly that to replace my six-figure corporate income using the 1:1 “money for time” model, I would have to work very long hours and need a lot of clients. And that’s not why I started a lifestyle business in the first place. I came to understand how online products, in particular e-courses, had the power to serve a global audience, and I realized that offering e-courses was a much smarter approach for me. So, I launched my first-ever e-course with a list of just 140 people.
Now, many authorities in the online marketing world will tell you this is crazy. They’ll tell you that you need at least 1,000 people on your list to launch a product. And I suppose they would have told me that I was wasting my time.
I want you to break this rule, because time and again I’ve seen clients with small lists get amazing results without big list building.
Now don’t get me wrong; I have seen colleagues have amazing success when they have launched after building a large list, but I think you are doing yourself a disservice by sitting around waiting for a magic number and sometimes by waiting you miss a really great opportunity in the market.
I think it’s great to build your tribe first — if you can afford to. But many of us need to start making money ( like yesterday) and we need, and want, to take the leap from the corporate cubicle far earlier. I didn’t have the luxury to build a blog following over years. I needed results and quickly.
What these online gurus fail to understand is that their version of “success”’ might be very different than yours.
Quite frankly, most of them have lost touch with the typical lifestyle entrepreneur and define success as six-figure (or even seven-figure) enrollments. I earned around $5k from my first launch. This was MASSIVE for me as I had only earned $600 in my business prior to this and had invested over $10k. I was overjoyed with this result and I knew it was just the beginning of what I could achieve.
What these gurus don’t tell you is that small lists can convert extremely well. Most of these online experts will tell you to expect 2% conversion rates among people who actually OPEN your email, not 2% from your whole list. My first-ever eCourse enrolled 28 people off a list of 141 subscribers. That’s 20% conversion! 20% conversion from a large list in the thousands or tens of thousands is virtually unheard of.
These online specialists also fail to mention that the larger your list, the lower your open rate tends to be. When you are starting out with a small list you can get open rates of 40-60%. Once you hit the 1,000+ subscriber mark, your open rate tends to diminish significantly.
Why? A small list is generally built by a really slow and steady subscriber rate of people who are truly interested in what you have to offer. But, to rapidly grow your list you employ tactics such as free webinars, opt-ins and other incentives. These incentives attract a high proportion of subscribers who are what I like to call “’freebie hunters” and these people are far less engaged with your work and never intend to buy from you. This results in lower open rates and therefore lower conversion rates when you do launch.
What these online powerhouses also are not telling you is that each launch builds upon the last.
As you get better at launching and promoting, you improve the course, word-of-mouth spreads, your participants become affiliates, and you grow your list and revenues over time.
My program, the e-Course Launch Formula, enrolled over 30 people the first time I ran it off a list of 500 and I earned about $10k. Subsequent launches have built upon each other, word-of-mouth has spread, and my reputation has grown to the point where I now earn seven times that amount less than 18 months later. I earned over $50k from this eCourse before my list was over the magical 1,000 subscribers and a six-figure launch is just around the corner.
This all started with a $10k launch and a small list.
Launching before I had what was considered a large list is what enabled me to quit my soulless job, to reach multiple six figures in my business, and to work from home with my baby in tow.
I’m really glad I didn’t listen to those gurus and I launched with a small list.
I believe that the launching process itself intrinsically builds your list (if you know some clever pre-launch strategies). By the way, I’ve learned some tricks over the last few years on how to have a five-figure launch even with a small (or non-existent) list. You can work with me in the e-course launch formula.
This post originally appeared on my coaches website in August 2014 at She Takes on the World.