Have you got an online course that you’re gearing up to launch out in the world? Or maybe you’ve already got a live course but your student numbers aren’t quite what you’d like them to be? 

In this blog, I’m going to walk you through The Best Types Of Online Course Launch & Which One Is Right For You

What’s The Best Way To Launch Your Online Course?

There are a wide variety of online course launch methods, so it’s important to choose the one that works best for you.

Each launch type has different strengths and weaknesses depending on your circumstance and what stage of your course journey you are at. 

The most popular launch types are; 

  • Seed launch, 
  • Pre-sell, 
  • Open-close Launch, 
  • Challenge, 
  • Affiliate Launch, and 
  • Evergreen Launch.

Once you’ve understood each type of launch, its advantages and disadvantages, it will be easy to choose the right one for you to focus on.

Let’s kick it of with…

The Seed Launch – How To Launch From Nothing

The Seed Launch is a highly underrated technique, perfect for beginners without any content, email list or experience.

Also referred to as a pilot course or beta course. 

What Is An Online Course Seed Launch

A seed launch is an effective way to launch your course when all you have is the “seed” of an idea.

You validate your idea by getting a small group of your ideal audience to “seed” the content creation.

You reach out one-by-one, tell them your concept and for a deep discount invite them to help you create the course with you.

Examples Of Influencers & Course Creators That Use Seed Launches

The term Seed Launch was popularised by Jeff Walker in his book “Launch” and through his own online course launching system… Product Launch Formula

What Are The Benefits Of A Seed Launch

A seed launch is a great way to get your business off the ground without any investment.

You can also use it as a precursor to one of the other launch types.

It allows you to test the market, gather feedback and develop a better course.

You don’t need any pre-existing email list or audience to do a seed launch, although it helps if you have one.

You don’t even need any course content yet, you just need to be a subject matter expert comfortable teaching your topic.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Seed Launch

It can be a little scary asking people to buy into something that doesn’t exist yet.

It will likely require you to have one-to-one conversations with people about your topic and often sell directly to them

It is unlikely to generate a large amount of income, especially on your first launch.

There is a significant amount of manual work required to make it a success.

The seed launch could fail, although this would be a good thing as it helps validate your course idea before you invest any more time or energy.

Is A Seed Launch The Right Launch For Me?

A seed launch could be right for you if you have no audience or email list yet. If you are just starting out or you don’t know the best topic or content for your course yet.

A seed launch could be right for you if you’re not sure if anyone will buy your course or if  you’ve never created a digital product before.

Now let’s talk about launch type 2…

The Pre-Sell – How To Launch Your Course With No Content

The pre-sell launch is another form of early stage course launch better suited to established experts.

What Is An Online Course Pre-Sell Launch

A pre-sell is similar to a Seed Launch except that it requires you to have an already established audience to sell to.

Involves you teasing your audience about the topic then having them buy-in to the early creation of the content.

You then typically deliver the lessons live week by week which you then wrap up into a complete product afterwards

Often involves a more complex marketing campaign at-scale with teaser content.

Examples Of Influencers & Course Creators That Use Pre-Sell Launches

Many course creation experts like Amy Porterfield teach and promote pre-selling your course. 

What Are The Benefits Of A Pre-Sell Launch

Pre-selling your course allows you to self-fund the creation of the course, generating income before you create content

It allows you to quickly validate whether your idea will sell well to your audience and to test the broad marketing strategy and elements like the course title, promise and sales copy

Pre-selling can also motivate you to actually go through with the course creation if you are procrastinating because as soon as you’ve sold it – you’ve got paying customers expecting you to show up and deliver what you promised. 

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Pre-Sell Launch

Like with seed launching it can be scary to sell something that doesn’t exist yet. 

If you sell it before you have created it you can be on the hook to deliver something you aren’t capable of. 

It can be difficult to generate interest in your course before you have any content available.

You can’t rely on testimonials from past students to help sales, because there aren’t any.

Is A Pre-Sell Launch The Right Launch For Me?

A pre-sell launch can be the right option for you if you already have a decent sized audience to sell to. It can be a good idea if you are an established expert in your field with no digital product yet, maybe you’ve only done coaching or consulting. 

A pre-sell launch can be the right option for you if you are unsure what the best topic is for your course and you want to test elements like the title and copy before a full launch. 

A pre-sell launch can be the right option for you if you are confident creating great teaser content and a marketing campaign to build buzz up front. 

Now let’s talk about the old-faithful…

The Open-Close Launch – How To Make Lots Of Sales Quickly

The open-close launch is the most popular type of course launch by far, effective in a wide variety of situations for established experts

What Is An Online Course Open-Close Launch

An open-close launch is where enrollment opens for just a short time and then closes again. 

Examples Of Influencers & Course Creators That Use Open-Close Launches

Most of the most popular established online courses out there use this strategy.

B-School by Marie Forleo has been running for years, but only opens enrollment once or twice a year

What Are The Benefits Of An Open-Close Launch

This type of launch is great for businesses that are looking to make lots of sales over a short timeframe.

It uses the natural scarcity of a fixed close date to encourage people to take immediate action and buy the course.

It is repeatable and can be improved on each time you open.

It can give you a concentrated amount of energy to throw behind the promotion for a short time.

You can do it as many or as few times as makes sense for your business, from once a month to once a year, or once ever!

It can be timed to coincide with a season or event like Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt on New Years

What Are The Disadvantages Of An Open-Close Launch

The launch itself can be as much or more work than the online course took to create

Once it’s done, you have to do it all over again to get more sales. This can lead to the launch hamster-wheel effect!

After the closing date people who want to buy, can’t. They have to wait until the next time the course opens. 

Is An Open-Close Launch The Right Launch For Me?

An open-close could be the right launch for you if you have an established audience to sell to or if you are an established expert with a proven methodology or system.

An open-close could be the right launch for you if you have your course content finished already so you can focus on the launch itself. 

An open-close could be the right launch for you if you have already run a seed launch or pre-sale, or if you don’t need the money up front to go and create your content.

Now let’s talk about a more recent phenomenon… 

The Challenge Launch – How To Build Your Audience While You Launch

The challenge launch option is one that allows you to build your audience while you launch the course.

It has become more popular recently as it builds buzz and excitement around your content making it easier to sell.

What Is An Online Course Challenge Launch

An online course challenge launch is where you run a challenge for a short time around a small topic within your course

Usually free to participate in, challengers typically complete a daily activity and share their results online

Often these challenges are run in a public forum or online community to increase the virality of the content

At the end of the challenge you would invite participants to continue their journey by enrolling on your course.

Challenges are usually 3 days, 5 days, 7 days, 14 days or 30 days with the offer happening on or after the final day.

Examples Of Influencers & Course Creators That Use Challenge Launches

Lisa Johnson recently run an incredibly effective “30 Day Visibility Sprint” which naturally fed into her new course.

What Are The Benefits Of A Challenge Launch

Can be a great way to build a buzz around your content before you launch your course.

If run publicly the content created by participants naturally promotes the challenge to new participants. 

Free challenges often build a lot of good will by offering highly valuable content and interaction with you at no cost.

Because people actively participate they are far more likely to be engaged and therefore want to buy your course. 

If you have a very large audience a challenge launch is great free content to encourage more people to buy premium stuff

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Challenge Launch

If you don’t hit the mark with your challenge then it’s very visible how few people are participating.

If too few people participate then it can be demotivating to the people that are engaging who feel like they are alone.

It can be hard to find the right balance between asking for too much participation and not enough. 

It takes a lot of live engagement and involvement from you to constantly encourage participants. 

If the outcomes of your challenge are poor that will often have a negative effect on course sales. 

Is A Challenge Launch The Right Launch For Me?

A challenge launch can be great for you if you are confident you can quickly build a highly engaged group or if your challenge surrounds a popular or trending topic. 

A challenge launch can be great for you if you have a huge audience, many of whom never buy your paid content.

A challenge launch can be great for you if you are confident using social media and are happy to engage publicly often. 

Now let’s break out the big guns… 

The Affiliate Launch – How To Get Others To Launch Your Course For You

Affiliate launches are a highly effective advanced strategy for massively increasing course sales. 

What Is An Online Course Affiliate Launch

An affiliate launch recruits a group of partners with similar audiences to yours to promote your course launch for you

In return you pay them a commission of typically 20-50% on each course sale they make for you. 

Examples Of Influencers & Course Creators That Use Affiliate Launches

Most of the big popular courses you have seen will use affiliate launches to promote their sales. 

If you’ve ever seen one course creator promoting another course creators content – that was an affiliate launch. 

Some of the largest affiliate course launches include – B-School, The Membership Experience, Digital Course Academy but there are hundreds of examples out there.

What Are The Benefits Of An Affiliate Launch

You can reach an audience many times larger than your own very quickly

You can skyrocket your course sales in a very short time.

You can create great relationships with some of the most influential creators in your field. 

You can build your own email lists and social media following very quickly for future marketing. 

You gain credibility for yourself and your course by being associated with an already trusted expert. 

What Are The Disadvantages Of An Affiliate Launch

You will have to pay a commission for every sale, often as high as 50%.

You will have to create a lot of additional assets to give to the affiliates so they can promote your course for you. 

You will have to use some additional software to track the sales so you can attribute them to the right affiliate. 

You will often have to do as much work to engage your affiliates throughout the launch as you would to your own audience

You will need to have proven sales records to demonstrate the value to your affiliates before they will promote you.

Is An Affiliate Launch The Right Launch For Me?

An affiliate launch could be the right launch for you if you already have a course you are selling, or if you have run your own launches successfully already. 

An affiliate launch could be the right launch for you if you are confident your course and your marketing material converts really well. 

An affiliate launch could be the right launch for you if you have other products and services you sell, so that you can make more profit on the back end after you’ve made the initial sale but paid out that commission to the referrer.

Now let’s talk about the secret weapon…

The Evergreen Launch – How To Launch Over & Over Again On Autopilot

The Evergreen Launch is a popular option because it automates most of the process for you.

What Is An Online Course Evergreen Launch

It takes the successful elements of a “live” launch and automates them. 

Usually it uses paid ads to generate a steady stream of traffic to some sort of automated sales process or funnel. Or it can also rely on content marketing to generate organic traffic into the funnel instead of ads. 

Often relies on recorded webinars, email automation sequences and dynamic countdown timers unique to each lead. 

Examples Of Influencers & Course Creators That Use Evergreen Launches

Most big course creators will move their most popular course launches to evergreen after a few years of successful live launches.

What Are The Benefits Of An Evergreen Launch

It allows you to attract new students to buy your course constantly all the time. 

It is infinitely more scalable than a live launch allowing you to sell to many more people with much less involvement from you, allowing you to reap the benefit of the content you created for a long time without much more work. 

It allows you to automate the process of selling so you can focus on something entirely new, like a membership or building your community. 

And many of the tools and most of the content you already created will be exactly the same for life and evergreen launches. 

What Are The Disadvantages Of An Evergreen Launch

There can be a lot of moving parts that need to work together so it can be difficult to orchestrate. 

It is almost always obvious to customers that a launch isn’t live, so the excitement is never as high and because the excitement isn’t as high conversion rates for your course will usually take a hit. 

And as the sales and content isn’t being delivered live it can get stale pretty fast and result in lower engagement. 

Is An Evergreen Launch The Right Launch For Me?

An evergreen launch could be right for you if you already have a history of successful course sales, if you already have a finished course that is selling well already. 

Are confident in your marketing messaging and know it has been optimised to convert well. 

Are not afraid of technology and using systems and processes to automate business tasks. 


So there you have it; those are the The Best Types Of Online Course Launch

If you’re gearing up to launch your own online course soon, or if you’re thinking of doing a re-launch or moving up to the next launch-level – let me know in the comments: which one of these launch types are you going to use and what’s the biggest challenge you’re facing while planning your launch? 

Have you seen or participated in any great course launches recently? Leave a comment below and let me know – what course was it? And what type of launch did they use? 

Until next time!  

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