Getting Your First Students

So your school is all set up and your courses are ready. Creating your courses probably wasn’t easy, but what comes next may be even harder: getting people to actually sign up for them. This article outlines a plan for getting your first students to join your Teachable school.

Building an Audience

When you’re teaching a course, it all comes down to having an audience who trusts you. Not only should they trust you as a person, but (perhaps more importantly) they need to have faith in your skills as a professional. It’s critical to convince your audience that you have knowledge to share and that you’re capable of sharing it well.

How do you create this kind of reputation and build that audience? In a nutshell: you start sharing your knowledge for free, and positioning yourself as a professional in your field. Unfortunately, there are no quick and easy “cheats” for how to do this: everyone has to start from the ground up. However, if you truly have valuable knowledge and insights to share, you might start building an audience faster than you think.

Here are three tried-and-true steps to begin building a “brand” for yourself and providing value to your future audience:

  1. Start a blog or website. Pick the topic you’re passionate about, hone in on a unique angle, and begin filling your site with quality content that educates (and ideally also entertains) readers. Get involved with the blog’s community, accept guest posters on your site, and write guest posts of your own on related sites. Interview other experts in your industry and share news. Not into writing? Start a podcast or video channel that does the same thing.
  2. Create and maintain social media accounts, in both your name and your website’s. Don’t stick to personal profiles only: start pages that people can “like” or groups that they can join. Make posts of your own and share others’ posts, but again, focus on quality content. (That means no cat pictures...unless the cat is doing something that’s adorably relevant to your topic...or cats are your topic.)
  3. Network. In so many cases, it’s all about who you know. Attend events, join groups, and meet people (in person and online). Form professional alliances. Cross-promote one another. Pitch industry publications on an article you could write for them. Get your name out there.

When you’re in the process of doing all this, you should also be engaging with your new readers/fans/colleagues personally. That brings us to the next step.

Creating an Email List

An email list allows you to maintain a connection with your audience in a way that’s hard to do otherwise. When you periodically send emails to readers, you (a) remind them that you exist, (b) can update them on your latest posts/professional endeavors, and (c) can invite questions and replies to start one-on-one interactions.

However, most people will need an incentive to give you their email: they won’t just enter their address in any pop-up box they see. That means it’s up to you to provide an incentive. A few suggestions:

  1. Create a lead magnet. Basically, you’ll offer the reader a special, irresistible piece of content in exchange for their email address. This could be an ebook, a free course, an exclusive interview, or whatever else your audience would value.

    lead-magnets

  2. Host a free workshop or “webinar” that people can sign up for by providing their emails.

Launching the Course to Your Email List

Now that you have an email list full of people who value your skills and trust you professionally, it’s time to let them know about your upcoming course.

In your emails, don’t get salesy right away. First, “warm up” your readers by getting them thinking about the problem that your course solves. Then, introduce your course and explain what it’s about and how it can help them. Create a special coupon code that they can use to purchase the course for a discount.

You can begin promoting the course even before it officially launches, by creating a sales page for it and directing people there. If you like, you can even pre-sell the course at an “early-bird special” price.

Obviously, none of this will happen overnight. Building authority and gaining a following takes time. If you have a head-start on the process, great! If not, there’s no better time to start than now.

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