Services vs Online Courses: Which Should You Offer?

This is a must read if you're thinking of launching an online course for your business. You might want to book out your services first...

So you’ve heard that offering online courses are all the rage, eh?

Perhaps you’ve taken note that the hot shot entrepreneurs that you follow on social media are all offering e-courses.

You’ve even learned words like “leverage” and “scalability” and you love the idea of having “passive income” or creating something once and making money on it many times.

And though I don’t believe there’s any such thing as truly passive income (I urge you to let go of the sexiness of that term as soon as possible), I do think that offering digital programs is a fabulous way to grow your income past your personal capacity to exchange hours for dollars.

However, I am alarmed at the number of people who are trying to launch e-courses before spending at least one year running a service based business.

I truly believe that 99% of entrepreneurs in the “online business” space should be starting their businesses with services for a few reasons:

#1 – It’s a lower point of entry.

To make enough money to live off of with digital products (or worse, physical products) you need to sell a lot more quantity than if you offer a mid-priced service.

#2 – Find Your Groove.

It takes time to figure out where you fit in. I started out as a résumé writer then became a website copywriter and then sales page copywriter and now I’m obsessed with packaging services. Each time I make a move, it takes a bit of time to find my groove, develop my signature schtick, and get known.

#3 – You can’t help people many to one if you can’t help them one to one.

This is perhaps the most frustrating thing I see — people who haven’t actually worked with clients one-on-one to get them consistent results who think that they can create an e-course.

Let go of this limiting belief: You don’t have to do the same thing forever

Your business will change and evolve constantly so stop trying to find one thing that you can do forever and ever and ever and just get started!

Your business should be the umbrella under which you create all kinds of offers over the years based on what your audience is craving and what you feel like you can genuinely and passionately help them to achieve.

Multiple revenue streams are a good thing

As my mentor Natalie MacNeil says, “million dollar businesses need 7 streams of revenue”.

In my personal experience, it’s absolutely wonderful to have multiple streams of revenue.

I still offer one-to-one services in the form of 90-minute power sessions, have low-tier products under $100, mid-range programs like The Sales Page Kit available all the time, and a more intense program, Yay for Clients, which I plan to launch a couple of times per year.

This variety is what allows me to create consistent revenue. But it takes time to get here.

It is by slowly creating one product or service at a time and optimizing it that I’ve gotten to this point where money is consistently coming into my business. You can’t create more than a couple of offers per year.

You will find your own balance

There is no “one size fits all” formula. Though you may dream of doing nothing and making purely “passive income” I personally do not believe that is a reality. While offering digital products helps to get past the 6 figure revenue mark by offering a one-to-many option, in my experience it is in no way “passive”… at least not yet.

Launch an online course once you have an audience and a strategy.

You can’t just pop up an e-course on your website and expect people to buy it. That may sound like common sense yet I get questions from entrepreneurs all the time saying things like, “I created an awesome sales page! Why aren’t people buying?”

First, you need an audience. I wouldn’t launch any products until you have at least 100 people on your list. Even then, you should expect 2-5% of people to buy unless it’s super engaged. (This percentage gets smaller as your list gets bigger).

Second, you need a strategy. You have to create excitement and anticipation about your program and topic before giving an irresistible sales pitch. If you’re not ready to do these things, I suggest figuring them out before launching an e-course.

Leave a comment below and tell me: Do you offer services, courses, or both?