April 26th, 2016
Whether it’s some process you’ve used with one on one clients or something you’ve learned and used yourself for years (and were successful with it), creating a digital course or online program is a great way to package up what you know.
And if you’re just getting started, you might be wondering when you’ll be ready enough to launch.
First the good news is — the steps to getting your work out to the world and the right people is completely within your control and customizable for your business.
You don’t have to wait until you get 1,000 or 2,000 or more subscribers to prove you’ve made it or to be allowed to launch something.
You get to do it now.
There’s a process you can follow to launch your products, services, or new blog right now…even if you’re just starting, even if you don’t feel ready, and even if you’re not quite sure what your first steps are.
I’ve used this foundational process time and again with clients and students.
I call the process “Fearless Launching” and it only takes 6 key ingredients – 6 steps that you can apply today without a team, a big list, spending a ton of money or having all the answers!
Wanna know the secret recipe?
6 UNAVOIDABLE Steps to Launching Your First Product
Step 1: Understand The Bigger Picture
If you’ve never launched before, you might hold beliefs about where you should be in your business, what type of product or service you should offer, what works and what doesn’t. Fearless Launching provides a roadmap that you learn, embrace and prepare for before you put even one date on the calendar or start dreaming of holding a webinar or creating a free challenge.
We’ll cover these more in an upcoming post – so make sure you sign up to receive email updates from me! If you’re ready to start understanding that bigger picture though, you can check out this resource which also includes access to my roadmap.
Step 2: Define Specific Outcomes Based In Reality
First the reality.
You need to take a complete launch inventory before you start writing down or defining your goals. The one common setback to achieving success during a launch is having higher expectations based on what you THINK should happen.
Once you take inventory, you’ll be able to settle on goals that make sense based on where you are right now.
So, you’ve had some #truthtime with yourself. Now…it’s time to write down and brain dump everything you’re hoping to achieve as a result of launching. This list will vary depending on what you decide to launch.
List building? Revenue? Both? What type of product are you creating? How will it be delivered? Is it done already or do you just have a sales page? Step 2 is all about defining where you are right now and what you want to achieve.
Having a clear vision of how your launch, outcomes will ensure that you stick to the bigger vision and goals of your business.
Bonus points for sharing out loud with someone you trust.
Step 3: Write Down Your Master Plan
You’ve probably heard of reverse engineering.
Well, here’s where you get to set a date for the launch and work backwards.
It doesn’t matter what format you use to organize your schedule – if you like excel, use excel, if you like basecamp great – use it. The trick is to put it all into a calendar and do you best to stick to it!
In Fearless Launching, I talk about a few different options for creating the master plan. I love Asana and Trello…but clients may use other tools, so I’m good with all of the above.
If you want to read about more planning tools, head over to this post here all about creating a non-scary launch schedule.
Now, as much as I want to say you can keep things organic, wake up each day and decide what to do…an essential part of having a successful launch is thinking things through.
I get that the idea of planning the details of your launch can be so intimidating that it shuts many people down.
But – believe me when I say that breaking all those little pieces down into manageable steps makes it so much easier to orchestrate a launch–you’ll be able to come up with the strategy and how-to in advance, see where you might have challenges meeting a deadline or get the warning that you’re biting off more work than you can chew.
Plus – having that plan reminds you to get you to do list done – all while keeping an eye on your bigger vision for your business.
No one can keep all the little pieces in their head all the time…I’ve tried!
Step 4: Get the back of the house running
If you’re running any part of your business online, you’ll have a list of tools and systems that need to be working. Everything from your website to your affiliate program to your email marketing provider to your social media accounts.
First things first – integrate everything. If something doesn’t play well with your other tools easily, without a lot of fuss… get rid of it. It will slow you down.
Unless all these amazing tools are speaking to each other in some way, you’re going to be wasting a ton of time figuring out what’s not working during a launch.
For example, if you launch ONLINE–like an online program or offer digital products of any kind that means you need to be set up ONLINE to accept payments as well as for people to see and read what you are offering. They might need to be able to access your training materials ONLINE. You need to let them know they have completed their online purchase.
Each of these steps in the sales process requires a tool or a link to the next tool in order to happen.
In addition to each of those tools – you’ll need a way to communicate with your customers automatically and deliver their training materials.
This all boils down to your tool set and what the person will experience as they interact with your business (especially once they become a customer).
The main thing here is to set things up so you can handle everything if you need to (at least when you’re first starting out) and that as many things as possible happen without you pushing a button.
Automation saves you time. You don’t get to check out just because something happens automatically.
So – while there are tons of tools and ways to set up your product, your service, your offers, you must be able to sit at the control board and operate it IF NEEDED.
Step 5: Gather support
Never do a launch completely alone.
Yes, I know I’ve said it’s possible to launch alone, but I don’t believe anyone needs to do it completely by themselves.
Now – does that mean you need a 5-10 person full-time PAID team? No.
But you do need people to help you.
Support comes in the form of different types of people who give different types of support.
Simply ask yourself…who’s going to keep you on target and on schedule? Who’s going to be your cheerleader and pep-talker? Who’s going to help you get the word out to other people? Who’s going to make sure your buy buttons all work? Who’s going to write all the emails?
You might be the one handling some of these, but don’t do them all alone.
Launching is exhausting and having support makes all the difference…
And…even your cat counts, if that’s the only one who’ll listen to your primal screams!
Step 6: Know Where To Communicate
Communication is the name of the game during a launch. Not only does it often feel like you’ve got to be everywhere all the time…but you don’t.
You just need to be on your strongest 1-3 channels. A lot. And then check in with other places often.
So, it’s going to feel like you’re talking talking talking – offline, online, social media, blog comments, emails.
Do your best to answer questions, look for ways of helping new people, and be as available as possible to people. Don’t leave questions in your inbox from potential clients or customers for more than a day…
Communication also includes you writing emails to subscribers, creating content specific to your launch, writing blog posts that show people what you know, leveraging content that you’ve written for other people!
Everything is about communicating your message to people who already love you and new peeps who will love you! You do that in a variety of ways – and we talk about many more inside Fearless Launching.
While I used to say that your launch is like a cocktail party and you are the host, I also say that if you don’t have to be something you’re not. Interact with people in a way that works for you. If you like smaller gatherings or are more introverted, stick to formats and ways of reaching people that don’t feel off for you. Mingle, but in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re putting on a show.
You are – to some degree, but you’re not required to put on some fake persona…unless it’s an amped up version of yourself.
While the communication module is the last piece delivered in Fearless Launching, we end up talking about it throughout the entire program…because honestly, every single aspect of launching and the launch planning even is about communicating. Understanding who you’re talking to, how you’re talking to them, where and when…
Trick: I like to start with a big list of all the communication I plan to send or want to send during a launch…then I decide the format for each next…then I get to plot things out on a calendar to see if I need more or less. If you start with what you’re going to say, it can help you create the schedule and be strategic about how you share & promote your launch.
Fastest Walk Through Ever
Okay this was literally the fastest run through of the primary steps to launching an online program. And, as I’m sure you can see, going it alone could be extremely overwhelming.
I know that when I try to do a big launch by myself, I always end up finding people who can help me. In that same way, I hope you seek out support and details for each of these steps. You don’t have to do it all alone.
I cover each one in detail inside Fearless Launching – an online program which takes a different approach to teaching launching. It’s part planning – project completion, part sticking to a vision bigger than yourself and creating something amazing.
[box_colored width=”80%” border=”1px” style=”solid” background=”azure” bordercolor=”black”]Update: Summer School for Fearless Launching is now open…through April 29th at MIDNIGHT. If you enroll in Fearless Launching Solo this week, you’ll get 3 live classes you won’t want to miss! Click here for all the details.[/box_colored]