:Marketing / Marketing best practices

“How I made $80K on my course pre-sale”

woman working on couch woman working on couch

Last summer I made $80,000 preselling my course, Trading Cryptocurrency for Profit. I had been day trading cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other Altcoins for about 9 months. Once people found out that I was making money trading while traveling the world, they bombarded me with questions on how they could do it too.

So I made a course to teach people how to trade cryptocurrencies! And I started selling it before creating a single lecture in the course.

In this post I’m going to take you step by step through my course presale. You’ll learn how I built an audience, how I established myself as an expert, the sales page I designed, the exact email sequence I used for the presale, and my conversion statistics.

Let me get this out of the way right now: you do not need a huge email list to have a successful presale. 

Hopefully by the end you will see that preselling a course is the perfect way to jumpstart your passive income machine.

Why presell a course?

Whether you’re launching your first course, or your fifteenth, you should launch it with a presale. Here are 3 reasons why I did it and you should too.

You get paid to create your course

It’s the worst feeling when you spend weeks creating something just to find out that nobody is willing to pay for it. A common thought is: I could have spent that time doing something else that made money!

With a presale you don’t need to worry about that. The first few customers that pay you are essentially paying you to produce the course!

In my case I was paid $80,000 to produce a 5 week course. Now, $80,000 is a lot of money and it was far, far more than it would take to make me happy with the launch. I was hoping for 3 sales! That would have brought in $1,500 for the time I spent creating the course. Win!

Later on I’m going to show you how you can make sure you hit your sales goal.

Validate the idea

My first idea was to create a course that taught crypto trading strategies to people who already knew how to trade stocks. That didn’t go down so well with my first few customers. They wanted a course to learn how to trade cryptocurrencies from beginner to self-sufficient.

The point is that without a presale I would have created a course for experienced stock traders. Instead, my customers told me what they wanted before I started creating any content, so shifting the idea was easy.


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Students help you craft a curriculum

When I started the presale emails for the course I told everyone that they’d get access to one module every week until all 5 modules were released. This allowed people to get started learning the things in the first module pretty quickly, but it helped me even more.

People watched my videos in module 1, and then sent me messages asking if they’d learn X and Y in the next module. I hadn’t even thought about putting X or Y in the next module!

They also gave me feedback on my presentation style, my video quality, my audio, and more. Because of this, each module is better than the previous. And because students essentially told me what they wanted to learn, I had a course that people really loved.

A course people love is a course that drives tons of sales forever.

There’s really no reason not to have a presale.

Building an audience

You probably don’t have an email list with thousands of subscribers. That’s ok! I’m going to show you how you can quickly build an audience for your presale.

Full disclosure: I did have a couple thousand people on my email list due to my previous company, Bitfountain. That email list certainly helped me get to $80,000 in the presale, but like I said, I would have been satisfied with 3 course sales in the presale. You need to realize that a few hundred dollars in a presale is just the beginning for a lifetime of passive income from your course.

My old email list consisted of people who were interested in learning how to code, so I was worried that they wouldn’t pay for a cryptocurrency trading course (it turned out that many were interested, but I didn’t know at the time). In my mind I was starting from 0. I needed to start building a list of people specifically interested in cryptocurrency.

Fortunately I had experience building an audience. Here are the tactics I use to quickly build an email list full of people ready to buy something that I’m going to launch.

Host a meetup

Most people don’t consider in-person events when they need to build an online audience. But it’s my secret weapon.

Way back in the day when we launched Bitfountain’s iOS 7 course, we of course launched with a presale. We had no email list, no reputation as iOS developers, and no previous courses to show that we are even good teachers. Yet we still managed to make $44,000 in our first presale.

Almost all of our sales came from people who attended our iOS Office Hours Meetup in New York!

The idea was that we’d host a free meetup where people could come and ask us questions about issues they were having coding iOS apps. We killed two birds with one stone:

  1. We established ourselves as experts in iOS development. By helping people with their coding issues, they could see that we knew what we were talking about. This is important for people when they are going to pay you for a course.
  2. We built an email list. My co-founder, Eliot, went around to each person at the meetup with a pen and paper asking them to write down their email so they can get iOS development tips and updates on what we are doing next.

Get ready for the shocker:

73% of revenue from our presale came from people who attended our meetup!

The pros of presale

Needless to say, when launching the presale for my cryptocurrency course, the first thing that came to mind was hosting a meetup. Again, I had great results: 35% of people who attended my meetup went on to purchase the course.

Write one or two blog posts

I set up a blog and wrote one epic post called Cryptocurrency Trading in 2017: The Definitive Guide (now updated and expanded for 2018). It’s a comprehensive guide that takes you from setting up a trading account on an exchange to analyzing charts and making profit.

I’m a programmer so I coded the blog site myself, but Teachable allows you to instantly and easily add a blog to your school.

My goal for the blog post was twofold:

  1. Get more people subscribed to my email list
  2. Establish myself as an expert

You’re probably thinking that these are the same reasons I hosted a meetup. You’re right!

Get it out there

You submit your blog post to Reddit, Quora, and any other forums in your niche, and you try to capture the emails of the people who read your post. Capturing emails is an art that will take time to optimize, but the idea is that people need an incentive to sign up for your email list.

After someone read my blog post, I needed to give them a reason to give me their email address. Since I’m trading cryptocurrency, I thought it would be a great idea to pitch a weekly email with trading tips. At the end of my trading guide I directed people to resources where they could learn more. Of course, my weekly email was the number one resource.

Resources Example Resources Example
John Omar's resource example

Offer up emails

A weekly email is a great incentive to offer in the beginning. It takes no upfront work to offer, and little work to send out the weekly emails.

This email form added 357 people to my email list. More than 30 of those subscribers went on to purchase the course when I launched the presale!

I’ve since added another, more powerful, incentive to my blog post. It’s a free mini course that teaches people how to make their first trade. The course consists of 3 short videos where people watch me set up a trading account and make a profitable trade. The last video upsells students to my paid course.

If I had known how powerful a free course would be for building an email list and gaining trust, I would have launched my blog with this incentive straight away. Here’s how I have it set up now.

John Omar's Blog Example John Omar's Blog Example
How I set up my blog with a resource

Since I launched the free course I’m adding more than 50 people to my email list every single day, and an average of 3 people per day convert to the paid course immediately after finishing it.

Although I can write more on the power of free courses, it’s outside of the scope of this post since I didn’t get the chance to use one for my presale. That shouldn’t stop you from doing it though!

Converting Email Subscribers to Paying Customers

Now you have the tools to build your email list and establish yourself as an expert in preparation for your presale. The final step is converting people from your free email list to your paid course presale.

At this point I had 2450 people on my email list. 357 had joined in the previous seven days since launching my blog post. I had absolutely no course content written or recorded, nor did I have a sales page, or a promo video. My goal was to launch the first presale email in 24 hours.

Sales Page

Your sales page is where students go to get information about your course. Because it’s also where people pay to enroll in the course, establishing trust on your sales page is really important.

The top of the sales page is where you make your first impression. It’s like when you walk into a bookstore and are drawn to a book with an appealing cover design and an emotional title.

The title of my course, Trading Cryptocurrency for Profit, answers what students are going to be doing (trading cryptocurrency), and how doing that thing will benefit them (making money).

The subtitle elaborates a bit more on how exactly the course is going to help them achieve the goal. In my case, I say that the course is a “step by step blueprint” because most of the competing courses out there were full of motivational lessons, not concrete steps that help people make profit trading.

Sales page hero example Sales page hero example
Trading Cryptocurrency for Profit course sales page

Selling your story

I see the rest of the sales page as a story. I talk about how I became interested in trading cryptocurrency, how I learned it, how it changed my life, why I made the course, what you’ll learn in the course, and what you’ll accomplish if you complete it. The story should reinforce the emotions that your title and subtitle hit on.

Fortunately Teachable makes creating a sales page very easy. Mine is just a modified version of the default sales page. There’s no programming involved.

A quick word on promo videos: make a promo video. I have one now, but I didn’t when I launched. It was a huge mistake. Even though my promo video is essentially a 90 second overview of what I wrote in the sales page, seeing my face and passion about the topic in a video is irreplaceable when trying to build trust. My promo video ended up taking a couple of hours to record and edit, so there’s really no excuse not to have one.

Email Sequence

You have a sales page. It’s time to drive traffic to it so people can buy your course! The problem is that you don’t have a course. Instead, you have a promise on what the course will be if they buy it now.

It sounds like not having a course ready for people to take immediately upon paying is a huge disadvantage. Why wouldn’t potential customers wait until it’s ready to buy it?

The way to presell a course is to create urgency and give people a clear roadmap on when they can expect content. Keeping those two points in mind, here’s how I launched my course.

First I needed a way to create urgency. I did that by only offering the presale for 3 days, and by discounting the price. I knew that $500 was the lowest I ever wanted to charge for the course, but that I might be able to charge up to $2000 once I felt happy with the content. That’s exactly what I told people in my first launch email.

John Omar's Launch Email John Omar's Launch Email
John Omar's first launch email

Managing expectations

You can also see that I set a clear expectation on when they will get new content. The course was broken down into 5 modules. I figured it would take me a week to create a module, so I’d be releasing each part of the course weekly over 5 weeks. 

That email got me 10 sales. I was ecstatic because that’s $5,000 in one day. However, I also got around 70 emails saying I was light on the details about the course, and that people didn’t really know how much money one could make trading cryptocurrency. 

Fortunately I still had two days left in my presale, so I used the feedback to craft my second email in the presale launch sequence.

John Omar Presale Launch Sequence John Omar Presale Launch Sequence
John Omar's second presale email

51 signups for the course. That brought my total to 61 signups, which was $30,500! This presale was insanely bigger than I thought it would be. By addressing the feedback I got after the first email, I managed to 5x my sales. 

I got very few responses asking for more details because this last email, along with my sales page, was very comprehensive. My final email in the 3 day launch sequence just had to apply the last ounce of urgency.

John Omar Last Presale Email John Omar Last Presale Email
Final presale email

I simply reminded people that this is the last day they be sure they’d get the course for $500. And as an extra bit of reassurance, I let them know exactly how many people enrolled in the course so they know they aren’t alone in spending so much money.

159 total sales: $79,500

I knew from my experience at Bitfountain that the final day of a presale is always the biggest if you apply the right amount of urgency and build enough trust. But this was so far beyond anything I could have imagined.

Key Takeaways

Now 5 months later, 3 to 6 people purchase the course every single day. These new sales are all due to my recent efforts to drive organic traffic to my blog via SEO and YouTube marketing. I’ve created funnels and automatic emails that all lead to course sales.

My presale was a massive help in getting me this far. Yes, the money I earned was way beyond anything I could have hoped for or even needed. But the most important thing for me was that the students enrolled really made sure that the course taught them what they needed to know.

Every week after launching a module I got emails asking for a different explanation on a topic, or telling me that I made a mistake in a video. Students asked questions that gave me ideas on what kind of material to include in the next module. On top of that, they laid the foundation for an active and passionate facebook group that helps traders take their skills to the next level.

Because of my presale I had the chance to build my course thoroughly step by step so that every sale I make now is easier than the last.

Author: John Omar, With his company Bitfountain John Omar taught over 100,000 students how to code. After the company had run its course, he feared getting an office job and losing his freedom. He took a year off to teach himself how to day trade cryptocurrency for profit. John has now built a large online community of traders that he teaches his trading strategies to through his course videos, private forum, and blog.