How To Launch An Online Course: A Beginner’s Guide

Part II: Engaging your target audience and preselling

Hannah Young
6 min readDec 28, 2021


Photo by Malte Helmhold on Unsplash

An important factor in creating a successful online course is being able to engage with your target audience and presell your course. Without doing these things, you may waste a lot of time on a course that eventually does not sell.

Engaging your audience and preselling ensures that enough people are interested so that you meet your course goals.

Who is your target audience?

One of the first things to decide when creating an online is the target audience. If you do not have a clear idea of who the course is for, your course could feel disorganized, and you might have trouble marketing it to potential customers. So it is imperative to know your intended audience from the beginning of online course creation.

Remember this:

If you’re creating a course for everyone, then you’re creating it for no one.

For example, if your course is about improving soccer skills, you will probably be catering to a younger audience. In contrast, you’ll probably be catering to an older audience if you are writing about saving for retirement. It is very important to know who you were selling to before you sell your product.

Creating a Customer Avatar

Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash

A helpful assignment to do is to create a customer avatar. In other words, you want to create a profile of your ideal customer.

Get clear on the demographics, geographics, and psychographics of your target audience.

For example:

  • What is their occupation?
  • Where are they located?
  • What is their age?
  • What is their gender?
  • What’s their average salary?
  • What is their education level?
  • What is their marital status?
  • What books do they read?
  • What blogs do they go to?
  • What are their goals and aspirations?
  • What are their current problems and challenges?
  • What courses have they bought or tried before?

The best way to do this exercise is to picture that one person who is your ideal customer.

How to engage potential customers and build a buzz around your online course.

Photo by Karolina Zuraw on Unsplash

Once you know your intended audience, you should start engaging them through social media and other channels such as email marketing.

This step not only helps to build your presence and credibility online, it also builds buzz around your soon-to-be online course.

You can engage your audience by posting about it on multiple social media accounts and sending out emails based on followers. You want to spend time on social media platforms where your audience is spending most of their time. Consider the following platforms:

  • Instagram
  • Facebook and Facebook Groups
  • LinkedIn groups
  • Quora
  • Reddit
  • Twitter

Additionally, you can also join particular forums around your topics. Search for “[TOPIC] + forums” on Google to find a list of related forums around your topic. For example, “digital marketing forums”.

When using these different platforms, it is important to immerse your product in a number of different settings. Try linking up with potential customers in chat groups related to the course topic or share your course in an actual classroom setting.

No matter what, just try to expose your course to as many relevant audience members as possible. When you engage your audience, you want to inform them about the learning outcomes and topic of your online course. The goal is to get as many people interested as possible and let them know about the learning outcomes immediately.

Photo by Oleg Laptev on Unsplash

Be clear about what they will get from this course and why they should want your course specifically. In fact, it is a great idea to list learning outcomes in all social media posts. This will allow customers to immediately recognize your product and increase the chances of them remembering the course. You can also engage potential customers via email marketing.

In fact, email marketing is one of the most effective ways of communicating with potential customers and convincing them to purchase your product.

Why you should presell your online course

Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash

Once you begin engaging potential customers, you should take that opportunity to presell your online course. In short, preselling means that you pitch the course to potential customers before the actual course is made.

You will pitch the course by using the learning outcomes. Though selling a product before it is made may sound wonky, it is actually very common. Crowdfunding is a very popular example of a market that is based on preselling products. Don’t let fear or anxiety stop you from preselling your course.

In fact, all course creators should focus on preselling their products because of its numerous benefits. Most notably, preselling will allow you to gauge interest in a topic. Based on the interest during the preselling phase, you can decide to continue with the course or to change the topic. If you find that nobody is interested in this topic, you will be able to save yourself a lot of time and energy.

You should presell in order to gauge interest and see if a topic is worth your time. Before preselling your product, set a course goal about the minimum number of presold courses.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

In other words, decide on the number of courses you have to presell in order to continue with the topic. Having a concrete number before you start will prevent you from having to create a pros and cons list of whether to continue with a course topic. If your minimum number is met or surpassed, then you should continue creating your course as planned. If your minimum goal is not met, then you should scrap the course idea. In this case, you should simply refund any customers who purchased the course, explain to them that too few people were interested, and start working on a different online course idea.

To generate more interest in your product, you can offer discounts or additional features to the course to those who purchase during the preselling phase. Doing this will result in more customers. Another great idea is offering a discount for those who share your product on their social media accounts. This will not only give them a discount but also allow your product to reach more people.

Read my next article in this series on how to build and launch an online course where we will explore how to build revenue from the beginning.

Access my online course on how to develop your creative thinking at a discounted rate using the voucher code ‘MEDIUM’.

(Expires 01/02/2022 05:01 AM PST (GMT -8)



Hannah Young

I write about education, wellbeing, digital content creation & marketing