Gah, I FINALLY launched my evergreen sales funnel to the world and it feels freaking fabulous!!
In the 1st week of it being open to my current audience, I was able to earn $84k in revenue…. like WHAT?? Definitely my best launch EVER.
So what do I think made THIS launch so successful??
And what, exactly, did the stats look like? How many people watched my masterclass? What % bought? How did I market to my audience? And what’s next now that the funnel is open?
In this episode, I’m walking you through 10 things I did to improve my sales process and revealing ALL the numbers (including the profit margins) for this launch.
This is a super fun and insightful episode, so I hope it inspires you to dream big with your online business ventures 🙂
Episode Show Notes
I haven’t done a “behind the scenes of my launch” type of episode on the podcast yet, but I LOVE listening to these on other podcasts, so I’m super excited to record this for you today!
But before I dive into the details of how I earned $84,000 in just 7 days, I want to let you know about a new FREE resource I created called The SEO Made Simple Roadmap.
I’ve noticed that people in my community are ALL over the place in terms of how much they already know about online business, audience building, blogging, and of course, my favorite, SEO.
SEO (also known as search engine optimization) is my absolute FAVORITE way to grow an organic audience online. However, it’s a HUGE topic with a lot of moving parts.
To help simplify things and make sure we’re all on the same page, I’ve put together a simple roadmap that really takes the confusion out of SEO.
In this free download, I lay out exactly WHAT seo is, how it can help you grow your audience (and of course, your bottom line) and the 6 steps involved in implementing an effective SEO strategy.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, I invite you to go to seofreebie.com to grab this free download and start educating yourself on one of the most effective tactics for getting thousands of people to your website every single month for FREE.
Hope you enjoy it!
Alright, now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
As you know, I recently switched from doing fixed course launches throughout the year to a new evergreen funnel system. (If you’re not totally familiar with what I mean by that, please check out episode 059 where I outline exactly what I did to get that all set up.)
But long story short, I won’t be doing any hard “selling” in my business anymore, rather all the opportunities to join one of my paid courses takes place in an automated way via my email list.
The idea is to shift the focus from having such crazy intense hot and cold periods in your business (i.e. where you make like 6 figures a couple months a year and then almost nothing the rest of the year) to a more steady, stable stream of people joining your email list and signing up for your courses every week throughout the year.
Eventually, you should be able to get it to a point where you KNOW your conversion rates, like how many people tend to opt-in for certain list-building things you do, how many of those people go on to watch your webinars, and how many of those people go on to purchase from you, so that you can somewhat reliably predict if I get X number of new people to join my ecosystem every month, I can expect X dollar amount in sales.
Then THAT allows you to focus more on the CEO type tasks of your business, like growing and serving your audience, vs being so much in the trenches with planning launches, creating offer after offer, or always living in fear that the next launch will flop and you’ll up a creek without a paddle.
I decided to make this transition around mid 2020…
The background behind this is that I really started The Unconventional RD “brand” totally on a whim, as a hobby, way back in 2017.
It began just as a free FB group, where I wanted to connect with other dietitians interested in unconventional income streams like blogging, writing, public speaking, etc.
I also started sharing income reports on my corresponding blog to help inspire others that it’s possible to make $$$ online and also to help hold myself accountable. (Because knowing other people would be following my progress helped me stay committed to taking consistent action.)
However… because I started my community and website with the intention of just connecting with others and not really selling anything… I basically fell ass-backwards into a functioning business model.
About a year and a half into running the FB group, I had been having some success in the online business world with my paid nutrition membership site, freelance writing, blogging, and a virtual private practice.
I had been super active in the group, answering one-off questions every single day, but at some point, it started to get repetitive.
The SAME questions kept popping up again and again from different people and there wasn’t a good way to help people and point them to resources directly in the FB group.
So…. I decided to go out on a limb and create a paid offer for people in my group to learn from me in a more formal way.
At this point, I think the group had maybe 3,000 people in it and I had an email list of about 1,500 (just so you have an idea of the audience size at that time).
Since I had previous success with the membership site model, that’s what I pitched to my group. A membership site where I would host marketing-related training 3x/year on a different topic related to online business.
I pre-sold the idea in summer 2018 to validate it, did another discounted prelaunch on Black Friday that year, and then officially launched the membership site in Jan 2019.
Those 3 rounds of “launches” brought in about $16,000 total (I think I was selling annual memberships at around $300 a pop)
(But holy moly, in retrospect that offer was NOT a good idea. Wayyyy too unfocused and, as I soon found out, was a recipe for overwhelm for my students and burn out for me.)
But, since I pitched and sold the membership concept to people initially, in 2019 I created 3 courses, one on using SEO to build your audience, one on making money blogging, and one on email marketing to automate those income streams.
However, I quickly realized that it was way too much to try and be an expert on all those 3 things and keep the content up to date and serve my students in the way that I really wanted to (on TOP of still running that nutrition focused membership site and blog as well).
I also realized that I didn’t like the membership site format in this context, so I shut down that offer after just a few months and sold each course outright after that.
After launching each course 1x/year for 2 years… I knew something had to change.
So in mid 2020, I enrolled in Caitlin Bacher’s Scale With Success program to learn and implement her evergreen marketing model.
It was a one-year commitment that involved hefty 4-figure monthly payments, so it was a little intimidating, but I just decided to jump in and do it! It was by far the largest investment I had ever made in my business up to this point, but I knew if I could get some systems integrated into my business, there’s not way it WOULDN’T pay off.
You see… I HAD a niche… I HAD a somewhat large and engaged audience (fb group of 9k, email list of 4.5k, podcast with ~1k downloads per week), and I HAD products for sale that had been validated and that I knew helped people.
But what I LACKED was actual systems in my business.
I had hodge-podged my way to 6 figures, but I knew if I wanted to grow my business even more and be able to expand and hire a team and really build the brand of my dreams, I had to start thinking like a CEO.
So I dove into the scale with success program and it was SUCH an eye opener.
It helped me see all the spots in my business where I had done the bare minimum to get my offers launched, but never gone back to optimize and hone.
It helped me realize that I should scale back and focus on ONE offer for my people and scale that ONE offer to my desired income level before adding more to my plate.
So, since I truly think the bottle neck for SO MANY online business owners and bloggers is not understanding how to gain an audience and grow their traffic, I decided to go ALL IN on my SEO course, SEO Made Simple, that teaches people exactly that, and put the other courses on pause for now.
I spent about 6 months going back and upgrading every piece of the sale process that I had just put together haphazardly in the past.
I wanted to really take my brand to the next level and have a professional image and clear message this time.
Some of the things I redid:
1. Completely redid my webinar for the course.
Previously, I had a “teaching style” webinar that I ran once per year where I outlined the main steps of SEO and then spent about 1 minute at the end almost apologetically mentioning my course and inviting people to join (LOL)
Of course, almost NO ONE bought live on my webinars
Most of my sales would come from my email follow ups where I elaborated a lot more on the benefits of the course, etc.
But that was sort of a waste of the attention I had during the webinar! People had taken the time out of their day to watch my class and then I was totally dropping the ball in helping those people understand in THAT moment why enrolling in my course could help them.
Instead, I chickened out and relied on my emails to do most of the selling, but that is risky because we all know email open rates often hover around 20%... so how many people was I NOT reaching by not pitching effectively during the webinar???
So this time, I took the time to really understand my customers, what goes through their heads, what they are looking to achieve from my course, what’s stopping them from buying, etc. and made sure to address those things in my webinar.
2. Created fast action bonuses for the webinar
I also created fast action bonuses that people could ONLY get if they joined the course while watching the webinar.
And I really put a lot of time and effort into these bonuses cause I wanted them to be GOOD.
I thought about the common objections I heard from potential students about why they believed they weren’t ready to join a course like SEO Made Simple and made sure to address them with my bonuses.
By far the 2 most common objections were
1) I don’t have a niche / I don’t know what to write about (so I created a “nail your niche” workbook for people)
2) I don’t have a clear picture of how blogging will lead to $$$ in the bank (so I created The Successful Bloggers Roadmap outlining 3 ways people can make money online by growing their audiences through SEO, complete with action steps and things to focus on for each model)
The idea here was to encourage more people to take action and join the course during the webinar when they were engaged and interested, vs putting it off and forgetting about it in their inbox later.
Spoiler alert - this really worked!
And to make this all work, I had to do some fancy tech stuff on the back end to differentiate the people who bought on the webinar and who should be sent those bonus offers vs the people who bought later and would NOT be sent the bonuses.
3. Created a downloadable action guide for the webinar
To help people stay engaged and excited during the webinar, I created a workbook to go along with it, where people could fill in information from the webinar as they watched.
4. Reframed my offer
In the past, my offer was kind of weak sauce.
I pitched my SEO Made Simple course just as “a way to learn about SEO”... and that’s it…
The course itself was also way too blah and academic.
I titled my course lessons things like “backlinks” or “technical seo” which gets pretty much NO ONE jazzed up and excited to learn.
So I put in the work to really think about WHAT I was teaching people and how I could organize it into a much more exciting and student-friendly way of thinking about SEO.
I came up with a 4 step framework that covered all my main concepts, which I call the REPS framework, and got clear that my REPS framework helps food, nutrition and wellness professionals learn how to grow their audiences online by blogging with a tried and tested SEO strategy.
(vs before, I’d just be like… hey, you, (not specifying who “you” was) come learn about SEO with me! (without clarifying what they really meant or how this “information” could lead to results in their business.)
This helps establish me as a thought leader in my space and instills confidence that I’m teaching a tried and true process that they can learn and implement as well.
Otherwise it’s kind of like… okay, cool.. You teach SEO… why should I sign up to learn from you? What makes what you’re teaching different than anything else I can find on the internet?
5. Redid my sales page
Not going to go into detail on this one, since I already did a whole episode on it (check out episode 54 if you want to learn more about how to craft a super effective sales page)
But in addition to reframing how I talk about my course and teaching it as a step by step framework, I also worked more testimonials into my content (as well as into the webinar I talked about earlier)
6. Created an actual good looking checkout page
Rather than just using the extremely ugly 90’s looking checkout form created by shopping cart system, I designed a pretty looking checkout page and embedded the checkout form within that.
I also applied some CSS to the form to change the styling and make it look a lot better.
7. Wrote email sequences to speak directly to people based on the actions they took
For example, people who registered would get a set of emails.
Then people who attended the webinar would get one set of emails
And the people who registered but no-showed would get another set of emails (including the opportunity to re-register on the spot)
ONLY the people who actually watched the webinar were given the opportunity to then enroll in my course.
People who skipped out will stay on my email list and be invited back another time.
8. Set up my webinar in EverWebinar & synced it with Deadline Funnel
I already knew how to do this since I had a less sophisticated version of an evergreen funnel running previously.
Basically, people can sign up to watch the webinar on the same day or next day after clicking the sign up link and then once they’re registered, a tracking tool called Deadline Funnel will assign a deadline for them so that they can only access the sales pages for a set period of time before the pages expire.
This creates a true deadline for signing up that’s not fake.
As a part of this, I had to set up a bunch of additional pages and make them look professional, such as
A webinar registration form and webinar registration page on my website where I embedded that form.
A thank you page that shows up after people register (with a call to action to join my FB group)
A page for people to watch the replay for a limited time if they attended the masterclass
Including a separate automated deadline funnel timer for that
Also had to connect my email marketing platform (I use ConvertKit) and make it so that people got tagged appropriately in the system based on the actions taken (i.e. tagged that the registered for the webinar, watched the webinar, purchased the course, etc.)
9. Created a waitlist page for my course + automated emails
The waitlist page lives on my main website and I can also share it on social media etc. when people express interest in my site.
Then I had to create a sequence of automated emails to go out when people signed up for the waitlist so that they would then eventually be invited to watch the masterclass and join the course as well.
10. Made sure I had FB tracking pixels installed correctly
So that in the future I could set up custom audiences in Facebook when I’m ready to implement Facebook ads
ALL THAT took me about 6 months.
But then, as I worked on improving my pitch and my marketing materials, I realized that I ALSO needed to update the course content and how it was laid out to match this new framework.
So I spent ANOTHER 6 months doing that. (it really shouldn’t have taken that long… I was hoping for it to take 3 months, but then I broke my hand and also totally underestimated the toll that being pregnant would have on my energy levels and productivity)
Then, FINALLY, at the end of June 2021, nearly 1 year after committing to creating an evergreen funnel… I was ready to open up that funnel to my current audience.
Which…. Is really like step 0.1, because once the offer is opened up to your current audience, your focus shifts to then filling that funnel with organic and paid traffic strategies, which I haven’t even STARTED implementing in an organized way yet!!
So, how did it go??
WELL…. The title of this episode kind of gives it away, but I was offering my SEO Made Simple course for a one time payment of $997 or 6 month payment plan of $167/mo.
How did I let people know they could join??
Well, I did 2 weeks of pre-marketing first, so that it wasn’t just like radio silence and then SURPISE, my course is open now please sign up!!!
To do this, I created 3 FB live videos (it was supposed to be 4, but life happens) and published them on my FB page over the course of 3 weeks.
I also emailed them out to my email list (5.5k people), shared them in my FB group (11k people), and kind of sporadically shared them on IG (not where I hang out.. Only like 2k super cold followers there).
These videos were published on my FB page (NOT directly in the group) so that later when I’m ready to try FB ads I’m able to see who watched them and create custom audiences around that (which, as far as I know, is not possible if you stream directly into a private group)
These videos were all focused on different objections or reasons why people don’t think blogging or SEO would work for them and gave tips or shifts in thinking to address those objections.
THEN I publicly promoted the link to the masterclass for 1 week.
This was mostly via a set of emails sent to my email list and a few posts in my FB group
I also have a small set of affiliates for my courses who were interested in promoting the course to their audiences, so they were also sending people to my waitlist and/or masterclass
If any of those people went on to purchase the course, they would earn a 50% commission for that referral.
The numbers for the week! (My fave part)
The emails I sent out had about a 30% open rate each time and had about a 3% click rate each time.
So that’s about 1,500 people reading each email and 150 people clicking each time
The FB posts in my group were viewed by
1.1k people for the video
2.5k people for the text post
(so even though my FB group is 2x as large as my email list, the email list gets better reach and engagement - that’s a really important message to take in if you’re listening!!)
684 unique people clicked from one of these sources (or from affiliates who were promoting) and viewed the masterclass registration page
448 of those registered (65% sign up rate)
350 of those watched (78% attendance rate)
84 people bought (24% conversion rate)-- AMAZING!!!
70 bought live on the webinar or replay - 83%!
Cash flow break down:
While I sold roughly $84k in VALUE from my courses in that first week, that was NOT all cash up front.
When I redid this launch, I specifically decided NOT to mark up the payment plan option to be more expensive like most online course creators do.
In the past, my payment plans were ~20% more expensive in total than it would cost to pay upfront.
I did it this way just because that was kind of how everyone did it in the online space and I never really questioned it.
But Alyssa Rumsey, who has been a past guest on this podcast, brought this up in my FB group awhile back… how payment plan markups were actually kind of exploitative and punished less economically advantaged people for not having large sums of cash upfront, forcing them to pay more for the same offer, and in a sense, perpetuated their money issues!
And that just really resonated with me because I soooo remember having NO money when starting out as an online entrepreneur and being so frustrated that I had to pay hundreds of dollars more for online programs because I had to do the payment plan.
Ironic that I held that frustration and then just perpetuated in my own business later, but this time a lightbulb went off and I realized I DIDN’T have to do that and that I could run my business however I wanted!
So this time I experimented with NOT marking up the payment plan. Because of math and wanting an even # for the monthly payment, it does end up being like $5 more expensive over 6 months or something, but that is pretty negligible compared to the $200 more expensive that most people would do.
Because of this change, 74 people chose the payment plan. Yep, a full 88%.
Only a handful of people chose to pay in full.
Additionally, some of these sales were affiliate referrals.
20 of the payment plan sign ups were from affiliate referrals and 2 of the pay in full.
That means about $11,000 of my eventual earning from the $84k total will be paid out to my affiliates.
And it was pretty well spread out! I think my top affiliate that week referred 6 people, but there were 10 different people who all referred at least one person to the course.
That leaves me with roughly $73k in value earned.
However, since so many people signed up for the payment plan, that will gradually be rolling in over the next 6 months.
So what that REALLY looks like is:
Total revenue brought in that week $23,649.00
$2,667 paid to affiliates
$20,982 in cold hard cash left for me
What about expenses?
Actually I didn’t have many additional expenses for the launch.
Most of the tools like deadline funnel, vimeo, convertkit, website hosting, course and payment plugins, canva, etc. I was already paying for in my day to day business.
I don’t have any assistants or help right now, so it was just me doing all this… so no expenses there
The only things I think I bought were
a subscription to Ever Webinar, since I wasn’t running an evergreen webinar previously (bought the annual subscription $499)
Subscription to streamyard because I wanted to play around with going live on FB in a more user friendly way ($25/mo)
Some templates from creative market for making pretty handouts ($115)
Total extra cost: $639
= slightly more than $20k in cold hard cash in my bank account
PLUS recurring monthly revenue (after accounting for affiliate payouts) of $10,688 for the rest of 2021.
So even if i make absolutely NO MORE course sales for the rest of the year, I have over $10k/month (in profit) coming in.
And the whole POINT of setting up this evergreen system IS to continue to make consistent sales week after week (spoiler alert, in the 3 weeks following the initial launch, 11 more sales have come in)
So that monthly recurring revenue should continue to come in and each month I’ll be earning slightly more as those payment plans stack on top of eachother
And remember, while I HAVE decided to go all-in on The Unconventional RD brand in 2021 and I shut down my nutrition-focused membership site and blog, I still have other income streams coming in, like affiliate income and pre-existing payment plans from past sales I’ve done, so my actual monthly earnings are even higher.
Pretty awesome, right???
With my new baby on the way at the end of August, it’s such a relief knowing that I’ve basically created a self-funded maternity leave for myself for the rest of the year.
Now, of course, I need to continue creating content and growing my audience or else all those payment plans will end in January and I’ll have a much lower income, but I have faith that I am following all the right steps to make that happen in a low-stress way over the next 5 months.
Sooooo, so far, I would call the opening of my evergreen funnel a resounding success AND I definitely owe a lot of gratitude to Caitlin Bacher’s Scale with Success program for helping me uplevel all my marketing materials to get to this point.
And honestly, in full disclosure, I didn’t even get to finish her whole program before my 1 year commitment expired. I ran out of time to even get into the teachings on Facebooks ads, so we’ll see, I might join again after I’m done w. Maternity leave or I might just experiment with ads on my own, but either way I definitely made my investment back and am glad I took the time to focus, take strategic action to turn my business from more of a hobby into an actual system, and invested in the mentorship to make it happen.
If any of you are listening and looking for a free space to connect with other food nutrition and wellness entrepreneurs, please join my free group, The Unconventional RD Community on Facebook.
It’s a great way to connect with others and get support from other people in our industry who are also working on growing their audiences and creating unconventional income streams.
So if you’re not already in there, just search for The Unconventional RD Community on Facebook and request to join! And if you leave your email address during the request process, you can actually check out some of my evergreen funnel in progress cause you’ll receive some of the emails I mentioned and be invited to join my free SEO Made Simple masterclass within a week or so of joining my list.
So if you missed out on the launch of my SEO course, it’s not too late to get more info and join us if you leave your email when joining the unconventional rd community on FB!
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Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.