One of my goals on Become a Writer Today is to help you earn more money from writing.
Creating courses and offering to coach is a great way of getting paid. You can easily turn a non-fiction book into a course.
Selling courses and coaching packages is a little bit trickier though. Believe me, I’ve made a lot of mistakes!
Many writers feel uncomfortable asking for the sale. I know I did when I first started selling courses online.
Laura Phillips is a British entrepreneur who runs Love to Launch. Her business coaches students and clients how to create, launch and sell online courses, products and services.
In this interview, she explains:
- How to launch a product or service so it feels effortless.
- How to align your creative passion with what readers and customers want.
- What a non-fiction writer should consider before their next launch.
- How to avoid overwhelm and still find time for your creative work... or time off.
And lots more
I started by asking Laura to describe how she helps online entrepreneurs launch courses, products, and services.
Want to create and sell your own course? Check out Teachable, a learning management system (LMS) provider for bloggers, creatives and online educators.
Bryan Collins: Okay. So it’s nice to talk to you today Laura. Could you start by giving me some background information about your business and how you help people launch?
Laura Phillips: Oh, great to be here, Bryan. So my name’s Laura Phillips. I’m the founder of Love to Launch and my company helps entrepreneurs, mainly those who are in the transformational space and just some in the hobby space as well. We turn their skills into online products and I teach them how to sell them. So we use a model called launch. I teach people how to create an experience, an event that people actually want to show up for that gives them a taste of what you’re about as a professional with the hope that they’re going to buy from you. So that’s a really fun way of marketing.
Bryan Collins: And how involved is a launch, how long does a launch normally take your students?
Laura Phillips: A launch is usually about two weeks. You have a week really for delivering content for teaching what it is that you know, creating that experience, building that relationship. And then usually five days to close the sale. So that kind of open period is for you to basically share how awesome your product is. We try not to talk about it in the first week. It’s really about delivering value, delivering that experience.
Laura Phillips: Then when you move into the second week, it’s all about sharing your amazing offer. So it’s a really fine line for people to sell. People who hate selling can do it because really it’s all about showing huge value in advance of asking for the sale. So generally they’ll create some kind of online challenge or they’ll create a series of workshops. But it’s really about showcasing you and your expertise and showing that you can actually give them a result. Because if people love the free stuff, they’re going to love your paid product.
Bryan Collins: What type of products or services are people launching, Laura?
Laura Phillips: Typically launching courses, memberships, coaching programs, events. Generally speaking, they are online products. But we’ve got lots of people who are selling offline things as well. So we’ll have clients who come on board and they’re trying to fill their books with private clients for a series of six months. So more and more people are realizing the power of launches, because it used to be that you would always be bringing leads into your business. And whilst that’s good, if you’re a solopreneur, it can also be quite time intensive, always bringing in new people, onboarding them, delivering your service. We find it way more efficient for making more money by bringing in a group of customers at the same time and serving them and not always selling.
Bryan Collins: So you mentioned that it’s time-intensive. So what would you say to somebody who’s launching for the first time and is feeling a bit overwhelmed?
Laura Phillips: I guess to enjoy the process. When we think of a launch, people feel like it’s a lot of work. But actually I know for sure that I would rather be working one or two times a year selling and get back to my zone of joy, which is coaching. I want to be coaching as much as I can. So kind of be prepared for that week of delivering some workshops and building those relationships, and you will enjoy it. It’s not like a horrible stressful environment. It’s a fun place where you get to meet all these amazing new people.
Laura Phillips: So carve out a week, deliver some amazing content. But it’s all about, for me it’s not about the launch fun, it’s like what you do before. So if you are always showing up on social, if you always generate some leads that are bringing people into your launch events, it’s not going to feel crazy or stressful. It’s just kind of a natural progression of what you’ve already been doing online. And it’s a really enjoyable experience for everyone. So that’s why my company is called Love to Launch because you can actually love the process of launching. Most people find launches stressful. How we do them is a little bit different and it’s fun.
Bryan Collins: Yeah, it can be fun. So my understanding of a launch is that you would offer some value through a series of emails and then you would gradually pivot to an offer of a product or service that would help. It sounds like some of your launches involve social media?
Laura Phillips: Yes, so we generally use social effects. My most popular platform for delivering the content is usually Facebook. We love communities for that, but I do a lot of work on Instagram. And the reason I love Instagram for launches actually is because you get to start the conversation and the direct message first, and then bring people into your world. So the actual content that we generally put out in launches is a series of trainings, a series of workshops. So rather than just relying on email, which is more difficult these days, we actually want to bring in a small group of people and actually teach them something in a live class.
Bryan Collins: Okay, okay. That’s an interesting approach. So I’m just curious, if somebody’s just set up on Instagram and they want to use it for personal use, they probably only have a couple of hundred followers. So how might that person stand out above everybody else?
Laura Phillips: One of my favorite strategies is private outreach. And I recommend this to most people who are starting out because some people can be so focused on bringing in volume for leads that they forget that actually the thing about Instagram that is amazing is that you’ve got a direct message and you can reach out to your followers and start conversations. Even sending a quick voice note to introduce yourself and get to know people, you could instantly build that relationship.
Laura Phillips: So I think people don’t realize that social media is about being social. It’s not a sharing platform. It’s actually for starting conversations and you can really quickly build connection while reaching out to your followers, send a voice note or a message, start the conversation, get to know them. And then slowly, not straight away, you don’t want to go straight into the sale, but get to know them. Get to know what the challenges are and how you can help and support them and build your relationship that way.
Laura Phillips: I’ve got 10,000 followers on Instagram and you’d be amazed at how many of my potential clients actually have messaged me and we started that conversation. We built it that way, but people don’t want spam. I think people think that it’s spamming to receive and send direct messages, but it’s not. It’s actually a really high-quality way of starting a conversation. And Instagram is one of those platforms where you have instant access. It’s not like LinkedIn where it feels spammy, it’s like people are expecting to get direct messages. It’s a really open platform in that sense. So use that tool and actually connect with people and surprise them by sending a voice note instead of just text.
Bryan Collins: Hmm. That’s an interesting idea, I haven’t considered that. What type of content is working well for launches on Instagram today?
Laura Phillips: Launch content I think is taking a slice of what you’re actually going to be putting into your launch and using that as an IGTV piece of content. The great thing about what Instagram have done is essentially they’re trying to keep users on the platform. So when you put out a long piece of content on IGTV, they’re more likely to see that in their feed. Because Instagram want to keep people on the platform.
Laura Phillips: So it means if you’re, for example, you’re a coach, and your launch event is all about teaching people something about what you do, giving them some free coaching, you could put some of the same subjects in a story, put it onto IGTV and Instagram are more likely to show that in the feed. Because they want people on the platform for longer. So you actually get far more views on your IGTV content, which is around 10 minutes long than any other piece of content I’ve been putting out.
Laura Phillips: So I use a combination of IGTV, stories and a little bit in the feed, but IGTV automatically goes into the feed anyway, so it’s a really, really great place of, I guess we’d call it real estate. It’s a great piece of real estate on Instagram to put that piece of content.
Bryan Collins: Sure, sure. Yeah, that makes sense. I’m also curious, how many students have you worked with or are you working with at the moment?
Laura Phillips: We’ve just had a 100 students go through our program, but I also have 80 students in my coaching program. I also coach probably 500 students of Stu McLarens in his community. So literally hundreds and hundreds if not in the thousands now.
Bryan Collins: Oh wow. Yeah. So what strikes me is that you’re clearly quite busy Laura, so how are you balancing coaching all those students and then creating content for Instagram? It seems like a lot.
Laura Phillips: I only focus on one platform.
Bryan Collins: Okay.
Laura Phillips: And I actually focus on the platform that I love the most and that’s Instagram. So I think when it comes to social media, when it comes to lead generation, when it comes to any kind of marketing. If it doesn’t feel hard, if it feels easy, it’s going to feel enjoyable and it’s not going to feel like it’s a massive drag. And then let’s face it, we’ve all got time throughout our day to take our phone with us and to answer a few direct messages and send a 20-second voice note to someone. So yeah, it’s not as difficult as people would think. Make it a priority, but you’re trying to be on all the platforms at the same time. But I’m not active on LinkedIn. I don’t do a huge amount on Facebook. In fact, with Instagram, I send my content from Instagram over to Facebook. So choose one platform, go deep, choose the platform you like and only create content that you actually enjoy creating, and all of a sudden it’s not this big huge stress.
Bryan Collins: And the content that you enjoy creating is those Instagram TV videos. So could you give me an example of what’s in one of those?
Laura Phillips: Yeah. So an IGTV video is a 10-minute snippet. So I will talk about the power of launches, or I’ll talk about launches, from my perspective just something that showcases who I am. But generally speaking, my favourite piece of content is in the feed. So although, if I’m saying to people, “I would recommend you use IGTV”, I will use my feed and I’ll actually use Instagram stories, because I’ve got 10,000 followers. So it means I could automatically send people to my link. So the IGTV method is really for people who don’t have a big following. If you’ve got a big following and you can do swipe up, you should absolutely be using your IG stories, which is completely different. That’s the 15-second snippets.
Bryan Collins: Okay. Okay, that makes sense. Yeah. I haven’t used IGTV much, but then again I’m probably more comfortable with other platforms like Medium and Quora.
Laura Phillips: Yes.
Bryan Collins: I’m also curious, do you have a team that helps you run your business or save time? Because it seems like there’s a lot of outreach there. And I know outreach can be very time-consuming.
Laura Phillips: Yes. So my team is on board to free up my time so I can focus on the things I’m really good at. So I have a community mentor who takes on a lot of the small mentorship within my program. We use Slack for our community, so she’s on there and she’s taking care of the community in that way. And I have a really great assistant called Kate. She takes on a lot of my admin and booking calls and just takes a lot off my plate. My business model is actually very simple in the whole scheme of things. It’s all coaching-based. So as long as I’m coaching, my business is growing and because I only do launches once or twice a year, it means that yes, although I have a lot of customers, I’m not actually selling all the time. So it’s actually a very simple business model, leaves lots of time for fun and travel.
Bryan Collins: Yeah. It sounds like it does. You’ve picked one channel and you’ve picked one area of your business to focus on. Did it take you a long time to narrow down to those two areas?
Laura Phillips: Yeah, it did. I mean, I started off my business in web design and e-commerce, so I had 40 clients in five different time zones, a team of three. It was absolute chaos and I was burnt out. So I decided I was going to move away from that space. And it took a while to find what it is that I wanted to do. So I was doing lots of courses, was doing lots of affiliate marketing, which is how I got to know the likes of Todd Herman and Ryan Lebeck and Stu McLaren.
Laura Phillips: And so affiliate marketing was a big part of what I was doing, but I kind of found that coaching was the thing I enjoyed the most. So it’s quite easy. It’s like this is the thing I enjoy the most, so I can say no to these other things, and just stay focused on that one thing. So yeah, I call it trying on shoes in business, and it took trying on quite a few pairs of shoes. Trying to find the thing that was not only the thing that I was best at but the thing that I was most aligned with and the thing that made me happiest. And I think when you hit those three things, you find your sweet spot. I’m sure with you with writing when you find that thing, it’s quite easy to say no to everything else.
Bryan Collins: And how do you help students find that thing for themselves?
Laura Phillips: Generally speaking people find me when they know what they want to do, but they haven’t quite refined their offer yet. So it might be that they are a coach within the mindset space and they don’t know whether they want to do a coaching program, or a course, or a workshop. So we’ll genuinely refine that offer a little bit. But I really encourage people to try out different offers with different launches and seeing not only what performs best in terms of sales, but see what they enjoy the most. Because you’ve got to have both of those things to have an offer that’s scalable.
Bryan Collins: Okay. Speaking of offers that are scalable. So I remember my first launch, it did not go well. I spent a long time creating an offer, on creating the course and perfecting the inside of the course. And then only a few people bought it. So that was pretty demoralizing. But I found out much later that’s a pretty common experience. So what would you say to students who encounter a problem like that?
Laura Phillips: We all have launch flops, right? We all have fails. I had one, and I share the story with a smile now, but I had 900 people once sign up for a webinar and no one bought. And it was the most humiliating, demoralizing, horrible situation. But actually it taught me the most lessons. So I think there’s no such thing as failure, it’s only feedback. And the thing that I always encourage people is if you can, sell it before you create it. And that’s what I love.
Laura Phillips: I love to create and teach that strategy with what we do, because then it means you’re not spending six months creating a course, you’re spending maybe two months building the audience ready to sell. And then you create the course as you go, which is actually what we did with Let’s Launch Together over the summer. The course was created as we went and we’d already brought in like 53 new students and 50 existing members. So that would turn out to be like a 70K launch and the product wasn’t even created. So for me, if you can, sell first, create afterward.
Bryan Collins: Could you walk me through how somebody, let’s say a writer could sell it first and create later?
Laura Phillips: Yeah, so I think the launch has to be very congruent with the offer. So what I would be looking to do is to bring people in maybe into a writing workshop where you go deep on one very specific thing, and then the course would actually go deeper on the rest of it. Because we want people to get huge value. You want to show them what you can do. And so if the offer isn’t even created, if you can just give people a very small taste, maybe it’s going deep on like the first week of your training.
Laura Phillips: Because then if people have got that small result, they’re far more likely to continue it. And then I would just create the content as you go, and also try and create it live if you can. I call this a beta launch. And so if you can create as you go, but keep it very, very simple and just do it live for the first time, you then know you’ve got an offer that people want, you’ve got an offer that works, but also being able to bring people into that experience with you to be able to have them shape the product with you as you go throughout.
Laura Phillips: And also be able to pivot. So from week three, you realise the content you plan needs to be completely different. You can pivot and you can change it and you can just get people amazing results. And if you get people amazing results with that beta, you then get an offer that can be then turned to maybe video content or some kind of like an extended course.
Bryan Collins: I like that. I like that. So when you say going deeper, are you sending the leads or the prospective students a link to a webinar page that they register for? Or are you asking them to pay a small amount and then join a private webinar? Or something else?
Laura Phillips: Yeah, so you can do both ways. I actually recommend starting off with the free content first. But our students are seeing huge success with … When they’ve got an offer that’s proven to work, when they’ve got a launch that works, then put a small fee on. Although you get smaller numbers, you get fewer tire kickers and freebie hunters. And so doing a paid launch later on down the line can actually double your conversion rates. So typically I always go from 8% to 20%, which is wild. So you get fewer numbers, but also it means you can deliver on a much better experience for people. So yeah, that works really, really well. But I wouldn’t do it first time around, do the free and then do the paid.
Bryan Collins: Okay. Okay. So to return to the example of the writer we talked about, so they’re going to do this … They’ve got a presale there, the course that they’re going to create and they’ve got students now registered for a free webinar. And they’re going deep into that particular topic. So how did they go about preparing the content or creating the content for that webinar?
Laura Phillips: You have to be very clear on the promise of your launch event. So rather than just doing one webinar, I would do a series, and I would do that generally speaking within a Facebook group or some kind of closed community. You want people to sign up for this thing and to actually sign up for an event. Because the problem with webinars now is, six, seven years ago the show-up rate was like 60% and now it’s down to 25%, 30% if you’re lucky.
Laura Phillips: But events, people actually want to attend events, so treat it like an event and deliver a series of workshops. So maybe in workshop one, you would go deeper on your story to create the expert positioning to build authority, credibility. Workshop two I would teach them one small thing. So if you’re a coach and you take people through a 12-month program or if you’re a writer and you’ve got a course, teach them that first bit, go deep on that. Because ultimately if you go surface level on all of your methodologies, people are only going to get a surface-level view of what it is that you do.
Laura Phillips: Whereas if you choose one very small specific thing to teach, so maybe it’s the first part of what you do, or maybe even it’s the part of what you teach that people are always asking you questions about. The really, really juicy bit. Because if you go deep on that one thing, they’re not going to get the result or the transformation that they want overall in that just that one week. But it is enough to then make them want to know more. And then your third workshop, I would then give them a taste of what the rest of your methodology is like. So ultimately if people go deep on that one thing, and they get the bigger picture, they’re far more likely to buy from you.
Bryan Collins: And is a workshop an hour, or half an hour or how long is it?
Laura Phillips: I try and have my students do 45 minutes, but in my last two launches my workshops have gone on for two hours because I do them live, and I just answer loads of questions and the time just goes. So, I say aim for 30 to 45 minutes with a view that actually you’re going to have so much fun and you get into so many questions, you might be there for an hour, an hour 15. So yeah, just be prepared for that one that always goes on a lot longer.
Bryan Collins: So you’d have half an hour of content and then you’re answering questions?
Laura Phillips: Absolutely yeah, yeah.
Bryan Collins: And at what point do you pivot then towards the sale?
Laura Phillips: So I actually don’t talk about the offer until the next week. I always let people know at the beginning of the free content, I am going to be putting an offer out to you next week, but this week you’re here to focus on the free stuff. So I want you to get a result from this free stuff. And I feel like that level of transparency has really been missing in the marketing space, particularly in internet marketing. And people will just put the pitch at the end.
Laura Phillips: So I try and flip things on its head in marketing. So I talk about it upfront. And right now we’re here to do the free content. You’re going to get an amazing result and the next week we’re going to talk about how you can go deeper. So we’ll talk about it the week after.
Bryan Collins: Okay. Okay. And what do you find … What kind of feedback do you get from students who’ve attended your webinars?
Laura Phillips: They love it. They actually have a transformation. So people will say things like, “This changed my whole perspective.” I’ve had people tell me my free content has changed their life. And that’s amazing because I think when your focus is actually on creating a result with your free stuff, you naturally get the sales anyway.
Laura Phillips: And so within the launch space, the industry standard is 1% to 2% conversion rate. Our students have seen 8% on average. And I think that’s because our focus is not on the sale. Our focus is actually on delivering value for free to that group of people. And then we have the sale afterward and it’s a very different way of doing things, but it’s a really natural way of doing things. And it’s more fun and it feels great to not only you as the leader of that launch, the person in it, but also to your customers going through it. So they love it and they really enjoy the experience. And that’s why people buy, they buy because they love the free content.
Bryan Collins: Do you still find launches stressful Laura, or are you used to the process?
Laura Phillips: My company’s called Love To Launch. So I actually do love launches, but I started to really love launches when I put less focus on all the little bits that need to be done and just focused on showing up and teaching my thing, and then putting the offer in a week after. It removes so much stress. Just focus on what you do best.
Laura Phillips: And when you’re in the transformation space, when you’re maybe in the hobby space and you’ve got a passion if you focus on making your launch about that passion, no longer it feels stressful. It’s just you showing up, doing your thing and teaching it to other people. And that’s just so joyful. So no, I don’t find them stressful. You have stressful moments, usually around live streams and tech, but just expect that and kind of know what’s going to happen.
Laura Phillips: We know for sure when the call opens on day two, that people are not going to be buying from you. You get like this natural lull, but because we know this, we tell our students to go and put themselves in for like a hair cut or a spa day or go and play golf or do something that they enjoy. So we know exactly the process of the launch, and what parts are going to catch you out, and where the stress is going to come and how to beat it.
Laura Phillips: And sometimes it’s simple things like that. But being in your zone of joy with the whole launch itself is where the fun comes from. What’s more enjoyable than talking about the thing you’re most passionate about?
Bryan Collins: And you’re launching twice a year or more often?
Laura Phillips: Yes, twice a year. So when you’re first starting out, you’re going to do more launches, you’re going to do maybe four or five launches a year because you’ll have a smaller audience and you’ll need to bring in more customers to build that revenue. But now I just do two launches a year. So we did one in February. We did one in July and then our next big one will be February again, and it will also be in July.
Laura Phillips: So it’s a really great way of building a business, because I know I’ve got those two times a year that my family is probably not going to see me for about five days, because I’m delivering. But then the rest of the year I’ve got all of this amazing freedom and I just get to focus on coaching and you bring in more customers. So you’re naturally going to make more money as well.
Bryan Collins: When you launch twice a year, are you ever concerned that there will be a spike in revenue and then the rest of the year is pretty flat? So I’m getting to cashflow here.
Laura Phillips: Yeah. So I think a great aim to have is to actually build recurring revenue into your business then you don’t have that, and your launches are just pure profit.
Bryan Collins: Okay. And is that something you’ve built in over the years?
Laura Phillips: Yes. I have a membership called Launch and Thrive.
Bryan Collins: Yeah.
Laura Phillips: Which is a higher level coaching membership. So people pay 247 pounds a month and they stay in that membership. But you only get in if you’ve done my course first. So retention is really strong. So having that base of recurring revenue just makes everything so much easier. So yes, I definitely encourage people to build in other revenue streams to remove that stress. Because otherwise, you can get stuck on the launch roller coaster where you make loads of money and then it drops off. So yes, building recurring revenue over time removes that issue.
Bryan Collins: Just something else. You mentioned some of the people that you’ve worked with, Todd Herman, I took one of his courses a few years ago about the 90 Day Year.
Laura Phillips: 90 Day Year.
Bryan Collins: Yeah, it’s very good. Ryan Levesque who’s written a series of books.
Laura Phillips: Yes.
Bryan Collins: … about how to find out what your audience wants. Stu McLaren, how did you build relationships with these people and how helpful has that been for you?
Laura Phillips: Oh my gosh, amazing. Todd Herman was the first person I ever worked with in the online space. And I found him at a time in my business when I was super stressed. So I did his program, The 90 Day Year. Became a private client and it was actually through him that I was introduced to Ryan Levesque. And then I became one of Ryan Levesque’s top affiliates promoting his program, The Ask Method.
Laura Phillips: So affiliate marketing was definitely a way for me to become known in the industry. And I would find myself in these circles of mainly male marketers actually with 100K plus lists. And here I was, this British mom working from home with a list of 3,000 finding myself on the leader boards in these big huge JV contest with the likes of Michael Hyatt, John Lee Dumas, Ryan Levesque, Stu McLaren, Todd Herman, you know, not only holding my own but actually competing with them.
Laura Phillips: So I’ve become known within the online space as they call me the conversion queen, which is kind of funny. But to me, it’s because I approach marketing a little bit differently. And so because of that I’ve always done really well with affiliate marketing and become known, been invited to speak on their stages. So I spoke at Tri-blind this year and I spoke at Ryan Levesque’s Ask Live a couple of years ago. So, for me it’s all about relationships, isn’t it? But affiliate marketing definitely gave me a platform, I got known. But known for the right reasons, which I think in the online space is definitely what you want.
Bryan Collins: Yeah, yeah, I can imagine. And one final question. You strike me as quite organized. So I’m just curious, do you have an ideal early morning routine, or what makes for a good morning for you?
Laura Phillips: So I no longer set an alarm, which is actually quite joyful. I used to, in fact, I had burnout. So for me, I want to start my morning when I’m ready. One of my favorite things, Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner, which is epic. I don’t touch my emails first thing. I try and stay off social media and I want to get done my three top tasks for the day. So as soon as I’ve done some journaling, I try and do meditation. But I just want to make sure that my mornings are super focused on the most important activities in my business. So that’s how I stay really, really organized.
Bryan Collins: And are you working a full working week? I know you mentioned you have two busy periods in the year and you travel a little bit.
Laura Phillips: Yeah. Yeah, I tend to. I don’t work evenings and weekends unless I’m in launch mode, but because we have a launch model, I’m very focused on program delivery for maybe 12 weeks at a time. So that’s a more intense period where I’ll probably work some evenings coaching. But then I travel a lot, I’ve just got back from Canada and I probably go across the pond six times a year. So a lot of my time is spent traveling. So the rest of the time it’s usually normal. Monday to Friday, nine to five-ish. Apart from when I’m delivering our programs.
Bryan Collins: So Laura, where can people find you or more information about Love To Launch?
Bryan Collins: Okay, was great to talk to you today.
Laura Phillips: You too, Bryan. Super fun.
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