Why you should always sell your online course before you create it

Today, I want to present a seemingly counterintuitive approach to launching a course:

Selling before creating. 

Yep, you heard that right: I firmly believe that the best way to launch a course is to sell the course first, THEN create it.

Mystified? Confused? (But also a little excited?) 😉

Stay with me.

If you’ve never heard of this concept before, no doubt you have tons of questions like… 

Wouldn’t it be way too stressful to sell something and then have to scramble to create it on a deadline?

How would the logistics of that even work?

And how could you sell something that doesn’t exist? Isn’t that dishonest or at best a little shady? 

I’m going to answer all of those questions here in today’s post, but just to ease your mind in the meantime:

Not only is it better for your bottom line to sell before you create; it’s also way better for your students as well.

And again, if that seems counterintuitive, stay with me. You need to read this whole post OR watch this whole video.

(Want more episodes of The Courtney Show? Click here to check out our Youtube channel!)

Now, to you that might feel crazy and counterintuitive. Of course you’d create something before you sell it, right? Maybe. 

But maybe not. And if you think about it, creating before selling isn’t really the most practical approach at all. 

Think about college courses. 

Consider this: If you went to college, you know that you pay your tuition well before you go to your first class. You pay well before you get the content or attend the lecture. 

Instead, you pay first, then you show up, week after week for your scheduled class time and you watch the lecture. You participate in the activities, you do the work, and so on. In fact, many professors don’t even think about what their lectures will entail until registration for that semester closes.

Typically, they outline a course, they might choose a textbook, they give the course a title, then they submit it to the course catalog. If enough students register, that course is official, and then and only then would a professor begin to more seriously plan for that course.

Now, college and online courses are different, you don’t have to show up and teach things live — that’s the beauty of it. And I’m not saying necessarily saying that you need to drip out your course content a little bit at a time, week after week — though you certainly could do that. I love that format, and we talk about all these nitty-gritty details way more inside my program, The Course Course

But a lot of what colleges do can apply to what we do with online courses.

And if the belief that you need to create your course BEFORE you sell your course is holding you back, I want to put a stop that nonsense. Not only do you not need to create your course before you sell it, you shouldn’t create your course before you sell it. 

Join Courtney Foster-Donahue's Course Creator Incubator Facebook group for course creators and business owners

Validation Through Selling Your Online Course


Of course, you should know what your course is going to be about, you should have a good outline in place, and you should validate the idea with your audience. 100%. Absolutely. You’re not going into this blind. You must outline your idea and validate your idea.

But another way to validate a course idea — perhaps one of the BEST ways of all is to first sell it. People may tell you that they’re interested, they might join a waitlist, they might say “Oh that sounds cool, sure I’d check out a course on that.” 

But if you want the truth, you don’t want them to just say yes with their words, but with their wallets. 

So, with the way I teach launching a course, you first validate the ideas (using my proprietary methods 😉). You outline your course. You prime your audience. And THEN you sell your course. 

Only after you’ve sold your course do you begin the task of creating your course. And contrary to what way too many Google searches might have told you, creating the course is the EASY part. In fact, it’s super simple. You can create your content for free with little to no tech skills, and you can use an easy and affordable course platform that does most of the heavy lifting for you.

Truly, the easiest thing you’ll do in the whole course launching process is actually creating the course. 

(And if you really don’t believe me, then you definitely want to check out my free class, “the 6-step system to a profitable online course.” You can go save your seat and watch that class today at freecourseclass.com.)


Beta First, Better Later


Now, is that how you will deliver your course forever and ever? No. Of course not. It’s not like you have to sell and then create over and over again every time you launch your course. Otherwise, what would be the point of scaling online?

BUT when you’re  doing the first version — beta version of a course, selling before creating is the smartest thing you can do.

The other huge benefit with creating your course — the one that often gets missed — is the student feedback.

Since you’re creating the content and releasing it live, staying a week or so ahead of your students, the student feedback that you’re getting is also live, in real time, and it will directly influence the rest of your course content. 

Sometimes you go in with this great outline and you’re exactly right and you hit all the marks and you created the exact course that people need.

But sometimes you missed a few steps, you forget about things, and you aren’t aware of other things. By getting feedback live from your students as they are going through your course, you’re creating a better course.

And your students get to share in that experience, they get to feel a sense of ownership over the course, and they become walking brand ambassadors for you. 

Not to mention, they’ll see way more success with the content when you’re creating it in real time like this, one or two modules a week, week after week until you’ve finished teaching everything.

And of course, this sell-before-create strategy isn’t speculative; this is always the way I’ve launches my courses.

Take my free class "The 6-Step System to a Profitable Online Course"

I’ve created a dozen courses which are the foundation of my multi-million-dollar online course company, and even with a busy life and schedule and a family and other big obligations, I’ve always chosen to first sell the course then create it week by week as I go. 

This takes the pressure off of me to have to create an entire course before I confidently know people will even want to buy it.

And we are not being sneaky or shady here: We are letting our students know that they will receive the first part of their course content within a week or two or whatever future date you specified over on the sales page, in the emails you send them, and so on. With the beta round of your course, your students won’t get instant access to the content.

But they don’t necessarily need that; pre-selling allows you to build anticipation and excitement, and when your students do get the course content on the specified date, they are ready. 

By selling before creating, I know for sure that people want it, then I can create the course as a collaboration with my students.


The result? A state-of-the-art, high-quality, transformation-driven online course.


You simply can’t get that when you create it before selling it.


But like I said before, I’m not stumbling in the dark, selling just a wisp of an idea and some pretty words on a sales page; I’m selling an outlined, validated course idea. And after I sell it, I can create my course with confidence.

The great news? Once I’ve created it, it’s created. It’s done. I can update it and it just didn’t as necessary, but the bulk of the big work is done. It’s just up to me to relaunch it in the future.

Now, selling before creating obviously makes your course the best it can be which allows you to better serve your students, but there are some other benefits, too. 

If you sell first, you get paid faster. Which benefits your business but is also super encouraging for you, right?

And of course, if you sell before you create, you’re on the hook in the best of ways. You can’t dilly-dally; you have a responsibility to your students and you have to follow through with that commitment. While that might feel intimidating to some, I think it could be the thing that sets you free. It’s easy to stall on creating a course forever and ever, it’s easy to fuss over making it as perfect as possible, but when you sell before you create, you take action and make it happen. 


It’s all about progress over perfection. 


And all of that means that you get your course out there in the world even faster. Which is to everyone’s benefit. 

Now, your turn:

Did you plan on selling your course before you created it? If not, have I made you rethink this strategy? Let me know in the comments below. I want to hear about your biggest takeaways from this video! 

P.S. If you want more help in understanding the logistics of how to confidently sell a course before you create it, you need to check out my program, The Course Course. While it’s currently closed to the public, you can get an invite when you check out my free class over at freecourseclass.com. See you there!


I’m here to help you build, grow, and scale your business.

Check out my show here:


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *