The Course Itself Is Less Than Half the Battle

Marketing your online course - photo of hands holding table with text "Marketing Plan"

For much of my consulting career I’ve been a follower of Alan Weiss, the Million Dollar Consultant and I can remember being struck many years ago by an assertion he made about what it takes to be a successful consultant:

You need to spend more than half of your time marketing.

This was a response to the large number of questions he got (and still gets) about what the right methodologies are for consulting. About negotiating “deliverables” with the client. About how best to handle billing. About just about anything other than actually getting the clients that would lead to building a successful consulting business.

Most of the people I encounter who are trying to sell online courses should take Weiss’s advice to heart.

They are trying to figure out how to get the perfect (or cheapest) platform. Or they are bogged down in perfecting their course. Or, they are lamenting the fact that buyers aren’t flocking to the high quality course they have created (usually without any clear evidence that prospective buyers for the course exist).

The one thing they aren’t doing is spending more than half of their time marketing.

Marketing can, of course, mean a lot of things, but when you are trying to sell an online course, I would argue that the main things it means by far are:

(1) you are consistently producing a high quality, highly useful body of content that demonstrates your value – e.g., through blog posts, videos, eBooks. This is how you get found through search, shared on social media, etc.

(2) you are capturing e-mail addresses of the people who show up on your site because they are interested in your content. Your e-mail list is the best tool you have for actually converting prospects into buyers.

Sure, there are plenty of other things you can do, but those two are the most valuable, and they can easily take up more than half your time.

If you are already putting in significant time on the activities above, kudos – though it is well worth it for all of us to pause and check occasionally.

If you aren’t, set aside some time today to figure out how to make marketing a much bigger part of your activities.



  1. “Content is King, but Distribution is Queen, and she wears the pants.”

    Cliche as it may be in marketing circles now, it still rings true. My favorite part is how you mention the content you produce should be, “high quality, highly useful” that “demonstrates value.”

    Customers remember that kind of value and come back to you when they have a problem that needs fixing.

    Keep up the great content!

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