Case Study: $150k Course Launch in the Programming Niche

“I made online courses that are getting students huge results, I just need to reach more people.”

That’s what Rafeh Qazi said to me when we first started working together.

Rafeh is the founder of CleverProgrammer. He teaches computer programming through easy to follow, practical courses that help his students get real-world results.

Most computer programming courses focus on theory. Rafeh, on the other hand, makes his courses focused on the outcomes his students want. To get jobs, build cool projects, and advance in their programming careers.

Rafeh’s content was an immediate hit.

He had grown a large YouTube following by cranking out dozens of videos. Those videos racked up thousands of views and before long, Rafeh had over 50,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel.

Next, it was time to monetize that following. That’s when Rafeh hired me to help him take things to the next level.

I took a deep look into Clever Programmer’s numbers and saw a lot he could work with.

I saw the passionate following Rafeh had built on YouTube.

More importantly, I saw that when he put his course in front of these fans, they purchased. So the plan was simple: Get Rafeh’s courses in front of more people.

To do that, we used strategies and tactics I’ve used in the past to successfully do big course launches..

“We’re gonna create an event like they’ve never seen before”

Most online course creators simply announce their new courses. For Clever Programmer, we decided to launch their course.

There’s a difference.

To do that, we made the course launch an event. It’s similar to how a big Hollywood movie is launched. There is the build-up, as teasers are released and movie posters appear in public places. Everyone gets excited. Anticipation grows. Then the big day comes when the fans can finally buy a ticket and see the film for the first time.

We followed a similar sequence.

An important thing to note is that this marketing event wasn’t some big pitch fest. That’s a common mistake, too.

Sales pitches only annoy your audience. Instead, we made the launch valuable on its own — even for the people who never purchased the course.

We create a free training that contained an enormous amount of educational (and entertaining) content in the form of videos, PDF guides, and emails.

The audience loved it.

Over 1,000 people left comments on the free training series leading up to the course opening.

Imagine what a difference that makes? Having that sort of engagement before opening the doors?

The audience was extremely grateful, and many were begging us to open the course early so they could join.

The strategy was working.

Fire up the Facebook Ads!

Rafeh had put almost all of his effort to date into growing a large YouTube following,  which was a huge advantage. Organic (i.e. Obtained for free through publishing videos, blog posts, etc.) are always the highest quality readers and the first to buy.

But YouTube is just one platform, and there was a massive opportunity on another platform. One that has 2 billion users and endless targeting options.

We’re talking, of course, about Facebook. And Rafeh had barely touched it since beginning his website.

As a seasoned advertiser, I have seen the how powerful Facebook could be for online courses, and he advised Rafeh to expand his marketing efforts to Facebook Ads.

They sat down and crafted a strategy to make the most out of their Facebook Ads budget.

The strategy included:

  • Telling emotional stories to build a relationship with the audience.
  • Promote “freebies” like the free training and a career roadmap that shows computer programmers how to get their first client and beyond.
  • Retargeting the most engaged readers to remind them to join (you don’t want to buy people who have shown no interest).

It’s often said that 80% of success is just showing up. This is true in online marketing as well. Often, to beat your goals all you need to do is get in front of your audience more often. Let them know you exist and you have something that can help them.

By running Facebook Ads, Clever Programmer was able to reach his audience on multiple platforms. If a reader didn’t log into YouTube or open our email that day, they would see our ad on Facebook.

Let’s finish strong…

When the doors to the course finally opened, we had a massive, excited audience waiting to buy.

Over the following week, we amplified our efforts even more. We did Facebook Lives, webinar, Instagram posts, emailed every day, and created a private Facebook group for all the new students.

It was a lot of work. Anyone who tells you launches are easy is lying. But if you plan ahead and use good project management, it makes things much easier.

In the end, all the effort was completely worth it.

The course launch exceeded our expectations and brought in an incredible $150,000.

On top of that, Clever Programmer reached hundreds of thousands of new people and doubled its social media following.

Another huge benefit: Because of all the free content delivered during the launch, Clever Programmer earned the trust and respect of its audience. Those benefits will pay off for years to come.

So what came next?

Many online courses leave money on the table by doing something that works only once and then moving on to something else new. They start from scratch, which is a shame because so much of that initial effort is wasted.

If something works, do more of it. That’s a good business motto to follow.

The course launch was a huge success, so it made sense to use what we had created to grow even more.

Clever Programmer reused those marketing assets we created to bring in more leads and customers in the following months.

When it was all said and done, at the end of its first year in business, Clever Programmer brought in over $250,000 through selling its online courses.