Top 7 Marketing Strategies for Authors: How to Sell Online Courses in 2023

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Are you a non-fiction author looking to increase your revenue via online courses?

Maybe your readers have asked you to create an online course they can use to execute the ideas in your book. Or you have heard about how lucrative online courses can be for non-fiction authors?

But how do you go about creating, marketing, and selling such a course?

If you are plagued by questions like

  • How do you know what content to put in your course that relates to the book and your expertise?
  • How do you create a repeatable system for generating social media leads that buy the course, without turning into a content machine to stay on top of social algorithms?
  • What do you put on the sales page that makes prospects want to buy?
  • How do you develop know, like & trust, and sell on autopilot without having to talk to each buyer, so that you are free to work on your next book, or project, or just take care of life?
  • How do you make the maximum revenue per customer so you have funds to invest back into your business and life?
  • How do you possibly find the time and the energy to create enough content for traffic sources like Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, Twitter, Google, Youtube, and Pinterest when you have a business, life, and job to run?

Then this ultimate guide is for you! I'm going to share the 7 key marketing strategies I use with my clients to create a powerful course that sells. With the right strategies (and by watching out for killer mistakes that most people make) you can easily start making passive income from your knowledge and expertise!

Want to turn your books into a profitable online business? This blog post has the top marketing strategies for non-fiction authors looking to create courses! #marketing #author

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But before we begin, let’s talk about why you should consider creating online courses as a non-fiction author.

Why online courses can be a great way to make money as a non-fiction author

Writing books alone won’t get you anywhere.

Even though the number of writers and authors in the United States has kept climbing…

marketing strategies for authors: book writing alone is not lucrative you need alternative forms of revenue built upon your books like courses.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2019 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates)

writing alone is not lucrative. Check out this statistic:

Just over 77% of self-published writers make $1,000 a year…with a startlingly high 53.9% of traditionally-published authors, and 43.6% of hybrid authors, reporting their earnings are below the same threshold. Only 0.7% of self-published writers, 1.3% of traditionally published writers, and 5.7% of hybrid writers reported earning more than $100,000 a year from their writing. (Source: Publishing Perspectives 2014)

📈 Over 90% of writers make less than $1,000 a year from their writing. Read this blog post to discover how you can avoid being part of that statistic 📚💰 #marketing #author

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If you are one of the 92.3% who makes <$1,000 from your writing a year, you need to figure out how to create profitable online courses fast.

Online courses can be an excellent way for non-fiction authors to make money

Online courses can be an excellent way for non-fiction authors to make money because they allow authors to

  1. increase their income using work they have already done, after all, they spend years developing and packaging their ideas before they made it to a book
  2. create once and sell multiple times, making it a highly efficient way to scale your writing monetization
  3. charge premium prices for their content, as they offer more detail and instruction than a book could provide
  4. create and market their materials while eliminating the cost of traditional printing or publishing, so much more of the revenue generated goes back to the author
  5. profit from short deep dives on specific interests and topics, that may not monetize well for a book but are profitable for courses
  6. build a closer relationship with their target audience increasing future course (and book)  word of mouth & sales
  7. reach a broader target audience which could open up new opportunities for authors like consulting with other businesses or organizations

Maybe you know all this.

Maybe you have already looked on the internet to try and figure this out.

 The problem is…

Most of the information you find is wrong or downright conflicting

Here are a few examples:

“Don’t worry too much about what to put in a course just create a video version of your book.”

“Creating content for social media marketing is easy just grab book excerpts, hire a cheap third-world resource, and have them turn them into social media posts!”

“Just explain everything people get in your course on the sales page and people will buy!”

Push the course to everyone and people will buy!

Plaster the course everywhere you can online and people will buy!”

 Most authors try this only to discover that:

  • Even though people love the book, no one seems to care about their course!
  • They have tons of social media posts that never get reach or engagement
  • No one buys their course

 And that’s because:

  • Their target audience does not notice their social posts because they aren’t useful
  • Their sales message is irrelevant to what their target audience wants and not something they are willing to pay $ for
  • They sell too early and often before their target audience has gotten to know, like, or trust them

Don’t let this happen to you.

Authors face a challenge: the internet is full of conflicting advice on how to market book-based courses. This post exposes common ineffective strategies and why they failure. Learn what NOT to do 👎 📚👩‍💻📈 #author #marketing #writingtips

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You do not have time to waste!

authors need these marketing strategies today to become lucrative, they have no time to waste. Image of a lion working on laptop while worrying about time.

 Because even though the ease of technology makes now the best time to monetize your book ideas via courses, you don’t have too much time to figure things out.

 There are way too many threats for that. Here are a few of the biggest ones:

  • The world is dealing with inflationWith fewer available dollars to spend, it will become even tougher to get people to part with their hard-earned money for a course
  • As social media platforms mature, content reach becomes a pay-to-play game. This means there is only a short period of time before the organic reach you can get on social media drops and you have to spend money to get your posts seen
  • There are too many courses out there–more authors are selling courses. Not to mention all the courses out there by non-authors (as of 2019 there were 13,500 courses from universities alone)

To top it all off competition in the course market is getting fiercer by the minute…

authors need these marketing strategies because they do not have time to waste, there is too much competition out there. Image of competition between authors

More and more companies are creating and marketing courses, often with hundreds of thousand-dollar budgets and entire dedicated online course teams.

But here is the good news...this guide will teach you the best way to build and market your course so that you don’t just get buyers now but for years to come.

In this 12K+ word ultimate guide, you will discover:

  • What content to put in your course?
  • How to create a repeatable system for generating leads without turning into a content machine
  • The formula for the sales page that makes your prospective buyer want to buy?
  • How to develop know, like & trust, and sell on autopilot without having to talk to each buyer
  • How to make the maximum revenue per customer
  • How to create enough content for Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, Twitter, Google, Youtube, and Pinterest?


I will show you step-by-step my top 7 marketing strategies for authors, to help you create & sell your online courses. These strategies will allow you to attract and sell at scale, so you can achieve the financial and mental freedom you crave.

This is the exact system I use with my author clients to get them new free leads on repeat 64%+ opt-in rate monthly on a ~9000 social following and consistent sales month after month.

But I know reading a 12K+ word ultimate guide is a significant investment of your time. So before I show you the strategies step by step, let’s first talk about who this guide is for as well as who this guide is not for.

Marketing strategies for non-fiction authors with completed books

Who is this guide for

This guide is for authors with:

  • Published non-fiction books*
  • Existing customers for current or previous courses
  • A target audience (of at least 5000 real followers not purchased) or an email list (of at least 500 subscribers that actually opted in, they are not scraped or purchased)
  • An existing website or pages on a funnel builder you or someone on your team can easily edit and make changes to
  • An existing website or pages on a funnel builder you or someone on your team can easily look up traffic, opt-ins, conversions, email open/click data
  • An email marketing software that allows you to send emails and email sequences/autoresponders to your email list

*Bonus points: if you are a non-fiction author writing about parenting, pregnancy & childbirth, self-esteem, or productivity as those are typically the clients I work with and what this guide is the best fit for!

Who is this guide NOT for

This guide is not for:

  • Fiction authors
  • Non-fiction authors still writing their books
  • Authors who have never sold a course
  • Authors with zero target audience or online presence–you must have built a small to a medium audience that recognizes you–either a social media account with followers (of at least 5000) or an email list (of at least 500 or so subscribers)
  • Authors with legacy page builders, sales, & funnel software*
    • That they cannot easily edit (or find someone to edit)
    • Where they cannot easily look up traffic, opt-ins, conversions, or email open/click data off the bat and need third-party tools to do so
    • Create errors that prevent sales eg. clicking the buy button leads people back to a loop back to the sales page rather than going to the cart or checkout pages
  • Authors that do not have email marketing software that allows them to send emails and email sequences/autoresponders to your email list

*To be clear here I am not referring to online learning platforms like Teachable, Udemy, Coursera, Skillshare, and others. Those are some of the options you have for hosting your courses. I am talking about tools that allow you to build landing pages for your lead magnets, and sales pages for your course. Some of the platforms currently in existence for this include Leadpages, Thrive suite, Elementor, Clickfunnels, etc (and more new ones every day). The best option for you depends on your business goals. However, I have seen too many authors end up with tools that do not make basic funnel metrics like visits, opt-in%, and sales %  easily accessible or have broken buying flows. Don't let that be you. Make sure you invest in a tech stack that works right off the bat. As otherwise everything else we do to market and sell is just wasted.

Still here?

Great! Let’s get started.

table of contents

How to market online classes as authors

Here are the 7 strategies you should use to market your course as a non-fiction author. 

marketing strategies for authors

Let’s discuss each of these in detail.

Marketing Strategy #1 Course Creation & Validation

Marketing Strategies for Authors Course Creation & Validation

So you are unsure of what content to put into your course? You want something that relates to your book but you aren’t really sure what that would be? I will share exactly how to figure this out. But first, let’s talk about what not to do.

The killer course creation & validation mistakes most authors make

When most authors feel unsure of what to include in their course, they decide to include everything and simply read their book on video. They assume since people liked the book, they just need to put it in video format for the people who don’t like reading.  The result is a bland course that falls flat on its face.

You see people read books for different reasons than they buy courses. A book reader often welcomes things like the background history, research, and theory underlying a topic. Whereas when a person takes a course they want to learn how to take action. 

Secondly, even if your book is a how-to book, not all of it needs to be in your course.

Most people can follow at least part of your book instructions as is. But there is always a part of the book, that is harder for people to apply in practice. Often this is because the application requires prior experience and a background understanding, one that you cannot possibly impact in a single book (or even course).

This is why you should focus your course on helping your audience with one challenge they have with the practical application of your book.

But how do you figure out what that challenge should be? At a more general level, what courses should you create? How should you figure out the best topics your courses should include? And finally is there a way to validate there is a need for your course before you spend lots of time and money creating it? Let’s discuss this.

How to create and validate your courses

This stage has three distinct parts:

  1. Get to know your audience inside out
  2. Brainstorm different types of courses or offers to help
  3. Presell your courses/offers

Get to know your audience inside out

getting to know your audience is critical to marketing strategy course creation & validation

The best way to uncover what courses your audience wants is the deep dive survey (DDS) method, taught by Ryan Levesque of the Ask Method Company. There is much that goes into getting a DDS done, if you are curious about what that is I recommend checking out Ryan’s book ASK.

But the main idea underlying a successful DDS is the single most important question (SMIQ). The SMIQ is this question:

When it comes to [your topic area], what’s your single biggest challenge or frustration right now? Please be as specific as possible.

Typically when you ask your audience the SMIQ you end up discovering 3-5 core challenges, problems, and struggles that the majority of your audience talks about.

And those are the application challenges your course should focus on helping your audience solve.


BTW you might realize that although everyone could be served the same product, different segments within your audience talk about a different core challenge, problem or struggle in achieving success with your topic area. Note these differences. Keep them in mind as you will be using them in the next step, creating sales copy.

Confused about how to construct a SMIQ for your topic area? Check out these examples to get an idea.

Example #1 Dr. Chris Winters the author of the Sleep Solution

If Dr. Chris Winters the author of the Sleep Solution had a sleep course he planned to sell he would ask his audience:

When it comes to getting healthy sleep without relying on pills what is your single biggest challenge, frustration, or problem?

Example #2 Marie Rayma author of Make It Up: The Essential Guide to DIY Makeup and Skin Care

If Marie Rayma, the author of Make It Up: The Essential Guide to DIY Makeup and Skin Care had a DIY course she planned to sell she would ask her audience 2 SMIQs:

#1 When it comes to creating your own DIY makeup what is your single biggest challenge, frustration, or problem?

#2 When it comes to creating your own DIY skincare what is your single biggest challenge, frustration, or problem?

Brainstorming the types of courses & offers to help with them

Brainstorming the types of courses & offers to help your audience

Now as much as you may want to help everyone as much as possible, not everyone will be ready for all your help in a single course, all at once. Not to mention trying to do so will be super complicated and take forever. This is why you should use the answers you have uncovered to create four types of offers:

  1. A low no brainer priced course that will become your OTO or one-time offer. For most US B2C markets this is $7-27, for US B2B markets this is $27-49.*
  2. A mid-value priced core course that people perceive as a great deal but may still have to think about a bit (for most US B2C markets this is <$47, for US B2B markets this is <$97, often a $297 or $495 course that is being sold at a big discount)
  3. One cross-sell course (or down-sell). A cross-sell is an additional suggested course or bundle of courses you can offer your audience to help them further. For example, if you are in the childbirth education market perhaps your core course helps people prepare for childbirth and your cross-sell course provides help with an antenatal need like breastfeeding skills. Or you offer a bundle of courses that include a lactation course, a sleep training course, plus a baby-led weaning nutrition course. You can also provide a smaller down-sell instead of a full course such as templates, ebooks, or other digital downloads. So for example you might provide a low-priced booklet with the best breastfeeding positions mothers will need after birth.
  4. One high ticket course or program (combination of self-paced course and some live Q&A access) that is $2000+.

*By the way, the person who has informed my thinking most about the different types of offers in an author funnel is Miles Beckler. I’ve studied his materials for years, for an overview of my biggest takeaways check out my atomic essay here.

Presell your online course

Now before you get started creating your offers you must confirm they are actually going to buy them by preselling them.

But Sana didn’t they tell us they wanted courses to help them deal with these challenges?

Yes, they did, but just because someone says they want something does not actually mean they will spend money on it which is why the best way to confirm that they will spend money on your offers is to presell your courses before you actually put in the work and money to create them. This gives you a real gauge of your audience's response.


Go back to your audience with a limited-time founder’s offer for the courses you brainstormed earlier before you create them.

Validate there is a market by trying to sell at least 10 of each. If you are unable to reach 10 just refund the money of the ones that bought and go back to the drawing board. If you are able to reach 10 then consider the course validated, and go ahead and create it.

Unlock the power of pre-selling with ease! Get your hands on a customizable 5-email script pre-sell your courses. Click now to access your scripts!


To summarize here are the deliverables you need for this stage:

  1. Audience answers to your SMIQ aka main challenges to applying your book
  2. 4 types of courses–the low-priced OTO, mid-priced core course, one cross-sell (or down-sell), and one high-ticket course (or program)
  3. 10 presales for each course type


My clients typically take 4-6 weeks to complete product creation & validation.

Discover the primary marketing strategy for authors seeking to profitably sell online courses related to their book - course creation and validation. Join me as we explore this in detail 👋📚👩‍💻📈 #author #marketing #onlinecourses

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Marketing Strategy #2 Convert Customers via Persuasive Sales

“I hate sales. I mean I know it is important, but sometimes I just wish I could build it and they would come…”

That’s what my client Alisha said to me when I told her we need to improve her sales page because no one from her audience was buying her course.

If you have sales pages that don’t get buyers like Alisha, or you’ve ever wanted to know exactly what to say on the sales page so that your audience buys your courses, pay close attention. Because that is exactly what this section is all about.

But first, let’s talk about why you need to market your online course.

Are you struggling to sell your online course? The online course marketplace is highly competitive, making it hard to stand out. Learn why marketing your course is necessary for success 👋📚💻 #author #marketing #onlinecourses

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Why do you need to market your online course?

Most non-fiction authors think similarly to Alisha. They have spent a long time making sure their content is super useful and practical for their audiences. They feel that those ideas are strong enough to be able to stand on their own. Why then must they sell? Why can’t they just build it and have audiences beat a path to their courses?

But the truth is selling online courses is not as easy as it may seem. As we talked about in you do not have time to waste section, the online course marketplace is crowded and getting more competitive every day!  Your audience will only buy from you if they:

#1 know & like you

#2 trust you to solve their problems

#3 know about & trust your solutions (your courses)  

Your audience members are actually in one of four different stages of their journey towards knowing, liking, & trusting you, your solution(course). The image below shows a snapshot of the relative size and awareness level of each stage.

marketing strategies for authors 2: before you get get audiences online to buy from you, you have to make sure they know, like, and trust you. There are 4 stages to audience know, like, and trust

Now, these stages are not unique to online course sales, they exist when you sell offline as well. It’s just that most of us don’t think about the stage a potential buyer is in or what it takes to move them to the next.

But when it comes to developing your sales page, understanding this is critical to your sales success.

Let’s talk about each stage & what it looks like online.

Four online audience stages

There are 4 stages that your online audiences can fall into

  1. Cold audience–unaware of you, their problem, potential solutions, your course, or your book. Online this is often the person that finds a social media post, blog post, or your website due to something they searched for on Google or saw a post shared by someone else that piqued their interest.
  2. Warm & captured audience–a warm & captured audience is one that has some level of awareness of their problem. They read a social media post, a blog post, or a page on your website that gave them a sense of the real problem they have. They also gave you their email address to get access to a small starter solution, aka you captured them as a lead and they are now on your email list.
  3. Warm & nurtured audience–a warm & nurtured audience is one that has now been on your email list for 7-30 days. They are aware of their problem, potential solutions, and your solution aka course(s). They simply have not purchased yet.
  4. Hot audience–these are your customers. They are the most aware. They have gone through all of the above stages and purchased from you.  

Now listen up because this is important–

A cold audience will almost never buy your core course! 

They simply do not know enough about themselves, their problem, or you to make such an investment.

Typically authors see a trickle of core course sales and they assume it is the cold audience buying on impulse.

But if they dig a bit deeper they find it is from an audience they warmed up in other non-scalable ways (eg. they attended one or more previous webinars or in-person talks, or have been following them on social media for months or years).

That trickle of sales from some followers will never lead to reliable and consistent sales at scale.

A cold audience will buy a low-priced OTO or down sells if it directly speaks to a burning fear, pain, hope, or wish they are currently in the midst of.

The only way to build a solid consistent course revenue stream as an author is to have a strategic process for nurturing and educating OTO and down-sell buyers after the purchase, to get them to buy other higher-priced offerings (we talk about this in strategy #5 of this guide).

But it all starts with warming up your cold audience until they buy your OTO or down sells. To have the best chance to do that you need to avoid the killer mistake most authors make on their sales pages.

The killer mistake most authors make with their sales page

Are you making this mistake with your online course sales page? Are you listing everything your course includes? That is not enough. Learn how to avoid this and increase your course sales 📢📚💻 #author #marketing #onlinecourses

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Let’s be real, most authors hate spammy sales. They hate buying courses that don’t deliver to expectations. So when it comes time for their own courses they would be darned if they do the same. So they overcompensate by listing everything the course includes on the sales page! 

Then when their audience does not buy their course they assume it's because they just don’t have an audience that is willing to pay $ for their information. Their audience just wants all their expertise for free (or at most at the price of a low-cost book). Or they assume that there is some inherent characteristic of their audience that causes indirect buying decisions & delays. For example, one childbirth education author and course creator I know assumed that her audience belonged to an ethnic group where wives always had to get their husbands’ agreement on monetary decisions like course buying. FYI I later proved this assumption wrong by getting her sales from that exact audience.

You see across clients and markets, I have discovered that neither is the real reason audiences don’t buy.

The real reason audiences do not buy a course is that the sales message is irrelevant to what they want, making the course, not something they are willing to pay $ for.

You see most audiences do not know:

  1. what they need to solve their problems or achieve their goals so they do not know why your course would help
  2. how they need the information delivered to help them most until after they experience it

This is why you should take some time upfront to find out:

  1. What your audience says they want (we covered how to do this in marketing strategy #1 get to know your audience inside out)
  2. Segment or bucket them according to what they say they want
  3. Create unique sales pages that reflect each audience segment’s wants in your sales copy aka the words you use on the sales page

Let’s talk about the exact step-by-step process for doing this.

How to build your course sales page to convert [4 steps]

Here is how you build a sales page that converts:

  1. Ask your audience the single most important question or SMIQ (covered in marketing strategy #1 get to know your audience inside out)
  2. Segment the answers you receive into 2-3 audience segments or buckets as Ryan Levesque calls them (we cover this in the next section).
  3. Convert the answers for each segment into sales page promises. BTW it goes without saying that you should also make sure that your course actually delivers on those promises)
  4. Persuade each segment with social proof from customers in that segment

How to segment the answers received into buckets?

Once you get the answers to your SMIQ, look for patterns that you can use to categorize. Here are some examples of principles I have used across clients:

  1. Experience with the topic. For example, for my childbirth education author, we segmented mothers by whether they were first-time mothers, repeat mothers, not pregnant but planning, or not pregnant but trying to conceive.
  2. Type of problem. For example, clear segments for my guest blogging/podcasting courses are people who don’t know what to pitch, where to pitch, or how to pitch
  3. What is most effective? For example, clear segments for a digital marketer and podcaster host I worked with were: 1) What is the ROI of a digital marketing strategy? 2) How do I choose what to work on in digital marketing? 3) How to do digital marketing best?

Once you have segmented your audience, the next step is converting their answers to sales page promises.

How to convert the answers into sales page promises?

Here is an example of a SMIQ response from the childbirth education course creator’s audience:

“It's my last month and I'm very frustrated. First experience. Everything is normal but I don’t think I have the stamina for bearing labor pain.”

Here are two other responses having to do with labor pain management:

“First pregnancy...I also have a fear of pain 🙁 help me...motivate me ...what I do for labor pain”

“I want to hear positive delivery stories of second-time moms. My first delivery was very traumatic. I’m now at 33 weeks & the fear is getting real" />. People tell me second-time labor isn't that bad and labor is quicker. I’m not sure about an epidural " />“

Now this could be used as a qualifying question at the beginning of the sales page + follow-up copy such as:

Don’t think you have the stamina to last through labor pain?


  • 10 tips for reducing & managing your labor pain naturally
  • 12 exercises you can use to prepare your body for a faster gentler labor
  • Top 10 research-based pros & cons of epidurals so you can decide if they are worth it

The next step on each sales page is to add social proof. Let’s discuss why it can increase course sales.

How social proof can increase course sales?

Persuading with social proof is an important part of building a sales page that converts. Social proof can increase online course sales by building trust and credibility with potential customers. It does this by showing potential students that others have enjoyed, benefited from, and achieved success with your online courses. When they see this they are more likely to perceive the course as valuable and credible and are therefore more likely to make a purchase.

How to persuade with social proof

You can persuade with social proof by:

  • Including positive reviews, testimonials, ratings, or case studies on your sales page from past students who have taken the course and achieved positive outcomes
  • Displaying the number of students who have enrolled in the course, or who have achieved a specific outcome from taking the course. This helps demonstrate both the popularity and effectiveness of the course
  • Featuring influencers who have taken your course or used it to achieve success
  • Sharing user-generated content (UGC) on social media to show how others are using the course and succeeding with it
  • Offering discounts for referrals to encourage customers to spread the word about your online courses and attract more potential buyers, giving you even more social proof

Make sure to provide different testimonials based on the segment the sales page is for.

Here is a recent client example that shows success for one of their two customer segments (repeat mothers):

Here is another example testimonial that shows customer success from the perspective of a first-time mother:

Now you hand this content to your web designer or developer to turn into sales pages.


To summarize here are the deliverables you need for this stage:

  • 2-3 audience segments or buckets based on audience SMIQ answers
  • convert the answers for each segment into 6-7 sales page promise bullets*
  • Segment-specific testimonials for each segment’s sales page
  • Handover to your web designer or developer to turn into sales pages

*it goes without saying that you should also make sure that your course actually delivers on those promises. If this means additions to the course, make sure to either do it now (or schedule it for before your sales page goes live).


My clients typically take 6-8 weeks to complete their sales page development, including course additions to make sure they deliver on all their audience promises.

Marketing Strategy #3 Attract & Capture Leads on Repeat

If you have ever wondered if there is a simple repeatable system for generating leads that buy the course, without turning into a content machine then this section is for you.

But first, let’s talk about the different types of online course marketing.

Different types of online course marketing

Ready to promote your online course related to your book? Here are a few different ways to market it and attract potential customers 💡📚💻 #author #marketing #onlinecourses

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 There are several different types of online course marketing that can be helpful to authors. Some of the most popular channels include

1) Paid Advertising:  Paid advertising is a great way to get your online course in front of potential students who might be interested. Platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads are popular options for online course marketing because they allow you to target people based on their interests, location, and more. But again it takes some time to learn the best ads to place and get results from paid advertising, all while you are spending money to learn. I recommend this as a more advanced strategy for authors who have already made some revenue from their courses.

2) SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) or organic search is one of the most important online course marketing tools available today. It starts with thinking through the search terms your audience might be using to search for your help with the problem your course solves or the goal it helps them achieve. You then, optimize your online course content, and website (including any blog posts) so you can make sure that potential students find your courses when they search online. That being said organic search or SEO can take some time to implement and get results. So if you are looking for a quick cash infusion now you should put this strategy on the back burner for now and look at it again after you have made some revenue from your courses.

3) Video Marketing:   Video marketing is an effective online course marketing technique. When done right, videos can help you reach a larger audience and make your content more engaging. You can use videos to promote your online courses, showcase customer success stories, or offer helpful tutorials. Creating high-quality video content takes time but it is well worth the effort in the long run because people respond better to visuals than they do to text-based materials.

4) Influencer Marketing: Partnering with influencers can be a great way to reach new audiences and promote online courses. You can work with influencers to create content that promotes your online course, which will help attract more registrations.

5)  Guest blogging: Building relationships with online influencers can be a great online course marketing strategy. If you are already a blogging pro you can use guest blogging to reach new audiences, build brand awareness, and attract potential students. With this strategy, you write guest blog posts for online publications in your niche and include links back to your online courses. Guest posting is a strategy close to my heart as it allowed me to go from nobody to a half a million $ business in no time. Want to figure out if it might be for you? Check out my recent post about what guest posting is and why you should do it here.

6) Affiliate Programs: Working with affiliates can help expand your online course reach. You can partner with bloggers and websites who will promote your online courses to their audiences, in exchange for a commission.

7) Social Media Marketing: Social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be powerful online course marketing tools. With social media marketing, you can create content that attracts potential students and encourages them to sign up for your courses. Despite what they say about each of these platforms becoming pay-to-play, for many niches and geographic markets there is still a lot of free organic green pastures on various social media channels. Check out this essay about my recent 64% opt-in rate for a client via Instagram, a channel I had previously ignored.

These are just some of the online course marketing strategies available today. If you're looking to sell online courses, consider using a combination of these tools to reach your target audience in 2023. Just don't try to do them all at once (more about that in strategy #7).

Social media marketing is the easiest channel for most authors to start seeing results from, yet many still don’t. Let’s talk about why.

The killer mistake most authors make with generating leads from social media

Most authors directly promote their courses with their social media. Their hope is that doing so will give them a trickle of impulse buys. Now if you remember the audience stages from Step #2 you will remember that the audience that finds or follows you on social media is a cold audience. They often do not know, like, or trust you enough to buy from you especially not offers that are more expensive than your low-priced OTO (such as your mid-priced core offer or high-ticket course or program). Often these people will be the ones you see scrolling straight to the price and exiting your sales page.

Are you promoting your online course to a cold audience? That's a mistake that could limit your sales. Learn how to build trust first and then sell using the power of lead magnets #author #marketing #onlinecourses

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So what should you do instead? Glad you asked.

How do you promote a course on social media?

Use lead magnets to generate leads for your course!

A lead magnet is an incentive offered to potential customers in exchange for their contact information, such as an email address. The purpose is to attract and convert website visitors into leads, who can then be nurtured via email marketing to potentially become customers. Examples of lead magnets include checklists, ebooks, white papers, webinars, discounts, free trials, etc. BTW if you look closely you will see several lead magnets integrated throughout this guide, including the PDF of the guide itself (pretty meta eh!)

The key is that the lead magnet must help your audience achieve a small quick win toward their goals or resolution of their problems.

Develop 1-3 lead magnets designed to help your audience members with their goals and problems.

But how exactly do you find lead magnet ideas that get subscribers? And once you find them how do you design them? Start promoting them? Let’s talk about that.

How to find lead magnet ideas that get subscribers?

The easiest way to uncover lead magnets that convert into subscribers is to go back to the answers of your SMIQ answers and look for the main theme of the struggles, challenges, or pain. Then brainstorm quick wins you can give someone with that theme. So continuing with the childbirth educator example, if you recall many of the answers suggested the biggest fear and struggle was labor pain management.

Here are lead magnets some lead magnets that could work:

3 pregnancy exercises to build strength for labor

3 prayers to build courage for labor

3 things God asks you to do to prepare for labor (if the audience has a religious bent)

Get the gist?

How to design lead magnets that build your email list?

In my experience, people spend way too much time trying to get a pretty lead magnet together. Great design is important. But for this stage, the only driving design principle you need to use to get results is that your lead magnet design should look good in a zoomed-out mockup (we will need these for the opt-in page and the social media posts).

A simple way to do this is to hand your designer a template you like that you purchase from Creative Market, Etsy, or even Canva; along with your brand style guide, and ask them to show you a draft for approval.  You then give them quick feedback depending on what they come back to you with.

Don’t have a designer, hire someone off a website like Fiverr for as low as $15-20.

What you should not do is spend time trying to figure out the design yourself, even if you are pretty good at it. Your time is better spent thinking through the next step–lead magnet promotion.

How to start promoting your lead magnet?

Convert your lead magnet title into a powerful headline that is likely to get your audience saying I want this. Drop this headline with your mockup on a landing page.

Here is an example:

marketing strategy for authors use your lead magnet title to come up with a powerful headline

Your first landing pages should convert about 25% and then you should test variations to get an opt-in rate of 40%+. Across authors, I have worked with we have typically seen lead magnet opt-in rates of 64%+.
To improve your opt-in rate. I would test in this order:

  • Headline
  • Bullets describing the lead magnet
  • Mockup graphics
  • Button Text
  • Button Colors


  1. 1-3 designed lead magnets
  2. Headlines for the lead magnets
  3. Headlines plus lead magnet mockups handed over to your web developer
  4. Landing pages for the lead magnets set up by your developer
  5. Initial landing page live with initial traffic and opt-in rate #s
  6. A clear sense of a winning lead magnet
  7. Your ideas and plan for opt-in rate improvement


My clients typically take 3-6 weeks to complete their lead magnet development & testing.

Marketing Strategy #4 Create a Social Media Lead Generation System

Want a repeatable system for generating social media leads that buy your course, without turning into a content marketing machine? Then this section is for you.

The killer mistake most authors make with their social media content creation

The killer mistake most authors make with their social media marketing is hiring a college or high school intern (or a cheap third-world resource off of Fiverr) to convert book ideas into social media posts. Their assumption is who is better to get social media than young users of it.

But that leads to a problem–these resources focus on creating lots of content they themselves want to consume. That’s probably fine if college or high school students were your main audience (though I doubt it as it isn’t a very lucrative one alone).

But even aside from that fact, in order for your social media content strategy to generate leads for your course, it needs to do a lot more than that. Such as:

  1. Doubledown on the content the social platform gives the most reach to
  2. Doubledown on the content that gets the most engagement
  3. Repurpose winning content
  4. Gives the follower a quick win–fact, learning, perspective shift
  5. Builds a relationship with you the author
  6. Builds your credibility as an expert
  7. Captures followers as leads (aka makes them want your lead magnet and directs them to your lead magnet landing page)

Struggling to make social media marketing work for you as an author? Don't make this mistake - hiring a cheap resource to convert book concepts into social media posts. Learn why relevance and quality are key 🔑📚👩‍💻 #author #marketing #socialmedia

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Look I’m not saying do not use cheaper marketing resources. Please do.

But give them some direction! Have them work on one of the above 7 goals above with every social post they create. In fact, have them run a 30-day social media content test.

Let’s talk about what that looks like.

How to do a 30-day content test

There are 3 steps to executing a 30-day social content test.

Step #1 Brainstorm 7 types of content

Brainstorm these 7 types of social content (at a minimum):

1. Why–specifically why you are focusing on the topic you are. If it is your life’s work, think back to why it became your life’s work. This is your opportunity to connect with them at an emotional level by showing them the moment when you understood their pains and challenges. You want them to feel– “this author cares”, “I like them”, “I trust them!”

2. Answers to frequently asked audience questions–You must have noticed a set of common questions people in your audience ask you repeatedly. Answer one at a time in a social post. The goal here is to give the reader an aha moment and point to what else they need to know or master (a great place to seed the idea for your paid course)

3. Customer testimonials–always a win when done right. Just don’t make the mistake of dropping in the entire testimonial in the post. Carefully think through one selling point that would intrigue new potential students and edit the testimonial to highlight that.


Follow this up with a caption thanking the testimonial giver + sharing why you aren’t surprised they had a positive experience because you had intentionally created the course to help them achieve what they achieved. This is your opportunity to lift the curtain and show new prospective students why you do things the way you do and how it could benefit them. It helps them start envisioning receiving the same benefits themselves, from taking the course.

4. Lead magnets–sell the free lead magnet. Free alone is not a value proposition. Show them the value of your lead magnets and the benefits they could get from getting and using them. These posts should always include a visually obvious CTA and a clearly explained text CTA (such as for Instagram grab this gift at the link in bio)

5. Stories that teach–what are some takeaways about your topic that are second nature to you but feel like an aha, light bulb moment for your audience? Share those via stories.

6. Top tips, hacks, steps, and advice based on your years as an expert–This is a chance to remind those that are new to your world about the vast wealth of expertise and success you have. The more counterintuitive and unique the content you share here the better. Make sure to always quantify your expertise & success for maximum social proof (for example don’t say “Behind the scenes, advice from a midwife”, say “Behind the scenes advice from a midwife who has attended 500 births).

7. Common mistakes & industry misconceptions–you have probably noticed common wisdom in your niche & industry that you strongly don’t agree with. Name it and show how it keeps your audience from achieving what they want. Like #6 the more counterintuitive what you are saying against common wisdom in your space the better. It will help your audience truly get that you are an expert like no other.

Step #2 Design your content into various content formats

Design your content into the various content formats allowed by the social platform. Focus on the newer formats (as chances are the social platform is giving that content type more reach).

At the time of this writing here are the content formats that we have been testing and getting great reach and traffic for clients on Instagram:

  1. Trending reels–repurposed to work for our lead magnet promo posts
  2. Static image posts with lead magnet mockups
  3. Static image posts with background images and text overlay for customer testimonials
  4. Static image posts with background images and text overlay for customer FAQs
  5. Video clips for stories that teach (1-10 minutes)
  6. Audiogram for stories that teach (1-10 minutes)
  7. Animated videos for stories that teach (1-10 minutes)
  8. Carousel posts for your top tips, hacks, steps, and advice

Step #3 Pick winners after 30 days

Picking Your 30-day social media content test winners

After 30 days look at all the posts and select the winners based on top performers in

  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Traffic
  • New subscribers.

#4 Double down on the winners after 30 days

At the end of 30 days take the winners and make them work even harder for you by further promoting them as is with only the hashtags changed. This will help new audiences see your posts.  Make sure to space out the repostings so that your core followers don’t end up seeing significant repeats in their streams. A good rule of thumb is spacing the repeats with 15 posts in between as those are the posts that show up before having to scroll a page down on Instagram on most mobile phones.


If your course has a global audience test location-specific hashtags in addition to topical ones. For a recent client all winning posts got reposted at a minimum of 27 different times with 27 different groups of location-specific hashtags. Each reposting got us more reach and engagement from audiences specific to that location.

Super pro-tip!

 You may even find that the same topics are referred to with different topical hashtags in different country markets. If that is the case simply repost with hashtags directed to different countries.


  1. A 30-day social media calendar with a variety of content types and formats
  2. A set of winning posts by reach, engagement, traffic & email subscribers
  3. Rescheduled winners by new topic and location-specific hashtags to get even more value out of the winners


4-8 weeks

Marketing Strategy #5 Nurture & Convert Leads to Customers

It goes without saying that people only buy from people and companies they know, like, and trust. Given the low prices of most of your books and courses, and your limited available time it is simply impossible to talk to each and every prospective buyer.

Thankfully you can develop know, like & trust, and sell on autopilot without having to talk to each buyer by smartly using a solid email marketing strategy.

Nurture & Convert Leads to Customers using a solid email marketing strategy

Attention authors! Want to convert leads into customers for your online course? Email marketing is the way to go. Discover how to automate your email marketing and grow your sales 📚🤝📈 #author #marketing #emailmarketing

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But as with anything, there is a right way to use email and a wrong way. Let’s talk about the killer mistake most authors make with their email marketing.

The killer mistake most authors make with their email marketing

Most authors never email their lists unless they have a book or course launch. Then when they get no buyers they assume they just have an email list of freebie seekers who will never buy.

But really the reason no one on their list is buying is that they have not yet developed enough of a “know, like, & trust factor” with their audience. This doesn’t mean they have to email their list for years with free content. But it does mean strategically nurturing & then selling new subscribers to their list.

Here is what I recommend authors do.

How to nurture & sell course leads through email marketing

Think of the initial 30 days of emails you send to your subscribers as two sequences. The:

  1. Welcome & nurture sequence
  2. Sales sequence

Let’s talk about each of these.

What should you include in your welcome & nurture sequence

Your welcome & nurture sequence should take place over about 15 days.

The first two emails of your welcome & nurture sequence

It starts with the first email delivering the lead magnet. Take time in this email to introduce your or your company’s accomplishments to build credibility. The screenshot shows an example of how we did this in a recent client email.

marketing strategy for authors first two emails of your welcome & nurture sequence

Then a day later you should send a second email following up on the first one. This one simply asks them if they got their initial gift and to reply back if they didn’t.

marketing strategies for authors second email of your welcome & nurture sequence

The purpose of this email is two-fold. Get replies to improve your email deliverability. Secondly and more importantly start getting your email list readers in the habit of engaging and replying to your emails.

And yes people still reply to these. Especially if the email “from the field” is an address that sounds like a real person rather than a support inbox.

Now over the next 13 days, you want to space out a series of emails designed to get to know you & your work and recognize that you are the best person to help them.

Sounds like a tall order but it isn’t. Especially not when you create the types of emails described below.

Your why email

Have at least one why email in your welcome & nurture sequence. By why, I mean sharing the emotional why behind your work–to quote Simon Sinek why you do what you do. To make it come to life share the creation story of your work or the story of the moment you realized you must do the work you do.

Your successful student story

Share 1-3 successful student story emails. Share details of what they were doing before they succeeded and the mental, emotional, physical, or financial impact of success on their life or work. Then share the insight or learning from you that helped them succeed and how their life and work looked different as a result.

Your niche or industry’s biggest myth/misconception

There are probably one or more myths and misconceptions in your niche or industry that are pervasive but very wrong. Share what you believe these are, why they are wrong, and how it keeps your audience from achieving what they want. You can have up to 3 emails like this, just make sure to tackle a different myth/misconception for everyone.

Your top tips/lessons learned while helping your students

Share the top tips/lessons you have learned while helping your students. Make this email work harder for credibility building by making your results more concrete. Helped 500+ students? Great, mention that here. If you are an experienced expert with 15+ years of working on the problem you help them with, mention that. I recommend 1-3 emails around tips/lessons in your welcome & nurture sequence.

Your audiences FAQ

Your audience’s FAQ around your topic and your unique answers to them. This is a great opportunity to show how you are different from other experts out there. So the more counterintuitive, unique, and intriguing your answers are the better. Also, try and pick the FAQ that if unaddressed will turn into an objection to buying your course or taking any action around your topic. I recommend 1-3 emails around audience FAQs in your welcome & nurture sequence.

Note: in all of the above emails make sure to mention your course in a natural organic way and link to your sales page for the course so they can find out more. This seeding of your course will help you capture those who are ready for it early. BTW make sure to have automation remove them from this sequence and the next one the moment they buy.

What you should include in your sales sequence

Up until now, you have simply introduced yourself and your way of working & thinking about work. You haven’t talked about your courses other than simply mentioning them or seeding them in your emails with a link to your sales page for them to learn more. This changes with the sales sequence.

I recommend a 9-day sales sequence.

The goal of the sales sequence is to get your email list subscribers to buy. There are a couple of ways in which we do this:

  1. Help them imagine themselves getting the transformation
  2. Provide a one-time offer for buying now through a special link only for those on our email list
  3. Find out & address the reason non-buyers did not buy

Let’s talk about each of these.

Help them imagine themselves getting the transformation

The best way to help your audience imagine themselves getting a transformation is by sharing a story about someone like them doing just that. For best results share different stories in different emails based on the bucket or segment someone belongs to.

Provide a one-time offer for buying now through a special link only for those on our email list

Provide a one-time discount offer on your course just for those who have made it this far into your email sequence. Have a realistic reason for why the offer is available now and won’t come again in the future. Here are a few examples of reasons my clients have used in the past:

  • Beta or initial launch where there is a discount on founder’s circle seats in exchange for feedback
  • New year price hike and a final offer at the older price before the increase
  • A limited number of physical copies of a book or workbook that accompanies the course (the last few left over from a publisher run)
  • Team changes like a new facilitator or trainer coming up and a related price increase

Whatever your reason, just make sure it is one that is realistic. Because customers can smell a lie a mile away. Do not simply discount without a reason though, as that kills urgency. People will just wait to buy until your next discount, not a behavior you want to train your customers into.

Find out and address the reason for non-buying

Most people stop communicating with non-buyers after the offer emails. I like sending open-ended emails asking them why they did not buy to learn what we can do better. As the responses come in try and read between the lines to better understand the real reason behind not buying. And once you have a sense of what that may be, confirm your conclusion by offering them something else.

For example, if a respondent tells me their reason for not buying is the price I usually ask what price they can buy at. If I get more than one respondent telling me the same thing and they belong to the same group, that informs future price changes. For one client we realized her audience in a particular region could not afford her US prices, so we changed the price we offered to those in the region.

If someone replies with reasons they were unsure if the course could work for them–we reply with messaging to handle that sales objection in the email. If that messaging works and gets us the sale, we integrate that messaging into our sales sequence and our sales page.

And finally, if someone replies with additional needs our course does not cover, we either try to address those needs through new course bonuses or new mini-courses. We make sure to pre-sell those via email to the respondent (with a promise of a launch date) before going down that route to make sure it is a real objection, not just an excuse.


  • 2 lead magnet delivery emails
  • 13-day welcome & nurture sequence emails that include
    • Your why email
    • 1-3 successful student story emails
    • 3 niche or industry’s biggest myths/misconceptions emails
    • 1-3 top tips/lessons learned while helping your students emails
    • 1-3 Audience FAQs emails
  • 9-day sales sequence emails that include
    • An email that helps them imagine getting the transformation
    • An email that provides a one-time special offer for buying now
    • An email that finds out the reasons non-buyers did not buy


4-6 weeks

Marketing Strategy #6 Convert More Visitors to Customers

If you want to make the maximum revenue per customer you have to optimize the main sales pages for each segment as well as the upsell and down-sell pages.  But before we talk about how to do that let’s talk about the killer mistake most authors make with their sales page optimization.

The killer mistake most authors make with their sales page optimization

The killer mistake that most authors make with their sales page optimization is they just don’t do it. They assume their low sales are a traffic problem. When the traffic increases but sales do not they simply assume it is because their audience just wanted the freebie, and did not want to buy.

Struggling with low online course sales for your book-related course? Your sales page may be the problem. Discover how to optimize your sales page and increase your conversions as an author 📈📚💻 #author #marketing #onlinecourses

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In my experience that is never the case. If you validated your offers in step #1 and your audience has consumed your freebie/engaged with your welcome & sales sequence the reason they may not have bought is:

  • The message on your sales page does not resonate with where they are emotionally
  • The message on your sales page does not resonate with where they are mentally
  • They assumed based on your sales copy that what you offer cannot help them in their situation

Tweaking your sales message and copy to help change their minds is called sales page optimization.

Let’s talk about how to do it.

How to optimize your sales page

Check your analytics for the number of people who made it to your sales page and the percentage that bought. Check how this looks compared to niche metrics. In general, if your sales conversion is 1%+ for a first-time audience OTO with a cold audience that is normal. Anything less you should be optimizing.

Then check your sales page heatmaps. Check where the majority of visitors got to on your sales page.  What was the last thing they read before they exited?

Remember how I said most authors assume price was the reason people don’t buy? Check if that is the case.

With a recent author client, initial buyer exits before optimization were not at the initial bullets on who the course is for or why you need the course. They were right after a who is the author section or after buyer testimonials. We realized that while the bullets got people curious and they were willing to follow our logic for why they needed the course, they weren’t able to resonate emotionally with the author’s story or those of previous buyers. They didn’t see themselves in those people and therefore assumed that the course would not help them with their specific problem.

In talking to them we realized that part of the reason was they had specific geographic situations and they felt those were not the ones faced by the author or the people they had helped.

Once we nailed that down, we simply optimized the initial sales page to refer to smaller workshops designed to help them specifically with those situations.


  • Analysis of the number of people making it to your sales page and % not buying
  • Analysis of where traffic exits happen on a sales page
  • Ideas for what to optimize and tweak to increase sales


8-10 weeks

Marketing Strategy #7 Identify New Sources of Traffic

Ever wondered how you will ever find enough time to create content for Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, Twitter, Google, Youtube, and Pinterest?

Then this strategy is especially for you.

Are you an author looking for new traffic sources to promote your book-related online courses? Discover effective ways to attract more visitors and increase your course sales 📚👨‍🏫💻 #author #marketing #onlinecourses

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The killer mistake most authors make with traffic sources

Most authors try to be on all traffic sources at once. And they wonder why they never get enough reach or traffic from any single one!

The truth is each traffic source works entirely differently from the others. For starters, Google, YouTube, and Pinterest are search engines. They give reach to content that best addresses search intent (the purpose of the search). While others like Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and Twitter are social media sites; which means they give reach to content that gets a lot of engagement. And then to make matters even more complex, each social media site does not give reach to the same type of content, even if it gets engagement. For sites like Instagram, it is reels and stories, while for Facebook it is longer videos. TikTok is a completely different type of short video. Also, this keeps changing as social media sites develop new features or change their strategy in response to competition from each other.

Trying to be on all traffic sources at once, is a lot of work. And it makes authors miss out on important details on the type of content that works on each source for their particular kind of audience. It is for this reason that it makes much more sense for authors to focus on one traffic source and only when they dial in their performance on one should they consider another.

Let’s talk about how.

How to assess new traffic opportunities

Keeping this information organized in a spreadsheet helps.

#1 Have a benchmark

Before looking at new traffic sources you should have your best-performing traffic source’s numbers for

  • Reach
  • Traffic
  • Opt-Ins
  • Sales

This gives you a benchmark for what the new traffic source must outperform or at least match for it to be worth your time.

#2 Find proof your audience spends time on said traffic source

The next question you should ask is–is there proof of your ideal audience spends time on the new traffic source you are considering? For example for my childbirth educator client in some countries, her audience used and interacted on Facebook, and in others, they only interacted on Instagram. Take some time right now to figure out what this is for you in your key geographic markets for your audience.


If you can find some indication of the size of your audience on the traffic source in question, include that information as well. The traffic sources themselves + Google datasheets are good places for this kind of information.

#3 Sort traffic sources by where your existing content can be reused or repurposed

As an author with an existing social media presence and/or email list, you probably already have an existing library of content you have used in the past. Categorize it by content format (video, short text posts, clips, blog posts). Once you have a visual snapshot of your existing content score each traffic source by how easily you can reuse or repurpose the majority of your existing content on the traffic source. The traffic sources that score higher should be given preference over others.

#4 Pick one traffic source to focus on

This will be the source that seems to have the healthiest number of your ideal audience, proof of their interaction, and the highest score for ease of reusing or repurposing your existing content.

Start executing traffic acquisition efforts on this source and see how your reach, traffic, opt-ins, and sales compare to the benchmarks you listed in #1 for this step.


A completed spreadsheet that shows your analysis of various traffic sources versus your benchmark traffic source plus other criteria. Click here for a template to get started.


2 weeks.


What kinds of courses are most profitable?

How to create an online course that sells

How to price your online course for maximum profit

How to determine what topics your course should cover

How do I create a sales page for my course?

How do you promote your course to ensure it's successful?

What are some common mistakes people make when creating and marketing courses?

Wrap up & next steps

In this guide you discovered:

  • 7 marketing strategies for authors for creating and sell profitable online courses
  • How to figure out what content to put in your course
  • How to develop know, like, trust, and grow your sales on autopilot without having to talk to each buyer
  • How to create a repeatable system for generating leads from social media without turning into a content machine

And much much more.

At this point, some of you might think these strategies would take a lot of time and energy to make work. They can, which is why it is worth investing in a good digital marketer who can help you structure and implement these marketing strategies.

If you are an author with books in the spaces like self-esteem, productivity & time management, parenting, or pregnancy & childbirth, I'd love to help you out. After you have reviewed this ultimate guide and the included gifts, let's get on a free 10 min strategy call.

For any other authors, use this ultimate guide and the included gifts to understand the action steps, deliverables, and time scales these strategies entail. You can use this internally with your team or use them as a benchmark to cross-check the digital marketing strategy of marketers you might be considering working with.

In any case with the PDF version of this guide and the free gifts, you have everything you need to get started. So what are you waiting for?

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