Creating an email course is actually easier than creating a downloadable PDF or video and I think it is often better for subscribers as well. Here’s why:
- You don’t have to write all the content in advance: remember, you can just setup the page and start getting subscribers before all the lessons are finished.
- There’s nothing to design: the best emails are plain-text and feel personal—more on that here: http://nathanbarry.com/email-templates-hurt-business/
- Engagement is gradual: rather than dumping a ton of content on your reader at once, you can drip it out over a week or more and keep them eager for more.
- It’s clear why you need the subscribers email address. Sometimes visitors think, “It’s just a PDF, why do I need to give you my email address?” And they have a point. You could just offer an instant download (but that would be bad for your long-term goals). With a drip email course it is obvious that an email address is required.
Naming the course
Your email course can follow a lot of the same naming conventions as a book or guide. Here are a few you can try:
- Mastering ____________ (Mastering Product Launches)
- 10 ways to ___________
- Step-by-step _________
- Hacking ______________ (Hacking Design)
One of my favorites is by my friend Paul Jarvis called “Write your damn book.” As the name implies it’s a course to teach you what you need to know—and provide the motivation—to get your book written. The name also warns potential readers that the course includes plenty of profanity. So if that bothers them, they can steer clear.
Setting up the course
Inside ConvertKit select the Courses tab in the top navigation. From there you can create a new course and enter the name you just decided on.
After creating the course you’ll be taken into the course content screen where an email series is pre-filled for you. The draft emails are listed down the left side, each showing their subject line and how many days after subscription they will be sent on.
Click on each email to change the content and subject. The save button is in the lower right and will save changes to all the emails in the course at once.
Timing the content
An email course is delivered based on the subscription date of each subscriber. So if I sign up today and you sign up tomorrow we will receive the emails in the same sequence, but one day apart. This is particularly good since you can put your best content—the stuff you want all new subscribers to read—in your course and then it won’t ever get buried or lost. Each subscriber gets it on their own timeline, with a maximum of one email per day.
How you time the course is up to you. By default ConvertKit includes draft emails for each course that make a 7 email course over 30 days. The emails are more frequent early on (day 1, day 3, etc), and then gradually get less frequent. This is the frequency I use most often (that I learned from Patrick McKenzie), but you can choose whatever is best for your content.
Your course could be a lesson each day for a week or just once a week for a couple months. It’s up to you. Chris Guillebeau created a course that was one email a day for a year for his course The Empire Building Kit.
Note that if you set the days after subscription value to 0 then it will send immediately after the subscriber enters their email address. This is nice if you want to make sure the first lesson gets to them right away (it’s great to deliver value early).
If you choose 1 day after subscription then the email will be sent the next morning or possible two days later depending on when they subscribed relative to your sending time.
Sending days and times
Under the course settings page you can customize what time of day your course will be sent as well as which days of the week your emails can be sent on. Since many of my subscribers are in the United States I like to send at 11:00 AM EST.
If you typically send a newsletter broadcast or on a specific day of the week, then you can uncheck that day from your course, so that your subscribers never get more than one email per day.
My good friend Brennan Dunn has several email courses and automated emails that go out, but also sends a weekly newsletter each Tuesday. By making disabling his automated emails on Tuesday he avoids complaints about too many emails.
You only need the first email
If writing a seven email course sounds really daunting right now, don’t worry: you don’t have to do it yet. In fact, you could have a course with zero emails planned and still collect subscribers. As you publish an email (let’s say it is supposed to go out on day 3) ConvertKit will check for any subscribers who have been subscribed at least 3 days and have not yet received that particular email. If any are found, they’ll receive that email.
If you publish multiple emails in a single day, ConvertKit will send up to one email per subscriber, per day until they are caught up.
For my Mastering Product Launches course I wrote the first three emails, launched the course, started gathering subscribers, and then finished out the course over the next couple months as I had time. The first subscribers had a delay for some of the lessons, but later subscribers got everything on the predetermined schedule.
This is a great way to start collecting subscribers without having to do too much work up front.
And it’s low risk. If you can’t get any subscribers, at least you didn’t waste hours and hours writing the content.