Publish a Beta Course or the Complete Course?

27 replies
Hi Everyone!

I'm creating a course to sell online. I'm using teachable from a recommendation I found in this forum (thank you!) and I'm happy with their product so far. Sure, they earn a little commission on each sale, but they make your course look professional and legit.

I'm debating between:

1) Putting everything I can into the course and making it 100% satisfactory (to me) before publishing it online and marketing it.

and...

2) Publishing something like a beta version and making modifications, edits, additions to the course over time to make it a complete product that can also earn more.

I understand that answer may seem obvious. It's always seems more beneficial to make a better product. I get that. However, a course can take a long time to create, and I'm wondering if any of you have created a beta course for a lower price and then made adjustments, additions, tweaks before publishing the complete course with a higher sale price? The goal would be to start earning income, but also getting valuable feedback along the way.

I've learned it's important to read your audience. The product we THINK is great may not be what consumers think is great....consumers may LOVE the product if it was a different color, shape, texture etc. Some people get so fixated on their own idea and waste so much time developing something people don't want.

I just don't want to spend months developing a course and find out consumers are looking for something slightly different.

For example (only for example and not my actual intention):

A) The "ok" version of the course (e.g 2 months to make) includes 10 short professional videos. ALL the necessary information is found in these videos and students can get the desired outcome with these videos....$47

or

B) The complete version of the course (e.g. 8 months to make) includes the same 10 short videos, a couple supplementary videos, a couple bonus videos, an action-taking worksheet for each video, a resource pdf, a plan of action calendar customized around the course etc....$97

A year from now, I'll have a course for $97 either way. The question is, should I publish a beta version of the course and work up to the full course? or just spend time focusing on the complete course and make tweaks after that according to student feedback?

Additionally, would you charge the $47 beta group an extra $50 for the complete course? or give it to them as a thank you for being an early supporter?

Thank you in advance for your feedback. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this!

Mark
#beta #complete #publish
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  • Profile picture of the author naviown
    Hello, mate

    I totally understand you and your points. Actually, it's not an easy question and decision for you to take.
    I think we need first to view this situation from the buyer/customer side.

    Let's say you are buyer/customer who wants to get into your offer.
    What you would choose, what would be more attractive to you?

    a) Lower price, good content, not 100% complete, but overall good value.

    or

    b) Higher price, BUT everything from a to z, everything included.

    If I needed to choose, I would say B option for sure.

    I think the price of the course isn't important for the buyer. What is most important is to feel that the seller is 100% sure about his product and seller had put all energy and time into creating the product.

    I understand you that to create full course takes time and it's tempting to create product quickly, start selling and it and improve along the way, but in my opinion, it's not good to choose this way.

    Create 100% complete course and add even more value with some bonuses,with more content.
    Customers will appreciate it, trust me. And also you will feel more confident and calm because you would know that you have put all of your energy into this product.

    If you create not complete course/beta version and offer to people, maybe make it for free so they could join and along the way will give suggestions how to improve the course and so on, but on the other hand people who would join for free will be not as motivated as paid customers.

    So final word, I would choose to create 100% complete course before selling to people.
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    • Profile picture of the author palmtreelife
      Thank you for your opinion and detailed reply, it's much appreciated. I do understand your point of view from a customer stance in wanting the complete product regardless of price.

      In your "which is more attractive" option A or B example however, the consumer would never know the beta version is incomplete. It will still look and feel like a complete course to them. They will be able to achieve what I am saying they can achieve.

      So I don't think they will feel like they are getting an incomplete product from a creator who is not confident in the product. The beta version will still be a quality product. It just may not have so much supplemental resources or material.

      See jbsmith's comment below as well as I think that's where I'm coming from.

      Millions buy a new iphone every single year, completely aware that a newer "better" version is coming out the following year...

      Having said all of this...the audience seems to be fairly split so far on which direction to take.
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  • Profile picture of the author jmosticc22
    I would start with a beta course first, gives you a chance to test it a little bit. I agree with the first post in that maybe you could offer it for free for a short time then you could be more certain with it when you start to sell it.
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  • Profile picture of the author King Manu
    Here is the problem I see with publishing a beta version. Your first impression on Teachable is going to make or break your course career. Let's address your question differently.

    - Would you risk to have reviews like "Ok course, but it definitively needs polishing. The author needs to do more work on it" for a quick profit?

    - Would you wait on profit to have reviews like "OMG, such an amazing course. I totally love it! I can't wait to see what author publishes next."

    I rest my case.
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    • Profile picture of the author palmtreelife
      We only have one shot at making a course on Teachable and if it fails, then we're ruined and will have great difficulty creating more courses on that platform? Really? We can't create a new account and start over in a different direction?

      As I explained in an earlier reply, I wouldn't produce a beta course that leads to comments like "needs more polishing" or "needs more work". It would still be a quality product. It just wouldn't be as 110% "wow" as I would eventually like it to be.

      If I had to choose between the 2 sets of comments and they were directly related to a launch date, I would of course wait for the better reviews. However, I would be aiming for those comments even on the basic course. Again, hopefully it wouldn't look "basic" or incomplete.
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    Publish the entire course. Don't overthink it, and just sell. That's what it comes down to at the end of the day, and whether you offer a BETA or complete course - who says that it will sell, if you dont even know how to market it?
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    • Profile picture of the author palmtreelife
      Agreed on the marketing part. I may ask those questions in a separate thread when the time comes haha I'm just in the creative mode right now and getting the product moving.

      "Don't overthink it" - don't overthink which part? The actual content of the course? Beta vs complete? My reply to your post? haha If I publish the entire course, that will take a lot more thought and time to get to the final end point. Are you saying to publish entire course, but don't take so long in making in "perfect"?
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  • Profile picture of the author jbsmith
    Beta version assuming it provides enough value...it may not have everything (no course ever does...), but if the material in that course can provide the result promised - get it out there.

    I have developed dozens of courses, digital products and worked with many others on theirs...without fail, 3-6 months in to a new product that gets sales new opportunities and updates/upgrades to the product become evident and often they are not even changes you would have foreseen prior to launching v1 of your product
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    • Profile picture of the author IGotMine
      Originally Posted by jbsmith View Post

      Beta version assuming it provides enough value...it may not have everything (no course ever does...), but if the material in that course can provide the result promised - get it out there.
      I agree with Jeff. Also, you might offer Beta users something like, "All future updates free for Beta users. Help me make it the best it can be and save $50!"
      Signature
      Gone Fishin'...
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      • Profile picture of the author palmtreelife
        Do you feel if I make that offer that it might reveal my cover? Customers may not purchase, knowing there is a more complete course coming down the road...in which case I may lose that customer forever? I'm putting myself in the receiving position and thinking that's what I might do.
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    • Profile picture of the author palmtreelife
      Thank you, JB. This is what I was thinking. The key is that it delivers the promised result. I feel I can do that with a basic product to start, and then fill it out in the months following while also listening to feedback from students.

      When you make your updates/upgrades after 3-6 months, what do you do with your pricing and existing customers? Give the upgrades for free? Charge an upgrade fee?
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  • Profile picture of the author Wile E Coyote
    Originally Posted by palmtreelife View Post

    A) The "ok" version of the course (e.g 2 months to make) includes 10 short professional videos. ALL the necessary information is found in these videos and students can get the desired outcome with these videos....$47

    or

    B) The complete version of the course (e.g. 8 months to make) includes the same 10 short videos, a couple supplementary videos, a couple bonus videos, an action-taking worksheet for each video, a resource pdf, a plan of action calendar customized around the course etc....$97
    Or, stop being a baby and looking for ways to cut corners.

    You did mention this was an example, but there's no way that you can create a video course in 2 months and then the supplemental material taking 6 months.

    You're looking for ways to cut corners before even starting something.

    Most customers don't even consume the course material, and if you need worksheets, they should be easy to create after you finish the videos.

    You're sucked into this bull crap idea that a "full complete course" has to contain all of this fluff material and "bonuses".

    You're seriously overestimating all your supplementary material while trying to slack off.

    Stop being a wannapreneur and posting this nonsense when you know the answer.

    There's a HUGE difference between a Minimal Viable Product and a "Beta". You can always add stuff, but most of what you're adding is just BS that shouldn't take more than a day for each material (like how long does a calendar take - and what's really the benefit of you making it?)


    TLDR: Stop being a baby and looking for shortcuts. Go all into your business, because you definitely reap what you sow.
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    • Profile picture of the author palmtreelife
      Thank you for your comments and assumptions about me. Next time please tell me how you really feel.
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  • Profile picture of the author GordonJ
    Originally Posted by palmtreelife View Post


    I've learned it's important to read your audience.

    I don't want to spend months developing a course and find out consumers are looking for something slightly different.

    A year from now, I'll have a course for $97 either way.


    Mark
    It is important for a stand up comic to read the audience. A marketer KNOWS his audience, and along with that: their LIFETIME VALUE.

    Finding out what consumers are BUYING is one of the easiest parts to marketing these days, in fact, probably too much data on buying habits.

    A year from now, WHO will buy your 97 dollar course? What are THEY doing today? What then?

    After they buy your 97 buck course, are you done with them? Is it a ONE off product, do you have an evergreen market, what is your competition today?

    Do you have a business PLAN? Any plan?

    Mark, where will this take you in two years? How many of those 97 dollar deals will you have sold? What is the cost of CUSTOMER ACQUISITION?

    These are BASIC questions a marketer begins with, first you need proof of demand, or sometimes called proof of concept. If they will spend 97 in a year, they will spend dollars TODAY, to get a white paper,hotsheet, guide line, blueprint on what your course will be about.

    Beta is a test of a completed concept, to find bugs, or things wrong. You are a long way from Beta.

    Identify your TARGET market, costs nothing to do that NOW.

    Where are they at? Who are they buying from? How will your stuff be different?

    Neither plan is very well thought out, maybe take a deep breath and go back to the drawing board and answer the most basic or the marketing questions, eh?

    GordonJ
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    • Profile picture of the author palmtreelife
      Thank you for taking the time to provide your opinions and feeback. For the sake of time and space, I chose not to provide the business plan for this course in my post. The business plan was not my question.

      Yes, I have thought all of those questions through. I have not seen a course like this before. It's not a technical certification course.

      I did not use "beta" in the technical sense of the word, and I see how that seems to have caused some confusion. I'm not asking if I should publish an incomplete vs complete course.

      The "beta" course would be complete and provide quality content with plenty of added value and direction to do as I promise it can do. It just wouldn't have all the bells and whistles and supplementary add-ons that the "complete" course might have.

      My thought was to acquire customer feedback and use that data to fill out the course and add more value. It's a similar strategy developers use when they publish a true beta version of software, but my course is not in that field. So for that, I apologize for misleading anyone by using that incorrect term.
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  • Profile picture of the author leo dange
    I've worked with millions dollar's copywritter, all of them start selling product before finishing their product so I'll advice you to start selling while you're still building it. User's feedback will help you to push quality content.

    As long as you have a "solid" base (few days/week of content), enough to not have to release unfinished content, you don't have to worry about.
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    • Profile picture of the author palmtreelife
      Thanks, Leo.
      The course (even the Beta version) will be complete. It will have a well defined beginning and conclusion. It will not require regular content updates. Whatever gets published will be "finished". However, I would like to later provide valuable add-ons in addition to and based on what existing customers want as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author shawnlebrun
    I'd start marketing and selling it now.

    Why spend all that time and money making something perfect, when
    perhaps it won't take off like you want?

    Most business plans never stay "as is", they're constantly
    changing and adapting based on customers' needs and feedback.

    By selling it and marketing it now, you'll even see if there's a market
    for what you've got.

    The true test is if people buy and sign up.

    If you have trouble selling it now, as is, there's a good chance
    it won't get any better.

    Most billion dollar companies started selling one thing
    but then changed and adapted to the market place.

    While you're selling the Beta, you may find your customers
    want X instead of Y.

    John Reese made a comment back in 2004 that probably
    made me more money than anything else I've ever done.

    "Just get it out there as is, and improve it along the way".

    At least that way, you can tell if there's even any need or
    want for what you've got.

    I'd go ahead now...
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    • Profile picture of the author palmtreelife
      Thank you. I didn't make this post to justify my line of thinking, but your comments are exactly what I was thinking. I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with me and suggesting I should publish the full course, but I feel most of those who have suggested this route misunderstood my question.

      Why spend all that time and money making something perfect, when
      perhaps it won't take off like you want?
      Exactly!

      While you're selling the Beta, you may find your customers
      want X instead of Y.
      Exactly!

      Thanks again for sharing, Shawn.
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  • Profile picture of the author DRP
    Banned
    If you publish a beta course, then it's gonna get bullied into submission by the alpha course.
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    • Profile picture of the author palmtreelife
      Your title in WF is "Dream Crusher"? I wonder how you acquired that name
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  • I have seen teachable say in their material several times that it's beneficial to just have a few classes of the course completed when you sell it. As you teach, you will begin to see firsthand the things that your students don't understand. That way you won't have to re-work your content to fit your student's needs.
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    #1 all the way. Be bold! Learn on the fly.
    Signature
    Ryan Biddulph, Blogger, Author, World Traveling Digital Nomad
    If you want to become a full time blogger you can buy my course here
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  • Profile picture of the author satvikg
    Release a beta version and focus on marketing.
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  • Originally Posted by palmtreelife View Post

    Hi Everyone!

    I'm creating a course to sell online. I'm using teachable from a recommendation I found in this forum (thank you!) and I'm happy with their product so far. Sure, they earn a little commission on each sale, but they make your course look professional and legit.

    I'm debating between:

    1) Putting everything I can into the course and making it 100% satisfactory (to me) before publishing it online and marketing it.

    and...

    2) Publishing something like a beta version and making modifications, edits, additions to the course over time to make it a complete product that can also earn more.

    I understand that answer may seem obvious. It's always seems more beneficial to make a better product. I get that. However, a course can take a long time to create, and I'm wondering if any of you have created a beta course for a lower price and then made adjustments, additions, tweaks before publishing the complete course with a higher sale price? The goal would be to start earning income, but also getting valuable feedback along the way.

    I've learned it's important to read your audience. The product we THINK is great may not be what consumers think is great....consumers may LOVE the product if it was a different color, shape, texture etc. Some people get so fixated on their own idea and waste so much time developing something people don't want.

    I just don't want to spend months developing a course and find out consumers are looking for something slightly different.

    For example (only for example and not my actual intention):

    A) The "ok" version of the course (e.g 2 months to make) includes 10 short professional videos. ALL the necessary information is found in these videos and students can get the desired outcome with these videos....$47

    or

    B) The complete version of the course (e.g. 8 months to make) includes the same 10 short videos, a couple supplementary videos, a couple bonus videos, an action-taking worksheet for each video, a resource pdf, a plan of action calendar customized around the course etc....$97

    A year from now, I'll have a course for $97 either way. The question is, should I publish a beta version of the course and work up to the full course? or just spend time focusing on the complete course and make tweaks after that according to student feedback?

    Additionally, would you charge the $47 beta group an extra $50 for the complete course? or give it to them as a thank you for being an early supporter?

    Thank you in advance for your feedback. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this!

    Mark
    Yes, start with beta.

    Label it as beta.

    And charge prices pertaining with being beta.

    Ideally, you may want to gather a small group of people and let them in for free during the beta stage. So that they can give you feedback on improving the course.

    And then grow your course from there.

    Instead of directly charging for the unfinished beta.

    Once it reaches a good enough stage, then you can start charging a low price.

    And slowly raise the price more and more over time as you make even more improvements.

    Unless you plan on a "hit and run" (throwing a course out there, and never coming back to improving it again), your course is going to be in beta for a long time.

    Even if you "think" your course is complete, you should still label it as beta.

    It helps to lower expectations.

    Reduces complaints.

    Makes people feel better.

    And no matter how good your course is, it's going to need improvements and adjustments anyway....
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    • Profile picture of the author palmtreelife
      It helps to lower expectations.

      Reduces complaints.

      Makes people feel better.

      And no matter how good your course is, it's going to need improvements and adjustments anyway....
      This is a good point and could be a smart marketing strategy. By calling something a beta product, implying it's not 100% finished, you would lower expectations and reduce complaints. True. Hopefully, it would increase the "wow, if this is the beta version, I can't wait to see the full release!" comments and sentiment.

      A good course and product is always trying to be improved I think. Listen to the consumer and give them what they want or need. Simple formula.
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