How To Pick an Email Course Topic That Makes Sales

Well THAT was fun.

Yesterday I finally published the monster sales page I’ve been yapping about for the last couple of months.

The product is a downloadable course that shows software developers how to use smart marketing and positioning to advance in their careers.

All told, this hulking piece of copy weighs in at 11,375 words.

Jury’s still out on whether it’ll work, but this bodes well:

When I sent my first draft to my business partner John, he says he pulled it up on his iPhone, intending to give it a quick scan and read the rest later. Instead he got engrossed and just kept reading and reading… That’s exactly the effect I’m shooting for. NOBODY sits down hoping to read 11,000 words of copy. Instead they read 1 sentence, then another sentence, then another…

No rest for the wicked, though—I’m on to the next project while I wait to see how this sales page performs.

And one of the very next items on my agenda is putting together an email course to sell this same exact product.

Right now what we have is an email course that teaches software developers step by step how to set up their own blog.

At the end of the course, there’s a “surprise reveal”—John shows the subscribers how a blog is really just a form of marketing, and to really learn how to market yourself effectively as a software developer, there’s this product you should check out…

Does this course work? Yes, to a degree.

But of the 1,900+ software developers who sign up for this course every month, only about 15-18 end up becoming customers.

Pretty anemic.

I have a few theories about why this is—maybe I’ll dive into them more in the future.

(One likely culprit: Far too much “teaching” and not enough storytelling and focus on the subscriber’s pains and frustrations.)

Right now I’m focused on “beating the control,” as copywriters say.

In other words, how can I put together an email course that increases our sales 3-5X?

As I’m typing this, I really have no idea what the topic of the course will be.

What I do have, though, is a series of questions I’m asking myself.

These questions all center around our audience.

For example, I’m asking, “What are the symptoms of a software development career that’s gone off the rails?”

The survey I did a few weeks back turned up several:

– Low salary, non-existent raises and bonuses
– Controlling, hateful boss
– Working on old, crusty software, using outdated tools and technologies

The “make more money” angle is obvious—actually it’s probably too obvious.

My take on our audience right now is that they secretly want to earn more, but they don’t seem to respond well to a “greed-based” appeal.

But I could hit the topic from another angle, maybe do an email course on “7 costly mistakes that reduce your salary.”

Or what about a course about working under a toxic boss?

I’m also asking, “What topics seem to consistently spark the interest of our audience? What resonates with them?”

A big one that’s jumped out to me is “imposter syndrome,” the natural insecurity you feel when you’ve made major gains in your life or career.

This is especially common among intelligent, analytical people, because the more you know, the more you realize you DON’T know.

Just about every time this topic comes up, it generates a huge response.

Could I use “imposter syndrome” to sell a course about marketing yourself? Maybe.

Another question banging around in my head: “Which blog posts consistently get the most traffic and shares?”

One of these “evergreen” posts is titled, “The 4 Most Important Skills for a Software Developer.”

Could I convert that into an effective email course to pitch the marketing course?

Now right now all you’re doing is generating ideas—preferably a whole list of them.

You might be tempted at this point to latch onto a topic for your email course—maybe a subject you know your audience has a lot of question about—and then just dive in and start writing.

That’s a BIG mistake. If you do this, you’re likely to look up in 3 months and wonder why you keep getting emails about how much people LOVE your course…

But you’re still not making any sales.

There’s a critical next step here—one you can’t skip if you want your course to succeed in motivating your audience to take action.

You’ll hear all about it tomorrow.