Flutter tutorials and courses by Andrea Bizzotto

Flutter Animations Course: Retrospective and Lessons Learned from my $13,371 launch

Launching a course is a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

There are highs (launch spike yay 🥳) and lows (days without a single sale 😥). Navigating grinding through them can be exciting, stressful, and everything in between.

So here's a complete retro of everything I learned from launching my Flutter Animations Masterclass.

Key Highlights

Earnings from my Flutter Animations Course between May and July 2021
Earnings from my Flutter Animations Course between May and July 2021

Here are some of my insights:

  • I earned $13,371 from the entire course launch (May to July)
  • biggest spike: $1,800 on launch day ($2,500 in the first 24 hours)
  • sales dropped sharply after the launch period
  • a landing page with email signup goes a long way
  • email marketing is king

Ready for all the juicy details? Here we go! 👇

Some Context

Since sharing my 2020 retro, I decided to become less reliant on Udemy as a marketplace, and start selling my new courses on Teachable.

Here are a few factors that contributed to this decision:

  • Pricing: Udemy courses are often discounted, creating an expectation that courses should sell for $10-$15
  • Platform lock-in: on Udemy, instructors don't have access to student emails
  • Control: as my audience grows, I want more control over how I market/sell my courses and communicate with my students

In choosing Teachable, I knew I had all the marketing myself. So when I decided to launch a new course, I knew I had a big challenge ahead.

My course launch plan

Here's how I planned and executed my launch:

Validation

I had been tinkering a lot and wanted to create a course about Flutter animations for a while.

To validate demand for this topic, I posted this question on r/FlutterDev on Reddit:

This received 234 upvotes and 32 comments, telling me I was onto something.

I also sent a survey to all my 20,000 email subscribers, asking things like:

  • how much experience do you have with Flutter and software development in general?
  • what Flutter topics do you want to learn about?
  • would you be interested in a Flutter animations course?

Out of 1158 respondents, 92.5% said they would be interested in my course, and 600 of them opted in to get updates.

Landing Page

On March 31st, I launched a landing page with a promo video and a sign-up form.

The page included a Flutter web demo of the main course project, which I had completed beforehand.

600 more people signed up over the coming month, growing my waitlist to 1,200 people.

Keeping the list "warm"

At the time I had been reading about the importance of keeping email subscribers "warm".

Since I was a few weeks away from the initial pre-sale, I decided to send weekly emails about my progress, along with some sneak peeks and useful tips about animations in Flutter.

Pricing

I put a lot of thinking into pricing. In the end, here's what I did:

  • pre-sale to course waitlist: $30
  • pre-sale to all my other email subscribers: $35
  • early access price: $45
  • full price: $59

Pre-sale & Early Access

Once 40% of the course content was ready, I started the pre-sale:

  • Day 0 (May 11): first email blast to my waitlist
  • Day 3 (May 14): reminder to my waitlist
  • Day 7 (May 18): first email blast to my other subscribers
  • Day 10 (May 21): reminder to my other subscribers
  • Day 14 (May 25): public early access launch (Twitter, YouTube)

Here are the results for this period:

Course earnings between May 9 and May 30
Course earnings between May 9 and May 30

Highlights:

  • Made $2,500 on the first 24 hours with an 8% conversion rate from 1200 people
  • The second highest peak was $1,200 when I launched the course for early access
  • I made $9,300 over the first three weeks

Pricing surveys

I also sent a short follow-up email to people who didn't buy the course to find out why. 199 people said it was too expensive.

So I decided to run another survey asking people what they thought was the right price. I sent this to everyone who already bought the course and got this:

Outcome of my course pricing survey
Outcome of my course pricing survey

The take-aways:

  • 21% responded that they would pay $51 or more
  • 57% responded that they would pay $31 or more

This was disappointing as I felt the full course was worth more than $50.

Interestingly, people in Europe said they were prepared to pay a higher price than those in North America, with all other continents far behind.

Holidays & Recharging Batteries

By the time I opened the course for early access, I had 60% of the content ready and 40% more to go.

Alongside other ongoing things in my life, the time leading up to the launch took a lot out of me and I was quite stressed out.

So I was very happy to put things on hold and go to Wales for a week. I had a truly amazing time there with my family, recharged my batteries, and got to count a lot of sheep:

FAANG interview question: how many sheep are there in Wales?
FAANG interview question: how many sheep are there in Wales?

During my time away from work, I made $900 in 9 days with zero promotion. I was pleased!

Completing the course

On my return, I got back to work, completed all the course content, and published some related articles on my site.

I ended up launching the finished course on the 16th of July (here's a celebratory tweet):

Course sales in June and July
Course sales in June and July

For this occasion, I did a 3-day sale for $39 and got another small spike.

In total the course earned $13,371 between May and July.

Time invested

I've already shared all my course earnings. But how did I feel the launch went?

To put things in perspective, I spent a whopping 355 hours working on the course, including:

  • coding for the course projects
  • producing the course (scripting, recording, editing, uploading)
  • creating & tweaking the landing page
  • content & marketing emails

While I've been getting faster at video production, I vastly under-estimated the time I would spend on the landing page and email marketing.

Yet, email marketing was crucial to my sales strategy and I think it accounted for ~90% of the total sales.

Given other course-related expenses ($596.25 on closed captions), the ROI for this course has been $36 per hour.

That's considerably below my "break-even" rate of $50 per hour. Considering where I want my business to be, I still have a long way to go with my strategy.

Comparison with previous launches

Compared to my previous launches, this last course has been a resounding success.

I more than tripled earnings on launch week, and I can attribute this to:

  • higher pricing
  • more effective email marketing

Over 3 months, this course has earned as much as my Dart course did in 11 months!

What about recurring revenue?

After all, courses can be a good source of passive income.

So how well is my course doing now that I'm not actively promoting it?

Well, it looks like I should hit $1,000 in August (and hopefully every month afterwards).

This is in line with sales from my other 3 courses on Udemy, which are bringing in $3,000 to $4,000 on most months, even though I haven't launched anything there for nearly 1 year:

My Udemy course sales over the last 12 months
My Udemy course sales over the last 12 months

Similar revenue, but very different platforms:

  • Udemy: Over 500 new students every month, but only ~$5 earned per sale on average
  • Teachable: Only a few new students per month at $59 per sale

Beyond sales figures, my Teachable school is a much better option for customer retention as I get access to student emails (which is very valuable for many reasons).

Conversion rates on my site

Still, only 0.2% of people who visit my website go on to the checkout page for any given course.

So I definitely have work to do to improve conversion on my site. But that's a story for another day.

Email Marketing and Landing Page Insights

Before I wrap up, I want to highlight some of the things that made a difference to my launch.

Email Marketing is King

I said this before, but having a large and engaged email list has a strong correlation to how well a course launch can go.

On the other hand, Twitter and YouTube are great for growing an audience, but a lot more fickle when it comes to selling a paid product (at least in my experience).

Overall, I now have a clearer idea of how many people will buy my future courses, and I can make more informed decisions going forward.

Landing Page Tricks

A lot has been written about creating landing pages that convert.

And when it comes to launching online courses, I have learned some tricks from this video by Adam Wathan, as well as this collection of launches to study.

Trick #1: I added a "sign-up or buy now" form at the top of the landing page:

"Sign-up or buy now" form

The benefit of this is that people who are interested but not ready to buy will end up in my email list (and hopefully convert later on if I send them good stuff).

Trick #2: I offered two tiers with a big incentive to go for the higher tier:

Two-tiered pricing
Two-tiered pricing

It's the first time I try this approach so I can't compare it with previous launches, but I can report that every single sale came from the higher tier.

Recap

Here's a recap of what worked well and what didn't.

What worked well

  • Using surveys and online forums to validate interest in my course and get good insights.
  • Having a landing page with email signup is a great way to build a waitlist.
  • "Spreading" the launch over time is a great way to gather interest and talk about the course without relying on a single launch event.
  • Good email marketing was 100% worth it and I'll be improving it for future launches.
  • Slack channel for student questions and feedback.
  • I've been growing my Twitter audience by repurposing content and sharing tips from my course.
  • Order bumps contributed to some minor but still welcome extra sales.

What didn't work

  • Reviews and testimonials: I didn't make it easy enough for students to write reviews and testimonials that I could use on the course landing page, even though I've been getting good feedback on Slack. So my social proof was a bit weak.
  • Conversion from YouTube: my ROI has on YouTube has been decreasing a lot lately and I've been posting fewer videos as a result.
  • Conversion on my site: something else to work on as I'm getting good traffic from SEO, but conversion to my courses/email list is lower than I'd like.

Finally, even though I validated interest for the course, there were other topics people were even more interested in. So I'll do a better job at creating the courses my students need going forward.

Things I may try later

  • Promotion on ProductHunt and HackerNews - though I never felt they were a good match for what I do
  • Affiliate links - a.k.a. let my fans make some money while helping me get more sales
  • Ads and paid promotion - I will consider this in the future once I have more high-priced courses
  • Publish a self-contained chapter as a mini-course on Udemy - planned soon
  • Black Friday, flash sales etc - I may try this 2 or 3 times during the year to get some extra spikes

Conclusion & Useful Links

This launch taught me a lot of valuable lessons. If you're a content creator and want to create your own course(s), I hope this article was helpful.

Some links I found very useful:

Happy coding!

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