I’m a sucker for online courses! I’m also a sucker for really, really good marketing copy! The result? I’ve bought A LOT of courses and I still haven’t finished all of them!
I used to buy courses impulsively, without thinking about if I *really* needed them for my biz or how I would complete and implement them. Not only did I invest in something I didn’t use, but I also created cash flow problems for myself!
If I were to do it all over again, there is a set of questions I would ask myself before buying courses. These questions are designed to cut through the marketing glitter and get straight to what we’re all wondering, “Is this is a good purchase? Do I really need this?”
I’m sharing 7 essential questions you should ask yourself before you buy an online course and how to use the answers to decide if it’s the right course for you.
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Can you afford it? (3:54)
Here’s the first one: Can you afford to purchase the course? This is the most important question to ask yourself. You should consider this before you buy anything, whether it’s an online course, a service, or that 90’s floral babydoll dress throwback.
Affordable means a lot of different things to different people, but I’m going to give you my definition.
Those are the three most important things. Buying a course, and going into debt in other areas of your business is not an ideal way to make a purchase. Tax savings are a non-negotiable part of your business finance system. If you don’t save for your taxes on a regular basis, you may end up in tax debt. AND you also need to cover your personal expenses- don’t leave the personal you behind!
We tend to look for any excuse to buy something. Which is why looking at these indicators will help you determine if you can *really* afford it or you just want to believe that you can afford it.
What if you’re like, “I have to buy this course for my business. It’s the only way I’m going to be able to scale or level up my business, but I can’t actually afford it.” You have a few options.
First, check if there is a payment plan option. Plenty of courses offer plans that spread out the payments so they are much more affordable. Sure, you pay slightly more, but if it’s going to keep you out of debt than it’s worth it.
If you’re considering borrowing money from somebody or putting the course on a credit card, the next question you need to ask yourself is: What is my plan for paying off this course?
Can you afford the interest rate and make the monthly payments on time? People put bigger investments like a course on their credit card, but they don’t think about HOW they’re going to pay it off. Make sure you have a credit card payoff plan before you purchase the course.
What benefits do you see this purchase having on your business? (11:15)
I’m talking about impact- specific impact that’s tangible. For example, if you’re considering a course of Facebook ads, the impact is NOT learning Facebook ads. It’s something like this: I’ll be able to target my ads to my ideal audience, which will result in increasing my web traffic, growing my email list, and selling my course.
The impact isn’t learning something new, but rather the consequence of learning something new. Consider the specificity of what the course is going to do for you and your business. If your reasoning for purchasing the course is vague, then you probably won’t receive a return on investment.
- How will the impact help your business in the long run?
- What is the end game of buying this course?
You should be able to grasp the bigger picture, instead of focusing on how you feel right now.
Does this purchase relate to something you’ve been planning for a while? (14:48)
As small business owners, we research and obtain so much information about what we *should* be doing. Speaking on podcasts, launching YouTube channels, posting regularly on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We should be doing ALL. THE. THINGS.
We get excited about new ideas and want to implement them right away. But when this happens, be careful that you don’t start buying stuff that, later down the road, you realize don’t actually work for your business.
If you HAVE been planning something for a long time, and there’s a course that corresponds with what you need to learn, then purchasing the course is probably a great investment.
If the sales copy convinces you that you should do something that you’ve never thought about doing before, tread carefully! Sales copy is MEANT to convince you to buy. Consider waiting for the next launch. If the content of the course will still be helpful for you 6 months from now, then go for it.
You have permission to wait. Let it simmer. We don’t give ourselves enough space in the entrepreneurial world to just sit with our ideas and consider them carefully. Let your purchases be a slow burn rather than a giant fire that dies quickly.
The longer you’ve been wanting to do something that corresponds with the course, the more likely it’s going to be a good fit for you. The shorter you’ve wanted to do something, the more likely it’s not the right fit for you.
What questions do you have about this topic (hint- make a list separately)? Will this offering answer these questions? (19:20)
Make a list of all the things you’ve been wondering about and you wish someone would teach about the topic of the course BEFORE you look at the sale pages.
Then, use this list when you review the sales page. Will the course answer most of your question?
If there are unanswered questions on the list, ask your self how important are they? Can you live without having these questions answered or are they the primary knowledge gap you have about the topic?
Is this the right learning environment for you? (22:58)
This question refers to the way the course is structured. Before you go any further, identify what type of learner you are:
- Are you a visual learner?
- Do you learn from seeing things demonstrated on the screen?
- Are you an audio learner? Do you like to listen to audio?
- Are you a video learner with diagrams, charts, and things like that?
- Are you a written learner?
- Do you like to read?
- How do you retain information the best?
- What type of materials help you learn best?
- Do you like worksheets? Cheatsheets? Group coaching calls? Written transcripts of the course itself?
- What do you need to be a successful learner?
Then, look at the course. Is the course aligned with the type of learner you are? Determine if the course structure and materials are a positive learning environment for you. Even if the course promises amazing results, it won’t matter to you if it doesn’t align with what type of learner you are.
Do you trust the instructor? (26:29)
Be sure that the person you’re buying a course from is somebody that you trust. You should trust their knowledge and that the material they’re delivering is going to be useful to you.
- Do you trust that this instructor is going to follow through with dripping out the course?
- Do you trust the quality of their content?
- Do you trust the integrity of the instructor?
- If you ask for a refund, will they honor their refund policy?
- If you have an issue with the course, is the instructor going to listen to you and try to remedy the issue?
It helps to have an established relationship with the instructor first. You should be aware of the value they share with their audience. Follow their email list and see what they’re sharing on their blog. How valuable is the “free” content? If it’s so good that you keep coming back for more, imagine what kind of goodies are waiting for you within the course.
Do you have the physical and emotional energy to follow through with watching the training and doing the follow-up work? (Hint: Look at your calendar) (31:24)
When we’re talking about energy, we’re not just talking about the physical energy… we’re talking about emotional energy too. Both energies are equally as important.
Let’s talk about physical energy first. Do you have the time to work through the course? Can you implement the things you learn in a timely manner?
Be realistic with your answers here. Look at your calendar and consider your schedule for the next 4 to 12 weeks. Can you find time to work on the course every day? When exactly will you work on the course (what days and times)?
Put a placeholder appointment in your calendar to work on the course and see how that changes your day or week? Do you still think you have time for the course?
If you determine that you don’t have time for the course, don’t buy it right now. Wait. Simply put, you don’t have the physical energy for the course.
Next look at your emotional energy. Is there anything stressful coming up in your life that will take away from your emotional capacity to do a course? Are there stressful events coming up like a wedding, birthday party, or the holidays? Is your emotional energy better spent elsewhere? If so, it’s not a good time to buy.
Those were the seven questions you should ask before buying a course. They were listed in order of importance and each one builds off the next. If you pass all seven questions and believe a course will benefit you and your business, then go for it. Especially if you have the cash flow and money income to support it!
I’ve included a special cheatsheet for you so you can which your financial habits into shape. It’s all about practicing the right business finance habits for healthy cash flow.