I Made $5/Hr From My First Online Course. But I've Made Multiple 6 Figures Since I Learned This Backwards Trick.

8 months ago   •   1 min read

By Ernesto Gutierrez, MD
Photo by Bench Accounting / Unsplash
Table of contents

In June 2017 I launched my first online course.

We were due to become parents in November and I wanted some extra cash for peace of mind. I had been coaching for a few years but didn’t have any additional hours to spare. So I decided to create an online course.

After 200+ hours of work, I made $1136.22. Or $5.68 per hour.

But I came out on the other side with a lesson that has proven to be invaluable for my clients and me since:

Never create a digital product until you’ve sold it

If you’re thinking this is unethical or illegal, you’re not alone.

You’re also wrong. Pre-selling something is both ethical and legal. In fact, you pre-order a bunch of things. For example, tickets to a concert, books, iPhones.

Even your Tesla.

What is the purpose of pre-selling a digital product?

The benefits of pre-selling are two:

1. You validate your idea.

When I decided to build my course, I asked a couple of my friends and some of my former clients if they thought this was a good idea. They all said yes.

But when it was time to pull out their credit card… *crickets…*

2. You fund your project

When people want your product, they’ll be happy to pre-order.

And you can use this money –their money– to build the product. Based on the number of buyers, you now have an initial budget. You can use that to pay a graphic designer, a VA, a video editor, a copywriter, or yourself.

You won’t have to put a dollar out of your pocket to build this product.


Now, whenever I think of a new product to build, I quickly create a landing page with some basic information and a checkout form.

I send my audience to that page and, if I get a decent amount of interest, I go ahead and create it. If I don’t, I refund those who paid and move on to the next idea.

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