I Made Less Than Minimum Wage From My First Online Course. But I've Made Multiple 6 Figures Since Learning This 1 Backwards Trick.

6 months ago   •   1 min read

By Ernesto Gutierrez, MD
Photo by Kenny Eliason / Unsplash
Table of contents

In June 2017 I launched my first online course.

My wife and I 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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