Reading Time: 11 minutes

Or, 11 ways to drive sales without actually selling


That blog post headline makes my skin crawl.

But it had to be done.

Because it’s true — I really did sell out my SEO eCourse in just 12 hours.

At around 8am I sent out my slightly ugly plain text email letting people know they could enrol. And by 8pm all the spots were gone, making it the biggest income day, week and month since I started my business.

And this despite the fact:

  • It was the highest price I’ve ever charged for my course
  • It was the largest intake I’ve ever had
  • I didn’t spend a cent on advertising*

I know, right?

Believe me, no-one was more surprised than I was.

But while I’m surprised I’m also feeling validated. This big sell out is proof that my marketing approach works.

So in this post I want to tell you how I did it.
Or rather how I think I did it.

Because if anyone knows how hard it is to make and sell an eCourse, it’s me. And if I can help you get a few more bums on your virtual seats, well, it will give me a warm tingle in my wiggly bits.

Warning: if you’re reading this hoping for some get-rich-quick scheme, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. It’s more of a get-well-offish-fairly-slowly scheme.


Factor 1: The sales page

If I actually told you how long I’ve spent fiddling with my sales page, you’d laugh and I’d cry. It’s been a real labour of love (and often hate).

This time around I tweaked a few new things including:

  • More proof: I added more videos and written testimonials to the sales page. (I used to have them all on a separate page because (*blush*) there are so many.)
  • Results: I added more details about the great results people were getting. Not anecdotal stuff, but actual screen captures of the Search Engine Results page.
  • Inclusions: My course graduates reported back they they were surprised at the number of worksheets and done-for-you templates included in the course. Reading the words ’30 worksheets’ is one thing, but listing them all out is quite another.
  • Curves: My sales page is a little boxy, so I added some curves to soften it up. Hell, I’m curvy, and so my sales page should be too, right?

I also leave the sales page up all year.

I don’t understand why others hide their sales page between rounds.

Given the price of most eCourses, it’s likely that customers will visit the page multiple times before they make a decision.

So why not give them the info all year around?

Learning: People often shy away from super-long sales pages. But in my experience, they work. My page is four times longer than the first one I created, and I’m selling four times as many spots. It’s magic, I tell you.

Factor 2: The Facebook group

The i love seo group

I have an SEO group on Facebook for those who’ve done my courses or webinars. But while it’s a free group I control it with an iron fist, as so many SEO types come in and try to flog dodgy backlinking services.

I put a LOT of work into the group—regular Facebook Live sessions, help ladders, live SEO audits, answering questions, and so on. It’s hard to track activity in the group to actual sales, but I can certainly track the good vibes.

Learning: While Facebook groups are a lot of work, they make it a lot easier to get your message out there than trying to draw people to your Facebook page.


Factor 3: The wait list

So for the past two rounds I’ve had a waiting list – this is separate to my opt in list. It’s specifically for people who are interested in the course.
A person signs up, gets a confirmation email, and that’s it. I don’t bombard them with my regular stuff.

It was reassuring to see this list grow to around 415 by the time before the course started.

My goal was a I hoped for a 10% conversion rate – my maths is crap but I think my conversion rate was more like 16%.

Learning: Create a separate list for those interested in your course and resist the urge to send them gazillions of emails.

Factor 4: Webinars

Each month I do a free webinar for the members of my I LOVE SEO Facebook group. It’s not a sales-funnel-style webinar. Instead it’s educational, and hopefully fun.

It’s also LIVE, not one of these hideous pre-recorded malarkies.

I’ve had some fun experiences in my webinars—random Jehovah’s witnesses leering through the window, crazy dogs barking throughout, and once my husband appeared naked in the garden.

But being the pro I am, I just kept on going.

I don’t get oodles of people on them.

The biggest sign up number I’ve ever had was around 500, but most of the time it’s around 100 folk a month.


Learning: The webinars help me connect with my audience, and show that I know my stuff. It’s all about the realness.

Psst! For those who are interested, here’s how I describe webinars in my book:
“Webinar: A 60-minute presentation with the promise of revealing useful information, but in fact just an opportunity to relentlessly toot your own horn. (Note: It’s vital to send 27 reminder emails before the webinar starts, and 23 guilt-inducing ‘you missed it/you left early’ emails afterwards).”

Factor 5: The funnel

Actual footage of someone about to enter my funnel.


I’m not a fan of the whole ‘sticky funnel’ mantra everyone seems to be preaching these days. But I guess I have one.

  • Step 1: Attend a webinar/listen to a podcast episode/see my name on Facebook
  • Step 2: Join my I LOVE SEO Facebook group
  • Step 3: Get my free SEO checklist
  • Step 4: Buy a small course
  • Step 5: Buy the big course

Some people who signed up this year have been in loitering in my funnel for two years.

“You ticked the KISS (Keep it Simple, Silly) for me, and made the technical look easy and sexy! After stalking you for a year, I decided it was time for our business to take things in our hands. And so here we are—from creating smiles to hopefully capturing more through our stunning SEO strategy.”
Saman Sadiq |

Learning: A simple common sense funnel is a good idea. You don’t have to give it all away free of charge. And it takes time to sell a big product, so be patient.


10 day SEO challengeFactor 6: The mini course

I have a short course called The 10-Day SEO challenge.

I used to give it away, but a few years ago I realised that anyone who isn’t willing to pay $27 for a small course would never pay $1500 for a big course.

So now it’s a way to help people get started with SEO and get used to my style of teaching.

It’s like an appetiser for the full course.

Around 95% of people who signed up to the big course had already purchased my small $27 course.

“Kate’s style of teaching is what got me over the fear of committing to this course. I’d completed The 10-Day SEO Challenge earlier in the year, and really loved the way she taught the course.”
Nickie White |

“Knowing absolutely nothing about SEO, I soon realised that I needed to step up my game. After tasting The 10-Day SEO Challenge course, and then the Good Karma SEO course, I developed a taste for SEO and decided to take the plunge and do the full course.”
Tanya Abdul Jalil |

Learning: Try to sell something small before you try to sell something big.


Factor 7: The public speaking

I’ve spoken a lot this year—big events such as CopyCon, Artful Business and Big Digital, as well as small networking groups.

Again, these weren’t huge audiences—maybe 60 people max in each session. But I think getting my chubby bum out in public helped people warm to me and my products a little. It also boosted my profile as a serious SEO creature.

“Kate did a seminar in a small business mastermind group that I’m in. I was blown away by the amount of information provided.
Not only was it about SEO copywriting, she dived right into the often-overlooked technical side of SEO. There was no fluff, no buzzwords, just real actionable ways to improve the SEO of my website. I walked away thinking, ‘Wow, this chick knows her stuff’.
It wasn’t wrapped up in a nice flat lay image, or perfectly blow-dried hair. It was real and honest, which I related to immediately.
I am looking to take my freelance marketing and copywriting business full time. Signing up for the course was a no-brainer.”
Catherine Fowler |

Learning: Nothing beats meeting people in person.

kate Toon hobbit

Me presenting at WordCamp and looking like an SEO hobbit

Factor 8: The podcast

I’ve been hosting a podcast with Belinda Weaver called the Hot Copy Podcast for around two years. And I recently started an SEO podcast imaginatively titled The Recipe for SEO Success Show.

On the SEO podcast I freely share information about DIY SEO. I’ve also spoken to well-respected SEO types including Rand Fishkin, Barry Schwatz, Dawn Anderson and John Mueller from Google.

Again, the podcast helped me spread my name and draw more people in.

“For me, the decision to purchase came after following Kate on various podcasts, webinars and Facebook groups for a while. After listening to what Kate had to say, I realised she’s not like all the other ‘business gurus’ out there trying to sell a magic formula for success. Rather she’s just a real, upfront, tell-it-like-it-is woman who has made a success of her business by doing what she loves in the way that she wants to do it. I found I was not only interested in her as an SEO guru, but also became inspired by her business ethos in general, and her funny no-nonsense style and personality.”
Emile Porterfield |

Learning: Podcasting is a really powerful way to build trust with your audience. If you can’t set up your own, try to be a guest on other people’s.

Confessions of a misfit entrepreneur

Factor 9: The book

For those of you who have brought my book*, you’ll know it’s not about SEO and there’s barely a whiff of Google to be found.

But nevertheless I think it had a big influence on the course.

I set up a group to support the book, which in all honesty had been a semi-fail in terms of selling books.

But it’s introduced me to a fresh blob of people who didn’t find me through SEO, but still actually need it.

These people are generous and friendly, and recommend met to others and drop my name whenever someone mentions SEO.

Learning: Don’t underestimate the power of just hanging out with other like-minded business people. You don’t always have to go for the hard sell—building relationships slowly can be far more powerful.

* If you haven’t brought my book you’re a terrible human and should head to this page immediately.

Factor 10: The pre-sell

I’ve never been a fan of sending 20 emails in a week to sell something, along with another ten emails on the final day. It just makes me feel icky.

Even with a waitlist of people who specifically asked to be sold to, it still made me feel icky.

So this time around I did a ‘pre-sell’.

I sent three emails before the launch that covered:

  • The pricing: so there would be no surprises on the big day
  • The full course outline: details of every module and video
  • The worksheets: so people knew how many were included

I also mentioned:

  • How many people were on the waitlist
  • A reminder that places were limited
  • The launch date, including a Google “Add To Calendar” link

These emails gave me time to answer people’s questions before the launch, helping me avoid being in a flappy panic during launch week.

Learning: It’s a good idea to fluff people a little before you go in for the kill.

Factor 11: The scarcity

I have two kinds of scarcity on my course.

1. Limited places
2. Limited time

I limit places on my course because it’s not the kind of eCourse you can just set and forget. It’s very ‘hands on’, and includes things such as:
Coaching calls where I want to give everyone who attends the opportunity to get their questions answered
Group tasks and challenges, where I like to respond to every member of the group

I only have me to run the course – along with my fab VA Leanne Woff for a few hours each day – so there’s only so much I can do.

Many people were shocked that when I said the course had sold out I really meant it. They thought the scarcity thing was a line (it’s over used by the slippery funnel crew).

The reality of my scarcity will, I think, help me sell more next round.

I limit the time because while I could run the course eight times a year, I’d probably be dead by the end of it. Two or three times a year is enough for me. I’m not greedy, and I want a life more than I want an empire.

Learning: Real scarcity + limited time sales period is a great incentive for purchase.

* Really? No ads?

Okay, I lied. I spent $7 on a boosted post on Facebook. (I have no idea why I bothered, boosted posts do sweet FA for me. )

I had planned on setting my Google marketing going again. But I forgot to let Melinda Samson know, and by the time I was ready to send the email all the spots had gone.

So what’s your next step?

Many of you are probably reading this and thinking,

“What a pile of crap. So all I have to do is write a book, set up a podcast, get speaking gigs and run a gazillion websites?”

But if I were to pick three things that worked the most I’d say these were the biggest factors in the success of this round.

  • Public speaking
  • Mini course
  • Pre sell

And now that it has sold out, how do I feel?

I’ll admit the money is lovely. It allowed me to take my VA on for a few more hours a week, pay off that BAS I’d forgotten about and get a new sofa.

But it’s about more than just the money. It’s validation for everything I’ve been doing this year.

For me, this is what content marketing is all about. I share my knowledge. I help people. And I use different channels and formats to get both my message and my content out there.

Good content marketing is about showing up and doing the work. Even when you don’t want to.

When it’s 8pm and you’ve agreed to do a Facebook Live in a big group when you’d much rather just plunge your head in a bucket of wine. Or relax by the fire with your family.

When you devote hours to helping complete strangers for nothing, not knowing whether it’s all paying off.

When you put yourself seriously out of your comfort zone and get up on stage in from of a sea of faces and start talking.

You get up, get out there, and do your thing.

That’s what it takes. Or at least what it takes for me.

I’m not an overnight success, and I don’t really have a magic formula. But hopefully you can apply some of my ideas for your next launch.

And me? I’m still reeling from that launch week.

But for once I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to bask in the warm glow of my success like a fat, smug seal.

Until the next time. 🙂


P.S. The waitlist for the next round of the course is now open.

A post shared by Kate Toon (@katetoon) on


Over to you


Have you tried out any of the methods above? Are there any of my tactics that you might give a try?

Did you like this post?

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You might like my book ‘Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur | How to succeed despite yourself’ – buy it online here.

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