[Passive Income Series] The Top 3 Reasons your Online Course is Not Selling

Passive Income | Online Courses | Online Entrepreneur

Passive Income | Online Courses | Online Entrepreneur

The Top 3 Reasons your Online Course is NOT Selling

Hey guys! We're back for Video #2 of our 8 week Passive Income Series.  Each week I'll be posting a new video and blog post in this format.  

Missed the first week's lesson in the series? Check out Video #1: Can you Really Make Money While you Sleep? then jump back in here, and let's get going with Week #2!

You'll be able to get a great recap of the week's passive income topic by reading the blog post, but if you really want to go in-depth into the content, I suggest watching the full video post below! 


If you're on my email list than you will receive a weekly email alerting you to the new video + blog post in the series when it's published.  So if you're not, be sure to download my brand new Passive Income Checklist + Automation Swipe file below, which will also get you on the list to be notified as the rest of the series is published! 

(Plus you’ll receive access to the entire "The GOOD Stuff" Traffic, Conversion, and Passive Income resources Bundle for free!)

(Plus you’ll receive access to the entire "The GOOD Stuff" Traffic, Conversion, and Passive Income resources Bundle for free!)


Welcome back + Recap

  • Video #1: We talked about what passive income is (it’s NOT work-free), the 3 main types of passive income, and why I believe it’s a smart decision for almost any business model.

  • We also started to talk about digital products and online courses (my favorite type of passive income), and the UGLY truth of how most online course are NOT selling, past the initial launch period.

  • If you haven’t watched it, yet sure to watch Video #1 first here: www.summertannhauser.com/blog/make-money-while-you-sleep

  • And I left you on video #1 by telling you the reason why online course + digital products are NOT selling on auto-pilot is NOT because …

    • You need more traffic

    • You need to lower the price

    • You need more bonuses or more “stuff” to add

  • Here's the REAL reason they are not selling ....

The 3 Main Reasons that Online Courses + Digital Products do not Sell

There are 3 main reasons:

  • No urgency

  • No education + pain

  • No trust

If your course is not selling, it is missing at least 1 of these, if not more.  

So let’s break this down …


There is no reason for a potential customer to pull out their $$$ and buy NOW, versus deciding they’ll do it “some day,” …. What’s the rush?

This is not a sleeze tactic, and it needs to be authentic.

But the truth of the matter is that through psychology of purchasing behavior, we know that people need a reason to take action.  Even the most motivated and driven of us drag our feet when it comes to making a decision.  So just imagine everyone else who doesn’t have that drive built into them ….

They come across your product/course ….

Click through to the checkout page ….

They see that they can purchase at any point, and get everything that is listed ….

  • No reason to believe the price will change.

  • No reason to believe they’ll be missing out on any bonuses.

  • No reason to think the course will close.

  • No reason to login to their PayPal account and purchase NOW.

When you’re doing your 1st launch of your product there are likely a BUNCH of reasons to buy (course closing, price increasing, bonuses expiring, live calls, going through with a group, etc.).

So when you’re putting your course/digital product into a passive income sales system, you need a way to still instill urgency to buy.  And this can be more complicated to do.  But to really see consistent sales on auto-pilot, it’s going to be a must.

Hint: I highly recommend Deadline Funnel to solve the urgency problem. 


So let’s say that you’ve got the urgency component taken care of.  People have a reason to buy and do it now.  

But unless their are already educated on the reasons that your course or digital product is worth their while, AND they are feeling a specific pain that your course can solve … then it’s not going to matter.


... or in other words “Why Should Anyone Care?

For example, I have a course on Pinterest marketing for online businesses.

There are two types of people that come across my course ...

No Education on Pinterest marketing Person #1:

  • believes Pinterest is for recipes, pinning holiday decor, and finding fashion tips

  • Has never considered Pinterest as a possible marketing tool

  • Does not know anyone who uses Pinterest except for personal pinning

  • Can’t understand how Pinterest could help to grow a business

Some Education on Pinterest marketing Person #2:

  • Has looked at Pinterest as a possible marketing tools

  • Knows someone or has a read a case study about marketing success on Pinterest

  • Has tried out a few Pinterest tips + strategies, and has seen a little success

  • Understands the potential and wants to learn more

Education can come from other people and past experiences.  But WE want to take control.  ‘

During a launch you’re normally providing education through emails, webinar, live streams, or similar strategies.

But by adding an educational component into our passive income sales strategy, we gain the ability to market to people who may not already have any understanding of our topic or why it matters.


.... or in other words “What are you actually selling?”

Let’s take an online course on "Decluttering your Home" as an example.

You’re not actually selling a course on how to declutter your home.

Say what?!

What you’re actually selling is ….

  • The luxury of living in a home where you know where anything is at any moment

  • Never having to be embarrassed when an unexpected guest stops by

  • The feeling of coming home at the end of your work day to an organized and calming space

No one actually wants to do the actual work of decluttering their home.  What they do want is the end result of how it’s going to look, and make them feel when they are finished.

So if you’re selling what your course DOES you’re doing it wrong.  

We want to be solving people’s Pain Points.  We’re selling the ultimate outcome.  What are they are going to achieve, and how is it going to make the things that are causing their pain right now, go away?

Including both education + pain in our marketing is a MUST to appeal to the emotional level of our potential customers, and ensure they actually understand what our course/digital product can do for them.


Finally we have the issue of trust.  More than likely the first time someone lands on your site and views your course or digital product, they are not going to be sold right away.  It’s unlikely they are ready to purchase the very first time they learn about you and your product.

So what to do? We have to build trust.

My favorite ways to do this are …

  • Social proof

  • Doing what we say we’re going to do

  • Video and/or live streaming

  • Showing up consistently

  • Providing value

We can give them some of this on the initial contact.  For example:

  • Having testimonials on your sales page

  • A video of you speaking about your course

  • Other related free and valuable info on your site

Here’s the key: once someone leaves your website, it’s a good chance they won’t find their way back.  

We need a way to be able to continue to follow up with them, and to build that know like and trust factor in a reliable way.

The #1 way to do this is to get them onto your email list (highly recommend ConvertKit+ into a sales funnel that build the trust and then ultimately pitches your course or digital product. And this is something we’ll talk more about in future videos.

However, there are definitely other ways too:

  • Getting them to join you on one of your active social media accounts (IG + Facebook work best here)

  • Serving them Facebook ads based on the fact they viewed your sales page.

But the easiest way is to get them on your email list, which gives you the best opportunity to build the trust, and eventually go for the sale.


To recap, the 3 things you must have in place to sell your digital products/course on auto-pilot are:

  • Urgency - a reason for them to buy NOW, not later

  • Education + Pain - understanding why they should care about your product, and the pain point it’s going to solve for them

  • Trust - do they trust you enough to purchase?

Think about your current offers, and see if you can identify which of these 3 areas you’re missing.  Or if you’re in the process of creating a course, be sure you’re thinking about how you’re going to address each of the 3 key areas in your post-launch marketing strategy.

Next week, we’re going to dive into the question of “You Launched, Now What?”

We'll talk about how you decide whether creating a passive income strategy is a good idea for you and your course, or should you actually be focused on doing several big open/close launches each year instead?

And we'll discuss some of the pros and cons to an evergreen passive income launch strategy, compared to a live launch strategy. You’re going to need to consider several factors to determine which one is the best fit for your lifestyle, your ultimate goals, and your strengths as an entrepreneur.

Finally, if you haven’t yet, but sure to grab the my Passive Income Checklist + Automation Swipe File that covers all of the items you need in place to create a stream of passive income with digital products such as ebooks or online courses.

(Plus you’ll receive access to the entire "The GOOD Stuff" Traffic, Conversion, and Passive Income resources Bundle for free!)

(Plus you’ll receive access to the entire "The GOOD Stuff" Traffic, Conversion, and Passive Income resources Bundle for free!)

And don't forget to let me know in the comments ... which of the 3 key strategies for getting your online course sold is the #1 thing that you need to implement? I'd love to get your feedback and ideas! 

Summer Tannhauser

I'm Summer! I help LadyBOSS entrepreneurs build their dream businesses through rock solid action + advice, with more happiness, less overwhelm, and full of freedom.