Why People Never Launch an Online Course

The Top 5 Reasons Why People Never Launch an Online Course

We’ve launched hundreds of membership sites and online businesses over the years.  During that time we’ve met a lot of clients and gathered data around what motivates people to take action or not take action.

Here are the top 5 reasons why most people never launch an online course.

1) Fear

The most common barrier to starting a membership site is FEAR.  Fear is a powerful emotion, and the type of fear that consumes us for a new business venture is real.  Here are some examples:

  • Fear of inadequate income, since starting something new might mean leaving comfortable compensation.
  • Fear of failure, since most small businesses [and projects] fail.
  • Fear of uncertainty, since launching an online course introduces a lot of new variables.

If you have some fear around this you are not alone!  Most of the world, including well educated and established thought leaders, have fear of putting their subject matter out there for sale and consumption.  This is completely natural if it’s your first rodeo.

However, getting over this fear can unlock tremendous growth and possibly change the trajectory of your career. So don’t let this fear paralyze you. Many who overcome this fear have created amazing online courses that impact countless lives.

2) Time

The next common barrier is time.  As our most precious resource, time is often the thing we never seem to have enough of.  The old saying, “If only I had time…”

The truth is that we all have time.  We simply decide to spend it doing other things.  Most of us spend time, as opposed to invest it.  If you shift your mindset into how you invest your time the decision becomes quite different.

For example:

If I invest 3 months into launching a new course and another 9 months into marketing it, my potential return may be x.  I will also learn a ton from this process and gain some new entrepreneurial skills!

That’s much different than:

I have to spend 12 months on a new project that will take me away from other things I’m doing…

See how this is all in your mind?  You simply have to figure out if you want to invest your time into something like this. The reward for this time investment can be extraordinary if you shift your mindset.

3) Money

Next is the good ole’ M word – money, or mula as I like to refer to it.  Yep… it always seems to squeeze it’s way into decision making, especially for something like launching an online course.  There is no getting away from needing some money for this type of thing.

However, there is good news!  You don’t actually need that much money to launch an online course.  In fact, if you’re willing to role up your sleeves and tackle the grunt work you can launch an online course with very little financial investment.

That said, there will be an inevitable ratio of money:work depending on how you tackle it.  Here are some general ballpark figures:

DIY = Do It Yourself

Lowest amount of money / Highest amount of work

DIY ballpark investment = $200

DWY = Done With You

Modest amount of money / Modest amount of work (*recommended for first timers)

DWY ballpark investment = $2,000

DFY = Done For You

Highest amount of money / Lowest amount of work

DFY ballpark investment = $20,000

No matter how you spin it there will be some financial investment required. The real question is how much time vs money you want to invest.

4) Confusion

Next, we have confusion or lack of direction.  Building an online business, let alone a membership site, is not a simple thing.  There are tons of decisions, tools and approaches.  We say right on our homepage –

Creating a membership website requires a lot of moving parts. The process can be confusing, difficult and extremely time-consuming…

Insert “course” for “membership website” and you have the same type of confusion.

This is why it’s imperative to figure out if it’s the type of project you seek to tackle alone.  Some self starters are capable of doing it.  We’ve seen this in rare form.

However, most people need some guidance and direction when taking on a new venture, especially with the variables and new territory that owning and operating an ecommerce site introduces.  If you’ve never launched an online course or platform before you’re in for a wild ride!  And that’s exactly why we exist 🙂

Regardless of who you hire, there are massive benefits and acceleration advantages of getting help. It’s similar to any other type of coaching. Having a team or mentor on your side will prevent you from making costly mistakes and wasting tons of time. So if you find yourself in a state of confusion it’s probably a sign you simply need some help.

5) Imposter Syndrome

Last but not least we have good ole’ imposter syndrome.  Yep, this is that little voice in our minds that tells us things like:

  • You’re not smart enough to do this.
  • Nobody will value you as an expert.
  • Nobody will pay for your content.
  • etc…

This internal voice can be powerful. But let me let you in on a little secret…

Most of the world listens to these voices.  This means the few that shut them up have a major advantage in succeeding.  Why?  Because most of the world is your potential customer base, not an aspiring course creator like you.

The hardest part of building a business, let alone launching an online course, is mostly in your mind.  The best businesses are built by people with ambition and humility who learn from others and apply their unique abilities. In other words, we all have a gift or some type of unique knowledge. We just need the inspiration and drive to share this with the world. That’s the core of how amazing online courses are developed.

Therefore, those who conquer the imposter syndrome typically win.


Now to be clear, this probably won’t be an easy feat. Many have attempted to launch an online course and many have failed. There’s no denying that hard work is involved no matter how you approach things. However, now you have a head start on what to look out for and avoid.

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Ali Jafarian

Ali is the founder of MemberDev. He's a serial entrepreneur and software engineer with over 15 years of experience building technology. Ali's spent the last decade focusing on membership websites and the subscription business model. He enjoys helping small businesses with early stage development and growth.

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