7 Copywriting Mistakes Hurting Your Course Sales (These Might Cost You 6 Figures!)

Dickie Bush & Nicolas Cole

Ultimate Guide Table of Contents

In this week's Fast-Track Friday post, we want to dig into some of the biggest mistakes writers and creators make when trying to sell their digital products and courses.


We are not trying to be “clever” when we say this. Seriously. These mistakes are costing you money—likely hundreds of thousands of dollars. How do we know? Because over the past year, we have rewritten sections of the Ship 30 for 30 landing page dozens and dozens of times, and seen a clear increase in sales every time we fixed one of these problems.

The good news is: they’re easy tweaks.

You just have to know what to look for—and how to make changes that inspire the customer to take action.

Let’s dive in!

Digital Writing Fast-Track Tip Of The Week:

Every day, dozens of creators launch digital products, courses, etc.

And every day, they make the same mistakes over and over again.

Mistake #1: “Learn how to...”

No! No! No!

The brutal truth is: nobody wants to learn.

Anyone who buys an online course wants the OUTCOME.

So on your landing page, don't promise customers: "Here's what you're going to learn!"

Instead, promise all the things they're going to:

  • Do
  • Experience
  • Unlock

Mistake #2: “Here’s what you get!”

Customers don't care how much work you've put into your course (features).

They only care about what your course can do for them (benefits).

  • In your landing page headlines, state the benefits.
  • In your course descriptions, describe the outcomes.

Too often, creators make their landing pages all about “them.” They want to tell prospective customers about all the hard work they’ve put into their course, how much it means to them, who they are, their story, etc. None of it matters. At least, it doesn’t matter nearly as much as the story you need to tell the reader/customer, about themselves:

  • Here’s what you’re struggling with
  • Here’s a unique solution to get rid of that problem
  • Here’s how your life is going to be different after you’ve solved this problem once and for all
  • Ready to get rid of this problem (forever)? Sign up here.

Mistake #3: Not giving templates

The value of your course is not in how many hours it is.

Or how many modules are included.

The value = the specificity & effectiveness of your action steps.

And action steps = templates.

"I do X -> I unlock Y."

All courses should come with templates of some kind.

  • If you are selling a course teaching people how to master the art of email marketing, give them 10 email marketing templates they can use to immediately 10x their open rates.
  • If you are selling a course helping people get started in real estate, give them an email template for reaching out to home owners, and an excel template for tracking their investment property income.
  • If you are selling a course teaching people how to learn graphic design, give them Photoshop and Sketch templates to get them from “zero to competent” as fast as possible.

Templates help students remove the fear of getting started.

Mistake #4: Not including any bonuses

This is copywriting 101 stuff.

To increase the level of perceived value of your course, don't just "sell a course."

Sell your course, PLUS:

  • Bonus modules
  • Bonus templates
  • Bonus Q&As
  • Etc.

The more bonuses you add, the easier the purchasing decision.

This is also why creating a portfolio of small bets is so valuable over the long term. Because the more eBooks, courses, and other digital products you build, the more “bonuses” you have to include and increase the perceived value of your offers. You can say things like, “Buy this course now and I’ll include these 2 other bonus courses for free.” It doesn’t cost you anything—they’re your courses! But it makes the customer feel like they’re getting “more.”

Mistake #5: Not enough testimonials

So many courses settle for 2-3 testimonials on their landing page.

Giant mistake.

You don't want 2-3 people talking about your course.

You want HUNDREDS of testimonials:

  • Text
  • Video
  • Long-form blog post success stories

If you are struggling to gather testimonials, or if you are about to launch your very first digital product/course and don’t have any testimonials yet, consider giving away free access to a beta group of users—in exchange for a testimonial. It doesn’t really “cost” you anything (this is the beauty of digital products), and even though you sacrifice a little bit of revenue in the beginning, you will make all of it back and then some by leveraging those free testimonials to attract future customers.

Mistake #6: Listing solutions before stating problems

The customer can't care about the solution until they care about the problem.

So, first thing on your landing page:

  • State the 10 biggest problems your target customer is facing
  • Emphasize the top 3
  • And show you understand them

Since your course is the “solution,” you need to make sure the potential customer understands what problem your course is actually going to solve for them, in their life. Don’t assume they know. Tell the customer, point blank: “You are experiencing X. It is painful. Here’s why it’s so painful. And here are the negative things that pain is leading to in your life. Great, now that we have established this is an unwelcome problem, let’s solve it, shall we?”

Mistake #7: Not giving away enough “free” material

It's counterintuitive:

The more you give away for free, the more likely people are to sign up and pay.

For example: we took almost all our core frameworks from Ship 30 and put them into this free eBook for writers. Someone could easily read this entire eBook and feel like they learned so much they don’t even need to take Ship 30 for 30. Awesome. That is our goal. Because a) the person who signs up for Ship 30 for 30 doesn’t just want the information—they also want the accountability, the community support, the live sessions, and the full curriculum. And b) even if they don’t take Ship 30 for 30, they will likely tell someone else about everything they learned (because that eBook is so jam-packed full of free, valuable information), which means someone else learns about Ship 30 for 30 and is likely to sign up.

Free material is your word-of-mouth marketing flywheel.

And if you don’t give away any of it for free, then don’t expect very many people to talk about your course.

Your Weekly Digital Writing Prompt

Not sure what to write about today?

Here’s a prompt to get the creative juices flowing:

What are your favorite books on a specific subject?

Everybody loves a good book list.

So, pick a genre—sci-fi, business, “summer romance,” money, real estate, etc.—and then curate a list of must-read books into an Atomic Essay or Twitter Thread. And if you want to make this super easy on yourself, check out the Twitter Thread template inside Typeshare called “Book Curation.” There’s a viral-worthy outline for you to use!

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