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AP 0249: Should My Online Course Have Open Registration or Registration Windows?

AP 0249: Should My Online Course Have Open Registration or Registration Windows?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 249 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: What’s up, everybody? Pat Flynn here. Welcome to Episode 249. 249 of AskPat. I say it that way because I thought for a split second this was Episode 2, because this is the second slot in my brand new spreadsheet for AskPat in 2015 since it’s January 2nd. But, it’s actually Episode 249, so thank you so much for joining me today. As always, I’m here to help you by answering your online business questions five days a week. Today we have another great question to finish off the week with Cassel.

We’ve actually featured Cassel before in Episode 233. I don’t want to limit people to just one question. I look at the questions and see if they’re great, and then I feature them. Then, just see . . . this one happens to be asked by somebody who’s already asked a question that’s been featured on the show. Now, I don’t know if we’re going to send her another t-shirt. I guess I’ll ask her. Maybe she has a friend named Pat who would benefit from having this shirt. Anyway, we’ll contact her afterwards and make sure she gets all set up if she wants another one.

Before I get to her question, I do want to thank today’s sponsor, which is It’s one of the best sites out there to help you manage your email list, and actually build email lists. This is the first company I’ve ever worked with, and I’m still working with them years later, to help me build my email list. You can put forms on your website. You can collect email addresses, then send broadcast emails out to everybody at the same time. You could segment your lists to send emails to just a certain set or group of people who have signed up for your email lists. You can send autoresponder emails, which I love the best. That is a set of pre-written emails that you can send out over time, based on when people subscribe. There’s just fantastic ways to help promote items and help promote old blog posts, bring traffic back to your site and things like that. If you’d like to get hooked up, you can try out AWeber for one month for one dollar. Thirty days for one dollar. Go to

Sweet! Now, let’s get to today’s question from Cassel.

Cassel: Hi, Pat. This is Cassel from the I have a few self paced courses on my site. I’m wondering what are the pros and cons of having the registration always open vs. opening at certain times, but taking pre-registration the rest of the time? I can see that opening for specific period might help in building some anticipation. Crafting a launch and such. At the same time, if a visitor comes in and is just looking for what I can offer, won’t he look somewhere else in the meantime if the solution has to wait? Thanks, Pat.

Pat Flynn: Hey, Cassel, thank you so much for the question. I think this is fantastic, because I know a lot of people are going to be starting their own courses this year. I know a lot of people have listened to some recent episodes of the Smart Passive Income podcast where I featured David Siteman Garland, which was all about how to build your own online course. Also, Amy Porterfield, which was all about how to launch a course. Now, there are many different ways to launch and sell your own online course or anything, really. I love this question about open registration versus a registration window. Let’s talk about those things really quick.

I think it’s really common . . . You’ll notice a lot of this now, where people have a certain window of time where people can purchase something. Then, if you don’t purchase within that certain time period, you miss out. You don’t get to purchase it until it re-opens. This is good for a number of reasons. One, like you said, it builds anticipation. It has that scarcity mindset. Oftentimes, along with those launches, you’ll include certain bonuses or certain discounts that people can only get during those windows of time. If they miss out, then they’re out of luck. That’s a big thing that plays on a very, very big thing in human nature, which is that fear of missing out. You want to be included, right? You want to be a part of the group, and if you don’t act now, you might miss out forever. People hate that. That’s the first benefit, I would say, for using this type of strategy.

Another great reason for doing this is because, when you open registration and then close it, that gives you time to work with just those people who are in there who are taking that course to make it even better for the next time you release it. You might be able to collect some testimonials. You can shift your mindset from launch mode and selling mode to giving value mode to creating content for your course and things like that. That’ll help you focus over time so that the next time you come out, it’ll be even better and you’re going to have more of an audience. You’ll have people in the course to be able to provide testimonies and case studies for you, as well. Another thing that you have to worry about, and this isn’t a pro, this is a con. This is a reason you wouldn’t want to do this window of registration. A lot of times you’ll have to . . . Obviously, in order to keep making money, you have to keep re-opening and re-selling and going through this launch process.

This launch process can take a lot out of you. There are a lot of people out there who get totally burned out after launch. They’re up until the wee hours of the morning making sure everything’s working, the cart’s working and all that stuff. The launch sequence can take a couple weeks sometimes. I know a few people who have recently launched courses that their period of time is scheduled out every single day and almost every single hour what they’re doing. What emails are being sent. When social media posts are going out. What videos are being seen and shown and when. What has to happen and when. It can get really tiring, so a lot of people burn out. That’s one thing that can happen when you do these launches. They’re big deals. They’re big events. In order to make them work really well, you have to treat them like an event, and that can wear you down. It can wear your audience down, as well. If you have to keep re-opening your course in order to make money, your audience is going to feel that burn, as well. You can definitely burn out your list. There might be people on your list who find value from what you do, but every time you open your course again, it just becomes, “Okay, here he goes again.” They get into that mode where they know you’re obviously in that window of selling something.

I wouldn’t let that particular reason stop you, because there are going to be some people who are going to be discouraged and taken aback by your selling processes. If you really believe in what you’re selling, you know it’s going to help, then you have to sell. This is what Derek Halpern says. He doesn’t sell very often, but when he sells, he sells! He knows that’s his time to really make an impact and help people out. In order to convince people, he has to sell. A lot of people aren’t going to like that, but the people who do buy, he treats them really, really well. He provides a ton of value. They get a lot out of his courses, and that’s how you should approach it, as well. I wouldn’t let a few naysayers and people who are going to tell you, “Oh, you seem like you’re just selling all the time.” Or, “Here we go again with another one of your pitch-fests.” Don’t worry about those people. Worry about those people who are going to want to spend time with you and spend money with you, as well. Always be providing value. Even if people don’t end up purchasing.

This is one of the big things with launch sequences that are happening now, these Jeff Walker-style three video series launch sequences. People can get a ton of value out of those, as well. I’m not saying that those things mask the pitch, but they help it. They help it don’t mask it because they’re not trying to cover up that there’s a pitch coming. I think it’s always obvious, or typically it’s obvious, that there’s going to be a pitch at the end of a three video series. If you can provide a ton of value up front and get people excited, reveal information without holding things back, and then you have something to sell that goes beyond everything you’ve already taught. Especially, if you’re able to help people get results in those free pieces of content leading up to that launch and that pitch. You’re good. You’re good! That’s what you want to do. That will help people who aren’t ready to buy still feel like you’re there providing value for them. I would keep that in mind. Having something open all the time, you can be a little less pushy because it’s not, “This is the only time of the year you can get this,” type of feeling. You can have a course that you have open all the time set up in an autoresponder sequence, like with AWeber. You can have it set up inside blog posts and on your side bar and always have these things there forever going for you. You can do things like split test conversions and do things that will help increase the amount of people coming into your course.

There are some things to think about, as well. There’s less scarcity. They don’t have the short open window to get that. They’re going to be able to get that at any time. Some people might think, “Wow, well I don’t need this right now. It’ll always be there. Maybe I can get it later.” With that said, there are some scarcity options you have for a course that’s always open. You might be able to do seasonal or short time bonuses or discounts, which will help incite those feelings of that fear of missing out and exclusivity and getting a deal at a certain period of time. You definitely want to initiate those things every once in a while. If you have any specific ambassador groups or special people on your brand that you know are very supportive of you, you want to hook them up, as well. Maybe give them a discount for your course, as well. That will help drive sales for people who are on the fence and waiting just because they know they could always get something later. That’s really cool. Another thing you’re going to notice, especially if you dabble with both of these models is that when you launch something in a specific window, you’re going to get a huge influx of income at that period of time. Then, it’s going to go away. In the case of having it open all the time, you’re just going to see not quite as much of a spike, unless you have these discounts moments or certain bonuses that come down at certain times of the year to help it along and to help with that scarcity. You’re not going to see that $50,000 weekend or that $300,000 weekend, depending on the price of your product and your audience. When you have that closed window, a lot of people are going to rush. Especially, in the last few hours. I’ve noticed this myself when I’ve had launches where things close up, like with the Smart Podcast Player. With other things in the past. I would say 50% of the sales, 60% of the sales come within the last few hours, because people are still deciding and that scarcity comes into play and people don’t want to miss out. Keep that in mind. You’re not going to see as big of a spike when you have it open all the time. Even if you do include some sort of scarcity or certain discount codes with an expiration date and things like that.

Another thing that is pretty cool and something that I can align with definitely, is the fact that when you have something out there always for sale, you don’t have to be as pushy. I’ve mentioned this already, but I want to reiterate it, because you can have it there as something that you indirectly promote all the time. At certain parts of the year or even within your email autoresponder sequence, share success stores from students that you have in your course and have that be a way to indirectly promote your course, as well. You can talk about a brand new thing that you cover in detail on your site, but then you could say in more detail, “In my course, we talk about this and get into more depth in that and be able to help you out that way.” There’s a lot of cool opportunities for you to be less pushy, but also include more opportunities for more sales throughout the year and throughout people’s experience through your site, as well.

Probably the biggest thing of all, Cassel, is with something that’s open all the time, it’s essentially on autopilot. Yes, obviously, you want to keep track of things. You want to optimize and split test and do all the things you can to increase the amount of conversions into your course from your website or whatever branches of your brand that you have out there. But, you don’t need to worry about a specific time of the year when you have to do this massive launch and worry about burn. It’s something there that’s going to be always open 24/7, 365 days a year. I think that’s really cool. To have that be something that can provide an income for you over time for a long term period is really cool to have. I would recommend experimenting with this. If you’ve tried one but not the other, why don’t you try one of the other ways, as well. If you’re coming out with a new course, you might want to try it in a new way. Just experiment. Every audience responds differently, and you have to try things out and see what works and see what doesn’t. That’s the best thing you can always do.

I will say, before I finish up here, Cassel, that in Episode of 136 of the Smart Passive Income podcast, which I recommend everybody listen to. That’s That was with David Siteman Garland, who talked about how to build an online course that sells. At the end, he talks about his strategy that he uses on his site where people will download a free cheat sheet. When they do that, they get into an autoresponder sequence with a series of emails that go out over time, which acts like a three part video series, which provides value. Then, at the end, pitches his course. He uses a tool called Timerly to make sure that person, when they subscribe, they only have an open window to act and purchase his course. They will get re-pitched the course if they don’t buy that first time, months down the road. There is enough of a window there to have that scarcity feeling, that fear of missing out and that discount and the bonuses that go along with that. That’s a hybrid model. For an individual person, that is a closed window or there’s only a period of time where people can act and purchase. On the whole, it’s just based on when people subscribe, so everybody can subscribe any day. It’s just they go through that period and for them, becomes that window, that time period, where people can purchase. He’s actually getting people to go through that process individually over time, while still being able to build his list and have this thing open for him all the time. It’s open for David all the time, but it’s closed for the individuals at the end of that video series. Something to explore. Again, that tool was called Timerly. That essentially allows you to put a countdown timer on a specific page based on a number of different factors and literally close down something for a specific individual if that’s how you want to treat them.

A lot of things to explore. If any of you out there listening have some advice for Cassel, as well, in regards to this idea of open enrollment versus closed enrollment and just short time periods that are open all year, let me know. Let us know by using the hashtag AskPat249 on Twitter. Again, that’s #AskPat249. Cassel, thank you so much for the question today. My assistant will contact you very soon because, like I said in the beginning, we’ve already sent you a shirt. Hopefully, it got there. If not, then we’d be happy to send you one. We’ll talk. If you need another one, we’d be happy to send it to you. For those of you listening, if you have a question you’d like potentially featured here on the show, all you have to do is head on over to and you can ask right there on that page.

I also want to thank today’s sponsor, If you go to, you’ll get hooked up with a 30 day trial of AWeber for one dollar. You can start building list. Start seeing what it’s like, then start sending emails out. One thing I like to do, besides just collecting emails and sending autoresponder emails, which I have a whole series of about 35 to 40 emails which allow me to keep in constant contact with my audience throughout the year. When I send a broadcast email that’s very timely, for example for a promotion or something that’s happening now, they are more likely to open it because they are used to opening my emails. Besides that, I love to use my email list to actually ask questions. One of my favorite questions is, “Hey, what would you like me to write a blog post about today?” That’s in the fourth or fifth email in my autoresponder series, so every day, I’m constantly getting replies from my target audience telling me exactly what I should be writing about. I don’t have to think about that anymore. My own target audience is telling me. Again, if you want to try out AWeber and start building your list and start utilizing that autoresponder and building a deeper relationship with your audience, go to

Thanks so much, and like always I love to end with a quote. Today’s quote is from Ronald Reagan. He says, “My philosophy of life is that if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose. Somehow, we always win out.”

Cheers. Thanks so much. I’ll see you in the next episode of AskPat. If you have a sec, please leave a review on iTunes. I appreciate it.

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