Can I Offer Some of My Course for Free and Charge for the Rest?

Murray Gray in Selling

Jan 06, 2024 - 5 min read. Available on all plans.

Table of Contents

First, a word of caution...

Yes, you can! (But, spoiler alert – we don't actually recommend you do it!)

So keep reading to learn how to do it, plus get our best practice recommendation for what to do instead to get the MOST amount of people upgrading to the paid version of your course.

How to make part of your course available for free, and then unlock the rest on payment

  1. Set up your course content. Make Module 1 available, but leave all other trainings in other modules set to Leave Locked – which keeps content closed
  2. Create a discount coupon for 100% off called "DEMO" (or similar) which gives them the course for free. When students use it, they will have full access to the content in Module 1, but all other Modules remain locked
  3. At the end of the Module 1 content, you make your upgrade offer, which leads back to the original order form to pay.
  4. Make sure to assign a tag (like "Paid" or "Upgraded") to the paid option on the order form, so that when they pay, they get the tag added to their account
  5. Finally, create an Experience that's triggered by that tag which UNLOCKS all of the modules that were previously locked, using the Unlock Module action.
  6. If you want to drip the release just add a Delay timer in between individual Unlock Module actions.

Enjoy, but keep in mind that this isn't how we recommend you do it...

Keep reading for more...

How we recommend you do it instead...

Here's the thing – we've tried it.

"It", referring to the idea of giving people access to one free module in our course, and then expecting that our course will do the "selling" for us, and people will naturally want to pay to keep going.

But the reality is that it never works like you think it will. In our experience, relying on your course to upsell its own students has a terrible upgrade rate. (Less than 1%)

The problem is that the first module of any given course isn't usually set up in the right way to convert students into paying customers. Usually it assumes that students are ALREADY paying customers, and is missing the kind of content and messaging that converts people into buyers.

And worse, it usually doesn't even contain the upgrade offer that you want to make to students. It just... ends!

The reality is that today's learners have so many free and high-quality options available to them that simply seeing a bunch of locked content isn't usually enough to get them to upgrade.

A marketing mentor of mine once told me: "Never understimate how hard it is to get people to buy from you", and that's never been more true these days when it comes to selling courses, information and coaching.

With this in mind, here's how we do this with Xperiencify, and it has a much higher conversion rate than just showing your freebie students some "locked" content".

In a nutshell you should have a cut-down free "sales" or "trial" version of your main course that you can give away that's DESIGNED to get people to upgrade to the paid version. Here's the details:

  • Make a copy of your original course, and rename it to be a "Preview" version of the course
  • Now, remove most of the course content except for the part you want them to preview for free. For example, remove any welcome or introduction material if you have any. Just jump right to really practical part of the course which busts a big myth for your prospective student or gives them a big "ahah!" moment.
  • Next, add a different version of your course welcome video that speaks directly to new people who are previewing the content for free. "Welcome to our preview version of XYZ course. I wanted to make it easy for folks who don't know us yet to experience what we do for themselves, etc. etc."
  • Finally, add an additional, final training to your preview course that doesn't exist in the main course that will be your upgrade "call to action". Call that training something like "Next Steps". In that training, you would remind them what they just did, what it may mean to them, and what they'll get out of going through the entire course. You could even include intervews or testimonials from previous students who got a great outcome or result from your course. You could also have a special, time-sensitive offer under the video as an action, along with other upgrade specific copy and content (testimonials etc.) -- things you absolutely cannot do if you have it all in one single course.

The reality we've found is that you REALLY have to pull out your marketing "big guns" and customize the end of your free course experience to make it hard for them to say no.

Doing it this way will outperform a course that offers "free content" by a factor of 10, I guarantee it.

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