3 Qs to Ask Before Buying An(other) Online Course

Before Buy Online Course

There’s an online course for just about everything under the sun these days – which is good and bad.

Good because it makes learning more accessible than ever before – and oh, the options!

But OH. The options.

The wiiide selection of courses out there can be great, but if you’re not armed with crystal clear selection criteria, it can quickly lead to overwhelm or less-than-thoughtful buying decisions.

When you’re looking to improve your skills in business, you’re looking to save time, make money, or both.

So let’s talk about how to make SURE your online learning investments do just that.

In this video, we’ll cover:

  • examples from my own less-than-thoughtful spending
  • how to avoid the shiny object trap
  • how to calculate (guarantee!) your own return on investment BEFORE you buy
  • a little extra reassurance that you DO know what’s best for your business

Click below to watch (or take a listen):

Click here to watch directly on YouTube.



Ask yourself the following Qs:



Legit need: A skill you need (+ will make time to work on) now. Or within the next quarter at most.

Shiny object: Looks great, but it’s honestly not something you’re willing to make time to learn + implement right now.

Both: Looks great AND it’s a skill you need now. (Ahem…A Course About Copy..ahem.)

Exception: It’s a legit need you know you will use this YEAR, it’s a great deal that won’t be available beyond this timeframe, AND you have the money to invest.



And hey, CEO: This can’t be a guess – it needs to be a decision.

DECIDE to get your money’s worth, and you will.

With online learning, you can lead a student to water, but you can’t make her (watch + implement the material). You’re the boss, and the boss is responsible for taking ACTION.

Remember that for the purposes of this post, I’m talking about courses you use for your business – which should tie back (directly or even a bit indirectly) to the bottom line: revenue.

So crunch the numbers + read about real results from real students.

(Like these wins and shares from members of my ACAC fam.)

How many clients do you need to serve to make this (often tax-deductible) investment back?
How many products do you need to sell?
How much time (money) will this solution save you?

How much in hiring costs (copywriter, developer, etc.) will you save by learning this skill?

Make it REAL by giving yourself deadlines along the way.

What’s your timeline for getting a return on this investment?

Schedule it ALL – time to use the resources, time to put them to use, and time to see that return.

When you feel confident + challenged (but not desperate or panicked) about the potential here, that’s a sign of a smart investment.



Call me Captain Obvious, but if you’re not really connecting with the course creator’s teaching style (even if the content IS an immediate need), it’s probably a no-go.

On the other hand, if you’ve already had a great experience with this course creator’s free content, it’s safe to predict the same will happen with the paid content.

If s/he offers freebies (blog posts, free videos, cheat sheets, webinars), check ’em out.

Put the tips to good use.

Do you get results from the free stuff?

Do you LIKE hearing this person’s voice, seeing this person’s digi-face?

Do you connect with other folks who are clearly this person’s dream student?

(Have you REGISTERED for the live workshop I’m hosting Monday?? ;))

All good signs.



If you’ve gone down this list and you feel like it’s a good fit – GO for it.
If you’ve gone down this list and you’re just not sure – ask the customer support team about any lingering Qs, take another gut check, and TRUST YOURSELF.


I gotta say: I’m not a fan of trying to “convince” people that my course is right for them. Doesn’t feel good to me.

I’ve laid out every detail I can imagine on the sales page – so if s/he’s read it all and still doesn’t seem to feel confident – I’m going to encourage her to trust her gut. (And I’ll do the same.)

It’s all about the RIGHT fit. Dream students, dream results.

That’s what makes the (effective) online course world go ’round!



When you’re out there deciding whether or not to invest in another course, ask yourself these Qs first. That’s your most important homework.

For bonus points, in the comments below, share:

What are some of your best tips for making smart biz investments?

Let’s discuss!

To investing with your smarty pants on,


P.P.S. If you liked this post + want to help me spread the word by using the links below to share it with your buddies, I would greatly appreciate it! You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel if you’d like to see new videos before I’ve had time to turn them into blog posts ;)


Convo Copy Cheat Sheet



  1. Anna Gray

    I completely agree with your top 3 — I too find myself chasing shiny objects! But there are a few programs I definitely got my money’s worth.

    Smartsuccess.com and marketingimpact.com are a couple of them off the top of my head.

    I do believe when people are polished on their social media it makes it so much more likely for me to say “yea I will get my money’s worth”

    I am looking forward to your webinar as I just recently stumbled on you and I am majorly obsessed – Lol

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      haha THANKS for the obsession, Anna! Are those Chalene Johnson’s programs? Love her podcast(s) :)

  2. Mags

    Hi Nikki, great post! I was about to buy a course which would help me to move quicker in the direction I want to go. I am always very careful when spending the money. Your article really help me to decide about it. I have paid for that course ow and I can’t wait for it to start. I am very determined to make it work! Thank you so much, Nikki! Mags at MagsTags.com x

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Glad to help, Mags! And there you go – it’s about the DECISION. Next week’s post will share my best tips for making the most of the course once you’re all in.

  3. Kerstin

    Hi Nikki, great video (as usual). I’ll see you at the webinar on Tuesday, 5 am(!) in Melbourne. ACAC is the ONLY online course I ever bought. I got hooked (really never happened before, I’m a very skeptical person ;-)), “stalked” you (got my perfume samples so to speak) + 2 weeks in I had no more excuses and bought “A course about copy” … and the rest is history. I’m only a “baby member” now but already am learning so much. It’s brilliant because I get so many ideas just by checking in with the other “class mates” in “Study Hall”. Ideas that is for my second venture after having improved my website, my emails, etc. and I’m only into lesson 2 of ACAC! I will make the most out of ACAC before I even look at anything else. And by that time you will probably offer videos on “How to make a video” or have written your book so I don’t have to look elsewhere. No pressure though. LOL!

  4. Kerstin Begley

    Hello again, as mentioned before, I’m new to ACAC. I’m also new to Gravatar. Should have used it for my last comment. Testing it out now. Hope you don’t mind Nikki. Talk tomorrow at the webinar.

  5. Amber

    I love Question 3. I’m also creating courses and question 3 gave me the kick in the butt I needed to think about how I can show my clients I’m definitely worth the money. Thanks for this great article + of course the video

  6. Violeta Nedkova

    Yep yep, all good stuff. I am myself likewise afflicted with the shiny object syndrome and once you start, you can’t stop signing up for those free/no-free courses. Recently especially. And I’m sorry to say that the course I have paid for lately haven’t been no-brainers. The actual no-brainers are the expensive ones, but I just am not ready to commit to those. Instead, I buy cheaper ones, which end up to be a bit of a disappointment. Interesting pickle I’m finding myself in…

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      That IS an interesting pickle, Violeta! Sounds like a great first step in recognizing the pattern there. You’ve got this :)

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