What makes a good beta student?

And why the “favour arrow” needs to point the right way

Glen Long


Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on Unsplash

Yesterday, I held the first weekly call for the latest beta “cohort” of my Build Your Best Course programme.

It’s a great group of people and I’m really excited about working with them over the next 12 weeks.

And it got me thinking more deeply about what makes a good beta student.

(Beta student = person who takes an early version of your course at a reduced cost so you can get their feedback.)

Ideally you’ll want to find 5–10 beta students for the first launch of your course.

Hearing that, it’s natural to start thinking of people you could most easily persuade to sign up.

Obvious targets: friends, family, close professional contacts.

But those people usually make bad beta students.

Here’s why:

  • They’ll say yes from loyalty not need
  • You’ll feel weird about asking them to pay
  • They’re probably not your primary target market
  • They probably won’t do the work
  • They probably won’t give good feedback

The difference between good and bad comes down to what I call the “favour arrow” and which way it’s pointing.

Are they doing you a favour by reviewing your course and giving you feedback? (Arrow points from them to you.)

Or are you doing them a favour by giving them early (and heavily discounted) access to a programme that can genuinely help them? (Arrow points from you to them.)

Because the second scenario is way better.

Sure, it’s easier to rely on favours to fill your beta programme.

But it won’t give you what you need to test and improve your course.

Here’s a better approach…

Instead of trying to recruit those “softer” targets to actually join your course, ask them who they know who’s a good fit for it.

Filling your beta launch is much easier when you have a whole team of people helping you do it.

See you soon,


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Glen Long

Surprisingly hype-free course creation mentor and trainer. Publishes The Art of Course Creation newsletter and runs the Build Your Best Course online program.