Those who can’t do, teach. And those can do…also teach. If you want to know how to build an online course and haven’t done it before, stay with me. Even before the pandemic, online course creation had become one of the most popular revenue streams for creators and business owners. It’s convenient, cost-effective, and a foolproof way to monetize your skills. What isn’t there to love?
Now that everyone is spending more time at home and hugs (remember those?!) are still on hiatus, online courses are literally impossible to escape. Chances are if you want to learn anything about improving your brand or starting one, they’ll be a class you can take from the couch.
If you want to amplify your own brand or skill, there’s no better time than now to create a course either. Our advice? Turn your skills into real cash on a platform that allows you to test-drive it for free first.
Besides that, there are other guidelines we recommend following, too. Ahead, two successful entrepreneurs share their experiences, which could easily double as advice for creators who don’t want to sell their expertise short.
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Junée created her 6-Figure Marketing Maven Course to help women entrepreneurs market their $10K/month service so they can scale to six figures. Through this course, some of her clients have secured six-figure contracts and generated over $50K in just three months. “I walk my students through how to take their 6-Figure Idea, create an irresistible offer from it, position it to 4+ figure clients, market it using social media, and consistently make $10K+ a month with it,” she says.
Here’s her advice for ensuring your online course is successful, too.
Survey Before You Create
For my first-ever online course, I knew that I wanted to teach women about business, but I wasn’t 100% certain on what exactly to teach about. I ended up creating my first course after surveying my audience and asking them what they wanted to know about business. I turned the information they asked me for into a course I called the Brand Bootcamp.
The most important questions to ask before creating an online course:
- Who is the audience for this course?
- What qualifies me to teach this topic?
- How is this going to solve a problem for my audience?
Opt Into Platforms With Free Options
I did a side-by-side analysis of all of the features of all the online course platforms I knew at the time, and that helped me decide on Thinkific because it had what I was looking for and was free to get started.
First, I really like the ability to drip out content over time which helps my students get new content week after week based on when they enrolled in my course, and that’s not something I have to manage. I also really like the payment plan options they have for students to decide if they’d like to pay in full or choose payment plan options. In addition to that, Thinkific has the ability to have Live Zoom sessions as a part of their courses, and this is great because I can incorporate live components into my courses.
Pre-Sell When You’re Stuck or Under-Resourced
Pre-sell your course first. If you don’t have a ton of money and you’re stuck on what to teach about, you can easily create a course topic, market the course, and pre-sell the course before you even start creating the content for the course. “How do you do that?”, you ask? Start by opening up applications for your course and ask your students who apply what they’re looking to learn about that topic. Once you get applications in for your course, you can take the responses you got from students to create an outline of what you’ll be teaching. Use that to market your course and let applicants know the course launch date and price. Sell the course and drip out content each week as you record new modules.
Get Comfortable With Pivoting
I wish I knew this before creating my first online course because I spent a lot of time overthinking and not enough time taking action. When first getting started with online courses, it’s not going to be perfect and you’re going to mess things up sometimes, but don’t let that stop you. When things don’t go as expected, it doesn’t mean it’s a failure – it just means it’s time to pivot! Get comfortable with switching things up until you’ve created something your audience loves and deserves!
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Barclay currently has over 15 (!) online courses that cover a wide gamut of creator-specific topics, from building confidence on camera to editing to video marketing. In fact, one of her most popular online courses is…how to build and sell an online course successfully.
Here’s her (free) advice for pulling it off.
Validate and Inform Your Audience
I had an idea of what I wanted to teach, but I asked my audience what they wanted to have from me first. Based on their answers, I was able to create something that they looked forward to.
I think it’s truly necessary to validate the need for your online course before the building begins. This way, you know that you have a built-in audience ready to purchase your online course when you release it. I also think that it’s important to take your audience along the building process and make them a part of what you are creating for them.
Use a Platform That Will Help You Market the Course
I love how organized the student experience is in Thinkific.
I also love how easy it is for the instructor to navigate and create inside of the platform as well. One thing that really stood out to me, was that I could build a fully functional sales page inside of Thinkific, that eliminated the need for an external sales page or website to sell the course.
I think that you should have a general idea of what you would like the experience for your students to be when it comes to creating your online course. Think about what you would like them to have access to beforehand. For example, would they have access to videos, pdfs, a community aspect, etc.
You can ask yourself, would you want them to have the content dripped or would you want it to be accessible right away? I’d even go as far a to say that you want to be sure that the platform has a great sign-up experience as well. Once you understand what is truly important to you in that experience, you’re able to find the platform that fits all of your needs.
Focus on Solutions, Not Course Length
I believe that your online course should honesty be as long as it takes to get from solving the beginning of the problem to the end goal or solution. Mapping that main process out before starting, and then working towards breaking down the steps inside of those steps always work really well. Keeping your course focused on the solution is always a great idea. If your course is too long and tedious, your student may not want to sit through the entire thing. The goal is to keep your students t moving forward through the process.
Lean on Free Design Tools
I think that you should definitely make use of tools with templated designs like Canva and Easil. These platforms have presentation templates and such to get you started on your creative online course journey. I also think that on top of the beauty of design, use the beauty of your knowledge/skill and personality with video content. Whether live or pre-recorded, this adds another amazing component to your online course experience.
Don’t Overthink It
Don’t overthink your first online course. You can test, build, revamp, and develop as you go along. The perfect first online course is a myth. The reality is that your students will let you know how they like the experience that you are providing, and you have to be willing to shapeshift to accommodate your customer in order to grow in the long run.
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