How many of you are struggling with even getting started on your online course? Maybe you’ve tried pulling together a few Powerpoints or worksheets from your live training sessions, but nothing seems to work.
I’ve worked with entrepreneurs for a while now and I’ve noticed that everyone seems to be making the same mistakes when starting their online course project. These mistakes are easy to make, but they can really have a negative impact on your progress.
Three Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your Online Course Project:
Mistake #1 Creating a course about a specific topic rather than trying to solve a problem for your ideal customer. People pay to solve problems. Period. Always remember that your customers may be able to live with a headache, but they will pay good money to get rid of a migraine. You need to first ask, what are their major pain points and work to solve them with your online course.
Mistake #2 Making it difficult for your students to succeed by producing a huge amount of content and overwhelming them. Not only does this make it difficult on you, but it can affect your student’s success. Remember that they only want to solve their problem. They don’t want to spend 10 hours a week in your course. Just like you, they are busy and are paying you to get their issue resolved asap.
Mistake #3 Thinking that your course is just passive revenue and you can sit back and enjoy. The truth is, to truly make your online course successful, you still have to get personal with your audience. You need to be around for them to ask questions, check on their progress to ensure they are successfully completing the course material. This is one of your differentiators in the marketplace and many online course creators don’t follow up after the sale.
To help you get started, here are the seven major steps you need to complete to launch your profitable online course.
Seven Major Steps to Create + Launch your Profitable Online Course:
1. Validating your Course
The first step in your course creation process is validating your course idea. This will involve surveying your audience to ensure that your course idea and content meets their needs. This can be done through an online survey, through phone calls with prospective students or a combination of both. The primary goal of this exercise is to make sure that what you plan to offer is exactly what your audience needs and wants. As mentioned earlier, you want to make sure you are creating a course that solves a major pain point – their migraine!! After all, you don’t want to go through all the hard work to create a course than no one will buy!
2. Outlining your Course Content
After you have validated your course idea and clearly understand your customers’ fears and challenges, it’s time to outline your course content. In this step, you will brainstorm all content that you think should be included in your course. You can capture this information on a Google Docs, Word or even a sheet of notebook paper. Then you will use a mind mapping app such as Coggle to organize your content into steps, modules and lessons. Mind maps are great because they allow you to translate what's in your brain to a visual picture. It also easy to organize and move your course content around in a mind map so you can develop a clear learning path for your students.
3. Build your Course Content
The tools used in this step depends on how you are delivering your course content. You have several options here. You can build your content on slides such as PowerPoint or Keynote and then record your voice over. Another option, which is popular if you are doing a software demo for your course, is to do a screen recording of your computer. The third option is to record direct to camera. In this option, you are speaking directly into the camera teaching your course content. Of course, many Course Creators do a combination of recording from slides and direct to camera. The last option is an audio course only
4. Creating your Course Materials
It’s important to make your course actionable and provide your students with cheat sheets, workbooks, how-to guides and other material so that they can take action on the information you have taught them. In addition, you will need to develop any branding material such as your course graphics. Developing a course is just like launching a new product into the marketplace. In this step, you are branding your course and making it your own so it is recognizable by your audience.
5. Hosting your Course
In this step, you should decide what’s best for you and your students in terms of hosting your course. The bottom line: Stay away from course marketplaces who own your customer and their email. You should explore using a standalone course management system if you want to build a sustainable business that will provide income for years to come and allow your business to scale and grow. There are strong players in the market to consider for your learning management system. These include Kajabi, Thinkific, and Teachable to give you a few examples. Some Course Creators feel comfortable hosting their course on their own website with a plug-in such as Course Cats.
6. Selling your Course
Facebook ads and webinars are the tools of choice to promote your online course. The key thing to remember in this stage is to warm up your audience and build the "know, like, trust" factor before you approach them to buy your online course. You can attract your ideal customer through Facebook ads and then send the ad to a blog post with a free giveaway so you can build your email list. Private Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups for your business are another great way to build trust with your audience. This step takes time and it's important to start building your audience with your ideal customers before you want to sell your online course.
7. Support your Customers
I have taken many courses online and this step often gets overlooked. The power of a private Facebook groups specifically created for your paying clients is priceless. In your group, members can help answer questions and provide support. It’s also a way for you to answer questions from your group via a Facebook live on a weekly or bi-weekly basis so all members can benefit from your answer. Some Course Creators use Slack as a support platform for their customers, but based on my personal experience a private Facebook group for your paying customers works best when managed properly.
Bonus! An Online Course Project Plan
Developing an online course is a huge project. It’s easy to overlook deadlines, miss deliverables, and lose precious files when you are not organized. Asana is my tool of choice to manage my course projects. Asana is a project management tool (free for the basic service) where you can input all course deliverables and assign them to an owner with dates.
Need an online course project plan that you can load into Asana to get started?