The Beginner’s Guide to Creating an Online Course for Your Business
If your business is shut down or you're just looking for new streams of revenue, a popular idea is course creation. This could be a course that showcases your knowledge on a subject, a course that is designed to complement whatever it is you sell, or a way to make money that does not involve an exchange of time for money. If you are someone who sells an hourly service, there are only so many hours of the day that you can bill for virus or not. But if you create a course you can bring in money even when you're not actively performing the service in which you get paid for.
Technology being what it is, courses are easier than ever to create but expectations are higher as well. So, it's important you do a few things as part of your course creation prep. This article is laid out to help you ask the right questions before you begin preparing your course.
Subject Matter ChoiceThere's a difference between a course and directions. While you may be the best cake baker in the county, for instance, showing people how to bake a cake is simply giving them direction. However, if there's something that you do that is different from how others do it or something you're doing that nobody else is doing that will make the course taker an expert like you, you can create a lucrative course.
Generally a course is more than just one video instructing someone on how to do something. A course is usually multiple sessions/videos and possibly a worksheet or workbook with it. It's a little more complex than simply giving someone a set of instructions.
For the purposes of this article, we're going to talk about an online video course. A course can be multiple videos that build on one another. In those cases, you need to complete one to go on to the next or your course can be a set of videos that can be watched in any order.
Choose subject matter that you are either an expert in or you have access to others who are experts in the field. A course should reach a broader depth than simple instructions.
Select a topic that is of interest to your ideal audience and one that fits their background. Consider how in depth you plan on going with the course because you'll need to market it accordingly.
Goal for Your CourseWhy are you offering this course? Are you trying to:
- sell your service
- bring in new customers
- market yourself during the pandemic
- find a revenue stream that isn't tied to people physically coming into your business
- become a keynote speaker
What you're trying to accomplish will end up influencing what you focus on. For instance, depending on the goal of your course you may charge for the course or you may give it away for free as a loss leader to get people to pay attention to your business, your knowledge, or to buy something else.
Designing Your Course and Understanding the TechnologyAs with most things these days, there are a lot of options from a technology standpoint. You can place your course on a website with other courses like Udemy. You can select software that allows you to create your own course and distribute it as you see fit. Another popular option is to create a course on your own through self-made videos and marketing software.
Again, the goal of your course will also influence your choice of technology and where you make your course available. For instance, if you are trying to build a name for yourself as an expert in a particular industry, you may want to put the course on LinkedIn or Udemy, where people are looking for experts to guide them in some sort of personal or professional development. If your course is being designed by employees for other employees, you may want to select software that makes it easy to share intraoffice.
Course StructureYour course structure should fit your ideal audience. Is this a deep dive into a niche topic or is this something that is designed to appeal to a broader audience at an intro level? There are a lot of articles on the intricacies of creating course content but there are a couple of things that you should know on a basic level. Your course should:
Have a Gimmick/schtickYou know how some comedians are known for a certain set up for all of their jokes? They do this to stand out and to be memorable. Your course will need the same. Popular memory techniques examples include:
- 7 Deadly Marketing Sins (using a common phrase tailored to your topic)
- The 5 Ms of Networking (using a pneumonic to increase memory on your content)
- The Crafters Recipe for Awesomesauce Knitting (creation/use of fake words to grab attention an create a new addition to the vernacular)
You want something that will make your lesson or course stand out from everyone else’s while helping them to remember what it is you're teaching them.
Tell a StoryIt's not enough to simply walk someone through the how-to’s in your course. You want to make sure that you hold their interest and engage with them through vibrant storytelling. Storytelling is also very effective in illustrating points and helping your audience remember the lesson.
Operate Under a TimelineWill your course be self-paced or instructor led? The benefit to self-paced is that people can take it anytime they want to. However, they also can become lost and disengaged if there is no one there to interact with. An instructor-led course can keep people on the path and engaged. However, it takes more of your time because you are walking each group through.
A Completion/Call to ActionAfter they complete your course give them something to do. They have spent some time with you at this point. Hopefully, they appreciated your knowledge. Now that you have their attention and you've held it, give them something else to do. This could be a call to action to buy your book, come into your business, work with you on a consulting level, or get you to speak at their business or organization. Whatever you do, select something. It is critical that you not squander this opportunity to continue your relationship with them.
Reviews and TestimonialsMany course creators offer the courses free to a beta group. They do this for two reasons. They get to test out their lessons on a group that will help them work out some of the kinks. And they rely on someone from the beta group, hopefully several, writing reviews and testimonials for them. These are critical elements of success if you want to charge for the course.
Marketing and AdsNo matter where you set up your course you are going to need to market it so that people know it exists. A common way to market your course is to point out the struggles your audience has and how your course will help them solve it. You'll want to include what makes you an expert on the subject and point out your own success on how you followed the same path or course of learning.
You’ll also want to perform your due diligence to find out what else is out there in your field. Check out the free and paid courses.
Depending on where you set up/host your course, the site may help you with the marketing. But you should also be prepared to market through things like social media ads, Google, and possibly site specific upgrades to place you at the top of the courses listed.
Online courses can be an excellent way to make a name for yourself or bring in additional revenue for your business during this strange time. But there are a lot of components to designing a good course that are separate from just your knowledge on the subject. Before you begin creating videos, take a look at some of these pieces and do the research ahead of time. Doing this can ensure you get it right the first time instead of having to do a costly relaunch in the future.