It has never been easier to create an online course and market it to the world. That’s the good news.
That’s also the bad news. Why? Well now just about anyone can do it with very little technical effort or experience.
In 2016 I released my first online course “DIY Marketing for Speakers, Trainers and Consultants” using a WordPress plugin from Flyplugins.com called WP-Courseware. It was easy to configure and integrated nicely with Woo-commerce to allow me to accept payments online. I still use it today. Excellent tool and definitely worth checking out.
It uses simple to set up modules and units that can include videos, quizzes, downloads and even generate a certificate of completion when someone finishes a course.
Most people are understandably apprehensive when it comes to starting a project like this. But the truth is mapping out a new course once you’ve gone through the process once isn’t difficult. I’m currently revamping my original course and adding 3 more titles to the mix in the next few months. And I don’t anticipate that they will take me very long to develop.
Traditionally online courses are sold to consultants and trainers as a set-it and forget-it revenue engine. But that’s a lazy way to think about what this technology can do for your business.
Beyond the revenue you might make from a course, let’s consider some of the other benefits.
Building your credibility with prospects
Having an online course shows that you are a content and subject matter expert. It tells prospects that you have seriously considered how to logically present your knowledge to an audience and have gone through the steps to make that knowledge accessible.
Scaling your business to reach bigger clients
If you build an online course on sales training it will probably be very general in its approach in order to appeal to the broadest possible audience. Perfect for one person looking for guidance in Poughkeepsie, but maybe not so useful to a sales team in Rochester.
By simply going through the process of setting up an online course and learning how to do it, you greatly expand your marketability because you can now offer the manager of that Rochester sales team a custom program that is specific to his or her company.
Better still, if that office in Rochester has additional branches across the country or around the world you can license your program for an extended period of time as an onboarding tool. That’s real revenue.
Providing a more cost-efficient option to price-sensitive clients
I once worked with a trainer who offered two pricing models for the same program. The first was an automated 6 week pre-recorded course that was distributed to clients’ sales teams every week and the second was the same program delivered online via a popular webinar platform. It was virtually the same content – with some additional interactivity built into the second option. How you price each of these options yourself is based on your business model and what the marketplace is willing to take. But I could easily see an in-demand trainer offering option one at a significant discount over option two if only to free up time for more lucrative work.
Using it as a content creation tool
Yes, it takes content to create a course. But it’s a two way street. When I completed my DIY Marketing Course, I had the videos transcribed and used them to write blogs. Later those transcriptions even become a big part of my book DIY Marketing for Consultants, Trainers and Professional Speakers.
And then as I was writing the book, I came across additional information that will become part of the newly revamped course – due out mid-September.
So where do you start when building an online course
If you have expertise in any subject you can create an online course. Whether anyone buys it is another matter.
So define your audience before your create anything. Once you know who your ideal client is, ask yourself what problem can you solve for them using your expertise.
That becomes the topic for your course.
Now break that topic into smaller chunks. Those chunks become your main modules. Whether it’s 4 modules or 12 modules each module needs to be broad enough that you can break it down even further.
The temptation is to do a single video covering each module. But have you ever tried to stay focused on an online learning video for any length of time?
“Psychologists say that the average human sustained attention span is 20 minutes. But for online videos, it seems to be about 60 seconds.” – Wistia.com
So you need to keep your units short, impactful and interesting.
This will give you a chance to go deeper into more parts of your subject matter and include more quizzes and accountability steps to make your course useful to individual or organizational clients.
Online courses are becoming a bigger part of the training and consulting economy every day. The best time to get into the market is yesterday. But unless you have a time machine there are still opportunities to make it a big part of your growth strategy going forward.