10 steps to starting a successful online course.
Online courses are currently experiencing their time in the light! In the wake of the pandemic everyone has learnt to embrace technology in a big way and is seeking to acquire their desired skill through online education. For you, the experienced business owner, this presents a massive opportunity to add an additional stream of revenue to your business by packaging what you know to help others. I talk to a lot of people who have been sitting on their idea for a course for, often, years. Don’t be that person. Get it out into the world and start making the impact you’re after and the money you deserve.
Here are ten steps to getting started.
1. Get clear on your idea
The more clear you are with what you’re trying to create, the easier it’s going to be to do all of the following steps. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, decide on one simple course to be your first. I always recommend starting with a simple six-week course on something you get asked about all the time.
2. Develop your course content
Great online courses create an experience for their client. You want to present your course in the way that it’s best received and absorbed by your customer. That may be a combination of face to camera video and screen recordings or one or the other. You’ll also want to add in some great downloadable content and anything you think will enhance the user experience and results.
3. Design your brand and messaging
In the online course world, those who market well, win. Know what your exact transformation promise is – that is, how you’re getting your client from where they are now to where they want to be. Define your brand so that you stand out from your competitors and so you’re representing yourself in a way that’s true to you.
“You have that knowledge locked inside you that can help someone.”
4. Nail your first offer
Pricing a digital information product is one of the trickiest parts, especially if you’ve come from a background of traditional education. Your offer will depend on your audience and take into consideration the value provided as well as the experience and results. Where traditional business owners are used to exchanging time or products for money with a simple equation, you’re now exchanging value for money and it’s totally scalable because you don’t need to work more to deliver more results.
You’ve got your offer right when your customer feels like they’re winning and they’re getting massive value, but they’ve paid enough that they’re committed to putting in the effort and completing the course.
5. Build your website
I recommend Kajabi as an online course website. It’s an all in one platform that can house your front end website, all of your courses and everything in between.
6. Start developing content for your marketing
Before you actually launch, you want to start telling the world what you’re getting ready for. Start building your social media presence and personal brand so that you can talk directly with your customers. Develop your lead magnet – the freebie on your website so that it can be downloaded and then you can start connecting with your customers through email and get them excited for what’s to come.
7. Expand your profile
You develop a course to solve your customers’ specific problem. There’s no use being the world’s best kept secret, so you need to get out into the world and start talking about the problem that your clients are having and how you can solve it. Start using your voice on stages (live or virtual), guest on others’ podcasts, write articles and start building your profile as the expert in your industry.
8. Get over your fear and self-doubt
So, so many people get to the stage where they’re all ready to launch and then find a reason to start putting it off. Why? Because of fear and self-doubt. It can be difficult to own your expertise and step into your light. Fear of judgement and failure has held back more people and it’s devastating. We’re on this planet for such a short amount of time and if you have that dream in your heart, you owe it to that dream to get it out in the world. You also don’t want to be selfish and keep your knowledge to yourself. There are people out there who want to know what you do. Your experience in this life is unique and you’ve developed your knowledge and expertise, and now can share it with others to help them find a shortcut to their success and enrich their life. Stop thinking about yourself and think about the people that you can serve! (End rant.)
9. Launch into the world
It’s time! There are quite a few moving parts to a successful online course launch so get some help the first time you do it, so you know how to optimise digital marketing to get your course in front of the people who need it. Having a limited launch (that is, doors open for a short period of time) will give you optimal results. It also means you can do intense supercharged marketing for a small window of time and it won’t take all of the focus away from your existing business. For a successful launch you’ll want to use social media, do live video, run your webinar and connect with your customers to let them know how you can solve their problem and how they can start getting the results they seek.
10. Know that it’s a continuous experiment
I haven’t ever witnessed an overnight success. After 17 years in business, I know that success comes when we’re always open and look at growth like a constant, curious experiment. The first time your course launches out into the world, it’s unlikely to make you a millionaire. But, if every time you launch you debrief and work out how to always be better than before, the growth is so much steeper than anything I’ve seen in traditional business. You’re able to work fewer hours and make money, all while helping people and working on something you’re passionate about.
It’s an incredible journey and I know you have that knowledge locked inside you that can help someone. It’s time to get it out, package it and sell it to the world.
This article first appeared in issue 34 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine