By ProBlogger Expert Sam Nordberg.
Creating an online course can be a great way to increase your income from your blog.
Let’s face it, you spend a lot of time creating content anyway, putting it together in a course for your readers seems like a logical next step.
Yet, the thought of putting together a full course can be overwhelming to say the least. How long should it be? What should you include? Where do you put it?
Creating your own online course (or even a face-to-face course or workshop) doesn’t need to be difficult if you take a moment to look at the 3 key steps before you get started.
1. Decide who your course is for
…and what they want to achieve.
The biggest problem I see when people create their first course is that they try to make it too broad.
Before you start to put together content or create any videos, take some time to get really clear on exactly who you are writing your course for, and what they want to learn during it.
Ask yourself some simple questions:
- Who is the person who will buy this?
- What do they know already?
- What do THEY want to learn during this course?
- How technically savvy are they?
- How much spare time do they have?
- What is their personality type?
The more questions you ask yourself about the person who will be taking the course, and what they already know, the easier it is to build your course.
Now, when you start thinking about how long your course should be, the answer becomes “how long does your audience want it to be?” or “How long do you need to teach them that one outcome they want to achieve?”
2. Decide on your medium
Content is one thing, now you need to decide on the best medium to deliver this in.
Is it video? With your face to the camera? Or slides? Or sharing your screen?
Is it audio?
Maybe they need PDFs and downloadable information?
Start with your audience in mind and really think about how they want to consume the information.
Are they likely to be doing the course on public transport on the way into work in the morning? If so, audio could play a big part in your course. It’s much easier to listen to something on the go than focus on the video.
Is your course very practical, or visual? Then maybe screen sharing or slide based video will play a big part as your show people how to do something.
Is your course very personal, emotional, or directly related to your experience? Then sharing you face on screen is a great way to connect with your audience, build trust and rapport, and allow them to feel like they know you.
There is no right answer when it comes to medium, and in reality you will probably use a combination of methods, to help your participants really understand your subject. However, make sure you are really thinking about the best method to share your content… rather than just sticking to what you have always done.
3. Decide on your platform
Technology seems to be the thing that scares most people when it comes to putting together an online course, but the truth is, it doesn’t have to be scary or difficult.
There are lots of ways you can present or deliver your material. From those which required you to be very tech-savvy, to those which do everything for you. The range of choices on the market at the moment allow you to pick something that suits your needs.
There are three main ways you can look at presenting and delivering your online course. As always, there are pros and cons to each method, so have a think about what would suit you before you jump straight in.
A self hosted course is one that is hosted on your website. There are a wealth of different plugins available at the moment which allow you to run your course directly on your website.
You are completely in control of your content, your material and the way you do things.
This is particularly important if you are building a signature course, one that you want to be known for in your industry and that will be strongly linked to your brand.
You need to be slightly more tech-savvy for this option, although most new plug-ins are fairly user friendly.
Supported online learning platforms
A supported online learning platform is one that hosts your course for you (some examples of these are Thinkific and Teachable). These platforms allow you to do what you do best, create content, while they take control of all of the technical work. These services either charge a per user fee, or sometimes a monthly fee, for doing this.
Someone else takes care of all the tech for you.
The will take a per user fee. Although these fees aren’t large, they are something you need to take into account.
The content is no longer on your website. While you can brand these platforms with your own images and colour scheme, it’s not quite the same.
Content Market Places
The most well-known example of a content market place is the platform Udemy, although it’s not the only one.
A content market place is like an online learning platform on steroids. It not only hosts all of your material, but will often sell it to their audience for you as well. This may seem like the perfect solution, but there are some important things to keep in mind if you choose to go in this direction.
They take care of the tech for you.
They have an existing audience and user base.
Platforms like this often take a lot more control of your course than you might like.
For example, Udemy not only has clear criteria for how you have to build your course (including the number of videos you must have, the length of your videos and the percentage of those which must have your face on the screen).
They also have a very clear pricing structure. They will often price the course as they see fit, and will put it on sale when they wish.
Obviously, different content market places have different criteria, but it’s important to remember that you lose a lot of control over your course.
When it comes to creating your first online course, there is no right answer, but taking the time to think about these three key steps will get you well on your way.