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Tips for Creating Your First eCourse

Posted By Stacey Roberts 15th of April 2015 Blogging for Dollars 36

Tips for starting your first ecourse  problogger.netThere’s a reason you’re seeing an influx of ecourses in the blogosphere of late – it’s a fantastic way to share to a higher (and sometimes more concentrated) degree your talents and knowledge. If you have a niche blog, then there’s a good chance you can come up with an in-depth and useful course that will be helpful for your readers and profitable for you.

If an ecourse is something that’s been on your mind, then read ahead. Last year, Chantelle Ellem of Fat Mum Slim ran her very first blogging ecourse, the Clever Cookie School of Blog, which was a huge success. I picked her brain about how she started the course, what platforms she used, and what she learned. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments and we’ll try and get an answer for you to start your ecourse journey off on the right foot!

The Overview

What made you decide you wanted to offer an online blogging course?

I was getting emails every single day asking me how to do things on the topic of blogging, really specific questions that needed a lot of time and energy to respond to. And of course I was responding to each of them! I decided that there was obviously a need for a blogging course. It was actually back in 2010 when I dreamed up my blogging course, and it was a time when no one (or not that I knew of) was doing it. Over the years I’d revisit the idea, write the content and structure for the course and eventually I got my butt into gear and launched it this year.

When you began putting the course together did you have a specific outline in mind, or did it come together more as you were writing it?

Because I wrote it back in 2010, so much happened since then, like… Instagram! So I knew that I wanted to cover off everything I knew in my own head about blogging, and put it down into lessons. It definitely evolved as I started writing the content, and realised that I had so much more stuff I wanted to share.

How engaged have people been with it?

People have been amazingly involved. It’s been so well-received. I’ve done blogging courses before and it felt a lot like we were dumped with the information and left there to absorb it. I wanted to be really available to the Clever Cookie students, and let them pick my brain whenever they like. It’s been time-consuming, but good time-consuming. I’ve loved sharing conversations about blogging with the students.

What was the motivation behind getting “guest speakers” in? Were they hard to source?

I don’t know everything there is to know about blogging, and I don’t think anyone does… so I wanted to bring other people in to share their knowledge. I also wanted to teach the students that there’s not just one way to blog successfully. I wanted them to take bits of information from all the different sources, decide what felt right to them, and then make it into their own recipe for blogging success.

Has it been hard to fit it in alongside your regular work?

I’m not going to lie, yes it has. But I love blogging, so it doesn’t always feel like work. And, who needs sleep anyway? I think if I’d just created the content, scheduled it to go live and left the students to it, I’d have more time on my hands… but I want to be there as much as possible, and I wouldn’t be happy doing it any other way

What has surprised you about the course?

A few weeks before I did the course I read a quote that said, “Obvious to you is amazing to others” and it made me realise that the really basic general knowledge is something that I shouldn’t overlook sharing. And that feeling was right, because the most simple lessons I’ve taught in Clever Cookie have been the ones that have resonated most with the students.

What has delighted you?

The community! I love the community that has already blossomed amongst the bloggers. They’ll be their own support network moving forward once the course has long finished. They have access to a Facebook group for graduates and will be able to share, give advice, help each other out and support each other on their journey. Also, we sent out little welcome packs at the start of the course, and people loved getting those presents. Seeing and reading their reactions was a great way to kick off.

What did you learn about running a course like this that you will know for next time?

One big thing I learnt was with finances. The forum we run the course in takes a big chunk of income, and PayPal takes some too. We factored that in of course, but it was expensive, as were the welcome packs and postage. Because my Paypal account hadn’t had income coming in before, Paypal seized all the money (it’s a long story but they like to look after customers so they’ve frozen half the income for the course for six months in case anyone requests a refund). So I learnt those things, which I never knew before. I also learnt that there is some pretty amazing up-and-coming blogging talent out there. That’s exciting!

What would you advise other people if they wanted to run an online course?

I would say to do it! Be organised, set a schedule for the content, make it as social as possible and easy to digest. I’d also have to remind people of that great quote I read before we launched, “obvious to you is amazing to others”.

Tips for starting your first ecourse : problogger.net

The Nitty-Gritty

Platforms

The platform I used to host the course was CourseCraft: https://coursecraft.net/ In an ideal world I’d create my own platform, but this was pretty seamless. They take a percentage of all your profits, but it removed a lot of the stress for us.

Learning Curves

Tech-wise, we really only had to get to know how to use CourseCraft, and that was hard when students would ask about functionality but we didn’t know the answers to. A lot of the teething problems we had were more around figuring out Paypal, grabbing people’s addresses {we sent everyone a welcome pack in the mail}, and working out international times for the Facebook chats that we had with experts in blogging.

Social Media

We didn’t think that Clever Cookie required too many social media platforms to support it, as we already had our own assets, but we started a Facebook page and a new website. We also used MailChimp to email students, and to create a database to gain interest.

Useful Advice

Going into Clever Cookie we just tried to put into it what we’d like to have learned 4 years ago, and went with that. We asked for feedback from our students on completion of the course and it was really, overwhelmingly positive. Over these past six months we’ve seen lots of our graduates go on to achieve awards for blogging, grow their audience, and really soar.

Have you ever considered creating an ecourse? What tips do you have for us? I’d love to hear!

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.

About Stacey Roberts
Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama, follow on Pinterest for fun and useful tips, peek behind the curtain on Instagramand Snapchat, listen to her 90s pop culture podcast, or be entertained on Facebook.
Comments
  1. Thanks so much for the insight into your online course. I think a lot of us, me included, have these courses in our brains and are just working on the actual execution. Reading this post gets those juices flowing again. One problem I’ve had is I create content (particular modules) then get run over by things happening in life. It’s just one of those things you have to sacrifice for in order for it to become a reality.

    One question I did have was how much research and market analysis did you do prior to launch? For instance, prior to even creating your first bit of content, did you poll your audience to better understand what they wanted? I believe this is a huge part of any product you are thinking of creating. Sometimes what you, as the creator, believe people want is grossly off base with what they really want/need.

    Thanks again!

    • We didn’t do a proper survey, but we definitely asked people what they’d like to learn and then again in the period between signing up and the course starting we asked all our students what they wanted to learn – and we made sure we’d included all that in the course.

  2. Nile,
    Helpful and inspirational article. Even reading Stacey’s suggestions, we have no idea what we will come up against until we get started doing it. I am participating in 4 love summits and it is interesting to me to discover what seems to work and what does not work as well in the way the summit was set up, not so much in the content I am delivering.

    I am co-creating a webinar series about using social media for therapists and coaches. I have the same focus in mind, “put into it what we’d like to have learned 4 years ago.” However, I realize there is no real shortcut because we have to do the nitty gritty work. But there are some things that if we start correctly from the beginning can save us a lot of time and help in many ways later on. For example, I wish I had sorted my Facebook friends into categories right from the start. Also, I am now more careful about who I allow to connect with me as friend.

    Warmly,

    Dr. Erica

  3. Good marketing strategy discussed, e-courses are now days getting popular as everyone now want to learn on their Lappie .

  4. Love this! I’m an instructional designer looking to branch out into creating online courses such as the ones you find on Fedora or CourseCraft & helping other bloggers do the same. Running across articles like these are super helpful to see what people are already doing.

  5. Just in time! I am currently creating my own course and this was some great motivation. Your quote “Obvious to you is amazing to others” I have had to keep reminding myself this over and over again! I have been working with WordPress (what my course is about) for 8+ years and had forgotten all the simple stuff!

    Great article :)

    Chris

    • Yes, it’s so easy to forget that stuff that is now second nature to us. I wish I’d written it all down as I learned things in the beginning. The great thing is that we can learn from our students too. :)

  6. Hi Stacey,

    This is great article which providing information about first online ecourse, these day people not have more time and he want to learn more and more skill that’s why these day mostly people like online courses.. thanks so much for providing awesome information..

    Regards
    Mohd Arif

  7. Hi Stacey,

    Great to get into Chantelle’s mind.

    I started an Udemy course – just the beginning of an outline, really – but with publishing one eBook weekly on Amazon I am all filled up, work-wise and blogging-wise. I’ll put it aside until I am ready to get that outline in place. There lies my biggest block when I decide to get going with the course; I have the knowledge, the experience and am picking up the Know How from pros like Rob Cubbon, at creating online courses, but I need to get that outline down pat to add order to my mind.

    Sticking to the basics works best I am sure, as it does with any presentation. Beginner level course me thinks, because bloggers are hungry to get helpful, practical tips that they can use for their benefit, pronto. That’s where I come in ;) But again, all will flow freely when I get my motivator down AND when I get that outline down pat because I’ll move forward in an orderly fashion, after I get these 2 things down cold.

    Thanks guys.

    Tweeting from Bali.

    Ryan

  8. Great article! Like me I have job in the morning but still I need extra income. Because of the ecourse I was able to look for a job that fits within my passion.

  9. This blog is really helpful for beginners to build a online e course.
    Looking forward for your next article.

  10. Perfect timing to read this! I’ve just released my Magical Marketing Month ecourse this week and can’t wait to watch it lift off!
    Initially, I wrote all the content as a book but I had so many activities that I wanted to help people do them daily.

  11. I have read this article thoroughly and these are very effective tips for newbies who want to establish their own e-commerce website.Thanks a lot for this amazing article.

  12. Hi Stacey Roberts,
    It is very useful and informative tips for us. We are know many things about how to create e course in your article. In your article i learnt many thing such as which offer me accept.

    Thanks for your motivation.

  13. Absolutely love this thank you! Running an eCourse is something I’ve been toying with but hadn’t started looking at the nitty gritty yet. Hosting platforms aren’t something I had even thought about. You’ve given me so much information to go and look into further. Thanks Chantelle!! xo

  14. I was a participant of Chantelle’s Clever Cookie eCourse and LOVED it. I’ve done several other ‘blog related’ eCourses and they’re all so different but special in their own ways. What I loved most about Chantelle’s and what made it stand out….was the participation from her and her co-host. They chatted and mingled and answered questions the whole time.
    I have an eCourse in mind that I really should just bite the bullet and DO! However, I am worried about some of the finer details – such as financing it {someone suggested taking pre-orders?}, having a big enough following to pull it off AND how to approach and pay guest speakers.
    Decisions decisions!

  15. Being interactive also allows people online to see how you respond as a business in the moment, which can potentially lead to increased sales and affiliate commissions.
    Nice Article.

  16. My comment seems to have disappeared?

  17. Hey Thanks for Share Some Useful Stuff with us. Your strategy is really good and i am impressed with marketing idea. e-courses is new but very interesting thing for bloggers.

  18. Nice and Important Article, Thank’s This Article ‘ll help me as a new comer

  19. I was planning to start my own e-course about online marketing from past 6 months. But, I am procrastinating due to hectic schedule. Thanks for the motivation. :)

  20. Which wordpress plugins are good for creating an online course? I bought a domain name and DigitalOcean hosting and have WordPress running but I’m not sure if it’s possible to create a course with it.

    Good article. Having a forum for course attendees to talk among themselves seems like a really good idea.

    • Ellen M. Gregg says: 04/21/2015 at 4:44 am

      I just learned about Zippy Courses over the weekend. It’s a plugin specifically for WordPress, and from what I saw as I reviewed their website, it looks pretty user-friendly. It’s a professional plugin, and so there’s a cost; however, it’s a one-time cost, and so you’re not paying a third party such as an ecourse hosting company, over and over again.

      The URL is zippycourses.com. Good luck!

      Peace.

  21. Very Informative blog and well written and amazingly explained thanks Love your effort is amazing

  22. I have been recently planning to start a few video courses in Udemy. After being a webmaster for over 8 years now, I have now realized that the most sustainable way to make money online is by sharing my knowledge with others who are new to blogging and website design. A loyal audience is far better than a random visitor from Google which a traffic source which might die any day with a overnight Google algo update. My most successful websites have always been those which have got the most user loyalty. Thank you Stacey for sharing the post and thank you Chantelle for providing some insights on how to start an eCourse for the first time.

  23. I’ve seriously given thought to starting an e-course. Your blog really opened my eyes to the complexity of doing so both financially and otherwise, while still providing encouragement. I often take e-courses because they personalize the learning experience, adapt to individuals’ needs, and they fit well into a hectic daily schedule. Great in-depth article, it was very helpful – thank you for sharing your experience!

  24. And we wonder if document sharing boosts SEO and affiliate income. Do the #transformation work and create “lots and lots of content.”

  25. This is awesome, thanks for sharing. I am currently working on my first online business course to come out as well and I am using Zippy Courses. I totally agree that what is obvious for you may be so amazing and surprising to others. This post just came on a very right time :)

  26. I just come across Zippy Classes over the saturday and sunday. It’s any plugin tailored for WordPress, along with through exactly what We found as i assessed their particular web site, that seems to be pretty user-friendly. It’s an established plugin, therefore there’s an expense; however, it’s any one-time charge, therefore you’re certainly not spending an unauthorised including an ecourse hosting company, again and again.

  27. I’ve been producing online courses since 2009 for clients and have a few out myself. I’m curious to see if the market will support the ‘new’ influx and if new course providers will have what it takes to market their products. THAT is always the part that lacks – the marketing. Email marketing is *crucial* to success it can wind up to be a big chunk to bite off at the same time as launching a course.

    • Oh my goodness, I know – I’ve seen the effort that goes into launching and marketing the courses via email and it is INSANE. So much work!

  28. I was lucky enough to be a student of Chantelle’s in the Clever Cookie course, and I just wanted to say that she is not exaggerating about her and Rowe’s availability and interaction with us – they were wonderful, involved and answered all our questions so promptly. It must have taken so much time but they never made us feel like we were a hassle. Also the facebook group is still going strong – we are all friends now and help each other out all the time! Thanks Chantelle x

  29. This is a very useful post for all the bloggers. Keep posting valuable content like this. Thank you !

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