As a creative business owner, you’ve probably thought about teaching an online course at one point or another.
You might’ve only given it a few seconds of thought before deciding it’s not your thing.
Or, you might’ve wanted to teach an ecourse but you got lost along the way, not knowing where to start, what software to use or how to market it.
Maybe you’ve already launched your own online course but you were disappointed by the response from your followers.
Over the past four years, I’ve taught 17 online courses, most through my own website and three through CreativeLive.
Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t, how to make the process easier and what to avoid. And, I’m going to share it all with you in a six part series that starts today.
Here’s the breakdown of what to expect and when:
Part 1: Intro to the Series and Picking a Topic (This post–keep reading!)
Bonus: Watch the replay of the LIVE Q & A call!
And, the best part is this is all 100% free.
Through teaching my CreativeLive course, Create Digital Products that Sell While You Sleep, I realized that many of you have thought about designing and selling your own courses. This series is all about helping you avoid mistakes I’ve made and simplifying the process of producing an ecourse so that you feel confident you can do it.
The series will include videos, worksheets and of course, written material.
If you’re on the fence about creating your own online courses, here’s why I think they’re a great addition to your revenue stream and business model:
1. Online courses are one of those things that you can create once and sell over and over.
It’s always smart to have digital products in your business model, so that you can make money 24/7 without additional work. When you have to make every product you sell (like knitted mittens or original paintings), your income is limited because there are only so many hours in the day. And, burnout is real.
2. It gives you the chance to work with other creatives without trading time for money.
When you work with someone one-on-one, you’re trading time for money (example: you coach them for an hour and they give you a set amount of money for it). With an online course, you often generate content that can be consumed by any number of people at any point in time. Instead of only working with one person, 348 people (or more!) can watch the videos or read the content you’ve created.
It gives you the chance to work with more people, without putting in more hours. That usually means that your customers don’t have to pay as much to work with you. Instead of someone paying $495 to work with you one-on-one, she pays $95 to take your course. It’s a win for you and win for your customer.
3. Technology has made it easier than ever to create and sell your own course.
I love teaching at CreativeLive (so much so that I’m going back this fall!), but when you host and sell a course on your own website, you have control over everything and you keep all the profit. Teaching ecourses can be a great boost to your income. Last year, online courses made up over 60% of my income.
4. Students can join you from all over the world.
The beauty of selling an ecourse is that your students can learn 24/7 from the comfort of their own homes, in onesie pajamas if they wish. I love teaching and speaking in person, but it limits who can join and learn from me. When it’s an ecourse, anyone can take advantage. This means your customer base can grow and grow and grow instead of being limited by the local community.
5. People are already trying to figure out how you do what you do.
You might decide that selling ecourses isn’t for you, and that’s fine. But when you start to succeed at what you do, you’ll always have a group of people who check out your website and shop, not wanting to buy your products but wishing to do what you do. Most of those people have the best intentions and aren’t trying to copy you outright. They want to learn your skillset to apply to their own personalities and brand.
These people are the DIYers and the aspiring entrepreneurs. Maybe they want to learn how to embroider so that they can make Christmas presents for their friends and family. Or maybe they want to open their own Etsy shop and sell embroidery. You don’t have to sell to them, but it’s something to consider.
Are you in yet?
If so, this week we’re starting simple.
Your first step: pick your topic.
Before you can do anything else, you need to know what you want to teach.
For some of you, your subject is going to be obvious.
If you’re a knitter, you’re probably going to teach knitting. You’ll have to narrow it down a bit more, picking a project to work on or a set of skills you’ll teach.
If you’re a speaking coach, you’re probably going to teach a course on how to become a better public speaker. Again, you’ll probably have to focus a bit more than that, but your topic is pretty clear.
For some of you, your topic isn’t as obvious.
If you’re a life coach, it could range from helping 20-somethings pick a career to helping women become financially confident to helping couples with intimacy.
If you’re a mixed media artist, you could teach a course on creating backgrounds for paintings or art journaling or painting a specific subject.
Here’s the easy way to pick a topic:
1. Start by making a list of all the course subjects you have the skillset to teach. Jot it all down. Don’t worry, you’re not going to use them all your ideas.
2. Cross off any that won’t appeal to your current target market.
3. Circle the ones that you’re the most excited to develop and teach. (Your excitement will sell the course more than anything else.)
4. Narrow down the circled ideas to two to three choices.
5. If there isn’t an obvious choice among your ideas, ask your followers. You can either create a simple poll or ask them to comment (or reply depending on the platform) with the one they want the most. Ask on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and your blog. Go with the most popular choice.
Now that you’ve got your topic, I want you to do one more thing before next week: start to clarify who the target market is for your course.
You can’t finish this step until you’ve gotten down some more details, but you can start.
Here are the questions you’ll want to think about:
1. Who would benefit from this course?
2. What will most of the students have in common? (interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes)
3. Why will they choose your course over other similar courses? What makes your course different?
4. What are their biggest pain points? (example for a course on learning to budget: lots of debt, feeling overwhelmed financially, feeling like they’ll never get out of debt)
Start to brainstorm your answers to these questions. We’ll do more with this later, but it’ll help to get your ideas flowing.
In the next part of the series, I’m sharing all the tools and software I use when creating and selling an ecourse on my own website.
Even if you’re not ready to teach an online in the next few months, if you do the work during the next six weeks, you’ll be prepared when you want to get started.
If you know that teaching and selling online courses isn’t in your future, you could still get a lot out of: learning how to set up a membership site (because you can sell pretty much anything through a membership site—like monthly knitting patterns or downloadable prints), information on pricing (because we all have to do that no matter what we sell), and learning more about writing a sales page and marketing.
Once you know your topic for your first (or next) online course, leave it in the comments below.
Who knows…others who are reading this post might be interested in taking YOUR course once you’ve launched it.