My tough love approach (heavy on the love) focuses on bringing order to chaos, and creating solid (and straightforward) strategic plans. I take surveys for fun, never met a process I didn’t like, and am a big believer in personal growth as a keystone to business growth.
Are you looking for ways to differentiate yourself as an expert in your field? Do you think you would make a good teacher?
The business of online education is booming right now. The virtual classroom offers something for everyone. Potential students may be solopreneurs or small business owners, professionals looking to make a career change or upgrade, people studying out of personal interest, or staff from larger organizations with an emphasis on continuing education. With prices at colleges and other educational institutions skyrocketing, many people are turning to the internet to get the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
Some of these online courses are through traditional schools, others are offered by companies who offer courses on very specific topics. One thing is for sure, the online courses business isn’t going to be slowing down anytime soon.
As a business owner and an expert in your field, you may be considering putting together an online course.
But be prepared: the online course business can be a tricky one to break into and the technology and organizational process can be a learning curve. However, if you’re successful, that learning curve can absolutely be worthwhile and you may find it to be a tremendous source of income. Perhaps most importantly, selling a successful online course will raise your profile as an expert in your field.
Before you jump feet first into the world of online education, you need to figure out if it’s right for your business and your expertise. Here are 4 questions to consider:
What do you know that other people don’t? In what field are you considered to be an expert? How useful is this information? Can your knowledge help others to develop skills that will be of benefit?
PRO TIP: Many of us have a hard time seeing things we excel at or properly evaluating the value of our knowledge. Don’t be afraid to ask others (preferably past clients) what they feel would be your most valuable contributions.
Once you’ve chosen your subject matter, it’s time to figure out who your intended audience is. You want your course to have a clear focus that will appeal to a specific target audience. Clearly identifying that audience is very important.
If your topic or target audience is too general, it won’t really appeal to anyone and your marketing of the course will become muddled. The more focused your topic, the more clear you are on your audience, the more valuable your course will be.
PRO TIP: When thinking of your target audience think of it in terms of a single individual who would be the ideal student and write down every detail about them. Give them a name, what they do, their personality, income, past times, what they’re struggling with, what they’re looking for… the more detail the better.
Will your course fill a need? Will people care about your topic and be motivated to learn from you? You might find the social habits of the ancient Mesopotamians to be fascinating but if no one else cares about your subject matter, the course won’t be successful.
You’ll also need to explore who else is offering similar course material. Take a close look at other online courses that cover similar topics as yours. How will your course be unique or better? Is there actually demand for your course, or is the topic already well enough covered? You might even want to buy one or two top-rated courses to see how they’re are structured, priced, what works, and what doesn’t.
PRO TIP: When looking at other courses look at who they’re serving. If you’re serving an entirely different market the fact that you’re covering the same subject material becomes less relevant..
After you’ve asked yourself these questions and decided to go for it, that’s where the the fun starts: actually creating the course.
You’ve determined that the course makes sense for you and your brand, but are you ready to put in the work it will take to create the course? It’s not an effort to embark upon lightly. At the very least you’ll need to tackle these items:
You’ll need to create a course outline, laying out everything that you want to teach in the course and how you want to teach it. This part includes creating a lesson plan and dividing everything into a variety of sections/lessons that will make up your course.
You should consider what forms of media your course will utilize. Is this a text/reading based course or is there going to be a video component? What about audio? Will you be offering your students a downloadable lesson/workbook to take notes and complete tasks? The kinds of media that you utilize will determine how you’re going to teach your material.
Once you have everything organized and know how it will be presented media wise, it’s time to actually create the content. This will almost always involve a tremendous amount of writing. If you’re recording video, you’ll need a script of everything that you want to say. If you’re creating a workbook, you need to write all of the questions and answers. Don’t forget writing the text for assignments, quizzes, and exercises. Proofreading and editing is a must; so is design Everything needs to look good and flow well. Don’t cut corners that you’ll regret later.
How will you make the course available? Through your own website? On a third party online course website like Teachable, Thinkific, or Kajabi? No matter what platform you choose, there will be some technical know-how required to implement and host your content for your audience. Consider the logistics involved in each of these options as well as the user experience.
Once the course is ready and live, how are you going to market your course to your customers? An online course is a product, just like any other. It isn’t enough to just put it out into the universe and hope that people bite. You need to advertise it and make people aware of why your course is something they need. In many ways, this is when the work really begins.
If you’re an established small business owner you may already have a great platform for launching your online course: your existing brand! You also may already have an extensive list of clients (past and present), leads, and other interested parties, a social media following, etc. But what if you don’t have an established brand.
Whether you have an established brand or you’re relatively new, creating the course is only the beginning. There’s a huge amount of ongoing work involved in marketing your course in order for it to become truly successful. Developing a strategic marketing plan surrounding your course is key to getting noticed. This may include sending out a newsletter, posting leading content to your social media, offering freebies that are connected to well planned email sequences, going live on Facebook or YouTube, hosting a webinar… the options are endless.
We’re not going to lie to you, building an online course can be hard work. It can be incredibly time consuming to develop the custom branding, the graphics, writing all of the copy for the course, and creating its structure. And this doesn’t even include the effort that needs to be put into marketing the course once everything is finished. A great way to simplify and cut down on the work of designing an online course is to hire a Virtual Assistant to help you.
At Any Old Task, our top-level Virtual Assistants can help. Online courses are one of our specialties and we can help to project manage the entire process to make your life easier and ensure a stellar end product. We can help you develop all of your course materials, proofread and edit your lesson plans (or write them from your notes), and develop eye-catching graphics to tie everything together. Not only that, a Virtual Assistant can also put their extensive online marketing experience to work for you, helping you get the word out about your online course.
Building and marketing an online course can seem overwhelming… until you have a Virtual Assistant at your back helping you along every step of the way. Email firstname.lastname@example.org today to get your first foothold in the world of online education!
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