Welcome to Part 2 of the “How to Create a Killer Online Course” series.
Today, we’re bringing in some of the most talented course creators to share their best tips to help you get your course stand out and your learners engaged.
Read on to see what they had to say:
13. Promise a transformational outcome that the learner cares about right now.
If you can promise a transformational outcome that the learner is already looking for, you've got them. If that is true, you don't need to worry about when you launch or what the pricing strategy is.
Now, obviously the more learners who match that persona the better. And much more important than the product itself is distribution of the product. How do you get your course in front of those eager learners who want what you have?
If you already have an audience of them, it's easy. If you don't, find someone who has already built a relationship with that learner and isn't selling a directly competitive product to you to create a partnership.
14. Provide great customer service.
Some people, like me, may get overwhelmed with the idea of "connecting" with people, especially as student counts increase. Another way to connect is through a weekly group Q&A where there is a time limit. Creating a recorded video to each student to "welcome" them into the program. It's not live, but it's meaningful.
Perhaps sending a snail mail postcard once a month that you can hire an admin to hand write. Other ideas include a welcome gift, posting a welcome on social media and tagging students by name, or a discounted one-on-one meetup with a limited number of slots.
15. Include an element of the unexpected in your course creation.
It not only keeps your students enticed and their imagination activated but it also shows them through demonstration, how to captivate their own audiences.
I call it the magic piece - it brings all the parts of your course puzzle together in a way that takes it to the next level.
16. Don’t leave the fun out the door.
Your learners have a lot on their minds. You can’t expect them to stay 100% focused on your online course. Unless you make it somewhat fun, that is! Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to spice things up. Interactivity is a safe bet when it comes to increasing knowledge retention.
From simple drag-and-drop quizzes to interactive videos and simulations, dare to mix and match activities to keep them intrigued! Do you know what else is fun, captivating, and memorable? Good, old storytelling. A masterfully told story grabs attention, gets your message through, and stays with your learners for good.
17. Have in your mind what style you want to deliver the materials in.
Once you have this script then how you style it is a personal preference, sure you need lots of really good visuals and content, and it has to be engaging and draw the user in, but the final finished product is for you to decide. Not sure? Then look at Udemy, Linked-in, and other major course providers, and find a style you like for delivery. Find something you really like, and it will be easier to be passionate about selling it later. You can have the best content in the world, but if your not keen on the finish then it wont work for you. Remember it must be engaging, and have a story through the learning, and ideally be delivered in byte size chunks, so that learning can be done in short sessions.
Spend time finding a good audio artist, this is really important to get right, a screeching voice is likely to put any buyers off, too fast you cannot keep up, and too slow and you just want to sleep.
Unless you have a really good voice, do not attempt to do it yourself, this is particularly true if you are then demonstrating it.
Also Ideally do not just vocalise what is on the page, nothing is more annoying that reading something at the same time it is being spoken, as the eye reads at a different speed to the voice.
You may well be able to do this in house, or subcontract it, but manage the process diligently so that what is being created is how you see it in your mind. Other people may try to sway you, but your idea is what this is all about, so consider any advice, but unless it really stops you in your steps, stick with your passion and keep driving it forward.
To give you a measure, we consider a ‘page’ to be a series of animations on a single page. Typically we would expect a good developer to be able to create around 5 pages a day. You may need to outsource the pictures and some animations, as these can take a developer longer to do, and there are some really good people on places like Fiverr and PPH who can do these at fixed cost. A typical one day workshop would be 50 pages, so 10 days to create, plus 2 more days for amendments and reviews. This is very subjective depending on a lot of factors, but we have found it a useful measure.
One other lesson is spelling and grammar, we have had courses selling for 2 years and someone will still find a typo that everyone else has missed.
Nothing does your course more damage than spelling and layout errors, so it is well worth engaging a proof reader prior to your first demonstrations.
I personally think that you need to focus on getting a high level menu working and then a section, which may well be the introduction. Now you have something to take to the market to test out your theory. If someone is paying you to create a custom course for them, then of course this does not apply.
Package up your initial product all neat with very visual and engaging front end, and practice running through your course until you know where all the best content is, and how to demonstrate it.
18. Make the course robust.
if you want a course to generate 10 thousand a month for you, then invest a 10 thousand dollar effort to create it. I just reviewed several online course sites that I would consider purchasing.
I was shocked that course creators can post a landing page with a small text box that says, "I help you break through! Take my course" with a forty dollar price tag.
Another was helping people find a college. The course was twenty-five dollars and consisted of four pages of triple-spaced bullet points, no overview or transitions in thought, not even a welcome sentence. What!? My mind is screaming, "Nooooo!" While people should absolutely launch their courses without waiting for perfection and angels to start singing, they should take the time to provide a full-bodied program within their reach. For those examples and to future creators, there is quality that comes from storyboarding your course, getting dressed for work, showing yourself on video, providing handouts, testing your course, asking for reviewers, and managing your program with the same robust effort you would like to see in your bank account.
19. Test and validate your customers before you build a single presentation.
I created a crappy advertisement on Canva and spent $98 to promote it on Instagram to test and validate if my course idea was even viable before I wrote down anything. Once I had over 100 women sign up for my free beta (which didn't exist yet) - I knew that my content was needed and valued. THEN I created the outline and started building the course.
Do at least one round of beta.
Let your early customers test your content out and really listen to their feedback.
When I launched my flagship program, The Sohuis StartupBlueprint, which is branding and marketing accelerator, it was originally a 6-week program. After doing two rounds of beta, it came to fruition that it was simply too long with too much information. I then pivoted, streamlined the content and removed some extra modules which I now sell as less expensive (or free) options to generate leads and build my email list.
20. Interactivity and means for the learner to participate and practice the skills are a must.
There are several factors for this. Firstly, for adult learners, the ability to be involved in how their training is delivered and executed is a cornerstone of the modern Adult Learning Theory. Simply put, passive content presentation is not effective with adults. Secondly, interactive content is more memorable, so the learners are more likely to walk away with the knowledge you're trying to share.
Lastly, with the ever-decreasing attention span, you need interactivity in the course to keep it interesting. Each interaction is typically built specifically for the content. Here are some examples of learning interactions you can use.
21. Develop one module first and take that to market to test the bigger opportunity.
Now you have a product to take out and test the market. Go and see potential buyers, show them the demonstration and offer them a commercial deal to place an order now, and be one of the first customers to get the course when completed.
If at this point you have seen at least a couple of dozen potential buyers and have no orders, then you really need to reconsider if this is a viable product.
Ensure you have really listened to what they have said, as real user feedback can make a big contribution.
Assuming you get some buy in, then you can confidently move to the next step, and continue the scripting, and coding.
Remember the 4 page rule, and ensure you have good interactive exercises, either drag and drop, multi choice questions, scenario selections or anything else you can think off to keep engaged. When we finish a module we also have a bank of 5-7 multi choice questions reflecting the knowledge just covered.
22. Stay focused - Avoid the time distractions, the task distractions, and the emotional procrastination distractions.
If you believe in your work, trust the future, and get the course finished. I have a wonderful coach who champions the "power hour". It works by putting on headphones and letting family and friends know that when the headphones are on, interruptions are allowed in "emergency only" mode.
Said another way, the house must be on fire or a limb separation that will qualify to interrupt the creative flow of course launching.
23. Get any accreditation or certification relevant to your market.
If there is a certification body associated with your market then spend the extra getting your course approved and listed, as your customers are likely to want to buy your courses to help them achieve their own and their company aspirations.
24. Conduct a thorough assessment of the current needs of the intended audience.
Take note of current course offerings that are available in the marketplace, see what is out there that potentially is similar to your thoughts and ideas for an online course, identify opportunities to potentially expand upon current offerings, run your ideas by several subject matter experts in the field you are contemplating developing an online course.
Determine the marketability and scaleability of the course you are contemplating developing.
25. Data reporting and analysis are an absolute must.
To build a successful course, you need to be able to understand your learners. Your course needs to collect interaction data that you can use to make changes to improve the presentation.
Here are some questions such data can help you answer: How much time does a learner spend on a particular content? Which content do they skip? Which content do they return to? Do they click the links and interactive items? How many times? In what order? Etc.
You simply cannot have an effective modern course without this data.
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