Simple Steps to Create an Online Course
Leading the life of a writer can be harder than roller-skating on marbles. While we’d all love to believe we could make our money solely off the sales of our books, what’s more often the case is we make our livelihood from other more… shadowy pursuits. My main income comes from public speaking, and my projects with my interactive storytelling app, Story City. But another tool in my ‘making money as a writer’ toolkit is online courses. You may have used one of the two I have on offer here: Creating an Email List for Writers, or the Ebook Revolution Interview Series. But even if you haven’t seen my modest offering, successful indie writers like Joanna Penn, have proven that online courses are one of the best ways to supplement the writing income.
Hence today’s guest blog post from writer, Adela Belin. She’s going to give you some simple steps to start creating your own online courses. Whether they be in writing, book publishing, or some other area that you may be an expert in the dark arts of…
The E-learning industry charted a figure of $107 Billion in the year 2015. At 13% growth rate, it is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. The highly dynamic nature of this industry can render an E-learning course redundant as swiftly as it appears. Hence, the creation of an online course requires sound planning.
Here are some tips and strategies to create an online course which resonates with your target audience:
Do Your Homework
Understanding the needs and wants of your audience is vital to creating a meaningful online course. It helps you create content, and structure your course such that it captivates the audience. Use social media to gain some insights about industry and learner requirements. People often share their thoughts on many subjects on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest or even YouTube. Also, comments by people on blogs covering your topic can provide useful insights. Use can use tools such as Social Mention or Klout to expedite your research and find out a pattern in social media discussions.
These insights will help you create content which helps users achieve their learning goals.
Create a Blueprint
Great content material can fail to satisfy your learners if the structure doesn’t provide efficient knowledge transfer. Divide the course into phases.
The best way to do this is to categorize the different phases from beginner to advanced. Create a structured course outline, and avoid repetitive material. The edifice of your course should have set objectives for each level. The course blueprint should help you map your customers as well. Beginners will emphasize on beginner-level content to create a strong foundation. The users with relevant background should focus on advanced-level concepts to become an expert in the field. You may even create separate courses for these two knowledge levels.
Getting the right tool to create your course is crucial for producing and updating content efficiently. If you are building a unique course, then research about the tools which will help you build and update the courses with ease. You may use infographics, audio, video, etc. to explain complex concepts. Therefore, you should select software that helps you create various formats of content without much technical knowledge of the programming languages. Learning management systems (LMS) like Udemy, Moodle, Edmodo, Blackboard, Brightspace and SumTotal System are some of the most popular LMSes which can also help you create beautiful eLearning courses without much hassle. Note that your tool must be capable of handling a distributed workforce as you may end up outsourcing a part of the work to freelancers or contractors.
Create a Template
Creating a template will bring a certain degree of uniformity to your product. The template will also give your course a brand identity. A service provider can replicate standard template with minor modifications to create new products. Thus, building course templates will also help you scale your business quickly.
Test the Waters Before Jumping In (Prototyping)
A module or pilot (if it’s video based) of the course can be launched before the rest of the course. Offer Pre-launch coupons and discounts to tech-savvy users who can provide feedback to the new course. This technique will let you know if the material at hand is going to work well or not. Instead of, painstakingly creating the entire course and then suffering the heartache of no one buying it.
Moreover, it will gather you the much-needed audience feedback and help you to take care of the loopholes in your course.
Create the Course
Having a perspective of homogeneity towards your audience can be a fatal move. Therefore, you should keep it simple and straightforward. Preferably, avoid technical terminology wherever you can, so that your course attracts learners from all walks of life. Your very first piece of material should engage your audience, motivating them to continue to the end. Needless to say, that fluid data would facilitate understanding, keeping things interesting.
The course may not be all encompassing, but the matter you choose to include should have applications in real life so that the delivered results can be experienced. The course should include free supplementary resources (like hyperlinks, e-books, blogs, videos) for further study. Further, continuously update your course according to the latest developments.
While creating a Course, you should keep in mind the Dos as well as the Don’ts. Following are some aspects which should be avoided when making an online course:
- Content is the most important aspect of any course. However, it should not monopolize all your attention. Your Clients will prefer your course over other courses having almost the same content, because of the relationship you establish with your current and would-be customers. Also, ensure that they get maximum advantage out of the course and achieve real results by following up via email.
- Long videos or data create cognitive overload and should be avoided as much as possible. Wistia’s data analysis suggests that not more than 28% of viewers watch videos of 10-20 minutes all the way to the end. Before making videos of this length, you should keep the above information in mind.
- Derek Halpern claims that if you find competition online, then it means that your course has demanded. He also suggests that creating a course out of matter which has little or no online presence is a wrong move. It may mean that either people do not need the matter or can find the information somewhere other than the web.
This is one of the most important steps in defining the future of your course. People may never come to know about your course even if it has compelling content. Your main avenues include trying to reach the audiences on social media, and partnering with people who have substantial subscribers in their emails, websites or social channels. You could also go for online paid advertisement once you have got the first few customers or even write Guest Posts on relevant blogs to engage with the target audience. Try these marketing strategies to promote your course without spending a lot on paid advertisements.
The booming industry of online courses has been estimated to cross $240 billion by 2021. As it is a growing market, carving out a niche is expedited at the moment. Nonetheless, this very growth can make a product obsolete within the blink of an eye. But a futuristic approach and careful planning in your very first course can lead you to develop a full-fledged business. Hopefully these steps have helped!