by Julia Street, Marketing Strategist and Founder of Default to Action
Ok – this is big. $107 billion dollars.
That’s right. $107 billion dollars.
No, we’re not talking about the Harry Potter Franchise. Or weight loss supplements.
We’re talking about online courses, or online e-learning. Market research firm Global Industry Analysts project the online learning industry to
reach $107 billion dollars in 2015.
Whoa Nelly. You know why this is exciting for you? Online courses are a major opportunity for health and wellness experts looking to change more lives, help more people, expand their reach and influence. And of course. Make more money.
And the best part? You can get started creating online courses easily, and simply, from things you already know. Yes, that’s right!
With online courses you can:
Break free of the dollars per hour system
Help dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people at the same time
Cement your status as industry expert
Leverage your course and multiply your revenue by leaps and bounds
Front load the work and reap the benefits for years
Sound good, right?
“Wow, that sounds great. I’m ready to create an online course. But how on earth would I get started? This is going to be crazy hard isn’t it?”
I’m glad you asked. I’m going to show you 5 Pillars of Smashing Online Course Creation to make it simple and easy for you….as well as optimize your business as a whole.
Pillar #1: Your Email Subscribers.
Whichever way you slice or dice it, it’s important for you to nurture and grow your email list. Whether you’ve been actively building up your list, or just getting started, your email list will be your most dedicated and loyal customers of your course.
“But I have a great Instagram account and my FB page has thousands of likes. I don’t need an email list.”
First of all, congrats. That’s no easy feat, so pat yourself on the back.
Now let me ask you this. Wouldn’t you want to 10X the effectiveness of your messaging?
In fact, according to Salesforce, 73% of marketers agree that email marketing is core to their business. For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return! (Wofgang Jaegel) Sure, fans on Instagram may go to your website and buy a $60 info product. But will they go to your website to purchase a $500+ course by looking at a photo?
Email lets you truly develop a relationship and grow your know-like-trust factor. With email, you can build up anticipation for your course over several weeks, or even months. You can sign people up to pre-order your course. You can send them tips and advice week over week and truly cement your role as a leader.
“Ok. So how do I grow your email list?”
Display your email opt-in form loud and proud on your homepage! Don’t be shy.
Ask people to! Provide clear call to actions for your readers to sign up across your social media platforms
Give a present. Incentivize the opt-in by giving your subscribers an opt-in offer.
Now, when you’re course is ready to launch, you’ll have an audience primed and ready to buy from you.
Pillar #2 Thorough market and soul research
If you get nothing else out of this blog post, I want you to get this idea in your brain.
Build a course for an audience that is both willing AND able to pay.
No matter HOW awesome your course is, if you teach something no one cares about….. crickets. You want to feed a starving crowd.
Market research is KEY when deciding on your course topic. The more interest and demand there are, the better.
Here are ways you can conduct market research:
Are there common questions or obstacles your current and former clients students had trouble with?
Was there a topic you blogged about that got exceptional engagement?
Survey or interview your clients/social media audience the biggest stumbling blocks they’re facing
Check out Clickbank.com, Udemy.com, Amazon.com, to see if there are similar courses or products that are currently selling
Use Google Keyword Planner and ask the almighty Google what the search volumes are for your topic
The goal here is to come up with a course topic so juicy, your audience shouts “Shut up and take my money!”
Now a note about competition. Competition is a good thing, people! It means there is a sizeable, healthy, hungry market for you to tap into.
If you find zero competition, it’s a cause more for worry than for rejoice. There’s probably a reason. Either, the audience size is too small, or the
audience is unwilling to spend any cash.
Now. Let’s talk about you.
And what’s in your heart and soul.
What do YOU feel called to teach? What message do you desire to share? Does your course topic align with your core business? If you’re an acupuncturist suddenly teaching Pinterest… How does that fit into your business plan?
Your ideal course will fulfill both your internal calling as well as the market’s demands.
Pillar #3 : The Golden Rule of Specificity
Quick. What gets your attention more?
Nutrition for Strength Gain
A Month of Easy Paleo Eating For Increased Muscle Strength And Performance
I bet you chose the second course.
The difference? Specificity.
If you want to position your course in the elite category, (and who doesn’t?) be specific, laser focused, and results oriented.
Remember, your course needs to address a specific pain point for your audience. Your course must deliver on a promise, an end-result.
Your students are not looking to gain a Ph.D degree. They’re looking for results. They want to buy the happiness of a better life after they’ve out-lifted
everyone at a crossfit class. They are buying the promise of eliminating chronic bloating from food allergies.
They key takeaway?
You’re selling solutions and results. Remember the golden rule of specificity: Specific + Relevant = Sales.
Pillar 4: Decide On Your Content Format
Great! Now that you have a solid idea for a course with a specific outcome, let’s think about content.
What content, in what order, will you get your students to the desired end result the fastest?
You’re the expert. You know exactly what students needs to do. More importantly, you know what students DON’T need to do. Students want a streamlined fast-lane to success, not a meandering journey.
How can you do this? By starting with the end goal in mind. Get crystal-clear what the final outcome looks like. Then plan out your course like a ladder.
On the bottom, you have required background knowledge. This will help all your students get on the same page and lay the correct foundations. Each step up the ladder must a) naturally follow the previous step, and b) get them closer to the goal.
Once you have a general outline for your course, decide how you will deliver your content.
You can deliver content through text, audio, video, or a combo. What makes the most sense for your audience and course materials? What learning styles will convey your message the best?
Pillar #5 Technology Smechnology
Lucky for you, today is a great day to be an entrepreneur. You have so many beginner friendly tools at your fingertips.
But having so many choices can be…. overwhelming to say the least.
Do you go with Aweber, or Ontraport or GetResponse? Vimeo, Wistia or YouTube? DSLR, iPad, or Camcorder? It’s a dizzying array of choices!
My biggest suggestion is to become, what they call, a Satisficer. A satisficer (that’s a
combo of satisfy and suffice, btw), is someone who would rather make a decision or take action as soon as their criteria are met. They do not agonize over every last decision.
Why is this important? My motto is: speed is king. I want you out there creating your course, spreading your message, helping more people and making more money. NOT stuck in the dark valleys of analysis paralysis land.
And you want to know the truth?
Most of the comparable services will suit your needs just fine. Most of them are basically…. the same. Just pick a service and move forward.
Here are the categories of technology you will need for your online course, and a couple of suggestions. Definitely do your own research, but DO NOT get bogged down in decision-land.
A place to host your course content
An email service
Your own website
WordPress plugins: Wishlist Member, MemberMouse, Zippy Courses, OptimizePress
Third Party Course Hosting Sites
An Email Service Provider
MailChimp, Aweber, or ActiveCampaign
A Sales Page
LeadPages, WP Profit Builder, ClickFunnels
A Payment Processor
Paypal, Stripe, Authorize.net
Video Screencasting and Editing
Screeenflow, Screencast-o-matic, Camtasia
And there you have it! Your five pillars of successful and profitable online courses. These action steps will ensure your course is on point,
profitable, highly specific and relevant to your ideal students.
Interested in creating your own course?
Here are your action steps for each pillar to make your online course a smashing success.
Pillar 1 – Your Email Subscribers:
Write down 5 additional places on your website to add your opt in form
Create an opt-in offer if you don’t have one. If you do, share and invite people on all your social media channels to get it.
Write down 5 ways you’ll pull more traffic to your opt-in offer this month.
Pillar 2 – Thorough Market and Soul Research
Write down the top 10 questions you get asked repeatedly. Notice any pain points of your ideal student.
Go online and search for similar products or courses that are currently selling well.
Write a blog post about a possible course topic and test the waters. What reaction do you get? YESSSS! or ….Crickets?
Pillar 3 – The Golden Rule of Specificity
Identify the exact pain points, solutions, and results your students can expect from your course
Can you finish this sentence about your course?
“By the end of this course, you will be able to __,__, and __ (insert results) through learning X, Y and Z”
Pillar 4 – Decide On Your Content Format
Clearly define both the starting point and end points of your course journey.
Draw a big ladder on a piece of paper. Chronologically plot out what information and action steps need to happen in what order.
Write down what lessons will be best suited for text, audio, or video.
Pillar 5 – Technology Shmechnology
Spend 10-15 minutes researching each technology option. Ask your network for recommendations or user experience insights
Sign up for free trials of any services you may be interested in. Nothing beats actually trying it out first hand.
Decide if your course will be hosted on a site you own, your current site, or a third party membership site.
And you’re done!
Creating an online course is not as daunting and intimidating as you think. By following the action steps, you can set up a solid course framework over the course of a week.
A big benefit of creating online courses is leverage. You do the work once upfront, and leverage that work to reach ten times the number of people. Developing a flagship course can set you apart as a bona fide expert in the sea of online coaches.
The world needs your message. The world needs your light, wisdom and knowledge. In a big way. Let’s do this!
About the Author
“Trust that you will shape your destiny, and things will turn out. Just default to action.”
Julia Street is a marketing strategist who helps health, wellness and fitness coaches and entrepreneurs build heartful, revenue-generating online businesses that set them apart as industry experts. She’s here to show you how easily you can create your own smashing online course at DefaultToAction.com.