It’s another round-up!
As you know if you follow my posts over on the eCourse Coach Facebook page, I frequently share a ton of tips over there that my blog readers sometimes miss. (Let’s face it, Facebook feeds zip by and it’s easy to sometimes miss a whole swath of updates.)
So, here they are condensed for your browsing pleasure. 🙂
Tip 1: Use Your Most In-Demand Subject
One of the most common questions I get asked goes something like, “This is the topic I’m thinking about for my e-course. What do you think?” One of the questions I ask back is, “Is this your most in-demand subject?”
If that’s something you’re wondering about too and you’re not too sure how to answer that question, here are the things I recommend:
1) Look through your blog posts. What’s been read the most? What’s been commented on the most? When you posted your blogs on your Facebook page or on other social media, what’s been shared or commented the most there?
2) Think back to your in-person workshops or your webinars. Which ones have been on fire? Which of the topics have drawn the most energy?
Tip 2: Be Clear About the Level of the Course
One of the most challenging things when creating course content is knowing where to start. At the most basic level? At a more intermediate level? Advanced level?
Your sales page and your communications with potential customers needs to give them a sense of what they need to have already done or what they should already know before starting your course. OR, add in some bonuses geared towards beginners to bring them up to speed. This could be a stand-alone course that you sweeten the deal with or it could be an e-book or a document or even a 1:1 consultation.
Just make sure that you attract the learners who will get the most out of your course (and not be begging for a refund when they realize it’s either way over their head or way too easy).
Tip 3: Find the Course Platform That Will Work Best For You
When I work with clients on this topic we typically talk through these 3 options:
- A done-for-you course platform (meaning you don’t have to update or tinker or code and can focus on content like with Thinkific or Teachable), or a
- A self-hosted platform (where they will have to tinker like Learndash, OptimizePress, or Wishlist).
- A total business solution (like with Rainmaker, Kajabi, or ClickFunnels).
Tip 4: Identify the Type of Course That Will Work Best For You AND Your Students
There are so many different kinds of e-courses out there. What kind of e-course will yours be? Here are some options to consider:
1) Video of you teaching to the camera. You become what’s called, “a talking head”. Not much learner engagement but easy for you to pull off. Do too much of this your learners will treat this as an audio-only course without the benefits of the mobility that audio files provide. If you do choose this option, please don’t use the mic on your iPad or camera! You can read more about this here.
2) Recordings of live training. Yep, with this option you give a workshop and have someone record it. I only recommend this to people if they have a professional videographer and editor working with them. Otherwise you’ll need to be up for a massive A-V challenge. Don’t lock down the camera for an hour and expect your learners to stay awake!
3) Slides you narrate with written guided exercises and worksheets. I know it, you don’t want to be on camera – at least not for the whole thing. Plus, to be honest, probably no one is going to watch you talking away for the entire course. So in this choice you talk but the learner sees your slides. They get to hear from you, the expert, but also need to pay attention to get the key points. Read more about this here.
4) The Going-All-Out-eLearning approach. If you have ever done any corporate training you’ll know there are other options that allow learners to more fully engage in a course by doing things like responding to questions and “choosing their adventures”. For that kind of approach you’ll absolutely want to hire an instructional designer who knows what they’re doing!
Tip 5: Begin With the End in Mind
Stephen Covey said this and it applies just as much to course design. What is the finish line for your learners? It’s not completing your course. It’s way beyond that.
Get clear on what it is *before* you start!
Tip 6: Create a Great Lead
“Lead with the future- not background” is a lesson we can adapt from the journalism field. Kind of like a news anchor would, hook your learners immediately into your course by telling them what they’ll get out of the course – what they’ll be able to do or think (or be) differently.
Enlighten them. Engage them. Then go ahead and handle the logistics like who you are and what they can expect in the course.
Tip 7: Repetition is Key
Be ready to repeat yourself. And repeat yourself some more… In your emails about your course, in your pre-launch videos and webinars, on your sales page, and on your course page.
So, of course, get super clear about your sales message and test it out with your first tier tribe to make sure it’s going to be clear and persuasive enough to be reused and reused.
Tip 8: Be Consistent
Do think about the consistent elements you’ll want across your course (in each module).
Here are some I frequently recommend:
— Why this is important: motivating your learners to complete.
— A story to open each module
— Case studies/examples
— Summary of key points
— Worksheet with reflective questions (and a request to share in FB/group) and action steps
— Tip Sheet or Cheat Sheet
Tip 9: Encourage (and Facilitate) Action
A co-presenter and I gave a presentation last week to about 80 people. We peppered in plenty of small group opportunities for people to process info and share their perspectives – and it reminded me about one of the inherent downsides of online courses – it’s hard to facilitate in those brief discussions in a timely way.
Here’s what I suggest – after each lesson (let’s say 7-20 minutes worth of content) give your students a specific question or scenario to mull over AND TO POST in your discussion space (whether that be within the course itself or here, on Facebook).
And then commit to spending a certain amount of time in that space really engaging with your students. Think of it like sitting at the bar in the hotel after you’ve finished your training session. It’s like that.
More often than not this is when you can actually lock in the learning, making it well worth the time.
Tip 10: Avoid Overloading Your Learners
Because I’m hyper aware of how easily I slide into overloading people with information, I’m always on the lookout about it in other people’s courses. 🙂
Here’s the thing – for the most part in the teaching you’re likely doing – your students don’t need to “know” something or “be aware” of something unless that knowledge or awareness helps them do something differently.
So get really laser focused on only providing information/knowledge when it’s tied to the *doing* of the thing. And, uhh, good luck with that. Read more about that here.
Tip 11: Help People Change Their Behavior
Learning doesn’t happen until the learner DOES SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY. Until they think differently. Until something actually changes. You may have a lovely e-course but if it doesn’t change people it’s an ineffective e-course.
Worksheets help people apply what they’re learning to their own situation. Asking them to take further action is even better. If you have a community site (like a Facebook group), you might ask people to post a result or an observation they had after implementing something from your module. Or buddy participants up and ask them to share something specifically with their buddy related to that module.
Tip 12: Keep the Learning Going Even After Your Course is Over
The rubber really meets the road AFTER your learners have completed your course. This is when something called “learning transfer” happens – or doesn’t.
If you really care if your learners are applying what they are learning here are 3 things I recommend doing:
1) Include step-by-step guides that your students can use when they’re about to put their learning into action. You might know these as cheat sheets.
2) Provide an upsell to your learners in which you’ll provide 1:1 follow-up coaching and accountability.
3) Create a Facebook community and schedule check-ins and inspire conversation to keep your students focused on implementing your course content. Encourage questions when your students run into challenges and check in daily so you can be there to answer those questions!
Tip 13: Teaching Millennials is a Bit Different…
Recently I facilitated a 2-day, in-person workshop that consisted entirely of Millennials. As a GenX’er I find I have to really adjust the way I teach to this group. It spills over into e-courses as well.
— Build in lots of activities (and that means worksheets, online questionnaires, and/or a community side channel such as a Facebook group).
— Pair them up with a buddy or in a small mastermind to work through the course together.
— Be very present. Provide individualized feedback and coaching.
In sum, give them more opportunities to connect, learn from each other, and contribute to the discussion.
Tip 14: Help Your Learners Complete Your Course
Trying to get your learners to finish the course and implement it?
Those inspired more by extrinsic motivators will need outside pressures and support to keep moving forward. Ask them to write down why they want to take your course and what they hope to get out of it and post it to a course Facebook group (or equivalent). Engage with them there. You could also send them an old fashioned card in the mail, call them out in a Facebook group, or check in with them 1:1. Make sure they know that you are watching and cheering them on.
Or, if that’s not scalable for you, hook them up into accountability groups, encourage consistent check-ins in a course Facebook group, and send them frequent reminders about the next module.
Bottom line for these types of learners is to be present! Bonus points if you can continue this approach beyond course completion while your learners are struggling to implement. Better yet, include a 1:1 coaching session for those in that boat who complete the course!
Tip 15: Make Your Launch Efforts Commensurate With Your Revenue Target
Many of us see elaborate, gorgeous launches by people who are selling their premium offering and expecting to make a million bucks from their launch. So of course, they are going to hire copywriters and videographers and customer service reps and a team of VAs in order to roll out a phenomenal launch!
However, even if you’re rolling out your own premium offering, you may be shooting for something a lot more modest than a zillion dollar launch. So make your efforts commensurate with the size of your offering and your revenue target. I realize this is a basic thing to say, but it’s worth restating – The effort you put into your launch shouldn’t exceed the revenue you expect from the course!
Tip 16: Build Your List Before Launching Your Course
Just consulting with someone and feeling moved to pass on this advice (same as I gave her). Please, please, please spend a significant period of time building your email list *before* building your e-course. What I don’t want to have happen to you is launching to crickets. Or yelling into a stadium (in other words a super crowded Facebook environment).
So do get those numbers up on your list first. How many people need to be on your list? If you expect a 2% conversion (which is low but not atypical) you can do the math. Sure, you’re going to launch the course beyond your list, but your list is your bread and butter.
Tip 17: Make Networking a Selling Point
Sometimes the best outcome for an e-course student can actually be the connections, networking, and sometimes partnerships that occur outside of the course in the Facebook communities or forums that support the course.
I’ve seen many an e-course creator tout their groups as one of the bigger benefits of purchasing their course. If you have a large enough following, don’t forget articulating this benefit to potential customers!
Tip 18: Get Your Course Sold!
You’re probably already well aware that that so much of sales is a mind game. Yes, you may have a financial target for your launch that you want to hit, but your energy, your focus, and your thoughts are best spent on the things that you can do to make your course successful.
In other words, what can you control?
1 – Really nail your topic
2 – Don’t fall for the presale temptation (unless you’re really ready for it)
3 – Pour your heart and soul into your copy – and give yourself ample time to work on it
4 – Make sure your students are getting tremendous value – and then some.
If you can get these down – congratulations – you’re ahead of the pack.
Yes, I know that’s a lot!!
If you found these tips are helpful, you might want to “Like” and turn on notifications over here on Facebook to get these in your newsfeed.
And finally, if it would be helpful to see the entire map of the e-course creation process laid out in front of you, download The eCourse Creation Roadmap. It’s free to help you keep on track throughout the process. In it I lay out exactly what is it you’ll need to consider and what exact action steps I recommend you take as you create your ecourse. Give it a go.