It’s a no-brainer. Your e-course is an e-book. Your e-book is an e-course.
But not exactly.
Sure, they have the same information, but your approach should be quite different. I’ve written a few books and many, many courses. Trust me, there is a difference!
Here, I’ll share with you two critical ways to differentiate your book from your course and then look at some reasons you’d want to do one of these 2 things first.
First, let’s talk about the purpose of each:
Your Book’s Purpose
Your books’ sole purpose is to enlighten (and maybe even entertain). You’re conveying a lot of information – you’re opening up minds – you’re raising questions. Often a book is the first step on a learning journey.
Your Course’s Purpose
On the other hand, your course’s sole purpose is be that learning journey. In other words, your course should actually cause learning to happen. And remember, true learning = change. In other words, if the learner isn’t changing something, they’re not really learning.
So, if the purpose of a book is to enlighten and the purpose of a course is to cause someone to change something, then, how does that influence your approach to each?
Let’s start with your focus:
Your Course’s Focus
Have you ever taken a course with ADHD? I don’t mean when you had ADHD, I mean when the course had it!
It ricochets from one thing to another, then back again. You don’t really know what it is you’re actually supposed to be learning. “What the heck’s the point?” you wonder.
So when you create your course, get FOCUSED. Your course has to have a lot of it. What focus am I talking about? Focus on the things you want people to really, actually, specifically learn. Not on the tangents, not on the nice to know stuff. No. Focus just on the true YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS stuff.
Focus your words as well. Don’t cloak your titles with cleverness that makes people wonder what a lesson or a resource or a segment is really about. Don’t get overly clever and obscure. Say exactly what you mean. Leave all the learners’ cognitive bandwidth for the learning!
Example: For a course on finding a job, instead of saying, “Confessions from the hiring side of the desk,” use “Advice from a recruiter.” Instead of saying “Set your stage for success,” say something straightforward like, “Get your financial and legal matters in order.”
Picture your learner having paid a considerable amount of money for your course sitting at their desk, desperate for the solutions you are going to provide, and expecting a great ROI on their purchase. So FOCUS! Get to the point!
Your Book’s Focus
Okay, with this one you can let down your guard a bit. Instead of a student huddled over their laptop, picture the person as a reader, curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea, immersed in their ebook reader with your very affordable ebook on it.
So here’s your chance to be entertaining… clever… adorable even. Here you can tease the reader a bit. Topics don’t have to be tightly controlled. You can go on tangents – as long as they serve the topic and are entertaining. Yes, get to the point, but do so more lightly.
A book is an educational tool – and sometimes education needs to feel a little fun – or at least dramatically compelling – to get to the end. So go ahead and use spicier titles like “Confessions from the hiring side of the desk” and “Set your stage for success.” Tell tales, spin stories, create suspense.
Chicken or the Egg?
So, now you know 2 key differences between a book and a course, which might you work on first and which second?
It depends. I’ll lay out some reasons for you to do either one first. Then, you decide!
The Case for the Book First
If you are the type of person who needs to get everything out of your head before you can think clearly, a book might be where you want to start. It’s kind of like taking all your clothes out of the closet and laying them out on the floor so you can decide what to keep and what to discard. If that’s your thing, here’s a bunch of reasons why that might be the way to go:
- Your book is a great way to test the appetite for your course topic. Is your audience enthusiastic about buying a book about your topic? (And they’re actually buying it?) Good! You should feel like you have a big green light for creating your course.
- Your book is also a great way to test your marketing copy. If you sell your e-book directly to your audience first (by-passing Amazon), split test different copy to see which one resonates. Then, when you create the copy for your course you know what to emphasize and what to avoid.
- Writing a book is a great way to get all your thoughts out and organized. Then you can step back and think about which content in the book is critical for the course. Once you’ve done that, you’ve got a great course outline.
- If you sell your ebook through Amazon and include some marketing copy about your business and your upcoming course the front and/or back of it (which, of course, you’ll do!!), you’ll drive folks to sign up for your list, building your audience even more for the soon-to-come course.
- Your course will include the critical, most synthesized and to-the-point material you have on your topic. It’s the essence of your topic. But a book that goes deeper (or broader) can be a great upsell or bonus to your course. You may end up selling a lot more courses that way. So, write your book first in order to use it to sweeten the deal with your course.
The Case for the Course First
But maybe you’re not the type to drag all your clothes out onto the floor before deciding which ones give you joy. Maybe that approach gives you the hebbie-jebbies. Maybe you’re the type to just pull out the stuff you want to give to the Goodwill. Then, maybe you’re a course-first kind of person.
Here’s why that will work:
- If you need the money fast, there’s nothing better than selling a course for $99, $149, or all the way up. In comparison, ebooks are so damn cheap that you’d have to find a huge audience to bring in more money than your ecourse.
- A course is also going to infuse more activity into your business. While a book just sits out there, a course can have lots of ways to create and nurture your community. And community can mean more clients which means more revenue.
- You don’t necessarily have to have the whole thing done before you open the cart on your ecourse. It’s a good idea, but not necessary if you’re dripping the course out to learners week-by-week. You will, however, have to have your whole ebook done before selling it!
- If your topic isn’t totally gelled for you, you can easily pilot your course, get feedback, and make changes. Once you’ve iterated and finalized the course, you’d be ready to tackle the book.
- If you’re eventually planning on going after a traditional publisher and make your book a print book, then a popular course with lots of sales is going to sweeten you up as a potential author. [Just to be clear, you can self-publish a print book, no problem, but there are benefits to having a traditional publisher. I’ve done it both ways so contact me if you want to chat.]
So, which shall it be – the course first or the book first?
If you picked the book to start first, I have a course about to help you get it done! Seriously, I do.
It’s called Get Your Epic Article or Book DONE (Finally!). Check it out!
If you’ve picked the course first, awesome! If you need any help with that, check out my “Work with me” page.