Have you got some killer course content that you’ve developed? Or have you been thinking about what you could teach and share with others? Are you interested in getting it online and running? Can you make a meaningful living doing this? Let’s take a look at the some of the powerful tools that are available to you. I’m going to tell you how to create and sell online courses. I can think of about 100 things that you need to consider before you launch your course.
1. Do Some Research on Supply and Demand for your Course
Find out how to price this course, or if people will even be interested in it. Before you invest a lot of time and money into the project, know that you’ll get a favorable outcome.
2. As Things Develop
In the development phase, you will have many things to focus on. While you’re designing your course, concentrate on building value into it. Value is the most important factor in your course’s success.
3. Watch Your Time Management
Make sure to have the course ready to go when it’s supposed to. Budget your time as you go to prevent a panic at the end.
4. Find the Sweet Spot
Work in the area where your knowledge and passion intersect. Determine what problem you are solving with your course. Layer that in and you’ve got it!
5. Integrate Different Learning Styles
People learn in different ways. Vary the course content to include visual aids and videos, along with activities to do along the way.
6. Choose Your Dates
Decide what day you will begin accepting enrollment, and when your course will start. This will help you to establish your time line and grand plan for the work.
7. Check the URL
You want to get a great URL for your course as soon as you develop the name for it. Start checking… keep it simple!
8. Keep It Clever!
Be sure to give your courses short, catchy names. Remember, it’s got to grab them right away.
9. Verify First
Check and make sure that the catchy name you think of is actually your original thought. Make sure it’s not registered to someone else.
10. Create Your Course Outline
Have the roadmap to understand where you are going with the course. Know what you need to cover, and when you should introduce it.
11. Keep Success in Mind
Every aspect of your content planning should lead to success for the student. How will it help them be more successful?
12. Develop Your Content
Do your research and make sure your content is interesting and unique. Make sure it fills a need. What do people want to learn about? What will they buy?
13. Create Your Branding
Create the branding for your course. What is it about? What does it improve? What does it address within your niche?
14. Use Subject Matter Experts
Bounce things off an expert on your topic. Use them to help you write, or to check for accuracy, especially if you’re not sure.
15. Look for Win-Win Partnerships
When you are trying to promote your courses, who can help? Form alliances with folks that can benefit from your success as you launch your online courses.
16. Decide whether you will use free or paid web hosting
If you are building a site for commerce, which I assume you are, then the flexibility of paid hosting will work best for you.
17. Considering using a service that offers e-commerce design and help.
If you want someone in your corner to help, they can get you started, show you how to manage your site, and build your confidence.
18. Choose your Platform
Will you use a service to build your website? If so, consider one with the best plug ins. Use all the tricks you can to make your site work for you.
19. Get Plugged In
There are plugins that can get your courses online and manage them well. Familiarize yourself with the different software available before you decide.
20. Consider Course Management Software
Use your course management software to load the course content on your site. Follow your course outline. Inspect and make sure the progression is right.
21. Look for the eCommerce Solution for Your Marketing
You can find affordable software to help with marketing your courses, setting up your online store, and CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Some companies offer a one stop solution.
22. Look for Similar Courses
Although we realize that your content is unique, shop online for similar courses. This may remind you of sections of your content that you may have overlooked.
23. Develop your Pricing Plan
Again, look for courses that offer a product that is like yours. Get an idea for the pricing you want to set on your courses. Try to stay in the mid-range on pricing. You don’t want to come in too high, but you need to show your value.
24. What’s the Plan for Customer Support?
Make sure you understand how your customer will contact you and what that feels like for them. Selling online can be a bit trickier when it comes to communication. You must have a plan in place to answer inquiries and complaints quickly.
25. It’s All About the Headlines!
Like any other advertising, you need to engage your prospects and customers at the top of your page, or they will never get to the bottom. Make sure your marketing page has a catchy, attention grabbing headline.
26. Make the Site Visually Appealing
Making your site look awesome goes hand in hand with the headline to draw customers in and keep them wanting more.
27. Consistency is Key
Use the same font, same theme, and carry the same design through the entire curriculum. Consistency will impress.
28. Be Clear and Organized
Make sure the site flows and makes sense. People won’t want to take a course from you if there are errors on your page.
29. Use a Membership Software and Sign Customers Up!
You’ve planned and organized… now it’s time to enroll customers and start delivering content.
30. Members Only
With your membership software, you can keep “members only” topics or products that only members can access.
31. Social Media Strategy
Think about what your social media goals are. Then consider what social media platforms will work best to help you meet those goals.
32. Don’t Sell… Engage!
When you’re on social media, don’t sell. Use this time to engage and network with others that you have common interests with.
33. Use Keywords to Find a Facebook Group
Join a group or two that are talking about things that you want to talk about too. Again, keep it social. Selling on social media is a put off.
34. Start Your Own Facebook Group
Once you’ve launched your courses, invite participants to form a community on social media. Set up a Facebook group and invite people as they sign up.
35. Publish an Article on Linked In
A well written article about your course topic will wow them on Linked In. Tell them about it!
36. Go on YouTube
Make short videos and post them on YouTube. Make sure that they can be found in search engine rankings.
37. Tweak Your Website as Necessary
Use analytics from your marketing software to see where the weak spots in your site are. Are people looking, but not engaging?
38. Variations on a Theme
Try to make the theme of your website related to the content. The look should express the feeling you are trying to create.
39. Link It Back
Make sure that your website contains a clear link to your course. Be sure that the link stands out!
40. Get Those Email Addresses
Be sure to capture email addresses from visitors to your site. These will become your bread and butter as you grow your business. Hopefully, I’m late to the party with this advice, and you already have an audience.
41. Here’s Your Gift!
Offer a free gift to people that sign up for your email list. A newsletter, an eBook, or some other information that is useful.
42. Find a Podcast
Be the featured guest on a podcast, where you can talk about the subject matter of your course. Try to find a relevant podcast that’s mid-size.
43. Blog It!
You should already have a blog, but this is a great way to get the work out about the course offerings you have.
44. Be My Guest… Blog
Offering to be a guest blogger on someone else’s blog gives you a whole new audience to engage and inform.
45. Smile! You’re on Webcam!
Don’t overlook hosting a webinar to talk about your courses. Be persuasive, but don’t give away all your content. Just throw out the juicy tidbits of knowledge and leave them wanting more.
46. Happy Landing!
Create your landing page! Be sure to include some multimedia and example course material.
47. Make Sure Your Landing Page is 100% Wonderful
This is where the action is! It’s usually the first page they see, but it’s definitely the last page they see before it’s time to take action and ENROLL NOW
48. Stay Above the Fold
Put the important stuff “above the fold”. In print advertising, this is the top portion of the page that is above where a piece of mail is folded. Online, it the part of the website you see without scrolling.
49. Keep It Simple
Keep your text on the landing page simple, and use sub headlines to keep the reader’s attention. Be sure to include a clear call to action!
50. Plan to Spend Plenty of Time Marketing Your Courses
It will usually take time after you launch your courses for them to take off. This time will most likely be spent selling the value of them to countless people in your audience.
51. Engage with a Newsletter
Remember that email list we’ve been building? Use it to send an informative newsletter out to people that will want your course.
52. Use Your Welcome Email
Be sure to mention your course when you send a welcome email to people that opt in to your email list.
53. More About Email
Capture the email addresses of everyone that signs up for one of your courses. This will indicate if they’re a good candidate for your upcoming courses.
54. Even More About Email
If you are offering something free in exchange for their email address, make sure it’s something that they would buy otherwise. You have to offer something of value, or they won’t be ongoing customers.
55. Sign On!
Include the name of the course in your signature line on all emails. This can be changed, of course, as the courses change.
56. Keep Your Content Valuable
Make sure you are adding value whenever you send out information or engage in social media.
57. Save Time – Save Money!
Explain to your prospective student how they will save time and money by taking your online course.
58. Just a Little Teaser
Right about the BUY NOW button, give a little peek of what they stand to learn in your virtual classroom. Make it compelling.
59. Follow Up
Don’t forget to follow up with people who have completed one of your customers. Repeat customers are the easiest to snag, and loyal customers can make you a success!
60. The Role of SEO
Some website platforms will provide SEO as part of the package, or will have a plug in for it. Make sure it’s utilized. It doesn’t matter how awesome it is… if nobody sees it!
Watch out for keyword overload. Some people think that adding a bunch of key words onto a site will boost rankings. Search engines are looking for interesting, valuable content, and will boot you out if you are oversaturated with keywords.
62. Ask for Endorsements
Once you’ve had people take your courses successfully, ask them to write a short testimonial about their experience. This will add credibility to your marketing efforts.
63. Start Promoting Early
As soon as you are certain that you will be offering an online course, start the buzz! Let people know that it’s “coming soon” and get them excited.
64. Establish Yourself as the SME
Tell them why you’re a reputable source when it comes to your niche. Is it your experience? The research you’ve done? Your education?
65. Avoid Offering Free Classes
Don’t offer free classes. This will teach people that you’re someone who likes to give free classes. If you are just starting, or if you’re not feeling confident, opt for a lower fee… but not free!
66. Set Your Price According to Content
If you have a ton of content, and it includes interactive portions, multimedia gems, and goes for 10 hours, you’re not going to charge the same as 4 pages of written text. Make your content worth the extra price.
67. Enter Promo Code
Price the course as you see fit, and then experiment by offering a promotion. Using a Promo Code will let you know what your discounting should be, based on sign ups.
68. Set Financial Goals for Yourself
Know when it’s worth your while to do this. Be aware of what you need to make to break even, and show a profit.
69. Offer Your Services
If your courses are on a business topic, consider offering to host a webinar for a relevant business. Show them what you can do, and encourage participants to sign up for your email list for more.
70. Get a Flashy Twitter Hashtag
Get really creative and come up with an irresistible hashtag for Twitter. Something about your niche, but with an element of fun.
71. Ask for Feedback
And… use it. The advice that participants give you is invaluable. This is the part where you get your grade!
72. About the Surveys
Consider surveying the students halfway through the course, and then again at its completion. You’re more likely to get answers when the course is running. So, give yourself two chances at feedback.
73. Payment Systems
Set up your payment system early in the process of launching your first course. Don’t let this be a last-minute problem.
74. If You Have a Successful Course, Relaunch It
There’s no reason to run a successful course once and stop. Keep rerunning this course, and it will keep making you money. You can change it up now and then, but let it stay on the market.
75. Don’t Be Afraid of Hard Work
They call it “passive income”, but you have to work constantly if you’re going to have real success with it. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves!
76. Stand Out from the Rest
What makes your course unique? Try to offer something to entice participants away from those other guys that are competing for your customers.
77. Don’t be a Generalist
You’ve got to pick something to specialize in, and let customers come to you. Something that you love and that you’re good at. Think about it. You’ll have to launch a whole training college if you want to focus on… everything!
78. Talk to the People
See if you can dedicate one or maybe two hours a week to hangout and chat with people who visit your website. This adds a personal element to the learning relationship, and can help you build your business.
79. All About You
Along these same lines, make sure you include a bio section on your website. People will do business with people that they know over strangers.
80. Shopping for an LMS
When you are considering launching an online course, you need to decide on an LMS platform. Keep in mind that some help with designing the course. Some help with marketing the courses. The best ones will do double duty for you!
81. Organize Yourself with a Chart
There’s a lot that goes into creating and selling online courses. I’m sure you’ll agree. Project management is key, so consider using a Gantt chart, or something similar to remind you of deadlines and to keep your work on target.
82. It’s in the Cloud
Make sure that you’ve got a cloud storage solution in place for storing large files. I think it goes without saying these days, that storage space is important.
83. Change Is Inevitable
If you are promoting a course that will ask people to make changes in their lives, target one or two areas that they can work on. Asking people to change more than two or three things is going to lower their chances for success.
84. Show Them the Blueprint
When the course launches, the first thing you want to do with your enrollees is the preview the course. Show them the master plan and let them see what’s in store.
85. Make Use of Live!
The latest trend is going “Live” on Facebook. Use this to your advantage and give a live invitation to interested parties to check out your courses.
86. Additional Information
Sometimes, you may want to suggest additional reading. Or, you might recommend that the participants review documents that are not part of the course structure. Send these in an email. It will give you further contact, and give them the information.
87. Mind Your Time
This project will take a minimum of 6 months for most people to complete. Keep that in mind from the start. This is why planning and pacing is so important.
88. Allow for Different Devices
Well before launch, check that the course shows properly on mobile devices. Many students will opt to participate on phones or tablets.
89. Assigning Homework
Many facilitators think that because a class is presented online, that they have to make up for it by overloading participants outside of designated class time. Avoid this mistake, and keep outside work to a minimum. You want them engaged for the most part.
90. It’s in the Numbers
When you are marketing your online courses, remember that approximately two percent of people targeted will respond. Does that give you an idea of how many email addresses you will need to reach your revenue goals?
91. Bring a Friend
Offer people that sign up for your course a bonus if they recommend a friend that signs up. Increase your participants and your email list!
92. Test Your Launch
Before you do your full-scale launch, do a test run. Email select people on your list. Pick the ones that usually open your email. Offer them the course on a pre-launch special at 50% off. If they bite, it’s a good indication that you’re in good shape for the launch.
93. Be Available
Communication can make or break your success in facilitating online courses. Take the time to be available.
94. Appeal to the Emotions
One important thing to remember, and it applies to all marketing, really. Don’t sell with logic. Sell with Emotion. People make buying decision based on emotions.
95. Provide Real World Scenarios
Throughout the course, give participants the “So What?”. Tell them how this knowledge will benefit them, and where they can apply it.
96. Consider the Learner
People come from different educational and experiential backgrounds. It’s imperative that you address them on their level. Don’t talk down to them, and don’t talk over their heads.
97. Do a Pre-Assessment
A quick knowledge check before starting the course will let you and your participant know where the room for improvement lies. The can be useful for both of you, and for ongoing courses.
98. Let Me Stop and Assess
Allow for periodic assessments throughout the course. How will you know if the information is sinking in otherwise? Stop and check for knowledge every now and then.
99. Have You Created a Monster?
Don’t overcomplicate things for yourself. Don’t make the course so complicated that it’s hard for you to maintain and rework when necessary.
100. Keep Up with the Competition
It’s important that you understand the industry, and one of the best ways to do that is to see what the other team’s up to. Check in on the competition from time to time. This will help with your course development and your marketing strategy.
Whew! As you can see there are more than one or two things for you to consider before embarking on this journey. All of these particulars boil down to three basic steps:
· Creating Your Course
· Marketing Your Course
· Launching Your Course
Where are you in this process? Join the group of folks that are realizing their dreams by helping others with informational online courses! If you would like further discussion, or if you have questions, let us know. We’re here to help!