4 Steps to Creating an Engaging Online Course

February 3, 2017

7:00 pm

Selling content online has become a massive industry in the last several years, as online courses rake in well over $100 billion annually. As the internet continues to mature, the industry’s reach and profitability swells as well. Considering the massive potential that online courses and other digital learning modalities bring to individuals and brands, many are looking to cash in and create courses of their own.

There are many online courses that pull in six to seven figures per month on a variety of topics. And once they have been generated income, courses can be repurposed many times over to create additional revenue. The biggest problems brands face is that they feel unqualified to teach or their email lists are too small. Both of these obstacles are surmountable with a little time and effort.

Let’s dispel a couple of myths first. If you are good at something, you can teach a program. It’s that simple. In addition, online courses are actually an effective way to grow email lists. They work together, and you don’t need a massive list to get started.

Now let’s cover how startups, companies, and individuals can craft a digital learning course that engages, sells, and delivers results.

Establish Profitable Ideas

For many, this is the most challenging aspect to creating an online course. In many instances, however, this is merely a case of overthinking. In order to get to the bottom of what people want to learn and what daily challenges they struggle to overcome, just ask them.

This can be approached from various directions. You can pull inspiration from the comments on your blog or engage online discussion forums. You can post queries on social media, or even go right for it and create and publish surveys. Just make sure you are framing them in a way that makes people want to engage. In all honesty, surveys are likely your best option.

“Do regular surveys with your audience to figure out what is the most talked about areas in terms of problems they are having and then build content around these areas,” said Ian Cleary, CEO of RazorSocial. “You can even use the words they use in the copy for your sales/promotional material!”

Once you have harvested insights from your audience, you’ll be able to better decide what your next steps are. After all, you need to know your students before you can create the curriculum.

Brainstorm Solutions

When creating an online course, it is vital to remember that people are seeking information to handle certain situations. Your course is designed to be a shortcut or revolutionary path to getting to a particular outcome. Keep this in mind as you brainstorm and test solutions.

In this phase, anything goes. Explore as many ideas as you can possibly conjure, even ones that seem crazy or outlandish. That’s where breakthroughs occur. The more concepts that you can craft, the better off you will be in creating an ideal solution to people’s concerns.

Crafting the Course

Now that the problem and solution have been established, it is time to begin putting the resolution process on paper and create the course content. An easy way to begin plotting out a course is by documenting each step in the process in chronological order. Once noted, begin fleshing out each step into its own lesson or module.

As for the type of content you choose to leverage, most online learning courses use a variety of formats. These include videos, slides, and downloadable text documents. Fortunately, in the era of mobile technology, video content has become extremely inexpensive to create while high quality is easy to attain.

Refine and Launch

With your core content created, it’s time to start segmenting the pieces. This may be a bit painful, but it’s necessary as providing people with too much information leads to lower retention rates. You want your course to appear comprehensive but manageable.

“Make sure you structure the course so that you are creating digestible learning modules where people not only feel that have fully understood what you’ve explained, but have the confidence to take action on what they have learnt,” said Valarie Khoo, founder and CEO of the Australian Writer’s Centre.

If your course is too dense, people will become easily confused and overwhelmed by the information. This causes some to feel unable to act and no closer to solving their issue. The easiest way to approach the editing process is by dividing the information into “need to know” and “nice to know” categories. Anything that lands in the latter column can be cut for the sake of the student.

Once the online course is complete, choose whether or not to sell your course via a dedicated website. You can begin researching pricing strategies and advertising options discover a bundle of different distribution options. The easiest solution is often leveraging a platform like Kajabi, which offers a very innovative one-stop shopping toolset for selling courses online.

While it does take some time to document and create the materials, the long term benefits of online courses is well often worth the investment. If you’ve got the knowledge to help solve a pain point then an online course can catapult you both into happier spaces.

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A New York native, currently dwelling in Berlin. Always been a Luddite, but now embracing the tech world and trying to make a name for myself as a tech journalist.

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