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If you want to create an online course then you’re going to need to decide whether to host it on your own website or to use an online training platform. In this podcast my guest Jean Maund and I discuss the pros and cons of each, plus give our advice on which one you should choose.
Jean is a WordPress and online marketing expert who works mainly with experts such as coaches, trainers and speakers. You can find out more about Jean at : JustAskJean.co.uk.
Please click here to download the free brainstorming sheet I mention in this episode.
Or you’d be very welcome to join me and other online course brainstormers in my Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/onlinecoursebrainstormers/
Here’s what’s in the podcast:
- Why you shouldn’t start by deciding whether to use a platform or a plugin, and what you must do first
- What is a platform and what’s a plugin?
- The pros and cons of each
- How EU VAT impacts your choice of plugin or platform (even if you think it doesn’t)
- Whether you should choose a platform or a plugin for your online course
Here’s something I see all the time. Someone is thinking of making an online course so they ask which platform they should use in a large Facebook group.
The problem is that they get lots of ‘I use platform X and I love it’ – type answers when the people doing the recommending know nothing about the aspiring course creator’s goals, technical ability, budget, strategy… you get the idea.
Even worse, many people doing the advising have no idea that they should be paying EU VAT if they are selling an ‘automated’ course to a European country. EU VAT potentially applies to anyone in the world, but most Americans don’t know about it, or turn a blind eye thinking they’ll never be caught.
That’s entirely their choice, but Europeans need to at least be aware of the EU VAT rules, and in my experience they aren’t getting that info in big online marketing Facebook groups. EU VAT will affect your choice of online course platform because different platforms handle it in different ways. Some don’t handle it at all.
So this all sends the person asking the question on a long journey to check out all the platforms, even though they probably don’t have a clear goal or audience for their course yet and don’t really know what they’re looking for. And it can get overwhelming pretty quickly.
If this sounds familiar to you (or if you’d like to avoid it completely) then please do come over to my free Facebook group where I will help you plan your course in the right order and avoid the overwhelming race around the online training platforms!
By the way, this drawing is by me! Over the last few months I’ve been learning about visual communication (yes, drawing ideas with a pen!) and wanted to try illustrating this post. I’ve exhibited some of my art work in local exhibitions, but until now my drawing has never crossed over into my business. I need a bit more practice yet, but I’m enjoying drawing and it’s a great way to get your point across in seconds.
One of the biggest fears you may have about launching an online course is that nobody will buy your course. But don’t worry, I can help you in episode two of my Totally Courses podcast.
An important way of preventing this is to get feedback on both your course idea and the pilot course itself. But unless you go about gathering feedback the right way, you’ll get information that’s useless. Or worse, you could give your confidence such a hard knock that you don’t launch your course at all.
Find out how to gather feedback the right way in this episode:
Download the brainstorming sheet I mentioned in this episode at totallycourses.com/brainstormingsheet
Four examples of places in your course creation where you might want to ask for feedback are:
- To validate your course idea
- To check your video and audio quality
- When piloting your course
- When you need testimonials
In this episode I take you through a four step process so you can gather feedback in a way that both gives you information to improve your course (and make it easier to sell) and that helps you stay positive and motivated, including:
- Working out exactly what you want from the feedback
- Who to ask
- How to craft your questions
- How to increase your chances of people responding to your request for feedback
If you’d like to follow my podcast, the direct link is www.mixcloud.com/totallycourses/
I’ve done it. After about 7 years of thinking of making a podcast…I finally made a podcast! And in the first one I talk about why you should make an online course.
I did have a good reason for holding back because I was worried about ‘spreading myself too thin’ and not being able to stick to a schedule. But I’ve made plenty of online courses and voice overs now, so recording and editing audio is pretty easy. Making my first episode was painless in the end!
Here it is…
In this episode of the Totally Courses podcast:
Four great reasons why you should make an online course
Download the brainstorming sheet I mentioned in this episode at totallycourses.com/brainstormingsheet
- My story and why I decided to help people make online courses
- Reason 1: It makes good business sense
- Reason 2: You can change lives around the world – listen to find out how!
- Reason 3: It’ll help you position yourself as an expert
- Reason 4: It helps disaster-proof your business. I’ll tell you how something very small stopped me from earning money – and what I did about it.
You can follow the show on Mixcloud here.
Just lately I’ve got back into listening to podcasts because I can learn and do my chores at the same time. And I know I’m not alone in using podcasts to double their time, many people listen to podcasts in the car or even at the gym. It made sense from a content creation point of view, too. Although I’m happy to make videos, I have more ideas than I have time to make them. I can get content out of my brain faster than with video because I don’t need to set up a camera and lights with a audio!
So I’m looking forward to making more!
There’s a lot of advice on the practicalities of making online courses here on my blog and on my YouTube channel and Instagram. But I haven’t said much about how you can get get in your own way. Because there’s no doubt, one of the big barriers to making an online course can be your own mind. Trust me, I’ve been there myself!
So I’ve made a couple of videos about how to get over those things that can get in the way when you want to make an online course.
In the first one I talk about how you need to set aside some time and space to make your online course. It sounds obvious, but so often we end up trying to cram our course creation into to tiny pockets of time after we’ve finished our client work.
Have you ever got about half-way through making a course and been struck by lots of negative thoughts? What if your course is no good? Why would anyone listen to you anyway?
In the second video I talk about these thoughts and suggest some ways of getting past them so you can finish your course.
Please note this was a Facebook live so the video and audio quality isn’t as high as would like it to be. This is something I’m going to look into for future live videos.
Quick reminder: my ‘Create your online course in 7 weeks’ course ends in October. For all the info on that, please click here.
There are a few courses out there that will teach you how to market and create your own online course. And although the content in them is often great, they aren’t for everyone. I’ll explain why and tell you about a different approach in this Facebook Live recording:
Here are the key points I mention in the video:
- Here’s the link to my new course Create your online course in seven weeks
- If you’re investing in one of these big courses, you may also need a (fairly large) budget in addition to the course fee for things like web design, graphic design and advertising.
- Not everyone has – or wants to spend – the several thousand dollars these courses cost.
- Many aspiring course creators would rather start small and build later than to put all their time and effort into one big course.
- The danger with course creation is that you’ll get distracted by your other work, family business or just a drop in confidence or motivation. It’s better to have a small course done and up for sale quickly than a large on half-finished and gathering dust on your hard drive.
- The first course is always the hardest. Get the first one finished and you’ll have the skills, confidence and motivation to make more.
- Small doesn’t have to mean cheap. You can add value to your short course by offering extras such as coaching or other services.
- Smaller, less expensive, more tightly focused courses are easier to sell if you’re new to selling courses.
- And more!
Another week, another Facebook Live (and this time I had some people watching – very exciting!) This week I was talking about a really common challenge I hear about – how to beat your online course creation overwhelm. Here’s the replay:
Here are the key points I mentioned:
- Don’t get hung up on the technology. The chances are that whatever you want for your course (high tech, low tech, complex, simple…) you’ll find a solution, so thinking about the technology too soon will just overwhelm you.
- Don’t go too broad. Focus on helping your audience solve a single, focused problem. That means you can make a short, tightly focused course that’s less overwhelming for you and much more likely to grab the attention of your future students.
- Think about how you’re going to market the course before you begin. There’s no need to put together a detailed plan and it’s perfectly fine if you only have a small audience or social media following. But thinking about how you’re going to reach your audience now will make it easier to ‘angle’ your course to the needs your audience members have and the language they use. For example, a career coach may think of creating a course to help clients reach their full potential but the clients may be thinking in terms of getting a better job or getting a promotion.
If you’d like to see more of my Facebook Live broadcasts, please like my page: Facebook.com/totallycourses
But this one was going to be a video with a difference because it was my first ‘proper’ live video where I shared some useful content. My previous ones have been quick tests to see how it all works. Here it is:
If you prefer to watch this on YouTube, the link is here.
My Facebook page is Facebook.com/totallycourses if you’d like to follow me? I will be doing more live videos because my reach from this one is pretty good compared to the reach I typically get for my page posts. It’s well worth exploring Facebook Live if you feel brave enough.
Here are the key points from the video:
- How long should your course be? As long as it needs to be to deliver the outcomes your students want. (See my video for examples)
- If it’s your first course, keep it short, say around half an hour. Narrow down the subject of the course so your students can achieve a useful objective in that time e.g. instead of ‘how to bake cakes’ teach them how to make a specific type of cake. Even better, design the course to solve a common problem that your students or clients already have.
- Check the rules or constraints of the platform, if you’re using one. E.g. Udemy strongly recommends courses should be a minimum of an hour long.
- I also give a very simple course outline you can use to structure your course content.
Hope that’s helpful, please do let me know if you have any suggestions for videos!
If you ask an online course creator to recommend screencasting software, the chances are you’ll hear ‘Camtasia’ or maybe ‘Screenflow’. These days I’m a Camtasia Studio user, but it took me a few years to get to the stage where I was ready to use it. If you’re in that situation right now, don’t worry there are some cheaper alternatives. To find out what they are, take a look at my video below. I also share the pros and cons of each and my favourite budget alternative to Camtasia:
Here are links to the pages, documents and videos I mention in this video
And I also mention my video showing you how to make a PowerPoint video:
If you have any questions on screencasting please just let me know below!