10 Things We Learned About Filming An Online Course

10 Things We Learned About Filming An Online Course
Summary: Our inaugural Udemy course is off to a good start. And we learned a lot along the way.

Creating Your First Online Course Can Be Daunting

I recently launched my first online course on Udemy. The Ultimate Public Relations Masterclass covers everything we have learned about public relations in over a decade in the industry. We built the course from our own in-house training guides and from interviews with and feedback from our clients, staff, and contacts in the industry.

I’m pleased to say that within its first month, the course had over 200 enrollments, and it became one of the highest-rated in its category and earned Udemy’s sought-after “bestseller” tag. So far, it’s been a success.

I am fortunate to have access to a video production company who could film the course for me, and while Udemy (like many online learning platforms) doesn’t require that you use professional video producers, camera operators, and directors to create your course, we learned a lot from working with some of the industry’s best, and this information can be used by anyone creating an online course from home.

So here are 10 things we learned about creating an online course from scratch.

1. It’s Mostly About The Content

Even Steven Spielberg (or James Cameron) can’t turn average content into a blockbuster. When planning out your first online course, you need to make sure your content will resonate with your target student.

Consider these questions:

  • Where will you get your content? Do you have guides and manuals already that can help formulate it?
  • How do you validate it to know that it’s valuable? Can you get feedback on your content from other professionals and complete beginners to see if it makes sense?
  • How do you evaluate the other courses being offered and make sure yours adds something different?

I highly recommend you take the other courses in your category to see what is already being offered so that you can make sure yours is better!

2. Think Visually When Writing Your Script

When scripting your content (which is an important exercise to make sure that you have a logical structure), look for opportunities to use slides, images, and videos to demonstrate concepts or emphasize certain points. If you can show it visually, do.

3. Film In Front Of A Green Screen

When I first decided to create an online course, I thought I could simply film it in my living room. But our video team convinced me to use a green screen, which was really great advice. The videos look professional, which makes them really stand out against the competition. And, when I had to go back to film additional content after the main course had been filmed, we were able to set up an identical setting.

4. Don’t Read Your Script

I was lucky enough to have a director to help me with the content delivery on filming day. One of the most helpful points she made was not to read my script to avoid sounding “wooden.” Instead, I read over my script and then delivered it in my own words to the camera. This made it sound much more natural and authentic.

5. Sound Matters

Your students have to be able to hear you clearly. I had a lapel mic to make sure that this wasn’t an issue!

6. The Details Are Important

I mentioned earlier that we had to film additional content a few weeks after the main filming day. I wanted to do it in a meeting room at our office. However, the cameraman insisted on going to the same spot where the rest of the content was filmed. He was right—the new content looks and sounds identical to the original.

7. Get Your Slides Professionally Designed

You are clearly a Subject Matter Expert—you wouldn’t be creating an online course if you weren’t. But if your subject is not design, then get a professional to design your slides. This is a small investment that will really pay off in terms of reviews and student feedback.

8. Work With The Editor

Whoever is editing your course shouldn’t be left to their own devices. They know how to edit, but they don’t know much about your course’s core topic. Make sure you provide feedback to them as your course comes together so that you get it right.

9. Proof And Sign Off Before Going Live

I had to watch my whole four-hour course all the way through before I could upload it to Udemy. It was a significant time investment, but it meant I could spot any continuity or formatting errors before the course went live.

10. Take Feedback On Board, Adapt, And Improve

Finally, students will review your course and provide regular feedback, which won’t always be positive. Don’t take it too personally. Simply learn, improve, and adapt the course and move on with your life.