Where To Start With Creating Your Online Course (Exercise)

How To Create Your Online Course

Good news: You think you have what it takes to create a great online course. (Fantastic.)

Bad news: We’re all adults here, so let’s acknowledge the fact that some eLearning projects fail.

You’re probably thinking “That’s an encouraging start, Juste”. But bear with me; I’m going to crush this fear.

To gear up for a successful launch, we need to understand why some of the online courses receive no attention whatsoever. They get no love. Zero. Null. Nada. Nichevo.

They weren’t meant to succeed? Not really.

They were built with a lot of care and effort, but were they built with a target audience in mind?

Great stuff always finds a following, but don’t test this belief if it’s your first attempt at building an online course. The only person vouching for the quality of your course is you and that is not something people will feel inclined to trust too much.

So what does that mean? It means that a good idea is not enough. Learning is something everyone talks about, but a very small percentage of people actually want to do and an even smaller percentage want to pay for.

That’s why some of the eLearning projects fail; people don’t want to pay for them.

No money, no honey, not funny… So, how do we make them pull the credit cards out?

Lesson #1: Stop Being All Me Me Me

Question your ideas and question them hard.

Just because you think you had a revelation, doesn’t mean someone would want to spend money on your idea. C’mon. It’s not about what you want, it’s about what people NEED.

Signing up for an online course takes a little bit of desperation and a lot of self-discipline, so why not make it a tad easier for these poor souls and create something that is useful? Like an easy exit from an annoying problem?

I assume you have already identified your key strengths. Something that you know better than most of the people around you: Negotiating, PowerPoint, public speaking, growing vegetables, crafting - anything. If you haven’t, do it now. Do it and write it down, because it’s your golden ticket.

The sad truth is that your strength is someone else’s weakness and that’s a very very good thing for you. These people will turn out to be your most loyal followers.

So, where do you start? Let’s discuss some mind reading techniques.

One of the best-known demand indicators is competition. Do a quick Google search and see what it brings up. If no one is talking about your project idea, there are three plausible reasons:

  1. Your idea was, indeed, genius and you’ve discovered an untapped niche.
  2. The angle you chose is not relevant (try rephrasing and testing different keywords).
  3. Welcome to reality - no one actually needs this course (but don’t give up just yet; do the exercise below and you will gain a new perspective).

Lesson #2: Rub Salt Into The Wound

To convince learners to spend their money on a course, you need to inject a feeling of immediate improvement. Show them how your teachings will help them change whatever they want to change right away.

To do that, you need to focus on a very specific pain that many people can relate to.

So this is how you read minds.

Magic: Let’s say your superpower is self-confidence. You have a lot of it, so it’s easy for you to influence people, win arguments, and make new connections. You have what it takes to be a strong communicator. Who doesn’t want that?

It’s an impressive skill, but it’s too vague to give you any sort of guidance and it doesn’t trigger self-reflection. So let’s try to narrow it down.

  1. Google “confidence online course” (or “your superpower online course”) and run through the results to get a better perspective on what others are doing.
  2. Identify the pain points. You will recognize them easily, as they are basically thinking and feeling patterns that trouble the masses. Look for trigger phrases. In what areas of their lives do people lack confidence? The best places to hunt this information down are: Comment sections under articles exploring the topic; Quora answers; book reviews on Amazon or goodreads.com; Facebook self-help groups (and comments under posts); online forums.
    Here are my research findings: 

    “I am a shy person naturally...”

    “I am more confident around people, where before I would be something of a wallflower - often afraid to engage with people.”

    “My main problem was social phobia - in classes at university I would go bright red, and was even beginning to stutter, when asking questions or giving corrections, especially in lectures.”

    “I went from being a man who lacked confidence in the workplace, in everyday situations, and with girls, to someone who is super confident in all situations and proud of who I am.”

    “Having not had a job interview for 13 years and being desperate to change careers, I decided to use the CDs from this package to assist me in getting a job I really wanted.”

    “I surprisingly opened up conversations to strangers or people I bump into all the time but was too shy to speak to.”

    “I have always got really nervous when speaking or presenting to large audiences. Unfortunately at uni and my future job this is something required of me frequently.”

Review on Amazon. "Overcoming Anxiety" by Helen Kennerley

Review on Amazon. "Overcoming Anxiety" by Helen Kennerley

This is a gold mine. Using people’s personal experiences, you can pinpoint actual, real-life problems and tailor your online courses to provide solutions. To define your niche audience, you just need to extract specific troubles these people are referring to. It does feel a little like mind reading.

  1. “I am a shy person naturally...” = Introversion, shyness, social anxiety. 
  2. “I am more confident around people, where before I would be something of a wallflower - often afraid to engage with people.”  = Find it hard to start/maintain a meaningful conversation, afraid of talking to strangers. 
  3. “My main problem was social phobia - in classes at the university I would go bright red, and was even beginning to stutter when asking questions or giving corrections, especially in lectures.” = Suffering from social awkwardness, fear of public speaking. 
  4. “I went from being a man who lacked confidence in the workplace, in everyday situations and with girls, to someone who is super confident in all situations and proud of who I am.” = Struggling to establish authority at work, find it difficult to communicate with co-workers, find it difficult to approach and talk to women. 
  5. “Having not had a job interview for 13 years and being desperate to change careers, I decided to use the CDs from this package to assist me in getting a job I really wanted.” = Lacking interview skills for career success. 
  6. “I surprisingly opened up conversations to strangers or people I bump into all the time but was too shy to speak to.” = Lacking communication skills, struggling to overcome shyness to make new connections. 
  7. “I have always got really nervous when speaking or presenting to large audiences. Unfortunately at uni and my future job this is something required of me frequently.” = Lacking presentation skills, struggling to communicate effectively to large audiences, lacking public speaking skills.

It took me 15 minutes to gather this information, but it’s enough to start bouncing ideas and narrowing my research field.

If I decided to kick off with a course focused on one of these pains, here are a few possible angles I could work:

  • Overcoming shyness and social anxiety: Take control of your life
  • Mastering the tactics of meaningful conversation: Talk your way into a better life
  • The art of communication: How to use the power of language to shape your career

When you hit a nerve, you won’t need to fret about finding a unique sales point for your course; it will be painfully obvious.

Lesson #3: Don’t Be A Foreigner

It’s a no-brainer: Talk to your students in the language they understand about the things that trouble them.

If you think it’s easier said than done, we’ve created a series of checklists to help you build online courses with great ease and confidence.

Good luck! :)

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