You’ve got an idea of your own online course… But you have no idea where to get started? This post will review exact steps to take before creating an e-course.
In course creation, just like in most of any other strategies, there is no “one size fits all” description to follow. At the same time, there are some basic steps you should take – or at least consider – before creating an e-course.
In this post, I’ll review some planning processes you should go through and give some actionable tips on how to make sure it’s going smoothly for you.
Let’s get started, shall we?
A few things to keep in mind
First of all, you should always follow a strategy and plan that’d work the best for YOU. Just because I’ve made a suggestion of doing something, it doesn’t exactly mean you have to follow these exact footsteps.
All online courses are different, as I have already talked about it in other posts. Therefore, the details will depend now only on your own preferences but also on the type of the content, your audience and your overall business plan with this.
One universal tip to always keep in mind would be to keep the process organized! It will be really hard to take it to the final product if there is no plan and organization.
Steps to take before creating an e-course
STEP #1 Define your target audience
The most important step to take before creating an e-course is to define your target audience.
The more specific and more detailed is your perfect students profile in your mind, the easier will any further steps be.
You can start by answering some of these questions:
- What is your current audience?
- What audience do you enjoy working with the most?
- Whom can your skills help the most?
This doesn’t mean that these will be the only people taking your course or paying the attention to what you do in general. But this will be the crowd you’ll focus on.
And it’s usually not enough to say “woman, from 30 to 45”. It’s good to know what are the specific interests of this audience. What are they dreaming of and what they want to succeed in. “Woman, from 30 to 45, with at least 2 kids and dream turn their hobbies into business” is a whole different story!
Once you have the clarity on who’s on the other side, it’s easier to talk with them, to find their pain points and solve their problems which leads us to the next step.
STEP #2 Understand how you can help them
Coming up with the overall topic of your course is one of the easiest parts to do if you already have a vision.
But you need to get more specific and really understand what your course can help with, how it will be beneficial for your target audience and how your people will know it’s for THEM.
With a broad topic, it’s easy to target everyone. And when you talk with everyone – you talk with no one.
If someone is saying “I can help you all with your digital marketing strategy” it doesn’t sound as impressive as “I have an extensive experience with millennials and their Instagram strategy flaws, I’m here to solve your struggles!”
- How your experience can help your target audience?
- What are the things your audience will benefit from the most?
- What is one problem you can really focus on and solve for them?
STEP #3 Review the competition
Many new online course creators have not the smallest idea of what’s really happening in their field of expertise.
If you’ve just got into the business, hired an editor, designer and marketing guru to get your course done, you’ll have no luck in succeeding.
What you need to do is to actually understand what’s going on in the market right now. Maybe your exact topic already has hundreds of courses created. Can you be even more specific about your audience or problems you solve?
Maybe your competitor courses are long, with tons of descriptive info. Can you make your course more actionable and process-based to stand out?
This research could also give you some additional ideas, inspiration and “aha!” moments.
STEP #4 Make an action plan
Once you’ve decided who’s your perfect audience and how you can solve their problems while being at least a bit different from your competitors, it’s time to create an action plan.
First of all, this action plan should work for you – because you’ll be the one following it.
Here are a few ideas you can grab when working on it:
- Create an overall timeline of what and when you’d like to get done. Set your mind to these deadlines and take them seriously but understand that you’ll always need at least a bit more time than you thought.
- Instead of working on all elements for each lesson right away, start with the content for all lessons, then work on Worksheets for all lessons, etc. This way you can pre-sale the content once it’s done and improve with further elements when you see how people are reacting to the course in the first place
- If possible, plan to outsource some of the repeated tasks or things you don’t want or don’t know how to do, whether it’s a Sales page design, copy editing or anything alike.
- Make sure to write down all of your plans and ideas for each lesson. It doesn’t mean you have to follow it all but it will take these small things off your mind.
- Create a timeline you can put right in front of you so you can motivate yourself to make your course happen!
STEP #5 Decide what tools and platforms you’ll want to use
To make this process easier for yourself, one of the best things to do before creating an e-course is to already make the decision about which tools and platforms you’ll use to make this happen.
First of all, you’ll have the option to keep in mind any media you can or can’t use. As I have mentioned, most online course platforms offer all kinds of media – audio, video, PDFs, text, presentations. But it’s good to double check before getting started.
Besides that, once you’ve chosen all tools and have a clarity on what will need to get done, you’ll know whether or not you’ll need any help and what to request from an assistant.
You can leave some decisions for once the course is ready to get sold and it’s also possible to change along the way. But it’s always easier to start with a clear plan!
STEP #6 Prepare a mini-course/free samples
The last but definitely not least thing to do would be to create a small course or sample you can share with others for free so you can bulletproof your idea and make sure people really need what you’re going to create!
Besides that, offering free insight can also be a great way to build your mailing list and make sure there will be someone waiting for your project to get done.
I’ll make sure to review this step more in-depth in another post so stay tuned!