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Planning, creating, launching, and running an online course? It’s a HUGE endeavor. And even that’s kind of an understatement!
So I’m ecstatic to announce that I’ve reached a milestone today at Lady Boss League that has been a long time in the making. My inaugural class of students just finished their final day of lessons in my first online course, Pintastic Profit Plan.
Cue the bells and whistles…we made it!
I first decided that I was going to create an online course about Pinterest marketing in December of 2015, and everything that I’ve done since then has almost solely been related to the course. Whether it was list building, or pre-selling, or webinars, or content creation, it all revolved around Pintastic Profit Plan.
This whole process has been MUCH more time consuming, all encompassing, and stress inducing than I thought it would be.
But it was also incredibly powerful, fulfilling, and completely in line with the type of business and lifestyle that I want to create.
Courses are a perfect match for my background in education, coupled with my desire to create a business that does not force me into a business model of trading time for money. (I’ve been there and done that, and don’t want to go back!)
As I’m starting to wrap up this inaugural class of course students, I’m already thinking about making updates to the course content based on student feedback, creating a signature webinar for the course, and working out strategies to sell it to future course students through an evergreen strategy (rather than holding big launches). Yep, my entrepreneurial brain never stops turning! :)
But before moving on to the next steps in my course building journey, I want to share with you 9 lessons I learned from creating my first online course.
If you’ve been thinking about creating an online course based on your unique experiences (and you totally should!), I hope this encourages you, and gives you ideas, on how to get started!
1. Drip content rocks.
If I had been “required” to have my full set of course content created prior to launching my course, I’m not sure if it ever would have gotten done.
Courses take A LOT of time to create. By setting up a drip content schedule, I was able to create a very feasible plan for when each lesson needed to be ready by. A new lesson was published each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout the course implementation month, which resulted in a total of 14 lessons, 2 bonus trainings, and a Q+A video.
This schedule worked very well for both for myself and for the course students. It allowed me to have manageable deadlines for creating the course content, and for the students, it kept the content “bite-sized” and manageable to implement. I was easily able to set up this drip system within my course hosting site, Teachable, by simply toggling between unpublishing or publishing posts!
2. Having a community is a win-win.
I set up a Slack team (similar to a private FB group, but on a separate app) to use as the community aspect of the course. It allowed course students to introduce themselves to each other, as well as interact with me and ask questions. It also helped cut down on emails from students, since I made myself very available on the Slack team.
Plus, it gave me the motivation to keep giving the course creation my full attention and stay on track. Hearing the results that students were seeing, and knowing how much the course was being enjoyed, really helped to power me forward even when the content creation started to get overwhelming.
3. Don’t plan ANY big projects during course time.
I’m very glad that I didn’t have any other plans for large events in my business during the month that the course was taking place. My daily quota for creating content was more than filled with all of the course lessons, video creating, and worksheet design.
I didn’t have the mental space or time to do any additional major content creation during the month of the course. I even utilized guest posts on my blog during this time, so that I would have one less writing task off my plate. It was important to me to be able to devote my everything to the course and my students.
4. Courses can be any format you like.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to create a course made up of video and slides just because that seems to be what “everyone else” is doing. You can use text and images, live workshops, photo tutorials, etc.
I created my course through written text and images, along with one recorded video to answer questions. This is the format that I felt most comfortable with, and therefore decided to move forward with it for my first course.
Do what comes most naturally to you! You’ll end up attracting students that have a learning style that matches your method of presentation.
5. The length of the course does not equate value.
This is such an easy thought process to fall into. Longer course = higher value…right? Nope!
In fact, the whole point of a course is to break down a complicated topic into a simple, step-by-step, easy-to-implement process. People don’t have tons of time to dedicate to a course filled with additional “fluff.”
The value of a course should be based on what the students can achieve from the course, not how long it takes for them to complete it.
6. An open/close launch works well for the first time you’re offering a course.
Although I hope to offer Pintastic Profit Plan as an “evergreen” (meaning always available for sale) course in the near future, I’m glad that I initially launched it by opening it for sales only during a set period of days. This allowed me to have my first group of course students go through the content together as a true class. I’m able to get feedback and make updates based on this first set of course students before opening it back up for sales again.
7. Keeping the needs of all your students in mind is HARD!
Ideally, your course should be focused on a fairly specific ideal student avatar that allows you to cater your course content to best serve that specific student. However, you’re still going to have large variations in your students’ backgrounds, experience levels, and knowledge.
As you create examples and step-by-step instructions throughout your course content, it’s very easy to get stuck focusing on one way to do everything, rather than including examples and content to fit your full range of ideal students. Don’t create your course to serve everyone, but do think outside your own industry!
8. Don’t forget feedback + testimonials.
Whether you’ve got 10 students or 100+ students in your first course, their feedback about ways to improve the course experience, as well as their testimonials to share with potential future students, is invaluable!
Be sure you have specific questions to ask each students about their experience to get the most useful feedback from them. And don’t be afraid to request testimonials from specific, highly engaged students. Most students will be happy to have their results and their business highlighted in your blog posts, emails, and sales pages!
9. Pre-selling is a must do, in my opinion.
Yes, I pre-sold my course before ANY of the content was ready. All I had was the sales page, and a detailed course outline.
It feels a little strange to say that, but looking back, I know it was absolutely the right decision for me. It allowed me to validate that people were interested in what I had to offer. It gave me so much more personal excitement for myself to create the content, since I knew the exact students who would be taking part in it.
It also allowed me to give my full attention to launching the course, and then changing my attention fully to the course content, rather than trying to do both at the same time.
As long as you are confident in your knowledge and your ability to deliver your course content on time, pre-selling is the perfect scenario!
After this initial first course launch experience, I’m pretty much convinced that creating courses is the best business model out there right now in the online business world.
I’m a sucker for figuring out how to continue to improve my whole course creation and course launch process, so I’ll always be testing and tweaking! But these 9 lessons that I just shared form the basis of my love for creating online courses.
If you're interested in finding out more about this whole Pinterest marketing thing for your business, be sure to check out my FREE 5-Day Pinterest Power eCourse. It's your ultimate guide to gets building your list, gaining leads, and securing paying clients through the power of Pinterest!