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9 Must Do Things Before Creating Your Online Course

First time, online course creators are a cautious lot. They don’t know how difficult the online course creation process is.

They want to create their online course by are a tad overwhelmed, confused, and definitely scared by the technology they have to use to create and deliver their online course.

Here’s another scenario. Does it resonate with you?
You’ve spent months creating a fantastic online course.
You’ve invested countless hours:
Creating its content
Shooting the videos
Transcribing them
Creating worksheets and handouts
And more . . .

You thought people would sign up in droves. You were sure that the stampede of course purchasers would make you rich.

Unfortunately, the results on the ground are so far from this, that its heart breaking and soul crushing for you.

Perhaps nothing like this has not happened to you yet. That said, you’ve heard so many similar stories for other online course creators that quite frankly it scares you.

Okay, you want to create your course, (or update it), BUT your mind & soul tells you not to waste the time and money, unless there is some guarantee that all your efforts will deliver the results you want/need.

Right. I am here to help with exactly that.

Validate Your Course Topic

1. Validate Your Course Topic

This is how most course creators begin.

They make a list of topics they are really really good at. Then they pick a topic from the list that they are most interested in as the course they must create. Oh! This is what you did too?

There’s a teeny tiny thing that’s wrong with such a course creation approach.

They do not know if their potential course participants are interested enough to buy such a course.

Yes! There is a way to fix this. Whew! I thought you’d never ask.

Don’t start by choosing a course BUT start by interviewing people.

Validate your course idea first. Before you sit down to brainstorm its content.

The easiest way to validate your course idea is to talk to people who are your potential course buyers about whether they see your course adding value to them.

If you have an email list, send out an email survey to your list. Ensure your survey can be completed in 5 minutes flat. Craft your survey questions to indicate how useful your course would be to a prospective course taker.

Ask if any of your survey taker is willing to do a 10 minute voice / video interview with you
Ask for a 10 minute interview opportunities in various Facebook groups
Ask all your past clients for a 10 minute interview
Craft your interview questions to learn how useful your course would be to a prospective course taker.

Talk to at least 10 people, one on one. If not more
Discover their problems, frustrations, their biggest pain points
Pay attention to what they tell you
Definitely take notes during interviews
Ask open ended questions

It’s YOUR JOB to determine what kind of course will add the most value to these folks.

That’s what they’d buy in a heartbeat.

Once you’ve learned what your potential course buyers are actually interested in, then you look at what is available in the market already.

Figure out what’s selling well? Use Amazon’s book reviews for popular books.
Find out what the authors did right? Find out what the authors left out?

Let book reviewers tell you this.

Armed with such carefully checked out information, you are now ready to select your course topic.

Nail Your Ideal Course Participant Persona

2. Nail Your Ideal Customer

Since you are the course creator YOU should know everything there is to know about your ideal course participant. If you haven’t much experience in this space, you must pay very close attention to what the people you are saying during their interviews.

After listening closely to a whole bunch of people, you will be able to confidently document the characteristics that point to your ideal course participant avatar.

Using your ideal course participant avatar definition, you can figure out:
People who will benefit the most from your course content
People who would then become your course advocates in the future

From your ideal course participant avatar, you’ll figure out if your course participants are beginners, intermediate learners or advanced ones.

You’ll know if:
Self-study will suffice for your course participants
OR
They would need lots of interaction and hand holding from you

Do your best to record your one on one interviews. Take a lot of notes. Paper and pencil works just fine. Note down the words your interviewees use to describe what’s hurting them the most. These are terrific words to use in your marketing and sales pages.

Then when a potential course participant reads your marketing / sales page, they’ll feel like you are talking to them. That’s when they are most likely to buy.

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Stop Obsessing Over Your Course Name

3. Stop Obsessing About Your Course Name

Course creators always stress out when it comes to choosing a perfect course name.
They want it to be memorable
They want it to be unique
They believe their course, with a crappy name, will not sell

None of this is true. Your prospective course buyer never decides to buy your course or not based on its name alone. There are a heck of a lot of other things that a potential course buyer checks prior making a buying decision.

Choose a simple course name.
Ensure that it spells out the core benefit of your course.
Make the name short and to the point. It’s not the headline of your sales page you know?
Tell people what they’ll get when they quickly scan your course name.
Ensure your course name is clear not clever.

If you are stuck, buy some help from an experienced copywriter. All in all don’t make your course name decision a big deal for no reason.

Don't Obsess Over Course Pricing

4. Don’t Obsess About Your Course Pricing

Something that course creators agonize about is how much to charge for their course.

Honestly, your course price has nothing to do with Your Worth. As a domain expert, course creator, and a great human being – you are priceless.

Your course price must reflect the value your course adds to a course participant.

Totally self-study, courses are usually low cost. i.e. $49/- to about $399/-

A course that needs you to participate daily/actively normally costs much more. Your participation helps ensure your course participant takes away measurable value from your course. Your high level of support is what boosts the cost of the course. $499/- to $1500/- and above.

How you brand your course
The type of ideal course participant
The out-of-this-world course participant experience
Terrific, support material for download
High definition training videos
Twice weekly Office hours conducted via video conferencing
Dependable, friendly, Email based support
The big problem that you are solving permanently for a course participant?

These the course attributes which allows you to charge 10 times more for your course.

Courses that save people time and/or money. Improve relationships and health. Make money for a course participant. All can carry a much higher price tag than courses that do not.

Lose Your Fear Of Technology

5. Get Over Your Fear Of Technology

A ton of course creators seem to delay their course creation activities forever because they haven’t a clue how to deliver their course to participants via the Internet.

The seemingly endless differences in the cost of using course delivery systems
The facilities that are available for use (Each course delivery system claiming theirs is better)
Choosing between – A fixed monthly cost OR a percentage of course fees shared
How to upload and secure the HD videos created to deliver training content to a participant
How to get Homework exercises delivered and returned
How to get evaluation tests delivered and returned
Shopping carts
Payment gateways
And so much more . . .

Today’s choices for course delivery via the Internet, can be a tad bewildering to seasoned techies.

My advice is simple, but sound. Do your own research of the most popular course delivery options available. Read users critiques and comments. Check out their training videos. Send an Email (or three) to their support system. Note how quickly and lucidly they respond. Create a comparison table of cost and functionality available in an Excel spread sheet.

After you reading the social proof on their sales page, search of the person who wrote the recommendation on Facebook or LinkedIn or both. Send them a short, polite personal message asking what really made them choose a specific course delivery system. Check how many reply to your PM. Check what they say.

If the course delivery system has a free trial, sign up and use it. Figure out how comfortable you’ll be using the course delivery system.

Check if they have an affordably priced ‘We’ll do all this for you if you want to’ type of offer.

This is the approach that will allow you to choose the most appropriate course delivery system for you and your participants

This approach is guaranteed to get YOU over any fear of technology you may have a course creator.

Remember YOU have to overcome your fears. If you want to get a healthy income via course sales.

6. Know How To Work Out Your Course Income

An important statistic that all course creators seem oblivious of is the average conversion rate for online courses.

NOTE: Here, average conversion rate is the percentage of site visitors who pay and join your course, mapped against the total number of site visitors that hit your website.

If everything works perfectly on your website, i.e. Great Home and Landing / Sales page. Great course marketing strategy you are looking at a 2% – 3% average conversion rate today.

A 10% conversion rate is fantastic.
Above 10%. You’re laughing all the way to your bank.

Why is this statistic vital to a course creator? Using this you can predict how much income, selling your online course, can bring you.

For example:
Assume your course is priced at $1000/-
Assume you have a steady stream of at least 100 interested people hitting your website each month
If the average conversion percentage today is between 2% to 3% then:
You’d earn between $2000/- to $3000/- each month.

Assume your course is priced at $49.99/-
Assume you have a steady stream of at least 100 interested people hitting your website each month
If the average conversion percentage today is between 2% to 3% then:
You’d earn broadly between $100/- to $150/- each month.

As a course creator you must work out your prospective income before you create your online course. If you create your course. Hope that buyers will come and you will get rich. You are going to add a lot of stress to your life that you probably don’t need.

Using your average conversion statistic you can work out approximately how many interested site visitors you’d need if you want 10 sales per month as follows:
500 interested site visitors at 2% conversion = 10 sales
500 interested site visitors at 3% conversion = 15 sales

As course creator, here’s a rule of thumb that you shouldn’t ignore. Do you very best to drive 3 times the site visitors needed to you website, to underwrite the course sale numbers you need.

Simple tried and tested ways of driving focused site visitors to your website are:
Growing your mailing list. Then sending well-crafted, high converting sales letters
Do a lot of guest blogging on carefully chosen websites
Join Facebook groups. Consistently add value there. Make offers they cannot refuse.
Contact other list members. See if they will promote your course for a share in sales revenue.
Use Facebook advertising
And more . . .

Do A Soft Launch

7. Do An Internal Launch

You’ve created your course. You’re ready to launch your course. You do not need a complex, lengthy launch plan. I suggest that you start off doing a simple launch to your mailing list.

The beauty of this is that you are launching to a group of people who already know and trust you. You do not need a load of bells and whistles at your launch to get attention. This takes off a lot of pressure from your shoulders, which always make for a successful launch.

Your mailing list has people who have been reading your email regularly. They like what you are delivering or else they would not be on your mailing list right?

You are generally going to get higher conversion rate on your sales page when your mailing list members hit it. You don’t really need a fancy launch with a three-part video or half a dozen webinars.

You simply need some awesome Blog posts and a couple of well-crafted mailers that high light how your course will add real value to your mailing list members.

Don’t worry too much about what other course creators are doing at launch time. They may have a sales budget 5 times your sales budget. You also have no idea what’s happening behind their scenes.

Instead, consciously choose to play up your strengths. Choose a route where YOU and YOUR CONTENT shines. It will always work for you.

Make An Introductory Offer

8. Offer An Introductory Round

Don’t use the words Beta Testers Wanted. When you do, most people think you are offering something for free. It’s likely that you’ll get a lot of interest BUT sadly such interested people are ones who will put their hands up for anything FREE. They don’t benefit from it neither do you.

Hence, don’t ask for Beta Testers.

Should you attract beta testers, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Trust me on this, I’ve had a ton of experience in this space. Many Beta testers will sign up. Very few (1% – 2%) will follow through and actually complete the course.

Completing your course is only half the learning. Your course participant should put into action what they’ve learned. Without some skin in the game (i.e. money paid to you), they are less likely to do this. Almost zero will offer you course module critique and recommendations.

Instead, offer introductory pricing. Specify that your course is priced at $1000/-
BUT, today you are offering a 65% discount for all early joiners.

There is no guarantee that you’ll get the best students, BUT you will repel freebie seekers for sure.

People who pay to learn are very likely to action what they’ve learned. They’ll be happy to give you feedback. This can help you can improve your course. This makes your course add more value to its participants.

People that give you testimonials will become future advocates for your course.
A win:win situation for everyone.

9. Let Go Of Perfection

I just had to include this.

You have to get out of the research mode
You know enough. You are a domain expert after all
You have to stop procrastinating

If this is your first course, it doesn’t need three-thousand-dollar branding and professionally shot videos.

Such decisions will keep you stuck forever.

Let it go. Always remember, done is better than perfect.

Please Leave Your Comments They Are A Huge Help

If you liked this Blog post, I’d love to read your comments. If you thought that this Blog post was not up to your expectations, I’d love to read your comments.

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It’s your comments that help me get better each day. Please pass on your comments in the comments section right below.

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I do enjoy engaging with site visitors. I’ve made several lifelong friends this way.

I promise that I’ll reply to your email never later than 2 working days.

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Ivan Bayross
Digital Marketing Evangelist, International Author & Business Mentor
I've been an entrepreneur for more than 33 years.

I've taught marketing and finance at a few MBA schools in Mumbai, India. These subjects are like a horse and carriage. You can't have one without the other.

I am technology savvy too as I am armed with an M.Tech from Manchester University, UK. In that sense, you could call me a geek-marketer, as I’m comfortable with both technology and marketing.

I have written and published 83+ books in tech and digital marketing. Many of these are available on Amazon.

I've been working in digital marketing for around 24+ years. I love to teach the subject, plus define, execute, and tweak digital marketing strategies for my own websites and my clients.

I'm moving my love for teaching to the web.
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December 31, 2017

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