So you've heard about creating online courses as a means to generate income or build your brand. But what are your options for making it all happen? If you've been following our work for some time you'll know that we've written extensively advising you about the nitty gritty of course creation. Just take a look at our blog.
In this post, though we're zooming out and giving you the broader options so you can see what choices you have apart from the DIY route. We're not going to be selling you on the idea of creating online courses or highlighting all the benefits for you or your business. If you've still need convincing we'll leave that for another time.
Read this post for some great advice to help you determine what's the best route for you to take if creating an online course is on your agenda or might be in the future.
First, we're going to tell you about the four types of people/businesses that create online courses. Then we'll look at the four options you can choose from for getting your course created. And finally, I'll tell you how to get some further advice if you need it and have any other questions answered.
Based on our own experience and the research we've done there are four categories.
These are people that already have some intellectual property (IP) and want to re-purpose it and leverage further value from it. For example book authors, university lecturers, universities, colleges, trade organizations and professional bodies.
Each has their own IP which can be broken down into smaller elements and then re-purposed into further material that forms the basis of an online course and bite-sized micro-courses.
I also include here journalists and blog authors who have amassed material that can also be reused. A series of blog posts on a particular topic, for example, can form the basis of course content and vice versa.
Amongst this group we find part-time lecturers who may have a combination of work steams - lecturing, their own design studio, private classes and coaching etc. and are now looking to add online courses too.
This category includes individuals that have industry expertise but haven't yet created any 'material' from their expertise. In other words, their IP exists only in their minds and has yet to be articulated into a product.
Unlike those in the first category, they have yet to take the step of creating or writing anything that is based on their experience. They have no material as such, only their experience of working in the industry (which shouldn't be underestimated as to how valuable this is.)
However, they do see the opportunity to generate additional revenue by selling their expertise online. These are seasoned professionals with a wealth of experience already under their belt, confident of their message being a valuable asset to monetize online.
Whether in HR or training, marketing or sales, creating an online course can save businesses considerable time and expense in on-boarding employees and customers, developing staff and assessing new candidates.
On-boarding customers helps to reduce customer churn i.e. losing customers to competitors. Informed and educated customers are more likely to stay with you as they build up confidence in your product or service. Increasingly we are seeing businesses using free online courses to help educate both prospective customers, new ones, and existing ones. For example companies such as Gerber using online courses for training end-users on their software.
And on-boarding employees has a similar benefit too. It enables new recruits to get up to speed and be more productive quicker and with less cost than traditional face to face training.
Finally, consultants, trainers, and coaches are now using online courses to generate additional revenue, expand their service and product portfolios and expand their brands. Just as books can position the author as an expert in a particular field, so too can online courses. Having a world-class online course in your field of expertise positions you as THE expert in that field. You become the 'go to' expert and consequently can increase your audience and sales revenue.
Offering free online courses is a fantastic tool for lead generation and can lead to opportunities for further consultancy work, speaking gigs, writing etc.
What then flows from a position as THE expert in your niche can be extensive and worth far more than the revenue generated from the course sales alone.
OK. Let's assume that you fall into one of these four categories. Now what? How do you go about creating your course?
The four choices you have are:
Here you get to do everything yourself. It can be very rewarding going through the learning curve and developing new skills. You'll have to buy a course that teaches you how.
This option is great for subject experts that have lots of free time or can make the time, and don't mind if it takes several months to build their course. Although it's possible to get your first course up and live within a month, it takes discipline and following a strict process plan to make it happen.
You may need to invest in equipment and software but you can get your course up and published with the minimum of outlay. In fact in the masterclass, we tell you what you need and where to get free software if you need it.
Most people though already have sufficient tools with the latest generation of phones for filming video and software on their computers for creating slide shows and editing, so outlay is usually minimal.
The DIY approach has the lowest overall initial investment but you need to factor in your time to figure out the real investment you are making and be happy with the fact that it may take you several months to complete as you slot the activities in and around your usual routine of life.
This option gives you a helping hand, a bit of a leg up.
Once you've dug around Google searches and found someone you feel comfortable working with and paid them a retainer, they'll design the strategy map for you and tell you what you have to do and in what sequence.
But it's you has to now do the execution work. Their skill set is in instructional design and it's not guaranteed they'll have all the other skills required to develop your course.
You get to save yourself some time and get some advice on the overall approach but you still have to do all the hard work and pretty much learn everything as if you were choosing the DIY option. We're happy to work with you as your course design consultants if this options suits you best.
On the face of it, this sounds like a smart move because you can hire the skill sets you need. For example a course design consultant for curriculum design, graphic designer to manage the look and feel of your course and generate all your graphic elements, someone to edit video and audio, a content writer to develop your content and everything the student will use as they progress through the course.
Whilst there are plenty of people for hire in these fields you have the added responsibility of finding them, choosing and hiring them. Then you have to on-board them and manage them as a project team to make sure your project gets done how you want it, by when and within budget.
The chances are you'll be hiring generalists rather than freelancers with expertise in working with online courses. As much as we recognise the value of diversity you have to manage the project and when the team is new and working on your first course the results will not necessarily be the best they can be the first time around. It will take a lot of your time and that's when everything goes to plan!
A good freelancing team is worth its weight in gold but you normally have to go through some pain before you get the right mix of individuals and form a team that delivers the results. And for consistent results, you need one that is stable enough to stay as a team and get your project done.
This option provides the optimum balance between investment and your time. This is where you SAVE the most amount of time, follow the smoothest and shortest path to success with the least amount of stress and disruption to your day job.
A course development business, like The Customer's Shoes, provides the strategy, the resources, and the expertise to manage the whole course development project for you. Your involvement is still key BUT the time you spend on tasks is kept to the bare minimum.
We estimate that you'll only need to find between 2 - 4 days of your time over a 12 week period. That's for calls with us to talk through your content and then for you to record your voice narrating the script for your course. We do all the other work whilst keeping you in the loop so you can rest easy knowing all's on track.
We work SME's (subject matter experts) to get their message from their minds (their combination of experience, know-how, and skill around their subject) and into a curriculum.
We do this by a series of interviews using carefully crafted questioning that distills the content required for the course.
Knowing what to ask, when to probe, what is key information and what is supportive is a skill we have developed based on our extensive background in learning and development, instructional design and course development over many years.
If you have a very limited budget, want to learn new skills and have plenty of time on your hands or can find it, then choose the DIY route of option 1. Remember we can help you and guide you to a certain extent through our masterclass support forums. But how quickly it takes you to complete your course is dictated by how much time you take to learn the ropes and to execute and implement the course creation steps.
You'll need to learn the process too. Course fees range from free to £900.
Great for when you want to implement most of the work yourself but just need to have some early guidance and involvement in structuring your course, defining learning objectives and the overall layout of the course. It's more expensive than Option 1 but quicker to implement and you'll learn through 1:1 guidance too.
We offer course design consultancy at £950/day.
Now your workload shifts from implementation to managing freelancers. There's a lot of setting up time first off but once your team is up and running you can make good progress providing they understand and have experience of course creation otherwise you'll spend more time teaching them (assuming you know yourself) about the difference between what they do on other non-course projects and what you need them to do.
You'll find plenty of freelancers with rates from £25 - £100 per hour but you'll be at their mercy as to how long things take to get done so their hourly rate is only part of the equation. Would you really know how long it should take to write the content for a 15-minute video lesson?
We proved a complete Created for Your service, taking your expertise and creating a premium course from it. Your initial outlay is higher but your downtime is the lowest overall so think about how much you value your time and factor that in. We give you the fastest turn around time and the highest quality.
We work on a retainer of £3000 deposit and then £3000/month over four months.
We manage the entire project with our own team of instructional and graphic designers, video, and audio editors, each hand-picked for their experience of working on course development.
We interview you (the subject expert) over several weeks to distill the content for your course. We build the curriculum around the objectives of the course and use your 'material' to create the content for your lessons. Beautiful graphics, beautiful video, beautiful handouts.
We only need you for the interviews done by Skype or phone and for you to record the narrative for each lesson. We'll give you advice and guidance on how to do this too.
Your completed course is then packaged ready for publishing to your preferred hosting platform.
We're betting that you fit into one of the four categories above for the type of people that are creating their own online courses?
We're also betting that if you read each of the options above for getting your course built then you'll recognise which is the route best suited for you?
Now's the time to decide which route to take.
If you have any further questions then I recommend you read our FAQs page for our Course Creation service which you'll find here or you can schedule a call with us by clicking the link below and we will happily talk you through how we can help.
We call these Clarity Calls because that's what they promise to give you.
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