Last month I set out to launch my first ever e-course.
And even though being a teacher actually was on my top 10 list of things I wanted to be when I grew up (but only because I had a thing for creating worksheets and correcting paperwork – which surprisingly happens to be kind of a big part of my current job as an e-book designer!), I wasn’t 100% sure what I would be getting myself into in terms of actually running my own course or teaching content of my own. I have had some previous experience creating graphics and membership sites for my client’s e-courses, though, and it kind of seemed like fun. So, I finally took a leap and set out to find out for sure if it was something I was cut out to do for my own business.
Here are some of the many lessons I have been learning along the way…
1. You have to start somewhere.
I decided that I would start by creating a free 3-day e-mail mini-course, and I was originally thinking about making it a free opt-in offer to help grow my e-mail list. But by the time I finished creating all of the worksheets, writing, recording, and editing the videos, creating all of the resources and bonuses, and put together the course itself, I realized that I probably had waaayy too much content for a short 3-day mini-course.
I tried to make the steps as actionable as possible, but ultimately the rate people were opening the course e-mails and actually taking action declined over the 3 days. I believe that is in part because there was simply too much to do all at once, and because the course was free, no one was fully committed to the process.
So, instead of using the mini-course as a free opt-in offer and overwhelming all of my new subscribers, I decided I would take the first 30 people who signed up and turn them into my own beta audience to test out the content and the structure so I that could possibly turn it into a longer course down the line.
The lesson here is that it wasn’t until I committed to actually creating a course and I allowed my content to begin to take shape that I was able to see what will actually work and find out where I can improve in the future. No one starts out being a master! If you don’t try something, you’ll never know, and guess what – if it doesn’t work out the way you hoped, you’re the boss, and you get decide which way to steer the ship next.
2. You don’t need to have a lot of people on your list.
My first e-course ran with just 30 free students. But that’s also 30 people I got to learn a lot from. Even though it was a smallish group, it gave me a great chance to test out my ideas and see how people responded, who downloaded what, and who ended up finishing the course, as well as what they created from it.
I also got to learn about the process of creating a course without a TON of pressure resting on my shoulders. I was recording and editing videos for the first time and there was a bit of a learning curve for me at first. I needed a public deadline to actually put myself out there and force myself to step out of my comfort zone and get it done, but I certainly didn’t need all the stress of the size of a sports stadium filled with raving fans at the superbowl half-time show.
Big e-mail lists are very nice to have, but you seriously shouldn’t underestimate the power of starting small and mastering your delivery before you really rev up your reach.
3. You do need a lot of time.
Like, a LOT. Especially if you’re a perfectionist like me! The idea of “passive” income sounds glamorous and all, but I don’t know if I’ve worked harder in my life to try to get everything done on time for launch day.
From writing the course to creating the materials and then promoting and launching the course, there are so many big & small tasks involved in putting on a course that you may not even fully realize at first, not to mention troubleshooting when things go wrong (and they usually do at some point). I completely underestimated how much time it would actually take me to finish everything on my list, and the week before the launch I was working 14+ hour days to finalize all of the materials and test out all of the kinks.
I recommend giving yourself plenty of time to create all of your content and get everything done as far ahead of time as possible, so you can create a wonderful experience for your students that you can be fully proud of. Make a list with everything you’re going to do from the time the course is fully written, to the time the last student finishes the course, and then stick to your plan day by day. You’ll totally thank yourself later when you have a managed to create a massive set of resources your ideal audience is loving!
4. You’re going to make mistakes.
…And that’s how you learn. No one is born knowing everything. Life always holds issues and challenges for us no matter what we’re trying to do. The truth is, you’re definitely going to mess up at some point! I know I did, when the huge new video files on my computer sent my memory capacity over the edge and crashed my computer before I could send out Day 3 of the course. I ended up having to take it to the Apple clinic for a few days, thereby delaying the course for everyone, although I will say that I was very lucky that I was able to get all of my files back and eventually pick back up where we left off (although much later than anticipated!).
Mistakes like this can be super nerve-wracking and embarrassing, but they do happen to everyone at some point. Just don’t let the fear of making a mistake hold you back from conquering your goals. Learn from them, vow never to let it happen again if you can help it, and keep moving onward!
5. Keep trying to become the best you can be.
Through my experience of creating my own e-course, I learned a lot about what I’m capable of, as well as what I still need to work on for the future… and I actually did have fun doing it! It did make me feel pretty good to step out of my comfort zone and try something new, and it’s even given me the confidence to want to teach more classes in the future.
For now though, I’ve decided to transform my entire 3-day mini-course into a full-on e-course which is now available for enrollment today on a platform called Teachable.
Instead of relying on my students being able to find my course updates in a sea of other e-mails in their crowded inbox, they can now go directly to my colorful but uncluttered course website and go through the content step-by-step at their own pace, without having to feel so overwhelmed by everything there is to learn. Plus, since I’m charging money for it now, I also decided to add some additional resources & bonuses to really make it worth my students’ while and amp up the overall value they will get for their money.
The course is all about becoming a boss at streamlining your social media content process each month – from deciding on your style guidelines, to coming up with powerful posts, and designing and scheduling your posts, too (even if you’re not a graphic designer!).
>> Learn more about my new full-length DIY social media e-course “How to Design Ahh-mazing Blog + Social Media Graphics” here!
Obviously there is a lot more you need to know than just these 5 lessons if you want to learn how to create your own e-course, but truthfully I’m no expert yet. As you can probably tell, I’m still learning about this stuff myself!
However, if you are thinking about making an e-course, or you’ve been on the fence about expanding your business and sharing your expertise with a much wider audience by creating your own e-course, I really hope I was able to shine a light on what it was truly like for me.
The only REAL way to know for sure if creating a course is right for you is to try it out for yourself! xo