3 things you need to know before you build your online course

By Sam Nordberg

Online courses seem to be the latest trend right now, and there is no denying that online courses and blogging go together like peanut butter and jam (I’d say jelly… but I’m Australian ).

…but turning your content into a course isn’t just a passing fad. 

Instead it’s a great way to leverage all of that stuff inside your head… all of those ideas, concepts, previous blog posts, future blogs posts… and turn it into an additional income stream for your blog. 

And it’s a wonderful way to provide extra value with your readers, to share resources with them and to develop a deeper relationship. 

Have I convinced you yet? 

Ok – so you want to write an online course for website… but where do you start? Here’s 3 things you need to know BEFORE you build your online course. 

1.  Get really clear on who you are writing your course for. 

This is the most important step, the very first step and funnily enough, the step that everyone seems to skip over. Before you start writing down all of that stuff you’ve got inside your head, you need to think about who you are writing it for. 

Let’s imagine that you want to write a style course to enhance your fashion blog. 

Are you writing it for the woman who is already stylish and is hunting for the finer points to enhance her look? Are you writing for a busy mum who doesn’t have a lot of time or money to create her style? Are you writing for teen girls who are just starting to find their style?

Or are you writing for me… who currently sits at her desk in jeans, a t-shirt and a very dated jumper (it’s probably about 5 years old), who scraped her hair back with her fingers and shoved it into a ponytail when she got out of bed?

Ok – so I’m a bit of a lost cause, but you get the picture. 

The information that you put together would be very different for each of those courses. So before you start writing stuff down, think really clearly about WHO you are writing it for. 

2.  Make sure it’s usable. 

Admit it, in your busy world you are already bombarded with information. Emails to read, social media to follow, videos to watch – you are surrounded by “stuff”.

And your readers who will buy your course are just the same. 

The key to creating a successful course is to break the information down into tiny little, bite sized chunks that will fit into their already busy life. 

Keep your videos short, keep any “assignments” easy, and limit yourself to just one key message per lesson. The easier you make it to consume, the more likely they are to follow through with your course. 

Before you begin to write down a huge course or hundreds of ideas that you have rolling around inside your head, think carefully about how much time your readers will have to do the course. A busy mum with hardly any time to herself isn’t going to spend hours every week going through your course or watching videos you’ve created… she’s a couple of minutes here and there and your course needs to squeeze in there. 

3. Decide on how you want to deliver your course.

Will it be email based? Will your create videos? Will you give them PDFs? Will they get access to a membership site or a private group?

There is no “right way” to build your course. When you are beginning to put your course together consider the following questions. 

How did I imagine that the course would “look”?

What technology skills do I currently have or could I easily learn?

Can I outsource building some of the course if I want to?

How would my readers like the course to be delivered?

You might have imagined some huge fancy membership site, but if you have very limited tech skills and no money to outsource, then it’s best to stick with what you know to start with. The first online course I ever ran was simply delivered in email, basic plain text email, sometimes with a file attached… and it still sold for $1,000. 

The moral of the story here, don’t let the technology side of things hold you back, just work out what you need and get rolling. 

Writing and building an online course really is a great way to leverage your blog, and trust me when I say, if you work through the questions above the whole process will be a lot quicker and easier.

Sam Nordberg has been training for most of her career. Her background in retail management means that she's been managing and training teams of 30 – 100 since she was 18. When she escaped the world of retail she realised that it wasn’t the sell that she had loved, but teaching others. Her Trainers Academy helps her show YOU how to pull all of your information and put it into a tangible course format. Connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Photo Credit: Designers Pics