Have you found yourself wondering how you can turn your awesome knowledge and expertise into a lucrative side hustle? Enter the idea of running your own online course! Of course (ha. haha.), the idea is pretty straightforward, but there’s a lot that goes into making the idea a reality. But if you can make it happen, the benefits are pretty fantastic - passive income as well as more freedom and flexibility if you do it right!
Here’s the thing, E-Learning is a multi-billion dollar industry, and now more than ever, it’s growing exponentially. Creating your own online course has the potential to change not only your business, but the way you live your life. Buuut….it’s bloody hard work! Truly, you need to be in it for the right reasons. Of course, cash and freedom sounds brilliant, but you need to be passionate about what you’re going to be teaching and love what you do! If you don’t, the slog to get to the teaching point just won’t make it worthwhile. You have to put in the hard yards to make that passive income a reality. And you need to be ready and willing to get the right people on board to help make your course idea a reality. So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
Do you have the budget?
Setting up a course ain’t cheap. Take a look at what you need to make the course happen and what that will cost, first off. Do you need:
-The right tech? Where will you launch your program online? Do you need to get a camera? Editing suite? Scheduling, organizing and sharing apps?
-A VA to help get your shite done on time?
-Any tech specialists to help build the course out online?
-A copywriter to help shape content?
-A designer to make the course docs look gorgeous?
-Advertising/marketing on FB? Insta? Elsewhere?
Costs add up. So look at where your budget will land. Then figure out if what you’re going to charge will help get those outgoing costs covered and how many students you need straight off to at least break even the first time around.
There are some terrific budget saving options out there, as well. Check out Canva and 99Designs to save money on designers and design costs, use organisational apps or programs like Google Drive and Asana to stay on your game and schedule so you only need a VA part time. The more you can DIY, the more you’ll save. But don’t stop yourself from spending where you know you need to so you’re able to create a course that you’re proud of!
Validate your idea.
Before you jump in, you have to do your homework. Take the time to really scope out your competitors. See what other businesses similar to your own, or with your audience, are up to. Explore their websites and socials, hit up Facebook groups and figure out what people’s pain points are in your niche area, do a poll on socials, ask your clients and other people in your circle if it’s the kind of thing they’d be interested in. Really put out your feelers and make sure you’re locking-in to something that will make you money in the long run. All of this solid info will help you to confirm whether or not your course is worth creating. There’s no point putting in all that time and financial investment if your idea has been done already (and very well) or if your niche just doesn’t have an e-course audience. On that...
Do you have an audience?
What’s your current following and audience base like? Do you have a solid mailing list? A lovely social following? If you’re lacking on this end, you need to figure out a way to grow your audience before you get that course out! Run ads, create polls on Insta and Facebook to gauge interest and build up engagement, lean into marketing, build landing pages, and create lead magnets like freebie checklists or workbooks. Offer value so they know that when they come to you, you’ll have a lot to offer...all the legwork can help you get there, in time.
What type of course do you want to build?
We’re not talking about the course idea itself. We’re talking about the type of course itself, what you’re going to build for your best result.
A one-off course: Speaks for itself. One and done - this will give you a good idea if course creation is your jam, and if you want to expand upon it further! Doesn’t hurt that it gives you a little extra cash on the side that can help you build out the massive course you’re dreaming of offering! You could even offer this course as a freebie to test the waters, nail down, and fix any bugs and build out more of an audience.
Evergreen: This is a lovely way to go, in my humble opinion. Basically, this is the brilliant course (big or little) that you can rejig, rinse, and repeat. A course that people will pretty much always be interested in, so you’ll always be ready for a new audience.
Signature Course: This one’s the biggie, a major course with loads of content...but your students have to definitely do the work to get the benefit! A big mama-jama of a course that a business offers as their own (for example Amy Porterfield’s Digital Academy or Marie Forlea’s B School or our very own Build Your Empire course!).
Think about how you can best serve your ideal clients and what course content is going to interest them the most. Find their pain points and their interests and lean in!
Types of Platform:
The type of platform you choose to run that course is also important, so below we’ve set out at a super high level some of the platforms out there, keeping in mind the lists aren’t exhaustive.
Pros: Great for beginners, super easy to upload content, allows you to sell workbooks, tickets for conferences, services etc too, not just courses. You also get access to student analytics so you can track what works and what you could do differently, and you can easily set up upsell pages that will appear with the click of a button to get even more out of your offerings.
Cons: Transaction fees isn’t set up for live streams.
Pros: Easy integration with stripe and paypal for payments, straightforward layout for design and uploading, can integrate with Zoom, customer support, it’s easy to use, you can have your own private social community set up, manage your entire marketing campaign, set up pipelines aka funnels...and...ok, look. Kajabi is amazing. It pretty much does everything for you and has everything you need.
Cons: Pricing on this bad boy is a little higher…
Pros: You can set up your own custom domain for your course, the ability to add voice overs to your PowerPoint slides, customisable.
Cons: There isn’t a marketplace that allows you to market your course, so it’s all on you to get the word out. No Thinkific email marketing integration, but you can use Mailchimp.
Pros: Supports video hosting, email marketing, has great customer support, and a crazy amount of features. It’s also less expensive than Kajabi, which has a similar vibe.
Cons: Customisation options are more limited than other platforms. There is a lot of choice out there, you just need to figure out what you want to do and how you want to do it to see which is the best fit for you.
Mapping out your content.
This is all about getting organized! Create a spreadsheet or get yourself a gorgeous new notebook if you love that hands-on feeling. Create yourself a detailed outline of what you want to teach. What’s your overarching lesson? What are the sub-lessons? What comes before what so everything is clear and you aren’t talking to points they haven’t learned yet? Get. It. Laid. Out.
Think about hiring a VA...for reals.
Building a course is a LOT of work, so if you’re going all in, you want to do it right. A VA can help you stay organised, stay on top of your deadlines and allow you to focus on the course and business, not be stuck in it doing the time-consuming tasks that are preventing you from getting that course off the ground! If you set out your course correctly and you find yourself a killer VA that you totally jive with, they’ll be well worth the investment. If you need a little bit of a kickstart in what to look for to find your perfect VA, invest in our handly How to Hire a Freelancer or Virtual Assistant Guide!
Launch Plans are key!
Prep for success. If you want your course to run as smoothly as possible, you want the lead up to the course, the course itself, and that final curtain to be as wonderfully put-together as possible. Map it out, friend. Check out these tips to get you feeling confident, on top of it all and less overwhelmed:
- Set up and step out every single piece of work out needed to do in order to make this course happen. Be realistic with your time frames, and leave yourself some wiggle room for work and life to get in the way! Trust me - been there, done that.
- Sales page, friends! You need a solid plan in place for how you want people to receive that glorious information about your course! Get that landing page laid out with all of the details of your course, what to expect, the benefits, your experience, the costs, bonuses etc. This is one of the most important steps to map out! Because this will bring in your customers if it’s set up well, or make people steer clear if you, well, missed the mark.
- Come up with a course name! FUN!
- Plan out your social posts/captions/Podcasts/FB ads (for both PRE, DURING and POST launch!), what they’re about/content and when they’re going live.
- Format your course content: checklists, workbooks, videos, any private coaching, building out, and nurturing your course community page on FB if you decide to create one.
- Choose your platform and get all your gorgeous content uploaded! (This is where your awesome VA can come in - amongst other places!)
- Map out the actual content for your lessons and modules themselves - outlines, fleshed out transcripts, slide decks...and your live recording!
- Test EVERYTHING! Seriously. Do a few dry runs and make sure the platform, your videos, anything and everything you’re utilising for your course, is as it needs to be. The last thing you want is to look unprofessional and sloppy because your tech is glitching.
Share the love that others have for you and your business, so you can give and receive more love! Testimonials from clients, from webinar or free course attendees, and others who have used your services and experienced your expertise are key to helping to build a strong audience and loyal following. Don’t forget to ask your students to give a testimonial post-course that you can use to help launch your next course!
If you’re creating a course, it’s imperative you protect yourself and your intellectual property! The last thing you want is for someone to swoop in and claim all of your insanely hard work (and money!) as their own. There are a few things you need to keep in mind and take action on to make sure your course is legally legit.
- Make sure members can access the content for their own personal use only, and that they don’t share content or passwords.
- Give clarity surrounding refunds and your policy.
- Make sure you get paid! If you offer payment installment plans, have clear terms and language around the terms of the course and what they can and can’t do to verify you get your money when you’re meant to.
- Get those disclaimers somewhere they can be seen, making it known you cannot guarantee their outcome or results from your course (they need to put in the work, too!). As much as you hope they’ll use what they’ve learned and run with it in the best way possible, you can’t promise that.
- Be sure your signees are informed about all of your terms, conditions, and policies upfront, before they sign up to your stellar course! You want them to feel secure, and you want to make sure you’ve given them all the information they need to know to stay legit.
So how the heck to you cover all of those things? You’ll need the following:
- Website T&Cs
- Course T&Cs
- Disclaimers specific to your course T&Cs, Facebook group/community rules, and refund policy etc.
Feeling stressed? Don’t! We have a kit build exactly for course building, so don’t even worry about it. You have enough on your plate putting together the content and the course itself! We learned from experience as we created our “Build Your Empire” course, how much time it takes to get every little niggly item in order. It was rewarding in the end, but it was also a challenge. Having to focus on the content creation and course building while at the same time verifying the ‘behind the scenes’ aspects of the course are in order can make for long nights and added stress. So we wanted to help you get through your own course building experience as smoothly and as stress-free as possible; we’ve put together a package to help make your course building life as simple as it can be so you can focus on the course creation itself. Leave the legals and small print to our snazzy kit! If you still need some clarity, reach out and book in a time with us to have a chat.
Friends, if you’re dreaming of starting a course and have a bangin’ idea, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t explore the possibility of making the dream a reality! We’re here to support you. Speaking from experience, the whole shebang is so freaking rewarding…x
PSSST...Keen to brush up on your biz and legal knowledge so you can stay on top of your A-Game? Grab a glass of your fave something-something and check out my podcast, Legals and Biz with Riz.
Riz McDonald is an e-commerce business owner, business coach and a lawyer of over 16 years. She’s also a mum, a wife, and a lover of good wine...she only ever drinks the cheap stuff when she’s stoney broke.
***Disclaimer. Please read!!***
This article is for general information purposes only and should be used solely as general guidance. It does not and is not intended to represent legal advice or other professional advice.
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