In this epic blog post, I’m going to show you everything I know about creating and launching online courses. But first, you have to listen to my boring introduction. 🙂
In the year 2012, I launched one of my first books that taught people how to promote their webinars.
It took a lot of courage for me to publish that.
And, To Be Brutally Honest, Launching A Tiny Book Was A Lot Of Effort.
- I had to create the product.
- I had to conduct research to determine if there was any demand.
- I had to design the graphics.
- I had to host the content on my website, that was after hand coding a website that was capable of securing the course.
- I had to pay cash to ensure that my host could handle the bandwidth.
- I then had to ensure that I had plugins to secure my content so that it couldn’t be pirated and stolen.
- I then had to conduct seemingly endless hours of research and development to actually create content.
And I’m not even talking about copywriting, designing a sales letter, a download page, a thank you page, a payment processing gateway, attracting affiliates, setting up the entire sales process, graphics, and marketing content.
To make a long story short, just a few short years ago, you had to be a total tech nerd and a die-hard marketer to publish a book, or a course.
These Days, Creating And Launching Courses Is A Piece Of Cake.
I’m so happy how easy it is to help people these days.
There are systems in place so you can create beautiful content, and share it with the world without being a tech god, and even if your budget is absolutely bottom barrel.
So you can teach the world your passion.
It doesn’t matter what your passion is.
Maybe your passion is cooking, designing, repairing, coding, writing, or even teaching, like my passion.
Whatever it is, this short and pithy blog post will show you how easy it is these days to finally change the world, in your own little way.
So, I’m literally going to show you everything I know about launching courses, in 5,000 words or less. 🙂
(After launching 20 courses in one year, this is everything I’ve learned. The condensed version).
Here we go.
How To Easily Check To See If Your Course Idea Is In Demand?
Later on in this post, I’m going to show you how to quickly create course content. In fact, creating course content is so easy, that I might even dare say that checking for demand might be a tad redundant.
But, that’s a little bold of me to say, so I just wanted to quickly go over a few ideas, to see if maybe the course idea that you have, is in demand.
There’s a million to check the market demand these days.
First and foremost, there’s Google trends. You can type in any keyword, and see how many people are searching for that keyword.
That’s probably the fastest way, but what about buyers?
One thing you might want to do, is check all of the existing course marketplaces. That way, you can see what people are actually buying.
There’s so many of them these days.
Which Is Precisely Why, Being A Teacher Is So Simple.
Because you don’t have to hand code your website. You don’t have to host anything. You don’t have to design any thank you pages, worry about piracy, get any custom domains, design any fancy graphics, or do anything that took so long for teachers just a few short years ago.
That’s the beauty of being a teacher these days, there are so many systems in place where all you have to do, is create content.
I can’t really explain how elated I am to report, that there’s never been a better time in the history of existence, to be a teacher.
So, back to checking for demand.
Simply keep your eyes open.
Have a look on Skillshare, have a look on Udemy, see what courses are hot.
If you’re worried that your course topic has already been taught a million times, I say that’s good news.
If people are buying course on HTML and CSS, it means that it’s a red hot topic.
Don’t look at your competition as a bad thing. It’s a good thing. Because you know for a fact that people are interested in that topic.
I know for a fact, that if I like a topic, I enroll in as many courses as I can about that topic.
The more the merrier.
Another Great Place To Look For Course Ideas, Is Pinterest.
Pinterest is quickly becoming my favorite social media platform, and it’s much more popular than I thought.
A good rule of thumb, is that if you can search on Pinterest, and find group boards and lots of content for whatever topic you’d like to teach about, then there’s demand for that topic.
Also look in the ClickBank marketplace. Look on Amazon. Look on Magazines.com. Is your course idea prominent in these three locations?
If so, then you can proceed with the utmost confidence with your course idea.
If you’d like to brainstorm about your course idea, never hesitate to give me a buzz.
I’ve published over 40 books, and over 20 courses, so at this point in my life, I’ve put in hundreds of hours researching course ideas, so I’m really really good at it, and I’m happy to brainstorm with you.
The Only Tools You Need To Create Cool Courses:
Creating course content is so easy. A lot of people stress out about creating course content, but it’s really the easiest thing in the world, especially if you really love to teach people.
All you need, is a microphone, a laptop or desktop, a free piece of software called audacity to record your voice, and I use a screen recording app called Active Presnter to record your desktop.
For a microphone, I own two of them that I rotate back and forth. The first microphone is a Blue Snowball, which costs about $50 on Amazon.
The second is a Samson GoMic, which costs about $39 (ish) on Amazon.
I’m using the Samson GoMic for all of my courses these days. If you’ve listened to my voice as of late, and as you can see, it sounds halfway decent, especially for only $39 (ish).
Right now, I record nearly all of my courses on a super old laptop that I purchased back in 2009.
So, if you’re using the idea that you have a super old laptop as an excuse not to create a course, wow, I’ve got you beat. I promise, the laptop I’m using is an absolute piece of junk, so I’m confident, that if your machine is powerful enough to read this blog post, then you can definitely create courses of your own.
When recording audio you have a few different choices. You can record your audio with Audacity, which is 100% free, or you can just skip Audacity and record your audio using a desktop recording software.
If you want to use a desktop recording software, definitely check out a piece of software called Active Presenter. It is, by far, the single best desktop recorder that I’ve ever used, and you can try it for absolutely zero cost, and even the professional version is dirt cheap compared to many competitors.
In fact, every single video that I’ve ever published, was recorded with Active Presenter, and the cool part, is that it’s the easiest software in the world to use. You just tell it what screen you want to record, and then talk into your microphone. Creating course content has never been this easy.
Why Microsoft Office 365 Rocks! 🙂
Regarding how to create cool looking slides, there’s a ton of slide presentation software you can use. I happen to love Microsoft PowerPoint 365, but there’s a million alternatives.
You could use Microsoft Office in the cloud using OneDrive for free on their web app if you wanted to. Google also has their own slide presentation that’s free to use.
There’s also Libra office which is entirely free and works on all operating systems.
As far as finding awesome graphics to decorate your slide, I recommend a site called PixaBay.com, because they operate under the Creative Commons 0 License, which means that they give the most lenient license allowable by law.
In other words, you can use all of the images on Pixabay.com for commercial use without giving attribution or paying a single red cent, period, end of story.
I wish I knew about Pixabay back when I was paying boatloads of cash for stock graphics that were, quite frankly, inferior to what PixaBay has to offer.
So, to make a long story short, with all fo the free resources at your disposal these days, creating courses has never been easier.
And, if you ever want to brainstorm, or if you ever have any questions, please never hesitate to give me a buzz.
The Quickest, Most Efficient Way To Produce Course Content:
There are a few different ways to create course content, and I’m going to tell you which way I create courses, but the way I create courses might not be the ideal way for you to create courses.
First of all, the most important thing to ask yourself, is if you’re a better writer, or if you’re a better speaker.
So, which is it?
Are you a better writer, or are you a better speaker?
I myself, I’m a better writer. I suck at speaking, and whenever I have to give a speech, or a presentation, I always write down the content first.
I started doing this in college where we had to give frequent presentations. Sure, I’ve taken a speech class in college where we had to give a passion speech without any notes or anything, and I actually got a 4.0 in the course, but the point is that I much prefer to recite and plan a speech, rather than give it impromptu.
However, not everyone is like me. A lot of people absolutely loathe writing, but they speak impromptu much easier and speaking comes naturally to them.
So, The First Thing To Figure Out, Is To Determine What Type Of Person Are You?
If you were giving a speech, would you give the speech and wing the speech, or would you write the speech down first and then recite the speech?
Here’s the deal. If you find that you’re a better writer than you are speaker, then I recommend that you write a script for your course before you utter a single word.
Write down every single word that you’re going to speak about in your course, word for word.
This way, when it comes time to create your course, you can simply read your script, and it’s going to be much easier to record your course in a way that works well for you.
The problem with this, is that it might be a little time consuming. The good news, is that once you have your script written, the only thing you have to do is read it.
The other bonus to writing a script first, is that you can then publish the course as a book, publish it as a blog post, or even send it to your email list. So the point is that, if you write out your script in its entirety before you publish it and create your course content, you have an asset that you can use again and again, which is definitely cool.
Now, in the event that you don’t want to write your script before you create your course, then you can simply take notes, and create your course based upon your notes. I personally don’t like this method, because I’m a shy socially awkward nerd who always forgets what he’s saying, but I know plenty of teachers who swear by this method and prefer the spontaneity.
So, those are the two basic methods to create courses.
You can either write a script in its entirety, and then simply read the script, or you can improvise and teach from the heart and mind without a script.
Now, Let’s Talk About Recording Your Actual Course Files…
There’s a million different ways to record your course, but I’m going to tell you what I do and what works best for me.
First, let’s talk about what you’re going to need.
You’re going to need a microphone obviously, I use a Blue Snowball, and a Samson Go-Mic depending upon what I want, I usually rotate between the two because I can never figure out which one sounds the best.
You’re also going to need a screen casting software.
I use a software called Active Presenter. Active Presenter is what I recommend you use if you’re on a Windows based operating system, because it’s very easy to use and the videos produced are crisp HD right out of the box.
The next thing you’re going to need to figure out, is if you want to create PowerPoint slides for your course, or if you want to give real word demonstrations of your desktop and different websites.
I personally like PowerPoint slides, because it’s easier, more streamlined, and easier to control.
So, if you’ve taken any of my courses before, you must realize that I’m a huge fan of PowerPoint.
Maybe you’re thinking, “But Mike I have no idea how to create a PowerPoint slide”. The truth is, that creating PowerPoint slides these days is a piece of cake because there are hundreds if not thousands of free themes you can use.
I happen to subscribe to Microsoft Office 365, which comes stuffed to the brim with a ton of PowerPoint templates, so to be honest creating beautiful PowerPoint slides is a piece of cake.
As far as getting images to decorate your PowerPoint slides, I use a PixaBay.com because all of their images are 100% free to use under the Creative Commons 0 license, which basically means that you can use the pictures for any purpose, even commercial use, without giving attribution.
A Few Nuances About Creating Your Course Content:
There’s a few nuances we need to talk about.
First, if you have two monitors then recording your courses is much easier, because you’re able to insert “notes” into your PowerPoint slides.
So, when you’re recording your PowerPoint presentation, there will be notes on your other monitor, which makes reciting your script so easy, that it’s very hard to mess up. All you have to do, is insert your notes for each PowerPoint slide, and then open up Active Presenter so you can begin recording your course.
If you only have a single monitor, then I would recommend printing out your notes so you can recite them as your record your presentation.
In the event that you don’t like to use a script, then you’re liberated and don’t have to worry about reciting a script.
However, if you’re a nervous nelly introvert like me, I definitely recommend using a script and you definitely won’t regret it.
How To Easily Publish Your Course:
Publishing your course is overly simple these days.
Gone is the time where you had to be an expert coder, and have all of these wordpress membership plugins in place.
All you have to do, is create your course content, and then decide which platforms you want to upload your course content on.
It’s as easy as dragging and dropping your video files. It’s literally that easy. No tech skills required.
There are three main places where I publish online courses these days. Udemy, Skillshare, and Teachable.
I’ll break the three platforms down like this.
- Skillshare is awesome because they help to promote your courses. Once your course gets 25 students, your course will “Trend”, meaning that other students are going to see your course.
- Udemy is beautiful, because they’re arguably the single biggest course platform on the planet. You’re also allowed to send “promotional announcements” to your students, so you can promote your other courses. Of course, being part of the Udemy platform also brings tons of traffic because lots of students are always searching the Udemy marketplace.
- Teachable grants more freedom than Udemy or Skillshare, HOWEVER, the major drawback is that they don’t promote your courses for you. So, you get more freedom, but less help promoting.
So which platform is the best? I think all three of them rock. I won’t recommend any of them over the other, because as you can see, they all have their own pros and cons. Why not check them out, to see which one looks the best? (Or, do what I do, and sprinkle your courses throughout the three platforms).
Super Simple Course Promotion Methods:
My advice is to promote your email list, and then promote your courses via email. So, promote your email newsletter everywhere!
Promote your email list on your blog, on your social media platforms, and even inside your courses.
Promote your email list FIRST, and then promote your courses after. 🙂
Regarding individual platforms…
When you launch a course on Teachable, it’s up to YOU to promote. So, if you have a blog, or an email list, I recommend promoting your course via these mechanisms.
On Udemy, easily the best promotional method is promotional announcements. So, the more students you have, the easier it is to promote more and more. Do the rich keep getting richer? Maybe, but that’s even more motivation to start launching courses; because the more courses you launch, the more students you get, and the more people you can promote your future (and current courses) to.
The best thing about Skillshare, is that every time someone enrolls in your course, they start to follow you.
And, whenever you create a new course, your followers are notified.
This is so ridiculously powerful that it can’t be overstated.
Because, your courses compound on one another.
If you become a prolific teacher, you’re going to amass a massive following, upon which your new students are always notified about future courses.
Even better, after your course gets 25 students, Skillshare will then help you to promote your course, so you get even more students, and more followers.
So really, the main challenge is to get your first 25 students.
In order to accomplish that, you can simply share your courses with your friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, or anywhere you have any friends colleagues or followers.
What I recommend if you’re just starting out, is to give away 25 free enrollments. So you can actually create free coupons, so your friends and followers don’t even have to pay if they don’t want to.
This is smart, because once you reach 25 students, your class will trend, and then Skillshare will help to promote the course.
And, remember that this compounds on itself.
The more courses you teach, the more students you get, and the easier it’s going to be gaining massive momentum.
The only hard part, is getting your first 25 students, so, promote your first course using whatever leverage that you have.
If you’re wondering how much Skillshare teachers get paid, they paid roughly $1 to $2 per premium enrollment, which is definitely awesome.
Another thing I forgot to mention, is that for everyone who joins Skillshare as a paid member using your coupon link, you get paid $10. Which is definitely a cool bonus.
All of this brings us back to how easy it is to be a teacher these days.
The timing has never been better, and I’m here to help you if you ever have any questions, or just want to brainstorm.
Your Homework Assignment! (Yes, I’m A Big Meanie. Deal With It).
You might think I’m a little crazy for giving you a homework assignment. (Rofl, I never said I wasn’t a total nutcase, did I?).
The point is that you don’t have to be a tech god to teach, and there’s never been more opportunities to share your stuff with the world.
But there’s one thing I forgot to mention.
And that’s your audience.
Once piece of advice I can give you, is that your course is never about you.
Your course, is always about your audeince.
Everything you ever do, should be about them.
So, ask yourself, who is your audience?
What problems do they have?
In fact, what’s the biggest problem that they have, that you can solve?
And, that’s your homework.
Please make note of that question; who your audience is, and what major problem can you help them solve, in your first course?
Thank you so much for checking this out.
Always remember that I have your back if you need me.
And, I’ll see you around.
Mike “Ever A Teacher” DeVincent