Online courses

Steven Healey and I talk online courses

Last night was chat night with Steven Healey on BeLive.TV. We talked all things ‘online courses’. Both Steven and I teach online. We have known each other a long time, he is easy to work with and is a fabulous interviewer. He is calm and grounded and can very gently pull the conversation back to the agenda.

I’d been woken early this morning at around 4 am with paws in my face. At first, I was unsure what the rough thing in my mouth was and then I realised it was Ferdy dog. Moving my head out of the way I was greeted with a fart from Marley Moo, which quickly brought me around.  Yes, I know doggies in the bed is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love the cuddles. Once roused I got up and started my day. By the time Steven started the chat I was pretty tired, but as ever delighted to be on his show.

Here are the recording and the questions I was asked about online courses

The call, as you can imagine did go off on tangents, so I have distilled some of the most important points below.

What platform do I use for online courses?

When I first started creating online courses I made a course with another book coach on Udemy. It was a great place to start, and I learned a lot. After that, I used a plugin called LearnDash which is great, but it means designing, hosting and a whole raft of other things yourself. Everything was going well until I put a membership plugin on my site. This plugin in demolished my site and it took days to get it back, and I had lost everything that I had done that day. Feeling defeated I put everything onto Udemy. It was easy and the best platform at the time.

Over the years Udemy has changed the rules many times, and with demands from investors, they are doing what they believe is right for their business. However, despite learning a lot, for which I shall forever be grateful for, I have become disenchanted, as I know many have. Having spent a fair whack of my cash driving people to their platform, I want access to the students to work with them in my way, not the Udemy way.

So, I set about researching other platforms, after I had created a requirements list. I played with lots of platforms and did toy with Learndash again, but in the end, I went with what met my requirements and my gut.

Teachable is the platform I chose in the end to host my online courses. They are easy to work with, and I like the interface. What I also love is that I can easily blend the learning program for the students.

Blended learning – what is it?

I wonder how often you have stopped to consider how you learn? Learning is something that we all take for granted. From the moment we were conceived, we have been learning.

There are many theories about how people learn and types of learner; I put myself into the category of an activist, that is I like to learn by doing. I don’t mind if I learn by myself or with others. However, I learn better by watching, having a go and discussing with other people, so workshops always get a thumbs up. Online learning has become a favourite of mine, the beauty of being able to pick something up as and when is helpful and empowering. I adore books and so get lots of information in that way. I need to do things in chunks. Watch, read, listen and then try. Take a moment to consider how you like to learn, what process you might go through? Think of it similar to a recipe. What are the key ingredients and the steps you take to bake that perfect

Blended learning is like having a recipe. What are the key ingredients and the steps you take to bake a perfect cake? It has to be cake – I love cakes.

Now, look at your partner or colleagues. How do you think they learn? The same as you or differently?

We are all different.  We want to consume our learning in different ways. Occasionally we may try something that pushes us out of our comfort zone, but mostly we are creatures of habit, and we know what we like.

So blended learning is a set of ingredients which you can pick from to make your perfect cake. You don’t have to select all of the parts, just the ones that work for you.

Imagine these two recipes:-

ONE

  • 1 retreat
  • One online course
  • Six coaching sessions
  • Read a book
  • Watch a webinar
  • Interact in a peer Facebook Group

TWO

  • Three online course lectures
  • 2 PDF’s and worksheets
  • Quizzes
  • Challenge
  • 2 podcasts
  • Two coaching sessions
  • Brainstorming session
  • 1 Facebook live
  • Communicate in a peer Facebook Group

Both different ways to skin the same cat (horrible phrase…), but each achieving the required objectives. They are blends.

The beauty of online courses is that you can create each lecture so that all students can learn in a way that suits them. Of course, you may have your ideas about the best way because that’s how you like to do it. However, if you flex your style and use feedback as a way to grow you and your courses, you are onto a winner.

Marketing online courses

Wow, where do I start? Courses and books need to become part of your overall marketing strategy. What often happens is that people look at their products in isolation and what I like to do is to use the book as the central component and work from there.

Book – your central inspirational message

This can be given away once a quarter – Kindle promotion or countdown. You can put a forever free coupon to a mini course near the front so that even if your book is not purchased, you will get enrolments. At the back of your book, you can give a 50% (or less) off coupon to your big signature course.

Mini-course

Use your mini course to inspire people and invite them to interact in a Facebook Group. This is their chance to meet you.

Facebook group

Q&A’s, hints and tips and Facebook lives, as examples.

At this point you may be thinking whoa you are giving all of this away for free? This is my choice as I want people to know, like and trust me before they make a bigger investment. Writing a book, coming on a book program, turning your book into a course are significant investments. Not only in time, but money and I want dedicated people who have a massive desire to make a difference with their message to work with me. This may not work for you. Do what fits with your strategy and values.

Coupons

You can create a range of coupons to use in different places so that you can track the effectiveness of your marketing. Use these everywhere. And yes run free promos occasionally. Once your course is known, you have social proof, and you have great reviews, then run other promos.

Facebook lives to your page and igniting the pixel

Facebook is forever bringing out new ways to engage and to market. If you do Facebook lives to your page and then create an audience based on who watches them, you can then market your online courses to these people later on.

You could create a mini-challenge from within your course with Facebook lives. Think engaging and motivating your students.

Facebook or other ads

Try them out and test, test, test. I have enrolled on a Facebook ads course so that I can learn how to do this.  See how cool online courses are?

Create a budget and work with them until you have cracked it for your ideal reader/student. Don’t give up, use the feedback to learn and if you are not sure, ask an expert – get coaching or pay someone to do them for you.

Repurposing Facebook and YouTube lives

The quality of Facebook lives is not great, whereas (at this moment) YouTube videos are of a much higher quality. I have been trialling running back to back sessions, one on Facebook and the same on YouTube. I then use the YouTube video in a blog, and I repurpose that blog to LinkedIn and other blogging platforms.

Using Co-schedule, I set up a posting calendar, so I don’t have to. Canva enables me to create fab graphics. You can watch a presentation about some of my blogging stuff here.

Webinars

BeLive.TV is fantastic for running online webinars and sessions as above. Zoom is also brilliant. There are many platforms – know what you need and invest in the best for you.

Again, use a subset of your book/online course for your webinars so that you are tying everything together.

Retreats

If you love getting people together, run an annual retreat. I do this for my writing and book clients here in sunny Spain.

What else?

  • Workshops
  • Speaking
  • Whitepapers
  • Guest blogging
  • Podcasts
  • PR (radio, TV, newspapers and magazines)
  • Word of mouth
  • JV’s and affiliate marketing (you can become an affiliate of mine and earn 45% – email me and let’s chat)

The key is to have a plan, trial, test and tweak. My other advice is to watch what others do and ask, how could I innovate that to work for me?

Creating your online course

This can seem daunting. However, you can do it:-

  • Create a plan
  • Know who your ideal student is
  • Study the competition and find a gap
  • Build a course outline and think blended learning
  • Design each lecture and think learning styles
  • Write and test scripts (do not just copy and paste from your book)
  • Test with Facebook or YouTube lives and use the feedback to tweak
  • Do everything in chunks and reflect often
  • Record content first and intros last
  • Provide a workbook – this can be a copy of your slides with space to write
  • Provide exercises and worksheets
  • Give an action plan and thinking points
  • Build in a Facebook Group and time for Q&A
  • Do not invest in expensive equipment unless this is going to be an integral part of your product roadmap
  • Try recording with what you have – smartphone/iPad before adding other equipment. Make sure the quality is good
  • Always use a good microphone – I hate rubbish sound

What equipment and software do I use for creating online courses?

  • Smartphone
  • Logitech C922 – webcam
  • DSLR camera with microphone input
  • Lapel microphone
  • Yeti microphone
  • Plantronics headset (I also use this with Dragon Naturally Speaking)
  • Sound absorber panel
  • Pop filter for the Yeti
  • Camtasia (Windows) and Screenflow (Mac)
  • iMovie (Mac) and Movie Maker (Windows)
  • PowerPoint & WORD
  • Tripod
  • Lighting and green backdrop

You do not need all of this. Start with what you have, add in what you can afford. Test and then move forward.

Best advice

Try it. Have a go. Just start. Smile and have fun.

BeLive.TV

The above was recorded using an amazing product – BeLive.TV and Steven has a course for $10 for you.

Teachable

Come over to Teachable and grab my offer. Write the right book, right now will let you know what your next book is.

Got any questions please do ask.

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Academy for Authors

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Jacqui Malpass

Personal Brand Strategist & Book Coach, Jacqui Malpass helps you to find the right story and inspirational message to share. Together we turn your words into books that inspire others.. Personal Brand Strategist | Author | Write your book | Blog your book | Turn your book into a course

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