Can you can guess the #1 question I get about creating courses?
“What technology do I need to run my course and create the content?”
I’m going to answer that question, but first we need to start here..
There’s always this perception that you must put out the biggest, baddest course ever – one that glitters and sparkles – on the very first time! I think this mindset keeps people trapped and fearful of taking the next step. Comparison sets in. They’re comparing themselves to others and want the same thing.
It doesn’t have to be that way! It shouldn’t be that way. I’m all about doing what works for you.
You don’t need all of the fancy bells and whistles (unless you want that) when starting out. (Isn’t that a relief to hear.) Sure, if you want to bedazzle your course in the future, go ahead girl – but start slow and small if that’s what you prefer.
The most important thing is the content. Have solid content and the rest will follow.
Here’s a comment left by one of my course participants about my course:
“The website is good. It’s such a basic design but it is really easy to navigate and all you need is there which has made me really think because I’ve been too caught up on making the design of the site fancy when it really doesn’t have to be!”
Easy to navigate and helpful. That’s what your course should be.
But, duh..you’ll obviously need some tools to create the content and deliver your course when you get to that point..so, here are some tools to get you started
1. Maya Gaddie
Yes, I know this isn’t a tech tool (stick with me here). If you’ve been banging your head on the computer trying to figure out the best tech tool for you, she’s your gal. Tell her what you’re trying to do, you’ll get a recommendation and steps to implement. She’s like a tech match-maker. I always get great recommendations! Check her website out here. You’ll be glad you did.
There are a bunch of ways to run a course – email, teleseminar, webinar, etc. Choose what works for you and what fits with your learners.
Simple. I use BlueHost as my hosting company for this website and my course site. You can decide whether or not to create a dedicated website or a subdomain (e.g., example.yourwebsite.com).
4. WishList Member Plugin
There are tons of different plugins you can use to create a membership site or even an e-learning platform. I used WLM because I had it on hand. It did its job for my course, but I’m still on the hunt for something different. My advice: start with what YOU want first. Create a list of must haves for your course and then research the various plugins that will give you just that. Find what works for you.
5. TwentyTwelve Theme
Yes, I used a free theme from WordPress for my pilot program. And guess, what?! It worked. Now, I don’t plan to stick with this theme forevever, but it did it’s job! Find one that will make the navigation of your course easy. We want people to learn, not spend forever trying to figure out what to do.
6. E-Book: Getting Your Course Online
Want to dive more into the nuts and bolts of setting up a course? Check out this guide from DIY Website coach. It’s definitely worth the $47 as it walks you through the technology pieces and considerations of running a course.
I’m in love with ScreenFlow. ScreenFlow is a program that enables you to record your computer screen. I use this for everything — recording slides, creating tutorial videos, and editing. It’s easy peasy to use and you can publish straight to Vimeo or YouTube. If you don’t want to drop any money for a program, check out these alternatives.
Everyone has presentation software on their computer. If I have slides to create, I make them in Keynote (or PowerPoint for the PC folks). It’s easy peasy. And, did you know you can record your slides from directly within Keynote or Powerpoint? No?!! Well, check out this tutorial. You’re welcome.
9. iPhone 5
Yes, I don’t have any fancy equipment to record my videos. I literally set up my iPhone on top of a Monopoloy game board and press record. Sorry to disappoint you. My goal is to upgrade to something better, but until then I’m working with what I got!!
I use this free online software to make all of my worksheets fillable so participants have the option of printing out the worksheets OR typing in them. So, if you want to make your worksheets typeable, PDFescape is where it’s at. And, it’s free. Check out this how-to tutorial for how to use it!
I’m a mac girl and use Pages for ALL of my worksheets. People always ask how I create my worksheets, and it’s simple: I use Pages (Word if you’re on a PC). Did you check out the ultimate guide to creating worksheets? Seriously, you need to get over there now.
I love PicMonkey. I love their blog, which I use for inspiration, but I also love their free photo editing tools. I used PM for all of my buttons, images, and headers for my course. You might also want to take a gander at Canva.
I left a few personal audio messages for my participants. I recorded them with SoundCloud. You can also record audio with what you have on your computer. I also used the microphone that came with my iPhone headset. Nothing fancy here!
I typically like to use my own photos — it makes everything more personable. But, sometimes I just can’t find the right photo. So, it’s off to the stock photo market at iStockPhoto.
I upload all of my course videos to Vimeo (Vimeo Plus). Vimeo allows you to set privacy restrictions on your videos so that only your participants can view them. And, I just think it’s all around more professional than YouTube. Here’s a quick tutorial on making videos private in Vimeo.
You can upload all of your worksheets and audio files to your website. This is a great option if you don’t have a lot of downloadable material. But, if you’re looking for something that’s not going to slow down your website, consider Dropbox. Here’s a tutorial on how to upload to dropbox. Once you get bigger and have a gazillion participants, you’ll definitely want to consider something more robust.
I sent out weekly or bi-weekly emails to my participants using Aweber. If you have MailChimp, Mad Mimi, or any other email platform, you should be good to go!
(because let’s face it..we all are a bit distracted.)
This is a chrome extension. Every time you open up a new tab on your web browser, Momentum pops up reminding you that there’s work to be done! How’s that for making you feel guilty for checking Facebook.
I’ve talked about this before. But, setting a timer can turn your productivity around in a heart beat!
20. Ice Cream + Wine
I mean come on..you’ve gotta reward yourself some kind of way! My favorite wine right now.
So, there ya go. Am I going to try different things in the future? Yes ma’am. Am, I going to move on to fancier things? Probably so. But for now, this works! And, that’s my message to you. Find what works and improve as you go along. Don’t let technology keep you from releasing your ideas into the world!
In the comments, let us know:
What are your favorite tech tools? Share the goods!