We have a wild idea.
The boyfriend and I have been thinking about a year long road trip around the United States. Just me, the boyfriend, and a small van (and hopefully a little doggie).
I’m excited, but I can’t envision my boyfriend and I cramped in a van together for more than one week.
This would be a huge commitment…
- what if we get sick of being in a van?
- what if we get sick of not having a proper bed to sleep in?
- even worse, what if I get sick of being around my boyfriend 24/7? Eeek!!
There’s obviously a lot to consider before taking that big leap.
The idea is to test the waters. Decide whether or not we’ll enjoy it. See if I end up wrapping my fingers around my boyfriend’s neck.
We are considering renting a van first to do week to month long trips around California before we move on to the big bad U.S. The hope is that those trips will help give us a bigger picture of life on the road.
The same can be said about your course. Perhaps, you’ve considered testing it out before launching it to the world. Running a pilot (or beta) program can be a good way to test and tweak your content. A pilot (or beta) program is sort of a”test run” of your course.
I did just that with the 4 week Course Design Workshop program — wanting to test out some new techniques.
Testing the program gives you an opportunity to finalize your course content. You can decide what works and what needs some extra polish.
Game Plan for Running Your Pilot Program:
Get the Content Set
The main point of running a pilot or beta program should be to test the CORE content of your program. Your course should be designed in a way to inspire and move participants to take action.
Participants are taking your course to move from where they are now to where they want to be. With that in mind, your course is that vehicle that’s going to get them there.
Testing the core content means deciding whether or not your course is doing what it says it’s doing. It’s about ensuring that your core course is delivering.
(Download the guide below to help you work through some of those ideas.)
Get You Some Pilot Peeps
When you’re running a course, you’ll want to have a group of people willing to run through your program — to consume your content, put up with any mistakes, and provide you feedback. I had 12 amazing women who not only went through the content and did their course, but also provided feedback along the way. (Big shout out to those 12 women! Whoop whoop!)
One thing I’m learning along this path to online business is to reach out and connect (which doesn’t come naturally to me). I had prior email or phone contact with over half of the women in the program before I reached out to them! In short, find your peeps and invite them to your program. Be the one who reaches out.
(Use the free guide below to think about who you want to invite to test your content.)
The reason for testing out the van idea is to see if we need to reevaluate the year long U.S. trip. Again, the point of running the pilot is to understand if your core course helps your participants. So, while you’re running your program, it’s important to build in chances for participants to provide you feedback. This should be done in multiple ways.
Ways to Gather Feedback:
Surveys: Use a program such as Typeform or Google Forms to create surveys to periodically send to your participants. (Note: People are super busy and won’t always have time to fill out surveys. So see additional options below!)
Business Buddy: My accountability partner went through every corner of my course and provided detailed comments about what worked and didn’t work. (I’m almost scared to look at what she wrote. Ha.)
Communication: Use other forms of communication to gauge feedback. Review comments or emails about the program. Also, think about reaching out and contacting participants via phone or Skype.
The feedback you receive is an invaluable tool you can use to take your course to the next level.
Spend Time Reflecting & Tweaking
This is the most important part! It’s like the dessert at the end of a great meal. You’ve run the pilot. You’ve gathered feedback. Now what? It’s all about going through the feedback and deciding how to improve your course.
Your Wild Ideas:
I guarantee that you’re going to have a gazillion ideas swimming in your head. And, you’ll feel the need to implement them all: Facebook group, weekly calls, personal feedback, email coaching, etc. That’s when you need to grab an idea notebook and jot down your ideas. Everything doesn’t have to be implemented at once. Your course will evolve and grow.
This is where you should take course feedback, comb through the information, and decide what is the MOST important to change or add. Think about what’s going to help the participants gain a clearer understanding of the content and move them closer to their goals. What will you prioritize FIRST? How can you use the feedback to make improvements for the next round of your course?
You’re going to be on an emotional journey…excitement, overwhelm, stress, the whole rainbow. So, you’ll definitely want to ensure that you take time for yourself. Whatever that looks like to you, do it. You’ll also want to reward yourself as you move along. You’ve worked hard and deserve a treat. (I had loads of ice cream and think I gained 5lbs. )
So, where does that leave you my dear friend?
You’re working hard on your course. Spending a few hours here and there chipping away at the content. You’re thinking of running a pilot…
I got you covered..
Download this guide by clicking on the image to help guide you through questions about running your next pilot.
It’s Your Turn, let us know…. have you run a pilot (or ever been part of one)? What lessons did you learn?
I’m intrigued: how long do you think you’ll last on a road trip with a friend or significant other?