Everywhere you look, people are telling you to package up your expertise into an online course. Sell your smarts! That’s what it’s all about.
And, I agree…I mean my entire website and business is all about helping you create and sell digital products such as e-courses.
I even agree that you have knowledge, expertise, and skills that other people are looking for and that you SHOULD share those gifts. (You can’t help people if you keep things bottled up!)
However, there’s a big problem that I don’t see too many people talking about.
And, that’s how to create and deliver content that makes a difference. Not just slapping up videos and calling it learning. We need to talk about how teaching and sharing our ideas really has the power of changing someone’s life – if done right.
(And, yes, even you have the power to change a life.)
When you create products that make a difference, that stand on results, that put students first, and that begin with service – you have a product that’ll shine.
Maybe I’m a little biased, since I’ve been in education as a teacher and trainer for almost 14 years! But, I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes learning stick. What actually helps make that difference.
I know you’re reading this because you care about making a difference. I know this because I receive countless messages from my readers about wanting to make an impact. And, that lights me up!
Some of the worries that people have when they really care about making a difference is:
- Whether or not they are adding too much information into their course.
- If the content is correctly organized.
- If they have presented the information in a way that actually helps people understand.
- Whether or not their course is engaging enough.
And, let me just say that you’re on the right track if you’re already thinking about these things! Woohoo. You go, girl!
In working with my one-on-one clients who want to make an impact with their knowledge, I’ve run across a few ways people are going about creating their course in the wrong way.
Matter of fact, here are 6 of the major ones and how to fix them.
#1 Only Including What YOU Want to Include (AKA The “ME” Centered Course)
So…let me just jump right to it.
If you’re creating a course solely around what YOU want to teach, you’re coming at it the wrong way.
As adults, we are motivated by relevant content that helps us solve a problem or reach our goals. We want information/content/learning that is immediately applicable and helps us move forward.
If you’re creating a course only based on your preferences and what you want to teach, then you’re totally neglecting the fact that there will be another person..a human being..sitting on the other side of the computer learning from what you’re sharing.
They’ll take your course because they want a specific outcome, and you need to design your course around that specific outcome.
Yes..you have the expertise, but do you know what ….
- problems people are having with the topic?
- they have tried before?
- is blocking them from being successful on that topic?
- how and why they’re getting stuck?
There are a lot of questions to ask..and they all begin with listening and understanding your students and building a course from that perspective, all the while adding your unique flavor to the content.
How to Fix It:
The biggest way to start creating your course is to focus on your students’ problems and the solutions you have to help them.
People take courses to find a solution to their problem or to reach a specific goal. When it comes to the content that you include in your course, make sure it reflects what your students need.
One great way to find these answers is to ask your readers and potential students (which is easy peasy if you have created and are sending out an engaging newsletter!).
Oh…and here’s an entire blog post, 2 Ridiculously Simple Steps to Find Out What Learners Want, that shares exactly how I reach out to my readers.
#2 Putting Too Much Information Into Your Course (AKA The Bloated Course Syndrome)
Whoa..this one is a big one! It’s tough because we tend to think that adding more information to our course equals more value. That’s not necessarily so, though.
Oftentimes courses catch the Bloated Course Syndrome (BCS). You know what I’m talking about. BCS is where your course is bursting at the seams because of all of the information that you’ve included in your course.
On the surface, that sounds great. But, then you realize all of the unnecessary information that’s blocking the real learning.
When you add SO much information to your course, students can get overwhelmed, lost, and end up not completing your course.
And, that’s no bueno!!
How to Fix It:
I like to distinguish between “Need to Know” and “Nice to Know” information.
My boyfriend is a good example.
When I ask him a simple question about finances, such as: how much should I invest? I usually expect a simple answer such as 10%.
But, he takes it a notch further and starts diving into different types of stocks, where to invest, what I’ve done already, etc.
Five minutes later, my head is throbbing from all of the information.
Yes..all the extra information is fine and dandy. And, maybe I need to know that information in the future. But, right now, for the specific problem I have, I only need the “Need to Know” information. Not the “Nice to Know” information.
So as you’re creating your course, think about the content and whether it’s “Need to Know” as in it’s absolutely necessary in order to help my students reach their course goals (more on that in a minute).
Leave out all of the “Nice to Know” information – those extra details that you feel will provide tons of value and you throw in there just because. You can leave this information for part two of your course or as bonus content. #winning
#3 Not Properly Organizing Your Content (AKA The Hot Mess Course)
This is probably the biggest mistake I see in the world of online courses.
When I was in high school, my dad made me sit down and write an outline for all of my essays. It totally sucked – sitting down and writing an outline when all I wanted to do was just write.
But, creating an outline organizes your thoughts, allows you to get a bird’s eye view of your content, and ensures that you have everything in a nice and neat order.
A course that is not properly organized means that you’ll get bombarded with emails from confused students.
A well organized and structured course helps people learn. ‘Nuff said.
How to Fix It:
The best place to start is doing a brain dump of all your ideas. (I’m a huge fan of brain dumps if you haven’t noticed.) This allows you to get your ideas out of your head and on to paper so that it’s right there in front of you.
I’ve tried many different methods for brain dumps: writing down content, index cards, etc. My favorite go to method is a mind map. I create one of these for all of my products. Here’s a sample below of the one I did for the workshop on worksheets.
Each long arm on my mind map (brain dump) is a potential lesson that I want to create. Each short arm are the points that I’d like to share within that lesson.
Set a timer for 15 minutes and get as much content out of your head both about what you want to teach, the “Need to Know” information, and any other details that will help your students learn.
Next is to write an organized outline. Take your brain dump and your course goals (see point #4 below) and outline the step-by-step process for people to go from point A to achieving the course goals.
Do what works for you! The point is to begin organizing all of the ideas in your head in an organized way BEFORE creating your content. If you need help with that, no worries, I’ve got your back, chica!
#4 Not Thinking About the Results (AKA The Non-Goal Oriented Course)
If you’ve read Stephen Covey’s, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, then you’ll know that he talks about beginning with the end in mind.
It’s about envisioning your future so that you can create a plan to reach that goal.
However, when it comes to creating courses, far too many people begin with the start.
If you don’t have an end goal, how do you know where you’re going? How do you know what type of content to put into your course?
So, one of the most important things to do is to start with the end. In your case, the end are the results your course will give.
How to Fix It:
I bet you can guess how to fix it?
Yup, start with the end. 🙂
And, that is your course goal.
Each time you create a digital product and an e-course, ask yourself these two questions:
- At the end of the course, what should my students be able to do?
- At the end of this course, what should my students be able to do better than before?
When you have the answers to these questions, you’ll absolutely know what information is “Need to Know”. You’ll know exactly how to outline your course because you’ll include all of the steps that get your students from point A to the goals.
Start with 3-5 actionable goals that you want your students to achieve at the end of your course. Use these goals to design your course program.
#5 Thinking About the Platform Too Early (AKA The Tech Trap)
Technology ranges from easy peasy to a bit more involved.
The number one question I receive from my amazing newsletter readers is: what platform do I need to deliver my course?
But, when I ask further questions such as:
- What type of content are you creating?
- How is your course organized?
- What are your business goals?
- How does this course fit in with the other courses or products you plan to create?
People look at me like I’m cray cray.
And, seriously…your delivery platform does depend on these things plus a whole host of other questions. (I think I smell a future blog post here!)
Even before you consider your platform, the MOST IMPORTANT thing to think about is your content. That’s it.
I assure you that there are TONS of different plugins, software programs, websites, gadgets and gizmos that’ll allow you to get your course up and running.
Content first, platform second.
How to Fix It:
You’ll find out that when you begin delivering your course, you’ll receive tons of feedback from your students. In fact, your beta or pilot course will give you tons of ways to improve your course.
When you first launch your course, you can do as my friend Alaia did for her Systems School, start with a lean course delivery method (she used Gumroad)! It’ll take the headache away from the technology and help you focus on the content, which is what really matters.
If you’ve noticed, there’s a theme with all of these points: focus on the content and your students and you’ll be on the right path to creating a course that matters.
If you need help creating a kick-booty course that gets people learning and taking action, then I’ve got your back with an E-Course Action Plan. My goal is to help you create an organized course AND give you your action steps to make it come together.
It’s your turn, what mistakes do you see people making when creating a course?
What lingering questions do you have about creating course content? I want to answer them for you!
Let’s have a discussion!