Creating an Online Course 101: The Secrets to Getting Started

If you specialize in mentoring & coaching others, the geographical limitations of doing so in person could be frustrating. You want to help people, but it becomes impossible to achieve a mass audience beyond your native town/city.

This week, we are featuring the story of Rachael Pontillo, AWeber customer & creator of Holistically Haute.

She made an online course to connect with communities all over the world, she shared her advice on how you could create a course of your own.

Setting aims for your course

After beginning to teach skincare lessons & demonstrations in person, Rachael found the number of people she can reach was limiting.

That is when she decided to try creating an online course, Create Your Skincare. It is a six-week online course that teaches people how to create & customize all-natural skincare products for themselves & others.

Although she was initially intimidated by an idea of creating an online course, Rachael emphasized the importance of having courage & setting clear goals for the project:

By setting this positive tone, it easier for Rachael to stay focused & encouraged throughout the creation process.

Takeaway: Before you dive into creating a course for the first time, ensure you have a clear understanding of your goals and what you hope you & your audience will walk away with.

Establishing your framework & researching topics

To get an idea of the type of course she wanted, Rachael spent time researching other courses and took notes on what she liked & didn’t like. She also reached out to the course creators to learn more about the process.

For Rachael, the aim of this phase was to create a simple framework to support structure for her course.

Once she had a general model in place, it was time to increase content for the course. As she considered what her course would be about, she wanted to ensure it was something that would resonate with her audiences.

She decided to survey her audience.

As she heard the feedback, it became clear as to what type of educational content they would enjoy – from there the idea for her skincare creation course took form.

Takeaway: Sign up for 3 to 5 online courses and take note of what aspects you would like to repeat in your own course and what would like to avoid. If you have an existing audience, consider surveying them to learn their preferred method to consume content and/or what they would like to learn in an online course. Create a model for your course based on your takeaways & feedback.

Putting the pieces together & creating your course

After that she wanted to teach others how to create natural skincare products, it was time to create the content & design the course.

To do so, she began with her end goal and outlined the steps that were required to make that happen.

Once she had her angle, Rachael used storyboards, Venn diagrams & sketches to create outlines for individual course modules. She turned those into slides.

By creating these outlines, she was able to identify areas where there were content gaps that required other assets, like videos & PDF downloads.

Although Rachael used an online teaching platform to grow the course, she also recommended automated emails as another simple idea to get started.

Takeaway: The more preparation you do to grow your course, the easier it’ll be to tackle. After you decide on a topic, take time to outline the specific content pieces. To make the content, autoresponder emails are a simple place to start. You can explore third-party platforms like Teachable, Thinkific/Rainmaker.

Promoting the course to your communities

On her website, visitors could subscribe to her email list and receive frequent updates of her latest posts.

With “last call” email, Rachael creates a sense of urgency & communicates the benefits of the course.

In addition to email, Rachael uses Facebook advertising, webinars & incentives to build communities & relationships with prospects, display her skills & increase interest in her course.

By spreading the word about her content & course through different channels, it made it possible for Rachael to widen her achieve.

Takeaway: Leverage a wide variety of channels to reach existing and new communities as you begin promoting your course. Consider offering free incentives & other types of content to convince someone of the value of your business before asking them to sign up for your own course.



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