I’ve seen people around me bring their business to a whole new level. Like into the multiple six figures level in less time than it would take to earn that kind of cash using a one on one model (and with less burnout!).
How did they do it? They started to teach online!
Teaching online is one of my favorite topics and I’ve always been interested in the subject.
I’ll be honest though, it did take me awhile to buy into this whole idea of the “one to many model” for my business because I love the one on one interaction that I have with my clients.
I didn’t want to lose that connection with people.
Turns out that my fears were totally false!
I still get to interact with people in a meaningful way and I actually get to teach MORE people, simply because of the affordability and convenience factor that online teaching gives those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to work with me at all.
And online teaching isn’t going away anytime soon.
Did you know that Online courses are one of the most popular ways to teach now?
Even universities around the world have made online courses a staple in the learning world.
The learning management system market is expected to grow from 2.7 Billion in 2013 to 7.83 billions in 2018. (source Marketwired.com).
I’m not surprised by the numbers and it should be really encouraging for you if you’ve been on the fence about creating your own courses!
There may never be a better time than now to start teaching the masses in a way that is simple, convenient and more affordable for them (and a brilliant business move for you!).
But hold on there, captain motivation… keep reading because there’s more to it than just throwing some stuff on a website and saying “I have a course… buy it”.
I don’t know about you but it took me a while to buy my first course online. I didn’t know if it would work for me, if the content was still as high quality as an in person learning experience and really…
I was afraid of the change (like we all are at first, right?).
Today, I’ve bought tons of courses. Honestly some were really good and some were really terrible but I still purchase online courses to this day. In fact, that is the main way I educate myself, because when designed right and created by experts who know their stuff, online courses are a great way to learn.
I love the flexibility of being able to access the content from anywhere and whenever I want.
To me, one of the beauties of teaching online is to be able to work with people all over the globe from the convenience of my office or home, on my own terms.
That’s probably why we’ve seen a lot of teachers take their offline course and turn it into an online learning experience with massive success.
It’s a great way to leverage your knowledge and materials you’ve already created to help even more people.
I’m pretty sure I’ve never shared this before but here goes: my first online course was not a big success, you might even call it a bomb or a failure.
Not because of the content, the content was great, but because I failed to market it to the right people.
But I learned a lot in the process (which is what makes it a stepping stone and NOT a failure) and I want to share with you 6 key elements that you need to know if you want to teach online successfully.
1 – A website
If you want to teach online, you obviously need an online place where your students will be able to access your content.
For that you’ll need to purchase a domain name (like http://thepowerofmemberships.com for example ) so that your students can find you online.
It will become your identity and where people go to find your course online.
Cost of a domain name starts at $10/year.I like to use namecheap.com to purchase domain names.
2 – A Hosting
Because you want to your course to be found online, you’ll need what we call a hosting service.
This is basically computer space that you rent to a service to store your website so that it’s visible on the web.
The hosting is going to be linked to your domain name. When people are typing your domain name in their browser, that’s on the hosting that they’ll get your course(s).
Don’t worry if this is blowing your mind though, it’s all done for you though so you don’t need to know exactly how all of this stuff works.
Cost starts at $5/month. We recommend Siteground.com for hosting.
3- Content protection (a secure platform)
You don’t want just anyone to be able to “walk” into your classroom without paying you, right? That’s why you need to protect your content so that only the students that have paid and are in good standing can access the content and no one else.
This will add a login page to your site with a username/password to get in, so that your students can access your content where your stuff is available only to the people that have paid for it.
Just like in a traditional classroom, only people in the room can access your course but since the entire world can go to your website, the login/password serves as a ‘security guard’ in front of your classroom.
There are lots of tools out there and you can easily get overwhelmed when you start searching online for the best platform.
I’ve worked with and tested a lot of theses platforms and my experience has taught me that there is not one solution that fits all.
It really depends on the other tools that you’re going to be using (so they all integrate well with each other) and the kind of functionalities you’d like to have.
Cost starts at $197 one time.
4- Taking payments online
In order to sell your course you’ll need to accept some form of payment. You usually don’t take cash or checks so you need a way to accept credit card and/or paypal payments.
There is a free option that you can setup really easily. You can always get fancier later on.
Cost starts at: FREE.
5- A way to easily communicate with your students
In a traditional classroom, students raise their hand to ask a question. Online it’s a bit different because your course is accessible 24/7. In fact, people can take your course while you’re snuggled up in your bed in your fuzzy jammies.
Obviously, you want your students to have THE best experience with your classes, so you need to give them a way to get access to you without giving them your personal email (because that can be a nightmare).
If you can have live components like office hours, where you hop on a call once a week to answer their questions, even better!
Communication is key especially when you can’t see your members face to face. They need to feel your support so you’ll need to be able to send emails to your students about the current course they’re taking or any other offer you might have.
Luckily there are automated email systems that allow you to communicate with a whole group of members without it being seen as SPAM.
6- Easy to modify (add/modify content)
Your Online Class can be made of videos, audios, powerpoint presentations, pdf documents, it’s really up to you and what you feel will be the best media for your audience to learn. Here’s the catch- it’s crucial for you to be able to modify it easily.
If you want to change a video for example, you should be able to shoot the new video and upload it quickly to your classroom. It should be a simple process, you shouldn’t have to hire a developer.
If it’s not easy, making little tweaks and additions as you want to make changes will get very time consuming and expensive for you.
Let’s call “The Platform” the place where you put in all your course content. It’s basically a website with several tools installed on it to protect your content and make it accessible to only the people you choose.
The platform needs to be functional and easy to modify by you or any member of your team.
Bonus points if the platform is flexible and allows you to expand it as your business grows, by adding new modules or even classes for example.
Teaching and sharing our knowledge online is an amazing feeling but it’s also a great way to generate a new source of income. Making an extra $1000 or $2000 per month is nothing to sneeze at, but it requires a good marketing strategy to make it happen.
I still see lots of entrepreneurs use the ole’ “build it and they will come” strategy… which IS NOT a viable strategy if you want to be successful.
Nope! That’s what I call “pray marketing” and that just doesn’t work for 99% of the people I see trying it.
When I first started teaching online, I wasn’t making any money with it, I was actually losing a lot of money each month. Like I said, I learned a lot from my mistakes. Here are 2 things I had to work on to make it work:
1 – Mindset
For me, this was a huge thing! Mindset messes up so many of us with big ideas. At the end of the day, it’s really the roadblocks that we put in our own heads. Screwy, isn’t it?!
It doesn’t matter what you teach: math, physics, dog behavior, how to grow tomatoes or even how to make money, you have to be 100% present to help your students.
You have to be comfortable with the price of your class. The range of price for paid online courses is vast. It can be a few dollars to over $10,000.
For example, if you teach how to grow tomatoes, if it’s just for a hobby you could sell it for $47 or $97 because likely, someone looking for that content is going to use it as a hobby. They aren’t planning on making money with it.
But if it’s for a tomato business, teaching them where to market, how to price the tomatoes, how to grow them all year long for increased income … .
That has a much bigger value and price tag because their ROI is going to be greater.
In other words, you need to know how valuable the content is to them and what they’d be willing to pay for it, as well as what your comfort level is and what your time is worth.
Ah marketing… the one thing that will make or break a business. You can have the greatest courses in the world but fail to market well and they won’t sell. Or conversely, you can have mediocre… or downright crap courses and market them with skill and they’ll sell like hotcakes.
For some people (like me), it takes some learning and for others it will come more naturally. But either way, you have to think about your marketing from the very beginning, that’s usually a point that people are missing. They dive right into creating the course but they don’t ask themselves these 3 important questions:
I don’t recommend the latter unless you really like refund requests.
- Who is this course for?
- What problem am I solving for them?
- Will people be willing to pay for it? (is the pain you’re solving big enough to make them whip out their wallets?)
Timeframe & budget
If you want to teach online (and why wouldn’t you!?), timeframe and budget are two super important elements to consider.
Time is money and the sooner you’ll get something out there, the faster you’ll be able to start teaching, impacting people and making moolah. It does not need to be perfect, it just needs to get done. But don’t throw together some crappy product just to make money either.
Perfectionism is your enemy! Planned action is your friend.
I did some research and identified 3 different profiles of entrepreneurs who want to teach online (which one are you?):
- The complete DIY person; let’s call him Bob
- The DIY that wants help building a solid foundation let’s call her Jenny
- The done for you that wants to outsource all the technical aspects of creating the course: let’s call her Marie.
Now let’s take a look at each profile in terms of timeframe and budget.
Timeframe: 6 months to never
Price: $ to $$$$
Although it might seem to be the cheapest solution, it can turn out to be the most expensive one. Because time IS money and it’s the only thing we can’t get more of.
Bob is very likely going to be frustrated with the process… a lot. Bob won’t be able to spend time with his family, he’ll be working on his Class until 2am. Bob is going to spend his time watching YouTube videos over and over, he’s going to get confused, frustrated. I’ve seen many people spend all their evenings and weekends for a year or two and still getting nowhere. There are successful DIYers but they are a very few and far between.
Part DIY Part/Part Done for You Jenny:
Timeframe: 1 week to 1 month+
This is a great option if you don’t have a lot of time and budget, you’re an action taker and you want to focus your time on marketing and creating your course content and not learn new technical skills. You’d rather let the pros handle the tech side of things and focus on creating your content and adding it to the platform yourself. That’s where we see fastest results happen too.
Done 4 You Marie:
Timeframe: 1 to 3 months
If you’re like Marie, you see big, all you want to focus on is building your content and your marketing strategy. You want everything done for you including putting your videos and pdfs inside the course. The budget really depends on the functionalities of the platform (do you want a forum, a member directory,..).
Between branding, design and development you’re looking at $6000+ for a complete done for you solution.
We all make mistakes, that’s part of the learning process, but I’m going to share with you 4 common mistakes that we see (and that we’ve made) so that hopefully you can avoid them.
1- Not seeking help if you get stuck
It happens. There’s one thing that you just cannot figure out, no matter how many late nights you spend working on it. The worst thing you can do is to waste your time (and lost revenue) trying to DIY when oftentimes the price of outsourcing the solution is WORTH saving you more frustration and a missed launch date.
2- Lack of clarity
I know what some of you entrepreneur-types are thinking… you’re going to block out the next hour starting your own course pronto. A note of warning, don’t jump on a project until you’re absolutely happy with the well thought out plan. Then go for it and stay focused.
3- The shiny object syndrome
Oh Lord, how many business owners have been sucked in with this one. Don’t get distracted by what others are doing, you can check out what your competition does but it doesn’t mean you should do the same. In fact, one thing is for sure… you want to do different, because you want to be unique.
4- looking for perfection.
Perfection can literally kill an idea. Speed of implementation is key. The sooner you get it out there, the faster you can get feedback and make it even better.
Bonus Tip : Don’t be scared to fail.
Failing is part of the process. Every single entrepreneur has failed somewhere at some point. When I was working in the Biotech Industry in R&D when I was an employee and they kept telling us that failing is part of the process, they never get it right the first time and there are a lot of trials and a lot of errors too.
It’s the same in an online business. It’s OK to fail, we learn by doing but if we fail we have to fail fast and get up and try the next thing.
Easier said than done, right?
But creating a course or membership, however you decide to teach online, is just like my time in R&D. Develop, test, improve, test again… just keep going and before you know it, you’ll be a successful online teacher, touching lives around the world and adding a new stream of income to your business.
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