I had no idea what I was getting myself into back in the fall of 2009.
The only thing I knew for sure was that I was feeling antsy.
I had been running my design and marketing business for almost two decades. Over almost twenty years, I had helped every kind of client with every kind of project. Truth be told: I was getting a little bored.
And boredom, as far as I’m concerned, is Enemy #1.
Up to that point, my business was strictly offline. I had a web presence, but it was a brochure site. You know, a “here’s what I do and here’s how to contact me” website with no content, no audience-building component, no connection whatsoever with the people who landed on its pages. Old school.
The thrill was gone from my current career. Something had to change. So I started searching.
And exactly one Google search later, I landed here on the pages of Copyblogger.
It just so happened that I stumbled onto these pages in the weeks leading up to the launch of one of the early versions of Teaching Sells, the online course that taught online course building. It’s the product that helped establish the company I now work for.
I signed up for Teaching Sells as soon as the doors opened. And I dug right into the materials. All five months’ worth!
As I watched the videos and did the worksheets, I filled a folder full of notes. I worked overtime to consume every lesson. I asked and answered questions in the forum. I attended Q&A sessions. I was all in.
But it’s what happened after taking the course that changed my career and my life.
Here’s what happened after I took the Teaching Sells course
I built my online presence from scratch after taking the Teaching Sells course. Everything — from my brand name, to my website, to my blog content, to my opt-in offer, to my first course — was born from what I learned in the course materials.
Once I knew my ultimate goal was to offer online education, I was able to reverse engineer my online presence to attract an audience of readers who would become my students.
It worked like a charm. My only complaint? I wished there was a more compact way to learn what I learned. And now there is (more on that below).
It turns out that teaching still sells, now more than ever. The online education market is growing. New technologies like simulation-based teaching, cognitive learning, augmented reality, and bot-based tutorials are engaging people of all age groups and interests.
Back when I first learned about how to create online education, there was a stigma surrounding learning this way, as if it “wasn’t the real deal.” How could web-based learning possibly replace the back-and-forth interaction of a classroom?
Now we’ve realized that we’re just scratching the surface of how computing power can augment and improve our educational experiences. The sky’s the limit.
Are you in? Because in today’s article, I want to share four not-so-obvious advantages of creating online courses. These are benefits I’ve experienced personally.
And they offer compelling reasons you might want to explore creating an online course in the near future.
1. You’ll discover that adult learners become loyal customers
When you empower someone with information that allows them to do something they’ve never done, or work more efficiently, or enjoy life more … they’ll never forget you.
It’s the ultimate top-of-mind awareness for your business and your brand.
Believe it or not, I still meet people who thank me for courses they took from me four, five, and six years ago. That’s remarkable!
Education has that effect — it can transform people’s lives. And people whose lives you transform become loyal, devoted customers.
2. You’ll develop your position (and that will help later)
Creating a course is hard work. If you want to do it right, you spend time laying the groundwork for your course with some fundamentals first:
- You find a market of “hungry learners”
- You develop a unique approach for your course
- You define a learner profile so you fully understand who you’re serving
- You identify the benefits of knowledge — how your learner will grow from what you’ll teach them
- You spell out learning objectives for your course
All this before creating a single lesson!
But here’s the thing — the time you spend defining your market, your position, and the knowledge you’ll convey will benefit you in so many ways. In a very sneaky way, you’ll be:
- Pinpointing a target market for your content and confirming demand
- Uniquely positioning your brand
- Understanding what motivates your ideal customer
- Creating selling points for your course
- Writing marketing copy you can use on sales pages and in emails
Doing the work of building your course will put you well ahead in your marketing efforts.
And working through the fundamentals will help you write better content that draws new people to your website and your offerings.
3. You’ll learn All The Things
A full-blown online course is not a Minimum Viable Product. Not even close.
The biggest mistake I made was to tackle putting together a fully functional online course as my first product.
(It’s embarrassing even to type this.)
But looking back, I have no regrets. Putting together a full-fledged online course forced me to learn All The Things. Things like:
- How to write effective content that attracts the right audience
- How to accept payments for online products
- How to position, launch, and generate ongoing sales for a digital product
- How to put my paid content behind a secure paywall
- How to allow members to communicate with each other and with me
- How to create, present, and host online video content
- How to build a community around my teaching
When I look at that list, it’s pretty daunting. Thinking about doing all these things may push you well beyond your comfort zone.
Learning to create a full-featured online course is like attending a digital content bootcamp.
The good news? After creating a full-blown online course, creating other types of digital content will seem easy. You’ll have an impressive skill set that will serve you well as you create, set up, and sell other online products.
4. You’ll know your topic better than ever before
Want to really master a topic? Teach it.
There’s nothing like codifying your expertise and teaching it to others to cement certain concepts in your own mind.
You research information, synthesize what you’ve learned, and then express it in your own words. This process builds your understanding and deepens your grasp of your topic.
One word of caution: sometimes teaching a topic can lead to knowing so much about it you begin to lose touch with what beginners need to know.
This is the dreaded “curse of knowledge,” and it separates you from your newbie students. Stay in touch with your audience, understand their needs — no matter where they are in relation to your topic — and focus on how you can help them.
Doing this will help you create a better course and allow you to create better offers in the future, too.
A new (updated) course about building online courses
I’m happy to share that Teaching Sells, the course I took that set my career on a brand-new path, has evolved into something even better.
It’s leaner, faster to consume, and has the most up-to-date information about what works in online education right now.
And it’s taught by the originator of Teaching Sells, our CEO Brian Clark. Brian poured what was best about Teaching Sells into this new course and added a healthy dose of what he’s learned since his early days in the online education market.
The course, Build Your Online Education Business the Smarter Way, is available now.