I was a self-employed change manager & consultant for 13 years and an agency owner for the last 13. I’ve had just as many ups as I’ve had downs, but there’s one thing I’ve never done.
I mention this because after focusing on Knowledge Commerce for the last 4 years and meeting so many online course creators, I noticed that many are lost as to their next step or even where to start! I see knowledgeable people struggle to share their expertise with the world.
And so they quit.
Which I think is a shame because if you got knowledge to share and want to turn that into a business, you should do so.
I’ve been doing a little bit of reflecting on the topic, and I’ve come up with some things I think you should have, know, or do when you want to create an online course business.
True expertise to share
Online course creation is hot. Especially since the pandemic. And with it comes the type of “gurus” that will promise you the world and make everything sound easy when it comes to creating a course.
One of those false promises is the fact that you need no expertise to create and teach a course. You only need to be a step ahead of your audience.
The thing is, if you are only one step ahead of your audience, you don’t know what you don’t know.
And that could mean that you are teaching people incomplete or incorrect stuff.
Compare it to teaching a language. Would you ever claim to be a language teacher if you had only mastered the present tense and knew 100 words?
I wouldn’t (dare).
So be skilled or an expert at something. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. You could teach how to pickle all kinds of foods or how to grieve a death or traumatic event. But you have to know what you are talking about.
Knowing how to teach
Why this course business isn’t as easy as it seems is also because you need to be able to teach. Giving people information is not the same as teaching people on whatever topic.
Teaching is more than creating a slide deck.
It involves the difference between information and knowledge. A slide deck is the information. Your teaching helps your students actually understand the information and be able to apply it. Your teaching turns information into knowledge.
If you have never taught before, there are people who can help you with this. And there are books, courses, coaching, and consulting on the topic.
Do remember, though, that teaching offline is not the same as teaching online.
It takes time, money, or both
First of all, take all those claims that you can have your course built within a day with a grain of salt.
If you can come up with a topic now and have a course ready to launch within 24 hours, I applaud you. However, the reality is that most people have different experiences.
Research shows that most people take longer than 3 months to develop their course.
Apart from creating a course, you also have to deliver it. Creating that delivery system – a website, sent via email, live via Zoom, etcetera – and a commercial system where you take payments takes time. And you have to create a marketing system as well.
If you know how to do all those things, it just takes time. If you don’t, it will take time and perhaps money to learn.
Or you outsource building all that. That costs money too.
So realize you need time, money, or both.
I often see course creators create the course, build the site, and then run out of steam because they don’t have the budget or know-how to market their courses.
Make sure that when you budget for launching your course business, you reserve money for building but also for the recurring cost of marketing.
Don’t compare yourself to the real gurus out there
There are fake gurus, and then there are the real ones. The people you admire or aspire to be.
Wonderful. It is good to have examples.
Don’t compare yourself to them, though. Don’t assume that their methods work for you.
If a guru tells you that you should join the latest fad in Social Media and tells you how successful they were with it, remember that they may have 560.000 followers, while you have 87.
Be critical when applying the methods of the gurus. One size does not fit all, and their methods may not work for your situation. Worse, it can actually make you doubt if you’re on the right track if you try their methods, and they won’t work. Remember that your track is different from theirs.
You got to love what you do
We course creators (yes, I’m one too) tend to take ourselves pretty seriously, but I’m telling you right now that you’ve got to love what you do. It is really going to help you in difficult and stressful times.
I think it was Steve Jobs who said it best.
So are you willing to do what it takes?
There are no shortcuts to success. I do believe in putting in the work. Especially when you and your knowledge and skills are the product.
Still eager to get your course business started? Then GO GO GO! I’m rooting for you!