105: Is an online course right for me?

I’m excited to get into this episode because it hits me so close to home… I have been working with entrepreneurs and business owners since 2010 to create the exact right tech stack to support their online business goals.

My heart swells with pride when my clients hit the “go live” button on whatever project we are working on. It’s not just about go live, it’s really about creating the right online product for both my clients and their audience.

Not every business owner who wants to have an online revenue source is going to go about it the same way and there is no one right way. Today, we’re going to determine if an online course is right for you!!

There are a lot of offline instructors and coaches who could create and sell online courses. But just because you could, should you? I have seen that the success of online course launches has less to do with what you teach and more to do with who you are as a person and how you present yourself to the world.

And what’s more, launching an online course can be done in a number of different ways and again this comes down to they type of person you are. Super quick, you could launch your online course with a webinar or a virtual summit or a challenge or a mini-course or through a podcast or through ads or with a launch team (those are the most common ones) so while you’re thinking about online courses, I recommend you also think about what launch method you resonate the most with as well. You’re just going to gravitate towards one more than others.

So, now, one more preface – I’m not a therapist or an intuitive or anything else that makes me an expert in identifying traits in people… this is all anecdotal from working with clients for nearly a decade.

Migrating existing one-on-one or in-person teaching into an online format doesn’t have a uniform and single method of translation. What I mean is that it’s not just a matter of taking your lesson plan or outline, creating a few videos to teach the lessons and poof, putting them online for someone else to purchase and learn from. It’s more of an art than a science… what works for one type of course creator has no chance of working for another course creator. And the courses that teach you how to create courses do not have a 100% success rate because nobody can say for sure what your unique audience is going to want from you and how they are going to do their best work from your teachings.

One of my favorite ways to explain the difference between online and offline instruction is that you simply cannot walk around the classroom or studio and watch over our students as they work through the material and translate that into practice. And that’s really the crux of the matter – how do we translate the human connection into a virtual space?

Let’s take a closer look at this…

If your primary teaching style is intuitive with a loose outline or lesson plan then it’s super helpful realize this about yourself and to figure out how to be intuitive while being at a distance from your students. And it might make sense to teach your online courses live rather than pre-recorded. This then goes into the launch method and whether your course is going to be open cart/close cart or evergreen enrollment.

If instead your primary teaching style is to follow a lesson plan, give your students time to implement and then review their work and provide feedback, the more traditional online course delivery model can work well for you. This would also lend itself to an evergreen promotion and enrollment.

Now, if you’re all about progress over perfection, then one aspect of an online course that you’ll want to take into consideration is how to help your students carve the time out on a daily or weekly basis to keep moving forward. The fact that your students show up and put in the effort is going to help them find success more than being tested or quizzed or required to submit their assignments. And with this model, there is a lot that you’ll want to consider outside of the course content so that you keep your students’ attention. We talked about this a bunch with Acuity Scheduling last week. If you haven’t listened to that episode yet, when you’re finished with this one, just scroll one back to episode 104 and have a listen!

Here’s the truth about today’s episode – I think that everyone has it in them to create and deliver an online course. For your course to be successful in your eyes, it needs to feel good to you. Your students will only be responsive to the course if you show up as yourself. Be authentic and don’t feel the need to copy anyone else!

Let’s go into other ways to know that you’re ready to put together your first (or next) online course!

  • You’re the perfect person to develop an online course if you’ve taught the methods you’d teach in your online course at least twice in the past and want to teach them again.
  • You’re the perfect person to develop an online course if you have people asking you for an online course!
  • You’re the perfect person to develop an online course if you have proven teaching methods and a desire to reach outside your geographic region.
  • You’re the perfect person to develop an online course if you’ve been wanting to diversify your income.
  • You’re the perfect person to develop an online course if you’re listening to this podcast right now – no, seriously I bet in a short conversation we can come up with a really great outline for what you could teach with excellence and confidence in an online manner.

Assuming that you’re going to create an online course, let’s talk about how to make sure creating that course falls in line with the rest of your business and your life. Because the last thing we want is for you to put all your energy into creating it and have used none of your energy for any of the other facets of an online course being successful.

Online courses differ from offline courses in three specific ways that we’ll want to address and for the purpose of this part of the episode, we’re talking specifically about arts instruction – visual arts, photography, performance and music.

In the offline space, you can teach in your own studio or through a studio or community center or organization whereas online you’re going to be doing it completely on your own without location boundaries. This means that your students can be all ages, all abilities and just about anywhere in the world. And this matters because your messaging and delivery need to match their needs and goals.

In an offline environment, you can easily speak to your student after class to help them get the most out of the class they are taking or you can move them to a different class during the session. This aspect of learning and observing our students looks vastly different online but is as important here as anywhere.

And in an online environment we can actually measure a whole lot more than we can offline. I mean, we can see how much of a video a student watches, we can see what lessons they open, we can see what emails they open, we can see them showing up to office hours and a whole bunch of other bits of information – that information is not measurable in the same way offline… so it really makes sense to setup systems and processes to track everything so that next time you launch this course or offer something new, you’ll be able to use that tangible data in meaningful ways.

So, getting back to the initial question of the episode – is an online course right for me?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

  • Take a methodical approach.
  • Surround yourself with others who are on the same path.
  • Seek outside support from me or another coach or strategist.
  • Create something that feels good in your soul, flows with your style and methods and that you feel confident you can continue to love and nurture in its own right.

An online course is not something I recommend for businesses just starting out. You need to already have expertise and a track record and an audience.

If you don’t have those yet, then sure, put the online course in the side burner for 4 – 6 months as you build these other facets. Your online course can do amazing things for you personally and professionally. I seriously love seeing my clients take their offline tactics and build something new online. So, there you have it – it’s time to stop thinking your online course is coming someday and start looking inward and put the date on the calendar.

This episode was designed to get your wheels spinning and to help you see that your dream is possible. If you would like support, strategy or guidance from me, send me a quick DM on Instagram (I’m @jaimeslutzky) and we can figure out our best next steps.

I look forward to hearing about all your online successes. Thanks for listening and reading these notes! And I love getting to know podcast listeners, so connect with me on any of the platforms listed here:

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