Online learning was already a booming business, but with the closure of schools, Universities, and non-essential businesses, the industry is poised to skyrocket.
If you were already teaching students in person (music or some other skill or content), you may have already considered creating a similar program online to serve more students. Now, with social distancing, this has shifted from a “nice to have” to a “must” in order to continue earning revenue.
But what if you’ve never taught students in person? Is online course creation still a good income stream to pursue? Absolutely!
Diversifying your income streams is always a good idea, but especially now. And you probably have more time than ever before during this quarantine period to focus on planning and creating an online course. So why not get started?
The reason most people don’t get started creating their online course is that they think they need to teach everything they know. And as you can imagine, that idea is overwhelming. They think it will take a year or more to create a course, so they never start.
But what about starting with a mini course? Can you boil your “secret sauce” down to a few lessons that will create an important transformation for someone?
Other common barriers to starting include fear of technology, confusion about platforms, and not knowing how to take payment.
But there are really only five big questions you need to ask yourself. Once you land on a solution for each, you’ll have a clear path to getting your mini course out of your head and into the marketplace.
What will you teach?
If you’re having trouble deciding what to teach, I want you to consider a few things.
- What are the questions you answer over and over to your private students or friends?
- What do people say you’re especially good at doing, explaining, or demonstrating?
- What subject are you so passionate about that you could talk about it all day?
Now that you have some idea what your mini course will be about, come up with a simple outline. What’s vital to teach to take them from point A to point B?
Keep in mind, it's just as important to decide what you WON’T include in your course as well as what you will include. We tend to think that more is better. But people today are surrounded by a glut of information. Part of your “secret sauce” is that you can streamline the learning experience for them so they only spend time on the essentials.
So if you only had 2 hours to teach a subject, what would be crucial to include? Teach just that and resist the temptation to add more. If you include too much, it will water down the impact of the information and make the project so overwhelming that you’ll resist completing it.
How will they learn?
Think about what formats will be most effective for your potential students based on your subject matter. Some examples include:
- Face to camera video training
- Slides with commentary video training
- Screen casting video training
- Full body or on location demo videos
- Audio only
- PDF resources and printable workbooks
How will you create the content?
If I’m honest, this is where people get really stuck. Most people think they need fancy equipment and a team of people to create a course. That’s definitely not the case. In fact, when you first release a course, I recommend being “scrappy” and not letting perfectionism hold you back. You can always price it a little lower until you can upgrade the quality. But at least you got it out there!
For example, if you don’t have a webcam, you can use your phone to record face-to-camera videos, demo videos, and audio. However, many people do own a webcam or have one built into a laptop and can easily record these on their computer.
If you need to screen share to record with slides or show a process on your computer, Facebook now has this capability on Desktop inside groups when you go live. You could also use software like Loom (free) or Zoom (low price) to record these screencasts or slides with audio.
How will you deliver it?
I’ve met many course creators who have not started marketing their course because they can’t decide what platform to use to deliver the material. While there are a lot of things to consider, there are also so many great options out there now that it’s hard to go wrong.
If you want to start very basic, you can open a Facebook group and upload the files and create units to organize the material. Make sure it’s a secret group so only the people who pay for the mini course can access the link to join. Or use a combination of email and Dropbox, or another cloud storage option.
You can also create a dedicated teaching website and set up your course as a product, take payment, then email the links to the course materials. Or you can add a password protected page on your website for your course materials, and email the link and password to students after they pay for the course.
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The platform I use, and have used since it was founded back in 2015, is Teachable. It’s extremely affordable, offering free and low-cost plans to help you get started and scale as your course library grows.
The great thing about Teachable is that you can house everything on one easy-to-navigate platform. They support video, audio, PDF, text, quizzes and more and have a user-friendly look and feel. They are built specifically for courses.
How will they pay you?
Most musicians already use platforms like PayPal, Venmo and Square. So you can simply create a product within these platforms, put a button on your site, take payment and email out the course materials.
Another reason I love Teachable is that they offer many payment options built seamlessly into the platform. As well as single payments, you have the option to create payment plans, annual plans, and subscriptions. As soon as your customers pay, they receive immediate access to your mini course.
The final question
Now that you’ve answered the five important questions, the final question is, “When are you going to get started?” I’ve met so many musicians and creatives who are excited about online courses and dream of creating one someday. But because they never sit down and create a solid plan for how they’re going to do it, someday never comes.
But now you know the five decisions you must make before you can get started, and I’ve given you a variety of options from bare-bones to robust, from free to affordable. I encourage you to take a few hours and strategize using these five questions and the suggestions above.
It’s time to get that mini course out of your head and into the world. With more time in your schedule and more demand for online courses, there has been no better time to start tapping into a brand new income stream by creating a mini course.
Bree Noble is a music marketing & business coach, best-selling author of "The Musician's Profit Path", recognized speaker, and award-winning podcaster. As founder of both Women of Substance Radio and The Female Entrepreneur Musician, Bree is a champion and go-to resource for Indie artists in all genres. Her most popular offerings are her Female Musician Academy and her Rock Your Next Release program.
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