The course development process
You've decided that you want to write a course. Make sure you've checked that there is an audience for your course, and you know that the market wants it, because otherwise you shouldn't even start.
Without an engaged, willing audience, you will have no one to sell it to. This is even more true if you're using your LinkedIn (or other social media platform) audience to leverage them to sales.
If you’re not using your own audience, and you’ll be going the paid route, that’s a whole different animal. It requires a budget for the ad spend, landing page, email marketing, and the course itself.
For the sake of simplicity, we are going to be assuming you’re using organic channels to promote your course.
Once you've found that your market has a need for this course, that your audience wants it, now's the time to start going through the process of putting the course together. There are quite a few steps that you have to go through before you can actually launch your course.
Here are the basic steps you’ll need to cover:
- Write outline
- Write course
- Record head shots
- Record screen captures
- Edit sessions
- Collect handouts and downloads
- Upload to course platform
- Write landing page
- Create landing page
- Write delivery email sequence
- Write sales email sequence
- Write social posts
Outline the Course
The first step I would recommend doing is writing an outline - the headers. This is something that can be very useful later on social media. You can use the outlines as a carousel or a slider, and post that on social media to show your audience what you’re going to cover.
It's important to note that if you haven't done any testing or research about your course, an outline is a great way to sort of test the waters.
Post the outline on social media.
See what the response is.
See what people say.
Is it something they're interested in?
Is it something they're not interested in?
Is there something they want that you’re not covering, but can?
Write the course
Once you have the feedback you can go out to write your content. You want to fill out the outline just like you did on a high school project back in the day. Really build out your idea and fill in the outline with the information your audience needs to know to solve a problem.
What is going to happen is you’re going to get a lot of text.
Let me tell you, from experience, you’re going to want to convert the text content into video.
In this day and age, it’s better to have a recording of you talking, than it is to have people read through your course.
People like to connect with the person who's giving the course. Eye contact with the audience is very important. In fact, if you can record yourself speaking to an audience (even an audience of one), you will see that the energy that you have from the recording is going to be completely different than the energy of a recording of just you speaking to a camera.
But regardless, the next step is recording your headshots and recording your screen captures or presentations.
Recording and editing
If your course is going to show people how to work a tool, or how to break down steps visually, or how to navigate something, you’re going to want to screen capture that process.
There are quite a few tools out there that will write up the process of what you've done on the screen. One of those is called Tango.
The reason I like this tool so much is it will not only capture your screen capture as you do it, but it will also write up a document or the process. You can then export the document in different formats.
This means, that in addition to the recordings of you speaking, your screenshots and presentations, you’ll also have a document of the process that your students can download.
The next thing you want to do is edit your videos.
Now I'm assuming you're not going be doing all of this on your own. Having a video editor will definitely bump up the quality of editing, but you should know that if you don't, there are very good tools out there that will help you edit your video captures.
Photo Credit Camtasia
One of those is Camtasia. It's a one time purchase. I actually highly recommend it. I'm a trained video editor on something called the Avid Media Composer. And I can tell you the level of accuracy and the level of advanced features that you can get from Camtasia is above many other simple desktop editing tools. And yet, it’s a simple tool that will give you really high quality video, even if you're not using a professional video editor.
Another added value of this tool, is that it has a built in record option for a camera, microphone, and screen. Not all video editors have that.
When you begin recording, ideally, clips should not be longer than five minutes. Bite size clips make it so much easier for people to take in the material.
Even TED talks are limited to 15 minutes (in some cases, less than 8 minutes). Why? Because there's no need to go beyond that. And if there is a need to go beyond that, then you should be cutting it up into smaller bite sizes.
Online courses are often dropped mid way. Making the content bite sized, enables the user to complete modules and lessons with a quick reward of hitting the complete button.
Once you have your content written, you have all of your video material, you have your uploads, or downloads that you want to hand over to your participants, now's the time to upload the course to a course platform.
Picking your course platform
Now I have my preferences…
If you read my blogs, you know exactly what they are. You can read about it here in this article where I compare different course platforms. You can read about it in this article where I talk about my favorite course platform, which is ThriveCart, and watch the walkthrough below.
But at the end of the day, it really depends on what you’re looking for.
Upload the course to your course platform of choice. Structure it in a way that will make it easy for your students to work through this on their own.
Make sure the instructions are clear for every module and lesson.
If there are downloads, highlight them so your students don’t have to go searching for them.
Write and upload the sales page
Regardless of your course platform of choice, you need to start writing your sales page. This is the landing page for the course where people will learn what's in the course.
Ideally, you would have a copywriter write this because there's more to writing a sales page than just blurting out onto the page what your course includes. There's a psychology to it. And the more experienced conversion copywriters will know how to write a page in such a way that will keep the reader reading more and make them click that buy button. If you can afford it, definitely hire a copywriter to write the sales page for you.
The next thing that you want to do once you have the copy, is you want to create the landing page.
So once again, it really depends on the tools that you're using. Most course platforms have the ability to create landing pages, but some are more limited than others.
One of the reasons that I like ThriveCart is because it has very few limitations.
You can not only create your sales page, you can also create a separate checkout page for multi-step checkout, you can create a confirmation page and make that unique, per course, or even per payment option.
It gives you the option to create an abandoned cart email sequence, and define behaviors based on various variables. And so much more…. But I digress….
Write the delivery email sequence
The next thing you need is a delivery email sequence. The first email will be an email confirming the purchase of the course. And you also want to thank them!
Because there's something called buyer's remorse. When someone purchases something, they feel remorse right after they've purchased it thinking, maybe that wasn't such a good purchase after all.
So in the first email you should encourage them. Show them that they did make a good choice, remind them what they're going to get, and remind them what their next step is. Give them testimonials of people who have taken the course or received your services.
Photo Credit Active Campaign
Upload the delivery emails to your email platform of choice. If you’re using an all-in-one tool such as Kajabi or Podia, you will have the option to upload the emails directly there. Otherwise, you will need to connect to an email platform such as ActiveCampaign.
If you want to read more about the different email tools available, you can do so here.
Once you have all of these in place, your course is ready to go.
Marketing the course
But… before you go live, set up your email marketing.
And your social media game.
The course can’t be brought by itself. You have to drive traffic to your landing page to get people to buy.
Write a sales email sequence. This is the email sequence to your potential customers who have subscribed to your newsletter list.
You should also write social posts.
You want to write the emails and the posts that will convince your target audience to actually go to the sales page that will convince them that they want to check this out, that this is something that's worth their while. It turns into a numbers game.
By this point, the more people you get to your page, the more people that will actually potentially buy your course. Statistics show that for every 100% of people that will see the email about your course, about 10% will click through, and about 1% will buy. That's actually scary to think about, because if you have 100 people getting your email list about 10 of those will click and about one of those will buy.
Now that 10% click through rate, that's only if your emails are really good.
The industry average is somewhere about 2.3 or 2.5%, depending on what industry it is.
So if you want a higher conversion rate and/or click through rate of your emails, get a copywriter to write those as well. Again, conversion copywriting is a science. It's not just about writing. So the more you work with a copywriter, the higher chances you have of actually getting more courses sold.
Schedule your emails, and possibly your social posts. Try to make the launch an event. Make it fun for people to engage.
If you can, add some scarcity to the launch. Offer a special offer for a short period of time. It will play to people’s FOMO.
Before you launch
The last thing you want to do before you actually send the emails and the social posts is to test the entire process.
You have your:
the sales email sequence,
and your sales emails and social posts.
They have a link to the sales page, click on that link, get to the sales page, click on the purchase link.
Most course platforms have a sandbox option, basically a playground option where when you buy the product, it's in testing mode and you're not really paying for it. Click on that. See that the delivery email sequence is working and triggering as it should. Make sure all the links in the emails are working.
Testing is really important!
That’s worth repeating - testing is really important.
There you have it.
From A to Z on how to launch your first course.
I can’t tell you how important courses are to your revenue and cash flow. They are also a great way to scale your coaching or consulting business, because as I’ve always said… you can’t multiply yourself doing 1-on-1s!
If you have any questions, you can reach me here.