Reasons to teach an online course
Leveraging your expertise – Part 2
Online courses are nothing new – the Open University (the British university offering part-time study for degrees, postgraduates and other courses) has been using the internet as a platform for their distance learning degrees and short courses for many decades and all major universities and colleges now offer online courses in multiple subjects.
Online courses are extremely popular for both the hobby market and for professional development. Learn complex coding, to history, or parenting. Take a course in calligraphy, search engine optimisation or public speaking – whatever takes your fancy.
In the first article in this series I outlined the financial benefits of creating an online course. In this post I take this one step further and examine additional reasons to turn your knowledge-based expertise into a course, supporting your consulting, coaching or freelance business.
Productise a service-based business
Demonstrating your knowledge by creating a well-structured, digital course will set you apart from your competition and allows you to reach a wider audience turning a ‘1 to 1’ business into a ‘1 to many’ model. If you are an expert in your field then there will be aspects of your particular subject you can teach which will elevate your online presence and credibility without watering down your core offering.
There is the opportunity to widen your appeal to a broader audience. For example, if you are a coach offering individual sessions with your clients at a fee of £350 per month, you may choose to create a VIP course at a higher fee or a lower priced offering teaching a specific topic to a wider audience who may then go on to purchase your core offering or VIP course.
Spread your appeal to an international audience
Creating a course will also allow you to reach clients further afield than in person. There are no borders when it comes to online learning.
Turn existing training into an online course
If you already teach groups of people face to face turning your training into an online course will be easier than starting from scratch particularly if it’s a workshop or class you have taught many times.
However, the resources you need for an online lesson are more detailed than for a classroom setting where you are on hand to answer questions. As there’s no immediate feedback from students, online presentations tend to require a slower pace and need to take into account all the learning styles – visual, audio and kinesthetic.
Where lessons are delivered by video, using recordings over slides (as opposed to face to camera), there is no body language to help with the communication. Looking natural being filmed takes practice. Online video lessons are frequently supported by an audio version, a transcript, a checklist, resources for further learning and a workbook.
There are platforms such as Udemy, Skillshare and Lynda where you can host your course. Whilst these platforms have raised the profile of online learning in general, putting your course in amongst other people’s courses on the same topic waters down your offering. In addition, the format of your course has to fit in with the design of the particular platform. In order to command the worth of your course, it needs to provide something different from the competition. Designing and developing your own online course where you have complete control is preferable to being on one of the generic platforms.
Characteristics of online courses
There are many types of online course you can create from a simple video series delivered by email through to a full-blown suite of modules divided into lessons with video training, audio recordings, transcripts and supporting material.
A complex course may also have quizzes attached to each lesson Some course creators will have a forum or group where students can ask questions and create a sense of community.
At one end of the scale, a course may be a one-off event with no support or an ongoing ‘membership’ whereby lessons are drip fed periodically (usually weekly or monthly) and the creator supports the membership by appearing regularly in a group or online forum and holding ’office hours’ weekly.
There are three main reasons from a financial standpoint for teaching an online course.
- Online courses as a new business
You may be in a position to pivot your existing business towards online teaching thereby leverage the internet to turn your consultancy, training or coaching away from in-person events to the ‘1 to many’ model.
Building and marketing a successful online course requires a significant investment in time upfront but with the right topic, topic and sales funnel in place it is extremely lucrative.
- Topping up your revenue
For business owners who enjoy the 1 to 1 approach, online courses can be seen as an additional revenue stream rather than a replacement. Teaching online can still be personally rewarding. Seeing a community thrive under your watchful eye is very rewarding.
Think of online training which would complement your existing services.
- Free courses
You might think that creating a free course is giving your expertise away for no return. However, this is far from the truth. It is much more likely to increase your credibility as it showcases your expertise and raises awareness of your brand. Free courses are an ideal way of introducing your teaching style to a potential paying audience. You’ll have the opportunity to turn a cold lead into a warm potential client who may go on to become a paying customer.
The majority of free courses are delivered in exchange for an email address. Once an email address is captured via a sign-up form on your website, a link to the course is delivered, usually via email, complying with the various regulations such as the European Unions’s GDPR and Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). The content is protected from general consumption by the use of password protection accounts which are sent to each person who signs up.
Signing up for a free course means you can then introduce the consumer to your other services.
A free course is an example of a lead magnet – a free piece of content, such as a checklist, workbook, video series, or giveaway sent to someone who signs up using their email address, a Messenger message or a response to a text message.
We have seen that teaching online courses is a great option for coaches, consultants, trainers and freelancers both from a lifestyle point of view and financially. Whether you are thinking of just dipping your toes in the water by creating a short course, to diving in with a full-blown membership site there are endless opportunities to make teaching online a profitable part of your business.