There’s lots of hype about launching online courses — but rarely is there a discussion about the SYSTEMS needed before (and after) that fancy-schmancy launch.
So what IS needed to organize and maintain your online course or membership?
Well, despite but the gurus say, it ain’t as “passive” as it seems!
In this LIVE session, Use our ClickUp affiliate link! Consultant Layla at ProcessDriven teamed up with Simplicity Specialist Jonathan Stewart, to talk about the not-so-sexy workflows and processes needed in order to plan, organize, and manage an online course or online membership business.
Let’s dive in.
Online Course Ideas
When it comes to planning any new business venture, you’re probably in one of two camps: either you don’t have enough ideas, or you have way too many. So where do you start?
The key to completing your ideation phase, is brainstorming. This may seem obvious, but it’s your approach that really takes this up a notch.
When trying to pin down the “perfect” course idea, take your favorite task management program (or just a pen and paper, if that’s more your style) and just let your brain “dump out” every idea you’ve got. Doesn’t matter how silly, or if it’s been done before, just get it out of your head.
Then take some time to reflect on each idea, and ask yourself some questions:
- Does this topic help solve a problem I have on a regular basis?
- Is this something that excites me?
- Is this something I have knowledge of? (And remember, knowledge here isn’t just knowing the details, but having the experience to really apply it to a problem or situation.)
- Does this topic inspire me to want to teach others about it?
Once you’ve jotted all of that down, separate each idea into a simple “yes”, “no” or “maybe” pile. (Or even give it a score of 10.) The goal here is to “measure” your excitement and passion about the topic of the course, because your interest is what will make or break your potential clients’ interest.
Planning an Online Course
How to Bring Action to your Online Course Idea
The key to selling a profitable, beneficial course is ACTUALLY selling it, right? And, although we don’t touch on this much here, marketing and market research for your online course is important.
So how do you plan to go about that initial launch?
Should you pre-sell your course, or *gasp* consider launching it Live? (Layla and Jonathan don’t get too technical with the marketing side of course building, but here’s some insight.)
There are 3 “levels” of getting insight into the interest in the type of course you’re looking to create:
- Asking relevant groups or friends and family (This is really just putting your feelers out for interest in your idea.)
- Waitlisting, via email marketing or any other channel you have engagement.
- Pre-selling, which is a way of validating your idea with actual money.
Launching your online course Live, while it may seem scary at first, gives you your answer right out of the gate. Did people attend, have questions for you to answer, or give you get any feedback? Launching Live really gives you the opportunity to gauge interest, interact with people in your potential community, and show you know your stuff.
Building an Online Course
Choosing a Platform
When choosing a platform for your online course, you have 2 basic options: using a SaaS model or a self-hosted service
(Layla and Jonathan dive into more details in this video at 25:35.)
The key to finding the right platform for your online course is figuring out 2 things:
- What do your students need? (i.e., do they need a form to fill out after every question? Do they need quizzes or some other sort of interactivity?)
- What do YOU need? Do you want to be in control of every detail and have to make edits on the backend of your hosting service? Or, do you want to just upload the content and be done?
If you’re looking for complete control, such as with a self-hosted service, WordPress is great for hosting your online course. (Just make sure you’ve got your content backed up somewhere, in case you’re website goes down for any reason!)
If you’re looking for more of a hands-off approach, using a SaaS model, maybe Use our MemberVault affiliate link!, Kajabi, or Teachable may be a better fit. These options don’t offer a whole lot of customizable options BUT will get your content out there, and ready for viewing.
The main takeaway here is do what works for YOU.
Pick an idea that speaks to you, a software that works for you, and develop a system based on how YOU work.
(If you’re wondering if you could get away with YouTube Unlisted or something similar, Layla and Jonathan dive in to that at 1:07:40.)
Maintaining an Online Course
Here are a basic list of things that play a role in maintaining an online course and membership:
- Ongoing Sales
- This compiles all the things you need to keep doing to continue to sell, well past your launch date.
- Retention and Renewals
- Don’t try to force people to stay. When someone doesn’t renew or unsubscribes, it can feel like a swift punch to the gut. When that happens, just let them go. They weren’t meant for you, and you weren’t meant for them. However, don’t let your client’s renewal dates creep past you! Create some sort of personalized strategy of reminding them why they should stay.
- This is your welcome mat. Onboarding in an online course is arguably the most important piece of the puzzle. Someone, somewhere has just invest money in YOU. In the information you have to offer, yes. But most importantly in you and your style of teaching it. (Because let’s be honest, they could really find the information you offer anywhere.) Your goal here is to make them feel welcomed, special, and as if they just made the best investment into their own transformation.
- Billings and Cancelations
- This will surprise you, in how big a piece this part actually plays. Having a growing archive of templated responses to common billing issues can do wonders in keeping your interaction with customers and clients consistent and to the point.
- Content Maintenance
- This will surprise you, in how little of a part this actually plays, specifically in membership models. Yes, content is king. And yes, creating GOOD content is key to making your course stand out from others similar. But what is interesting to note, is that a lot of times, people don’t buy into a course because it’s consistently updated. The hook, so to speak, is the access to YOU. This can be in weekly live calls, direct access to your email, whatever it may be.
- In this day and age, people come for the content and stay for the relationships. So keep nurturing those relationships, while finding a balance of new content releases.
- The best possible way to keep this a smooth and easy process, is to make canceling their membership easy. THEN find a way (a very un-invasive and quick way, such as a survey) to get some sort of follow-up as to WHY they are leaving. This can be crucial in making changes to your course and processes in the future.
The System is NOT the Software
We cannot stress this enough. The templates, ideas, and structures mentioned here are starting points. They are not definitive. They are not universal. They’re just a good place to find your footing, before carving your own path in the process of maintaining an online course.
➤ Want to work with Layla to get your ClickUp in order? Go to processdriven.co
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