Time to Read (using avg wpm): 15 mins
*Play this if you would like a read-along*
Are you an artist?
A graphic designer? An accountant? A good cook? A sign flipper? A fantasy sports guru? Good at anything at all? Willing to learn?
If you answered yes to any of these questions and you want to have some steady income– then this Second Chute in The Loot Chutes is right for you.
Udemy did a study that showed that the average course instructor (on Udemy) made $8,000– and that’s the average! These people aren’t using optimal pricing or email lists or designing their course with rankings in mind. After this post you will be far above average and blowing your competitor courses out of the water (on Udemy. We will also be going over how to host your own courses).
Create a course, put it up somewhere, charge $, bring traffic to it, and watch it work for you.
We will go through all of this stuff ^^^ and by the end of this, and with a little ambition, you will be able to have your course up and running in no time.
- Is This Right for You?
- Pick Your Platform
- Make Your Course
Is This Right for You?
Online courses are getting very popular now-a-days. Those with the know-how can put their knowledge and skill and process up for sale and make steady income from it.
There are just a few questions to answer:
- Can you afford to spend at least 1-2 hours a day working on your course?
- Do you have a knowledge or skill that isn’t very prominently known?
- Are you willing to learn a skill or become knowledgeable in an area?
If you answered yes to the top question and yes to one of the last 2, then creating an online course is something that you may want to give a whirl.
If you have the know-how, then you are already ahead of the game.
If you don’t then yes there are tons of people who pick something up to learn, simplify it and break it down in their own way and create and sell a course on it. Fill the gap!
So, without further ado, we will jump right into picking your platform and then making your course.
Pick Your Platform
There are three different ways to host your course.
I am going to be using one example site for each different way of doing it– just know there are many many other similar sites/plugins to choose from, it’s just that these three are my favorites.
- Course hosting site (sometimes called a learning management system, LMS): Udemy
- A course plugin for your website (WordPress in this example): Zippy Courses
- The midway between the two: Teachable
Okay so we’ll figure out which one fits you best here. Then in the next section we will go over how to create a good course. And at the end we will optimize for each particular platform.
The question of which platform is right for you is a very easy question to answer, assuming that creating courses is primarily a financial goal.
-If you are brand-spanking-new to creating online courses, then Udemy is the way to go. Udemy requires no fee to sign up. Udemy does take a commission but only on the sales you receive from Udemy promoting your course- all the sales that you do from your own promotions you get to keep 100% (minus processing fee) (all as of June 2016).
-If you already have a following and a website and want to start making courses, then get a course plugin- either expensive and professional or cheap and less professional. You will want to get a plugin if you want full control of your course and believe in your/your team’s ability to make your course look good and professional. Usually a one-time-buy unlike some of the other online course hosting platforms for your website. My favorite would be Zippy Courses.
-Teachable is a platform the you can use in two different ways. You can use a teachable hosted site, eg: you.teachable.com OR you can use your own domain name, eg: courses.you.com or you.com (only root names; can’t use you.com/courses). Teachable lets you design your own online course page/site and hosts it for you, keeps track of students and signups and collects payments. Teachable has a free option that includes everything that you would need to make a course, as you start making money you can upgrade to a monthly fee and get better features and make more money. There are many different reasons to start with something like teachable:
- You don’t have a following but think that it can’t be that hard to get one.
- You have a website but you don’t trust yourself to make an immersive, good looking course with a plugin.
- You want to have your own site and more control of your courses (vs. Udemy).
- You have built a large enough following on Udemy and want to branch out on your own.
- and more…
…Have you picked your platform?
Good, let’s dive into making this course.
Make Your Courses
First thing’s first is that you have to have or have learned a desirable or useful skill or process to teach. If you have nothing to teach then you can’t make an online course. Now that doesn’t mean that you have to be trained in teaching. Teaching an online course is actually pretty easy thanks to all of the different elements you can use inside your courses and all of the resources available outside of it.
Break Down and Simplify What You Are Teaching
Step one. Take your concept that you want to teach, break it all down and simplify it, and then put it all back together in your own way and style.
If you are unsure how to do this, Pat Flynn (my favorite entrepreneur), shows a cool way of how to break down and outline big ideas with sticky notes in this video:
It says how to write a book but it works for any big ideas.
Okay, now you have your concept and you’ve broken it down and put it back together in your own way in an outline, now you have to figure out how you are going to slap it onto the computer. What style will you use?
Video? Screen Capture? Animation? Stop motion? A conversation with someone? Just talking over a screenshot of the beach?
Will you implement quizzes? Surveys? Will you plug your other products or courses? Up-sell?
This is all up to you. Check out some of the more popular courses to get ideas of how you will want to set up your course. Don’t forget that you can always tweak, even after you have published the course, so experiment, test and analyze your data.
Equipment and Software
So you’ve got your plan of how you are going to present your content but now you need to have the right tools to implement your plan.
Now you will have either videos in your course or screen shots or just a pretty background with words on it– but you will need to have a microphone and be speaking into it. This is the microphone that I use and recommend using:
- Blue Snowball USB microphone (Amazon affiliate link)
It’s one of the cheapest ones you can get while still retaining pretty good quality. Obviously if you can afford it and your audio quality is important to you there are much more expensive mics to get.
Plus, whatever microphone you get, I would also get a pop filter so you don’t hear all the pops with your “p” sounds:
- Neewer pop filter (Amazon affiliate link)
Now, once you have your audio equipment here, you will need, depending on your format, either a video camera, a screen capture software and editor, and/or a video editing software.
For the video camera I just use my computer’s camera, so I can’t recommend anything.
With the video editing software I have two suggestions:
- Filmora by Wondershare – I use this software because my friend already had paid for it and she wasn’t using it. I really like it though, it has really user friendly editing and comes with a bunch of free packages to use for special effect. I also like how much it looks like Window’s Movie Maker, which I used all the time as a kid. You can get this software for free but if you use it it will show a large “Filmora” watermark across the whole screen. Costs $30-$50
- Camtasia by TechSmith – This is a screen capture software and a professional editing software. Everybody who does editing part-time recommends this software. If you have a Mac you are in for a treat because for you to get this software it only costs $100. If you have a Windows computer it will cost you $300.
Now if you can’t afford these things don’t let that stop you. As they say, content is king- do the best you can with what you have and sell the course anyway. Build up the funds and then upgrade your content delivery.
As for screen capture software there is Jing, a free software provided by TechSmith (the makers of Camtasia).
So you’ve got your videos and recordings all put together but something is still missing…
Aaaaaaah, the spice of your course! You need some spice now.
There are some really cool places online that you can use to make your videos more professional, more engaging or just more fun to give it that spice.
Starting with Fiverr, this website is a place where you can solicit all kinds of online services starting at $5.
Don’t trust your voice? Get someone to read out your content for you and pay them $5.
Don’t know how to edit? $5.
Want someone to brainstorm some course ideas for you? $5.
Need a logo? $5.
Want someone to animate your video? $5.
I mean, just about anything that you could need, you could get at Fiverr.
There’s also Envato Market, which sells all kinds of special effects or graphics or sounds/music. And there are plenty of freelancer sites to use if you are totally stumped on how to manage an element of your course design and you are serious about making it as professional as possible.
Title and Summary
Sweet. You’ve got it all together. Now it’s time to name your course and write the copy for it, all with selling in mind. Don’t feel bad for wanting to sell your course. If you have made a good course, people will gladly pay you for it- it is your job to get them to take the course so that win-win situation actually takes place.
Your optimal title may be different between all the different platforms and it will also be different depending on the customer base you are targeting- but one thing’s for certain: If your title doesn’t get clicks, you don’t get sales. You may have the best course in the world and that course summary is so enticing that they can’t help but buy your course– but it all starts with the title. If your title doesn’t get clicks, you don’t get sales.
Here are a few universal tips for a good title:
- Be clear and concise
- Be specific
- Make it a little unique or curious
- Include the benefits
Eg: Accounting for Neanderthals: Use the X method and look forward to tax season.
Udemy has a helpful article on writing good titles here.
This is when you get into what’s called copy writing – not copyrighting – writing copy.
The summary is important- just because you got the click to the summary, doesn’t mean you’ve sold the course. You got the eyeball, now get this person interested and, if you can, emotionally involved with your course.
If you are a good story teller, start with a story, maybe hero’s journey (<<< in this link, scroll to bottom for examples). Or touch on some pain points and describe how you felt that pain but are now conquering it because of this skill or process that you are teaching.
Then do a quick intro/summary to the course.
Move into the benefits of the course, using bullet points (<<< in this link, Amy Harrison, who I love, gives good tips on the best way to use bullet points).
Then talk about the requirements.
End with who you think the course will be best for.
Udemy also has a helpful article on writing a good summary, along with examples at the bottom with links to real courses with good summaries. Find that article here.
Over the course of this course, of course,
my voice slowly degrading to hoarse,
My speech, I survey,
To Fiverr I pay,
while water I duely endorse.
Water you teaching?, a limerick by Doug
End of intermission.
Okay- now we get into the tricks, tactics and psychology of ruling the world/selling an online course.
What the heck do I charge for my course?
Easy. Come up with the first number that you are considering selling it for. Do you have it? Great. Now add $100.
That’s what you will sell your course for.
The most common pitfall with selling courses is people selling themselves short. There are a few reasons to sell your course for $100, $200 instead of $5-$20.
Pat Flynn actually just did an interview with Ankur Nagpal, the creator of Teachable. The interview was full of great suggestions using teachable’s collected data about course creation but the main bit about the pricing you can read from the transcript here on pages 10-11. Click here for the full podcast.
Ramit Sethi is also a huge proposer of higher prices.
I mean just think about it. When you see a high price you think high value. When you see a low price you think low value. People want high value — and those who don’t, and are looking for cheap alternatives, aren’t the customers that most people want to work with.
Not raking. The name of the game on Udemy, especially when you are first starting out and have no customer base, is ranking. Since there are so many other courses on Udemy you need to be on the first page for people to see your title and get clicks and customers. Don’t worry, this is not hard at all and most of the people on Udemy have no idea how the rankings work. It comes down to a few factors.
- Student Count (The more students, the better the ranking)
- Reviews (how many and how new the reviews are)
- Price (paid vs. free, you rank higher for paid)
- Paid vs. free students (paid students count more than free students)
- Comments and engagement
- How new is your course (is it updated?)
- Keyword Saturation (in the title)
Now, there are some “sacrifices” to make initially in order to rank higher, but they are the only way to make it when you are starting out. You have to pad your course using all of these factors.
-Start by creating free coupons for your course and posting them to the Udemy facebook group and the free Udemy course facebook group to pad your course will students (free students but still students) and social proof. Tutorial here.
-Ask for reviews and think of creative ways to get comments at the end of your course.
-Update your course occasionally to keep it fresh.
(I got all the ranking info from a course by Andrew Eddy on how to make money on Udemy that I took on Udemy a while back, here is a link to his courses. Check it out for more on how to create good courses, including that little bit on keyword saturation, I would really recommend his course if you are serious about making money on Udemy)
Again, ranking… not raking.
Here are some other ways to promote your course on Udemy, using articles by Udemy:
Teachable or Plugin
Apart from the advertising and SEO (and much more) of getting your course out there, which are huge topics that won’t be covered in this article, there is setting up the sales page for your course. You’ve got the eyeballs, now get the sale.
There are two ways to go about this:
-You can get a software or support system to help you with this. Leadpages.net is my favorite site for this, not just sales pages but a lot more too.
-Design it yourself using these ten principles from this copyblogger article.
But separately but just as important (if not more important), be sure to collect email addresses from your customers. Make sure they have to enter in their email address before they get the course (with the option to opt-out at any time). Build your email list so that you can send emails to your past customers about new courses and products that they might be interested in.
It takes a minute but once you’ve set up your systems it all cogs together and perpetually pops out dollar bills.
Imagine it now. You’ve posted 3 $119 courses and get just 3 people buying each course per month. That’s still $1000 a month if just 9 people liked your courses (less if you are using Udemy and they get a cut).
That sounds pretty good to me. Just think if you are more popular and get 50 people buying your courses per month. It’s really just a bit of work, maybe a month, and then you have a cash cow.
Let me know if I missed anything or if you take the leap and put a course out there!
Thank you for reading!
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