Creating your first course can be overwhelming, it feels like a never-ending checklist of content, website building and learning experience optimization.
Yet it doesn’t have to be like that. Creating a course can be easier than you think and even if you’ve never created a course before anyone can do it!
In this post we’ll look at some common mistakes beginners make when creating their first course and how to avoid them. After all you don’t want to get an F do you?
1: Building Your Platform Before The Content
This is something I see every single day. You buy a WordPress plugin, sign up for a SaaS because you want to start a course.
But you haven’t defined your course or put any thought into the content.
Often trying to sort out the technical side before the content results in either not launching your course or taking a year to launch something that can be done in weeks or months.
Is the technical side important? Yes. Is the content what actually sells? Yes.
See there’s a plethora of options on the market for building your course all at varying technical levels from self-hosted WordPress plugins like LearnDash that provide power, flexibility, and control.
Through to SaaS solutions like Podia that offer everything in one package and don’t require you to be technical at all but come with their downsides (more on this in another post to come).
Then there’s the middle option: the hosted solution like LearnDash Cloud that does the heavy lifting for you whilst providing you the power and flexibility and data control as if you were hosting it yourself.
But the point is there’s a ton of platforms you can pick. Yet only one person who can create the content needed for the platform. That’s you.
Plan your content. Define your content before finding the technical solution.
2: Setting Up All The Things
In my day job I get a rather unique insight into how thousands of people build and publish their courses.
And you know what I always see? People setting up everything at once and often getting overwhelmed in the process.
After all you just want to sell your course right? Now you’re googling acronyms like trying to understand how a teenager speaks.
And many more! It’s too much. I’ve seen people spend weeks setting up CRM systems like HubSpot, Salesforce, Keap and others. Often spending thousands of dollars in the process over the course of the calendar year.
But they don’t have a single customer. There’s a line between launching when you’re ready and over preparing. Setting up a CRM for a site where you sell a single course with a complex CRM system is very much overtreding that line.
The simple solution? Hook up Mailchimp or a similar newsletter tool to allow you to collect customer emails in a GDPR friendly manner without diving into the depths of full blown CRM tools.
Websites, software, courses, all evolve over time. You can always expand on your platform later. Especially if you go with a flexible system that allows extensions (plugins) rather than getting locked into a SaaS.
3: Lack of Defined Learner Outcomes
It’s easy enough of a mistake to make. Thinking of your course like an extended blog post. Or a broken up ebook.
Yet a course is so much more. It’s a chance to learn, educate, and make a lasting impact on someone.
You can’t do that by throwing up some content without challenges, interactions, testing and generally having an immersive learning experience.
People pay for a course to teach them by following a guided path. Not to read some jumbled up thoughts in the shape of “lessons”.
When planning out your course you should always keep it in the back of your mind. What is the ideal outcome for my learner?
What should that learner know before progressing to the next module?
How can I make sure the learner understands the contents before progressing them to the next module?
And there’s so much you can do here.
- Keep your content shorter. Including splitting up your body of text as much as possible. No one wants to read a wall of text.
- Provide a transcript to go with your videos allowing learners to refer to it separately and at their own speed without having to keep rewinding and fast forwarding videos.
- Implement quizzes after a set of core knowledge lessons to test the learner understands the content before moving forwards.
- Create assignments for the learner that are manually graded between teacher and student to create a connection, a talking point and to tactfully introduce a timing element rather than the learner rushing through an automatic completion course.
- Implement dynamic content with the use of H5P.
We’ll explore some more of this in other posts. Just remember ultimately your course is only as successful as your learners’ experience and outcome.
Initial dollars may look appealing but if you offer a poorly thought out course with a bad learning experience it’s only going to result in refund requests and disgruntled customers.