3 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Your First Online Course

By Andrew Wilson

Online courses are extremely popular today. Any business can create and run an online course to extend their reach, build their audience, share their expertise with the world, and turn a nice profit.

Here are three deadly mistakes that businesses often make when they create their first course.

1.  Creating the Course YOU Want
(Not the Course Your Audience Needs)

You may have a great deal of knowledge in a particular area that you can teach others. You might think you know exactly what kind of course your audience would like. But it’s a fatal mistake to create the course you want rather than the course your audience needs.

You may be able to create an excellent course based on what you think you should teach, but it’s not likely to reach a great number of people or earn you a profit. And then, what’s the point? You’ll have a highly informative course that no one signs up for.

Instead, you should start by considering your target audience. What problems are they struggling with? What do they need to know? What are their interests? Once you have some ideas, consider how you can help them. Try to match your audience’s needs to your skills and expertise.

For example, you may find out through surveys that your email subscribers want to know more about using LinkedIn. You can take your knowledge and experience with LinkedIn and create a course that teaches them how to set up a profile and use it.

2. Making Your Course Too Long

Naturally, you have a great deal of knowledge you want to drop on your course participants. It also makes perfect sense that a longer course is more bang for the buck. A long and thorough course offers more value to its participants.

The problem is that if your course is too long, it might overwhelm your students. You might lose some of them along the way. The best courses are tightly focused. They teach what they need to teach in order for students to overcome the problems they’re struggling with. Your course should be just long enough to do that.

The ideal length for an online course is five to seven modules. Each module should have three to five steps or small sections. Each course has its own needs structurally, though, so this is just a guideline.

If you find that your course is longer than three to five modules, try breaking it down into two courses. If there is a sequential relationship, you can make parts one and two. If the course is slightly too long and you feel the information is very valuable, you can remove one module and offer it as supplemental material, a bonus add-on, or an additional resource for participants.

3. Putting All of Your Effort on the Course but Skimping on the Marketing

It takes a great deal of work to put together and run an online course, but you can’t forget to market it. Before you even get started, make sure that you have a solid marketing plan. How will you get your course in front of your target audience? How will you advertise it and put the word out? Which marketing channels will you use and how will you use them?

If you have a topic that aligns with your target audience’s interests, a tightly focused course, and a marketing plan in place, you’re virtually guaranteed a successful course.

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