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Should You Build An Online Course?

Should you create an online course?

Years ago, you had to have a website. Then, you had to have a blog. Now, it seems you need to have an online course. Let’s discuss.

Online courses are, simply put, just another way to share information. They can get a bad rap because people are sleaze-balls and make crappy things in life. But the same thing can be said about terrible websites, spammy e-books, and blogs with 47 email capture popups. An online course, like any other vehicle for sharing information, doesn’t have to suck.

If you don’t need to be convinced about creating an online course and you want an in-depth article on how to create and sell yours, read this article.

Online courses can do a few things very well:

1. Teach something that you know and have experience with.
2. Make you some great money.
3. Become a marketing channel for other products/services you sell.
4. Become a piece of leverage for other projects (included as a bonus, etc).

Online courses can also do bad things:

1. Distract you from the core mission and foundation of your business (read: sprinkles).
2. Pull your precious time and energy into something you think you should do.
3. Add to the digital clutter of the internet.

A crash course (hah!) in realistic expectations

As a society, we’re so quick to jump at a new project or opportunity. We get immediately wrapped up in all the amazing potential! But, as with every new thing, potential is not guaranteed results. Even if you’ve created an online course before, it doesn’t mean the next one you create will be a smashing success.

When I set out to create my second sponsorship course, How To Get Sponsorships For Podcasts, I thought I had a big hit on my hands. My first sponsorship course had generated over $100,000 (in about 18 months), and I thought my second course could add to that.

I did a pre-sale to gauge interest and generated over $6,000 in sales in two weeks. Hey, not too shabby! When the course was finished (a month after the pre-sale), the content itself was well received. I heard things like:

  • This course content was super helpful! Thanks for putting this course together.
  • Oh man, I would have paid 10x for this course. I learned a ton and even came up with ideas for making money with my podcast that I hadn’t thought of before.
  • I landed a $10,000 sponsorship deal thanks to a couple things I learned in this course—woot!

Hearing those types of things made me think I had a huge winner on my hands. I sent out emails to my list promoting the course. I passed it around to influential podcasters and asked them if they wanted to promote it. I reached out to a handful of people who’d emailed me about getting podcast sponsors. And then I waited…and waited. The sales did not roll in as expected. To be honest, I was a little bummed, until I readjusted my expectations.

Since launching the course in 2015, I’ve moved my attention away from promoting it or spending extra time on it. I’ve decided that I’m very happy that it made $6,000 on its own, and that it continues to be a valuable resource I can add to other projects as a bonus.

I share this story with you because I want you to know that creating and selling an online course could take you to six figures or more (like what happened to me), or it could make you $6,000 or less (also happened to me).

If you’re saying “YES!” and you do want to build your own online course…

Then let’s take the next steps.

6 questions to answer YES to before you set out to create an online course

1. Do I have the time it takes to make something that’s high quality and will actually help people?

2. Do I have real demand for an online course? (Not just email sign ups—are people trying to put money in my wallet/purse/murse?)

3. Do I really want to make this course or am I just chasing the financial dream someone is selling me?

4. Do I have a plan for promoting the course after the initial launch?

5. Does an online course align with my current business offerings?

6. Am I going to survive (financially) if the course doesn’t make money after the initial launch (or at all)?

If you answered yes to every question—and you must answer yes—then congrats! You should build an online course.

I force myself to answer yes to all six of these questions every time I create a new online course. Much like my Road Runner Rules, I want to make sure I’m doing things for the right reasons and with a solid foundation.

Related: If you want to plan, create, and launch an online course in 30 days, my friend Omar Zenhom and I are going to walk you through the exact process, step by step. Check out EasyCourse.co

This is the end of the yellow brick road. If you want to read more articles mosey on over yonder.