One thing is certain: Hardly anything is more beautiful than the feeling of being valued by your customers and being able to experience their joy in your achievements. But what if this joy spreads too quickly and your appointment calendar is bursting with inquiries for discovery calls? Or the other way around: You want to create another source of income or new customer acquisition?
As an agency for online marketing in times of a global pandemic, which brought about a strong boom in the online area, we know this feeling. Due to a massive amount of calls scheduled with customers, you hardly have any time to actually get started on implementing their projects. And even if you wish to be able to accept and support every customer, your resources and capacities simply do not go that far.
For this often painful problem, however, there is a very simple solution that represents the ideal compromise for you and your current or potential customers: An online product or online course! With the help of your own online course, you can not only open up a new range of customers but also give current customers all the tools to carry out simple services from your catalog independently. This way, you not only save time, but also automate your sales process for higher-priced services. And the best of all: You can help your customers to have a sustainable learning process and a better understanding of your subject matter!
As Confucius already knew, “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for life. “
What is an Online Course
Knowledge database, online course, standard operating procedure, webinar, online workshop, and so on. But what exactly is what?
Legitimate question! Because what can sound very similar at a glance has different facets. In the following paragraphs we define relevant options for themselves:
In essence, an online course is nothing more than an ordinary course – except that it takes place on the Internet!
A course leader – this can be you, another employee, a cooperation partner or an external, professional speaker – makes his knowledge, expertise and experience available to those who are curious about it. But instead of doing this in the context of an ordinary, physical classroom, the information is packaged in the form of written text, videos or graphics in such a way that it takes the user (sustainably) from situation A to B. In a nutshell, it is a modern and practical form of the curriculum as you know it from school or university.
These files are hosted on an online platform and can usually be accessed and edited by the learners at any time.
It can look something like this:
(Source: Digital Distillery)
The following points are the deciding factors:
- An Online Course is decentralized. Instead of speaking in front of course participants every week, an Online Course is recorded or built once and can be made available for as long as you would like.
- An Online Course is accessible 24/7. Course participants can work through it up to 100% flexibly.
- An Online Course can be completed more than one time. That way, course participants have the opportunity to go through important concepts more than once to guarantee their maximum results.
- An Online Course is usually intended to be sold as a product and used externally. Because of this, it is an interesting reach and lead source für businesses. The only exception are internal knowledge databases that are built like a course but are only meant to be used internally, e.g. for quality assurance during any process.
In the last point we have just mentioned that online courses are primarily intended for sales, i.e. not just used within a company. In the vast majority of cases this is the case, because online courses are often created to generate “passive” income.
However, it is of course also possible to create and use online courses for internal purposes. This can be useful, for example, to aggregate all the information and skills required for a vacant position and to pass it on to new people in the company.
In an online course, knowledge is collected and passed on. Sounds a lot like a knowledge database, does it not?
Well not quite. In contrast to an online course, which is primarily intended for sales and is therefore used externally, knowledge databases are intended for internal use.
In short, a knowledge database is nothing more than a way of inventory management for knowledge. It serves to document the knowledge of employees within a company and to make it available within the company. In its simplest form, this can simply be a folder with documents that is accessible to all authorized persons in the company. The information here can range from standard operating procedures to workshop files.
For us, the knowledge database is the basis of any successful and sustainable cooperation at a distance without (further) wasting company resources and nerves. So if you work from home or remotely, we recommend creating and using a knowledge database.
Working from the home office really is no easy task. In this blogpost, we have compiled several tips and tricks to help you out with decentralized working: Collaborating in Distance – How to Master the Home Office
Often, the internal knowledge database can also be developed into an online course.
Why you should launch an Online Course now
Online Courses have never been more popular
What used to be the absolute standard 100 years ago, has seen another strong upswing since 2014: Today the do-it-yourself movement is more booming than ever before. It does not matter whether it is about the perfect haircut, cooking wholesome pet food or setting up an eCommerce store – the desire and motivation to do things yourself is trendy!
Fortunately, there is the Internet, because the popularity of Online Courses is growing steadily as the answer to the tendency to do-it-yourself. More and more people are searching for in-depth information on topics of their interest and extensive guides on skills they want to learn.
According to Global Market Insights, the market value of eLearning in 2019 was already around $ 200 billion – a sum that will probably double by 2026, i.e. around $ 375! Developments such as advancing digitization and the COVID-19 pandemic are giving additional wind to the sails. (Source: Global Market Insights)
So this is your opportunity to share your expertise, your experience and your knowledge in a certain field with inquisitive people – and to make a profit from it! By creating your own online course, you not only help people, but also show what you can do and thus generate customers for your more comprehensive services.
Online learning vs. lockdown-boredom
For a year now, we have been confronted with lockdowns and consequently boredom. But what was initially considered to be an opportunity for a little relaxation has now changed to the desire of using one’s time sensitively, e.g. through further training and skills development. Instead of devouring one series after the other for days on end, many people have started to use their time efficiently and acquire new skills – through an Online Course!
Just a few years ago we might have attended a workshop for several days, a course at a local education center or even a university course. Due to the constantly changing lockdown regulations, this is currently only possible to a limited extent – much to the delight of the Online Course community!
Instead of attending a weekly course or even attending an 8-hour workshop for days, learning in 2021 is more flexible than ever before. Because Online Courses not only enable your learners to work through the course content at their own pace at any time of the day or night, but also to take any repetitions or breaks. And as we already know from school days, repetitions are crucial for learning success!
Online Course instead of learning-on-the-job
Most companies these days are mainly working from home. Instead of spending the lunch break with like-minded people and exchanging ideas, we now spend most of our working hours alone. Apprentices or interns often find themselves in the home office without direct inspiration or guidance from their superiors.
But not only interns learn new things every day in a normal work environment. Other employees and managers also benefit from communication with other employees or experts in their environment. Because offices or departments of any kind are often a stimulating breeding ground for new skills and comprehensive knowledge, which is often passed on “on the side” in everyday work. Days in the home office lose this opportunity to learn.
All the better that Online Courses or your own knowledge databases in the company also provide a helping hand here: the potential to use Online Courses as a substitute for stimulated learning in everyday work is now widespread. So now not only Online Courses about yoga and mindfulness are in demand, but on all topics from financing options to online marketing strategy. So this is your opportunity to share your knowledge and also earn money with it!
But even in everyday working life, learning through Online Courses can be a real enrichment. The Fortune 500 companies prove this: More than 40% of the companies listed under Fortune 500 use eLearning regularly and extensively! (Source: Fortune)
Before launching your Online Course, think about these 3 things
Note: In the following section we assume that you already know who your target group is, how to build a curriculum that your students will love and want to finish. If this is not the case, then we would like to recommend you our checklist for free download, which ensures that you do not forget anything when planning and creating your course!
If you have read this far, we assume that you cannot wait to finally get your first or next online course off the ground. There are a few things to consider here. We have listed the most important ones here!
1 The right platform
As a company and responsible person, we have to ask ourselves the following question:
- What influence does the platform have on the company and its future processes? Which structure fits this?
- Which (existing) resources can or do we want to use?
- Do I have time or do I have money to invest?
- Where is the company and its customers located and what legal issues do I have to consider in this regard? (e.g. GDPR, payment & invoicing)
- Am I tech savvy or already overwhelming myself to make simple changes to the website?
- Do we prefer a higher setup investment or higher running costs?
- Do I prefer several different software variants that I can combine or do I want an all-in-one solution?
Usually, we ask our clients all these and some more questions when they try to decide on a platform!
DIY hosting or hosting via eLearning platform?
Platforms like Udemy & Co are based on a membership: Users pay a certain monthly fee to get access to Online Courses of their choice. However, some Online Courses may require additional payments, depending on the provider. This is of course a great offer for users, because they have the opportunity to choose between an infinite number of courses and get their best value.
Because of these factors, Udemy is also enjoying great popularity among users: With more than 50 million students currently enrolled in courses, Udemy is the most user-intensive platform. (Source: Udemy)
For course providers, however, there is a certain disadvantage: Say goodbye to your rights! By offering your Online Course on a membership platform, the rights and responsibilities for this course are to a certain extent assigned to the platform. If the platform decides to grant its users a high discount on any Online Course, you will not receive your set price for your course.
eLearning platforms can be a great option if you are not ready to create your own website for your course or if you just want to use them to generate leads for a larger course. You could do this, for example, by offering a small introductory course on an eLearning platform, but the premium course is only available on your own website.
But now let us tend to the most important question: Which of these options is right one for you? As a rule of thumb, we can stipulate that a course hosted privately by yourself is always recommended when your capacities allow it. Because here you have full control and rights over the structure and your content.
DIY course hosting using Wordpress:
It is clear to us: The first recommendation is always a DIY hosted platform: for example, based on Wordpress in combination with various plugins or, if necessary, themes. This means that you can implement your course on your own website or a subdomain using course plugins and thus have complete freedom with the design.
The following plugins can help you create your course
Course hosting with a membership platform
When it comes to Online Course platforms on a membership basis, you are spoiled for choice. Due to the increasing popularity of Online Courses and the often unsuitable or limited functionality of some platforms, a large number of new eLearning platforms have been developed in recent years.
Which of these platforms is the right one for you depends on various factors. One of the most important factors is your budget, because this is the first limitation of your choice. In addition to the price, factors such as the length of the course, the number of modules within a course or the ability to integrate other applications are also decisive.
A very decisive factor is also your home country or the country where your company is registered or where customers are located. Due to different data protection regulations, some tools are not compliant with the applicable data protection regulations in some countries, for example in Europe due to the GDPR. Others come from the USA and are therefore not invoicing under European law!
The following course platforms are not only popular with learners, but are also the top favorites of course instructors:
- Elopage: Elopage is often our first choice for customer projects, especially in German-speaking countries. Online Courses can already be created with the free version, so that even small budgets are catered for. In addition to the usual course features, it is also possible to integrate e-mails or quizzes as the course progresses.
- Clickfunnels: Although Clickfunnels is better known for funnel building, courses can also be built wonderfully via this platform. This also allows you to control all your systems for the online course, including the associated sales funnel, via one platform. This not only saves you money, but also a lot of time.
- Skillshare: As a “learning platform for the masses”, Skillshare shows a slightly different approach. On a membership basis, as many courses as you want can be viewed per month, so you get a flat fee and no income per sale. Still, hosting a course on Skillshare is worth considering due to the extremely high number of users.
- Teachable: As an all-rounder platform, Teachable is one of the most popular among course creators and course participants in the US. The interface is easy to use, the price-performance ratio is right, and best of all: Teachable supports all formats from audio, to photo, video, to PDFs to guarantee a comprehensive, successful learning experience. Danger! Teachable is not invoice-compliant and can therefore only be used outside of Europe.
2 The right format
A common argument against creating your own online course is camera shyness. Not everyone likes to stand in front of a video camera and talk to themselves all day long, and that is okay too. But that should not prevent you from creating your Online Course. Because contrary to expectations, an Online Course does not always have to include videos or even the spoken word.
Depending on the target group, topic and platform, your course can be structured using a wide variety of media or a combination of these. While it is of course a good idea for artistic subjects to teach in moving image format, this is not absolutely necessary for courses in business or programming. A presentation with audio, animations, screen recordings or even written text can also be offered here.
The most important thing is to always keep in mind what your course participants need in order to understand a topic in all its facets and then to be able to take it with them. You can find this out very easily by doing a little “qualitative market research”: Contact your future target group and find out firsthand how you can best bring a topic closer to them. After all, nobody knows their needs better than they do!
In the best case scenario, you will find a compromise between what your future target group would like and your personal preferences and skills.
3 The right additional services
An Online Course is rarely the end goal, but often functions as part of a sales funnel or helps you to acquire new customers almost automatically. Before you set up your Online Course, it is a good idea to consider what additional services your course participants might need in order to stay up to date or to take this step towards long-term cooperation with you.
Ideally, there is the possibility of additional one-on-one coaching or collected live sessions, which you can offer weekly or monthly. During these discussions, specific questions about the specific cases or even companies of your course participants can be answered. This way, they not only receive immense added value, but can also get a more detailed picture of your expertise. Through this trust, course participants will become your new customers in no time at all!
Every now and then it happens of course that course participants have bought a course because of a lack of budget instead of booking a service from your company. In these cases, a Facebook group, your own forum or any other community could be a great option: This way, contact with these people can be maintained and if the required budget is available, they will most likely come back to you! Regular, relevant newsletters can also support this.
Here you will find further advantages of a Facebook group: Why your business needs a Facebook group
Few things are more valuable than knowledge these days. Therefore, Online Courses are in greater demand now than ever before. So if you have a certain competence, a strand of knowledge that can not only help others, but is also desired, now is your chance to create your own Online Course. It could be seen as your duty to share your knowledge so that others can learn from it – especially if there are hardly any relevant and well-prepared resources in your industry!
The previous paragraphs should already have given you a rough idea of which factors are really crucial here. But such a far-reaching topic can hardly be packed into 10 minutes of reading time.
That is why we have packed all of our knowledge and experience from around 5 years of creating courses for customers and partners into a detailed Online Course: Here you will learn everything from the perfect pricing model to the right formats for your course!
When networking wizard Bettina is not working on the next big idea, then she is focusing on how to constantly improve workflows, and systemizing the “stuff that is not so much fun but needs to be done”. She believes in giving and that being kind gets you a long way.
You might spot her as a keynote speaker, a guest lecturer at universities, or a mentor at StartupLive or Greenstart by Climate and Energy Fonds Austria.
Bettina describes herself as a foodie, travel addict, and her team sees her as a true leader, who always encourages everyone she is working with.