How to Create and Sell Online Courses Series #3 – Create & Outline Your Online Course

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Before we come onto Outlining your Online Course and Creating your Course, let’s take a look at what have we learned so far in our previous 2 posts for Creating and Selling Online Courses.

Well, we have learned why you should create a course and how to choose a topic for your course. And finally, we have learned how to Pre-sell and Validate your online course.

So now we want to talk about actually getting your online course outline nailed down and then moving onto creating the content for your online course. 

What is a Course Outline?

Let’s try to make this as simple as possible. A course outline is a roadmap. Taking your students from Point A on that map to Point B.

Point A being, they want to reach a certain goal, but do not know how to achieve it. And Point B, being the achievement or attainment of that goal. The transformation that your students want.

You have probably taken online courses yourself, be it for, growing your email list, using Pinterest etc. etc. Did you notice that most of these courses were split into Modules or Steps?

That’s because these Modules, or Steps, are core components of your course outline. They are the building blocks of success for your students.

How To Outline your Online Course

When you come to outline your online course you really want to understand the transformation that you want your audience to go through. Taking them on a journey from point A in their struggles, to point B.

Creating an outline really helps to organise your course. It could also help you realise that maybe you should create more than one course, if, for instance, the amount of information you need to get across to your audience has a wider scope than you initially thought.

Breaking your course up into “Modules” is a good way of showing your audience what STEPS they need to take to achieve that transformation.

So, Start with the End in Mind

Get really clear about what the transformation will be that your course will provide to your audience.

Hopefully if you have followed along in this series, you now know how to understand what it is your audience wants the answers to.

Once you know your solution, you can work backwords from there to break up your course into modules or steps that form the backbone of your course.

The number of modules that form the structure of your course depends on the size of course you are teaching.

For example, if you are creating a mini course, you want to keep your module count, down to maybe 3, potentially with a bonus or a few bonuses.

Let’s take a look at an example outline for a Mini Online Course, that you could use as an introductory course for your audience.

I will use growing an email list for this example.

  • Getting Started
    • Welcome
    • Introduction
    • Join our Facebook Group
  • Module 1
    • Why Build an Email List
    • Identify your Ideal Customer
    • Understand what they want
  • Module 2
    • What is a Lead Magnet
    • Create your first Email list building Lead Magnet
    • Create your Lead Magnet Opt In Forms
  • Module 3
    • Creating Welcome Emails
    • Creating ongoing content for your emails
    • Email sequences
  • Bonus
    • How to promote your lead Magnet
    • Email List Building Check list
    • Etc.

Needless to say, this was just knocked up in a couple of minutes for this post, however you can see the logical steps being taken to allow the audience to attain their goal of building an email list.

As I have mentioned, outlining can help you understand what other courses you could create.

For instance, when I was jotting down the above example, another mini course idea popped into my head, content creation.

Now for this you could have a whole other course, and there are lots of courses out there dedicated to this subject.

This is how Entrepreneurs build a portfolio of courses, each one with its own individual goal, all of them together aligned with one major goal for your audience.

Outlining your Lessons

Once you have the structure of your course, you should ask yourself a few key questions before you dive into outlining your lessons.

  • Is there anything that I have missed?
  • Are there additional steps that are needed?
  • Would certain lessons be better covered in a different Module?

Each lesson within your course should have some key elements, which form the outline of your lessons.

  • Title
  • Introduction – What is going to be covered in this lesson.
  • Main Content of lesson – Include key points and visuals.
  • Closing – Wrap it up, provide a summary with Key Takeaways and actions.
  • Coming up next

Now there is no hard and fast rule for the length of time each lesson should take, but just bear in mind that you want to get to the point and not waste time.

More and more, people want results NOW, as they just don’t have time.

No dillydallying around, get straight into your content and finish with actionable steps to make your student accountable. The last thing you want is for them to be bored!

Once I have finished my course outlines, I find it useful to ask myself the same questions from the top of this section:

  • Is there anything that I have missed?
  • Are there additional steps that are needed?
  • Would certain lessons be better covered in a different Module?

With a couple of added questions:

  • Are my lessons actionable?
  • Would I have taken this course when I was getting started?

Creating your Online Course Content

Once you have your outline in place, you have pre-sold and validated your course, so you know it will sell, you can now move onto creating your course content.

Now, when you are creating your content it is wise to keep your audience’s wants and needs in mind. And think about how you are going to deliver your course.

There are numerous ways to deliver your course content. For example, you could create Video content, you could create Slides, if you are doing a tutorial as one of your lessons you might want to Screencast.

Think about each lesson and how best it would be to convey that message, however you should probably stick to an overall theme of one delivery medium with the addition of 1 or 2 others as and when needed.

Let’s look at a couple of mediums and their benefits.

Video Content

  • Extremely engaging.
  • Helps you connect with your audience.
  • Conveys emotions.

Screencasts

  • Excellent for demonstrating to your audience how to do something, such as building a webpage.
  • Very visual and explanatory for your audience.
  • Great if your course is of a techie nature.

Text

  • Text content can be great if you are providing something that your audience will want to refer back to multiple times.
  • It can be great for giving additional notes and explanations for your lessons.
  • Perfect if you are providing swipe copies, guides etc for your audience.

Slides

  • Helps showcase your most important pieces of information and key take aways.
  • As you are recording your course, slides can be a great cue for you when speaking, or you can just hide your script in the presentation notes. So simple!

Now you know what medium(s) you are going to use to deliver your online course, its time to create the lessons.

As always, keep your student’s goals for each lesson and the course in mind. You want to keep people focused and to stay with the course to the end.

People will purchase a course and never complete it. Therefore, make your content exciting, engaging, educational and actionable to keep your audience engaged.

If it helps, create a script for your lessons. Now you don’t want to sound like a robot when you are delivering your lessons, that wouldn’t be very engaging, so write your script as if you were talking to a friend, keep it conversational.

Having a script can help keep you from saying words like “umm,” or pausing while you try and think of what you should be saying. If you course is text based, then the script becomes your lessons.

Visuals

To keep your content engaging, be sure to add visuals. This will help your lessons come alive, and can also help highlight key points, facts and figures.

Try to aim for as many visual slides as you have text slides, or at least 1 visual for every two text slides.

Just think about it for a second, you would get bored easier if lessons were just text after text with a voiceover.

Insert videos, charts etc. when you can, although make sure they are applicable and not just thrown in.  

Bring your content to life and make it exciting for your audience.

Bonuses for your Online Course

In order for your content to be engaging and actionable it can be a good idea to create bonuses for your course. These can include items such as;

  • Cheat Sheets
  • Check lists
  • Workbooks
  • Quizzes
  • Live Q&A Calls

Keep in mind that whatever bonuses you create, should complement your course, and add to the transformation that your audience wants and needs.

Tools of the Trade

Now you may be sat there thinking that everything sounds great but what equipment do I need to use.

Well, I have listed below some tools I have used myself and recommend, and some I have not used, but they come recommended by other course creators and also course platforms such as Teachable.

First off, lets get one thing out in the open, all you need is your Laptop/ Computer, and you can create a course, as long as it has a camera and a Microphone, you can still create a rock-solid course for your students.

This may be all you can afford right now anyway. This is partly why we recommend preselling your online course. You generate sales that allow you to buy any additional equipment you need, knowing that you now have a reason to buy it.

After all you wouldn’t want to purchase all this fancy equipment and not sell your course to a single person.

So, without further ado here is a list of some equipment you may or may not choose to use, most if not all of which you can find on Amazon.

On Camera Video Content

Filming your Online Course
  • Canon Rebel T6i – High end
  • Logitech HD Pro Webcam – Budget
  • Mobile Phone

Microphones

  • Sony Lavalier Microphone UWP-D11 – High End
  • Rode Video Micro Microphone – Budget
  • Audio-Technica ATR2100 – USB Cardoid Dynamic USB/ XLR Microphone
  • Mobile Phone

Lighting

  • Diva Ring Light Dimmable – High End
  • LimoStudio Photo Video Studio Light kit – High End
  • Neewer RL-12 LED Ring Light – Budget – Comes with mounting clamp
  • Sunlight!

Teleprompter

  • Padcaster by ParrotNeeds an iPad**

Screen Recording

  • Mirophone Needed – Audio Technica ATR-2100
  • Screen Flow
  • Loom

Tripod

  • Ravelli Tripod – High end
  • Mini-tripod and Joby Grip Tight Mount – Budget

There you have it!

So, that’s it, everything you need to create your online course. So, get cracking. Once you have presold it of course!!

As part of our final post in this series we will talk to you about hosting and marketing your course. It will be packed full of information to help sell your course and to start making an income from your blog to hopefully get you one step closer to quitting that 9-5.

So do not miss it!

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