Reviewing An Online CourseThe jury’s back and the verdict is in: online courses are the next big thing for small businesses.

If you agree – and why wouldn’t you? – there are a few things you need to know about designing and marketing your first course.

You need to have content ready before you start to publicize your online course

We get it, you’re excited about the idea of your online course. So excited that you can’t stop yourself from telling your friends about it…and asking them to tell their friends…and before you know it, your inbox is full of inquiries about how to sign up for your course. Great, right?

Sure – except you haven’t actually built your course yet. Whoops.

If you’re going to sell yourself as the expert on something, you need content to back that claim up. In fact, you need content and the infrastructure for your course before you start selling yourself.

Consider where you’re going to host your course, and the format you’re going to host it in. Are you a video guy, or do you have the snappy writing style that’ll work best in longer-form pieces for students to read?

Once you’ve answered those questions, start creating. Outline your course, film a video (or ten), craft a lesson plan. Think about any and all questions your students might have, and make sure you answer them.

Speaking of your students…

Know your target audience

The scenario we just described sounds ideal, right? Prospective students jamming your inbox, waving their money at you and clamoring for your expertise?

Problem is, that’s not usually what happens. Just because you build it doesn’t mean they’re going to come. However, a strong understanding of your course should help you identify the right target audience.

Think about who you want to teach. If you’ve designed a course that explains online accounting software, you’re looking at a slightly older target audience. If you’re teaching the ins and outs of middle school math, you probably shouldn’t be marketing to grandparents.

Answer these questions (and any others you can think of), to develop an understanding of your target audience:

  1. How old are they?
  2. Why are they interested in your course?
  3. How much can they afford to spend on an online course?
  4. What else do they have going on (work, school, sports practice, etc.)
  5. What learning format will be most comfortable for them?

If you need more ideas, check out this article.

So you’ve built your course and you understand your students. What’s next?

You need to be ready to market the heck out of your course

The late, great Steve Jobs once remarked that “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

He’s talking about marketing. As wonderful as your course might be, it can’t stand on its own. You have to show it to your customers, and you have to show it the right way.

Good news: if you’ve identified the right target audience, you’ve already taken the first step towards marketing your course. Marketing is all about telling a story; if you know your audience, you know the story they want to hear.

Let’s use the example of a middle school math course to flesh this out. Your target audience, obviously, is middle school students – kids between the ages of 10 and 14. But it’s a little more complicated than that, because not many 10-year-olds will voluntarily seek out extra math instruction. More than likely, you’re marketing to their teachers, who can recommend your course – or their parents, who can pay for it.

Teachers want to hear that your course will help their students catch up to the rest of the class. Parents want a quick, low-cost solution to help their kids gain both skills and confidence. Kids want a way to learn that’s different, engaging, and most of all, fun.

Keep these points in mind as you market your course. They’ll inform the language you use, the places you advertise, and even the rewards your course promises.

Sweet Rose Studios can help with every step of this process. We know how to concept, design, and market your online course; from production to pricing strategy, we do it all.

Click here to get started.