Does this sound like you when it comes to creating your first online course? You begin to write a blog post, and before you know it, your “quick update” has turned into a rambling, 3,000-word novella that covers all the bases from what you do, why you do it and how you do it… Sound familiar?
Now, a 3,000-word blog post can be great for traffic, but only if you’ve kept it tightly focused. But what happens all to often (in blog posts and in online course development) is that every point covered brings up a new point to be addressed. Imagine for a moment you're a graphic designer planning a “basic graphic design” course. You find that
- Logo design leads to business card formatting.
- Business cards lead to taglines.
- Taglines lead to ideal client avatars.
Avatars lead to…well, you get the idea. The point is, when you strive to provide the very best information for your audience, it’s easy to want to include one more important detail. Soon, you’ve outlined an encyclopedia’s worth of content that overwhelms not only you, but your clients as well. This is the very reason my blogging mastery course has never been finished…
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The Best Online Courses Focus on One Problem & One Solution
Most people don’t need or want an all-inclusive answer. When Facebook first introduced ads, we took some Facebook training. And when it came to the pixel, the training made no sense to us. So we purchased another course that was devoted to pixels. In less than 5 minutes we had our pixels seasoned and do what they should be doing. We became customers of someone we'd never heard of because their course was aptly titled “Facebook pixel course”. If your course helps your clients identify their ideal client, then including information about choosing a domain name might seem relevant, when it’s really distracting them from their objective – creating a client avatar.
If you try to branch out too much, you run the risk of overwhelming your customer. If you're a seasoned course creator you may have a flashback to the course that you overwhelmed the world. It's common – and you learn from it. However, too much of that, and she’ll log out and never return—for this or any other course you create. Not because you’re a bad coach/trainer, but because she’ll be convinced she’s a bad student. Too much information is as damaging as not enough.
You might want to demonstrate your depth of knowledge, but you can always create another course for the next step. Trust your client to work out what she needs and in what dose she needs it. Some know they'll want intensive, others know they're exploring and just want to know enough to identify if this is their chosen path.
When you focus your course on a single problem and a single solution, you can dig deeper and present ideas and information that won’t be found just anywhere, such as:
- Case studies
- Planning documents
- Multi-media content
These are the types of things that your audience will happily pay a premium for, because they cannot find them elsewhere. When you focus your course on a single problem, you’ll have the leeway to create these and other resources. Take a broader approach, though, and you’ll be forced to scrimp on the “extras.”
But make no mistake—there is still room for that all-inclusive, massive signature course. One look at powerhouse coaches such as Marie Forleo and her massively popular B-School will tell you that.
Keep in mind, though, that if you decide to go ahead with an online course of this magnitude, you will (by necessity) have to:
- Expand the length of the course to accommodate all the extra information. Each week (or module) becomes its own “mini” course, focused on a single issue/solution.
- Increase the cost of the course. If your market will bear a high-ticket, multi-module course, then, by all means, you should produce one. But do keep in mind that the more information you provide, the higher the price point.
Remember, too, that a large course is a much tougher sell—and we’re not just talking about the price. There’s a bigger commitment on the part of the buyer as well, and that’s something she’s going to have to carefully consider before she makes the commitment to you.
Your First Course Win
A smaller, single-problem single solution course is easier to commit to and easier to complete and be successful with. With this in mind, your first course is more likely to be a winner for you and this means you'll go on to create more and grow a successful course academy.
Your first online course should focus on one problem, and the training itself address one solution. Your customers will thank you for it.