5 Ways to Beat the Course Development Blues

Offering your own online course is a great way to share your knowledge, help your audience achieve a result they desire, establish yourself as an expert on a topic, and build a passive income for yourself at the same time.

But creating a course can be time-consuming and overwhelming. You have to create the outline, validate the idea, write or record the content, develop the add-ons like workbooks and cheatsheets, edit the content for spelling, grammar and flow, and then organize and present it in a way your students will be able to follow. It’s a lot to take on.

On top of all that you also have to decide on and set-up the platform you’ll use to deliver your course, figure out your pricing model, determine what bonuses you’ll offer (if any), determine how often you’ll interact with your students directly and how that will happen; and while you’re doing all that you still have to serve your clients and run your business.

We haven’t even hit the launch phase yet and I’m already exhausted.

Although there’s no real way to automate the process there are a few things you can do to get things done on time and relatively stress free. Here are 5 Ways to Beat the Course Development Blues.

Create a Plan

Once you have an outline of your course break it down into a plan by listing out all the parts that have to be created and the steps involved. Then plan out the development and assign yourself due dates.

I love a good mind map for this part but you can just as easily put it in a project management tool like AsanaTrelloTeamwork; or even write it out in your favourite planner or notebook. The goal is to get a full list of what needs to be done so you always know how far you’ve come and what still needs to be tackled.

Pro Tip – do not be too aggressive with your timeline. 60 or 90 days is a reasonable timeframe for developing most courses. Any less than that and you’ll be causing yourself undue stress and will end up putting out a mediocre product.

Schedule Time

Now that you have your plan of what needs to be done by when, it’s time to commit some time to the project. Block out time in your calendar each day or week to focus on working on your course.

It’s not enough to schedule it though. You have to stick to it! When that time comes up in your schedule shut the door, turn off your phone, block Facebook, and focus all your attention and energy on moving your course forward. This is a commitment you’re making to yourself which is just as important as those commitments you make to others.

Make sure to tell yourself that the time you have scheduled is immovable and non-negotiable. Regardless of what invitations come up you are busy during that time. Do not waiver.

Pro Tip – Let your close friends and family know what you’re doing. They should know you are working on a project that is very important to you and, as a result, there will be times during the day or week that you will not be available. If they know in advance that it’s important to you, and that it’s temporary, it will save a lot of hard feelings, turn them into your cheerleaders, and reinforce the commitment to yourself.

Use Templates

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating your course. There are a ton of great templates and swipe files that will give you a good starting point for what you’re doing. And if you’re unable to find a template for something make it yourself.

Things you’ll want to have or create a template for include:

  • Your Lessons. Having a template to follow for your lessons will ensure consistency throughout your course and boost retention for your students. Download mine here.

  • Your Slidedecks. Whether you make it yourself or find one online having a basic template will save hours of work if creating slide decks for your course.

  • Your Workbooks/Cheatsheets. Having a template for any downloadable components will save you time and keep things consistent which your students will thank you for.

Pro Tip – Take a few minutes to create a file structure and naming convention for your files and then stick to it. Having a set file structure that you hold yourself to will save a lot of time and effort later when you’re looking for that cheatsheet you created or those notes you made.

Batch it

There are a lot of repetitive and similar tasks when creating your course and you can get a lot more done if you batch similar tasks together. So, instead of getting everything for lesson one done – the writing, the video, the audio, the worksheets, etc. Write all your content for all your lessons first, then record all your audio or make all your slide decks, etc.

When you batch the work up you stay in the flow of creating that type of material making you more efficient and allowing you to finish the work quicker. It will also let you spot connections easier and help you maintain a feeling of consistency throughout the work.

Pro Tip – Extend this past your course development. Look for opportunities to batch work in your daily life. Answer your emails at set times a day so you’re not constantly distracted by new email. Set time aside once a week to do your invoicing and updating your books rather than breaking your flow to run an invoice. You’ll be amazed at how much time you can save!

Get Help

You don’t have to do it alone. In fact, no successful business owner or teacher ever does do it alone. They always have help. Part of running a successful business is knowing what you don’t know and delegating work you’re not stellar at or don’t know how to do. Why spend 12 hours editing your video when someone else can do it in 2?

Use the plan you created in tip one and highlight anything on there that someone else could do and then find someone to do it.

If you need to justify the cost start by calculating what the cost of doing it yourself actually is. To do this estimate how long you believe it would take you to do all the tasks you feel could be outsourced. Then double it. No one ever estimates time correctly, especially on work they’ve never done before or aren’t great at. Now that you have how long it would take, multiply that by what your time is worth per hour.

Now add in the cost of any programs you might need to buy, any training you might need to take, any add-ons you may need to purchase. For a more accurate look at the cost of doing it yourself you can include the utilities you pay, the paper and ink you might use, etc. These all contribute to the cost of doing it yourself.

Pro Tip – Mindset is a powerful thing. If you’re worried about the cost of outsourcing the work you’re subconsciously telling the universe that your course won’t sell. As long as you’re in that mindset it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I’m not telling you to be financially irresponsible or to rack up a ton of debt to have someone else help develop your course, but do take the time to look at the numbers. If you’re selling a $500.00 course to even just 20 students, spending $3,000 to have most of the work done for you still leaves you ahead by $7,000. And no one ever creates a course to only reach 20 students.

So, take a look at the numbers and if the cost of doing it yourself is much higher than hiring someone, and if the chances of seeing a great return on your investment is high, then I would encourage you to get help.

Besides, if you’re not willing to invest in your course, who is?

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

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