Warning: Your Online Courses Do NOT Live Comfortably in a Vacuum
As a business owners, I'm on the look out for ways to reach more people and grow my impact. It could be that I've succeeded in one region and now want to look for other regions where I can do the same. I could be I've reach a good sized audience and now I'm looking for ways to sell more to those same customers. This is what's typically happening before we birth an online course.
We're already successful in offering what we offer and now are looking for other options.
If you're a consultant, trainer, coach or advisor, working one-on-one with a client requires your personal time. There are only so many hours you can work, so you are limited in how many people you can serve. Because you rely on you, you have to charge more which also limits who you can work with.
If you're good at what you do, you likely have a good following. There are people that know what you do and would like to do business with you. What happens is that a good number of these people would like to work with you, but can't afford to. This is something you can address by offering an online course version of what you do.
Don't limit yourself to thinking an online course is a stand-alone course with no contact with you. Think of it as a way to get to people with online tools that can include time with you. The benefit is you can leverage yourself by serving multiple people at the same time. Think of what presenters have been doing forever when running an in-person presentation in-front of a live audience. Often times, they are presenting the same material they could one-on-one with clients, but do it in a way where they can teach a group of people.
What does that do for the price point? Someone that might charge $10,000 to $20,000 for in-person work can consider making a $2,000 to $5,000 offering and do it with 10, 20 maybe even 50 people. Depending on how and what you teach, and the income potential grows drastically. Your reach and impact increases because people that would NOT otherwise be able to work with you can now afford you.
An online course can take the similar approach. You can offer your online course as the core material or have it behave like the textbook for your course. You teach from the materials they can access online and your make yourself available to answer questions. For many people wanting to learn what you teach, that may be even more convenient than meeting with you in person. They can go through your materials at their convenience, maybe even late at night or early in the morning, working around their work schedules. You can make them feel supported by giving them access to you in different ways.
You can allow people to reach you via email. You can make yourself available on a Zoom call at set times throughout the week. You can make those meetings open mic, or you can request that students ask questions ahead of time. You can record these calls and make them available to future students. If you get the transcripts for the calls, which today can be done very inexpensively, you can index those and make them searchable. Those can become a knowledgebase that grows and, if done right, can become a really good way to support students for students buying a do-it-yourself version of the course.
I often see business owners make the mistake of thinking their online course must be standalone. They think it has be be promoted by itself instead of seeing it as another way to offer what you already teach. That helps with the marketing and branding. You continue to promote what you do as a whole and then allow people to select the format that works best for them.
What I see happen a lot is people purchase the course and learn what they hoped to learn from it. That process educates them so the become better clients. They understand what you do clearly and gain more confidence around working with you. In an online, your materials will showcase you and what you can deliver for them. It gives customers an appreciation for what it is they are taking on if they choose to do it themselves. Many will learn by taking your course that it's more cost effective to hire you to do the work for them. They may also learn to believe that working with you assures them of getting the results they need reducing the risk that doing it themselves will give them less than satisfactory results.
As I said before, when you start, your online course doesn't have to be standalone. You can see it as a more natural way to take your first step into that online course building world. This is definitely a good way to learn what you need to learn, understand your customer's journey when buying from you and provide you with the business intelligence to make an online course offering based on the best of what you learn.
Hope this helps!