Several years ago I got my hands on something completely new for me: my first online course creation! And although this course didn’t go through as I planned, I believe that the lessons I learned will help me not only for my next courses but also will be a great insight for you.
Through years, I’ve not only practiced what it takes to create a good course but also seen many (!) different mistakes people make.
While you still have to give it a try on your own to see what works and what doesn’t for YOUR audience, this guide to my lessons can be a helpful starting point.
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When I first heard about online courses, I couldn’t even imagine how it all works and how popular it will get in the following years.
These days, almost every other online entrepreneur has a course or a plan to make one, or have taken a few of those.
My lack of understanding of how online courses work or how they can be promoted definitely was the main reason why my first course failed. However, without giving it a try, I’d have never been able to create further courses that have not only attracted way bigger audience but also brought in passive income.
Here are some of the most important things I learned!
Lessons I learned from my first online course creation
LESSON #1: It will always take more time than you think
Actually, that’s something I’ve learned not only because of this course but in my business in general.
Literally, anything WILL take more time than you think. It is great to set deadlines, especially if the timing is up to you and only you. Deadlines are something to go for and they’ll drive your work forward. In the same time, you should understand how to create realistic deadlines, so you don’t dry up.
- First of all, create your “best scenario” deadline.
- Then – add up some time for any delays that you can’t predict, for example, a day when you feel sick, a day when your child needs more attention or when it will be so, SO sunny that you just won’t be able to work all day long. These things happen and all of them are totally fine.
- After all: give yourself some additional time for general things you can’t predict. For example, your designer gets stuck with some things, you decide to take on an amazing project you’d like to work with or your prince on a white horse suddenly arrives and asks for your attention. Whatever that is – GIVE YOURSELF MORE TIME.
If everything will happen faster or within your first deadline – GREAT! In the same time, if it won’t – you won’t have to apologize for those who are waiting!
Don’t overestimate yourself. You are a superhero, we all know that, but even superheroes get tired…
LESSON #2: Choosing the right platform really matters
The decision about which platform will be the one that I’ll use for my first online course was one of the hardest decisions I had to make.
But when your workload is insane and you really have tons to do, having a system you can trust is really important! That’s why I always came back to Teachable.
As an online course creator, I have tried out various online course platforms. The easiest and best to use for starters definitely are either Teachable or Thinkific. Both rather similar yet with their specific features.
The best part is that both of these platforms is a good fit for both those who are just dipping the toe in online course creation and those who are full-time course creators.
Choosing the right platform really can save you a lot of time! Here are some quick tips on how to choose the best platform for YOU:
- Follow your gut instinct. Do you like their offer/features/looks?
- Review samples from other course creators and understand how the course actually looks like on any of these platforms.
- Be ready to commit. While both Teachable & Thinkific are free to use, when you’re ready to improve and grow your business, an update might be necessary. So review their pricing plans and understand which one offers the commitment you’re ready to take!
LESSON #3: Give a try to all of your craziest ideas
When I started to dream about my first online course, there were tons of people around me not knowing anything about online courses and saying that it won’t work out.
But I stuck to my guns and made it happen.
When my first online course was almost done, I realized that I’m gonna need to spice it up a bit and decided to write to several influencers and masterminds about the option to question them for this course, for several topics.
I wrote and didn’t expect a thing. I knew that all of them have TONS of things to do, literally. But except for one or two people – almost all of them responded and made time to give their answers. I WAS SO THRILLED I COULD CRY. With some of them I had never even spoken before, I knew about them, but never really made that “first move”. But it was so, so worth it!
LESSON #4: Dark days will happen, be prepared!
Up until I decided to create my first online course, there were no bad days for me in my business. Yes, that’s a real thing I’m talking about here… I really spent each day with a smile on my face or maybe a bit of doubt or sadness about something, but it never was like really bad. Just until I started to get my hands on this course…
When my second deadline started to push me to do more, more and more, but I literally had almost nothing done, I really thought “what’s the point?!“, “why am I even doing this?!“. I had so many other options to actually spend my time for something that could bring some money in right away, that could bring in some new clients, but I continued to say “no” and work on something I never really knew how it will turn out…
Then there were times when I was working 12 hours in a row, my back and my butt (true story) were hurting like HELL, I had no time to eat or time to spend with loved ones, time for some sunny walks that I love oh so much or ANYTHING I love doing.
And I was not prepared for this mental breakdown I was having more than once. I never thought something like that could happen to me because I’ve always learned to cope with all problems, delays and lack of creativity that came my way. But to be honest:
you just have to be open for those days to come. Spend some time outdoors, offline, away from your daily rush. Enjoy those little things you usually enjoy.
That’s why you always have to expand your deadlines just a bit more!
LESSON #5: Support is an amazing thing!
However it happens, whether it’s a piece of advice, someone commenting “good job!” or willingness to spread a word and cooperate. Each and every piece of support is AMAZING.
One of the main reasons why I was insanely hyped for most of the time when I was working on this course was because of all the amazing people I met along the way. I reached out to several influencers that agreed to participate and share their opinions, I talked with bloggers and freelancers, with dreamers and believers. And you know what, PEOPLE ARE AMAZING!
I’ve always been a super outgoing person and online community building wasn’t really my jam… But the more I got into it, the more I understand that community, even though your computer screen, can be HUGE help and support!
Also, this is where Karma kicks in. If you have the option to help out someone, say something good or suggest something – go for it!
Whether you know the person or you don’t, whether you have time for one sentence or supportive e-mail GO-FOR-IT!
LESSON #6: Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
I had an e-mail that I sent out with the first line “I really need your help!” where I explained how I’m going to launch this course, but I’d love to have some “backup” with people who could share some information and help me out.
I had TONS of ideas on how to do things, but I still wanted for someone to support me, maybe suggest something and really be there for me through this.
Honesty goes a long way in the internet-based community. You have to be honest to feel connected. You have to show your “true self”. Ask what you don’t know. Search for help when you need it.
No one is judging you! Most people have been there, one way or another. No one is born with the ability to know all the best solutions. And only because you know how to create your first online course (or maybe fifth), but don’t really know how to launch it successfully – your course doesn’t get worse!
That was something I thought about A LOT but came to a conclusion – the hell with that, I have to ask what I don’t know, other way, I just won’t be able to succeed.
Afterall if you have an idea, GO FOR IT.
Everything IS possible!
And even if you’re just preparing for your first online course creation or any other adventure, you won’t have a chance to improve until you try. Don’t be scared of big ideas – embrace them instead.