Welcome to the listeners of the Online Course Show Podcast...
You’ve probably found this page after listening to my interview about my online songwriting course:
The Ultimate Songwriting Jumpstart, with Jacques Hopkins on The Online Course Guy.
(the email contact form is at the bottom of the page).
Here are links that I referenced while speaking to Jacques (no affiliate links):
The Ultimate Songwriting Jumpstart, my online songwriting course
Zoom, Video Conferencing Software
Camtasia, screen capture and video editing software. Free trial, $249 USD to purchase for Windows or Mac.
Online Course Research
Choose a broad topic, I chose “songwriting”
Contact people that have knowledge of, or an expertise in your subject.
I spoke with professional songwriters, amateur songwriters, and musicians & singers that might be interested in songwriting.
The initial contact was an invitation to discuss the subject… for me it was “How do you write songs?” and a request to Zoom or phone chat for 20ish minutes (schedule extra time for yourself in case the discussion goes longer).
With professionals, ask: how did you learn songwriting, what do you find the most difficult part, what would you tell your 10 year younger self?
With those just starting out, I asked: what are you struggling with, what have you tried to fix it, what do you need help with?
Tailor your questions to your audience and your subject…
3 Bonus Tips:
- Ask if you can record the interview (so you don’t have to take notes, and to capture their words accurately)
- Remember to ask if you can follow up with them after you complete your research and share the results of your research (so you can get a second opinion from a professional or offer the course idea to a beginner who might benefit from it)
- Ask if they know anyone else who might be interesting in talking about your subject.
I created an outline of the course for 6 modules and picked a launch date.
Then I contacted everyone I had spoken to that gave me permission to follow up with them (almost everyone!) and explained the Ultimate Songwriting Jumpstart and how I planned to teach it.
Then I spoke with anyone I could think of that might be interested or know someone who would benefit from the course.
With a pilot course, students help create the course by offering feedback as they move through the course. They receive more personal attention than if they were working with a fully developed online course.
I offered them a discount in price (compared to the future full course) and a free upgrade to the full course when it was completed.
Delivering the Pilot
Students watched me through Zoom an online video conferencing software. I paid <$20 a month for a plan upgrade that gave me enough storage to hold recordings of the entire course on the Zoom platform.
I created a password protected web page for students to access and download Zoom recordings and PDFs of the power point slides.
I stretched the pilot out to 6 weeks because I needed more time to properly cover the curriculum. Student feedback helped me expand modules that needed more depth.
What I Should Have Done Next:
I should have done a second (and even a third) pilot, continuing to improve the curriculum and saving more money to:
- Improve my website
- Purchase some additional software & gear
- Market the Full Course
Then I should have used Camtasia, to create a more polished version of the best of each pilot.
Where I Went Wrong
I forgot the first rule of marketing… have something to sell. Instead I did what most creatives do, I focused on creating instead of creating something to sell!
I decided to create a more polished version of the course with higher production values.
Instead of wondering why everyone uses Camtasia to shoot online video courses (because it’s fast and easy) I decided to purchase gear and out do other course creators in my niche…
At the time, I had no idea how much more complicated it would be to script videos, shoot videos, edit videos, clean up noisy audio, render videos.
Instead of producing 7 hour long videos, I choose to break each module into several short videos of 3-10 minutes. While this makes it easier for my students, it greatly increases production time.
How I’m Correcting My Mistake
Looking back, it’s obvious that I should have focused on finishing the full course instead of “producing” a course.
I bought Camtasia and this is speeding up the video production… I’m combining what I’ve already learned through shooting and editing video with this new software so I can create a better product in less time!
The course is finished, published and for sale.
Get it finished, even if you know there are things to improve.
Get feedback from your students and focus on the improvements that will help the achieve the promised transformation!
What You Need To Produce a Pilot
- Condenser Microphone that plugs into your computer… buy one with a battery, it will have better sound quality,
- Webcam, the one in your laptop is fine.
What You Need To Produce a Full Course
- Condenser Microphone
- Webcam (consider upgrading it)
My Lessons Learned:
- Do the research, talk to people: experts and potential students
- Validate your course idea with a Pilot / Beta course
- Test and repeat (a second pilot isn’t a failure, it’s more rapid progress)
- Take the next step (instead of trying to skip steps)
- Perfection leads to paralysis
- Get help when you need it!
- Buy the right tools, cheap / free isn’t always the best solution
- Emulate what works before trying to innovate or improve
- Finish the course and put it out there!
- Marketing isn’t automatic, it’s much harder to get conversions on a sales page than in a sales call!