Beginners Guide to Getting Started with Online Courses – Part I

Beginners Guide to Getting Started with Online Courses – Part I

by Bobbie Lind March 15, 2018

Creating an online course takes a time commitment up front. But the rewards are exponential once you’re done. I’ve talked about the benefits of creating an online course in a previous blog post – so I won’t rehash them here.

No, today we’re going to talk about how to get started creating online courses. And we’re going to keep it super simple – because pulling your hair out is NOT a great way to get started.

A 101 course in getting started with online courses.

So, as they say in the Sound of Music – Let’s start at the very beginning.

Step 1 – Decide to Create an Online Course

The first step in getting started with online courses is to decide you’re going to create one. Congratulations! If you’ve found this blog then you have most likely made that decision already.

If you’re still on the fence let me give you 3 reasons why creating a course is the best idea for you, your business, and your practice.

  1. Online Courses expand your sphere of influence without taking more of your time
  2. They help set you up as an expert in your field
  3. Online Courses are a simple way to increase your revenue without adding strain on your already busy life.

Ok. Once you’ve decided to create an online course it’s time to move to step 2.

Step 2 – Pick Your Topic

Picking the topic for a course can seem like a daunting task. Many of the practitioners I talk to have so many ideas on what they can do they don’t know where to start.

If you are in that boat my advice is this: write down all of your ideas. Pick 1 that is easy for you to talk about for – say – 3 hours. Start with that one.

If you don’t already have a million ideas running around your head try these steps to come up with one.

  1. Write down several topics that interest you
  2. Write down all the questions you get asked on a daily/weekly/monthly basis from your patients
  3. Pick the top 3 ideas from that list that REALLY interest you.
  4. Pick the simplest one of those 3 ideas that you can talk about for at least 3 hours.

I know, that seems simple when I type it out. And it really is that simple. Pick a topic. That’s your first course.

Now, if you’re still stuck after doing that simple exercise I recommend you starting with a “Welcome to my Practice” course. This is something that you may or may not intend to sell. But it would make your life SIGNIFICANTLY easier if you can point your new patients to it and answer all their questions.

Step 3 – Create Your Outline

Now that you have your topic it’s time to start creating your outline. Again, this does not have to be complicated. In fact, if it takes you longer than 1 hour to come up with you may be overthinking it.

And don’t try to cop out. You need an outline to keep you on track while creating your course. Trust me – your course and your attendees will thank you for it.

Here are my super simple steps to creating your outline.

  1. Start at the place you want your new attendees to be. What is their current state?
  2. State where you want them to get to once they complete your course. What is the outcome of taking your course?
  3. List the major steps needed to get them from current state to the outcome.
  4. Done, Your course outline is complete.

For example: You want your course to be on gut health. So your outline may look like this:

  1. Common symptoms of Leaky Gut
  2. Remove the Bad Stuff
  3. Replace with Good Stuff
  4. Repair the microbiome
  5. Reinforce the good behavior
  6. Congrats! You’ve got this.

Something like this as an outline can give you a massive head start to building your course. Each section from here can built upon and your course slowly starts to build itself through your outline.

Step 4 – Create Your Scripts

You’ve got your outline. Now it’s time to dive in and create your scripts. This can be done in two ways.

  1. Talking Points
  2. Full on, word-for-word script

I tend to like talking points. For my style it gives me the freedom to dive deep where I want but still get the main points I want to cover across to my audience.

Your style may be different. You may need to have every word on the page in front of you. It doesn’t matter what your style is.

If you don’t know your style that’s ok too. Try creating the full script and see how that works for you. If you like it – great! If not, try creating the talking points and see how that goes.

Anyways, create your first script for the very first video in your course outline. This is usually an introduction video of some sort – but it doesn’t have to be.

Step 5 – Create Your Slides

Once your script is created it’s time to create your slides.

Now, if you plan on being in front of the camera then you may not need slides. So, you can skip this step if you’d like.

However, many of my clients prefer to be talking over slides instead of always in front of the camera. This step is for you if that’s the style you are looking for.

The slides are created based on the information in your script. Don’t add anything new to your slides that isn’t in your script.

Slides are simply presentations created in a presentation software. Three of the most common presentation softwares available are PowerPoint for Windows computers, Keynote for Mac users, and Google Slides an online cloud based presentation software.

You can present your major talking points in slide format like this:

getting started with online courses

Or you can show images and other diagrams to help your point like this:

getting started with online courses

Either way, your slides are designed to enhance your attendee’s experience with your course.

A cautionary note on using images

Many images that you find on the web are NOT free for you to reuse. It is always a good idea for you to check the usage rights of the images you want to use.

You can find images in a few of the following ways (and be on the lookout for another post with masses of information about free images):

  1. Use Flickr’s creative commons license to find images. Be sure to attribute the images properly if they require that.
  2. Creative Commons search site is another way to find images.
  3. Use Google Search and change the tools->usage rights drop down to ‘Labeled for reuse’ or ‘Labeled for reuse with modification’.
  4. Paid services like BigStockPhotos or Shutterstock.

The last thing you want to deal with as you put your course together is someone coming after you for copyright infringement. So be sure to stick with the resources that allow you to use their images.

Step 6 – Record Your Video

As with everything in this post, there are a few different ways to do this.

  1. Live videos (you in front of the camera)
  2. Voice over Slides

Live Video

First you need to pick a backdrop. What do you want to be behind you? This can be anything! If you’re doing a cooking show then you may want to have the kitchen in the background. Or you may have a blank wall in your background. The big takeaway here is to be cognizant of what’s behind you.

Then, you need to be sure that your face is towards the light. If the light is behind you your videos will be dark and awkward. So face your light source.

Another thing to keep in mind is your frame – what and where are thing in your video. Do you want to be in the center of the video or off to one side or the other? Do you want to face directly into the camera or off at an angle? If your face isn’t the one in the frame are you showing your hands doing something – like a close up of a pan for cooking.

Next, you need to ensure that you have quality sound. A simple external mic that can plug into your cellphone will work here. Here’s the one that I use that can be found on Amazon.

Lastly, you want to have a plan for when you need to “reset”. If you have to pause to remember what you’re going to say, stop – take a breath – and then restart again. If you have a coughing fit, same thing. Stop, take a breath, and then restart again. The idea is to give you a good point for editing in the post processing part.

Voice Over Slides

In this version of recording your video you need screen recording software, such as Camtasia for Windows or Screenflow for Macs. Once you’ve got those then you need something to record your voice.

For voice there are three levels of price.

  1. Headset, such as Logitech or Cyber Acoustics
  2. Lavalier Mic, such as Rode or Purple Panda
  3. Professional Grade, such as Blue Yeti.

Now that you have your recording software and sound tech it’s time for you to set aside an hour (or more if your video is longer) and record your video.

If you make a mistake, pause and restart from where right before you made the mistake. You don’t need to restart from the beginning, only redo the part where you made the mistake or coughed or whatever. You can edit that part right out in post processing.

In the Next Post

This post has gotten pretty big. So, in part 2 we’re going to talk about what to do once you’ve got your videos recorded. For now, work through steps 1 through 6 and I’ll see you in part 2 of the beginners guide to getting started with online courses.

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