September 28th, 2015 Business

stacking-coinsI often write about the benefits of creating an online course and selling them. It’s a fantastic way to build a passive income and potentially a full-time business.

However, this business model is a double-edged sword. In fact, it can be dangerous. Specifically, dangerous to your credibility.

The business model for creating and selling online courses is simple (as in straight-forward), but the execution is not as easy.

Many people have dreams of creating and selling a large library of courses only to find out that creating just one course is extremely time-consuming.

Ultimately they don’t follow-through. Of course, there is nothing harmful about this – it happens and nothing is lost except perhaps the initial time.

Selling elearning can be dangerous when proper time isn’t put into the course creation process.

People are smart. If you sell a course and it doesn’t feel complete, they will not be happy.

The growth of elearning use today is the reason for this. Expectations have been on the rise. A course that cuts corners can be damaging to you and your reputation.

If your course is related to your area of profession this can be dangerous. The last thing you want is for one of your courses to tarnish your reputation in your field.

By no means does this mean you should avoid creating and selling a course. If you have valuable knowledge to share then you should pursue this industry – it can be quite rewarding.

This is merely a reminder that your final product can’t be rushed. Don’t settle for “good enough” or your customers will view it in the same way.

Put in the time and be patient. Your courses will be better, your customers happier, and you’ll be more successful.

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


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Justin, I agree but it is possible to take a different approach. Courses should be living, breathing entities. As such, they should be undergoing continual adjustment based on changes in the content and feedback from users both on the content and the way in which it is being presented.

So, why not publish a beta version of the course first – obviously at reduced price or even free!? If you do this, you do need to explain why and clearly document the limitations of the beta version and what you will be doing to tackle those limitations and in what timeframe. There may well be some who would appreciate an early version and be willing to give you free feedback.

In fact, as we know, many MOOC courses are not courses at all. They are essentially information – links to a targeted or curated list of videos and documents. Your course could even start as that, an information version. This will help you with the structure of your course. Then, when you add the ‘human touches’ that make it interactive and provide learners with such things as their own learning paths and constructive feedback to questions, it can grow into a course.

Those of us who have been creating courses for decades know that it is all too easy to keep putting off the actual launch of a course because we keep finding little things that need tweaking – often things that we might notice but which do not really matter to the purchaser.

Be fair and honest with your audience, keep to your promises and they will live with you through the birth and the life of the course.


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