If you’ve been anywhere near my social media feeds over the last year, you’ll know that I specialise in creating online courses. I love finding the potential of a new course, and I’ve found that a lot of people are right on the cusp of creating something special.
I know that you’re capable of making an online course. All the knowledge is inside your head, but you need a system that gets what’s in your head down on the page.
So why am I talking about this today?
There’s never been a better time to start building an online course, and it all starts with content that is tailored to your brilliant idea. There are plenty of online tools that you can use to put this content together, and I’m going to run down my list of the 5 tools I use, for free, to create my courses.
Before we start…
We need to talk about who you’re aiming the course at. Your ideal client, the person you’re making this for. Yes, there’s John, who doesn’t like long videos, and Sandra isn’t a huge fan of worksheets, but they don’t matter as much as Frank.
You see, Frank is your ideal client. He’s the one who’s going to love everything you make, and he’s the one you need to be targeting your entire course towards.
In simple terms, your ideal client is the person who’s out there right now, looking for your course. You are the solution to their problem, be it sales funnels, lead generation, or how to correctly pot cacti. If there is a problem that they have, you are there to solve it.
You’ll tailor your entire course to this ideal client, knowing that everything you create will be for this mythical individual. As you work on your content and advertisement, your ideal client will become something of a friend, and you’ll always be able to recall what you know about them. With regards to course creation, think about who they were before they started your course, and what you helped them become with the content you wrote.
Think about how you’re going to break down your course. Imagine you’re sitting at a table with them, going through it in person. How would you transfer that information to them?
The bones of your course are the basics – all the stuff that makes the bedrock of a good course. We’re talking videos and worksheets, all of which come under modules. These modules need to have an ‘action’; this simply means that there needs to be something your ideal client learns from the module. A core focus.
Each of these actions needs to have 3 or 4 smaller, actionable steps that your ideal client can do whilst they’re learning.
Once you have these bones written out, you can start to think about the content for each one.
Tool One: Otter.ai
Otter.ai, a live transcription application, is the start to your content creation. It is something that’s easy to do, doesn’t take up much time, but makes a huge impression on your overall process. It’s a dream come true for those who like to think about their ideas and say them out loud. It records your voice and takes down rough notes into a word document, which you can then go through and edit to crisp perfection.
Personally, I use this to plan out my video scripts. Each of the modules on my course comes with a full video, and instead of trying to work out the script from scratch, a take a notepad with my actionable steps, and I just… talk about them. It comes easy for me, and I end up with a page or two of script that I can fine tune into my module information.
A lot of people have a pre-conceived notion that transcription services just aren’t quite there yet, and that it’ll be more hassle editing a poorly recorded document than simply writing it out yourself.
Trust me, give Otter.ai a go. It’ll change the way you take notes.
Tool Two: Canva
Now for the flashy stuff. The part of your course that requires a little bit of work, but when it’s done it’s potentially the best-looking thing you present.
Canva is a graphic design website that you can use to make professional looking images and advertisements for any and all social media applications, emails, or worksheets. I’ve used it personally to create logos, social media posts, course workbooks, email campaigns, and just about anything I need to have a little colour and sparkle.
It’s not like they make it difficult for you, either. When you first sign up, you can choose from any plethora of design formats to begin with. They even divide social media advertisements into their preferred sizes; for example, Facebook posts, Facebook stories, and Facebook banners.
Canva is basically an easy tool that makes your course look good.
One thing that I encourage is using Canva’s designs to create your course workbook. It makes things look snazzy and adds to the professional appearance of your content. By saving each design as a separate page and throwing them all together in a PDF booklet, you can create praiseworthy, actionable steps in minutes.
Tool Three: Google Sheets
So, you’ve made some headway with your course designs and your behind-the-scenes notes. What about the forward-facing aspects of your content?
PowerPoint slides are the backbone of any good module video; it provides a space for you to punctuate your important points and helps to keep all the good stuff front and centre. It can sometimes be difficult to keep on top of a 70-slide PowerPoint presentation, so I recommend using google sheets to organise your course into separate modules, with each slide deck available in their own separate sheet.
You’ve already made your notes on Otter.ai, and your roast dinner doesn’t need something flashy on every part of the plate. Consider the slides your muscles; they look good, they’re simple, and they get to the point. When making your slides, consider using only bullet points to punctuate your vital information. Anything that needs to be noted down by your ideal client.
A good presentation of slides for your client will be something that isn’t just great the first time but is something they’ll always come back to when they need more.
Tool Four: Zoom
Zoom is an interesting application for recording videos. It provides you the opportunity to have voice calls you can record, affording you the chance the bring on expert opinions for different parts of your course, and is also great for collecting raw video footage for you to edit.
This is another great place to use Canva; you can create a video thumbnail that is uniform across all your branded videos, making it easy to identify your style immediately. It looks good and starting each video with your logo is a great way to instil your importance to the ideal client.
Remember, videos are a great way to engage a client in any capacity. More often than not, they prefer to hear information from you. The PowerPoint slides you’ve created work in conjunction with these videos. Recording your voice over the slides gives a permanence to your presence in the course and gives authority to everything being said within.
Your videos are the constant. Comforting, and always a staple.
Tool Five: Vimeo
Vimeo is a great place to host your videos.
What? Why not YouTube, I hear you ask?
There’s a simple reason for that; YouTube often recommends more videos to watch, which can distract from your course if you’ve embedded the video into your course member’s area. You don’t want your ideal client being distracted by a video that’s been recommended by YouTube’s wonky algorithm, leading them to a video of pandas falling out of trees.
Vimeo allows a little bit more control, letting you decide where you want the videos, how long you want them to be, and where you want the ideal client to go next.
Remember, when you’re creating your course, you won’t just have videos for each of your modules. One of the most important videos you’ll make is the welcome video, and it’ vital that you sit in front of camera for this one.
Let them that they haven’t just bought into a vacuous course; let them know that they’re about to start their journey to become the person they’re going to be, and they won’t be able to stop themselves from getting started.
If you’re interested in working out how much an online course could make you, check out the link below for a course profit calculator.