Online courses are a great method for creating more scale and flexibility into your business. But translating your program online takes some thoughtful prep work to ensure successful delivery.
To help you navigate this process, we spoke to Paul Thomson, an online course creation specialist. Paul runs a consulting company dedicated to helping coaches and business owners scale by creating and selling online courses.
In this article, we’ve gathered key insights from our interview with Paul where he shared his process for helping coaches profitably put their program online.
Watch the video below to learn strategies for creating engaging content for an online coaching program!
Where Should A Coach Start In Creating An Online Course?
If you already have a coaching program, perhaps your first thought in turning it into an online course is to simply divide it into modules and put it online. While this may make sense in theory, it’s important to step back and consider your goal with online coaching.
A good place to start is outlining who you plan to serve.
Outline Your Ideal Online Student
Is the client you plan to serve through online courses the same client you are serving in person? Spend some time to get clarity on the personality, skill level, and experiences ideal students would have, noting any differences between the segment you currently teach.
With this new persona in mind, it will be much easier to decide what content should go into your online course.
Decide On Your Online Course Topic
Based on the profile you’ve developed, think about the transformation you want to create for them. Clearly articulate which obstacles you’ll help them overcome.
It’s important to beware of the mistake that plagues many coaches at this point: trying to cram everything you know into one course.
Doing this not only leads to information overload for your student, but it makes it harder for you to teach. The last thing you want is for your student to opt-out of taking your course just because it seemed too long.
To start narrowing your content down, pick out some sub-topics from your program. If you’re a business coach who teaches others how to build and grow their business, think about the most common topics you cover and how you could break them into multiple courses. For example:
- Digital marketing strategies
- How to retain and upsell your clients
- How to hire and manage a virtual team
- Automating your business process and sales funnel
Students will benefit from finding targeted content that speaks directly to where they’re at in their business journey. As a coach, you’ll also benefit from the ability to bundle and upsell your offerings, which increases your profitability in the long term.Great article on how to create engaging content for your online coaching program! @thepaulthomson #onlinecourses Click To Tweet
Tips For Creating Online Coaching Course Content
When it comes to creating your content, your goal as a coach is to deliver a transformative learning experience that brings your students to their desired future state.
But many coaches share a common concern around losing the high-touch aspect of their coaching program by going online.
If this is you, fear not. There are many elements you can use to create a course that keeps students highly engaged and satisfied throughout. Between verbal lessons, visual materials, and interactive components, let’s look at what works best for an online coaching program.
Content Types for A Personalized Learning Experience
Aim to use a combination of teaching methods in your online course. Here are some examples to consider:
- Verbal lessons. For auditory learners, using audio files helps to explain your lessons and explore more in-depth concepts. If your coaching program currently includes phone calls with clients, adding voice recordings into different points in your lesson can help provide a cohesive experience.
- Visual materials. This may take the form of presentation slides, screen share demonstrations or other illustrations to connect with visual learners.
- Interactive elements. An important component of the most successful online courses – you need to give your students something to do to apply what they’ve just learned. This could be written tasks, challenges, journaling, or going through workbooks and additional resource guides.
- Quizzes. These are useful to create engagement and a sense of connection in your course. In Thinkific, there is a quizzes module that enables students to reflect on their learnings and helps you as the coach gauge how much they are putting things into practice.
- Video. Videos are very effective for putting a personal touch on your online coaching program. Record an intro video and greet your students in the same way that you would if you were meeting face to face. Don’t feel the need to be overly professional, rigid, robotic in your videos – just be yourself! As a coach, students want to connect with you in the same way that they would one-on-one.
Pro tip: If you’re new to using video, don’t worry too much about having the best video production. Just focus on providing value in your content and delivering on the transformation your students signed up for – you can invest in equipment as you progress.
- Assignments. Creating tasks for students to work on each week also helps create a personalized experience in an online coaching program.
- Email check-ins. Set up emails to send at certain points in the course to check in on your students. This can be something as simple as asking how they enjoyed a lesson, or what they learned.
If you want to keep tabs on student progress, you could set up an email notification to connect with a student if they look stalled on the content. For example, “I noticed you’ve only done 50% of the lessons, is anything I can help you with?”
- Surveys. When you coach face to face, it’s easy to get a read on how helpful your content is for your clients. With online courses, there is no way to know unless you ask. Setting up a post-course survey can help you stay up to date with how valuable your lessons are perceived.
Related article: Want more tips for crafting your lesson content? Check out this blog to learn 5 Techniques to Create an Effective Online Course.
Tips For Creating A One-on-One Experience, Online
One of the best parts about coaching one-on-one is the ability for you to investigate your clients’ experiences, and pinpoint areas for growth and development. This may seem hard to replicate with online courses, but there are ways to create similar experiences online.
For example, let’s say you do mindset or life coaching. Chances are you would ask a rhetorical question or two to spark conversation face to face such as, “what do you feel is holding you back from commanding the influence you desire in your workplace?”
Since students aren’t able to answer you in real time, you need to integrate this question into your course. Directing your student to use workbook where they can journal out a response to this question is a great alternative. Then you could follow up with a video lesson specific to this topic.
This is just one example of how you can create a full-circle experience for your student. If these types of open-ended questions are important for your coaching practice, plan in advance how you can use the content types listed above in tandem. Soon you’ll have a cohesive and professional experience to deliver online to your clients.
Related article: How to Organize and Speed Up Your Course Creation Process
Include Community Conversations & Support
In addition to diversifying your lesson types, consider adding a community component to run alongside your lessons.
This could be a Facebook group, Slack channel, or Voxer group – whatever makes it the easiest to communicate with your audience.
Building a community to function alongside your online course has a few benefits:
- You’ll be able to answer questions in a group setting, minimizing the need to answer the same question twice
- You could hire support admins to keep an eye on the group and help you respond to common questions or concerns
- You’ll be able to see in real time how people are responding to your course content
- You can leverage the community to sell subsequent online courses
- Your students will thrive in feeling as though they are part of a community of people who are on the same journey as them
Pitfalls To Avoid: From Offline to Online Courses
Here are Paul’s top two pitfalls to avoid when building out your online coaching program.
- Creating lessons that are too long
“Coaches are used to doing long-form calls. When first moving to an online course, they tend to create long lessons that are sometimes an hour, or even two hours! This is not the best experience for the student. What works better is to create your content into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Aim for 5-20 minutes each that are targeted and to the point. You’ll see a lot more momentum with students going through your content.”
- Not validating your course in advance
“It’s sad to see coaches spending time to create an online course that nobody buys. Work hard on validating your course before and you can avoid this problem. Test the content with your audience – build an email list, start conversations on social media, and poll your audience using surveys. Get feedback early on and refine your content until it hits on exactly what your audience needs.”
Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to creating engaging content for your online coaching program. Stay in a growth mindset and expect to test every aspect of your course before, during, and after you launch.
Are you a coach who’s used online courses to scale your business? Let us know your biggest challenges, what worked well, or how your business has changed since in the comments below!