Offering an online course can be one of the most rewarding things you can do as a business owner. Not only are you able to share your expertise with a wide audience, but you are also able to build relationships with your customers.
However, the process of developing an online course can be time and resource-intensive. Because of this, more and more business owners are choosing to outsource aspects of the process, from design and development to marketing and aftersales support.
In this blog, we will be discussing how to outsource aspects of your online course creation, so you can focus on things that matter most for your business.
The E-Learning Sphere at a Glance
Online courses are a hot commodity right now and the industry is showing no signs of slowing down. In 2016, the World Economic Forum reported that the global e-learning market was estimated to grow to $255 million by 2017. In 2018, Forbes reported that by 2025, the industry will grow to USD $325 billion.
From universities to corporate entities, practically everyone is offering learning materials about every topic imaginable. Likewise, more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon and turning to e-learning materials to build upon their existing knowledge and expertise.
When you factor in the many advancements in online learning technology in the past couple of decades, it’s not difficult to understand why e-learning is fast becoming the new normal.
Do You Need to Outsource Some Aspects of Your Online Course?
If you’re pressed for time and resources but still see an opportunity in offering an online course, outsourcing parts of your process is a great option.
When you decide to offer an online course, there is a lot to consider. Between conceptualizing your course and developing your content, producing audio, video, or graphics, and marketing and sales… getting your course off the ground takes a lot of work.
Fortunately, outsourcing aspects of your process can help take the pressure off. There are many freelancers all over the globe who are equipped with the skills and knowledge to help you create the online course of your dreams. By tapping into their expertise, you can focus on what you do best, and create more leverage with your time.
Before we jump into ways to outsource, let’s take a look at what outsourcing entails, and its key benefits.
Outsourcing Basics You Need to Know
Outsourcing is the business practice of shifting business processes, tasks, or operations from in-house talent to an agency or independent contractor. This is often done to lower costs, improve the efficiencies of a company, and to shorten turnaround times for certain products or services. It allows businesses to offload non-critical tasks without sacrificing quality.
When outsourcing, you may choose to hire local talent (onshoring), or find service providers in other countries (offshoring). They may be basic level or specialists, and fall under a range of price points. You can find these freelancers through personal referrals, your email list, or from a freelance marketplace like FreeeUp.
When you decide to outsource your online course, you’ll be able to focus on what matters most because you won’t be stuck doing redundant work or tasks that are better left to experienced professionals. This may include proofing each piece of content, producing your course, figuring out pricing and billing, managing PR and marketing, and more.
Outsourcing can help streamline the entire process and shorten the turnaround time for getting your online course ready for the paying public because experienced third-party providers can execute tasks much more quickly.
Benefits of Outsourcing
There are many benefits you can reap from outsourcing, including the following.
1) Cutting Down on Development and Marketing Costs
If online courses are a core aspect of your business model, then it might make sense to put together a dedicated in-house team for ongoing course updates and marketing. However, if courses are just a portion of your business, then outsourcing pieces of your process to freelancers instead of full-time staff will be more cost effective for you.
By outsourcing some of the aspects of building and marketing your online course, you can pay only for the services that you need, when you need them. This can lower your production and marketing budget considerably.
2) Access to Experts in Online Course Creation and Marketing
When it comes to building and marketing an online course, the expertise of a few people on an in-house team doesn’t always cut it. Sometimes you need the help of a wide range of experts each with specialized skills to suit your requirements. Moreover, these experts have access to niche-specific technology and tools that might not be readily available to in-house staff.
3) Speeding Up the Turnaround Time for Your Online Course
Sometimes even if you have the right number of people to work on your online course, they’re still not as efficient as third-party service providers. The truth is there is a learning curve to using tools designed for building online courses. If your in-house talent isn’t adept with using them yet, there will be a time lag before you can start putting out and selling your online course.
When you outsource, you can rest assured that the e-learning professionals you hire have sufficient experience in handling online course building and can help speed up your course creation process.
4) Applying Best Practices and Innovations
If you’re new to online courses, chances are you’re still learning the best practices and technology that will make your e-learning materials stand out from the rest. When you outsource your online course, you can capitalize on a service providers’ depth of experience and innovative strategies, executed flawlessly.
Aspects of Your Online Course to Outsource
When it comes to building and marketing your online course, there are several aspects of your process that you may want to delegate to a freelancer. Here are some ideas for you:
Choosing the Best Online Course Platform
If you’re new to creating online courses, you’ll find a dizzying array of platforms for e-learning. You’ll want to make sure you take time to determine which ones best fit your needs.
You can outsource this task to somebody who is adept at building courses in the platforms you’re considering. For instance, Thinkific has an Expert Marketplace which lists experienced freelancers who know the ins and outs of the platform. With their platform-specific knowledge, you can get started on building and marketing your e-learning materials in no time.
Copywriting, Proofreading, and Editing
Every online course has a written component. However, not everyone has the time or acumen for writing. The good news is there are many freelancers all over the world whose services you can hire. These writers can flesh out your whole course just by interviewing you and taking notes to translate your ideas into a marketable e-learning material. Or, you can hire an editor to clean up your draft to make sure that the grammar is correct and the style is consistent.
Graphic Design and Illustration
One of the key elements of a compelling online course is great graphics and illustrations. This is because they allow you to communicate your message visually throughout your course material. You can outsource this aspect of building an online course to a graphic designer who can create website and page banners, marketing graphics, infographics, and more.
Video courses are excellent and popular teaching tools. They are not only engaging but also accessible to anyone with a mobile phone and a decent internet connection. Producing videos for your e-learning material doesn’t end when you stop recording. Post-production is an integral part of video courses, and it can take time to do well.
If you don’t have the human or technical resources to produce videos with professional quality, then outsourcing is definitely for you. Look for a video editor who is creative, has the right skillset, has an excellent portfolio, and offers fair pricing.
Motion Graphics Production
Animated graphics are often a welcome addition to text and video-based courses. You can hire professionals who know how to design motion graphics like title sequences, lower thirds, and text animations, and can layer and composite these elements as well as add effects to your video footage.
Another important aspect of video courses is the voice over. This is particularly necessary for explainer videos and animated clips. If you’re not comfortable with using your own voice or don’t have narration experience, then you should hire a professional voice over artist who can read for you.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a crucial part of marketing a product online, including e-learning materials. SEO professionals can make sure that your course contains the right keywords so that your links will be shown to the right targets on search results pages. They can also help improve your search rankings through effective linking strategies.
Social Media Marketing
In today’s digital world, social media marketing plays a vital role in getting the word out for any product or service, including online courses. You can use social media to share testimonials about your course, curate relevant content to capture a wider audience, initiate influencer marketing, and make it easier for your students to share their experiences with others.
However, paid and organic advertisements on social media can be tricky. Not every business owner knows how to do this effectively. Fortunately, there are more than a handful of content marketing experts out there whose services you can engage to promote your course on social media platforms.
Related article: check out Thinkific’s guide on how to use Facebook advertising to market your online course.
If you don’t already know it, email marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote and sell products online. Email marketing is a great tool for building anticipation for your course and keeping your target audience engaged. However, it does take skill, time and effort to devise a campaign, so you might want to delegate this to a professional.
You can invest in the skills of an email marketing expert to help you build an email list, build a strong relationship with your audience through email nurture campaigns, and develop and launch an email campaign to sell your e-learning materials.
What to Look for in a Third-Party Service Provider
Commitment to Quality
Whether you choose an individual freelancer or an agency, it’s important to hire someone who is committed to providing the best quality of work every time. Look for someone who can meet your requirements and do things the right way.
Resources and Capabilities
A key benefit of outsourcing is getting access to resources, capabilities, and talent that wouldn’t otherwise be available internally. When looking for a freelancer, make sure that they can bring expertise to the table that you don’t already have.
To help you identify what capabilities to look for in a freelancer, first make a list of all the high value activities that you enjoy doing and play to your strengths. Then, start to make a list of anything you do repeatedly, or struggle with. There’s a good chance those tasks could be outsourced to save you time, and keep you focused on the highest value activities in your business.
To better understand a service provider’s capabilities, it’s important to look into their prior work. Make sure that they have experience working with other organizations or companies and that they have satisfactorily delivered what is expected of them.
Take into consideration that many businesses require non-disclosure agreements with freelance hires. As such, they may not be able to show you a full view of their past accomplishments. If this is the case, ask them to discuss a project or two and focus on their responses to gauge whether they really know what they’re talking about.
Outsourcing is traditionally viewed as a cost-cutting measure for companies. The key thing to ask yourself when looking at cost-efficiency is, how much is my time worth? You may want to spend a bit more on an expert who can do things twice as fast as you. Choose a freelancer who can provide the best value for money without compromising quality.
Online courses provide a unique opportunity for business owners and learners alike. Not only does the e-learning sphere make education and skills-building more accessible to everyone, but it also allows companies to reach out to their customers and help solve their problems in new ways.
If you want to start selling online courses then there is good news for you! You don’t have to slave away trying to build and promote a best-selling online course all on your own.
There are a variety of tasks related to building and marketing online courses that can be outsourced with ease, if you feel you don’t have the time or the manpower to create courses, but want to share your insight and expertise with the world.
What are your tips for building and marketing online courses? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author
Connor Gillivan is the CMO and co-owner of FreeeUp.com, a rapidly growing freelance marketplace making hiring online simpler. He has sold over $30 million online, has hired hundreds of freelancers to build his companies, is a published author, and is the owner of ConnorGillivan.com. He currently lives in Denver, CO.