THE BLOG

Creating Your Own Online Course? Avoid These Mistakes!

04/22/2015 06:23 pm ET | Updated Jun 22, 2015

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(Photo credit: Pixabay.com)

The Internet has made it possible for us to explore different options, learn new skills, and embark in new careers with the click of a mouse. In the online or digital entrepreneurial realm, everyone seems to be creating their own online courses and group coaching program these days. The problem with that? There are a lot of bad practices out there, and a lot of people copying these bad practices only because they've seen someone else do it that way, sometimes with success (in terms of sales).

If you are in the business of creating your own online courses or programs, or want to have your own in the future, then take note to avoid these top three mistakes:

1. Lengthy videos

Video is all the rage in the digital marketing right now, and I've sat through several webinars that teach people how to create their own online courses with experts claiming that video duration doesn't really matter. What this proves, unfortunately, is that most people use video incorrectly. If you have ever sat through a video lesson that lasts more than 30 minutes, chances are you know what I'm talking about: long videos are the kiss of death in holding people's attention and in creating engagement. And the reason for that is simple: lengthy videos create cognitive overload. In other words, the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory to process all of that video information is just too much.

In fact, research on video length is aplenty, and Wistia's own data analysis suggests that only about 28 percent of viewers watch videos of 10-20 minutes in duration all the way to the end. The drop-off rate only goes downhill from there the longer the video is, going down to about eight percent when videos are 60 minutes in length or longer.

Thus, if you choose to make lengthy videos, then you must understand that a significant portion of your audience will not watch the video all the way through the end -- or, at best, they will struggle through it. Instead, use a mix of formats to deliver your content, such as audio and writing, and try to save your best information for video, making it concise enough to keep it under 10 minutes if possible.

2. Thinking that content ALONE is king

I hear on a daily basis that content is king. But is it really? Sure, content is a critical component in a course; without great content, a great course is just impossible. However, at the end of the day, content is just information. And information is readily available to most of us in a variety of mediums. So, why should people buy your courses or programs, versus the person next to you, who is teaching about the exact same thing?

A huge part of that equation will, for sure, be the relationship you establish with your potential and current clients and how you connect with them. After all, people don't buy what you sell: they buy you. But the other part, far less glamorous or talked about, is the context you create for your content to not only be relevant and applicable, but for your client to actually take maximum advantage of it and achieve real results (i.e., change, transformation, more clients, more profits, or whatever your offer promises).

Context is best created through proper structure and organization. It's really like baking a cake: if you add the ingredients in the wrong order or quantity, the odds stack up against you that your cake will turn out a flop. It will look like cake, and will likely be edible, make no mistake about that. But it will not achieve its glorious, fluffy, light, delicious, tasting potential. Thus, really think through the sequence in which you cover your materials, the right measures for covering every single topic, and the best activities you can create to help your clients or learners engage with the content and learn what they signed up for.

3. Worrying too much about the tech gadgets

I'm not implying tech gadgets don't matter because, frankly, they are a huge part of what creates the user experience. If you choose a poor delivery platform, or unreliable systems, that can severely impact your clients' motivation and even their ability to get through the entire course. And, obviously, if they never complete your course or program, that's really not great business for you, even if you do get to keep their money.

Rather, what I am saying is the tech tools don't deserve the overwhelming attention people give them, sometimes to the point of paralysis. Truth be told, no tech gadget in the world can or ever will either create or make your online course or program an awesome one. YOU will. That's right! Armed with your brain, creativity, research, hard work, and pen (if you're old fashioned like me, and think better on paper than on screen).

So, focus on what matters most: creating and curating valuable content with the proper context to knock-your-clients'-socks-off, and formatting it to engage and effectively teach. If you have amazing content presented in a way that enables your clients to get real results, the delivery mode becomes really secondary.

Are you creating your own online course or program?

If you are, or even if you have already done so, I'd love to hear from you and the struggles you've faced or are facing. Comment below or connect with me on Twitter @priscila_hinkle!