The Blueprint for Creating a Valuable Online Course
This is perfect! I screamed.
I was living my dream come true. I had been dreaming of my perfect house for years, now I was standing on the lot where it would be built. It was on just under an acre, level land, full of sunlight with just enough trees for shade. It was ideal!
Every time I visited my future home site, I could see where everything would go. I could envision what it would be like to live here.
As he followed the blueprint, the contractor created a home that was just what I wanted.
See, dreams are visions. We often imagine what our future will be like or where things will go. The goal will be to take this vision and make it a reality.
"A goal without a plan is just a dream."
The plan for my dream home was the house blueprint that showed exactly the creation plan for my home.
Imagine trying to build a new home from the ground up without it.
That's a problem, right?
A online course is no different. A Course Blueprint is the starting point for a online course that lays the groundwork for the process of getting it done. Without one, you spend more time and money trying to build it.
The lack of cohesive direction can be a real problem. When you don't know the next step, you end up with a mess, or worse, you make something that doesn't work.
How do I know?
This was the nightmare of my first course. I would start, then realize I was off track, and then have to start all over again.
Totally inefficient. Now I'm organized, focused and my online courses are high value and profitable because I start with a Course Blueprint.
I've created many courses for myself and others. When I make a new one, my first step is to create a blueprint. This blueprint covers the building blocks for designing a valuable course that will sell.
So you are wondering what exactly is in the Course Blueprint? Here are the five building blocks of the Course Blueprint.
1. Build the Right Type of Course
First, you should know the type of course you're going to create. What will it be?
Here are the types of courses we create at Bright Effects.
This course type will include the essentials on the first level of working with you or an introduction to your business approach or philosophy. What that means is the course won't go deep into your whole process or methodology. Don't include it all!
This is especially a great option if you want to test the waters or are overwhelmed with too much content and/or not entirely sure what your students would benefit from.
Consider what could be a small win that you help your students achieve. Give them some bite-sized information that gives them a feel of what you offer. You can even make a special offer at the end of the course to continue to the next stage of working with you.
Average learning time: 1 - 2 hours
Average Price: $47 - $197
This course type is a way to teach a step-by-step process to students or go deeper into your approach when working with students/clients. This course typically takes a deeper dive into a process or specific area of focus. This course type would be an excellent fit for businesses that want to deliver concrete results but save something for later. A step-by-step process is an easy way to deliver results.
Average learning time: 3 - 5 hours
Average Price: $197-$697
The final course type is the Signature course. This offers a transformation to your students. It's a robust and comprehensive course with an opportunity to share your wealth of knowledge.
You will need to invest the most significant amount of time developing this type of course. We recommend this course type for businesses who know for sure their course delivers results. They have validated this is what people want and are motivated to buy because of the considerable time investment, and resources to create this type of course. You have to be passionate and committed to developing a course anyhow, and this will be a course to test that passion. But it can be well worth it!
Average learning time: 6 - 8 hours
Average Price: $997+
When creating a online course, it's essential to ask how deep you want to go with your course. Each business and course is different, and what's best for one person may not be best for another. It's important to consider your workflow, client base, and niche when designing a course.
For example, Kickstarter courses are a great way to dip your toes into the world of course creation. They're small, achievable, and quick to develop, so they'll be less time-consuming in most cases.
If you have more students/clients than you have time for, then a signature course can be a perfect way to leverage your experience and bring in more business faster. It's also an excellent way to differentiate yourself from others in your industry.
The anchor course is a great way to get into the game. It gives your students a great course with some of the pros of the Kickstarter and Signature course. An excellent way to be in the middle.
Let's move to the second building block of the Course Blueprint – the course promise.
2. Craft a Compelling Promise
The course promise is the problem your course will solve, but it needs to be shaped in a way that specifically tells potential students what they will receive.
People don't buy courses. They buy results. People buy courses to improve their life, save time, feel better, make money.
What will your course do for them?
Will it make them slimmer, make them more money, improve their relationship, or help them create something?
See how that works?
Rely on your understanding of your ideal student - the challenges they face and the problem your course will solve for them. You can have an ideal student with many challenges, but you can't solve every one of them with one course.
For example, I have a client that owns a successful bakery. After researching her audience, she discovered these problems:
· They don't know how to start a successful baking side hustle.
· They don't know how to run a successful baking business.
The baking side hustle were people who wanted an extra income in addition to their 9-5 job, doing the baking out of their home. The baking business were people who had experience in baking, probably had a side hustle for a few years, and wanted to go better and bigger. She decided the problem she would solve with her first course was how to start a baking side hustle.
Can you see the difference?
When creating your course promise, include an action verb because action drives results, and results are what your students/clients value.
As a starting point to brainstorm your course problem, ask yourself these 3 questions:
- How do you want your students to feel at the end of your course?
- What do you want them to know?
- What do you want them to be able to do?
If they complete your course, this is what they will feel, know, or do. Complete this statement:
By the end of this course, you’ll be able to ___________________.
That's how you develop a course promise.
On to the third building block of our Course Blueprint.
3. Create an Organized Structure
Once you nail the best type of course and the promise, you might be wondering how exactly do I turn this into an actual course?
Hey, I don't blame you! Knowing what you're creating and getting it done are two different things, am I right?
So the third building block of the Course Blueprint is the online course outline. The outline organizes and structures the content. The cornerstone, if you will, and you want this content to make sense and get real results for your students.
This is comprised of 3 important pieces. If you hit these 3 points and follow the steps, you're good to go!
A: What's the A to Z?
In other words, where are they before your course (e.g., newbie, confused, unhappy, stressed), and where will they be after your course (e.g., new artist, informed, happy, relaxed)?
Back to our baking example, they need to go from a novice, inexperienced baker to a baker with a solid side hustler.
B: What steps will get them to this end state? Step 1, 2, 3, etc.
For the baking side hustle,
- They need to know how to bake.
- They need to know what to bake.
- They need to know how to market and sell what they bake.
The key here is to work backward with your course promise. For them to reach that promise, there must be a series of steps that you take them through. That's your course content!
C: Write out the steps and see what it looks like on paper.
This is your outline!
When you see a course, it's organized typically with a hierarchy - course topic and modules are two of those levels in the hierarchy. A course can also be organized in a step ladder way: - Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 or Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.
This depends on the content. As the expert on your topic, how would a beginner need to learn this, and in what order?
That's the third building block so let's move on to number four.
4. Teach Like a Pro
Now that you've got your course content organized and structured. You may be wondering well how exactly this will work.
Am I right?
This is a great question and one that you need to plan for as part of your Course Blueprint. Your content is critical but so is how you deliver it.
How to decide what delivery style will work best for your course content?
You have options, but I will give you guidance on making the right decision for you.
There are three primary ways that I recommend you deliver your content.
· Direct to Camera
· Using slides with voice over
· Or with some type of screen share. You can even have a bubble of you or not as part of the presentation.
For Direct to Camera. This is you talking to your students directly through the camera. If you've ever seen an Oprah Masterclass, that's direct to the camera in its purest form. This is great for an introduction to a lesson, telling stories that enliven your content, or when you're giving a demonstration of something critical for your client to learn.
For example, my client taught the baking course. Can you imagine making icing without seeing someone actually doing it?
So when people went to the lesson on buttercream icing, she showed them how you make buttercream icing in her kitchen.
Now she could have created slides with the recipe. Still, the most effective way for her to deliver the content was in the kitchen, giving a demonstration.
Can you see how this would make a difference?
Another option is slides with a voice-over. This works well for mapping out steps, sharing details, breaking down large concepts and ideas. It helps people to integrate the information in a way that makes sense.
I had a client that taught a course about IRS audit representation. She used slides to break down the concepts and ideas because it involved talking about IRS codes and other details. She could have done direct to camera, but luckily for her students/clients, she didn't. The topic was much too detailed and involved to do that through the course.
Can you see how slides with her voice would make the learning experience flow better?
Then there's screen share, where you're showing your actual screen as you're walking through steps. Screen share is great if there are things you need to refer to online or behind-the-scenes. Inviting someone to go through the steps with you in real-time. It's them looking over your shoulder.
The same client who created the audit representation also mixed in a screen share. She did a screen share of different IRS forms as she walked them through how to complete them correctly.
Imagine trying to learn how to complete an 18-page IRS form without seeing the form.
Can you see the problem with that?
The content you're teaching is a driver of the style you deliver your content. Look through each step of your outline, then determine the best option for delivering your content.
There are many different ways to deliver content. Still, these three are my favorite, most powerful, and cost-effective ways to impress your students with great content.
There's one final building block of the Course Blueprint.
5. Boost the Value
When you see an offer you can't refuse, do you have to have it? You know you need it and have confidence that it will give you what you want. It's just too good to pass up!
That's what happens when the perfect student for your course decides to buy. This is the result of creating an irresistible offer.
Now that you have clarity on your course content, don't stop there! You want to offer more than just the core content, which you've nailed through the other building blocks of the Course Blueprint. You want valuable add-ins. When done right, this will increase the effectiveness of what you teach and get more people to say 'yes, please.
I created a course on Executive Presence. On the surface, the training videos and 'how tos' seemed to be the center of the course, but my students were getting results from the course. I realized it was mainly because of the other things I included.
This is where many of your competitors fall short and where you'll rise above others in your industry. Having valuable add-ins that positively impact your student's results makes a big difference.
If you're thinking that you're not sure what that would be? Hold on. I will give you examples to choose from and even guidelines to come up with some of your own. First, it's important to note that the better you know your students/clients, those perfect for your online course, the more successful you will build your course. This building block is no exception.
Let's first get clear on what exactly are valuable add-ins. In addition to your core content, a valuable add-in could be anything that enhances the learning experience. For example, coaching – you offer coaching calls with your core content so you can hone in on their specific situation.
It could be a community, maybe a Facebook group, or live meet-ups so that your students have peers that they can bounce ideas back and forth and get additional support from what you offer.
Another example of a valuable add-in could be swipe files. In some of my courses, I've offered email swipe files so people can save time without having to spend hours looking at a blank page. They basically fill in the blanks.
Can you see how that would be appealing to someone?
To come up with valuable add-ons for your course, ask yourself:
- What can you add to your course content to drive results?
- What format do you want to use - written, video, audio, mix? These are features of your course.
- What add-ins do you feel may be missing from what's already being offered in the market?
- What are areas they will likely need more support?
- Where can I save them time, stress, and money?
Here are more ideas for inspiration:
- Downloadable transcripts
- Audio file
- 1:1 Coaching
- Swipe file
- Template Planner
- Kickoff Call
- Cliff Notes
- Q&A's Calls
- Office Hours
- Voxer Access
- Email Access
- Software App
- Tech Tutorials
- Accountability partners
- Text messaging options
- Gift Packs
Choose valuable add-ins that help your course deliver massive impact and be a standout in the market.
That's it! These are your 5 building blocks to a Course Blueprint. This is a roadmap to making your course a win with your students/clients and a financial success for you. When you have these at the core of your course, you're on solid ground, and you can rest easy knowing your course is gold!
Ready to go from idea to sold?
Download the free guide, The First 7 Steps to Create a Profitable Online Course