#150: Should You Build an Online Course?

Building an online course seems like a smart move…but is it right for you, at your stage of business? Join Michelle as she shares about several different online courses she has run through the years – ranging from wildly successful to total flops. And download her free Get Started Guide To Building Your First Online Course at https://healthcoachpower.com/onlinecourse

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Hello health coaches! You know, a lot of health coaches have been talking about building online courses and inside our Facebook group, we get tons of questions about this, what tools to use, how to price it, how much content to provide, how to sell an online course. Of course you want to build it, but then you want to sell it. It makes sense typically, correct me if I'm wrong here. But typically when we're talking about an online course, are we not sort of thinking about an envisioning a fancy big video based online course? Because that's the impression that I get from everyone. We're thinking of some kind of member site where the students are going to log in and a whole bunch of videos and PDFs and modules and payment plans, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Listen before doing any of that, like take a step back. I want to talk today about whether or not you should go this route, like at all and some alternatives if you're maybe not quite there yet.

I also want to let you know that this episode is brought to you by my brand spanking new free guide for health coaches. It's the get started guide to building your first online course. You can get that now at healthcoachpower.com/onlinecourse. Now, inside this bad boy, I'm going to walk you through all of the most important aspects of starting a course and exactly what I do every time that I build one, which I have built many through the years. Guess what? Here's like a little spoiler alert. Technology is not, I repeat not the most important aspect of building your online course as we'll talk about today. There are so many different ways to run an online course, but they all have to start with the vital steps that I'm going to walk you through inside this get started guide.

So again, you can grab that now for free at healthcoachpower.com/onlinecourse. So if you're here live, I have a question for you also. I want to make sure that my chat area is showing up properly over here. So help assist her out. Tell me in the chat, what ideas do you have for an online course? Like what topic would your course be about just off the top of your head? It doesn't have to be all figured out and nailed down. What kind of course are you considering? What are you envisioning for yourself? Cause I want to tell you, I have tried them all. When I actually sat down and wrote out a list, I was like, oh my, I have been busy for the past 12 years. I have run short detox programs. I've run meal planning groups. I once ran a; I think it was a six-week course.

It was called, come on, eat happy. Isn't that cute? It was a course that taught how food impacts mood. It was meant to help women overcome anxiety and depression. I have run five day courses, 21 day courses at six week courses, six month courses, memberships. I've done small group coaching online, like so many different kinds of online courses. I'll be honest, varying degrees of success. Some were great. Some were very profitable and very fun. And everyone got so much out of them. Others kind of flopped. You know, it happens like one time. I will tell you about it. I ran a small group coaching program and all the women who enrolled were my ideal client. So I was very, very happy. They were like the busy go getter type, a kind of women. Well guess what? These busy type a go getter women never had time to watch the videos that I had created for them.

And more often than not, they weren't able to make our online meetings. So I was like, hold up here. I've got the right women. I've got, I know I have the right content for them because I've done so much of this one-on-one work. But in this format for this particular type of woman, that was a flop did not work. I learned that women like this do much better in a one-on-one arrangement. It just, it just didn't fit their schedule, where they needed to be able to reschedule meetings. They needed it to be more flexible around the work schedule. So it's interesting because sometimes you think, oh, I'll offer something as a group, it'll be less expensive. And then I can, I can serve more people in this case. I would have been better to charge them all 10 times as much and done a one-on-one program with them. They would have had more progress. So that's an example of one of my flops.

Let's see what some of you guys are saying here. Julie said that she's thinking about doing a course around healthy food substitutions. For who? For what kind of person, Julie? I'm thinking right off the top of my head, um, of some of the HPU members, um, I've worked with who work with diabetics. So, for example, if you were going to do some sort of course, for diabetics, helping them figure out which foods to swap in and out to help keep their numbers, their blood sugar numbers down, that would be a perfect example.

Christy said, have you been able to glean why some courses were more successful than others? Well, yes. And also what does success mean? Like I just said too about that online group course that I did, it was successful in the sense that I sold the spots and I had like wonderful women signed up for it. It was not successful in the sense that the results did not happen. Right. So that that's one way of measuring it.

The other measure would be like, oh, nobody signs up. Right? You get one person or nobody signs up for your, um, that would be the other measure. So you have right. We have to figure out what does success mean? And then there are so many reasons why things don't work. What's another example. Um, when I have launched programs at the wrong time of year, I figured it out pretty quickly, but I didn't know right away that the summer is not so super good for people's engagement. You got people going on vacation. You've got people who want to drink beer and go to barbecues. It can be tough. It can be tough. Again. Sometimes they will sign up, but they don't follow through. Or you would have gotten way more signups if you did it at a different time of year.

Um, another time of year, that can be very difficult depending on your target market could be right at the beginning of September. We think September back to school fresh starts. Well, if you are working with moms who have kids going back to school, you know how crazy the first couple of weeks of September are. So you're not going to get a lot of signups then either. So timing can play a big role in it as well. So if you're thinking, oh man, Michelle, I am never going to get my course off the ground. Well, first of all, get started with that guide that I just told you about at healthcoachpower.com/onlinecourse, and then stay tuned because next week I'm going to be sharing an opportunity for you to work with me, get your course done and done in just one weekend. So, see, there's a little cliffhanger for you, but for now, for today is an online course, even the right thing for you, for your business.

Yes or no. What do you think let's start here and I don't know how many of you are going to fit into this category, but I wanted to start by saying, if you have several years of experience as a health coach with a clear target market, in other words, you've been helping a certain type of person solve a certain type of problem, and you're really good at it. You know, there's like a thing that you do very, very well. And like also let's say that you have a mailing list and your mailing list has at least several hundred people. Let's say 500 people on it. Additionally, you're making enough money in your business that you can easily cover the cost of a member site and maybe an assistant to help you out. Then would you consider a full scale? Online course, like the one that I was describing earlier with the videos with the perfectly designed PDFs and all the bells and whistles and the payment plans and the, this, that, and the other thing, right?

We have to keep in mind, even if you are at that stage of your business is just because you build the thing does not mean that people are going to just buy it. Nobody browses the internet, like how they would browse in a grocery store or, you know, I went to the mall last week and I was just walking around and ended up buying things from stores. I had never even heard of before. That does not happen in the online. So it's up to you to get in front of your audience and help them see, sometimes you have to help them see that they have the problem and that it really is a big problem. Like often there's an education piece that we have to do in our marketing. And then of course, how you can help solve that big nagging problem for them. The other thing to keep in mind is like I mentioned, there are costs involved when you're doing the big bells and whistles kind of online course, you're going to have an initial setup cost, right?

Especially if you're using an assistant to help you with that, or there might be costs to getting video edited or having a graphic designer help you out all these types of things. So that's the initial setup, but then there's the ongoing monthly fee of your member site or of your course platform. And I know somebody is going to ask, so I have used Thinkific for many years now and I like it a lot. I've also been looking at switching over to Kajabi. I haven't quite figured out if I'm going to do that yet, but this type of expense and this type of effort, it only really makes sense if you're more experienced, you know, you're selling something that people want and you're already getting great results with your clients and you're ready to scale, you know, like maybe you've been doing it with like one-on-one clients or maybe you've even had groups of like three, four or five, six people, but now you're ready to scale.

You're ready to be serving 50 people, a hundred people at a time. Right? So if you're in that situation, awesome, go look at Thinkific, go look at Kajabi. You see what's out there for you start thinking at that level. But if you're not quite there with your business, that doesn't necessarily mean that an online course is not right for you. It just means, and this is where the nuances here that you're going to want to do it differently. You're going to want to do something that's more appropriate for where you're at in your business right now. So let's say like that you are just starting out, you know, like so many members of my healthy profit university. Maybe you just graduated from your health coaching certification program. Maybe you've been at it for, you know, under a year or something like that. Instead of doing all that stuff I just talked about and the expense and the time and all of that.

No, no. Start here. Start with something short for starters, like a five day course, you know, something like that. Start with something that is a one-time course. So whatever you're building, you're building it to do one time you're in, it's not something that's going to be long and ongoing, right? Just a short, fast thing that you could get out there and test the darn thing out and try something that is low cost this way. You're more likely to get people to sign up. It's easy for them. It's easier for you. I'm thinking it could be like a five day email course email. Everybody can email. That's all you need. You know how many courses I've run? There was no site. There was no login. Literally everybody that signed up, they got an email from me, maybe inside the email that one each week or whatever it was, there was a link to a video or a link to a PDF, but that's it, you know, and that's something I think all of us can handle.

Technology-wise sending an email, right? So maybe it's a five day email course like Julie's saying, here's something about healthy food substitutions. Maybe it's a five-day detox, right? Something that is short, fast, boom, get it done, try it out. Very little technology involved, no cost investment on your part. And you get to dip your toe into this online course world with very low risk. This is so, so key. And I've been talking to my fast trackers about this idea of failing fast. Nobody ever wants to fail, right? But failing is just part of being in business. So if you have an idea for a course, that's like big scale. That's great. Try it out on a very small scale first. And if it flops or you get negative feedback or like me, you lead people through it and you realize this is not the right format.

You're going to be so happy that you didn't invest any more time or money or energy into it. Fail fast. So do it short, do it one time. Do it low cost. Julie's asking how is an online course different from a five day challenge? Good question. So, a five day challenge typically is free. It's done as a list builder. If you were going to call it an online course, then, I mean, it's pretty much, it could be essentially the same thing, but typically they'd be paying you for it. And presumably you would be giving them something of slightly higher value. If it's something that they're paying for a five day course is not going to go for very much. I see a very typical thing that health coaches do is like a five day detox for $99. But, um, there's a fine line in there.

What's the difference between a challenge. And of course not a whole lot technology wise, it could be the same darn thing, but it is different, right? Because when you offer something for free people sign up and they're not very invested in it, you know, you're going to have fewer people sign up because they had to pay, which is fine, uh, if they have to pay, but then they're going to be more invested. The freebies, you get a lot more people and maybe they're interested in what you do, but they're less likely to participate. And it does act more to build your list. So it kind of depends on what you're trying to achieve in your business. So that would be like an intro to an online course, doing something very short one and low cost. Now, what if you have some more experience though, and what if you are starting to see some opportunities for scaling, you know, you've been doing one-on-one work long enough that you're like, okay, I know exactly what I could help people with.

And this has happened to me before where I think instead of me repeating myself over and over, over, why don't I just record this? And then it can be, you know, an aspect of my program that's online and they can watch it. And I'm not going to have to have that same conversation over and over again about, you know, what the difference is between a whole grain and a refined grain or whatever. Right? So if you're starting to see opportunities for scaling like that, all right, here's what I want you to do. Gather a beta group, right? Small group of people that you probably already know, reach out. You can do this one-to-one and ask if they'd like to be part of your first run, let them know what this course is going to result in. What is the result that they can anticipate achieving through this course? And then put them through something that is very bare bones.

They're going to know they're going to expect it to be bare bones because you're telling them it's a first run. It's presumably going to be quite a bit less expensive than you will offer it later if it's successful, if it's successful, excuse me. Um, and you want to think about it in terms of this, the materials do not have to be all shiny and perfect. Maybe it's just plain black and white PDFs, no fancy design, something that you just type inside, Microsoft word. Maybe you're going to do live calls with them. They're not going to be prerecorded and perfectly lit and edited videos. They're going to be live and on the fly. That is totally cool to do, especially in your first go round, because you're going to be able to see in real time how the group is reacting, what they're engaging with, what they have questions about, and that's going to help you create a better course down the line.

So see how your group does and you'll make changes. You'll edit as you go. The worst thing that you could do would be invest a ton of time and effort and energy and money into the course before you've tested it, right? I mean, it's like a recipe. If you had never made a Turkey before and now it's Thanksgiving dinner, are you going to go buy that heritage bread or Ganek, you know, 90 pound, not 90 pound, hopefully not 90 pounds, 14 pound, $90 Turkey from the Amish farm. You're going to get that and then go, hmm, let me try this out, stick it in the oven and see what happens. No way. If you had never cooked an entire Turkey before, you're probably going to do some tests. You know, you kind of try it out first before you, maybe you buy the bird from, you know, the local conventional store first, before you spend the money on the really expensive one.

You see what I'm saying? It's the same idea with the online course, every product that is on the market, right? Because now you are a business owner and you are creating a product, your online courses, your product, every product on the market starts out as a test, right? Whole foods. They're going to test a new product. Sometimes they do it in just like their flagship store or some of their main stores before they decide to go with it and order more of the product and ship it nationwide. In fact, when I started my online course for health coaches, healthy profit university, first, what I did was I offered a much smaller scale program. And some of you may even remember this. It was called seed to sprout. It was very sweet. We didn't have a member site for that. I don't think at all.

I just, like I said, emailed every week with the link to the new video. And gosh, it was like 10% of what I offer now through healthy profit university. But it did really well. And I was able to see what members needed and what they needed next that I knew, like what to offer them later. And then I didn't even jump into building something huge from that small seed to sprout program. The next thing I offered was a membership for more advanced coaches. And it was very inexpensive. It was just one class per month on different topics that a new health coach has wanted to learn about. And I learned, what did my members need? What did they need more of? What did they need less of? And then finally, boom, boom, boom, boom. I put all the pieces together, invested in a member site recorded and edited.

The videos, had those PDFs designed the whole nine yards. And it's been awesome. It's an amazing asset to have in my business. So what I'm saying today is should you build an app online course? Yeah. I think just about every health coach could benefit from some type of online course, for sure. But should you build a big expense? It's a polished online course right now. Probably not, probably not yet. When I worked in advertising, I was an art director and one thing we would often say when we were brainstorming ideas for our clients was like, don't jump to the execution, meaning flesh out the concept, make sure you are really solid concept before you decide, should it be a print ad? Should it be a TV spot? Should it be a website? Like how you were going to build it with the medium was going to be first, you have to think, what am I trying to achieve?

And then you can decide on the best way to go about it. And the same thing goes here. Like Julie was asking about earlier, what should I run a challenge? Or should I have people pay and turn it into an online course? What are you trying to achieve in your business? Are you trying to build your list? Yes. First and foremost, or are you trying to give birth to an online of course, and this is a first step. If that's the case, maybe you're going to charge $59 or $99 or something and run something for five days that people are paying you for also start with what your clients and what your audience is asking for your help with. That's a good sign that they want it start with where you are at money-wise and time-wise yeah, you got to be honest with yourself about how much you can take on right now.

Maybe something simple is advantageous for you right now and start with what you know will sell. Cause the last thing you want is an online that nobody wants to buy. And then, then you can decide on the best format, the best technology for that first go round of your online course. So again, that's why I've put together, my get started guide to building your first online course, which I highly recommend you go download. Now that health coach power.com/online course. And if you guys have any questions, I would love to hear those. We had a few that came in earlier, where is that? I have it pulled up on my screen here. One was from Dana. She said, I'm interested in running an online course. I'm about to launch one, but do I have enough of a targeted audience to sell to just not sure. So that's a great question, Dana.

And like I said, when your audience is small is not the time to do something really large scale. In fact, if your audience is small, you might put together an online course and offer it in a one to one fashion. Don't try to get a group of 10 people to all do it together. What maybe it's one person, maybe it's two people. You just need people to test it out for you. So that would be perfectly legit as a first step. And then you don't have to worry about, do I have enough people in my audience? Because if you have a mailing list of 20 people, like at best, you're going to have like one, maybe two people sign up for your course, then that would be a long shot. So, start small, start with a step that you can do today to test out your idea.

So you're better able to refine it and make it better as you go along. And also you could start earning right now. You could start earning with that first one person, two people, three people, even as you build it out. And we love that. Like in this industry, I love getting paid to create my content as opposed to creating it all upfront, you know, hundreds and hundreds of hours’ worth of work. And then nobody buys it much better to get paid a little bit along the way as you build it and make it better. And Kathy's saying, oh, she needs this. She's struggling so bad. It's this crazy technology she says she can, right? But technology is evil within Kathy. You're going to want to go ahead and do what I said earlier, which is offer a course in a much less complex way. You can literally just write emails.

It does not have to be fancy. You do not have to have videos. You do not have to have audio. You've have lots of options available to you. That would be easier than I think what you are imagining. Julie says, if we want to have a unique tracker for the course, does practice better have that sort of thing? Or do I need to create an app through an app builder? Um, I'm not sure if you mean like a food tracker, like you want to know it. I think that's probably what you mean. Um, and practice better does have something like that. And so do lots of other apps that you could use. I would not even begin to think about going and creating your own app unless you had a course that was so wildly successful. And the only thing that would make it better was if you had a branded food tracker app to go with it, you know, but I feel like that's probably way ahead in the future.

My goodness. In the beginning, you could have people just text you, you know? Cause in the beginning, you're just going to be working with a couple of people at a time that you probably already know. So that's a great example of like taking your idea. You're seeing it in this like large scale size and then like stepping backwards, a few steps to where you are now, right? Like how can you achieve the same thing a much easier, more easily and for free, right? So for those first clients of yours, I would absolutely do something that was less intense than building your own app for sure. But yes, practice better does, does have stuff like that. Um, I personally have not used those features, but I know that they're there. Okay. Um, I think that's all the questions that I have for today, which is great, cause we are right on time and next week I'm going to be back with more about online courses. So stay tuned for that. Plus an opportunity to work with me and in just one weekend, get your course up and ready to run. That's all coming next week. I'll see you then.