#260: 5 Simple Steps To Create Your Online Course

5 simple steps to create your online course - Michelle Leotta

Oh, the overwhelm! Just the idea of creating an online course can make your head spin – until now. Listen in for the 5 simple steps to follow so you can create your course, stress-free. And register for Michelle’s FREE Create Your Online Course Bootcamp 10/1-10/5 at HealthCoachPower.com/bootcamp

This episode is brought to you by Primal Health Coach Institute’s Human Intestinal Microbiome Certification Course. Get the first two lessons FREE (and a 25% savings on the program) at HealthCoachPower.com/microbiome.

Mentioned in this episode:
Free: Create Your Online Course 5-Day Bootcamp 10/1-10/5

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5 Simple Steps to Create Your Online Course

Creating an online course is a smart way to scale your health coaching business. But it can feel totally overwhelming. I get it! I’ve been building online courses for over a decade, so I’ve been there and know what works.

In this post, I’ll break it down for you with five simple steps to bust through the overwhelm and get that online course going.

Step 1: Decide what your business needs

There are so many ways to do online courses. You need to figure out what your business needs right now. 

(Think of it like picking out an outfit from your closet – you need to know where you’re going before you can decide on a style or color. Same goes here.)

Often, I see coaches latch on to an idea that’s way more complicated than it needs to be. It’s not right for the stage they’re at, so they pour a ton of time and energy into building a course that doesn’t sell. This is the pits! But you can avoid this trap if you approach it strategically.

In my free five-day Create Your Online Course bootcamp, I’ll go over three distinct types of courses, and help you pick the one that’s best for you right now. You’ll figure out what’s realistic, what’s strategically sound, and what’s profitable. You can sign up now– it starts October 1, 2023.

Step 2: Define the transformation you’re offering

Courses can be informational – but as coaches, we help our clients implement what they learn. This is the juicy part!

Instead of just picking a topic to teach, think about what transformation someone will achieve by going through your course. 

Why will they be motivated to join? Why do they care about the keto diet, or brain health, or whatever topic? What transformation are they seeking?

So take your topic idea, and reframe it in a way that’s client-centered.

Step 3: Create a content plan

You can’t teach everything you know about health and wellness in one online course. Every course has a limited scope. So decide: what’s within yours, and what’s not?

You don’t need to go down a rabbit hole and create hundreds of video lessons. In fact, you don’t even need to make videos at all (seriously). Focus on helping your clients implement a few key habits. It will be less overwhelming for them, and less overwhelming for you.

Step 4: Pick a platform

So many coaches get freaked out about the technology  before they’ve thought about any of the other pieces. 

Once you’ve figured out the size and scope of your course, the content you’re sharing, and the format you’ll use, then you can think about what platform is best. I mean it — don’t skip ahead!

Don’t get into the weeds with a fancy, expensive tool.  Many courses can come to life with things you already know how to use. Keep it simple and doable.

Step 5: Get paid

Why would you spend hours and hours building a course that you just hope someone will sign up for? This isn’t field of dreams, people. It’s a business.

Get this part right, and you’ll get paid to build the course. Yes, you can sell your course before you build it. And you should! Then you know people are willing to pay for it before you invest your time. 

I like to think of this as failing fast. If you put your idea out there and it doesn’t resonate with people, wouldn’t you rather know before you put tons of effort into producing it? I sure would.

I’ll teach you exactly how to do this in our free 5-day Create Your Online Course bootcamp, starting October 1, 2023. Sign up now to join us – I’ll help you climb out of the overwhelm and get that course off the ground. See you there!


Full transcript:

Hello there, health coaches! We have been talking a lot about online courses recently. Anybody out there interested in creating an online course? I've been hearing about it in our Health Coach Power Community Facebook group. I've been hearing about it from our HPU members and the number one sentiment that seems to come up one way or another when it comes to online courses is it's so overwhelming, right? I get it. I get it. It's like planning a wedding, especially if you've never planned a wedding before. There's all these moving parts and you just know that you're forgetting something, right? You're going to forget to order the wedding cake and then it's going to be a total disaster, or that's the story that we tell ourselves anyway. But I can assure you, I mean, I can really deeply assure you that I have made many, many mistakes in over a decade of building online courses, but the successes far outweigh the failures, and that's why I'm here talking about it today.

So to make things easier and less overwhelming, I've broken down the course creation process into five simple steps that we will get into. I'm going to be sharing that with you today. This is also, you can consider this a sneak peek into my Create Your Online Course Bootcamp, which starts October 1st. Now bootcamp is completely free. So if you like what you hear in this episode, definitely, definitely join us for our free five day bootcamp at healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp. I'm going to drop that link right now over here in our Facebook group. So if you aren't already registered, head on over there, healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp. Now, if you are here live, as I'm recording today, whether you're on Instagram or you're on Facebook, tell me in the chat what part of online courses feels most overwhelming for you? What is it? Is the picking a topic is the where am I going to find the clients? .

Is it the technology? Where does your brain throw up a big barrier and just go, oh, can't do it. And please ask questions as we go along because I definitely have my eye on the chat area over here in the Facebook group, and I'd be happy to take your questions on Instagram. I'm looking at you too. It's a little harder for me to see over the top of my monitor. But before we get into our five simple steps to create your online course, this episode is brought to you by Primal Health Coach Institute. Now, did you guys know that they have a special speaking of online courses? Did you know they have a special certification program online that's available all about gut health? It's their human intestinal microbiome certification program. It is open to all health coaches. You do not need to be a primal health coach to take advantage.

This certification program was developed in partnership with Dr. William Davis, who is a cardiologist and New York Times bestselling author of Wheat Belly. I bet you've read that, and I think this is really cool because I know how much I love to nerd out. You love to nerd out. We all love to nerd out on this stuff. So I have a way for every single one of my listeners to get the first lessons of the course for free, like a little sneak peek. You can head over to healthcoachpower.com/microbiome and then you will get those first lessons. Check 'em out, and if you decide to take it from there, go for the full certification program. You'll get 25% off the program just for being part of my community. So if you're helping your clients, if you're interested in helping your family members or yourself with things like food intolerances, this course is going to teach you about food intolerances and what they tell us about the microbiome.

You're going to learn about specific disease states that are stemming from various microbiome disruptions and how to identify and manage microbial overgrowth, all of that and much more. But the first step is to get a peek into the course for free, right? Why not learn yourself something new? Those free human intestinal microbiome lessons are waiting for you at healthcoachpower.com/microbiome. By the way, we are literally the only group of people on earth who get excited about this. Get excited at the sound of human intestinal, like anything, which I think is funny. Not a lot of podcasts are enticing listeners out there with intestines. You know what I mean? We take online courses all the time, though we love this stuff. Online courses are such an accessible way to learn, do it in our own time. It's generally so much less expensive than attending schools in person.

These are the same reasons that online courses can work for you to reach more clients. Although I'm going to warn you right now, most normal people out there, like non-health coaches, they don't want to hear about intestines. That's just us. Let's just keep the intestines talk between you and I. Okay? I've got plenty more hot tips coming if you like that one. So let's break it down. What are we overwhelmed about? Marissa is saying here that no one will show. She's going to have an online course and she's going to sell it, and then no one's going to show up. Marissa, I actually have a solution for you. We're going to talk about that extensively in the next week or two. So keep your ears open. Maybe I'll touch on it a little bit today, but there is that fear, and it's not just a fear. .

It is a huge waste of time if you put a ton of effort into something, right? Marissa, this is what we don't want to happen, and then no one buys, nobody comes. Nobody wants your course. So we got to do it the other way around. I have the total solution for this because I don't want to be in that position either. Nobody does. Let's break it down step by step. Again, this is a little bit of a preview for what we're going to be covering during bootcamp. I'm going over here on Instagram for a second because I see that mc, Erin 25 says, creating the content, finding the clients and the technology for sure, that's all the stuff that feels overwhelming for her. Let's just start at the beginning. I know it's a lot. So first, and this may be surprising, no one ever talks about this.

I don't ever hear any of you mention this, so I don't think it's on your radar. There are different kinds of courses. There are different kinds of online courses. So you're going to have to determine what type of course is going to serve your business best right now, this is a business decision. It's kind of like going in your closet to pick out an outfit before you can decide on what color you want to wear or what style you're going for today. You got to know the purpose. You got to know the purpose of your online course too. For example, if you're standing in your closet, okay, fine. Are you about to go to a black tie wedding? That will dictate what happens next. Are you going camping? It's going to be a totally different outfit. So first, what type of outfit, what type of online course?

And then you can decide the rest from there. What type of course is going to make sense for you right now? Because here's what happens too often, and I've been seeing a lot of this in our Facebook group. Coaches get the idea in their head for a course, something. They've taken courses. They've seen courses. Oh, I want to do something like that. And it's way beyond where they are in their practice right now, or it's way more complicated than it needs to be. And I see coaches spend weeks, months, years putting this course together, and then in the end, Marissa, what happens? Nobody buys, nobody shows up for it. This is the pits. We don't want this. Or the other thing that happens is because it's taking so long, because they've basically, they bit off more than they could chew. They never finished putting the course together.

And again, nobody buys, right? No course. So during bootcamp, we were going to talk about the three distinct types of courses, and then you can decide which one is right for you right now. So you don't bite off more than you can chew. You have something that you can actually implement. You can actually go start to finish and profit from this is very, very important, as you can imagine, for avoiding that overwhelm feeling makes sense. So if you've never thought about an online course like this before, that's okay, right? That's what I'm here for. We want to start with what is the business goal? What am I trying to achieve? Is it realistic? Is it strategically sound? And I'm going to, again, just highly recommend that you join us for bootcamp so we can discuss this in much more detail at healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp.

Alright, next step. Figured out what kind of course you're create, OK.
Now what ... again, coaches tend to think of their course as being is informational. What kind of information am I going to teach in my course? Am I going to give in my course? And courses can be informational. They most often will contain a component of sharing information, but as coaches, we are generally offering online services, online courses rather, and any of our services as a health coach to yes, maybe teach information. But really what we're here for is to help our clients implement what they learn, what they know they need to do for themselves, create sustainable habit change, creating a transformation. That's what we're after, not just teaching stuff. We're not teachers. So I think this is the juicy part of being a coach, not just being like, you should drink this many ounces of water, but actually helping someone start to do that day in and day out in their lives.

This is a good step. So the second step of course development, I don't want you to think about picking a topic because that's like the information. I'm going to pick this topic and then I'm going to share a bunch of information about it, blah, blah, blah. No, no, no. Instead, we want to define the transformation that someone will get by going through your course. This is subtle, but it's different. You want to think why will they join? Why will they be motivated to join? If it's a course about the keto diet, fine, but why do they want that? Or if the course is about brain health, who is that for and what do they want to get as a result of joining? So we're going to brainstorm topic ideas. We're going to reframe them in a way that is client-centered, not top-down. I'm going to teach people about X, Y, Z, but rather, who is this course for and what is the transformation that they want?

I'm going to walk you through this process. So if you're not sure right now, that's okay. Although if you do have an idea for your course, I would love to see that in the chat, even if you're not at the point of thinking about the transformation, but what type of content are you even thinking about? And then we'll figure out the rest and we'll get more strategic together during bootcamp next week. So step three, and we're going to be doing this, is creating a content plan. What is the course going to include? And like I said, there's going to be information in it, but there's probably going to be other stuff in it too. This part can get, I'm just going to warn you, this part can get totally out of control if you're not careful. So I'm going to show you a very simple way to plan your content and keep it within an appropriate scope.
Just like we have a scope of practice or anything. If you go into a grocery store and you're like, do you sell rubber bands? They might say yes. They might say no. That's right on the edge of the scope of what a grocery store might sell. If you go into a grocery store and you ask if they sell puppies, definitely not as with anything in life. There's going to be things that are included and things that are excluded. You cannot provide. You cannot teach every single thing you know about health and wellness in one online course. You just can't, right? It would go on forever. Also, nobody wants to learn every single thing you know about health and wellness. So it becomes overwhelming for you. It becomes overwhelming for your clients if you put a course together that way nobody wins. But when you do those first two steps that we talked about, the size and the scope of your course, you're very clear on that and you know who it's for depending on the type of person you might teach a little.

But instead, I want you to emphasize helping somebody implement a few key habits, a few key habits, not teach them everything. And with that, you'll find that then there's no need to go down this rabbit hole of overwhelm where you're like, oh, I'm going to have to create 147,000 video lessons. That might actually be the wrong way to present your course. And you certainly don't need 147,000 lessons. That'd be too many for everyone. You're never going to get this course done. You might only need one swear, you might only need one, and it doesn't even have to be a video. Now, what do you think about that? Did that take away some of the overwhelm? When I say that, I think I just heard a giant exhale. Everybody's like, What, I don't have to make videos? What, I don't have to have a full library full of these perfectly edited videos?

Oh my God, just breathe. I told you we're going to make it simple. We're going to make it doable. I was just talking to a health coach earlier today, and when I told her it was this, when you see online courses that are out there, you see something that's been in development. You don't know. Some of my courses have been in development for nearly 10 years, so what you see is pretty polished, right? Sometimes it's pretty slick. I assure you they did not start that way. And if you try to start that way, I can almost guarantee that you'll fail. It's just like anything. It's like learning how to cook. You always learn the basics first. If you have a client who doesn't know how to cook, are you going to be breaking out the French cuisine and being like, let's start with this very complicated recipe.

No, of course not. You're going to be like, let's make eggs. And it's kind of like that with your online course too. You got to start with something that's doable, that's manageable in the beginning, and then you can always get ninja with it later. So keeping it simple is very important. As we move into step number four, and this is where a lot of the overwhelm comes in. This is also the part that everybody jumps on first. I read over here from Instagram, one of our comments about the technology being overwhelming. Listen, please, there is no benefit. There is no use to thinking about technology until after you have defined the size and the scope of your course after you have an idea of the content that you're going to be sharing and the format that you're going to be sharing it in. So jump in the gun.
If you're thinking about it already, I'm going to repeat this. Do not spend a single minute hashing out which online platform to use until you've gone through steps one, two, and three. I put technology as a fourth step for a reason, very much on purpose. It's so overwhelming. You've got to decide, oh, where am I going to host the course? And the truth is, you probably don't need any fancy or expensive course platforms out there. It's very likely you do not need that. We're going to be discussing this more during bootcamp. I'll be showing you how to bring your course to life with as little technology as possible. The kind of thing you know, can waste a whole day going down a rabbit hole, some little tech problem that you're having. We do not have time like that. I know I don't in my life.

I'm sure you don't either. Let's just get your course done and out there and we're going to do it in the smoothest way possible. We don't want all this tech stuff tripping you up. I find that coaches spend far too much money here. They get into the weeds of trying to learn these new systems and new tools, and again, you probably don't even need them. And there's so much overwhelm that can be avoided, promise. So we're going to keep it simple. That's what step four is going to be about. Pairing your course back to the most doable, most achievable, least frustrating format and presentation possible. Sound good? Thumbs up. Love it. And finally, let's move on to step five of your course creation process. Now, I bet you think step five, if you've been listening along this whole time, I bet now you're like, okay, Michelle, this is where we start building everything.

We're going to start writing and I need outlines, and then I'm going to be recording video. So then I need lighting and I need a camera. Oh my gosh, I need a teleprompter again, overwhelm. Overwhelm. We're going to be editing stuff. We're going to be uploading things. This is absolutely not step five. It's not because you don't even know if you have a course yet. You think you have a course, you have an idea for course. Okay, that's something. But you don't have a course yet. You don't have a course until, listen to me, Marissa, because I'm coming back to your comment in the beginning that you're worried that no one will show up for it. You don't have a course until you get paid to build your course until someone hands you money or a minimum number of people give you money. You don't have a course, you just have an idea.

And why would you spend hours and hours and hours building on a hope, a wish, and a prayer, right? Instead, I want to see you get paid to build your course. You are not going to waste all that time putting together something. And then what if no one shows? And it does happen when coaches go about it in the wrong order. I hate that it happens, but it happens all the time. Health coaches say, well, I already have an online course, Michelle, but it just sits there. By the way, is that any of you? Does anyone here today already have an online course and you're wondering why no one's buying it? And then when that happens, most often what I hear next is I need to learn how to advertise my course better anymore. Advertising. I need to run Facebook ads to my course that no one is buying no wrong path.

Back up the truck. You need a course that is proven that people want to buy. And the only way to ensure you have that is to sell it and have people give you their money, not just their word, but their money to prove that they're interested before you build a darn thing. So step five, I know this sounds weird, but it is to sell your course before you do anything else. Because if it doesn't sell, then there is no course. I think of it as failing fast. I really like that idea. I try to remember it a lot in my business. Nobody wants to fail, but if you're going to fail, you might as well fail fast than just get it over with. I would rather nix a course idea in the early stage when I've spent like three hours thinking about it than after spending months and months thinking about it, developing it, spending money, producing it, fail fast.

So that's why in step five, we sell the course. And it doesn't require webinars, it does not require sales pages. It definitely does not require Facebook ads or anything like that, not at this stage of the game that would be entirely putting the cart in front of the horse. And I'm going to share more about that again inside our Create Your Online Course Five Day bootcamp starting October 1st. I cannot wait to see you there. It's at healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp. And I see we have a question over here. Marissa's saying, what about mockups? People like to get blurbs or examples of what they're going to get. That's one way to sell a course. Let me think. Have I ever given an example of what they're going to get in any of my courses? I don't think I have. I've seen it done. I'm not saying that's not a valid thing to do, but it's certainly not something that you have to do..

What you do have to do is be able to communicate the transformation that someone's going to get by going through your course. And sometimes when you do get into the particulars with people, especially around health coaching, this applies to your one-on-one coaching, just the same as it applies to an online course. Like let's say for example, one of the things that you're going to want someone to do as part of your course is to eat more dark, leafy green vegetables. I'm going to tell you right now, that's not how you sell it. You sell it by saying, this course, this program, this whatever coaching relationship, by the end of it, you're going to have more energy by the end of it, end of it. The goal is for you to lose weight. The goal is for you to the thing that they want. And sometimes even though that's going to include eating more vegetables and drinking more water and all the things telling them about those particulars can actually have the opposite effect that we want our marketing to have.

It can have someone go, oh, I don't really want to do that. Or, oh, I've already tried that. And their brain is always thinking for a reason to say no. So instead, you talk about the thing that they want in advertising. As you know, many of, I used to work in big advertising. So there's this very famous saying, you don't sell the steak, you sell the sizzle. And in our world of health coaching, even if you are a vegan, I still want you to sell the sizzle because that is that end result that they want. So the more you can talk to them about the problem that they're having, how well you understand them, how well you understand what it means for their life right now, like that example that I just gave of having more energy, that means something entirely different to someone who's 23 years old in their first job out of college, and they're still partying all weekend with their friends.

They want more energy. That means something very different to a mom of four who homeschools and more energy means something totally different to the grandparent who is now retired and wants to spend more time on the golf course and with their grandkids. So the more you can understand a particular type of person and their needs and their wants, that's how you sell a course. Not by saying, well, here's the first thing, you're going to eat more kale, you're going to have more oat brand for breakfast. That might just turn them right off. But it's a great question. And like I said, it can be done right, it can be done well, but particularly in this field, it's not the way that I would go about it. Probably. In any case, hoping to see you all at bootcamp. We start October 1st. That is coming up so very quick. So if you're not already registered, you can join us for free. We have hundreds and hundreds of health coaches already signed up, so it's going to be a party. Just go head over to healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp. Thanks for being here today, everybody. I'll see you soon.