Three Mistakes You’ll Make When Creating an Online Course

There are a lot of new course creators ready to jump into the industry of teaching what they know. But many of them skip over important details when creating an online course for their topic.

As part of our research at Course Design School we see many courses. We’ve examined what makes a good course tick and what can make an otherwise great course fail. We’ve gathered up the three most common mistakes we see in the courses that fail and have outlined them here so you can avoid these mistakes when you’re creating your next course.

Mistake #1 – Not Defining a Specific Target Audience

New course teachers can be so eager about their subject that they’re convinced everyone can benefit from it.

While that’s a very altruistic goal – in reality it just doesn’t work. By carefully choosing a specific audience for your course (women over 50 who’s kids have left home, new dads under 30, hiking enthusiasts that own dogs) you’re not eliminating potential buyers – you’re finding buyers who are more likely to connect with your content.

When it goes horribly wrong a course turns out dull. The content is generic and the marketing so dull it’s easily lost amid a sea of other resources. Since it tries to reach everyone, it has no focus and reaches no one.

When it goes amazingly right a course sees great success with connecting to a specific group of people. If you’re a 25 year old woman who loves to sew, a course about altering your own clothing will really resonate with your interests. When a course properly targets a woman like her, it easily catches her eye and she becomes excited about the prospect of learning the material within it.

How to Avoid This Mistake

Before you start writing and creating the content for your course, sit down and truly identify the target audience. Create an audience avatar that describes one ideal person so you can easily create content as if you’re speaking just to that one person.

This helps your entire course come together easier (since you’re not trying to figure out how to make this topic attractive to ALL the people) and makes it so much easier to market your course once it’s done. You can find where your target audience hangs out and the best way to reach them specifically.

Mistake #2 – Not Offering More Than One Way to Learn

Have you ever signed up for a course, intent on consuming the course material a certain way and then finding out it isn’t offered in that format? For instance, I have two young kids so I enjoy written course material as I can fit it in and around my daily activities with them. A video course doesn’t really suit my needs. Having the option to consume the course materials in my own way will automatically increase my likelihood of buying it.

When you create your course materials, don’t make the mistake of only offering one way to learn your material. If you do video, get them transcribed. If it’s primarily written, create audio versions of it. Offering a choice will increase the value of your course and the likelihood someone will sign up.

When it goes horribly wrong you’ll have students who are upset about the material and either don’t complete your course or ask for a refund.

When it goes amazingly right, you’ll have students who are amazed by their options. Not only will your course fit into their specific lifestyle but it has a greater chance of having a positive impact on their lives and leaving them with a great experience.

How to Avoid This Mistake

Put in the extra effort to transform your course material into several different formats. It might seem like extra work stopping you from publishing your course, but in the long run your students will be better served.

If you have video files, get them transcribed or separate the audio. If you have written content, read it aloud or create visual slides to accompany it while you read it. The more ways and medias you can offer, the more you increase the likelihood someone will buy your course.

Mistake #3 – Not Having a Cohesive Course Brand

The last and biggest mistake we see courses make is to not have cohesive branding throughout their materials. This can be having different fonts or colours, using varying imagery and switching up styles and looks throughout their marketing.

Having a cohesive brand for a company is important, but it’s absolutely crucial when you’re trying to market something smaller like a course.

When a person sees your course, the majority of the time they will not buy initially. When you have a well thought-out brand for your course, the next time they see it they will immediately recognize it. You won’t have to go through the awareness process again, since they’ll already be familiar with your offering.

When it goes horribly wrong, a course’s points of contact will be out of joint and jumbled. Social media messages and course promo pages will conflict – it’ll be a hot mess of different styles and looks.

When it goes amazingly right every contact a potential student has with a course will be branded and on point. From the course logo, to the cohesive fonts and colours, to the images used and the messages stated – they’ll all make sense.

How to Avoid This Mistake

After you’ve created the rough version of your course content (hopefully you also have a target audience at this point too) sit down and create a brand for your course. Choose specific fonts, colours and images to use and write down the messages you’ll be repeating consistently throughout your marketing and promotions.

When you make sure every time someone comes into contact with some of your material, it’s branded and looks like it belongs, you’ll increase the overall impression of your course as being higher quality and you’ll boost its trust factor exponentially.

Avoid Making These Mistakes

Now you’ve gotten a good lesson in what not to do when creating an online course, you can be much more confident in the success of your course. By defining a specific target audience, offering multiple ways to learn your material and having a cohesive brand you’ll see higher rates of enrolment and increased sales.

We know you have great things to teach and it’s important you share that knowledge with the world – now go get started!