They say practice makes perfect, but when you’re building an online course, you want to get it as close to perfect as you can the first time. Every eLearning programme has its flaws, but some mistakes seem to be made time and time again. Learn from where other course creators went wrong and avoid making these common mistakes that can negatively impact the success of your online course.
1. Making assumptions about what your audience wants to learn
One of the four agreements is don’t make assumptions, and the same applies to creating an online programme. Don’t assume that you know exactly what your audience wants to learn, even though you might have a good idea. Craft the content of your course around the subjects and topics that people actually want to discover. Otherwise, you’ll spend hours of your precious time creating a course that no one has any interest in.
There are many ways that you can find out what topics your target audience is most interested in learning. Hit online forums like Quora and Reddit and search for your course topic. See if you notice any common trends around the questions that people ask, and determine how you can address these in your course. A quick tip: you can head back to these forums later once you’ve launched to market your course to these people.
If you have been building an audience on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter etc. (we will talk more about this later), then run some polls to understand what they want to learn. You can get super specific with questions to create course material that is hyper-targeted. Ask them what information they want you to share more of or what they want to learn the most out of four potential options.
2. Not building an audience before launching
Continuing from the above, if you want to find out what your audience is interested in, then you need an audience to begin with. Many course creators don’t recognize the importance of building an audience before initiating their course and wonder why there are crickets after they launch. Hosting your course on platforms like MycoLearn means that people will have access to your course regardless of whether you have an audience or not. But if you want your eLearning programme to be super successful, you need to start building an audience before you launch.
“Build it and they will come” doesn’t apply here, and you’ll need to be proactive and start providing value early. But you’ll also want to make sure you’re focusing your efforts in the right place. The first thing you need to do is define your target audience to determine where they will be hanging out online. Then you can start crafting content and engaging with your target audience on the right platform. The right place depends on your niche. If you’re building a photography course, then Instagram or Pinterest might be your social media platform of choice. If you’re building a yoga course, you might choose to focus on YouTube or Tiktok.
Some ways that you can build an audience include:
- Starting a blog
- Working with influencers
- Providing value in online forums
- Doing interviews on podcasts/starting your own
- Creating diverse and valuable content on social media
- Writing guest posts
3. Not learning the basics of digital marketing
Once you start building an audience, you will have a bank of people you can start marketing your online course to. But to do so, you will need to know at least a little about digital marketing. Many course creators build courses, never market them, and the courses end up gathering dust. You don’t need a university marketing degree, but you have to prepare for the fact that you’ll need to market your course if you want it to sell. Invest some time learning about email marketing, social media marketing tactics and how to drive traffic to your course without being spammy or salesy. There are many online resources available, including content on our blog, that will walk you through some basic digital marketing strategies.
4. Making the modules too long
We know you have tons of valuable information you want to include in your online course, but lengthy modules are not the answer. The thousands of online course creators that have come before you have confirmed this with very low completion rates. Between short attention spans and people wanting instant gratification, long modules can deter your students from completing your course. High drop-out rates mean no valuable testimonials. And students might even leave negative reviews about it.
The more checkpoints you have in your course, the more your students will feel motivated to keep moving through your course. One great tactic to make your course easy to digest is to use content chunking. Instead of having a module that takes over an hour to complete, break it down into six, ten-minute modules. The reality is that once your video content or presentation passes the fifteen-minute mark, students start to disengage.
5. Not considering student questions
You might think your course material is straightforward to digest, but students will inevitably have questions. Many course creators don’t consider this when they launch their course and forget to provide students with a way to have their questions answered. This may either prevent students from completing the programme or prevent them from purchasing altogether. Students may have questions before they are willing to invest in your course, so make sure you make yourself accessible in some way to address any reservations they may have.
That doesn’t mean giving everyone your personal phone number. It could be as simple as including an FAQ page on your website, starting a discussion board for questions or providing your business email with set office hours. Giving students and potential students some means of getting their questions answered will make them feel valued and increase motivation to complete your course.
Avoiding common course creation mistakes
People have been creating online courses imperfectly for almost 40 years. Thanks to their trial and error, you can now avoid the most common mistakes and set your programme up for success from the get-go. There will always be elements that you’ll want to tweak, but if you steer clear of the five errors above, you’ll be on the right track!