Thinking of moving into the Online Learning Business? Here’s my take based on my experience creating my first ‘real’ online course with Udemy.
It all started back at the end of 2015. I’d been interested in Udemy for a while, and had bought a few courses to build some skills. Then two things happened around the same time. The first was a conversation with a friend about one of the courses I’d signed up for, and how he thought that was not the way he’d approach it. And the second was another friend of mine putting their course on Udemy.
“It got me thinking that maybe I could do this too, and put together my own Udemy Online Course.”
So that started a 5 month ago. I think it was 5 months, it’s all a little fuzzy now! And back then in December I really had NO IDEA how much work it would take to create a half-decent online course that would actually sell on Udemy.
I’ll just mention that I also signed up with Teachable.com, they do things a little differently but I’ve found that it’s very easy to use both at the same time for a platform for your online teaching courses. The main difference is that Udemy.com is free, but if they promote your course for you they will keep 50%. With Teachable, you pay a monthly fee and can charge what you like, they do not market your course for you.
Tip 1: Plan, Plan, Plan
Fairly obvious, I know, but you really can’t plan enough. I found that I had to lay out the following before I started to get a handle on things:
- Main Aim of the Course
- Who is it for?
- Rough draft of sections
- Break up of lectures per section
- Begin to write up introduction
Even then, I realised later that it is very, very important to give yourself limits. Exactly where does your course end? I found that I had to split mine into two separate stages: Phase 1 and Phase 2, the first being a complete course in itself but having a definite cut-off point where the next phase can carry on from.
Tip 2: Think Free
And by that I mean, think about creating a free mini-course first off. This did not occur to me until I was half way through, but I see now that I could have got my free course off the ground much earlier, drawing on some of the content from the full course, and it could have been working for me building a following and acting as means of feedback.
- Create a cut-down mini-course as you go
- Get it out there as early as possible
- Use the feedback to shape your main course
- Be thinking about other free mini-courses that could back up your main course
Tip 3: Time Management
There is a lot of hard work ahead of you, but don’t be put off. I just want you to be aware of it now, so you can plan your time. I am sure it gets easier as you go forward but there are a lot of things to consider.
- It can take a good couple of hours to produce a 10 minute lecture. At least. I kid you not!
- It’s best to produce them one at a time and have someone check them. You can submit a test video to Udemy and they will give you feedback on quality.
- In the final stages you will always find that there is more to do, like creating the promo page and promo vid.
- Give yourself a deadline, but be realistic. You will want people to test things out and will have to wait on their feedback.
Tip 4: Technical Stuff
There are so many technical aspects to take into consideration when putting together your first online course, and many of us don’t have experience with video and sound, or even the right kind of equipment to work with. You may have to invest in some kit.
- Sound quality is of huge importance. I use a $100 studio microphone with a foam cover to cut out noise.
- This goes through a cheap $50 “Fast-Track” Mixer.
- Most of my videos use screen-recording, I use AVS4YOU video software.
- I use a mixture of Powerpoint (or Openoffice is fine) presentations and screen walkthroughs for most of my lectures.
- Older computers may struggle with recording screen walkthroughs.
Tip 5: Make it Easy for Yourself
If you don’t have any experience putting a course together it is going to take you a while. There’s no way round that but you can learn from others and keep things as simple as you can.
One thing to mention with Udemy is the $50 price limit on new courses, so I would advice going for a series of shorter courses and charge $25, rather than one long one.
You probably are not used to hearing the sound of your voice, and it’s very important that you practice recording and speaking clearly, and that there is a flow to your teaching that keeps the listener interested. If you find yourself saying “ummm” a lot, you can just edit that out later. Ummm.
- The intro lecture should have at least some ‘talking head’ video, that means you talking to the camera. Some people find this very easy and can do it before their first cup of coffee. For me, ummm, errrr, ummm, it was a little more challenging.
- Practice. Practice.
- All video needs to be HD, I used my Sony Smartphone to record my intro vid, mounted on a cheap adapter I bought off ebay.
- I found a white wall in my basement as a background and used lots of lighting to get a good ‘talking head’ video.
- I would recommend NOT using talking head video unless you really need to.
I haven’t read the book but Seth Godin talks about ‘the Dip’, I think I know what he means, where you begin to reach the end of your project and everything takes so much more energy and takes twice as long to do.
I needed to decide what was good enough, I cut out some lectures, I shortened others, I added in some articles instead of video, just so I could get it finished. In the end I had a good course put together based on WordPress for beginners.
When all is said and done, however, I’m glad I made the effort to create my first Udemy online course. It has been a long journey, but a journey with a purpose that is leading somewhere new.
Now you go and do the same. I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment below.