Issue #430

Sent to members on May 10, 2023

Do Online Courses Need To Be Big And Fancy?

Online courses are obviously big business. A ton of people create and sell online courses. Yet more plan to and are busy creating their own with dreams of selling them for big money.

But, I think it pays (literally) to keep things in perspective.

I am currently in the middle of a complete re-do of my own Membership Site Blueprint course. I’ll be launching it soon. All past buyers of it will have automatic access. But, that’s not the point…

As I am working on it, I find myself thinking about the real value of online courses as they are today.

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I remember when online courses were rather new. They were… special. They had a higher perceived value. Gurus would record these big online courses and do big huge product launches on them and sell them for $2,000+. They were good, but they were basically a collection of videos. Often those videos were screen recordings of slide decks.

While there are still cases of large-scale product launches like that, it definitely isn’t what it used to be. And it takes a hell of a lot more to get the attention and sell than it used to.

Heck, just a couple weeks ago, there was a massive product launch of some course via an all-day live stream. It was some “gurus” in the internet marketing space and… Matthew McConaughey. Some kind of “Roadtrip” product and they freakin’ partnered with a Hollywood actor to get the attention!

Other large scale launches come with equal levels of production value and glamor. While they might not have their own big-name actor to work with, you see Hollywood level production values in the videos, webinars and live streams.

All this to say… we have major content inflation in the online course space. The big launches take more and more to get the attention… and the rest are in the mix with the likes of Udemy, Skillshare, Youtube and all the other places where you can find tons and tons of online courses for very cheap amounts.

In a lot of cases, the online course has become a commodity. It doesn’t have the “wow” factor that it used to. It is like the new “ebook”.

With this in mind, where does the value come from?

The days of throwing everything but the kitchen sink into a course and trying to “wow” people with how huge it is and how much stuff they’re getting… is over.

The attention spans aren’t there anymore.

So, it would be a total waste of your time to spend a bunch of time and money to create some super-fancy course that has a ton of content in it.

In fact… it is the exact opposite.

Today, the goal is to get the person to the outcome they want as fast as you possible can. No fluff. Just the shortest possible path to the outcome they want so they can get the outcome as quick as possible.

The value of an online course is the SPEED. It is the CLARITY. It is the SHORTCUTS.

The value of the course is not the length. The videos. The amount of content. Not only are people not really impressed by that anymore, but many will view it as a distraction. It is a longer runway to what they want. It means more work. They don’t want more work. They want LESS work!

So, when it comes to making your own online courses… I think it makes sense to make them SHORT!

Outline them in advance. Give yourself, perhaps, a maximum of 1-2 days to create it. Then, launch the thing!

Not only that, it doesn’t have to be video based. An online course can be written. Again, if it gets them to the desired outcome in the shortest possible path and avoids all the speed bumps, that’s the most important thing.

It is certainly possible that a good online course isn’t too different than a well-developed blog post. It is about the order, the progression, the simplicity. If they can easily follow along and get the promised outcome, that’s all that’s important. Then, you just price it accordingly to the value of the outcome.

Think about this…

If you don’t overblow what is required to make a good course, then you can potentially create more of them and use them in a number of ways.

Lead magnets. Content upgrades from blog posts. More deliverables for a recurring membership site. Bonuses for clients or even to make better clients. The possibilities are rather endless, actually.

But, the whole thing gets easier and more useful… if you don’t overblow what it takes to create an online course.

Perhaps you’ll pack more punch into a “flagship” online course that you plan to turn into one of your major core offers. But… if you are planning to create an ever-growing library of online courses for clients and members, why make them bigger than they need to be?

People want outcomes. They want them fast. Build your course around getting them that outcome as quickly and easily as you can possibly pull off.

That’s WAY more valuable than packing a bunch of fluff into it.

Tech Talk

I’ve written a couple of times about Fathom Analytics – my favorite alternative to Google Analytics and what I use personally for my site stats. I also use it for any of my Concierge clients who want to and I handle the bill. Anyway, they just announced an importer for Google Analytics! Meaning, if you’re switching to Fathom from Google, you no longer need to say goodbye to your historical data inside of Google Analytics. It works well, too! Perhaps a good option for all the folks getting warned by Google that you need to upgrade to GA4 to keep tracking. Google is so overly complex… not to mention all the privacy problems. Fathom Analytics is pretty awesome.

Elementor has released a new update which has a a bunch of AI integrations. Basically, think the content creation abilities of ChatGPT, but integrated right into the Elementor interface. In a word… whatever. Look, I know that AI is a big deal and will have a major impact. But, we all gotta be honest that it is also getting a little funny to watch every damn piece of software we use falling all over themselves to find some kind of AI angle to work into their marketing. Not to mention the side effects of a bunch of lazy-ass site owners “writing” content using AI. Sigh.

Fluent Forms is getting close to releasing version 5.0. They just released the first beta release of Fluent Forms 5 to test out. I tested it out and the main thing that stands out is the new interface. And it is indeed much better than the current version. Looking good!

MemberMouse has announced an interesting add-on: Courses for MemberMouse. In short, this is an LMS plugin that works directly side by side with MemberMouse. Looks like it is available with all subscription plans to MemberMouse. So, the good news for MemberMouse users is there’s no extra purchase needed for online courses. Just a reminder that I left MemberMouse for a reason.

Lastly, a reminder of how important it is never to blindly rely on your web host to do your site backups. Over the weekend, one of my Concierge clients had her busy site hacked into, files apparently deleted, and redirecting to an entirely different site. She was on a crumby host she didn’t much like, but in all likelihood it was the hosting environment that opened up the line of attack. Well, they couldn’t even restore the site! They just said the backups were incomplete and they couldn’t do it. What kind of useless POS hosting is that?

Well, one of the services I provide for Concierge clients is remote backups that way we’re never 100% reliant on a host. So, I was able to restore the site this morning using my own backups. And this time, we’re restoring it to Cloudways. 🙂 A few more last minute items to take care of and her site will be back up and running this morning with just a few images from the last few days for her to fix manually. Never, EVER rely on your webhost to do the backups. They should be, but you always need to be running your own backups and storing them off-site on remote storage. Because, you could find yourself caught in a situation like my client… where the host just wasn’t doing their job.

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