As a driven entrepreneur, you decided to turn to online courses to scale your business. You know you have everything you need to succeed: the motivation, the resources, and the experience in the subject matter. Despite everything however, you still find yourself struggling to maximize your online business’ growth. No matter how much you try, you can’t help but feel “stuck.”
Are you familiar with this??
Are you wondering what the cause for all this frustration and confusion is?
It might be your mindset!
Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, your experiences may have caused you to develop certain beliefs along the way. While these acquired mindsets can be valuable, they can also cause you to act on biases that will limit you from moving to the next level.
In order to build a profitable online course business, you’ll first need to undergo these 5 mindset shifts. Sometimes just making some simple adjustments in your way of thinking can boost your chances of success.
Shift #1: Go from “More” to “Less”
Information is the new gold, but give too much of it, and it’ll lose its value.
Here's my best piece of advice for online course creators: Stop overloading your students with unnecessary information! The entire point of your course is to produce an OUTCOME--a tangible result that solves a SPECIFIC “problem” for your students.
Don’t get caught up in trying to teach your students everything. You’re the expert, not them. What makes your course valuable and worth the money is whether or not it produces results, not how much you can cram into a course.
As a result, you should focus your energy on making sure you deliver on the promised outcome. To do this, you need to make sure your students are applying your course lessons. If your course fails to deliver an outcome, it means fewer people will leave a review, share their accomplishments with the world, and they probably won’t buy another course from you--lowering your chance for growth.
Shift from “More” to “Less” by making these 2 changes:
1. Stay goal-oriented. You have the content, you just need to make sure your students complete it and more importantly, use it! Prioritize teaching your students how to use the material. Focus on the application of your information. If someone is taking a cooking course, just sharing recipes won’t help them learn how to be a better chef. You need to show them how to follow the recipe successfully and make sure they learn each step to get there.
2. Implement micro-learning. It doesn’t matter how much effort you put into making your course fun, if it’s too long, it’s boring. This can go for everything: movies, books, blog posts (don’t worry, I always like to keep it short and sweet). Breaking your course down into smaller “chunks” makes it more manageable for your students, allowing them to digest everything you’re saying easily. Plus, most users will consume your content “on-the-go,” meaning they don’t have time to sit in front of a computer at home to listen to you talk for 30 minutes. I recommend you try to keep your lessons within 10-minutes to avoid losing users because of length.
Shift #2: From Acquiring More Clients to Engaging Existing Clients
It can be easy to fall into the hustler mentality--to constantly push trying to make another “sell.” I always remind my clients: your best strategy to increase profits isn’t by focusing on customer acquisition, it’s by focusing on customer engagement. Your existing clients are your BIGGEST asset. These students already see value in YOU and have proved that they’re willing to spend money.
Don’t continue spending your entire budget on advertising to get more traffic! Instead, put it towards improving your client experience, creating a positive and enjoyable journey for students, and upselling your other courses to already happy and satisfied students.
Making the shift from acquisition to engagement may seem abstract first, but think about it this way. When you’re advertising your online course to a new audience, spending money to direct traffic to your site. You only have one shot at making a meaningful impression...and not every impression is going to lead to a sale. Not only does getting new customers cost more than retaining existing ones, but increasing retention rates have been shown to increase long-term profits. Research performed by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company found that a 5% increase in customer retention resulted in a 25% to a whopping 95% increase in profits.
Obviously, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t attempt to market your course at all to new clients. Making your online course appealing to new customers is a great way to keep yourself in business. However, if you want to scale your business, you’ll need to find the perfect balance in your budget between how much to spend on acquiring new customers and how much to spend on engaging your existing customers.
Shift #3: More Strategy, Less Technology
Fancy isn’t always better. A lot of online course creators think they have to shell out money for the newest and “best” technology. Don’t get me wrong, decisions from the platform you choose, the plugins you use, and the recording equipment you have are important. After all, you don’t want your students to feel like they aren’t getting their money’s worth with your course or site. But while “bells and whistles” are a nice touch, creating and selling a profitable course goes beyond technology and aesthetics.
My advice: Spend enough on technology to where you’ll have a reliable and seamless learning experience. Remember, it’s okay to start with the basics and upgrade as your online course business grows. At the end of the day, what matters most is the strategy. Strategizing how your platform, content, and teaching style will deliver results to your students is key. YOU hold the power of whether or not your course is great or not, not a big tech budget.
Shift #4: From Creating Content to Creating an Experience
You’re probably thinking: “Didn’t you just say content is what makes an online course good? Now you’re saying I should SHIFT AWAY from that?”
Well, yes and no. If you don’t have good content, then you don’t have a good course. Plain and simple. However, you also have to understand that the market is already saturated with plenty of “good” online courses. So, what’s going to make people purchase your course over your competitors? What makes your course special?
Let’s start with the first thing your course has that your competitors don’t. YOU.
You are a huge part of what makes your course different from the rest. Your clients aren’t just buying a course, they’re buying you and your expertise. Your course’s main goal isn’t to just dumping content on your students, it’s to produce an outcome. You produce outcomes by giving your students’ an experience. Two ways to do this is by 1) creating a community and 2) creating structure.
A strong community will only add value to your course. Allow your students the opportunity to interact with one another on your site. When they first enroll, encourage students to introduce themselves. A community will it keep people enrolled, and logging in and before you know it, it’ll start to take a life of its own. Communities keep students engaged, hold them accountable to stick with lessons, and fosters meaningful personal/professional relationships. And don’t forget, you’re also a big part of your site’s community, so be sure to take some time to connect with your students.
Structure is something that’s often overlooked. It determines how your students are going to use the knowledge you’re giving them to their advantage. The right sequencing and using design best practices is key to aiding the learning process.
Imagine this: You’re enrolled in a finance course. For your first lesson, your instructor tells you that you’re going to learn how to create a budget. You know the importance of creating a well-thought-out budget, so you’re excited to learn from an expert. But after going through the lesson, you realize your instructor never teachings you how to calculate your current and future expenses, which are crucial to conjuring a realistic and functioning budget.
In the case of your course, without structure, all your students will have is information that seems important without them knowing why. Structure is what will get your students from “here” to “there.” Read more in this article.
Think out the sequence in which you’ll cover your course material--what steps will your students need to take? Then, focus on how you’ll guide them through these steps. What will they need to learn? How does step 1 lead to step 2? Along the way, be sure to use the best platforms, activities, and resources you have for each lesson to educate and engage your students.
Shift #5: From Course to Credential
The best way to increase the value of your course is by increasing its value for your students. Again, your main goal is to create an OUTCOME for your students. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t produce value along the journey.
If you still haven’t started, now is the perfect timing to assign your students “badges” upon completion of a lesson or a cluster of lessons. You can also assign them after activities or milestones. Aside from giving students motivation and a feeling of accomplishment, badges are a tangible measure of what your students are learning.
Let’s say you issued a badge after students learned how to create a marketing funnel successfully. Your badge now represents the knowledge students have acquired about creating funnels. It’s the same way with college degrees. Just like a badge, a college student’s degree represents years of schooling in a specific, concentrated field.
Just like a completion certificate, you should also give your students one final badge when they complete your online course. This "magic technology" is a reflection of their hours, weeks, months worth of effort. It should be a sense of pride for your students, so don’t take its existence lightly. To empower your students, create a badge page that explains the significance of the badge. On it, give your name and background, a description of your course, and an explanation of what skills the holder of the badge has mastered. Explain it as you would to a hiring manager who is unfamiliar with your online course. Not only will this give students the right to show off, but it’ll also attract new students to your course for the same reason.
Change isn’t always easy. Undergoing these 5 mindset shifts will be challenging, but I promise you, the results will be worth it. No matter how experienced of an entrepreneur you are, it’s important to take the time to reflect on and challenge your mindsets. Remember, life is all about growth. Your online business is no exception.