How Marketing Specialists are Failing to Train Teacherpreneurs…
Recently I came across this article that was published in an attempt to help online teacherpreneurs create better and more effective online courses. Written by a marketing specialist, it gave some pointers, but in my opinion if all of the tips suggested in this article are followed, the teacher will have more questions than answers.
So in light of my own experience designing and selling online courses on udemy, in this post I’m going to share why general marketing specialists, no matter how knowledgeable, may not know all of the steps that online teachers have to go through to a) create a course; b) market it online.
My hope is after you read this article about the “4 easy steps of marketing your online course online” and then my commentaries below, you will see that the article is lacking a lot more information that might seem at the first glance.
Before I go into important details from this marketing specialist’s not very solid advice in the areas of teaching (like, structuring and promoting online courses), I have to give him a bit of credit for trying. His article sounds very basic and simple, and he is giving some essential pointers to anybody who’s just interested.
That’s it. I nailed it. All this advice is good for general interest, but it doesn’t work in real life because for it to work in real life you need more details and more hands-on advice. Allow me to show you where this author fails to give advice to you, a budding teacherpreneur who is venturing into putting together a new online course.
5 ways in which this article is useless to you if you’re an online teacherpreneur:
It states the obvious, but gives no details. So the article gives 4 basic principles that anybody who’s working online understands already: build your website, create your newsletter, write your blog, and engage through social media.
The questions I have, as somebody who’s done all of the above for 6years, pretty much every single day, are
a) if I do build a website, what domain do I use? Which one is the most user-friendly and most appealing? What information should I include into my website? How do I compile materials on my website?
b) What kind of a newsletter are you talking about? How do I write it? What do I include in it? What style of writing (more formal or casual)? How often?;
c) What do I blog about? How can I produce interesting content? Where do I get ideas?;
d) How do I create and engage my followers on social media into meaningful conversations? How and what do I write to them?
Gives no resources (build your website, blog, etc.) This is something I’ve already mentioned — if I’m only a beginner where do I start? What are the pros and cons of me creating my own website on my own? Why not ask somebody else? Why is it important to be in control? How does one blog and what to include/exclude when you blog?
Few examples on how one particular tool can work/bring money. I used to work for somebody who loved using acronyms. Since then acronyms are not my favorite way of explaining things.
Unless I know that people are aware of what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is, I rarely include it into my article without adequate explanation.
Plus, if one’s writing is centered and/or focused only on how to bring more people to your website, but you care less about what people will learn when they get there, the long-term use of SEO turns into heavy informational abuse of the readers of this particular blog/website.
The examples of online platforms are questionable. So towards the end of this article the author decides to share a few “successful” online learning platforms, and he lists TED talks, Khan Academy and edX.
Really? When I was reading the article, I thought the author was actually joking. While the latter two can actually be called online learning platforms because they offer interactive online learning materials for youth and adults, the first one is nothing but an online learning platform.
I guess we can call it that, but it was not its primary purpose. TED is a place to share your ideas with the world, and while its materials can be used for online teaching, they were not necessarily designed for that in the first place.
Plus, anybody who is beginning to put together his/her online course will look at the quality of Khan Academy or edX websites and teaching materials, and their first reaction will be: forget about creating an online course. Mine is never going to be of such a quality.
And you’re right — it won’t, because solopreneurs don’t usually have $1 mln to start their platforms, their resources are often quite limited. Does that mean they wouldn’t succeed? No! But there’s no parallel between them and these gigantic websites that employ hundreds of people working in support and design.
The mismatch between the target audience and the examples remains glaring. It’s very hard to tell who the target audience of the blog article is. In a way, the author is trying to help anyone launching an online course, which in my opinion would be more commonly suitable for solo-teachers, but the examples he gives are not the courses produced by solopreneurs.
In fact, they are not courses at all, they’re just online platforms, and none of them can be used for hosting your course unless you’re a University or you gave a talk on the TED stage in California. That leads me to believe that following this advice is not going to yield any significant results for you if you’d like to try out how to develop and market an online course.
Conclusions (before you sign yourself up for something you don’t wish to):
Based on what I wrote above here’re three things that I believe you, an online teacherpreneur (specifically if you’re teaching a language) should take into consideration if you would like to explore online course design more seriously:
It all starts out with you exploring a) what you are; b) what you do best. It doesn’t come in 2 minutes, it may take a couple of days, weeks, and even months. You might need to engage your former clients and colleagues to help you in this self-discovery.
Go on a website that offers courses by people like you.
See which ones are popular and discover why. There are two platforms that can help you host and market your courses online, and those are udemy.com and WizIQ.com.
Since I’m more familiar with udemy, I’d suggest that you look through the section where you’d like your course to be (is it English Grammar, Writing, Speaking, Pronunciation, Vocabulary, etc.?) and see what topic is lacking and how/what you could add to the mix.
Learn from them (coaching, consultation, etc.)
… because most likely these people know something a) in your area of expertise; b) in sales/marketing; c) can do it on a small scale (won’t scare you with huge figures and multiple hours commitment).
People that run online courses through udemy, for instance, offer seminars, webinars, group and private coaching sessions that will be highly customized and will help you achieve your goals in record time.
You can take an online course and learn, but you can also check out the teacher’s profile and contact them for a private session! If you feel stuck, there’s a world of people out there ready and willing to help you succeed.
If you have an idea of an online course but are not sure if it’s going to work, be encouraged through my personal story of taming this huge monster and actually creating a successful course.
If you’re just starting out as an online teacherpreneur or would like to learn that teaching online is a bit more than sitting in front of your monitor wearing PJ’s all day, I invite you to join my newsletter and get a healthy doze of inspiration and insight weekly — FREE!