Should you create an online course? What I learned building my own

Alissa Condra
Jun 13, 2018 · 4 min read

I’ve been officially self-employed for 6 months now, and the journey has been every bit as much of a roller coaster as many long-time pros warn about. Self-doubt about how to spend your time and energy feel as inevitable for freelancers as commuting is for employees.

I have made progress! I’ve found, won, and completed great projects. I’ve met inspiring freelancers and founders making their own path. I’ve enclosed myself in the beautiful Bondi bubble for days-on-end.

But the most satisfying wins have been completing my own creative projects.

The most recent one is my first online course. Getting Started with Customer Research (when you don’t know where to start) is for startup founders, designers, and product teams who need qualified insights without formal and expensive research.

Now that I’ve published my course, I can review what I’ve learned throughout the process.

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How do you know where your idea falls? Customer research.

Taking the time to reflect on my own process was incredibly beneficial

So I took the time to assess — what do I actually do on a research project? What steps do I take on projects that go well? How do I prevent confusion and delays based on what I’ve learned from projects that didn’t go well?

This deliberate reflection is a type of mindfulness practice that is still new to me. This thinking can help propel my productivity forward if I manage to stick with it, through any type of work.

Finishing is the hardest part

My advice is the same thing I tell myself after every project — set realistic expectations by taking the time you think it will take to complete and double it.

In saying that, I practice what I preach in UX —start with a minimum viable product (MVP). Getting the course launched in order to start gathering feedback is more important than perfection. Launch, learn, and iterate!

Creating outside accountability was key

But in order to complete my course, a creative effort with no real deadline, setting up some accountability with others was helpful. Over the past 3 months, I told everyone I met that I was creating an online course. Really. I’d be at a networking event or a co-working space and when someone asked what I did I’d say, “I’m a UX designer, doing some independent consulting and creating an online course.”

In the world of designers, we often define ourselves by what we are currently working on. I told people I was an online course instructor, in order to will myself into becoming one.

I’m ready for more!

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The cover for my course

So should you do it too?

If you have a process that you want to refine for your own purposes, care about teaching and helping others, and are looking for a rewarding challenge, teaching on online course is a great side project.

Please check out and share my class on Skillshare, and if you sign up using my link you get 2 months free to watch it (and unlimited premium classes)

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