5 Scary Myths About Creating Your Online Course by @CathyGoodwin

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by Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. | Featured Contributor

Suddenly everyone’s saying it: creating a course is one of the most effective ways to make money online.

And if you suspect it’s true, you’d be right. I’ve been creating courses ever since I came online years ago. Before that I was a college professor, so you could say I’ve been creating courses for adults my entire adult life.

If you’re a service professional, you might view a course as a way to extend the benefits you provide in person, but reach a much wider audience with even greater impact. Your influence and your income opportunities won’t be limited by the number of hours in the day.

But if you’re like most service professionals, you know you want to create a course but it’s still on your “To Do” list, not even started.

What’s holding you back? Chances are you’ve bought into at least one of these 5 scary myths. And that’s not surprising: even experienced marketers present them as wisdom.

Let’s debunk them right now.

Myth #1: You need to be a trained educator.

Very few entrepreneurs have a background in education, and they usually need help with designing courses. But you probably are educating your clients already as you work with them. What you need is a systematic  way to transfer your session-by-session interactions into a program that’s easy to follow.

The truth is, professional teachers often operate at a disadvantage in this environment. People who buy online courses differ a great deal from students in other venues.

Myth #2: A service business and an info product business are completely different.

Nonsense! The truth is, if you’ve been working with clients, you’re teaching.

And your online course will add value to your service because you can …

…make your service sessions more productive and more enjoyable (e.g., a dance instructor sells a DVD course so his clients practice their moves between classes).

… provide detailed answers with illustrations (and you’re not repeating the same information over and over again) (as when a career coach offers a resume-writing course so clients come to calls with first drafts of their resumes, not blank pages).

… motivate sign-ups for your high-end services. (a marketing coach offers high-end clients access to a “Money Mindset” course that sells for top dollar on her website)

Myth #3: Most people fail because they don’t have enough good content.

Just the opposite! Most courses overwhelm their students with too much content. When I was a professor, I had to restrain myself every term: I wanted to be sure to cover everything!

Today we see courses that are way too big for the average audience member. Overwhelmed students will drop out, often asking for refunds. Keep your course to 3 to 12 modules. If you need more time, set up a club or membership site.

Courses fail because of quality, not quantity. Your course needs to be…

…well organized, so students don’t feel they’re stuck in the middle of a maze;
…engaging, so students stay to the end;
…covering material students genuinely want to learn about, or they won’t even start.

Myth #4: You need videos that present you as a “talking head.”

You do not have to appear on camera. You can certainly use PowerPoint videos and you may not need videos at all. The key is to determine the preferred learning styles of your students:

Are you reaching busy people who will dip into your course in 15-minute segments?

Will they be listening on their phones so they might prefer audio only?

Will they prefer to download your content in ebook form?

Look at popular online learning venues, such as Coursera or Udemy. Coursera segments rarely go beyond 15 minutes. Udemy’s maximum video is 20 minutes. Today’s learners can’t focus for longer periods of time and they’re packing your course into a tight schedule.

Myth #5: You need to create your course before you start marketing.

When you believe this myth, you can be stranded with an exquisite course that doesn’t bring you a dime!

Before you complete your content, ask yourself:

… What makes your course extra special compared to competitive offers?
… What evidence do you have that people will spend money on this topic?
… What would a draft of the sales letter look like?

Once you’ve drafted your sales letter, you’ll design your course to motivate sign-ups … and you’ll feel more confident about your ability to market the course.

Your Turn

What’s holding back your own course development? What “guidance” have you received that turned out to be a myth?


cathy goodwinCathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is a copywriter who has developed and/or marketed nearly 100 online courses. She has created this free 7-step Cheat Sheet To Create And Profit From Online Courses. Click here to claim yours immediately.

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8 Replies to “5 Scary Myths About Creating Your Online Course by @CathyGoodwin”

  1. Cobby Page

    Helping and amazing post. Thanks for sharing

    1. Cathy Goodwin

      Thanks, Cobby! What was especially helpful – anything missing?

  2. Cathy Goodwin[ Post Author ]

    Hi Neeena,

    Thanks for the comment! Your concerns are understandable.You do have to be confident – justifiably! and it’s very easy to be perfectionist. We want our students to have the best possible experience.

    There’s always the scary thought, “Nobody will want this!” There are ways to build only what you’re willing to risk, and also it’s a good idea to assess demand, as you would for any product or service.


  3. Neena

    Hi Cathy,
    I must admit – I suffer from perfection paralysis. I want to make my courses so perfect that I slow myself down. And then there is the fear of “if you build it, they will not come”. Such is the mind of an entrepreneur. So, your article is spot on – be confident in what you have to offer. You know your stuff better than you think you do!

  4. Dee

    Hi, I have read your blog. Great info. Thanks for the encouragement. I have a question could is there a way to contact your via email?

    1. Cathy Goodwin[ Post Author ]

      There’s a link at the bottom of the article. For the blog owner, click on the “contact” tab at the top of the page.

  5. Adrienne Thompson

    This was very helpful! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Cathy Goodwin[ Post Author ]

      Adrienne, Thanks for sharing! Please add any of your own tips and observations.

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