38 Tips to Make an Engaging Course on the Cheap (FS109)

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Episode 109: 38 Tips to Make an Engaging Course on the Cheap (FS109)

At the time of writing, Fizzle has over 400 lessons in 31 courses. That’s over 10 courses a year for the past 2.5 years.

I’ve always loved teaching ideas that excite me. And, after the past few years here, we’ve made a business out of creating courses that change people’s lives.

“I have learned most of what I know about starting an online business from Fizzle and I learned it in a few short months and now have a thriving, growing, website! Fizzle is effective while at the same time authentic and grounded.”

Alison C.

In this 2 part conversation we share over 30 tips to help you make engaging courses you can sell yourself, covering topics like:

  • How to develop a course topic that will sell itself instead of burn you out.
  • What apps and software should you use?
  • When should you host it yourself (on WordPress or something similar) and when should you jump on a platform like Udemy?
  • What methods we use for content strategy.
  • And a whole crap ton more!

This is an exciting couple episodes to me because I’ve lived this course creation stuff for the past few years, figuring out some processes that have been enormously helpful for us (and hopefully will be for you as well).


Andrew’s Question

Teach others how to build courses (in your course). It’s a big stumbling block for me and many others. And I am sure it would help with student retention.

Teach what theme to use, where and how to store video for the courses, how to outline courses, etc…Value 🙂

  • Andrew Kidd

Idea: your course as an investment

When I launched my first product, Planscope, I was pretty disappointed with the income. It took over a year and a lot of effort for it to make any measurable impact in my finances. The problem was that I could make in a few hours of consulting what Planscope brought in each month.

But it was growing, and each month it was making a little more money. And eventually, I realized something: if I’m looking at this as an income replacer, I’m probably going to be disappointed – at least for a few years. But if I classify it as investment with a return rate that outpaces just about anything on Wall Street, it’s a strong win.

~ Brennan Dunn (emphasis added)

Course Topic & Research

1. Pick a good topic — Useful to someone’s career (…or life). Something that’s important to you. Something you have experience with (but you don’t have to be an expert in it).

2. Use your existing audience to come up with a potential product idea — survey them about their goals and challenges. Or, when they subscribe to your email list, send each subscriber an email asking what their #1 challenge is right now and collect the responses in one place.

3. Run a test on that topic — email course, podcast series, blog series, anything to test if people are curious about this topic or not.

Note: all these items are discussed in detail in the podcast.

4. Research Competition — Find out what products already exist that address similar pain points. What words do they use? What words do people use about the course? Buy those products and study them. Take extensive notes on what works and what doesn’t. Where are the holes?

General Content Stuff

5. Sell discovery instead of expertise:

“You sell your expertise, you have a limited repertoire. You sell your ignorance, it’s an unlimited repertoire. [Eames] was selling his ignorance and his desire to learn about a subject, and the journey of him not knowing to knowing was his work.”

Richard Saul Wurman

6. Find the angle you’re coming at this topic from — Chase shares a story about his development of the Shareable Images Course.

7. Be learner centric — not teacher centric.

8. Be useful centric — not explainer centric. E.g. what 3 things will someone walk away from the course knowing exactly how to do?

9. Make one module, not a whole course — you can add more later! ship something NOW, get feedback, iterate. It will make each subsequent module so much better.

10. Define how you’ll know when you’re done — when the sales page is up? When you’ve gotten beta feedback? When you’re on the beach drinking mai tai’s for a living? Set realistic expectations.

Webinar Path

Note: This is an optional path. It probably sounds like a hassle if you’re not planning on it. But, in my experience, if you run through your content a time or two everything get’s better. It’s up to you.

11. Develop a presentation of the outline for your course content. This should be enough for a 45 minute to 1 hour webinar.

12. Promote your webinar to your existing audience.

13. Deliver the webinar and ask for signups for your alpha test group for your product. Make them pay, but only a fraction of what you’ll charge future customers. If you get enough people to sign up (to show there’s a need for your product), continue. If not, consider whether there is a true need for your product.

14. Create an outline for the the content for each module or topic in the course.

15. Use your outlines to create very basic webinar-style presentation for each module. Not at all polished. This may require more research.

16. Deliver each module to your alpha test group on a set timeline so they know what to expect.

17. Take extensive notes as you learn from your alpha group about what works and what doesn’t from your content.

18. Make edits to your content based on the feedback from the group. Use this feedback to create finalized outlines for your course content.

Show Notes

Products: The Best Investment You’ll Make In Your Business – Double Your Freelancing


SPI 142: How Paying Attention Paid Off for Joseph Michael, the Scrivener Coach

Roasty Coffee | The Unfiltered Resource for Coffee Lovers

Deconstructing Expertise: Why You Need it & How to Get it

Earn a living doing something you love.

Grow an audience and get paid for your work as an independent creator. Fizzle is where creators come to learn, share and make progress toward their online dreams.

I’ve taken a lot of courses and been involved in several paid communities since I started my business, but I’ve never ever felt like anyone CARED as much about seeing my reach my goals as the Fizzle Team. They show up for me as much as I show up for myself. Thank you SO much, you guys!

Claire Pelletreau

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