Top 10 Fears About Creating Your First Online Course (FS168)
We make courses for a living. We have 40 something courses in the Fizzle library and we made each one of them.
Right now there’s a lot of interest in making online courses…
… packaging up knowledge you’ve learned on a topic and selling it.
And there are some people earning their living doing just that. The online learning industry was projected to reach $107 billion in 2015. ∞
BUT success stories and stats about a big market mean nothing much to your success… because it’s easy to fail here.
So in this episode we thought we’d bring you the top 10 fears of online course makers. These are real fears… straight from the mouths of real people making courses (or getting ready to).
This is a really helpful episode — enjoy and thanks for listening!
1. (9:45 in the show) That I will spend all this effort doing something that’s already been done a million times and add nothing of real value to the world. I’m worried about creating a course that falls flat, garnering nothing but a “meh” from my audience, because I either only partially nailed the core problem or didn’t develop the proper solution that would work for my potential buyers. What are some ways to test the idea without investing a ton of time making the whole course? How will I know if it’s worth going through with?
Chase: Love this. Wow! Nothing’s more important, I think, than the topic of your course, right? Maybe… Nothing is more important than the topic of your course, right? Your course has to be teachable. You can’t say, “I’m going to teach you how to be bad ass guitar player, even if you don’t know how to play guitar right now.” You can say “I’m going to teach you how to play these three very popular songs, on guitar. By the end of this course, you’re going to walk away knowing how to do just this.” One of the things in here is, she’s asking… I don’t want to make something that’s been done a million times, and not add any value to the world. Did I read that in here, right?
Chase: This is interesting to me, right? What am I hearing? I’m hearing the insecurity of the creator. I’m not hearing a creator who is certain about the need that exists in the world.
Chase: Right? When you hang out with enough people who are like “damnit, I wish I could play guitar. If I could play Free Falling, right now… In this party, this house party that’s mellow. If I could do that, I would feel so good about myself.”
Corbett: You really would.
Chase: You know what I mean? Then maybe Trisha would finally talk to me, right? You don’t know that Sam’s out there thinking that, because Sam is. I know Sam. His name is Dave. I know him real well. There’s a lot of those, right? When you get convinced of the need in the world, that’s when you go like… What do I mean by convinced by the need in the world? It’s not like… It’s not looking at a spreadsheet. You’re not looking at anything like that. It’s like, you have enough… You’ve talked to enough people who feel this way and it turns something on in me. Personally, it turns something on in me where I go like, “this aggression will not stand. Let’s make something awesome. Let’s really do it.
Corbett: By the way, for most of these, I don’t want to say that these worries are unfounded, because in a lot of cases they are.
Chase: They’re totally founded!
Corbett: You are correct to be worried that you’re going to create something that nobody wants. This is really a microcosm of creating a business in general. You’re worried about creating something that nobody wants because you’re going to put a lot of effort into this, because you want to make some sales, or you want to have an impact on the world. The ideal scenario, to me, is one where you’ve heard over and over again through a group of people that you have access to… An audience of some sort, that they have some specific problem that they want a solution to, because they don’t see another great solution to this problem out in the world. They’re asking you to create this thing. That’s the ideal scenario. I don’t think that a lot of people are necessarily going to be in that, but this is why we preach building an audience first, and then later, trying to find out what their real problems are that you can create something for sale, that they’re willing to pay for. A great way to test these little things is by producing Youtube videos, or creating podcast episodes, or by writing blog posts because you get to just put a little something out there in the world.
Chase: Hey, if you don’t want to make content, you know… I have a friend named Jason Glassby… He doesn’t like to make content, he’s too lazy to do that, but he wants to build the audience and do the thing. He just would run ads. He would just buy Facebook ads. He would have… He’s like “hey, this is money that I’m going to make back this money when I get enough people to do this thing with.” He’s either selling tickets to a webinar, or just getting people to download a thing and get on the email list. Now he realizes people are going for this message instead of that message a little bit better.
Corbett: It gives you some evidence.
Chase: If you want to be… To me it feels a little bit douchey, but I know a lot of real people who do that.
Corbett: There are other ways to validate. This gets to the core validation… What you want to know… The follow-up question was, what are some ways to test the idea without investing a ton of time in it? If you’re building an audience, creating content, you’re testing stuff all the time. Another way is to send surveys, email people, have customer conversations…
Chase: Do a little workshop. Do a local thing. “Hey man, you guys want to learn guitar. Bring your acoustic guitars. We’re going to come down. There’s five you. We’re just going to hang out. I’m going to see what you’re trying to do and get a sense for where you are and what people want from this thing.”
Corbett: Or sell a one time session, where people come online to a webinar, or something, and see if you can sell that for $5 before you try to make a massive course.
Corbett: Another way to validate this is just looking for other courses that are in the same vein of what you are trying to create.
Chase: Seeing that they exist already.
Corbett: Seeing that they exist. Seeing that people are paying for them. Go look at Udemy. See what’s popular there and then find out what’s wrong with those, and how you can improve on them, or how you might be able to mash that up with something else. There’s all kinds of different ways to validate. Is that enough on that one? I think so.
Chase: I think so. I think we can let that one roll. It’s important and it’s one of those things that’s so important, but there’s no quick and dirty answer to it, right? A lot of people out there looking at us like “Hey, man these guys are great because they’re zero bullshit guys.” Do you know what I mean? They are the zero bullshit guys. They’ll just give you the truth, the answer, they’ll just say it the way it is, you know what I mean? I’m sitting here saying there isn’t a cookie cutter answer to this. What you want to do as a creator is, you want to be convinced, personally, of the need in the world for this thing. That might mean that you just have a couple buddies, or you’ve seen it online, or you yourself have gone through this and then you find the course and it’s like “Dude this course isn’t giving me what I wanted.” Or something like that. To me, that’s been a big motivator, just doing it better than others because I’ve been lost, I’ve gotten through the cracks on most of the things I’ve ever tried… In school, in private tutoring and all that other stuff. Now I look back and go “you messed this up.” I could have gotten this.
Corbett: Just one last thing… Almost everybody I know who has created an online course, has had this fear. In some cases, it was well founded because the course does fall flat, and you don’t create a lot of value… Not a lot people buy it… Whatever. That’s kind of part of the process as well. You do your best to validate and make sure that there are people out there that want this thing, that you’re connected to enough of them… That you have evidence that people want this, but sometimes you have to go through this process to find that out and just realize that that effort that you put in there will pay off later when you go to create your next one, because it’ll be that much easier. It’s better than the alternative. I see a lot of people paralyzed by fear, so they end up taking no action at all. In reality, if you have this worry, you might be able to quantify this, in terms of probabilities. Maybe there’s a 20% chance it’s going to be… It’s going to pay off for you, financially. If you take that risk 5 times, hopefully, eventually, you’ll have one that works out.
Chase: You’ll have more of a 50% chance.
Corbett: Something like that. Whereas…
Chase: I’m a reader not a math person.
Corbett: A lot of people will sit around and wait for 100% chance, and that just doesn’t exist in business. You don’t get 100% chances. Maybe…
Chase: I think that’s actually a really powerful tip right there. You said what quantify your chances here… Even just write it on your board, write it on a piece of paper. There’s no such thing as a 100% chance you’re going to succeed, or as Alan Watts says “everybody’s running around trying to play the game in a way that they could win, but they could never lose.” You know what I mean? No, anytime you’re playing and it’s possible to win, it’s actually possible to lose.
Chase: That’s the same thing with your course idea. That’s big. I like that idea. I think that’s really important… The idea that I can choose to do this course, even though it might fail.
Corbett: Or even that it probably will.
Chase: Even though it probably will… Failure… Define failure, what does that mean? I only sold ten copies. I guarantee you can sell like five or one copy minimum. So is that a failure? I don’t know. But, that should influence… That can influence how you then make that course. Okay listen, that’s probably one of ten courses I’m going to make in the next three years. Let’s just try it. Let’s just try our first one and do it low key… Get it out the door and see what it’s like. I guarantee if you give yourself three months, a deadline to put together a course in three months, in something that you know enough about to go like “hey I can teach Free Falling on guitar.” You do that one time, get it out the door, see what it’s like to sell it, see what it’s like to do all the stuff. You make your next one… Everything will be different… Everything will be different. It’s so important when you know how to do this stuff and you only know how to do this by trying to do it.
Anyways, validating the thing… It has to be said that having that audience, and building that blog beforehand, or podcast, or Youtube channel… It’s so valuable for this reason… It’s so valuable.
2. (19:40) Where to host the course? On a subdomain on my site, which I’d have to maintain, or on something like Teachable, Udemy or Skillshare? What is the best way to go, or whether I should just create my own specialized site? And which of them will bring in the most followers and most long term profits?
Corbett: That’s going to feed into the next concern… Worry… Whatever we want to call it here. The next one is, where to host the course… On a sub-domain on my site, which I’d have to maintain? Or on something like Teachable or Udemy or Skillshare? What’s the best way to go, or should I just create my own specialized site and which of them will bring in the most followers and most long-term profits? Just for people who are not even thinking this far ahead in creating a course… Once you create the material, you have to figure out where you’re going to host that stuff.
Chase: Yeah, where are you going to put it.
Corbett: How are you going to deliver it to people? There’s a lot of services out there like Udemy… These are marketplaces of courses. The advantage that you have there is that the software is already built for you. You just have to upload your content, and then the structure is already there.
Chase: Another big bonus is that it’s a search engine. People are searching there for courses and you’ve got a course there on how to play guitar and people are searching for like “Oh, I wonder if there’s a guitar class on Udemy.” They’re also promising you the world. Udemy and all of those big mooks are promising you the world. Riches and fortunes, you know what I mean? People are really making money on those though.
Corbett: They are, yeah, they are. I don’t know the stats now, but I know that four years ago, after Udemy… Shortly after they had gotten started… And we include a link to this on the show notes. Show notes would be where?
Corbett: I interviewed Danesh, who is in charge of marketing over at Udemy. In their first or second year, I think they had at least ten instructors who had done over $100,000 in revenue, just from Udemy. A lot of times these people have other things. I’m guessing, now, they have a lot more people who are doing a lot more revenue over there. There are some people who do a lot of revenue on these sites. These sites do have tens or hundreds of thousands of people… Of students, who are potential students for your course. Just like any marketplace, with Amazon or anything else… Just because there’s a lot of people there, a lot of buyers, doesn’t mean that you’re going to get exposure to those buyers. That’s where you have to work on priming the pump in some way… Getting reviews of your course and trying to get some early sales so that the platform and the mechanisms that happen there… The social dynamics of it start to prop your course up in the results when people are looking for things, or you might get featured on the front page or whatever.
If it were me, the decision would come down to “do I have a built-in audience already and do I have the technical skills to create a course on my own site?” If I had both of those things… If I had a built-in audience of people who were on my email list, who had read my blog, who I had communicated with, I had evidence that they wanted this thing… I had the technical skills, meaning I knew how to work WordPress and do some design tweaks and maybe a little coding… If I had those two things, I would maybe consider creating a course on my own site. If not, then don’t both with it, for your first course. You can spend many weeks, just on the technology part of it.
Chase: You’re saying, if you don’t have the tech skills, just use Udemy and there’s like…
Corbett: Or Teachable or Skillshare, or there’s a lot of different choices out there. More are coming up all the time. If you don’t have the technical skills, and you don’t have the audience built-in, then it serves you no purpose to create your own course on your own site.
Chase: You can always take that, and put it on your own site, eventually. You’ve got all the files, you can do that… You can stop it from being sold on Udemy. You have full control over these things. There’s no… For your early stage, if you don’t have a lot of skills technically, or the audience, just put it on Udemy or one of these things that can host it for you, and you can send people to it. They handle all the payment processing, and all that crap, right?
Corbett: Another way to look at this is… The first question was all about risk… How do I mitigate this risk that I might create something that nobody wants. Another way to look at risk is “how much is this going to cost me to figure out what that risk was?” If you’re so concerned about creating something that nobody wants, and spending all that time on it, then you’d be silly to spend a month or better working all the technical stuff before you know that people want this. So, instead, put your course up on one of the platforms that exists already, and see if you get any uptick there. Even if you have your own audience, you can send people over there to Udemy. Yeah it costs you a little bit more. What you’re trying to find out is “is this a good long-term prospect for me.” If so, then you can invest the time and then you can create the course on your own site or whatever.
Chase: Yup, totally. I like that. I’ve got nothing to add on that.
3. (24:20) I have a lot of knowledge and I don’t know how much of that to put into a course. Should it be a huge course? A shorter course? How can you tell the best format/length/etc for your niche and topic? Where’s the fine line between overwhelming your students and not offering enough to keep them happy?
Corbett: Number three. I have a lot of knowledge, and I don’t know how much of that to put into a course. Should it be a huge course? A short course? How can you tell the best format, length, etc. for your niche and topic? Where’s the fine line between overwhelming your students and not offering enough to keep them happy.
Chase: This is a pretty easy problem to solve and a very real question to ask. My trick on this is, you define the payload. At the end of this course, you will walk away knowing how to do x, or you will walk away having done y, or something like that. You will learn… At the end of this course, you will have learned… You will know how to play these three songs, you know… Green Day, something something, Nirvana, Nevermind, and you know… The…
Corbett: I swear to god, you just did this.
Chase: I did this…
Corbett: You did this exact same thing. You said…
Chase: I am stuck in a loop in my head, where I’m remembering the first songs that I learned on guitar twenty years ago.
Corbett: But only two of them.
Corbett: And you always say three, then you get two out.
Chase: Because I always forget Tom Petty’s name for some reason. It’s Free Falling, and I didn’t even learn that. That was one my brother learned when he saw that I was… You know… Girls were liking me because I was playing guitar. He’s like “I could learn a song.” Then he tried to learn Free Falling, but he’s got those bass fingers. He never had a chance. He never had a chance. It’s all right. He always beat me in everything else, so that’s fine. I win in creativity Chris!
So the payload… You’re defining the payload. What do you walk away from this thing with. I think that is one of the more creative and seriously important tricks, or hacks, to this course thing. You think about, “hey I’m going to do an online business.” Then, you realize… Like this question asker is getting into…. This is a whole can of worms. What kind of business? I’m not going to teach you how to make… Do like a venture back startup in the same course that I’m going to teach you how to start up a blog and sell a course. You realize, how convoluted every course idea you have gets, unless you get really creative with “hey, this is the only thing I’m teaching you.” Which means, maybe your potential audience, or buyers, is maybe smaller, but it becomes way more effective, typically. In my experience, it becomes way more effective because you’re so much more clear about what you’re selling.
Corbett: Easier to test, again.
Chase: Way easier to test. Way easier to make. You know when they’re walking away, done with your course, because they’re playing those three songs.
Corbett: I’ll tell you what happens to everyone who tries to create an online course. They define the scope way too large. They get halfway through it, and they just create a brick wall… Because it’s like “holy crap” this thing…
Chase: This is something that we’ve turned really pro on because we make so many courses and… But more than that, our livelihood depends on, not only making these courses and putting them out, but that they work… That they’re effective… That it takes people through the actions… That people, at the end of it go like “I’m so glad kept my membership on Fizzle.” You know what I mean? Our life depends on it, right? When we are designing new courses, designing the content for new courses, we’re ruthless about it. We’re very focused about it. We have a very engaging process for how we do that, that we’re tuning up right now even, as we’ve made the last two courses. We’re getting more serious about these courses. They can be done in a shorter amount of time and they can be way more effective. That’s what’s different here. Your course is not effective if it takes you longer to make. Your course is only better if it gets a person to the action they purchase the course for… To the action, result or outcome.
Corbett: With as little pain as possible, frankly. There’s a danger in being a teacher and feeling like you have to dump every piece of knowledge in your head on your students. They’re not paying for random knowledge, they’re paying for an outcome. Chase is dead-on here. Consider what outcome you want for your students. Try to make it very specific. Look at all of the content you want to include, through the lens of how does this get my students one step closer to the outcome.
Chase: The answer to “should it be a huge course?” Is always no. Go with three small courses before you do one big course, especially if you’ve never done a course before. Like I was saying before, earn your first buck… Making your first course… Making it really, really short, like “hey, instead of teaching you how to play all these songs. I’m just going to teach you how to go between g, c, and d. That’s it” G, c, and d. G, c, and d. G, c, and d. If you can sell that course or whatever, right? That’s a good one for number three.
4. (29:00) What I want to teach is not on the same topic as my blog. My niche is self-improvement topics with curated links to reputable resources and their summaries. I want to teach a course on how to research, organize, and report like I do as I have received a lot of great feedback on that.
Corbett: So number four is. “What I want to teach is not on the same topic as my blog. My niche is self-improvement topics with curated links to reputed resources and their summaries. I want to teach a course on how to research, organize and report like I do, as I have received a lot of great feedback on that.”
Chase: Okay, got it. This is where someone has… I remember this comment. She has a blog about one topic, like “hey I want to start a blog over here,” but in the meantime over the course of the last ten years of her professional life, she’s gotten really good at this skill over here… Doing research stuff over here. I know what that feels like, man. You should see me research stuff on the web. You should see me make a course, right? You wish you could… I should make a course on that, right? The idea is… That’s not what my business is about. That’s what my blog is about, so what do I do about that? First thought for me is… Well that’s easy… Make the scope, define the scope of that project that you want to do… That course you want to do, often some different thing, and screw it… Do it. You know, just screw it. Give yourself a month… Give yourself a week to outline it, you know, and then talk that through with someone that you know who actually wants to learn how to do that thing. Walk them through it, teaching them along the way. Then, make the course. Try to get it done in a months time or something. Do it small, smaller than your thinking, and see what that’s like. See if your current audience doesn’t go for it, but also, see what it’s like just to make that course. I love it when people are making courses on something that they truly, really, deeply understand and know… Real deep expertise on something goes a long way.
Corbett: The other side of this is, if you’re going to create a course on something that isn’t the main focus of your blog, you kind of have to reinvent the wheel.
Chase: Yeah, you’re not going to sell that to that audience.
Corbett: You’re going to have to find an audience for this new course. I think you just have to weight those two things against one another. Is the topic that I want to create the course on so potentially valuable to the world in general that it’s worth trying to find a new audience for it?
Chase: Or, could it potentially… Because it’s very possible that something could catapult you to into now like you’ve got to start a blog to support the course and that gets, like in a months time, bigger than the current blog that you’ve been doing.
Corbett: It’s possible, but in general, what I would advise here is probably to create a course that is going to be really central to your current audience.
Chase: Well, that’s the dream, right? Here’s what people do, you start a blog and you’re like “this is my blog, this is what my blog’s about.” Why is your heart talking about doing this thing over here? Maybe because you’re blogging about the wrong topic. This happens all the time when you’re starting out doing a blog because you’re like “hey, I heard about Fizzle. Hey, I heard about this guy or that guy.” I would like to do the blog on passive income. You come up with a blog idea and you’re like “Hey, I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it.” Then you’re like “I want to make a course, but over here, because that’s what I’m good at.” You know what I mean… It’s like listen to yourself, pay attention to what’s going on. You’re right. You’re not going to be able to sell that course to this audience. This is what I like about this.
This gets us thinking about the two prongs that are necessary to do a great course. Not only do you have to make it, like you have to have all the stuff. You have to be able to sell it. You have to be able to market and sell it. What I here in this question is like “I can market something to this audience, but the thing I want to make is something that I can’t really market to my audience, so what should I do about that?” We’re sitting here going “listen, if you want to sell it to your audience, then make something that you can sell to your audience.” If you want to make the course, and scratch that itch, then go ahead and do it, because you’re probably in a learning stage in your business, in general.
Corbett: Look, when your audience is small and you don’t have experience creating a course, you need all the help you can get to actually make sales of this thing. Nothing is going to be more motivating to you than actually making sales, so I would try to put all the cards in my favor, if I could. I would make something for audience, you know I would make the thing that I thought my audience needed most. I wouldn’t be afraid of charging that head on. I’d do it in a small way. I’d go after the thing that I thought they wanted most.
Chase: I think that’s a big point. You’re right in that you want to give yourself every chance… You’re right in that the motivation… When you start making sales you’re like “Damn, I can make a course.” If you’re not making sales, that doesn’t answer that question for you. You’re right… You want there to be both those prongs in tact to give yourself the full force, unless you’re where I’m at now, where I can look over the past decade of making crap online, and go like “no, no, listen, you’re just learning how to make shit. That’s what’s happening. You’re just learning how to make things and just let it be.” Let it be about learning how to make things for the next five years. Then you’ll realize “oh I know how to make things. I know what I’m good at. I know what I want to talk about. I’ve been building this audience and a few of them have been into this topic the whole time.” I see that happening very naturally in a lot of business. Some people start off with a bang and they just know exactly who they are and what they’re here for, but others have to learn through it. Take that advice with a grain of salt.
Corbett: All right. Should we just say that after every one?
Chase: Take that with a grain of salt.
5. (33:40) I’m intimidated by all the new skills I’d need to learn to get course off the ground (eg video editing) and the costs associated with those skills (eg purchasing video editing software, microphone) Both of those are a huge question marks for me. Will they take hundreds of hours or 20ish, cost $2,000 or a couple hundred.
Corbett: Number five is “I’m intimidated by all the new skills I’d need to learn to get a course off the ground, like video editing, and the cost associated with those skills, like purchasing video editing software, a microphone, etc. Both of those are a huge question mark for me. Will it take hundreds of hours or twenty-ish? Will they cost 2000 or a couple hundred?” We’re talking about both the skills and the cost associated with being able to create a course.
Chase: This is a big one because there’s a lot of different ways you can make your course. It’s fairly common right now to make it as a video, and you’re on video, talking to the camera, doing the thing. It’s also very common to do it with a slideshow… You’ve got your Powerpoint up and you’re using Screenflow or Camtasia to record both your face from your computers… Built-in camera, and the screen to guide you through it. It’s also fairly… It’s common enough to have just audio, or just a PDF, or a book or something like that. What you’re balancing… What your challenging… Balancing there is the feeling that a customer has of a quality of the thing that they’re buying, with your ability in the amount and how much time it actually takes to actually make this stuff. Video takes a lot of time, you know what I mean… Less time to just do like a screen flow… Little less time just to do audio. It’s like a spectrum, right? Audio might not… A PDF might not feel very worthless. You know, I’m not going to pay $200 for a PDF, is what a lot of people probably feel, right?
I see that balance and that’s difficult because they’re both very real concerns, especially the concern of… Cause what’s the danger here? The danger here is like I’ve got this course, I’ve got this outline, I’m ready to roll. I’m excited to do this… Tested the idea. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I never got it done because I tried to do video and then I realized I’d have to buy all this stuff and I didn’t really know what, and I was like “Oh, I’ll do it next week.” Then one year later and I still haven’t done it. Right? It can be a total cesspool to try to figure out how to do this stuff. This is a total concern, and it’s a worry, but it’s totally mitigate-able. Is that the word?
Corbett: Mitigate-able, sure.
Chase: Mitigate-able. As you can see, me diggable baby. Mitigate-able. So you can… I’m it’s like Lynda.com course on Final Cut pro or even iMove and…
Corbett: Or Camtasia, or Screenflow, or whatever.
Chase: Or Camtasia, or Screenflow, or anything, you know what I mean. A lot of those technicals, we don’t even do courses on anymore because they’re changing all the time and it’s really easy to pay your $10 to go get that course somewhere.
Corbett: I just mentioned this yesterday. I had never edited a video before. I found a free tutorial that took me maybe two evenings to go through… On Final Cut Pro and after those two days, I was off to the races, and I could edit videos… Of course with some tutorial from you. I think that the skills that you need to learn to get a course off the ground… What are we talking about here? Probably video editing… Let’s assume people are going to do video, so you need video editing.
Chase: iMovie or Final Cut Pro on a Mac. Either Adobe Audition or Windows Media Movie Maker on a PC, or I don’t know what.
Corbett: Really the important skills are how to create compelling curriculum and how to deliver it.
Chase: That’s the hard stuff. Don’t kid yourself.
Corbett: Those aren’t things that you’re going to just pick up by taking a course. A lot of times this is something you learn over time. The video editing stuff… Don’t worry about it. You’ll find a course and you’ll be able to do it within a couple days. It’s not that big a deal.
Chase: These apps are really good, especially like Final Cut Pro 10 or iMove, right? These apps are made for consumers, especially iMovie. There’s tons of free tutorials all over the place on it. You can… I know everybody listening to this can use that, if they just allow themselves however long. Some people are going to learn it really quick and some people are going to learn it a little longer. I don’t care. At the end of it, you’re going to know how to do it. Invest the time. You don’t have to worry about that. That intimidation’s gone. There’s still the question of how do I… What do I need to invest in terms of materials… Machinery or equipment and stuff like that?
Corbett: We’ll get to that. That’s the next question. The other question, or the other part of this question, though five before we wrap up, was “what are the costs associated with these?” As we’ve said, there are free courses out there that you can take. Even if you pay for a course, it’s unlikely that you’ll have to pay more than $50 or $100 to get the basics of a video editing software or whatever. Then the cost of the software itself, If you go with something like iMovie, I don’t know what that costs anymore.
Chase: iMovie is free. It comes with a Mac.
Corbett: There you go. It’s free. If you don’t have a Mac, there’s probably an equivalent on Windows. Even if you pay for some of the best video editing software out there, like Final Cut, I think it’s only $300 these days.
Chase: $299 I think. If not, $199. Well, I can’t remember which one’s which.
Corbett: There’s not too much to worry about there, I don’t think. You can do it with free tutorials and pretty cheap software if you want to.
6. (38:50) What is the minimum viable equipment I would need?
Corbett: The next question, number 6 is “what’s the minimum viable equipment that I would need?”
Chase: This is, again, determined by what kind of… What forum your course is going to take. Minimum viable equipment, I would say, for a course that I would feel comfortable putting out would be… I have some sort of a Mac laptop or an iMac, or something like that, with the camera built-in, you know, and I’ve got Cantasia or ScreenFlow…. Probably ScreenFlow since it’s really easy. It’s probably cheaper too. I’ve got Pages… Not pages, sorry, Keynote. Apple’s presentation software. That’s free. I put together my whole course doing that. I would totally run through it, on the fly, with a couple people… Just to present it for fun, just to practice. Then I’m recording it in Camtasia, or in Screenflow, sorry, and editing it there, right? It’s a done deal. That’s like… What’s Screenflow? It’s like $49 maybe, $29 or something like that. Then the cost of your computer.
Corbett: The only thing I would add to that is, it would make sense to invest in a USB microphone, I think.
Chase: USB microphone or like honestly, even Apple headphone like straight into the thing, or the speakers straight into your computer can… Or the microphone in the computer when you’re close to it, close enough to be on camera well. That’s all fine enough for me. A USB mic, you know, the audiotechica that we recommend. We have a video on doing all these microphone tests and the cheapest mic that I recommend for first time podcasters is like a $59, $49 audotechnica USB mic that also does XLR stuff, and I think it sounds great. If you have that and even if you can see that in the screen, it’s fine. You will sound a lot clearer, which means you sound really close to the course takers… To the learner, right? You sound very intimate, right there with them. That kind of matters. Audio does kind of matter. The more you can do there, the better. That’s what I would say is the minimum viable.
Corbett: The other quick tip is just to make sure that you’re lit well. You don’t need to buy lighting, but maybe face a window. You don’t want to be super bright lights so you’re washed out, but you want to have a light in front of you, not behind you basically.
Chase: What I would do is, I would… This is really important. You really don’t want lighting behind you, because it blows out the camera on your, whatever webcam that you’re using. Really easy… Those cheap cameras, when you’ve got too much light coming from behind, and it starts competing, it doesn’t know what to do with everything. If you’re standing right by the window, facing outside the window, that is great. If you’re concerned about like I might be recording this for hours and hours and I might need to do it at night, so there’s no light outside, or whatever. You can probably just like get like an overhead lamp and just put it in front of your computer, you know, and you’re looking at the computer or I’m sorry, just behind your computer. You’re looking at the computer and the lamp’s right behind it and it’s getting you… You can put a couple of them and just surround yourself with a few lights. The most light you have coming at you from behind the computer, the better, more clear, more crisp, more clarity you’ll have in the image.
Corbett: The people that I love and trust most, who have tips for this really simple kind of video stuff, really simple and inexpensive stuff are Wistia. They have a lot of great tutorials that’ll show you how to use your iPhone. They’ll show you how to buy use one of those clip lamps from Home Depot and which kind of light bulb to buy to use for video lighting.
Chase: Really cool stuff.
Corbett: It’s great stuff. You know, if you look around our studio here, we have a lot of sort of, one off, ramshackle kind of cheap equipment and it totally works.
Chase: If you’re going pro, even like we do a lot of pro stuff. All I have for lighting is a $150, you know, Amazon lighting kit with three lights. I only used two of them. That’s the worst expense you could have if you want to go pro with this. Trust me, you could go way pro-er than that. That’s as far as I’ve ever needed to do.
Corbett: All right.
7. (42:50) What scares me the most is that I don’t have a built in audience, I have to market this on my own – how, when, where, to whom, what social media channels, etc.
Corbett: Number seven. We’re cooking through these. Number seven is “what scares me the most is that I don’t have a built-in audience. I have to market this on my own. How? When? Where? To whom? What social media channels, etc?”
Chase: This is another one of these challenges. The whole dream… The way that our business has worked from the start… The thing that we’re trying to teach to people every single day, is that when you build your audience around a topic, you can absolutely… You have your sales stuff built in, right? It changes everything. Now I’ve got an audience who are looking to build a business, and they don’t know exactly they’re doing, or they’re further along, or they’re anywhere on the spectrum. I can look at all over the place, and I can say “I can make stuff that people are willing to pay for.” Can they pay, and will they pay for this thing? This is the beauty of making an audience around a topic that you care about and that people are willing to pay money to solve this problem for them, right? What scares me most is that I don’t have that built-in audience, right? Understandable. Takes a while to build an audience that’s why there’s not like a push button thing, where you just like have an audience… Actually there is, you can do advertisements. You can do a lot of grass-roots kind of getting the word out about your thing.
You went Screenflow course, into Coursera or Udemy, so you’ve got this course out there for $49 on Udemy, right? You’re just trying to get people to your Udemy page. If it’s about learning how to play guitar, if it’s about learning how to cook affordable vegan food at home or something like that… Facebook advertising is a great… But you got to spend money on that, right? This is why Samsung doesn’t have an audience. They just have money to spend on advertising. There’s always that option for you if you’re willing to pay for it. It doesn’t have to cost a ton. It’s always there for you if you don’t want to just like start a blog and wait for a year to grow an audience.
Corbett: Audience, like you said, audience building is a long-term thing. If you create a course, don’t expect that you’re going to “oh now I’m going to go build an audience, and in a month I’m going to have a bunch of people checking out this course.” There are tactics that you can use that will attract people. One of the things that I would recommend is writing guest articles on other sites. You mentioned having a class about vegan food… There are a lot of food blogs out there. Approach those blogs with ideas for guest posts. Write your guest post, then at the bottom, in your bio, sell people on your course and link them to your course page.
Chase: Hopefully, you’re already a member, or a fan, of those blogs… They see you in the comments. You’re way more involved than just to promote your course. We as publishers and site owners… We can just… If we care about our audience, we’re not just going to hock them our to whoever’s got an article, you know what I mean?
Corbett: Another strategy is, you could just go start writing at Medium. After you have your course created, just go write at Medium, and every post, link to your Udemy page. Just try to write things that are going to attract people who will be interested in your course. Deliver real value. Don’t just make it a fluff piece. Deliver real value. They check you out. They’re like “oh who’s this guy writing some really great stuff about vegan food?” Then they check out your link and boom they’re considering your course.
Chase: It’s real concern to not have that audience, but it doesn’t put a nail in the coffin at all. People are doing this all the time. They’re making courses and they’re just putting it on Udemy. That’s it. Then they’ll do a handful of Youtube videos, a handful of Medium posts, a handful of Facebook ads… See what kind of results they’re getting, right? That is a total viable solution to this problem.
8. (46:30) Making sure I am providing great value and that people taking the course will see actual results. How will I know that I’ve really impacted those who purchase it, how to measure this? I would be interested in knowing how to beta test it with some users first.
Corbett: All right. Number eight. “Making sure I am providing great value and that people taking the course will see actual results. This is my worry. How will know that I’ve really impacted those who purchase it and how to measure this? I would be interested to know how to beta test it with some users first.” This one’s about wanting to create value for your customers and knowing that they’re actually being impacted, and using this thing. They would like to know how to maybe beta test this with some users to see if they’re getting results first.
Chase: As I’ve experience the world, I kind of see there’s two kinds of people, right? Those kinds of people who don’t care at all, they just want to learn some money and see if they can sell thing thing, and those kinds of people who never put anything out the door because they’re really afraid that it’s not going to good enough, you know what I mean? I see this very much as the latter. It’s not going to be good enough. It’s not going to be effective enough. I love that. That’s more of where I come from. I… In my relationship with you, Corbett, I have moved over to just right in the middle of the road. I’m like feeling really balanced, realizing, man all those just sales skills, I totally appreciate those. This is awesome. You can totally be a douche-bag living out there. Man, all of those like “I just want to make stuff that matters, that’s effective, that does the right thing.” Love that. Love that. It’s your worst enemy. It is your worst enemy. It’s the thing holding you back. It the thing holding the people you want to help back. Do you know what I mean? Help me help you. Help me help you. Right? The idea here is, again, solved with payload. What are you teaching them how to do? Make it so. You know? You’re not teaching them how to have maybe a life that they’re proud of for the rest of their life, and they never ever struggle with any kind of self-doubt or anything for the rest of their days. You can’t teach that, but you can teach them how to… I don’t know… Have better conversations with your spouse. Maybe you can’t even say, one day you might be able to say, I can teach you to have a better relationship”, but today, you’re only going to say “I can teach you to have better conversations with your spouse.” Right? That is such a clarifying thing, especially when you come out it’s like “I care about people having good relationships and one of the biggest ways I see us failing right now is in the way that we communicate with one another. I’ve got a simple method for helping you get to the point in a way that’s empathetic, that you both feel seen and heard and yadda yadda yadda, with your spouse. That’s a great example of, how do I know if this is being effective or now? You know it by the payload you promised them and then whether or not it’s helping. Then, don’t forget this… Every course that you make is just first. It’s just first. Then you put it out, and you get some feedback, and then you get to make changes. That’s why we love the idea of doing ether a webinar, or a workshop, or some sort of live event of some kind to walk people through it. My friend Mike who does presentations… He would do this all the time. He’s got like a new presentation… He just invites six or seven of his friends… He’s like “they’ll be bagels.” I’m going to walk you through this. It’s like a three hour workshop thing.
Corbett: By the way… Pro tip… What you’re reading right now is part of our effort to create curriculum in the future by asking people what they’re scared of and what worries them about this topic. You know, what worries you about having conversations with your spouse? Go ask twenty people that and see what responses you get. Then that is gold for your course.
Chase: It’s so good.
Corbett: Then you know that the course is going to be more effective. The big risk in a course is that it’s this one way medium, because you’re publishing this online, so you don’t have an audience there to ask you questions. You just braindump everything and afterwards you go “aw crap, I forgot about this, and that, and the other thing that people have concerns about.” Ask them first. You could hold a workshop, or whatever, like extension, but ask people somehow. Get feedback on that and then include all of that stuff in your course.
Chase: That, if you want to take that deeper, like we’ve said before on this show, we have a course on Fizzle called Customer Conversations: Winning Insights with Customer Conversations. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes of thise episode. All right. Number nine.
Corbett: Just real quick. They wanted to know as well on number eight, “how do I measure this? How do I measure whether or not I’m having the impact?” We kind of said, well okay here’s what you need to do to make sure you’re having an impact, but afterwards, how do you measure it? Simply, you can call people, email them, send them a survey… Just get a sense of did this course help you, where did you get stuck, what were your results afterwards, where were you in the beginning, where were you at the end? That’s a really easy way to measure whether or not you’ve having an impact. The other thing to keep in mind is that whether or not you have impact is dependent not only on if you impart the right knowledge on them, and lead them through the right actions, but also the delivery of that. Were you charismatic and entertaining enough? Was the structure and design of the course helpful in getting them through the right? Even if you have the best knowledge in there, sometimes, if it’s just a slog to get through, then people aren’t going to get through it.
Chase: Totally. That… Following up with people who have taken your course, or guiding a cohort through it for the first couple of times to get that feedback, man, it makes your stuff so much better. So much better.
9. (52:00) I am too scared to put who i am out there and be judge negatively! Logically i know this makes no sense. but this is my single biggest worry.
Corbett: All right. Number nine. “I am too scared to put who I am out there and be judged negatively. Logically, I know this makes no sense, but this is my single biggest worry.”
Chase: I’m too scared to put who I am out there and be judged negatively. Love this, because it’s very honest. Very honest. When you’re making a course, you’re sticking your neck out. You’re sticking your neck out for, like you know… The character I always talk about here is like your crappy uncle Terry, who’s just like “Oh year, you’re… How’s the course making going? He thinks he’s a teacher. Stupid. Go get me a beer.” Right? You’re sticking your neck out. That’s a danger.
Corbett: It is, and you know, we… I don’t really feel this anymore. I don’t feel that we get judged negatively and it really impacts me, but it has happened in the past, and this does happen to everyone, so it’s not just a danger, it’s kind of part of the game. If you’re putting something out there, especially if you put something on Youtube for god sakes, you’re going to get some horrible…
Chase: Comments have gotten better because they’re not anonymous anymore because they’re connected to your G+ account.
Corbett: That’s great. You might get some negative comments and stuff, but I think that in the beginning, the fear that you’re going to be judged negatively is unfounded, because a lot of times what actually happens is you’re not judged at all, right? The worst thing that happens is that you’re not judged at all because nobody finds it… Nobody thinks it’s useful, and you just language it.
Chase: Who was it? Some like David Foster Wallace or whatever, talking about the similar thing like everybody’s afraid of getting made fun of or someone thinking bad thoughts about them, but the truth is, nobody’s thinking any thoughts about you. You know what I mean? Nobody’s thinking about you. Nobody notices. Nobody cares. That’s cool. That means like you’re not going to be judged negatively, but you… Also means you got to do the work to get the right people involved and interested in this thing, right? I hear what you’re saying with this worry. Absolutely. I don’t want to get judged negatively, because it’s embarrassing. Not only is it embarrassing, it’s painful. It’s painful. It’s scary. It’s traumatic. It’s all of these things. This is like the human experience, man. You can do this. You absolutely can. You can do a baby step towards it. This is how you concur a fear. You know what I mean, you do baby step towards it. Baby step towards it. You have to be active about it. You have to be active about it. You can’t wait to feel good about it if this is your fear, because you’re not going to feel good about it until you… Then write a blog post, get that out there. Write ten blog posts. Get those out there. Make them all about the topic of your course, like all about different part of the course that you want to make. All right. Now that you’ve done that, let’s try something else. Maybe you’re ready for the course now, who knows what. It’s all about getting used to, and realizing, that actually, unlike the stove, if you put your hands on the internet, you don’t actually get physically burned. You know?
Elizabeth Gilbert has this amazing, amazing bit in her book Big Magic where she’s about to get on stage to speak and she thinks of fear as like this partner… This character in her life, and she stops and she’s getting on the stage, just before she gets on the stage, and she says to her fear, she says “I need you to stay here. I know you’re afraid for me. I totally understand, and thank you for keeping me safe my whole life. Thank you very much, but I’m not going to die up there. In any real way. I’m going to leave you here. I’m going to go do my thing, and when I come back, we can talk about it and we can totally like regroup from this whole thing, right?” I think that’s a super healthy way to look at your fear. It’s protecting you and wants to keep you safe. You’re not actually in hard. You’re not actually in harm’s way. I wish I could do more to just like inspire people past that fear, but I know that it’s a real fear.
Corbett: To be honest, thinking back on it… All the times that’s somebody said something negative about my work, or whatever, now I feel like it mad eme stronger through the process. It doesn’t make it easier while it’s happening, but afterwards, you look back and either your skin grows thicker, which is usually a good thing on the internet, because there’s a lot of freakin’ idiots out there…
Chase: Yeah, totally.
Corbett: Or you… Or if it’s valid criticism, then hopefully it helps you improve, you know?
Chase: I like that.
10. (56:18) I don’t feel like I have enough credibility on the subject to just teach it myself. I have an outline of the course and know that it’s good, highly valuable content, but I want to be backed up by people with more authority. My plan is to interview people for my podcast and ask them some of the questions that are covered in the course and include quotes, audio, stories, etc from the podcast interviews. While I think this will make the course better, it’s going to delay version one of the course by a month or two until I can interview these people, cut up their audio and include chunks of it in the course.
Corbett: All right. Number ten.
Chase: Number ten.
Corbett: Last one. This is a douzy. I hope you’re ready. All right. “I don’t feel like I have enough credibility on the subject to just teach it myself. I have an outline of the course, and know that it’s good… Highly valuable content, but I want to be backed up by people with more authority. My plan is to interview people for my podcast and ask them some of the questions that are covered in the course and include quotes, audio, stories, etc. from the podcast interviews. While I think this will make the course better, it’s going to delay version one of the course for a month or two, until I can interview these people, cut up their audio and include chunks of it in the course.”
Chase: I think it’s a great idea, right? I resonate with the feeling of “I don’t feel expert enough to teach this thing.” Sure, get in line. None of us are right? Everyone who is qualified, they’re not making a course on this. I got news for you. Course makers are, you know what’s the thing about teachers?… Some do and others can’t… And those who do can and those who can’t teach. It’s my story. I’m capable of a lot of stuff, but I also am really, really invested in the idea of being a teacher because I think there’s going to be some people who come out from Fizzle and do way more important shit than what I can do. That’s whatever. That’s neither here nor there. The point being, you’re right to have this fear about like “hey, I’m not qualified to do this.” Okay, then either get qualified, or get what you’re talking about and find people who are qualified to sort of, what Derek Halpern calls like this drafting technique where you’re sort of coasting on their trust… The audience has trust in Seth Godin, so if you have an interview with him in your course…
Corbett: Riding on their coattails.
Chase: You’re sort of riding on their coattails right? That’s fine. That’s fine. I don’t care.
Chase: Go for it.
Corbett: Yes, I totally agree with you, and we’ve used this technique inside of Fizzle. We have people who are experts on other topics, which helps. It lends us credibility. It helps our students get access to instructors who might be more qualified, or trusted, than we are in certain areas. I use that with other courses as well. It’s great, however, my big concern here is that he admits that this is going to delay version one of the course for a month or two, until he says “I can interview these people, cut up their audio, and then include chunks of it in the course.” I’m thinking…
Chase: It’s never going to happen.
Corbett: It’s definitely not going to take a month or two. It’s going to take much longer than that. Whatever you think, double it or triple it. My question is, what can you do to gain the credibility to help your audience, but to do it a minimal way. Use the 80/20 rule here. How could you make this as quick as possible. I’d say, discard cutting up the audio. Instead of like hour long interviews with these people, do a ten minute interview and have three burning questions for each of these people. Then, don’t edit the audio, and just put it in there are a supplemental or something.
Chase: Get them back next year or two years from now, when you do 2.0 of the course.
Corbett: Instead of interviewing ten people, or whatever was on your mind, do five. You know?
Chase: I think you might be hard pressed, thinking in my own world… If I’m a bad ass guitar player, and some kid’s reaching out to me going like “hey, would you mind if I like interview you for my thing that’s not out yet?” You know what I mean? “Like whatever, I think it’d be cool. My audience would be into it.” “Sorry pal, I’m real busy right now. Real busy.” If you email me, and you’re like, “listen man, I’ve got a podcast, we got about like 18000 people, no 1800 people listen to this every week and it’s just about guitar players. I’m just passionate about guitar. You know what I mean? Since the good lord put me on this earth to play guitar, I just want to…” I could keep going on this all day.
Corbett: Fully developed persona.
Chase: “Ever since my wife passed away, I really have taken guitar seriously.” No, but the idea of like this is going out to an audience. They might buy some of my products. Okay, let’s do it. That’s how I faked Mark Marin into hanging out with me. That’s how I faked Rob Delaney into hanging out with me, by promising them that I had an audience that I didn’t.
Corbett: That’s right. I forget about the Rob Delaney one.
Chase: The point being… Hopefully you can get these experts. It’s not a bad idea to have some experts going yadda, yadda, yadda. I think the bigger issue here is, you don’t feel qualified to teach this thing here. Maybe that can be clarified by payload. What’s the thing that you’re actually teaching them? Get really clear about that. If you can get someone results… Guess what? You’re qualified to teach that thing. That’s number one. Number two? I had a number two and then it just went away.
Corbett: Wow. I feel like you shouldn’t enumerate things anymore since…
Chase: B… That is why I’m going to stop doing what I’m calling C… Enumerating. You see what I did there? Corbett, I kept enumerating throughout it, but I used different… Roman number I… Am…
Corbett: Bullet point… Asterics…. Little cross sign.
Chase: Florida lee…
Corbett: Have you ever used one of those are your bullet?
Corbett: What the hell?
Chase: Why is that always…
Corbett: I saw a dude with a Florida lee tattoo on his neck, like a little one.
Chase: Acceptable bullet points: bullets…
Corbett: Dashes… You got to give me the dashes. I mean, even cubes, like squares… No. Get out of here with that. It’s too chunky. It’s too big.
Chase: Maybe an open bullet point?
Corbett: Open bullet point. I guess. You got to get all like Michelangelo on me.
Chase: If it’s literally a checklist, you could have a check mark.
Corbett: A check mark I’m good with. There’s something visually satisfying about a check mark, you know like open box?
Chase: But a god damn Florida lee…
Corbett: No. No. You’re not allowed to Florida lee this place. What do you think this is? Like in Midicci Rome?
Chase: The boy scouts?
Corbett: Do you see any columns are here? Do I look like I’m wearing a toga?
Chase: My favorite part about your editing bleeps is that… I don’t even know if you know it, but you say the f word just kind of like barely, barely…
Corbett: I use it like punctuation. It’s my semi-colon. It’s my semi-colon. All right, so that’s the ten things, right? That’s the ten big worries that people have when they’re thinking about doing… These are real people with real… These really came from the community. I hope that this is helpful for anyone who is feeling any of these things. It’s really empowering to realize… To make your first course and actually make some sales, it’s… It’s a life altering thing. It definitely changes stuff.
Chase: Look, like, here… If you’re considering making a course, and you haven’t done it yet, or if you’re considering doing anything in life that’s out of the ordinary, you probably have a lot of worries floating around in your head and you have these conversations as you’re about to go to bed and night and you’re like “oh, I’m worried about this one thing,” and then you forget about it. You wake up in the morning and you have a different worry. It’s just like this wall of undefined worry out there that’s keeping you from doing it because you know it feels like there’s some good reasons not to do this thing. If you just write them down like this and then think about each one methodically, okay? You know, I’m too scared to put myself out there… What’s the worst that could happen? How does this really impact me? List all of these things down. I hope that people who are thinking about creating a course, who had several of these worries now, realize that they’re valid worries. These are risks. In most cases, there’s a way to mitigate it. Maybe it’s not as big a deal as you thought.
Corbett: They’re all mitigate-able. Every one of them is mitigate-able.
Chase: You’re welcome. Just T-d that for you.
Corbett: You’re welcome. You’re welcome. You’re welcome. You’re welcome. Welcome you are. You’re welcome. Welcome.
Chase: Thank you
Corbett: Welcome home.
Chase: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Corbett: I have been chased [inaudible 00:56:51]
Chase: I’m going to use a filibuster to point out that this episode was brought to you…
Chase: This episode was brought to you by the word shit. Evidently, because everything I looked over at you hitting the keys, it was because we said shit. We must have said it like fifty times that you bleeped out, and I love that people aren’t going to know what word I’m saying when I say shit because you’re over there cutting it out. I’ve been Corbett Lebar and we’ll you there.
Both: Or we’ll see you another time.
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!
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This has been an exciting month for Fizzle! We recently announced a complete refresh of Fizzle, including every aspect of our user experience – courses, content, live events and more. Since we first opened Fizzle in 2012, we’ve provided thousands of entrepreneurs and creators with training, coaching and community.
Matt Gartland is the Co-Founder of SPI Media, the team behind Smart Passive Income and SPI Pro. He joins us to talk about what it means to be in a business partnership, hiring and managing teams, and how he came to be a co-founder in SPI Media. LINKS:
Barrett Brooks is COO at ConvertKit, which is a email marketing software for creators (authors, musicians, chefs, filmmakers, comedians, YouTubers, etc.). In this episode, Barrett goes into depth on how to own the relationship between your audience independently of social media and other platforms. By creating your own website, and