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38 Tips to Make an Engaging Course on the Cheap, Part 2 (FS110)

This is second and final episode in our series about how to make an engaging course on the cheap.

You don’t need a bunch of equipment, you need a solid plan. This list walks you through that plan.

In this episode we continue walking through 38 tips to help you make something excellent your first time around. (If you haven’t listened to it yet, here’s part 1 of this conversation.) Enjoy!

Listen to the episode:

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“38 Tips to Make an Engaging Course on the Cheap, Part 2”


Content Strategy

19. Decide which medium you’ll make your course in — written, audio, video, text; any can work.

20. Write parts of your sales page — Again, What 3 things do they walk away from this course knowing how to do? Write several options for headlines, descriptions, bullet point takeaways, etc. Here’s an example: Shareable Images for Blogs & Social Media — Fizzle.

21. Create a course plan document — This is where you’ll keep high level ideas about the course, it’s goals and who it’s for. Here’s the Fizzle Course Planning Document template pdf.

22. Brainstorm lesson ideas on index cards, Post-It notes, Trello.com, or regular paper — What you’re collecting here are bits and pieces to include in lessons.

23. Make worksheets + action items first — Worksheets can be so good that videos/text/audio is just explaining the worksheet. Why do this? Because the ACTION users take with your course is where so much of the real work takes place.

24. Use quotes from known leaders and hard data points — These kinds of things feel concrete and help push a concept forward, so include them. Avoid woo-woo quotes and pseudo science.

25. Create your own lesson template — How many index cards/bullet points/post-its for each lesson? Is there a story and/or example in each? Is there a quote in each? Is there a worksheet for each?

26. Write your script — It’s up to you how. We use google docs in bullet points, sometimes written out like this. Other times simply outlined like this.

27. Perform the course live if you can — Either in a workshop, webinar, local meetup, google hangout, etc. You could even sell individual workshops, pre-sell attendance, give an initial discount, record live, etc.

28. If you can’t perform it live, make a rough draft — Do the whole thing, performance, recording, editing, etc. You will find places to tighten up your content, make it more powerful after you’ve done this.

29. Simplify content for laser specific outcome(s) — What are those 3 things they’re going to walk away from your course knowing how to do again? Tighten the script to really focus on those, now that you’ve recorded and edited it once.

30. Camera and audio considerations — What are you going to use for your course? You could use ScreenFlow or Camtasia or Quicktime or webcams or microphones, etc. I list what we use below.

31. Decide how you’re going to deliver the script to camera/mic — Are you going to try to memorize bits at a time? Or talk through a presentation with slides? Or use notecards on camera like David Letterman?

Script Memory Technique — We deliver a bullet point at a time (normally 1-3 sentences).

So we put each part of that sentence on something in the room, with a metaphor for each, from left to right. For example:

Script: “We’ve worked with thousands of entrepreneurs here at Fizzle, we’ve seen some fizzlers become massive successes and other fizzlers totally burn out. And what works for those who succeeded is this combination of “aha moments” from the training, conversations with other motivated entrepreneurs (you’re not alone in this), and steady progress week after week. Here’s how one fizzler put it:”

  • “1000’s of entrepreneurs” — I’d place this on the door in my office because it’s far to the left and thats where 1000s of entrepreneurs have entered in.
  • “Seen some successes others burnout” — I’ll put the first part on the camera lens (because it’s seen some massive success) and then the burnout on the camera body (imagining the camera body fritz on fire).
  • “What works” — This’ll go on the whiteboard to my right. The top left of it is where I have a bunch of icons I use in copywriting (those represent the aha moments), then on the right where there’s pictures of my family (for community + conversation).
  • “Steady progress week after week” — This will go on my desk, right in front of me, because that’s where progress week after week happens.

32. Decide on your launch ideas — You don’t want to squander your launch, but remember: your course will be way more valuable over the long haul. That said, maybe there are some ways to pre-sell the course, build buzz, etc., even before your course is finished.

Note: There’s a whole course within Fizzle on launch ideas and sequence, which you can start today if you have a dollar to try it out.


Tech & Tools

33. Easy Self Hosting Option:

34. Platform Options:

35. Decide if you’ll use an affiliate program or not — An affiliate program is a way for you to reward people for promoting your course.

36. Decide if you’ll use a community element — Be careful about forums (they tend to die). Be careful about FaceBook groups (they tend to be super noisy).

37. Custom setup considerations

  • Video: youtube, vimeo pro, wistia
  • Payment Processing: Stripe, Braintree, Paypal (ugh)
  • Membership plugin: S2 Member, Member Mouse, Paid Memberships Pro, wishlist member, a member, etc.
  • A place for people to ask questions: forums, comments, Facebook group
  • WordPress course themes

38. Our setup at Fizzle:

  • WordPress with a custom theme
  • Types plugin with types for courses and lessons and interviews and more
  • Paid Memberships Pro
  • Stripe for payment processing
  • IPBoard for the forums software (ugh)
  • Wistia to host video
  • Intercom for customer interaction + support emails
  • Mailchimp for email marketing
  • Cameras: Canon 5D MKIII, Panasonic GH2, iPhone 6
  • Audio: Audio-Technica AT875R, Motu 4pre
  • (I think that’s everything.)

Show Notes

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

User Onboarding | A frequently-updated compendium of web app first-run experiences

Fizzle Course Planning Document template pdf

5 Tips to Help you Estimate how Much Time a Project Will Take

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

How to Produce High Quality Videos for Under $1,000

Wistia Video Library

Fizzle’s Video Production & Editing Courses — Get your first 30 days of these courses for $1:

There are several video + audio courses within Fizzle

There are several video + audio courses within Fizzle



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