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Course Creation

Avoid These 10 Outdated Online Course Creation Techniques If You Want to Succeed in 2024 (Plus, What To Do Instead!)

It took me A LOT of trial and error before I cracked the online course creation code and I want you to reach success so much faster than I did. Which is why I thought I’d dive into the 10 “Anti-Experiences” that’ll quickly derail your success and what to do instead to attract, keep and turn your perfect people into customers for life! 

Outdated Technique #1: Trying to Serve Too Many Masters

I also like to call this the “kitchen sink” approach.

Most traditional online courses and info products try to do way too much in an attempt to appeal to the widest audience possible.

They throw everything they know into one mammoth course… thinking that more content is better.

BUT when you try to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no one.

So while the “kitchen sink” approach works for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream… it’s a recipe for disaster for your online course.

When you overstuff with information, you fail to give your students a clear focus and purpose… which leaves them frustrated and exiting your course without finishing (and with a bitter taste in their mouth!).

This leads me to the #1 technique you want to implement in every course, product or program you create…

A Clear, Inspiring & Motivating Mission.

As humans, we love winning. Just think about what crossing a finish line feels like…

Now imagine creating a course that gives hundreds or even thousands of your students that feeling!

Pretty powerful, right?

But without that crystal clear vision of where the finish line is and exactly how to get there, most people won’t be motivated or inspired to continue or even start.

That’s why you need to give your students a mission that they can actually achieve, know that they can achieve and even the timeframe it’ll take to achieve.

To illustrate this, let me give you an example of the exact opposite… is a huge online education company. They have celebrity teachers with gorgeous productions.

But they don’t get this right.

Their trainings have absolutely no achievable mission.

For example, one course they have is: “Chris Hadfield Teaches Space Exploration”.

Okay, great?

After you buy this course, how do you know when you’ve crossed the finish line?

You won’t.

There is no finish line.

(The only thing I can think of is actually going into space… lol)

Now I know this may sound super sexy and you might be keen to check it out… but you’ll never get to say “Mission Accomplished!” and that’s soul-crushing for our motivation as humans.

So unless you’re the rare person that’s solely motivated by learning (with no need to apply) and has all the time in the world, this type of course will do very little for you.

And the same goes for your students!

The vast majority are buying your course for the transformation you can provide (NOT the information).

So, if you want them to get real results, your course mission needs to be framed around the single problem you solve and the specific experience they’re going to have in your course.

Try this prompt I give to my Experience Product Masterclass (EPM) students…

“Your mission — should you choose to accept it — is X.”

So what you want to do is fill in the “X” with the specific Mission of YOUR course.

The great thing about this fill-in-the-blank template is that it forces you to look at your course from your customer’s perspective. 

What’s THEIR mission? What EXACTLY are THEY saying yes to?

It’s not just what you want to teach or deliver, which is where most course creators go wrong BEFORE they even get started. It’s the result your students want in THEIR LIVES. And as a guide, you may want to think about the Core Solution you’ve already spent time on in our Micro-Niche Session. This can be a helpful starting place as you consider the answers to these questions. 

And ultimately your course mission will help them to reach the Future Self they’re hoping to become, which we’ll talk about more in Module 2.

So let’s look at the Mission of our EPM:  

Your mission — should you choose to accept it — is to validate, design, launch, and profit from an Experience Product in 12 weeks or less, so you can get off the marketing treadmill, make more sales, and have a bigger impact. 

And even better, you can use your Mission in your marketing materials to speak to and draw in your perfect people! 

Outdated Technique #2: The “How Hole”

Many online course creators focus solely on the HOW. But without a clear vision of where your students are going and what’s in it for them, they’ll have trouble motivating themselves to do the how and give up before they see any results.

That’s why creating a Future Self Vision WITH a clearly defined mission is key to student success (and your success as a course creator)!

Because in a world saturated with online courses (and with AI, it’s about to be even more crowded), your customer will make the choice to buy your course based on what they want their life to look like.

Remember, they’re buying transformation, not information!

And with so many course creators focusing on the HOW and overstuffing their courses with information, you can set yourself apart by creating a powerful and motivating vision that inspires your customers to take action.

Think of the “Future Self Vision” as the “why” behind your mission. It’s all about painting a clear picture for your students of what reaching Mission Accomplished will allow them to do and be and have.

Outdated Technique #3: Headlights in the Fog

If you’ve ever driven in the fog, you know how easy it is to get lost!

The same is true for your online course.

Studies show that if a user spends 4 seconds on an interface and can’t figure out what to do, they feel stupid and start to disengage emotionally.

So, without context and a clear path to follow, it’s super easy for your students to get lost in your course content and disengage.

They need to see where they are, where they’re going, and how they’re going to get there so they can relax and not feel like they’re trying to hold on for dear life.

That’s where a Bird’s Eye View comes in.

Your students will relax and perform best when they know where they are, where they’re going, and how they’re going to get there. So share a map of the terrain before you start.

Show them the system, process or framework for your online course.

Let me share an example from one of the most popular games in the world.

When Candy Crush detects that you haven’t made a move within a few seconds, it’ll start to show you a possible action by having that action glow. That “glowing choice” keeps the game moving, so players never lag or start to feel stupid.

The app actually shows you the next possible action if you don’t start to play!

When you use this technique in your online course and show your students a clear path to success, they’ll never feel lost, stupid, or embarrassed, which is the main reason for emotional disengagement.

And when students disengage, it’s almost impossible to get them to re-engage.

Outdated Technique #4: Chasing Your Tail

Many course creators set lofty goals for their students that take a long time to achieve. And in today’s world, no one has time for that! It’s super easy for people to get stuck in the process and give up.

People need to feel like they’re making progress… instead of just chasing their tail… forever.

This is where Constant Wins come into play!

With constant wins, you create a game your student can WIN. Build their confidence, motivation and positive emotions through small, easy wins that gradually escalate into big results.

And for inspiration, look to the biggest social media channels in the world.

When you post on Facebook or Instagram, within a few minutes, those little notifications start to flow in.

Like. Like. Like. WIN. WIN. WIN.

These little micro-rewards trigger the release of the “happy chemical” in your brain (aka dopamine).

And pretty soon, you find yourself posting more often and checking back constantly to see if someone has liked your stuff.

It’s quite the rush.

This system has been working for years.

So, why has the online education industry failed to adopt it?

It may be that you think social media is evil or that it’s not “educational” enough.

But what if you could adapt these same techniques and use them for good instead of evil?

You can!

By hijacking your students’ internal reward system and getting them to take action every single day to actually achieve a goal that’ll improve their lives.

So instead of having video after video with no end in sight and saving the “win” for just the very end of your course, you can reward your students after each and every action…keeping them fully engaged and motivated to keep going until the end.

Outdated Technique #5: “Everything Is Awesome”

Everything IS NOT always awesome so why are course creators pretending it is?

And when you say that everything in your course will be fast, simple and easy… you brush past potential challenges and leave your customers feeling unprepared, frustrated and self-judging when they inevitably hit a challenge.

(The BEST results take hard work!)

This leads me to the importance of Normalizing Challenges in your online course.

Changing your life and accomplishing big goals takes a lot of work and sometimes things don’t go as planned.

Prepare your customers for the challenges along the way, so they can take the speed bumps in stride and continue on their journey to mission accomplished.

So, for each and every single step in your course, ask yourself:

What are the challenges someone might have as they take this action?
What do they need to believe about themselves to be able to take this action?
What fears or self-doubts could kick in as they consider doing what you’re asking them to do?

When you address each of these challenges and name them, you “normalize” them for your students, which makes whatever feelings, challenges, or fears that come up OKAY for them. And when people know that they’re not alone in these challenges, they’ll start to feel less like they’re failing.

Outdated Technique #6: Mental Paralysis

Lectures don’t work in school and they don’t work in online courses!

Most online courses are based on an old-school concept of lecture or book learning.

Teaching to the head.

Babies don’t learn from a diagram. They learn by doing, trying, failing and getting up again.

And the same is true for your students!

That’s why you need to incorporate Peak Emotional Experiences in your online course.

By engaging your students emotionally, you’ll inspire them to get in and stay in action.

Create peak emotional experiences through multisensory language, story, pattern interrupts, curiosity and surprise.

Outdated Technique #7: Anonymity

This is one of the most prevalent mistakes and applies to not only online courses but every aspect of the customer journey.

When you treat your customers, clients and students like nameless, faceless masses, they don’t feel seen, heard or validated.

They don’t feel like their success matters, because you don’t know who they are.

But when you use Feedback Loops in your online course, you seek your student’s input often. Where possible, allow them to change your online course by going through it.

Your course adapts to them and they evolve the course through their participation.

Think of it kinda like one of those old-school “Choose Your Own Adventure” books!

Outdated Technique #8: Isolation

As humans, we’re naturally social creatures. And just because your course is entirely online, doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate an important social element.

I see far too many course creators expecting their students to cross the finish line while in total isolation during the entire course experience.

Forgetting to create opportunities for your customers, clients and students to interact and engage with each other leaves them feeling alone and unprepared for the monumental task ahead (hitting Mission-Accomplished!)

But when you add a Community Element you give your students a greater chance of success.

Build your community so it creates regular opportunities for interaction amongst your students. Give them the tools to lift each other up and keep them motivated and moving forward.

Because, as they say, A rising tide lifts all boats.

Check out my post on how to create an engaged Facebook community here.

Outdated Technique #9: Start & Stop

Many online courses create a start-and-stop pattern of learning and cause confusion.

Taking action and getting stuck.

Students never feel like they gain momentum. It just always feels hard.

This is why creating Unstoppable Momentum will help you get to the top of the highly competitive online course industry!

Because it’s not enough to win for the sake of winning. Your customers need to feel forward progress and momentum toward a greater mission.

The best video games increase the challenge by 25% per level and build towards a bigger win.

And the same is true for online courses! You want the first few wins in your course to be easy (for instance, giving them points for watching your welcome video) and progressively make them more challenging

Outdated Technique #10: Ending With a Whimper

One of my favorite quotes comes from T.S. Elliott…

“This is the way the world ends not with a bang but with a whimper.”

Most online courses just peter out and miss a huge opportunity to celebrate success and enroll customers in the next step.

This is such a huge missed opportunity that it makes my heart hurt!

You have so much more to give and when you don’t allow your students to continue on their journey with you, I truly feel you’re doing them a disservice.

But when you fully celebrate your students hitting Mission Accomplished and SHOW them the incredible future that’s possible when they continue with you, that’s when a sustainable, long-term business is born.

Human culture is based on celebrations (if you’ve ever been in Boston on Saint Paddy’s Day, you know what I mean 🙂 and rites of passage.

People need to feel a sense of completion… hit that Mission-Accomplished they’ve been striving for.

They also want to know “What’s next? What’s the next challenge, opportunity or step in the journey?”

And if you’ve done your job (ie: incorporating all of these elements into your course), your students will want to continue on their journey with you and refer their friends!

There you have it, the 10 “anti-experiences” to avoid if you want to create a successful online course that gets real results for you and your students.

Thanks for reading — I appreciate it so, so much.

But before you go I have one question for you…

What’s the key to real, sustainable business growth?

It’s taking consistent action on the right things at the right time.

And in my program — Live Your Message Lab — that’s exactly what you’ll do each month! Get the step-by-step actions you need to take to get real results plus the coaching, support, tools and community to make it happen!

I hope to see you inside Lab. 🙂


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