You’re brimming with knowledge and passion, ready to share it with the world… but when the time comes to turn it into an online course, you find yourself staring at a blank screen — overwhelmed.
You know you want to create an online course.
But you don’t know WHERE to start and WHAT to focus on.
Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place!
In this post, we’re going to focus on the key trends and opportunities in the online course world — no fluff, no overwhelm — just the stuff that really matters and will get you sales and results in 2024 and well beyond.
Ready to dive in? Let’s go!
The Foundation — Understanding Your Students
For your online course to stand out and sell, you need to reverse engineer a clear path to your students’ goals. Then create a sense of adventure, so you give people what they NEED and also, what they DREAM of with your courses.
This way, you’re not just an option for your students; you become a part of their everyday essentials, fueling their success and passions.
When your online course becomes a ‘must-have’ rather than just ‘nice-to-have’, your course will thrive.
Creating a Captivating Learning Adventure
You know how magazines used to have fun little quizzes that made the magazine experience interactive? We can do that with our courses, too!
Instead of just lectures, include interactive case studies where students can make decisions and see real-time outcomes. Use quizzes that adapt based on their answers, or create branching scenarios where every choice leads to a different path in your online course.
Remember those super fun and engaging “Choose Your Own Adventure” books where you got to act as the protagonist and make choices that determined the plot? Yeah, it’s kind of like that!
You want to make learning so exciting that your students can’t wait to log in every day… just like you couldn’t wait to dive into that next adventure as a kid.
Practical Application for Real-World Skills
You do this by crafting relevant assignments that allow them to practice what they’re learning in a real-life context.
For instance, if you’re teaching an online course on entrepreneurship, have students create their one-year business plan and pitch them to you or their peers to get real-world, real-time feedback.
Or, in a photography course, challenge them to a weekly photo assignment based on specific themes or techniques.
No matter what you teach — from marketing to horse training to corporate taxes — it’s critical that you keep your students engaged from the moment they hit the “enroll” button to crossing that finish line in your course… getting them the transformation you promised.
Because when they get the transformation you promised — they’ll give you must-needed testimonials, join your next online course or program and refer their friends to you, too!
Building a Thriving Course Community
I always say, “Your course is a community.” Why? Because the power of community is immense when it comes to learning. It’s not just about the content — it’s about connection, growth and support.
When students feel isolated, it’s easy for them to lose motivation and direction. But, in a community, they’re part of something bigger. They see others making progress — overcoming similar challenges — and that’s incredibly motivating. They think — “I want that, too!”
Your community is all about creating a space where everyone feels they belong and can share their journey… all while learning FROM each other.
And it starts with engagement…
But how do you maintain engagement in your community throughout the entirety of your course?
Think of it like a party.
Most people don’t show up UNTIL they’re invited. Online communities actually mirror the in-person environment. Most people don’t feel comfortable engaging until they’re invited!
So how do you do that?
First, you want to set the tone. Create a welcoming and inclusive environment. Encourage students to introduce themselves, share their goals and what excites them about the course.
We have an introductory post in our private Experience Product Masterclass Facebook group…
This one post got over 1,100 comments, people sharing and getting to know one another.
You’ll notice that I shared first. This is a great way to get the ball rolling and encourage sharing while starting to build that more personal relationship with your students.
Maintaining Engagement and Momentum
But don’t stop with your introductory post. You’ve got to keep the positive vibes and momentum going.
So, schedule regular check-ins, maybe weekly or bi-weekly, where students can share their progress and challenges. This not only keeps them accountable but also allows for collective problem-solving and support.
One way we do this is through dedicated weekly posts and hashtags.
In our EPM community, we have 6 hashtags we specifically created for the program. These hashtags are mainly centered around mindset — like #ProgressOverPerfection and #BreakdownBeforeBreakthrough.
We create dedicated posts using these hashtags and encourage students to share so they get the feedback, encouragement and support they need to overcome stuck points… and keep moving forward.
Each of our coaches also has their own unique hashtags for their “pods” (pods are our student groups). After coaching calls, students are encouraged to share their biggest takeaways and add their pod’s hashtag. This not only encourages reflection and sharing, but it also builds a deeper sense of community and connection within each pod. Plus, these hashtags are searchable so our coaches can easily and quickly find their hashtags and engage with students right in the community.
Think of the community aspect of your course as the “engagement” glue that holds everything together, so make it a key focus when creating your course.
The Power of Personalization in Learning
Now, let’s turn our attention to one of the most crucial aspects of online courses today — personalization.
Personalization is all about making each student feel like the course was made just for them.
Before your online course even begins, get to know your students. Use a survey to discover more about them — their time constraints, learning styles, challenges, needs and goals. This isn’t just a questionnaire; it’s the first step in tailoring their learning journey. And if you have a live coaching aspect to your course, this is a great way to help you assign students to certain coaches.
Let’s say you have a coach based in the UK and you have a handful of students in the same time zone — well, it might make sense to assign those students to that coach.
Coaching calls are often where the magic happens. Here, students can get specific feedback and support tailored to their unique situation. It’s a chance for them to ask questions, delve deeper into topics and get the personalized guidance they need.
Now, you might not be at the point where you have coaches, but I do recommend that you implement some type of coaching session in your program — it could be weekly, twice a month or even just once a month. This is a great way to address your students’ most burning questions and biggest sticking points. If you’re running your program solo (meaning there’s only one you to go around!), start by creating a poll with several time options and let your students vote on the best time. You can even have them rank the times.
This gives your students a voice, even if their first choice wasn’t the winner. They still feel heard and valued.
And, in our increasingly disconnected world, coaching is a great way to build that connection and long-lasting relationship — a relationship that could take them from this course to your next course or a longer group coaching program or mastermind.
Here’s the thing: no journey is never a straight line… there are so many ups and downs. Which are why surveys, community and coaching calls are a great way to catch issues before it’s too late.
For instance, through your reachout efforts, you might find that a student’s original intention isn’t working out… and if they continue on this path, it’ll lead to nothing more than headaches and heartaches.
But luckily, because you’re able to catch any issues, you’re there to help them pivot in time!
You can be adaptable and responsive to their needs. Because you know their course journey isn’t set in stone… it’s a living, breathing adventure that adapts as they learn, discover, grow and implement.
Microlearning — Adapting to Modern Learning Needs
In a world where everyone’s juggling a million things, the way we learn has to adapt.
That’s where the beauty of microlearning comes in. Let me break down why ‘bite-sized is the new big’ and how it’s revolutionizing online learning:
In the Experience Product Masterclass (our signature 12-week program where you’ll validate, create, launch and successfully sell your very own Experience Product — get on the waitlist!), we pace our trainings to prevent the ‘dreaded information dump’.
Because when too much information is thrown at students all at once, it leads to overwhelm. Our brains can only process so much at a time. By breaking down complex topics into smaller, manageable chunks, we make learning more digestible and less daunting.
Let’s face it: attention spans aren’t what they used to be (thanks largely to that thing in your hand right now… your phone!).
Microlearning caters to this reality. Shorter, more focused lessons fit perfectly into our busy lives.
Students can learn during a coffee break, on their commute or in between meetings.
We have students who work full-time jobs while raising a family and are still successful in our programs because we’ve adapted to their reality. A reality that so many of your students also face.
It’s about fitting education into your life, not the other way around.
Plus, when students aren’t overwhelmed, they’re more likely to absorb and remember what they’ve learned.
Each bite-sized lesson is designed to deliver a single concept or skill, making it easier to understand and retain.
Microlearning allows for the immediate application of knowledge.
Learn something today, use it today.
This instant applicability reinforces learning and gives students a sense of progress and achievement.
Microlearning isn’t just a trend, it’s a response to the world we live in. It respects our time, our capacity and our need for flexibility. It’s about making learning a joy, not a chore.
Leveraging Data-Driven Insights for Course Improvement
Now, let’s dive into the most overlooked aspect of creating a successful course… data-driven insights!
Okay, I get it… data… ugh, right!?! But it’s super important to use data to react and adapt in real-time.
You need to know what’s working and what isn’t.
And the easiest way to do that?
Go directly to the source by asking your students.
Use surveys and feedback forms at different stages of your course. This gives you firsthand insights into what’s working and what’s not.
You’ll also want to look at your course analytics. Which modules are most and least accessed? Where are students spending the most time? This tells you what’s grabbing their attention and where they might be getting stuck.
Analyzing results from quizzes and assignments can reveal a lot about comprehension and engagement levels. It helps you identify areas where students might need extra help or resources.
Monitoring your community can be a quick way to flag an issue and address it. What are the common questions or themes? This is a goldmine for understanding student concerns and interests.
If you do hold group coaching calls, you might notice that the same question keeps coming up over and over again. If that happens, return to the module that addresses this question — and any supplemental resources like templates or checklists — and see if there’s something missing or unclear.
If you find that a module IS missing something, be open and honest and address it. Go ahead and clarify during your next coaching session or maybe even do a Facebook live in the group.
Crafting Your Legacy as an Online Course Creator
So, there you have it… the top 5 strategies to transform your expertise into a course that not only attracts students but keeps them coming back for more.
Let’s do a quick recap…
To create a successful and long-lasting course that stands out in the most crowded online marketplace ever, you need to focus on:
- Turning your course into an adventure
- Adding an engaging community element
- Personalizing your course so it evolves with your students
- Turning lessons into easily digestible chunks and
- Evolving with data-driven insights…
Your journey to becoming a successful online course creator starts now.
With these trends and opportunities, you’re not just creating a course; you’re creating a legacy. So, let’s turn that knowledge and passion into something phenomenal. You’ve got the vision; now let’s make it a reality!
If you found this helpful, drop me a comment with the trend you’re most excited about!
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