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The 3 foundations of a successful online course
Episode 2846th March 2023 • Your Dream Business • Teresa Heath-Wareing
00:00:00 00:19:06

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Today’s episode of the podcast is all about the basics you need to know to create a successful online course. I’d love to know what you think, and whether an online course is on your goals for this year - please feel free to connect with me on my social media and let me know!  


  • 3 considerations to think about if you are going to create an online course
  • The value of you having a live element to your online course
  • Realistic expectations of success when selling an online course


There’s no such thing as a passive income, but you can create a recurring income, if you do it properly.


Build My List Online Course Sky Rocket Your Email List Growth Online Masterclass The ‘Billy Basic Ads Course’ - Meta™ Edition Online Course  


Hello and a really warm welcome to this week's episode of the podcast. As always, I am your host, Teresa Heath- Wearing. I am very grateful to have you here listening with me today. So what are we gonna talk about today? If you are new to my world, the podcast now predominantly talks about marketing, strategy, tips, tools, but also with a whole host of mindset stuff. And I've done quite a few mindsety type episodes recently.

So I thought it was about time I did some practical stuff again. And one of the things that constantly comes up in my world, and this is probably because I'm an online business, is the fact of having a, now, I'm not gonna use the word passive income cuz fyi, there is no such thing as passive. But having a recurring income or an income that is from something that is created that can be sold over and over.

Now I'm not gonna make out like this is, you know, the easy dream and you can come rich it quick overnight, cuz that really isn't the case. However, there is definitely some real benefits to it. And one of the things that I'm talking about in terms of creating that kind of reoccurring income is an online course.

Now, often when I work with people on a coaching capacity, we are focusing on their main business, but always in the background and always as a thought is, how can I create something that brings me in some regular income? And often this comes down to a course. When we're talking about, like I said, I, I don't agree with the word passive because it's really not passive, but when we're talking about things like memberships, you have gotta show up.

I am in my membership all the time and I have to show up every week and every day and do the things cause it's my membership. That's what people expect when they join. I know that doesn't happen in lots of memberships, but it certainly does in mine. and that's what they're paying the good money for. They're paying for me to come in and help them and support them.

So that's not normally what my clients, my coaching students want. They want a course. So I thought it'd be really good to talk to you today about what are the things that you should be thinking about if you are thinking about having an online course or if you are at that stage in your business where you are like, do you know what, I'm killing it from a one-to-one point of view, or from a one to group point of view.

And I'm really loving what I do, but I really want to find another way I can bring in another element to my business. And normally this is the case. It's not normally the case with most people I work with that go, I wanna shut down my one-to-one or in-person side, and I only want the online and, and the course side.

They normally want it as an add-on, which is a great thing to do because the fact of if you've got, you've, you know, and not, if you have got so much knowledge and so much content that you produce. Like I know for instance, when I, when I first started coaching, I would suggest something or I would talk about a process and then think I could probably just come up with like a, a form or a worksheet or something for you to use, and actually that'll make it so much easier.

So then I would create it. So then when I spoke to the next person I was coaching and say, actually, you know, this could be good for you as well, I would then have the worksheet. So by the time I've done this so long and worked with so many businesses, I have created a lot of content, which you could turn into a course.

So this is where most people get come from. So there are really, for me, three main considerations that you need to think about if you are going to create an online course. If you are sat there thinking, I love my business, I'm very good at it, and now I want to find a way that I can bring in some additional income.

So the first thing is that you should be creating content about the thing that you do, which if you are like the people that I coach, then you are already doing this. I had an example once of, I was part of another group coaching program and I am a bit of a nightmare. I can't help myself. Like, because I have all these ideas and, and you know, I like to think I'm really good at what I do and I get good results.

So when I'm sat in a group situation and someone else is giving me advice, I literally have to sit on my hands and like hold my tongue. I just wanna give advice and I wanna give support, and I want to encourage, and I want to do all this amazing stuff, which I can't, cause it's not my, my space to do it in.

However, I was in a space once and this woman came to me afterwards and said, is there any chance you and I could have a, a call and, and inquired about being coached with me. This was quite a while back now. And I said, yeah, that's cool. So we get on a call and she said that the, the main coach, whose group we were in had said to her, "I need you to launch your whatever it is." and this coach was really kind of focused on people don't notch cuz they're scared. And they were so focused on that, that they basically blinded themselves to everything else. So she had started a brand, brand new business. She had done something previously.

She'd already had a business, but she had done something. She'd completely coveted, completely changed, and decided I'm gonna focus on this one thing now. However, she was not known for that one thing. She had no content, she had no following. She had no presence at all in that space. So basically it's like me walking into, I don't know designing handbags tomorrow and go, I'm gonna do a course on it.

Now I might know about it. I don't, FYI, literally just picked something up my head, but like, you might know about it, but no one knows, you know about it. So she came to me and we had a conversation and I said to her, in an ideal world, I would have you create content about this for some time, like three, six months.

Like that would be amazing to, to basically be sharing the world this is who I am. This is what I do. And, and proving that you are good at what you do. Anyway, the coach was very adamant that she had to launch and within a month and a half, I think it was, cause it had to be by the end of the quarter, she launched and sold it to three people, uh, which is amazing.

Well done. But two of those people were on the coaching program we were on, and one was a friend. And then she didn't launch it again and she pivoted again. And it's like, do you know what? If you just waited a bit of time and created some content, and I know that content creation can feel really, really long and boring and arduous, but honestly, like the first thing someone's going to do is they're going to want to see that you know what you're talking about.

And if there's absolutely no evidence of that anywhere. Then you are not going to give people confidence that you can teach them and help them. And also, one of the things I teach, and one of the things I work with, with not only the membership but also the people I coach, is we look at how you take people from that content through the customer journey to be a customer.

So again, the content isn't just there as a backup for when people find you. The content is designed to drive people through to your world. I have had people listen to the podcast for years and never buy anything from me to only suddenly appear like I didn't know they existed. And then they suddenly appear and go, I'd like to join your membership and I've listened to your podcast for years, and I had no idea.

So as much as sometimes and fairly I've had this conversation with Becci,, who does the show notes and does and does social with me. She's like, you know. We've gotta remember that like when the podcast is hard or when, cuz I, I'm really honest that I get a bit hung up with like the numbers and hate the charts.

Like the charts really get on my nerves because I am very consistent and I've been around a very long time and therefore I don't appear anywhere and it really winds me up. . Anyway, I'm gonna get over that soon. But like, you know, so when I'm feeling like that, I have to remember that the podcast is a great place for people to get to know me, get to hopefully like me, and trust me that I know what I'm talking about.

And who knows, today might be the day that you are listening to this that you go do you know what I'm gonna do that I'm gonna get in contact with you, Teresa and I'm gonna look at how I can work with you because I've listened to this podcast for a long time and now I'm ready to take action. So that's the first thing.

If you want to look at this course, you do need to be creating content, which I am confident you are already creating content. The second thing you need to do, and again, I will argue the talks with anybody that says this is not true, is you need to have an audience. Now, you can't sell something if no one knows it exists.

If no one knows who you are and what you do, you have to have an audience. I think it's Denise. What's it? I don't think it's Denise, the full Thomas. I know Denise Duffield-Thomas says this, but I'm just hopefully remember the percentages correctly. I might get 'em wrong. But she says it's something between like 1 and 3% of her email list that only ever buys.

And that's been the same when her email list was 500 people or when her email list was 500,000 people. It's still that percentage. So. You need the audience. You need people to know you exist. And even when you have a very loyal, amazing, wonderful audience, they might not buy. I know that very well. Like not everyone will buy.

Of course they won't. So you do need to be building that audience, and that's where your content creation comes from. Your content creation is proving to the world, you know what you're talking about. Is showing up consistently going, look, here I am, but also is helping convert those people into your audience.

In an ideal world, those people are going to be on your email list. So those people are going to have, so for instance, in some cases, and I haven't done it for ages actually, I've been a little bit off the ball and I need to, I am getting back into kind of kicking my own backside, but like, One of the things that that I would do on the podcast is I would talk about a given subject, and then during the podcast I would say to you, if you wanna know more about this, I have created this download or this video or this, whatever it is, and then I would send you to somewhere that is a lead magnet and I would send you somewhere where you can opt in to my email list.

And for me, it's funny, I, I did an interview with, oh man, her name just jumped out my head, Sarah. It was Humane Marketing, I'm sure it was Sarah. And we talked about the word lead magnet and she didn't like it and she called it something a bit nicer cuz it just sounds a bit faceless. And it is a little bit the name, but basically I also call it hand raiser.

You're basically saying, Okay, I really like that bit of information you gave me there. I would like to know more. So again, the content leads really lovely onto the audience and the audience is so important. This is why I have a course called Build My List. And it's funny cuz that is the only online course I have and it is an evergreen course.

You can buy it now at any point and you can learn how to create an email list. Little plug there for my course. I'll put a link in the show notes or just go to But it's so, so very important. Honestly, if you don't have an email list or if your list is not growing very fast or you are struggling to get people on your list, then go check out that course.

Cuz honestly, it's, it's awesome. But yeah. So you need to create content. You need to have the audience. And then the final thing is like, these are like, your baseline is you need to have a transformation. You need to be clear on what the problem is that your customer has and what you can fix. Sometimes people wanna create courses that are content they wanna share and they wanna put out there without necessarily thinking about, well, is this a problem that my customer's got?

And is this something that they're gonna need help with? And they want fixing rather than, like I said, just thinking, oh, I'd love to do a course on this cuz this would be cool. Yeah, it might be cool, but are people actually wanting to buy it? Is that a problem that they're actually struggling with? So, and also the other thing is by having consistent content, by having an audience, you will start to understand what those people want and need from you, what the kind of transformation is that they're looking for.

So again, it's not just a case of, oh well, you know, it's better if you have an audience. You can really understand your customers if you have that audience. And again, I've heard lots of times you don't need an email list. No, you don't have to have one, but your results are gonna be significantly better if you do have one.

So, like I said, for me, the final one is understand that transformation, understanding what their problem is, what you can do, and how you can help them fix their problem. Now, some of the things that I find are really, really helpful and some of the things that have been more successful for me and some of the people I've coached is when the course is a live or has a live element to it.

So wonderful Michelle, who is in my community and is in executive club, she sells a number of different courses around Facebook ads. I will link up to her in the show notes, and she's actually gonna be doing a workshop soon. In fact, this is perfect. I, I didn't even think about this. She's doing a workshop soon about how to get more people on your email list through ads.

So basically using the knowledge that you've got for around lead magnet. And then promoting those lead magnets through ads and how's the best way to do it? So I'll link up to that as well. So do go check that out. But she's doing as a live workshop, I'm sorry. The reason I mentioned to her is because one of the courses that she does, she has this course called Billy Basics Ad Course, which basically takes you through the process of creating an ad with an ads expert holding your hand and it's live, and you literally build the ad and she reviews the ad and you look at the results together.

And that for me, I feel like is where, where the, the online kind of course aspect is changing and moving a bit. Now, I appreciate that if you want a residual income and you don't want that work, you want to effectively build it once and sell it over and over, then that isn't going to be the case. But then you need to be realistic about the amount of people who are gonna do the work or the amount of people who are going to complete it, and the amount of transformations you're going to make. Um, because I think I, I told someone the other day something like 12% of people who actually buy a course online, finish it. It's a really, really small percentage.

And again, you gotta look into why you're doing it. At the end of the day, it's not your responsibility to make someone do a course that they've bought. If they've bought the course and they know it's a complete self-study. Then that's up to them to do. It's not your responsibility. However, in selling the course, one of the things that I have found for myself and other people that have been useful is the element of live, the element of accountability, because basically that's probably one of the many reasons why people work with me.

It's for the accountability. I'm doing a challenge with my executive club at the moment, and every day I'm posting into our private group. Giving them something to do and keeping them accountable because they wouldn't do it if I wasn't keeping accountable. Now it's not the fact that they can't do it. They know what to do.

They're not stupid. They're smart people. These people in executive club, you know, they are working hard on their business, showing up, doing the work, but sometimes we need that accountability. I need that accountability. So that's why from a course point of view, that can be a real sales point and having that kind of personal feedback is brilliant.

But what I would suggest is if that's ultimately not what you wanna do, you might want to do it for the first few to really then understand actually, where are the questions, where are the transformations I'm looking at. What works what doesn't work and then you can help tweak the course.

So build my list. I did live I think four or five times before, it's now evergreen and anybody can buy it. So I am confident that A, it works and B, I've answered all your questions, so there we go. There is my brief overview about having an online course and really the three foundations you have to have in my mind in order to make it as successful.

Now, like I said, have there been people out there who have created a course and sold it without those things? Yeah, I'm sure there are. However, they are nowhere near or they would've been way more successful if they had actually, you know, had those things in...




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