Stop Selling Online Courses – Do This Instead

james · February 10, 2023

Selling Courses is a Waste of Time

Trying to build a business selling courses is an absolute waste of time now.

Building a business isn’t about selling courses.

If you’re considering building an education business let’s get started. Courses are what everyone seems to be talking about now. You know, content marketing, selling, organizing your information, creating courses and selling courses. There’s a ton of people talking about it.

There’s a ton of information going on about how you can build a business selling courses, and I think that that’s absolutely the last thing that you should be focusing on.

Courses are broken.

You most of the time when you see a course or you’re looking at a course online, it’s actually not a course. It’s really an organized bit of information, but there’s no outcome in it.

Today’s courses is really about passive learning. Passive learning and consumption.

So the whole idea is that you organize some information in a course, you make it available to people and they consume that information. When they want, how they want, and that’s it. You’re basically presenting some information in an organized fashion. And the whole idea of building an education business is you’re going, well, if I just do this and I create some courses, they’ll be easy to sell.

People will take them, and I can build an education business. Well, that’s just not true. It may have been true five or 10 years ago when courses were you know, kind of new on the scene, but a course is never enough. You’re always gonna need more than a course. And the part that is scary for me as someone who has spent the last 20 years creating online courses is that if a course is not enough, what’s actually needed now and the latest kind of trend, or the thing that you’ll hear from some educators, is you need to start adding something called.

So you have to have a community along with your courses to have it make sense. And the reason that they’ll talk about having a community is because it causes you to Provide feedback to questions that come from the community, but also it gives people an ability to add more than your own content.

So courses plus community, that’s supposed to be the way to build an education business. And my belief is that that is wrong. And we’re gonna go through that. In the session, there’s actually there’s actually five key pieces that we’re gonna talk about. So there’s five key pieces here about building an education business.

So we got five keys to the education business.

We’re gonna go over those and we’re gonna go over how in fact they fit together. So what are the keys to that? The important thing when, when when you’re thinking about an education business, and especially if it’s your business, the thing that you are gonna be looking at is what is my content.

You’re gonna have to have some key quality content that you have some personal expertise, some personal knowledge, and you are able to organize that content in a way that you can tell people. What to do so that at the end of that part of content you’re giving them, they’re going to have the knowledge that you have.

It’s a transfer of knowledge. So you’re still gonna have to have content and you’re gonna have to have quality content that people are interested in learning, not just you. Remember, you’re creating that content for someone else. And again, you’ve got the content. That’s something that you have in your head.

It’s something that you’ve lived, it’s something that you’ve researched. But that is the start of all of this education business is you having some content.

A course just organizes your content. So you got this stuff in your head. It’s great. I’m gonna organize it in a course, and I’m gonna sell a course and build an education business. That’s kind of the first level. This is all about passive learning again, and there’s a huge problem with this because if you’ve created a course in the past, you’ll know people who take courses very rarely finish them.

I’ve seen stats as as pitiful as 15% of the people that start a course don’t even complete it. So you’ve organized this stuff, they don’t even learn it or take the time to go through it, and you have no control over the fact of whether or not they do take the course, they do take it in order or they understand it.

It’s just totally up to them to consume it. So that one doesn’t work, you can’t use that one anymore. The latest thing that happens is you’ll hear people talking about okay, great. I’ve got my content, I’m gonna create courses. I keep hearing that I should add a Community.

Now what is a community? People will talk about having things like discussion forums or having groups or having the people who are taking the courses be able to interact with each other. And if you think about that a lot of the ways that people have that set up today is they will have their content and their courses organized, but they may say I’ve got a Facebook group, or I have a discussion forum that you can go and be involved in, or, I have a open chat.

So they’re adding that notion or that idea of having the users involved with each other, is that enough right now? Well, it may be a little bit, but it’s still not helping people really get to the point where they’re doing what it is that they’re trying to teach. So people still are in that kind of knowing phase.

Also this is still another form of passive learning.

Core content plus courses plus community. Is that enough? I don’t think that’s nearly enough.

The next thing you may see is where it’s getting a bit better is when you’ve got your content plus your courses plus community… and then we are going to add classes.

Now, this is far more effective in terms of transferring the knowledge. It’s still somewhat passive learning as opposed to active learning, but this is a now blended content. Now, the reason it’s blended is because these classes/coaching Is live and that gives you, as the instructor the opportunity to interact with people, answer their questions, live on the fly.

They’re still gonning to take the courses that you’ve created, the videos, the audios, the text. They’re still gonna be able to ask questions in a discussion forum where other members may be able to answer back where you may have a chat where people can interact with each other. Adding this blended opportunity where you’re actually live with people online, where you can give structured classes that may or may not cover the course content that you’ve got there, or just answer questions is where you’re going to start adding value.

Those two first one. the course, plus you know your content. There’s no value there anymore. People can go and get the content anywhere they want, especially YouTube where there’s all sorts of content on YouTube, people just have to search for it.

There’s no added value by creating a course and your content, so you’re adding a community get a little more value when you start adding yourself as the instructor of the teacher, and you do blended. that’s much more effective in terms of not only adding value, but helping the people who want to know what you’re doing, but they want to have the outcome or that goal that you’re promising them by taking the course because you are involved in their learning.

[00:09:14] Okay. So it’s kind of the next step and you’re going, okay, that’s great. What’s after that? This is the last kind of learning model, and I think this is the one important, this has the highest value for you if you’re building an education business, and it’s the one that I think all of the people are wanting to teach online, to build training sites are gonna strive to.

So this is, this is how it works. What I’m talking about is your content. Plus courses, not one course, but multiple courses. I’m talking about the community part,

[00:09:56] plus I’m talking about classes and coaching. But what we’re going to do is we’re gonna add something called a cohort.

[00:10:09] So what the heck’s a cohort, think of a cohort is a group of people or group of students going through a set curriculum or set course over a period of time. And what does this mean? Think of it this way. So you’re gonna take a class, it’s gonna start on this. It’s gonna finish on this date and at the end of this class slash course your and all of the members of the group are gonna work together to have a specific outcome at the end of it.

[00:10:46] So it’s active learning because you are involved and you are responsible for completing the steps. In the cohort throughout the entire process. So this is the highest value kind of learning. You’ve got a great outcome that you’re promising, you’ve got other people involved, and it’s all organized in your education business.

[00:11:09] So you’re going, okay, great. I’m, I’m in on this. I understand the classes, the. Community, the courses, I’ve got my content organized, we’re gonna do it with a set date on a set time. I’m gonna build an education business, right? No, there’s a problem. There’s one problem. And this is really the issue that I see moving forward in the next little while for people who are trying to build an education business again.

[00:11:33] And, and this is what it is. So if you think. You most people, they look at the content and when I think of content, who owns that content? Who owns your knowledge? It’s you, right? You own it.

[00:11:54] You own that stuff. That’s a stuff in your head. That’s your experiences. It’s your perspective. You own that content, so it’s part of your business. Now, what about the courses? Who owns the courses? Well, a lot of people who are creating courses are putting those courses on places like Teachable or Cajabi, as an example, and these are services that host your courses.

[00:12:32] So this, these are third party services that host your course portion. You own the content, but for all intents and purposes, they own your courses.

[00:12:52] Now, why is that? Because they’re the ones that are hosting, they’re the ones that have all of your course content. It’s on their platform, you don’t own it. And some people go, well, yeah, I do own it because it’s my content. No, you don’t. And what do I mean by that? These services. They’re dynamic and you’ll find if you’ve been online for a while, that the way that it get distributed is going to change over time.

[00:13:17] You may put the stuff up on Teachable, as an example, or out of the, any of the third party services if something happens to those courses that are there and everything that you’ve been doing on those service. If something happens, they go to business, they get purchased by someone, they change the way they’re doing business.

[00:13:36] You are no longer in control of your courses. They have or they own for all intents and purposes, your courses. So you’re going, okay, I got that. Well, I have my content, my courses, and you know what? I have a community as.

[00:13:56] Now what normally has, when people put a community, they go, yeah, we got a Facebook group. I’m gonna sell you my course, and it’s up on Teachable, or it’s up on a third party service, Kajabi or I, it’s a whole bunch of YouTube videos that have private links. I’m putting all this stuff available. It’s up.

[00:14:13] Great. Now, what about a community? People normally will say, well, I have a private Facebook group and anyone who is taking the course, you can be part of my community. All you have to do is join my Facebook group, or even these third party services. They know communities important. What they’re starting to do is they’re creating or adding community features.

[00:14:40] To their course platforms. So you still got those third party services with the community. Now, who owns the community in those cases? Not you. It’s them. . They own it. So first case, you own the content, you don’t own the courses and you don’t own the. Okay. Am I building an education business at this point?

[00:15:06] Well, I got my content, but I really don’t own these other pieces. So what happens after that? People go, okay, great. I’m gonna do some live classes. I’m all in on this education business stuff. I’m gonna do my live classes. And who owns the live classes? Well, you may do live classes by doing a live stream on YouTube, or it might be a Zoom call that’s private for people who are part of your community or part of your group.

[00:15:35] So the classes, because it’s you actually providing the content live and in real time you own this. Okay? Which is a good check mark. It’s like you own this. And the thing to remember when you’re talking about classes in terms of learning is most people when they’re having classes with their with their, with their group, they’ll, they’ll do a class on a Zoom call, for example.

[00:16:04] They make it private. It’s got some time to it. , but you’re limited because when you’re doing a regular course, you may have to, and you have no control over when people start the course or when people finish the course or what lesson they’re on in the course, you’re doing some live content, but it’s not necessarily organized or tied to the consumption and the activities that are involved in the course.

[00:16:29] So you own it, but you have very little control of how it’s applied to the learning situation, which it’s. Place to start, but it would be really great if we could go to that next step, which is taking it and going, okay, I’ve got a cohort, I’ve got a timed lesson, a timed group. I’ve got a set schedule of learning that’s going to happen and all of the work that needs to be done with that learning, I’m there with my other students and myself providing all of the previous pieces.

[00:17:03] And this whole package, when you are in a position to control the courses, the content, the community, the classes in the cohort, what you’re really doing is you’re creating what I call a campus.

[00:17:22] You’re creating a learning campus, and that learning campus is both passive and active. and it’s something that allows you to own the entire education business. It’s your content, it’s your courses, it’s your community, it’s your classes, and it’s your your cohorts. Now, how do we put this together? That’s the whole deal here.

[00:17:48] You’re gonna have to be in a position. If you’re creating an education business, you wanna make sure that you own all of the pieces to the puzzle here and those pieces. is why I think you should start building your campus on your own hosted website and not use other services. Now, am I saying that as a broad stroke?

[00:18:08] Yeah, absolutely. Some people don’t want a campus, they just wanna sell some courses. They’ve got other parts of their business. They’re not building a dedicated education business. But if you’re going to build a dedicated education business where you want to be in control and actually. The business, not just the content.

[00:18:29] then you’re gonna have to start building out a campus where you’ve got all of these Cs in line and you control all of them. And the way that we do that, the way that I teach it, is using WordPress hosted on our own servers, that we control the content on it. So I’m gonna put my own, own, my own campus.

[00:18:48] I’m gonna have a community. I’m gonna do live classes and make them available. I’m gonna create cohorts that are there and I’m gonna allow people to interact with each, with each other and actually add to the material that is in terms of content that’s being added there. And that’s a real benefit of this because what happens is that if you build a campus, you started off maybe just with your own content.

[00:19:18] But if you own a campus, you can have other people’s content, other instructors, plus you have all of the user generated content, which is the interactions that all of the members of the community that you have. So that education business builds a huge amount of content that you now. You are the one that’s in control of it.

[00:19:45] So this is a, like a, a huge, huge opportunity for people. If you’re looking at building a campus, you don’t have to, but if you wanna build an education business, this is the part that you’re really gonna have to be serious about. So what are the CS again? What do we need? We need content tent. It’s five pieces.

[00:20:05] We need courses. We’re gonna need community.

[00:20:13] We’re gonna have classes or coaching, we’re gonna have cohorts. And what does this all equal your own campus. That’s what an education business is about, is building your own campus. . Hope this made sense to you. You’ve got a great opportunity to think about not just making a course, but actually building an education business by being involved not only in your content, but owning the business, owning your courses, owning your community, and creating an environment where people are able to get the outcomes that they want and be actively involved in learning and reaching their goals as opposed to just sharing some.

[00:20:58] This is James Maduk speaking from Teach Online io. Hope you enjoyed it. Make sure to hit the subscribe button below. And if you haven’t joined our community, visit Take care. Expect the best.

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