sell your own e-courseWriting and Selling Your Own E-Course

by Marg McAlister

 

What are you good at? What do you have a passion for?

Is it something that others would like to learn about?

Writers have a huge advantage over most people who would like to teach others about their hobby or area of expertise - they know how to write!

There are probably countless people out there who know how to do something better than others. They might be experts on breeding dogs, running a hobby farm, starting up and running a profitable B&B, building a boat, fixing cars... and so on and so on. They may even be able to run an occasional workshop on how to do it.

But YOU have an advantage over all of these people. You know how to write - REALLY write. You know how to use words to paint a picture for people. You know how to 'show' them exactly what you mean, just by using words and illustrations.

Do you know how few people can actually do that?

NOT MANY.

Lots of people with a hobby or special interest have thought about starting up a newsletter or a blog, and this is an excellent way to attract a following. However, if you really know what you're talking about, then you could turn your knowledge into a nice little business - by writing an e-course on it. Or ever a series of e-courses.

There are four main steps in the process of writing a high-quality, profitable e-course.

1. You have to WRITE the course.

This involves careful planning. You need to decide what you are going to teach people, and in what order. You need a step-by-step plan that will walk them through the course, with each part building logically on the one before. You have to make it enjoyable - that is, not boring! You have to give them things to do that will let them practice the things you are teaching, or involve them in the content. You have to decide whether you are going to set assignments for them to do, and whether these are going to be marked by you, or self-assessed. You also need to decide whether you are going to use photographs to illustrate your points, or whether you need diagrams/artwork. If so, are you capable of providing quality illustrations yourself,or will you need to source them elsewhere? Aim to be professional - don't let yourself down with poor artwork in an effort to save money.

2. You have to put your course ONLINE.

When you have written the best course you know how, you need to upload it to a website - preferably your OWN website! After all, your potential clients have to have somewhere to go to read about the course and sign up for it. They also have to have a way to pay for it. You should automate the payment process (one of the easiest ways is to set up an account with PayPal: this allows people to choose PayPal, a credit card, or even an e-cheque). You don't want to force people to phone you up to enrol and pay for the course - especially if they're in a different country or time zone.

3. You need to PROMOTE your course.

This might involve any of the following: word of mouth, an advertisement in a print magazine or newspaper, an ad in an internet-based newsletter or ezine, word of mouth, advertising on other websites, starting a blog, or using social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. You will also need to write what is usually called a 'sales letter' or a 'sales page' - that is, the page where you tell people about what is in your course and the benefits to them of signing up.

It helps to get glowing testimonials from people who have done the course - it is much more convincing to hear praise from people who have done it, than to ask clients to simply take your word for it! To write good sales copy, you need to know a little about copywriting skills. (Copywriting is basically sales copy that convinces people to buy).

How do you get testimonials if nobody has completed it? You send out some complimentary courses to acquaintances in return for their honest feedback. If you have done a good job of writing the course, that feedback should be very positive! And if they find something they don't like or find confusing - great! This is your chance to fix it before you release your course to the world.

4. You have to DELIVER your course.

You can either arrange to have the course delivered weekly for a set period of time, or you can send people back to your website to download the entire course (PayPal will do this - you can enter a web address in a special field, and your clients will be sent back there after paying). If you decide to have the course delivered over several weeks, you will need a reliable autoresponder service like Aweber. (I use Aweber to deliver my e-courses.)

This, in short, outlines the basics of writing and delivering an e-course. It's a wonderful opportunity for you to combine your skill as a writer with your talent or expertise in another area. (If writing is all you do, then think about how you might teach writing skills in a DIFFERENT way. Can you market a course in writing/editing/proofreading - or on how to set up a newsletter - to a specific group, such as real estate agents, accountants, sporting groups, or groups of people who suffer a common illness?)

There are many, many opportunities for you when it comes to writing and marketing an e-course. The Internet is the first place most people go for information these days. Wouldn't it be nice if the first "expert" they found through Google was YOU?

© Marg McAlister

 

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