5 Reasons Most Online Courses Fail (& How To Turn Them Into Your Biggest Opportunity)

100 Billion Dollars (and growing).

That’s the estimated size of the online education market.

Most of us have heard the number by now.

And in doing so, eagerly whipped out our whiteboards, cued up the Camtasia and raced to claim our piece of the 100 billion dollar pie.

Yum :)

Only not :(

The truth is that while the online education industry is MASSIVE…

… it’s not an evenly distributed one.

There will a few BIG winners.

And many, many more who walk away with their tails between their legs.

Their “courses” relegated to the online equivalent of a $2 DVD discount bin.

No impact. No income.

Not to mention expensive tech and membership platforms left to collect dust as you wait for your annual membership to expire.

The good news is, this doesn’t have to be YOUR reality.

Because after creating 6 massively successful online courses in my own business
(that have collectively served over 35K students and generated $6.5M in leveraged income)…

I’ve pinpointed the secret sauce that makes an online course primed for disproportional levels of success.

And one destined for the Dropbox trash bin. (if it even gets there).

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MISTAKE #1 – Not Treating Your Course Like a Project

Building a successful online course isn’t particularly hard or complicated. But there are MANY moving pieces and potential failure points along the way.

What recording software to use?

How to structure the lessons?

How to host it online?

These are just some of the MANY questions you’ll have to be ready to answer along the way.

Most entrepreneurs approach their course creation as just another “thing” to do or learn.

But the thing is, you can’t treat course building as just another strategy, tactic or system.

Your course (even if it’s your first) is an immensely valuable (and fragile) asset that when done right, can generate 6, 7 or even 8 figures in revenues over the course of it’s lifetime.

Time to respect it for what it is – a PROJECT – and approach it accordingly.

Takeaway: Use Complexity as Your Competitive Advantage

The fact that building a course is a *little* complex shouldn’t alarm you.

Instead, it should excite you!

Because where there are barriers to entry, there’s a distinct advantage for you to properly navigate them while your competitors struggle to leap over the same hurdle.

MISTAKE #2 – Thinking About Selling Before you Build It

I won’t win many friends here, but I’ll say it anyway.

Do not… and I repeat… DO NOT even think about funnels, facebook ads, or flashy
sales tactics before you finish building your course.

I know selling is sexy, and that few things give us more pleasure than flexing our funnel muscles and imagining how much revenue our course will earn once we get our perfect funnel dialed in.

But let me tell you – this is a major mistake.

As we just acknowledged – building a course is a major project with many moving
parts.

Therefore, it’s vital that you retain every bit of focus and flow on executing the
tasks involved in creating your course.

The goal is to build a 6 or 7-figure, long-term asset! Worth more than most
people’s homes! If you were building a house, you wouldn’t try to play the role of the
builder and real estate agent at the same time.

You would build it the best you can (according to the specs you know your
market wants)… and you would pour every bit of energy into that.

Would-be course creators get too excited about selling (funnel fever) way too prematurely.

But the truth is, no tactic will work unless you have it built to begin with.

Further to that point, no copywriting, persuasion or funnel hack will work unless your course itself is built to convert!

And the only way to build a course that converts is to be so laser-focused on the task at hand (and what your audience wants) without overwhelming yourself on the “how to sell” part.

Takeaway: Build it first. Then (and only then) think about how to sell it.

I’m not saying “build it and they will come”. Instead, I’m saying…

“Build it so good, they’ll beg you to buy”.

And then, WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT, amplify your profits with the tested and proven marketing systems that put your sales on overdrive.

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MISTAKE #3 – Not Learning How to Teach

Being a world-class expert on your topic isn’t the same as being a world-class teacher. In rare cases they go hand-in-hand, but most of the time they don’t.

I’ve known MANY brilliant experts and marketers who’ve had so much value and insight to share with their tribes.

The only problem was – they had no idea how to connect with their students or how to present the material in a way that students could engage with it, implement it, and most importantly get results from it.

As a result, course engagement drops, results are non-existent, and you end up spending more time processing refund requests than you do polishing your material.

Takeaway: The best online courses are taught by the best online teachers.

I’m not saying this to freak you out, but to let you know that with just a *little bit* of effort you can become an engaging and confident presenter that gets your students RESULTS.

The bar for teaching has likely been set pretty low in your industry, and with just a few quick upgrades you’ll quickly differentiate yourself from even the more seasoned experts in your field.

MISTAKE #4 – Kitchen Sink Syndrome

More ≠ better.

Training courses are meant to be student focused, results-driven and process-oriented…

Not an opportunity for you to address your own insecurities by proving how knowledgeable you are on your topic.

It blows my mind how some course creators still think that “20, 40, 50 hours of video content” is a desirable selling point.

(unless your audience consists mostly of agoraphobic retirees)

Many first-time course creators channel their own insecurity into creating a MASSIVE
course that throws everything they know against the wall, hoping the answer to their audience’s problem lies somewhere in the rubble.

Truth is: It’s not your audience’s job to sift through the sludge. It’s yours.

Your audience is busy… and if their problem is URGENT, they want to learn how to solve it in the most efficient way possible

Takeaway: You prove your expertise by giving them the clearest, most efficient and impactful steps.

Teaching an online course isn’t a performance and there are definitely no Oscars being handed out (I wish).

However, there are a TON of profits to be made for the best problem solver and
educator.

So I’ll repeat:

This isn’t about YOU.

It’s about your ideal client, the result you’re helping them achieve, and confidently showing them the most effective steps to solve it.

MISTAKE #5. Not Delivering What Your Audience REALLY Wants

This is a stinking point for most would-be course creators.

On one hand, you want to be absolutely sure that what you’re investing your time and energy in will convert.

But on the other, we are CREATORS, THINKERS and TEACHERS…

… not data-driven analysts who can hang out with surveys and spreadsheets for days on end without wanting to pound the self-eject button.

So clearly there’s a balance to be struck here.

And the need for a strategic way to go about doing it.

Takeaway: Aim to achieve minimum viable validation with your course, and then iterate as needed.

If you have clients to serve, a business to run, and a Netflix backlog to watch, you don’t have time to bury yourself in a data dump you could never climb out of.

Instead, leverage the 80/20 of course validation methods that get you creating faster with confidence.

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Final Thought:

Remember, your course is a long term (and highly leveragable) 6 or 7-figure asset.

Although most will eagerly race to the +100 billion dollar pie, few will build a course strong enough to earn them even a small spoonful.

The way you claim YOUR disproportionately large slice is to bypass the 5 major pitfalls above, while engineering your course to convert with a perfect step-by-step project plan.

One that gets you moving through the sticky bits (like validation and tech) faster, so that you can flex your teaching muscles and share the fruits of your experience and expertise with those most eager to taste them.