Transcript: Update Your Course Content In 5 Simple Phases

July 20, 2023

AMY PORTERFIELD: “Keeping everything organized and easily accessible when you film is very important. You literally want to have everything planned out and available to you in a pinch because, let's be real, there's nothing worse than not being able to find something when you really need it.”  

INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started. 

AMY: I want to tell you about a podcast I think you should check out. It's called Marketing Against the Grain. It's hosted by Kipp Bodnar and Kieran Flanagan, and it's brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. Because I know you market for your business, if you want to know what's trending, what's ahead, and how you can lead the way, this is the podcast for you. Hosts Kipp and Kieran share their marketing hot takes like nobody does. I love when they talk about things like how to turn problems into opportunities or dive deep into A.I. and marketing. It’s so good. So be sure to check it out. You can listen to Marketing Against the Grain wherever you get your podcasts. 

Well, hey, there, friend. Welcome to another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast. 

Before we dive in, can you do me a huge favor? Would you mind sending this episode or just sharing my podcast with three of your friends?—three friends that are entrepreneurial or want to be entrepreneurial, need help with their marketing, maybe even want to create a digital course down the road—I would greatly appreciate it. Just grab the link, text it to a friend, email, Slack it, whatever you do in terms of how you communicate with your peers. I would greatly appreciate it.  

See, I've been working hard to put out valuable content to support my online entrepreneurs and my digital-course creators, and I want to make sure it gets in the hands of those who need it most. So go ahead. Wherever you're listening, click that Share button or just grab the link, send it on to a few friends. The more people I can reach, the more value I can offer, and I'd be forever grateful.  

Okay, so on to today's episode, which is all about how to update your course content. And this, my friend, is something I've done many, many times over my career as an online educator.  

Now, as you probably already know, I'm a process person. I have a system for just about everything I do, and it's helped me immensely in my business, especially when it comes to making updates to my courses. In fact, I've got it down to a science. So if you're feeling even the slightest bit overwhelmed by the thought of updating your course content, then this episode is for you because I'm going to break it all down for you step by step by step in a way that's easy to understand. 

And here's the icing on the cake. I have some really great tools and resources to go along with this episode that you can download and use as your own to stay on track. So stick around to the end to hear how you can snag them, of course, for free.  

Now, I promise, when you're hyper organized, the entire process of updating your course is so much more efficient. And I just want to say—let's say you don't even have a course yet. Like, you're still listening. I haven’t lost you yet. But you're thinking, “Amy, I don't think this episode’s for me. I don't have a digital course yet,”—I can promise you that the system I use to update a digital course can be used for many different things in your business that you will eventually need to update. And also, I think it's a baller move to know how to update a digital course before you even create your first one. You will keep all of these practices in mind when you create it for the first time, and you'll create your course for the first time differently, knowing that when you go to update it, you're going to need a few things done from the get-go of creation. So you actually have a huge benefit of creating your course for the first time to align with, “Okay, well, I'm eventually going to need to update this, so why not put the processes in place now when I'm creating it for the first time?” I promise you, things you're going to learn here will actually, for those of my new course creators, you'll create your course differently based on what you're going to learn here. I know it.  

But those of you who already have a course or a membership or some kind of program that you know you're going to need to update, tune in, my friend. I’ve got a system for you. And, really, pull out a pen and paper or a Google Doc or the Notes app on your phone. You will want to take notes on this episode. Let's get to it. 

All right. So if you know me, then you know that I'm a big fan of breaking things up into phases, and this, my friend, is no exception. So the first phase in the process is what I like to call the preplan phase. And in this phase, you're going to make a running list of all the updates that you'd like to make to your course based on any student feedback you've received or any ideas that pop into your head.  

Now, I like to update my courses every two to three years because, let's be real, I'm in digital marketing and things change. So for this entire time, in the two to three years of me putting my course out, selling my course, guess what my team and I are doing. We're taking detailed notes on what I'm hearing from my students and also what I'm seeing. I'm paying attention to my students when they're inside Digital Course Academy or inside List Builders Society. I'm paying attention to their behaviors. I'm tracking if they're getting to the end of the course. I'm paying attention to where they drop off. All of it. I'm paying attention to where they get stuck, where they could use more support, and of course, anything new in the industry that they need to be aware of, like example, A.I., ChatGPT. It's on the scene now. It's a big deal. I don't have it in my courses yet. I'm going to need to do something about that. So that would be added to this running list of ideas for when I update it. 

Now, side note, and I'll get to this later, because let's say ChatGPT is a great example of something very relevant and timely now, until I redo my entire course and add it maybe as a module down the road, I can always add it as a bonus standalone module until I redo the course. So you can bet that I'll be talking about how to use ChatGPT to create a course when I launch Digital Course Academy in the next few months, and I will have likely some kind of training around it. But when I redo the entire course, it will become more integrated in the program.  

So there's things you can do in the meantime between those years that you're updating your course to make sure you stay relevant. I'm sure I'll touch on this a little bit later in this training, but I just wanted to point that out.  

So again, you are creating a document, a running list of all the updates that you may—you're not too sure yet—but you may want to make. And the key here is you're updating them in the moment. When the idea hits you, you're opening up the Google Doc that you've bookmarked on your computer. You're just adding a quick note about it so you do not forget it. If you sit down to update a course and you do not have this document, you will forget twenty things that you've thought over the last year that you've wanted to include. This is a real-time running list. It's so important.  

So pay attention to the questions that your students are asking you. Are they asking the same things over and over again, let's say, in the webinar that you're using to sell the course or in your Facebook group or in your customer experience, like in emails that they're sending to your customer-experience team? So what are the questions and concerns that are popping up? These patterns that you're looking for are a great indicator that something's not clear in your course content, and these, of course, should be addressed and included in your updates.  

Another way that you can get feedback on your course content is to send your students a survey, which we do, because as you probably already know, a lot of people won't really pipe up with their thoughts or questions unless they're specifically asked. You have a better chance of getting someone to fill out a survey when they're a paying customer and that survey is about a course that they are in. So just know you likely should get some really great responses.  

I like to have one central location where I keep track of everything, and it's just a super-simple Google Doc with a four-column table and a section for each module in the course. So when I say it has four columns, these are the columns. Number one, the first column is action. That's the specific update that you'd like to make. Like, “Add GPT to a module in DCA.” That would be the action. You just want to keep it really simple and to the point.  

Now, the second column in this Google Doc is “Notes.” That includes a little bit more detail or context about the action you're going to take and maybe even the specific feedback that you've received. So let's say some of the feedback I've received is, “Should I do a live launch or evergreen?” And so I might—this is already in DCA—but I might say, “Include an evergreen training in DCA,” which is already there, for the record. But in the notes, I would say something like, “We're getting a lot of questions. People are confused between should they do live or should they do evergreen? and the pros and cons of each. This would be a great PDF.” Like, that would be the notes. It doesn't mean I'm 100 percent doing it. I just want the ideas to be there when I go to update the course.  

Now, the third column is “Owner.” This is where you fill in who is responsible for owning the completion of this if you do choose to move forward with it. And if you don't have a team, then just take out that column, and it's you, my friend.  

And to finish off the Google Doc, the fourth column is just the “Due Date.” So if you decide to do it, you're going to assign an owner, and you're going to assign a due date because what gets scheduled gets done. So again, I've got this template for you. It's part of a bigger package that I am, of course, going to give you for free. So stay till the end and I'll tell you how to get your hands on it.  

Okay. So let's move on to phase two, which is the planning phase. If you have a team, block off one or two days that you can meet together, and if you're flying solo, make sure you have this time in your calendar for focus work, because in this phase, this is where you want to review the overall structure of the program. And you're going to ask questions like, is this program actually working? Am I getting people results? If not, what needs to change? If you don't love the results you're seeing or you think, “I should be seeing more results,”—by the way, if you're not asking for testimonials, you're probably not getting them. I have an entire podcast about testimonials and how to ask for them. I will link to that in the show notes at—but here's the thing: if you feel like you're not getting people the results that you have promised, then we need to change things up, right? So ask yourself what needs to change. Do you need to add or adjust any new modules or lessons?  

For me, it usually is I have to change the structure of the program. Like, for DCA, we used to teach it differently, and we realized people wanted to learn one chunk of something that we were teaching at the very end. We brought it closer to the beginning, and it allowed people to breathe a little bit easier that I was teaching it early on. I wouldn't have known that if I didn't listen to people's challenges. And then I was able to change around the order. So when you actually redo a program, like, you're going to rerecord the whole thing, that's when you start to say, “Do I want to change the structure or order of anything?” And then, are there any updates needed to your content based on new trends, like AI, or discoveries or information in your industry?  

So in addition to hashing out the updates to your actual content, talk through any tweaks you need to make from a visual standpoint. So like, for instance, if you rebranded since your course was last updated, you want to make sure that it's reflected in the new version of your course. This is also the time to look at the PDF support docs that you have and decide if you can incorporate any content to make it more streamlined. Or heck, maybe you decide you want to remove it for the next course altogether or replace it with something new based on the content that you're changing. 

Now, going into this planning phase, my team and I like to have a project plan that we can fill in with tasks while we're meeting. So when I say a project plan, I'm talking about the fact that we open up Asana. A-S-A-N-A. We open up Asana, we build out a project plan, and then when we make decisions, we're actually updating this project plan so at the end of the day, we've got everything in there that we discussed.  

So my project plan in Asana, it's organized by course modules. So there's one project called “Digital Course Academy Revamp,” let's say. And then in there, I organize things by course modules—so each module has its own section—and then underneath each module, it lists specific tasks that we want to change in that module. So the overarching tasks typically include updating the outline of the course or updating, let's say, a script for a specific lesson or updating the slide deck or just reviewing all the slide decks to make sure they're exactly what we want to be teaching. And then, of course, you could update support docs for each lesson.  

And just a note, each supporting doc gets its own task within the project plan. So the task is not “Update All the PDFs;” it's “Update PDF Module Five, Lesson Two,’ and then in the Notes section of that task, put some notes as to what the heck they're updating, because having it all in one place is very valuable.  

So now that you have your project plan that's organized by module—so you're using that Google Doc to go over everything that you've taken notes on over, let's say, the last year or two. You're making some decisions. You're putting those decisions in a project plan that's organized by module that has specific tasks underneath the module, along with your updated document that you made in phase one, which includes specific feedback from your students and just from taking notes throughout the year—and what you want to do next is to take your Updates document and make sure that feedback is addressed in your project plan.  

So like I said, if you're going to make the decision that you're updating Module Five, Lesson Two PDF, then copy and paste those notes, and add to them if you need to, into the Asana task. So when Jane goes into the Asana task and sees this has been assigned to her, she doesn't have to go back to that document. It's all in one place. “Oh, I know what PDF I'm updating, and I know why it needs to be updated. Let's go.” 

And remember, this is how I like to project plan my course updates. Play around with what works best for you. Create your project plan as you see fit and what feels good for you. But the point is, whatever plan you're putting together, it has to be something that you're actually going to take action on.  

All right. So it's time to move on to phase three, which is when you take the action plan created during your planning meeting and you implement it. This includes reviewing all the lessons and bonuses you have and then updating your scripts and your slide decks and your supporting documents as necessary. It's very rare that you have to update everything. Very, very rare. But where it might get time consuming, and it did for us the last time we updated Digital Course Academy, is when we changed the sequence of things, when we moved an entire module up and then had to kind of move things around from there. It's just going to take time. So the implementation, you've got to have it in your calendar that you're allowing yourself this time to update your course. 

Now, I have an absolutely wonderful content team that helps me do this, but if you're a solopreneur, this is a time when you could consider hiring a contractor to support you. So, for example, you could hire a graphic-design support to help update the branding in your slides. Or you could hire a content support to help you make edits to your script. Just something to think about if you're like, “How am I going to do this all by myself?” You don't necessarily need to. And if this is something you're considering, I want you to check out episode 552. And so It's called “How to Find, Hire, & Onboard a Content-Support Contractor”—I've got everything you need, my sweet friend—and how to find a content-support contractor who can absolutely help you update your digital course. So, of course, I will link to that in the show notes.  

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All right. Moving on to phase four, which is when you finally film your new lessons. So one of the questions I get most frequently asked is if certain modules or lessons are staying exactly the same, can you leave those as-is, or do you need to rerecord them along with any lessons? This is honestly your personal preference. I typically rerecord everything because I don't want to look different. I mean, listen, I'm in my forties and I'm aging, and so if I look a whole lot younger in a few videos and then I just look different in these other videos, it just, I don't think is a great streamlined experience. So if you've dramatically cut your hair—I remember Stu was saying, “I've got to shave my beard because I'm rerecording some videos for my membership experience, and I didn't have a beard in those videos.” And I think that's very smart.  

So either look as much like you can in the other videos or if you look very different, I have had a big weight-loss experience, and so I look much, much heavier in my older videos. And listen, just my ego doesn't like that. But also, I don't want a drastic look of weight loss in my videos because I think it just takes people out of the game. Like, I don't want them worrying about me, or how old is that video compared to this?  

That's another thing they're going to think. If your videos look dramatically different, if you look dramatically different, they will wonder how old some of this content is.  

Now, remember, I teach that you don't even have to be on video in your courses. You do not have to be on video. So with that, if you just do slide deck and audio for all your videos, you don't have to worry about anything I'm talking about here, and you sure as heck don't need to rerecord any of the older videos if there's no video of you in it. And nothing needs to be changed. So it's one way to look at how you might want to record your courses. If you're like, “I do not want to redo all of this,” do slides and audio for most of the program to make it easy to update the next time around.  

And here's one little other trick. If you are on camera, wear a different shirt for each module. That way, let's say you have to go back and you’re only rerecording module five. Well, you didn't wear the same thing in every single module, so it doesn't matter what you wear. They're expecting you to look a little bit different in each module. That might help, too. So just something to think about.  

Now, you probably know all of this if you've already gone through the process of recording a course. But keeping everything organized and easily accessible when you film is very important. You literally want to have everything planned out and available to you in a pinch because, let's be real, there's nothing worse than not being able to find something when you really need it.  

There are a lot of moving pieces, and for that reason, I have a filming schedule that I use to stay on track. It includes everything from the outfits I'm going to wear—listen, especially for us ladies, figuring this out in advance saves a lot of angst the day of filming—so I figure out what I'm going to wear in each of my modules, and then a detailed schedule of the videos I'm going to record for each day, and actual links to my scripts and slides so everything is at my fingertips. When I am filming and I can't find something, it takes me off my game. And so having everything in one place is very valuable.  

Now, this filming schedule has saved me countless, countless hours of stress, and I want you to have it. It's actually very simple, but so good. So I’m including it as part of the bundle of freebies I'm giving you as part of this episode. So hang on to hear how to get it.  

All right, my friend. We're in the final stretch of this episode and the fifth and final phase, which is where you QC all the video lessons and anything that you recorded. Then you're editing—either you're sending it out to get edited, or you're editing it yourself—and you're uploading them to your platform, like Searchie.  

Now, this is another place where you could really lean on the support of a contractor or virtual assistant. So things like video editing, video proofing, actually uploading the content to your platform, all of these tasks can be outsourced if you don't have an in-house team, or you can just have, find the time to do it yourself.  

And as you can imagine, this is also a phase that requires a lot of organization to stay on top of everything. So as you probably guessed, I've got a couple of spreadsheets to help you. The first spreadsheet I have is what I call an edit grid, and that includes all the edits I need to make to the videos themselves as well as any other assets, like slide deck, support docs, and graphics, that I want to edit as well inside my platform.  

So the second spreadsheet I use is where I keep track of what's been uploaded to my course platform, like Searchie, and what still needs to be added, because it's maddening to be like, “Wait. Did I already update the new video for Module Five? I don't know.” Like, if you don't keep track of this, you will absolutely forget what you did.  

I love this document I'm going to give you. So it just shows you how much progress you're making in terms of getting everything done. So it includes a list where I can check off when my support resources, like PDFs, audios, transcripts, have been uploaded to the platform. And so, again, just knowing what the heck you're doing at all times, so valuable.  

So both of these documents are pretty detailed so nothing goes missed. And I'm giving both of these to you so you can stay hyper organized throughout this entire phase.  

Now, here's how to get these two documents, plus all the other templates I've listed out in this episode. All you got to do is go to Even if you're not ready to update a course, you're going to want these. Save them on your computer, Dropbox, wherever you keep your documents. You will want these documents. I've perfected them over the last ten years, and I'm giving them to you for free. So You'll get them on my show notes. Do not wait. Do it now before you forget.  

Holy smokes. There was a lot packed into this episode. Would you agree? Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back because you've made it to the very end.  

Now, you have a tried-and-true plan for updating your course content, one that I've used with a lot of success over the past fourteen years. I found that by breaking it down into smaller phases, the ones you just heard about, the entire process feels much more manageable. 

So, here’s your homework. First, I want you to make sure you download the freebie bundle for this episode. You do not want to miss it. And second, I want to hear about what your experience is like updating your course content now that you have this five-phase plan. So once you do this, I want to hear from you. Remember, I'm just @amyporterfield on Instagram. If you're not following me yet, I promise you're missing out on a lot of good announcements and insights and value. So make sure to follow me on Instagram, @amyporterfield. And DM me when you use this five-phase system. I want to know all about it.  

Thanks for joining me for another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast. I'll see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now. 

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