The Real Cost of Creating an Online Course - Finance and Time

expats in joburg, moving to joburg

At the end of 2015 we weren’t too sure how much longer we would be staying in South Africa.  I had built up a few corporate coaching clients and run five successful workshops called Women Wine and Wisdom. But if we were to pack up and leave, none of this was transportable!  
Once again I needed a new plan. Otherwise I would be starting from scratch with my career at the same time as trying to sort out the family logistics of schools and housing (etc), which we all know takes priority! 
So I needed to take the time to reinvent my career, something that was portable. I invested in a business coach to help me through the process, and decided my best approach would be to run an online business, putting the content I had already put together into an online course.  
How hard could that be? What a nice three month project.  
A year later - I am now at the beta testing stage. I have learnt a lot, largely through some other wonderful entrepreneurs and I don’t regret the decision at all, but I thought it would be helpful for me to share the reality both in terms of time and money!  

 Time Investment - How long will it take?  

Longer than three months!  

Sure if you are already a blogger, or writing a book, you could probably put together a course over a couple of weekends, but if you are starting from scratch and doing everything yourself - then it probably takes about the same time as writing a book, for me it has taken just under a year. 

Setting realistic expectations    

It is easy to look at the figures the big names are bringing in and think - wow that looks easy, what a great additional income! The reality is the uptake rate is just 1% of your emailing list, so in order for 10 people to buy your course, you will need 1000 people on your email list! Having said that, lots of people have run very successful courses from just a small list of 100, so if you have valuable skills that people want to learn, don’t let this hold you back, but it is helpful to know the statistics.  

Project Plan / How to get Started  

  • Write out list of all potential module headings
  • Decide on the format - are you going to deliver the content through powerpoint, or “talking head” style video, this will determine how you write the content (as a presentation or script).   I have done an introductory video, followed by a presentation (which I recorded on ScreenFlow) supported with a workbook. 
  • Write the content - including the supporting emails and worksheets STICK WITH IT!

Focus - it won’t be perfect first time round, so go with minimum viable product.

I almost quit many times, or got distracted by doing other fun things - like the marketing plan etc. But each time I had to remind myself to focus on the next step which usually was:

    1.    Writing the content,
    2.    Filming the content, 
    3.    Editing the content, 
    4.    Uploading the content! 

Helpful tips - 

Keep a notebook whereby you can jot down any thoughts you have for marketing as you go along. It is also a great idea to have a page for each module so you can have an active to do list that you can go back too, and keep track off.  
Write a sales page (this helped me with the motivation - and great to gain clarity when you are in the thick of content writing). 
Meet with your graphic designer - this got me very excited when I saw the difference a skilled graphic designer could make. 

Financial Investment: 

Choose a platform - there are lots of options - you can use a service provider such as Udemy, Teachable , they are already set up and have people coming to them looking for courses to buy, so if your target market are going to these sites this might be a great option. For me I decided to create my own stand alone site, which again took longer because I had to work out the payment structure along with all the other add ons! I use Squarespace, which I have then password protected through a service Sentry. 
Recruit Experts (believe me they save you lots of time, and well worth the investment) 
    •    Graphic Designer
    •    Videographer and Editing team (I did it all myself - see below for kit list, this took WAY longer than I thought it would, but looking back I am glad I have learnt Final Cut Pro and know the basics of how things work). But it did take about 3 months to learn how all the visual and audio editing and its still not as good as I would like…………..  

My Kit List: 

$240- Squarespace  
$40 Creative Market
$99 Screen Flow -
$35 Audio Jungle  
$290 Final Cut Pro  (plug ins for echo $99) 
$50 Images -  (shuttle stock ) 
$100- Hard Drive (to store all the videos on) 
$199 Microphone / Webcam Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone - Silver Edition  Logitech C920 HD Webcam
Graphic Designer
Business Coach
Total Start Up Costs - $1000< 
Ongoing Costs - 
$ 5 a month Sentry -
$30 a month - Convertkit Email system 

For more information on the final product - Click here for the Identity Project.