Behind the scene of my first online course launch (for myself)

Until Thursday, enrollment is open for my new online program, WordPress Publishing Essentials. Woohoo!!!

Four years ago I started getting curious about online courses, and dreamed of creating a way to share what I was learning about design and marketing. This was right at the start of my business and I was working with Eve’s Cidery and Heartstone, both rural businesses where I lived – and we were seeing results. It was exciting and validating that I was on to something powerful.

I wanted to create my own online course and I had tons of ideas – but was struggling to figure it out on my own.

When I’m spinning my wheels, I usually turn to a podcast or some other type of content to help me gain perspective. That’s how I discovered Level Up Your Course, a podcast with Janelle Allen, a curriculum designer in Chicago.

What she teaches is fundamentally different than every other online course advice out there. She is clear about who is ready and who isn’t ready to build a course. Of course that is not what I wanted to hear… but she was right, 4 years ago I wasn’t ready.

I’m glad I listened to her.

From listening to her episodes I started to understand that I wanted a course that would provide a tangible transformation – not just a folder of videos. Education isn’t about offloading information, it’s about providing a process to save someone time and get them to where they want to go.

Students should be able to complete a course and say “I did it, and here’s what I have to show for it”.

In terms of a website course, the outcome needed to be a website that met the same professional standards involved in a 5-15k design project.

Janelle taught me that before focusing on my course I first needed to work with clients and refine a process of guiding someone from point A to point B.

So instead of building a course, I doubled down on client work and started to clarify the process of building a website.

Over time, I learned where people get stuck – and I learned where my support was most valuable. I also learned when to shut up and leave space (I’m still working on that).

This past October Janelle announced her group Finish Your Damn Course. At this point I trusted her experience and methodology, so I joined. I was willing to commit to the assignments and excited to get to work with her directly as a student. Working with her as a client would have been outside of my price range at the moment, so this was perfect.

Needless to say, her program worked. It brought me from struggling with all my questions to launching my first online course, the one I’d been dreaming about for years. Janelle invited me on her podcast to share the journey – so now I’m a guest on the very podcast that started it all!

Having a teacher to guide the process has been one of the most important decisions I’ve made. She has been there to answer my questions, help me overcome my barriers, and celebrate my wins. It’s been incredible.

With Janelle’s support, I applied backwards design – creating each lesson around specific outcomes. I also learned how to focus the course so that I wasn’t teaching everything but only teaching the essentials, hence the name.

It’s because of Janelle that I decided to skip teaching the details of setting up a website on a server… and focus instead on design and publishing. By lesson 2 students have a working website with a username and password, established on one of the maple care plan packages. For the entire course we focus on getting your content into a design that works. In the end you can manage your website and have the design skills you need to make changes on a regular basis and grow your business .

If you’re interested, you can read more about WordPress Publishing Essentials here, and if winter seems like a good time to have a website that can grow your audience, then let’s chat soon. Enrollment is between now and Thursday.

So there you have it, behind the scenes of my very first online course launch. What are you working on right now? Anything coming up?

As always, I’m here to help you get unstuck with your website idea. Scroll down for more information and to schedule a call.

Tags: Beaver Builder

Ryan Clover

Designer and founder of Maple Creative, providing technical wizardry for activists, educators. and small business owners who are out to change the world.