The #1 mistake most course creators make

When I first pivoted from creating courses for colleges and corporations to serving entrepreneurs, one of my readers reached out for help designing her online course. We’ll call her Laura.

Laura is a therapist and a writer. She has a thriving audience who love her emails.

Because she was constantly getting questions from her audience, she figured an online course was the logical next step to teach them about therapy. 

Makes sense.

She told me upfront that the course needed to be fully online. As a practicing therapist, her time was limited, so anything in-person wouldn’t work. Plus, given the topic we didn't want boundaries to be crossed.

And that’s where we made our first mistake.

Just like with Bryan, we did learner interviews. Except, instead of listening for problems we were too focused on pitching our idea. (See, I've made mistakes with this stuff too.)

And we missed two key things as a result:

  • Her audience kept hinting that they didn't have anyone to talk about therapy with. They wanted access to her.
  • Plus--and this was a big one--therapy is hard. If you get stuck, it can spiral pretty quickly and who do you turn to for support? 

But we built the online course anyway.

Sales were...decent. And learning results were mixed because we didn’t account for the obstacles her learners expressed.

Being in love with your idea is the #1 mistake I see course creators make. And it'll bite you every time.

Speaking of listening, remember yesterday’s post? (If not, click here.)

In it, I shared two things to listen for in learner interviews: feelings and wants. The third thing to listen for is, you guessed it, obstacles.

It's not enough to know what your learners want and how they feel. If you want to incite action, you need to know what’s holding them back.

So what happened with Laura?

Well, she eventually launched a group version of her course--with access to her--that sold like wildfire.

(Ahem: Now I’m not saying group programs are more effective than self-paced courses. Don’t @ me on Twitter and tell the world that I said group programs are the bestest, most fab way to learn.)

Learning is complex. If you want to engineer action and transformation (changed behavior), you have to do a few things, specifically:

  • Conduct a Learner Analysis (aka, talk to your audience; if you really want to geek out, a full needs analysis)
  • Foster a supportive learning environment (community works great for this)
  • Help your learners recognize their habits (we can't change what we don't face)

What next?

Want a tool to help you apply this stuff yourself? Click the button below to grab my Learner Journey Worksheet.

Alrighty, that's it for now.

But in a couple days, I’ll be back…

...and we’re gonna finally talk about the elephant in your course.



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