Every successful course creator I've ever worked with or interviewed has told me the same thing: "I asked people what they were struggling with and created a solution."
There's a reason none of them said, "I asked people what they wanted."
People don't usually know what they want. They just want the pain to stop...the problem to go away.
If you're thinking of creating an online course, you probably plan to survey or talk to your audience first, right?
You may even do Customer Development Interviews (which I'm a big fan of), i.e. talking to your target customer face to face to discover their pain points. CDIs are a great tool, but they have limitations:
People won't want to hurt your feelings by telling you your idea sucks. (Most of us don't like confrontation/ conflict.)
People don't usually know how to articulate their ideal solution because they can only envision things they've seen already.
People don't usually disclose bad habits or things that make them uncomfortable/ hold them back. You need to know these things!
Admittedly, asking certain questions will help you circumvent these issues. But there's another way to get around these limitations:
Learn to spy.
Whoa! Before you go out and buy a 007 starter kit or Carmen Sandiego costume, I don't mean literally spy.
What I mean is it's not enough to interview your audience, you've also got to observe them in places they hang out to see what they say in a neutral environment.
What problems do they share?
What language do they use to talk about these problems?
What solutions have they tried?
This is the very topic of my interview with Amy Hoy. Lucky for you, we recorded it!
If you're not familiar with Amy's work, she is a designer, serial entrepreneur, and the co-genius behind Stacking the Bricks.
Amy has a lot of opinions and doesn't pull any punches whatsoever. In the interview, we chat about:
Why Lean Startup-style validation doesn't work
When you should pre-sell your course
Why you should create a tiny product first
Amy's infamous battle with a rogue squirrel