7. Feedback or self-paced?

Listen here:

This is an important consideration in terms of your course structure. When I launched my first course, I decided to make it a four-week course and to set one exercise each week that I’d then give feedback on. This meant I could charge more for the course, as I was committing to weekly email consultation.

What I liked about giving regular feedback was that I felt like I was developing a relationship with each of the people on my course. I was learning about their businesses and about them. Also, I could ensure that the pitches they were writing were perfect, as I edited them.

But feedback takes a lot of time. And it means you have to set aside specific time each week to do this. So the other option is that you build the course and once they’ve paid, they have access to the course materials and no interaction with you. It’s less personal but it’s less work.

The second option also means that you’re not limited to a certain amount of spaces. If you’re giving weekly feedback, you need to ensure you’ll be able to cope with the amount of homework you’ll have coming in. On some courses, I had 35 students. It took me a long time to mark each week.

If you decide to create a course that you sell and don’t offer feedback for, you can always have an option for module-by-module feedback as an add-on. Or you could create a ‘full review’ option, offering really detailed guidance and feedback.

If you do decide to give feedback, how will you deliver it? I did it by email but you could do it on Skype or over the phone. If you want to do group feedback, you could do a Facebook Live, or a group Zoom.

Ultimately, it’s about deciding how much input you want to have. If you’re after completely passive income, set up a course and sell it without any feedback options. But if you’re keen to create a community and build relationships with the people on your courses, make this happen.

Remember that you can charge more if you give feedback. And if you would like to use your online course to help you secure more one-to-one consultancy or coaching clients, this will give them a better idea of what it’s like working more closely with you. 

Self-paced or time specific?

This is another important decision. Will you package your course up so that once it’s paid for, they can access all the modules and topics at once and work entirely at their own pace? Or will you release the modules week-by-week?

I’ve done – and do – both and while some people prefer to sign up when they fancy, rather than before a specific date, and to work in their own time – most people like a start date, a routine and deadlines. If you space the modules out, you also give them time to absorb the materials and complete the exercises without feeling overwhelmed.

As I said in the last topic, having a start date can be an incentive for people to sign up. So you are more likely to have a flurry of orders in the lead-up to the course starting, than you will if your course is always available in your shop.

It’s about the psychology: people like an incentive before parting with money. Like an early bird discount. And with start dates, there’s a feeling of ‘if I don’t sign up now, I may miss out’. Whereas an ever-available course won’t offer this same feeling of ‘scarcity’ (as they say in the marketing world). They could just buy it tomorrow. Or next week. Or … never.