1. It was much more work than I thought but it helped
Writing an eBook was easy compared to creating an online course. The cost of online courses is usually much more expensive than an eBook and therefore students rightfully want to see their enrollment money going to good use. I was required to create video tutorials, buy new gear and create podcasts, learn coding to create a social community, hire coders to create grading tools and much more.
2. I was starting a company. Not just offering a course online.
I was doing more than just putting a course online. I was create a complex system that would be able to handle administrative tasks of running an online course, implementing marketing strategies to help me promote my course and much more. These business needs ended up taking up a huge percentage of my time which leads me to my next point.
3. Balancing student satisfaction and growth is hard
When I started my course I wanted to make sure my students felt like their $200 course enrollment fee gave them access to a course that felt valued at $5000. I wanted there to be a huge “oh my god. I can’t believe I only paid $200 for this course” moment. I knew it would take a pretty big investment in time on my part to get to that level. However, as the eCourse grew in popularity I found my time being pulled towards needed to deal with administrative duties (email, advertising, coding issues etc). When you’re first starting out it’s incredibly difficult to grow your course while at the same time keeping your current student’s happy. My advice to you is to create the value in your course before you offer it to your students. Make it as good as you can possibly make it before you open up the doors and let people enroll. Because once you open up the doors you have a business to run.
4. There were many opportunities for growth (job boards, forums, etc)
When I first started, I also thought I was going to be offering a course online. What I didn’t realize is that my students were hungry for additional courses, more advanced courses and personalized one on one consulting. I become a one product company to a multi product company. I was able to offer a job board on my site where employers could pay to get access to my community, a social network where people could pay to promote their profiles, various courses and even ebooks for less interactive subjects.
5. Focusing on learning objectives becomes an obsession
Once I was able to stabilize the business side of my course I transferred my energies back to my course and I become obsessed with my students achievements. What does implementing a different teaching technique have on student’s outcomes? What does different course design have a student outcomes. I measured the metrics and analyzed the data and kept my eye on the results that student’s were producing. If their projects didn’t meet my expectations I didn’t see that as their fault. I saw it as my fault. How come my teaching didn’t get through to them? What wasn’t clean? I would go back to the drawing board and redesign the course and assignments until I got outcomes I was impressed with.
6. You don’t have to be a teacher to be a great teacher (subject matter expert)
When I started my course I wasn’t a trained “teacher”. I was a subject matter expert. I liked teaching and I found it came natural to me, but I didn’t know much about pedagogies.
7. Building a thriving student community is hard (interaction)
On an individual level I become very happy with my student’s individual goals. But I wanted more. I wanted to build a thriving community of learners who share similar passions. I didn’t just want their relationship to be with me. I wanted them to build relationships with each other. Achieving this was very different.
8. I did not know I could earn so much.
Years have passed since I first started my course. I remember when I first started out, my goal was to make $500 / week running my course part time (I had a full time job at the time I didn’t want to leave). However, as my online course grew it demanded more of my time. It also slowly but surely brought in additional income. My $500 / week goal was hit and then I pretty quickly jumped to $1000 / week. Now my eCourse makes upwards of $4000 / week. It wasn’t easy, but I did it and it continues to grow to this day. I never would have expected in a million years for my course to get that big. But it did!
Academy Of Mine started organically to solve the problem of being able to put together not only an online course but the entire ecosystem of running an online Academy. So if you’re just starting out… enjoy the ride!