A Simple 9 Step Guide to Online Course Creation on a budget.
Here are nine simple steps you can use to create an online course on a budget, it does not matter if it is a tight budget or a fat one. Follow these steps to success.
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1. Determine How Much You Are Comfortable Spending
One step often overlooked is to decide before you start how much you can afford to spend on something. This is no different. Figure out if you can spend $0-$50, $51-$100, or $101+ that way you won’t feel any imagined pressure later to purchase something outside your budget. If you are just getting started and you are preparing for your first course, you can probably spend $0 out of pocket on creating your first course. That, of course, does not consider the time, effort, and knowledge you will undoubtedly put into the creation of your course.
A quick note: Stay Organized. Be sure to write down your budget and stick to it. A good practice is to have a tablet or binder you can compile all the necessary information you’ll need for the course as you create it.
2. Define Your Target Market
Many times, creators are so excited they begin to create their course without first thinking about their target market. They choose something they have a lot of knowledge about and decide to create a course and try then to locate a market for it. This is not the best way to ensure you will make a profit and recover the time and effort you spent on your course.
First, think about who you can imagine buying your course, this is very much a generalization of course because we have not yet defined why they might need a course in the first place. That is the next step, coming up with a reason they might need a course. They are having an issue, a problem or there is a skill they could use help honing. That is where you come in. This may be an easy identification, or you may need to do a little homework/research. Please read How to Identify Needed Courses on a Budget for ideas if you need any help with this part.
Once you have identified the issue or problem that needs an in-depth solution; be sure to write it in your tablet or binder and move to the next step.
3. Define Your Course Objective/s
Knowing the problem is only half the battle. If you are not already aware of the solution and in many instances, it may still be a good idea to research additional solutions anyway. This is because you want to see how difficult it is to locate the solution for the issue/problem you intend to solve without the use of your course. This will be beneficial to you later in the process as well when it comes time to price your course.
Once you have developed the solution or transformation for your student market, you need to start to consider the best way of explaining it to them.
4. Decide Your Course Format
There are many ways of capturing or recording your course. Let us take a look at some of the basic ones you can start with using only one camera or recording device.
Screencasting is where you record what you are doing on your computer screen. There are free programs that make this task easy to get started.
- Camtasia (PC)
- Screenflow (Mac)
These are just a few of the programs available so feel free to check these out or use something you are already familiar with. Remember the key is to not try and get too fancy with technology. The market you are trying to serve will not be happier with great tech if the information is not good and if they are getting great information, they will forgive lessor tech.
Talking head video is where you sit or stand and look/talk directly into the camera with just your head and shoulders on camera. This can be done with a built-in camera on your computer or with a free-standing set-up. There are several choices you can make in this arena as well and for tips please read How to Record Your Online Course on a Budget.
Overhead video is for skills and lessons that require seeing your hands. For instance, if you are teaching a cooking technique or an artistic lettering class you may want to shoot from overhead and show your hands on the counter or desk.
From a Distance
From a distance is a video style where you need to be completely in the frame, if you are teaching a course or skill such as how to ski, surf, or perform skateboard tricks you would need to be completely in the frame for a clearer understanding of what you are teaching. If you are using this type of video it is extremely important to use a separate microphone as any built-in mic will be too far away for good audio.
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5. Invest your budget on Necessary Hardware/Software
This is the section that makes the first section so important. It is easy to get excited and purchase tools and tech that is unnecessary to get started creating courses. If you can make your first course with $0 out of pocket expenditure, why would you want to start your new and exciting venture in debt or from a negative position?
A good practice is to let your previous course buy you new tech and to only buy tech that stays within your budget. That being said you may already have something you can use but if not here are some good starter options you can pick up without breaking your budget.
First, if you are using a built-in that is attached to your computer, tablet, or phone, while not the best option, it is often a $0 expenditure way to get started. If you have budgeted for it, here is a great lavalier microphone you can grab from Amazon for under $25.
Lighting can be the difference between a good and great looking video. However, do not wait until you have expensive lights to get started. There are many ways to light your video and how you choose to do it will depend on many factors. But for a quick reference guide please read Basic Lighting Techniques for Lighting Video for Online Courses on a Budget. But here is a quick list of possibilities you can choose from.
- Natural lighting – the sun, shooting outside, near a window
- Overhead Lighting – the ceiling light overhead
- Reflected lighting – using a reflector to cast a soft light
- Directional lighting – using a lamp with or without the shade on it
Options for cameras are endless, fortunately, when you are on a budget your choices are limited. Probably the best camera for no additional out of pocket expense is probably the one built-into your phone. Newer smartphones have great cameras built right into them and you probably have it in your pocket or purse right now. Phones are great because they also come with a pretty good microphone as well, so long as you are not too far away from it. In fact, this is a great option for any video that needs to be portable or moved to different locations.
Many computers and laptops have built-in cameras as well and can make getting a talking-head video much easier. You will be limited to location and distance with a computer camera, but this is an easy way to get started. In fact, keep in mind if the information you are presenting is valuable enough, most people won’t even notice or care too much about the video quality. Another thing to consider is if you are needing to capture your screen to teach your lessons you may not even need a camera at all.
Features and prices for software vary greatly. Your needs will determine the type of software you will need to create your videos. I suggest keeping it simple to get started. Remember your students may enjoy watching a $10,000 budgeted video course over a $10 budgeted course but they probably want to spend the same amount of money for the solution to their problem either way. This means that you stand to make the most money from courses you make on a budget rather than overspend on.
Video capturing as well as screen capturing are ways you utilize video for your audience. It is not always necessary for you to have an amazing on-camera personality to make a course popular. There are many times you can just record what you are doing on the screen. You may want to voice over the screencast, so people know what you are doing.
The biggest thing to remember here is to not be afraid to turn on the camera or recording device. Even if you are embarrassed, or even cringeworthy, fear not! Your authenticity will make up for any of your possible unpolished shortcomings. Realistically, software for capturing the screen or video you want to be recorded is such a deep subject please read How to Record Your Online Course on a Budget for more details on this subject.
Video editing software available to the public is different for Mac and PC. But if you have a PC and want to use Mac software, it is still possible if you have an iPad or iPhone you can use the app iMovie editing software for free. If you are a student or already have an Adobe account you can use Premiere Pro or any of the other programs in the suite.
For those who only have PC, no Adobe account, and want to stay on that tight budget, then check out Windows MovieMaker 10 currently available now online for free for PC. The program is no longer being supported or updated by Windows but is still a viable program for editing video.
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6. Capture Your Course
After you have your format was chosen and the video recording device chosen and set. Be sure to have an outline so you can easily follow it, so you don’t miss any video recordings on the day of shooting. When possible always try to use a separate microphone, it will give you better audio quality. If you are using your phone, for instance, plug in the headphones with a built-in microphone if possible.
If you’re not sure how much difference it makes do a sample test both ways and check for yourself. Syncing separate audio and video is not too difficult if necessary either. For more details and tips on this please read How to Record Great Audio for an Online Course on a Budget.
7. Edit Your Course
Editing your course sounds like a difficult endeavor, however, with a little bit of planning ahead of time, you can make it simple. First remember to try to keep each lesson short and concise, around 5-8 minutes as often as possible. With shorter lessons and videos there will be less to edit. As a good practice, we suggest trying a talking-head video as your intro and conclusion videos no matter the format of the rest of the course.
That way you can make a personal connection with your students or potential students. It gives them a chance to “meet” you and put a face to the voice. The closer the connection the students have with you as the instructor the more likely they will take your advice, refer you to others, as well as come back for additional information in the future.
When editing you can add graphics, images, or titles to assist your students with understanding the lesson but try to keep in mind most people will be watching these videos from their phones so using small text is not always a good idea.
8. Price Your Course
When each of the previous steps is complete it’s time now to consider the task of pricing your course. This may sound like an easy task, but there are many considerations to consider. While there is no magic wand to tell you what the perfect price for your course is, there are tools that make deciding on a price point for your first course easier. For a free copy of our pricing tool click the link below.
9. Post/Host Your Course
Once you have priced your course it’s time to post/host it and sell it.
There are many options here too. But because we are launching this venture on a budget, rather than trying to build your own website and hosting platform, we suggest using an online marketplace to upload and sell your courses to thousands of international students. Here is a shortlist of credible marketplaces.
Be sure to read all the fine print before uploading your course to their platforms as they are all slightly different in the way they price and pay instructors, but worth the time to begin building an engaged student base.
Making a course is difficult without a community to help you. Here are our favorite Facebook groups for you to consider.
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