As I mentioned in an earlier article, adding an online course to your existing programs can have benefits for audiences, your client and you. Even better, you might be able to create your course easily from existing material. Here are seven easy ways you could do that …
1. Convert a workbook
If your training program or seminar already has a detailed handout or workbook, consider delivering it as an online course (instead of giving it out to attendees at the workshop itself). The material is already highly relevant to the program, so it’s the perfect fit for a follow-up course after the live workshop.
Of course, this might mean you have to provide a different handout at the workshop, but that could be just a cut-down version of the full handout – which is easy to create. Alternatively, you might decide you don’t need a handout at all for the live workshop, and simply deliver it as an online course later.
2. Summarise book chapters
If you have put the work into writing a book, you have thought about organising your material logically and delivering it in an appropriate sequence. So it’s easy to create an online course that delivers the material in those same sections and sequence. Of course, you won’t deliver the entire book chapter by chapter, but you can deliver a summary of each chapter in each course module.
This is exactly what I did with my book “Fast, Flat and Free”. The book has 9 main chapters, so I created an online course with 9 modules, and delivered one module a day for 9 days. Each module is about 300-400 words, and is broadly the introductory text of that chapter.
3. Extract articles from a book
In the previous example, your course provides just an overview of your book. You can change this slightly – and deliver more value – by sending more detailed material in each module. All you have to do is identify chunks of the book you can extract as individual articles, and then send these articles as an online course.
I did this with my book “Webinar Smarts”, which is about planning and presenting high-quality webinars. This is much more of a “how to” book than “Fast, Flat and Free”, so it would have been less useful to just send a summary of each chapter. Instead, I send an in-depth article (copied from the book) every two weeks to subscribers.
4. Collate related newsletter articles
You can also take the previous idea and do it the other way around: Rather than extracting articles from a book, you collect articles you’ve previously written, collate them in an appropriate sequence, and deliver them as an online course.
If you publish a regular newsletter or blog, this will be extremely easy to do. It’s even easier if you have been tagging your blog posts as you publish them, because it’s easy to see everything you have written on each topic. Simply look through the list, identify some that could be included in your course, and you’ve done 90% of the work!
5. Convert a list of bullet points
In all of the previous ideas, you provide substantial material (at least 300-400 words) in each course module. But there’s no reason your material has to be so long and detailed. Sometimes your course participants will appreciate receiving a shorter message, especially if it’s still relevant and practical.
Look for a list of things you teach and consider whether you can deliver each item in the list as a module (You might have to expand each list item into a paragraph or two, but not much more than that). For example, if you have written “The Top 10 Tips for Running Better Meetings”, each of those tips can be a course module.
This is exactly what I did with my “10-Minute Reputation Builders” course, which shows you how to boost your on-line reputation. It started life as a 20-point list in “Fast, Flat and Free”, and I simply copied that to a course, and expanded each item slightly.
6. Choose inspirational quotations
Another easy way to create an online course is by sending an inspirational or motivational quotation in each course module. Although some people might think this is a waste of space (and I certainly don’t like people who overdo this on Twitter or Facebook!), many people do like receiving a daily, weekly or monthly dose of inspiration. So collect relevant quotations and send them in a regular online course.
I do this with my “Create The Future” course, which sends you a quotation and photograph every Monday.
7. Use other people’s material
Finally, keep in mind that you don’t always have to provide your own material in your online courses. Just because it isn’t your own material doesn’t reduce its value. Your course participants will still value the fact you’ve sifted through the material and hand-picked what is most relevant for them.
Just be sure you have permission to use that material. If you are just linking to that material on a public Web page, you don’t need to ask for permission. But if you’re including any of the material directly in your course modules, be sure you have the copyright owner’s written permission to do so.
For example, one of the easiest ways to create a high-content online course is by finding a series of relevant videos from YouTube or TED.com, and simply using them as your course material. In each course module, you just link to the video, and add a paragraph or two explaining why it’s relevant for your participants.
Which of these could work for you?
Not all of these ideas will work for everybody, but I’m sure you can find some that will work for you.
In all these cases, you’re duplicating material that has already been published. But don’t ignore these ideas for that reason alone. Some of your course participants need to get the material delivered to them at intervals, and will appreciate you putting the thought into delivering it this way.
Build Your Own Online Course: Sydney 7th August
If you’d like to tap into the power of online courses, I invite you to attend my workshop in Sydney on Tuesday 7th August.
In this workshop, I’ll show you how to plan, build and promote online courses in your business. This is a practical workshop. I won’t just teach you how to create an online course; I want you to actually create one yourself! So you’ll walk out at the end of the workshop with a live online course, ready to sell!