My First Online Course Flopped: Here Are Three Things I Learned About Making an Effective Online Course

On the 9th of March 2019 I sent out invites to the beta testers of my first online course.

I had finally recorded the videos when my family were away for the weekend after weeks writing and planning the content. The topic was simple. 30 days of sketchnoting activities to help grow your visual note taking skills.

And it flopped.

Even though I had excited participants, they didn’t finish.

A 30 day course is a big commitment (believe me).

If you don’t make it easy and motivating to do every day, then people won’t. And if people don’t complete your course, you don’t get testimonials or social shares.

But it is possible to make a sticky 30 day course.

I just finished ship30for30, I appreciate the effort that Dickie and Cole invested so that you can less intense days and still ship everyday. While there wasn’t daily input, they made us apply what we learned every day.

So here are three lessons from my experience (and from ship30 and the LYT course) that make for better online courses.

You may like your idea, but does anyone else?

I love the 30 days of sketchnotes idea and it turned out some other people did too — success! But they loved the idea more than the reality. And some of the lessons were confusing.

Testing your course will reveal these mistakes so you can correct them.

If you get an instant reward, you’ll want to do it more.

That’s something I learned from Atomic Habits and it applies here too. If someone waits 30 days for “success” they won’t feel like they are progressing.

If someone checks on you, your learning outcomes will increase.

My 30 day course was self-paced with no checking in. As soon as people got behind, they had no incentive to get back on track. Providing peer and mentor accountability leads to more people complete the course and achieve better outcomes.

Although my 30 day course was a flop, I made a mini 7 day version of my course and over 200 people have completed it. Since then I’ve tried to work out a way to make my 30 day course work better.

I’m sure one day I will.

This post was created with Typeshare



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Chris Wilson

Most creators struggle to stand out and make sales due to their average copy. I help you write copy that converts so you can pursue the life you want.