Getting the order right on building new online courses

Are you getting ready to build new online courses? An academy of sorts? If so, there's an order that you need to get right.

When I answer calls on Clarity, normally what I hear from people is that they're using this order:

  1. Build the site and solve all the infrastructure issues
  2. Build the content
  3. Start selling and drawing people to their new site

As you can likely imagine, the driver on this comes from the first issue feeling like it's the most complex and challenging. But the order is basically backwards.

Technology is the servant to your objectives, not its master.

What that means is that you need to reverse the order.

Delay the Technical Work

Instead of building out the tech part of anything, start by building a community. Draw a crowd.

Want to know how? The answer can be just about anything—and the great thing is that you barely need anything—in fact you may not even need a website to draw a crowd.

You can gather and draw in a community on Facebook using Groups. You can create a YouTube channel. You have options.

Today I spoke with a gentleman that was trying to solve a complex challenge (and it was a legit challenge). But the reality was that my advice to him is the same as my advice to you.

Delay the technical work.

Here's why. Over time three things happen:

  1. We all get smarter (I hope).
  2. Technology does more.
  3. Technology gets cheaper.

So if you can delay the tech investment for six months, it may shrink or get automated or easier.

Plus, the reality is that you still need to get the other things complete.

Get the Order Right

So my recommendation, and it's always this way, is to do things in this order:

  1. Draw in a community. You can do this via a Facebook Group, a YouTube channel, a mailing list (like using ConvertKit) with an email-based course or autoresponder series, or a blog.
  2. Build your content. The nice thing about having a community is that you can test your content with them. You can survey them. And they'll give you great input.
  3. Develop your site. Lastly, when the other stuff is ready, then get to working on your site. It's important, but it's not more important than the other two items.

All That Said…

Since I'm a tech guy, you know I can't end this post without giving you at least a few suggestions about the tech stack you may want to use. So here are my recommendations (in no particular order because everything always depends on your needs):

But long before you build all that, consider building out your community and content.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission, at no cost to you.

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Chris Lema
Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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