Video? Audio? Written? Live?

When it comes to selecting your online course format, you have a dozens of options, and all of them are useful in their own way. How do you choose the right one for you and your clients? It just takes two steps.

The success of your online course depends on your ability to convey information to your customers. If she stays engaged with your material, you’ll be set up to deliver a successful course. What really matters to ensure engagement?

Your Buyer

Chances are, your ideal client has a clear preference in format. What I mean is that she has a preferred way of receiving information. Some people love watching videos while some prefer to skim through written instructions. Some people learn best by doing, with a checklist as a guide or writing things down. Still others much prefer to have audio they can consume while doing other things.

It’s important to understand this about your customer because you need her to be engaged for the learning to be effective. So how do you figure out what she wants? Ask her! Check with current or potential clients and ask their preference for course format. If you don’t have any clients or a current audience, that’s okay. Do some research to see what kinds of courses other people are selling.

Your Content

Let’s face it, some information lends itself well to certain formats, and simply won’t work in another format. It’s difficult to explain how to use software, for example, without a screenshare video. Similarly, if you’re asking clients to work through a discovery process, a fillable worksheet is crucial. Walking them through a process? Checklists can be very helpful.

Think about the content you will be sharing. How would it work in video? Worksheets? Audio? Checklists? How can you combine formats to connect with the most people? Use a variety of styles and formats to engage them. You can even combine multiple formats in a single lesson (like a video with a checklist). 

Your Comfort Zone

While your biggest consideration should be your clients and their needs, your preferences matter, too. If you aren’t comfortable making videos, then it’s very likely that you’ll procrastinate getting your eCourse done and stress over it unnecessarily. If you feel writing isn’t your forte, trying to force yourself to create 50 pages of content is going to be frustrating.

What are your personal preferences? How will that impact your online course format selection? Is there an issue between your preferences and the best way to teach the material?

Beyond the format choice, you also have to consider how you’ll share the material with your customers. Again, you have a variety of options. These options use different technologies, so that needs to be factored into your decision. And similar to the content, some technologies or platforms will work better for some online courses than others.

Zip File Download

If your course is small, or if you aren’t concerned about overwhelming your buyers, a zip file download is a viable option. With this delivery method, all materials are provided at the same time. In this case, you can set up delivery through your shopping cart by providing a link where buyers can download the entire course. This format works best if your course does not include a video element, because the download could be too large for those with a slow internet connection.

Email Delivery

Email delivery also works well for delivering online courses. All it takes is an autoresponder set to go out on the schedule you choose, and a series of messages with your training materials. You can include attachments (although your delivery rates may suffer) or you can link to a page where buyers will find more resources, such as video or downloadable files. These drip-fed courses are best when you (the instructor) decide the pace of the course and you want the materials delivered “just in time”.

Membership Site

A more sophisticated option is to set up a membership portal where buyers log in to retrieve or access their materials. This method allows you to deliver the content all at one time or on a schedule, depending on the structure of your course. Compared to the email solutions, it allows you to better protect your content from unauthorized access.

The bottom line is this: When you’re planning your online course, your most important consideration is your buyer. What does she want, and how does she want to receive it? Deliver on that, and you’ll be well on your way to launching a successful course.


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