Five lessons learnt from running an ecourse

Since November last year, I’ve been running a 30 day ecourse for new and aspiring freelancers. It’s been a bit of a (fun) learning curve, and as I’m an open book when it comes to business (sometimes to a fault), I thought it might be interesting to look back on what I’ve learnt from running it. Y’know, in case you fancy doing the same and want to learn from my experiences!

1) The ecourse is never perfect

My first trail of thought when planning an ecourse, went something like this:

“I’ll create an ecourse! Creating the ecourse will take a little time, but once it’s done I won’t need to do anything! I can sit back and watch the money roll in! Actually, I might just add a few more items to my Amazon wishlist to celebrate the success”

The reality. The ecourse is a constantly evolving project. I tweak things not only between courses, but also throughout each course, depending on how each group is doing. So while the idea of a passive income with very little work is a nice one, realistically it needs constant work (possibly because I’m never 100% satisfied with what I’ve done). Also, I added a Facebook community to the course, which means I’m often chatting to people on there rather than leaving it to do it on its own (which I love, seeing how everyone is getting on with each task is really motivating).

2) The ecourse won’t make me a millionaire

I’m working with a niche here. A niche of really awesome people. Each bi-monthly course tends to have been between 10-20 people at the moment. Sure, some people make thousands or millions from these courses. But for the majority of people, a few hundred a month is a great result. Who knows what the future holds, but at the moment I love that I have time to chat to everyone and help people more one-on-one.

3) Trial and error is essential

For the March ecourse, I switched from delivering the daily challenges through the Facebook community, to sending it by email. This was partly based on feedback from a couple of people on previous courses and partly because I wondered whether emails would give me more flexibility in the future.

I’ve only just sent my survey link to those ecourse takers, but my personal feeling is that content is better delivered through the Facebook community. Everyone can chip in with how they’re getting on, it’s easier to access everything in one group and reading something on Facebook can sometimes feel like less effort than reading an email (just me?). The community feel was definitely not there as much with the course sent over newsletter. But I’m glad I did it – it’s important to try things out and see how they get on, as long as you ask for feedback as you do it!

One other change I tried this time, was to collaborate with a few others to add extras to the course (thanks to Rosie and Jo) and to offer a special deal with Elizabeth if someone bought both her course and my course. As all of our services complemented each other, it made sense – and it led to more sales.

4) Not everyone will complete the course – or open the emails

I’d take this personally, but I do this to about 50% of the courses I sign up for – and that’s usually more about my workload or the delivery method, than the course content. Members get free access to future courses as well as the one they’re on, which means that if we do something a different way, they get to benefit from it.

5) Choose between cheap and quantity, or competitive and less

The first month I launched the ecourse, I charged a low price. This was mainly because it was a trial course, and I wanted to see how it would go. Which worked well, I had lots of people sign up! But a couple of freelance friends pulled me aside and said ‘I hope you’re going to charge a decent rate next time, rather than peanuts’. When I broke down the costs, I was hugely undercharging. So I upped my charges. The result? Yes, less people signed up. But as the charge was more, I actually made more! Charging a higher price may be a risk, but it’s also important to make it clear that the price you charge is set because you’re offering a high quality service.

Have you run an ecourse? What did you learn?

10 comments on “Five things I’ve learnt from running an ecourse”

  1. I’ve been on the same journey with my Tax Return Toolkit, It’s not a course but the principles are the same.

    Customer support levels is what surprised me. I had no idea that some people wait months before downloading a link and need access to a link for 3 devices!

    • I’m having that link problem with another course I signed up for, especially as the link failed but still counted as an open. And yes, it’s interesting how many people come back to something later on, definitely makes me more aware of offering a lifetime membership option.

  2. Great article! I’m currently venturing into courses at the moment although I’m only in the idea stage. What software would you recommend? I’m guessing you’re on a WordPress site?

    • Yup, WordPress for me. I use a fairly simple (and cheap!) system of Mailchimp, Facebook, Dropbox and a page that it diverts to on this site. There are lots of more professional, sleek all in one packages, but this works nicely for me at the moment.

      • Thanks Emma, have heard sensei is a great plugin but it’s rather costly! Thanks for the advice. šŸ™‚

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