Have you ever let yourself consider and play with the idea of creating a digital course surrounding your knowledge or expertise or something you’re passionate about, only to let that vision come crashing down when one word enters your mind? That word would be: TECH.
Even MY head is spinning as I think through the different steps and levels of technology to work through, and I’ve created digital courses for years. So I want you to know it’s TOTALLY normal if these tech-y pieces make you feel a little dizzy, and it’s to be expected. I don’t know one course creator who knew how to do everything before they put together their first digital course. Not one!
So much of it is a learn-as-you-go, one-step-at-a-time process, and while looking at the big picture is exciting, it can also become entirely overwhelming, and so my goal today is to help you take little actionable steps to break down a big project like this into small, doable, and maybe even enjoyable pieces that you are totally capable of handling.
Let’s get into my top 5 tech tips for you to keep in mind as you dive into creating your amazing new digital course!
Don’t overcomplicate any of the pieces
The thing about courses is that people want an end result. The features of your course are most important to you and it’s our human tendency to over complicate everything but I want to give you permission to start small and simple.
When it comes to tech, your decisions do NOT need to be fancy, you don’t need to invest in the most pricey gadgets or choose the most complicated means. This means I am giving you FULL permission to start with what you’ve already got. You likely do not need to buy one piece of equipment or hire a full video team or hair and makeup professionals in order to record your content. As a matter of fact, you can absolutely record a baller digital course with just your computer, headphones, and a couple pieces of software that are already on your computer or that you can download for free, straight from our good ol’ pal, the internet. Yes, really!
There are free programs you can use like Quicktime to record your content, or you can even use Zoom to record everything. All you have to do is start a meeting where only you are present, make sure the meeting is being recorded, and either talk on camera for the talking-head effect, or share your screen in order to record any slides you might be using.
If you mess up, don’t feel like you need to start the recording over but just keep it rolling, pause and take a breath, and then continue on where you left off. Most computers have some kind of video editing software like iMovie for Macbooks, where you can later go in and easily snip out the mess-ups.
If you are using slides and are reading from a script, you don’t want the script to show on your computer screen as you share your screen on the recording, so you can simply pull up your script on your phone or an iPad or other tablet to read from as you click through slides. This is my personal method and it works super well for me, to keep my courses fluff-free and step by step, this also means I can easily edit, add, or remove pieces without having to get camera ready or hire a camera crew to record, meaning our courses are updated more frequently! You can even go old school and print out your script or outline—figure out the method that will help you deliver your content in the easiest format, it’ll look different for everyone!
Creating your slides
There are plenty of ways to design your course slide. And please don’t freak out when I say design! Slides are just to accompany what you are saying and help reaffirm the main points, so I promise this part of the process can be SO quick and easy, even if you have zero graphic design skills, thanks to the use of templates.
I also loveee using the free design platform Canva because it’s super simple and there are TONS of stylish and free slide templates you can use and customize! You can easily drop in your content and swap in your own branding colors, fonts, and images. Even software like PowerPoint or Prezi have templates that you can customize, although they’re a bit simpler and more corporate in terms of look and feel. I personally love that Canva has tons of options from more corporate and structured to more fun and creative slide templates.
If you’re opting to go the slides route, it can be easy to fall into this blackhole of thinking you need to create a million and one slides for every little thing you’re saying in a lesson. And while you want the slides to be effective visual aids, keep in mind you can ALWAYS share your scripts or outline notes with students so that they have written notes to refer back to.
Your slides should have the main points, illustrations, and help someone who’s watching keep up with the content you are sharing. They should be simple, digestible, and the main pieces of what you are sharing. Your slides aren’t the meat of the lesson… They’re more like the side salad accompanying what you’re sharing.
You’re going to be speaking as you share the slides, explaining the lessons in more depth and detail. A few ways to make sure you’re not creating too many or too busy of slides is to keep them to just 1 to 2 slides per minute of spoken teaching, and make sure there’s plenty of white space on each slide. Aka, less than half of a slide should have words on it, and the words on there should be easy and large enough for students to quickly skim as they, more importantly, listen to what you’re saying as the slide appears.
We include: the video with our slides, the audio only file, as well as the transcription or script for each lesson so that regardless of how a student likes to learn, by watching, listening, or reading, all of those options are available and support individual learning styles!
Record in the style that appealing and appropriate for you
How do you feel most comfortable delivering your content? Get super honest with yourself about what excites you. A lot of times we want to mirror those we’ve learned from — especially if you’ve taken a digital course before, but ask yourself which approach is easiest for you to show up and deliver! When I created my first digital course ever, it was literally audio only. I was so freaked out about tech, I didn’t know how to screen record or make slides.
I literally spoke into a microphone and hit record and it was basically an early version of this podcast! Of course my courses have gotten more refined over the years but at that time, it was the way I could deliver with confidence.
Which way feels moost natural for you? That means if you would rather speak on camera and the content is easily consumable for students this way, and you don’t want to make one slide, then don’t! Get on camera, work your magic! There are NO rules saying that to have a successful digital course, you need to have 100+ slides.
At the same time, if showing up on screen makes you a little woozy, or you overthink what you’d wear or how you’d look and you’d rather sit back and use a script and slides, by all means, do it! BOTH methods work, and both can be effective.
Your comfort level will come through the speakers and screen, so if you’re forcing yourself to do it one way when you’d really prefer to do it another, it’ll be loud and clear to your students that you’re not your most comfortable, authentic self.
Where to host your materials
A few things to look at to make a wise, and quick, decision are:
- Cost, and is the investment something you’ll be able to make back once you start making course sales?
- Ease of use, in that you want to know if this is a platform that seems straightforward enough AND has great technical support in case you do get hung up.
- What other features does it have that could consolidate your needs and simplify your process?
- What do others recommend in your industry or circle? If you know something has worked great for someone in your field, it’ll likely be a good option for you too.
Full disclosure: I’ve been with Kajabi since day one and have built out my library of courses on their platform. It’s been my one and only this entire time and I’m a huge fan of how easy it is to create, build, sell, and serve up a course. And, I absolutely love it because it’s intuitive, it’s built specifically for online course creators needs and their support team is incredible if we ever do have questions, plus I know they have packages that allow you to house landing pages for your course as well as your email list so that you can have all of those pieces operating in one place, simplifying a lot of the pieces you’ll need anyways.
Regardless of what you choose, simply make a choice knowing you can always switch later if your needs change. Kajabi is my choice but from what I hear, Thinkific and Teachable are also solid options that are easy to use! The main point here is to just move forward, choose one, learn the system, and then duplicate as you grow and build. It’s sort of like the whole “teach a man to fish thing”… If you can learn how to set it up once, you’ll be able to repeat the process for future offerings or any changes you need to make to course number one down the line.
Everything is editable
You can literally always edit audio, video, and slides at any point in time and re-upload a refreshed and updated version. You can re-record, swap things out, delete what no longer works, or add on helpful materials. I know the temptation of waiting and primping and perfecting, trying to make sure your offer is ABSOLUTELY perfect before releasing it out into the world.
With my courses that cover things like social media strategy, there are constant evolutions happening and new strategies arriving on the scene and best practices being introduced. We are constantly tweaking, editing, adding, deleting, and honestly, that’s the beauty of a digital course. Because it’s hosted in this digital medium, it’s NOT fixed in place like a book or a magazine article. It’s able to evolve with the times, which means you’re able to serve and support your students for longer and keep making your programs better!
If you want a pro-tip, break up your program so that it’s easier to edit down the future. When you create with the notion that potential change is possible if needed, you can create your program in a way that will save you from having to start all over again anytime something changes.
People record digital courses with broken up modules or deep dive lessons because they’re smaller, thematic pieces that students can easily browse and work through one at a time, at their own pace and based on what they need. And an added benefit of building your program that way for you as the course creator is that if you need to change a few things in one or two lessons down the line, you can easily re-record just one lesson or add in supplementary lessons that students will have access to.
Simplify your launch tech
All you need to launch your course is a sales page and the willingness to continue sharing the goodness it can deliver students. Your course hosting platform may very likely provide a landing page for you to set up your sales page, or you can create a fresh page on your website where you share the end result for a student who takes your course, share the problems your course solves for your target audience and then links to the opportunity for them to buy.
My first course I launched with nothing more than a Squarespace landing page and Kajabi! I posted about it a few times, took calls with anyone interested, and booked 25 students! It was just me, myself, and I and it was an incredible launch without bells or whistles.
You literally need a place to explain your course and collect payments and the place you host your course should be able to do those things! Once you have that spot, share where your audience is. That might mean you go LIVE on Instagram to share the results your course can get people, or it might mean trickling out a few emails about your course to your email list. Or maybe it’s simply pre-recording a 5-minute video about your course that also shares 3 easy tips your audience would want to hear that you slap on your sales page.
There are literally so many small-lift ways to launch that don’t require funnel technology or paying for ads or having a bunch of moving pieces going at once.
You’re in control
This process is one filled with learning and if you’re setting out to be a teacher or an expert, also commit to being a student and learning this new world, this industry, and how to navigate it! I am constantly learning, tweaking, refining, and I’m committed to always being poised as a student to continue getting better.
You don’t need to do what you see everyone else is doing. Your course can look different. Your launch can look different. The only thing that matters is that you’re able to get someone results and deliver your content in a way that helps, serves, and solves problems for your ideal clients. That’s it!
However you get from A to Z, whether it’s with the barest bones tech possible or you learn a bit more than you expected to along the way—which by the way, is going to happen regardless—the end goal remains the same. Get your knowledge and results to your people. The end!
How you get there can be as simple as you want it to be, but you just need to start. Begin with what you know, start getting your knowledge down in a way that can help your audience, and go from there. Trust me, soooo many course creators are self-proclaimed non-techy folks just like you may be, and if they can do it, I know you can too!