Is an Online Course Your Next Best Step? Listen to Find Out

Jenna Kutcher 

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August 31, 2020


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I love coaching sessions on The Goal Digger Podcast because you get to hear from an entrepreneur in the same phase of business you’re in, or the phase you’ll reach in the future. Maybe you’re standing there at a business crossroads, in a world of face masks and uncertainty, wondering what’s next for your service-based business. Maybe you’re thinking it’s prime time to dive into the world of courses.

The transition from educator in the form of coaching or a mastermind to an online course can feel like a massive task to accomplish. But here’s the thing, if you can coach one on one, if you can lead a group of people to see results in a mastermind, or even if you’re teaching in an informal or unofficial capacity, then you’re equipped to dive into your first course.

Vanessa Hicks is an incredibly talented wedding photographer, she leads a 12-week mastermind group, and now she’s looking at her business in a pandemic world thinking about what’s next. A course is on her mind, and I know she has some questions about adding that to her education offerings. Is it the right next step? Should she double-down on her mastermind first? Those questions and more, coming up in this coaching session with my friend, Vanessa Hicks.

Her Current State of Business

Vanessa just recently hit her six year mark as a destination wedding and travel photographer. “But my journey is a little different than most,” she laughed. She is a navy veteran and a navy spouse, so she’s moved a lot, and she’s had to rebuild her business each time. With four moves in six years, the most recent move during the pandemic, Vanessa is constantly restarting and rebuilding the foundation of her business.

One thing I love about Vanessa is how she celebrates each year as an entrepreneur, and she said those celebrations are in honor of where she started. She was let go from her corporate job due to budget cuts and her husband was scheduled for a year deployment the same week. On the brink of a breakdown, Vanessa’s husband asked her a question that changed everything, “If money wasn’t an issue, what would you do?”

She blurted out that she would be a photographer, and she waited for him to laugh at her dream. But he didn’t. He encouraged her to try. Now six years in, she never forgets to celebrate how far she’s come.

Vanessa is also a speaker and an educator, and she has big dreams for the future of her career in the education space, she’s just not sure how to get there. That’s what we’re diving into with this coaching session.

Evolving the Education Side of Her Business

Vanessa’s first question was one I hear a lot when it comes to the online education space. “Am I ready?” With an existing mastermind and education group in place, Vanessa wanted to know if she should continue to focus on growing those platforms or if she’s truly ready to dive into courses?

Vanessa approached the education side of her business in reverse of what most people do — a higher ticket mastermind typically follows a course offer — but I LOVE that she approached it this way because it makes the most sense for her as a relationship-driven person.

When I asked Vanessa if she recognized patterns and recurring themes from group to group, it was a loud and clear “YES”. Those patterns and themes tell me that Vanessa is ready to create a course around those topics to lead more people through those learning experiences than she can possibly reach with her small group mastermind.

And when it comes to the online education space during these uncertain times, it’s likely that a potential student will see more value in learning a cut and dry process via a course, rather than investing in a mastermind with a result that might not be as clear.

Compiling What You Know in a Course

Vanessa shared that even though she can speak on stage about the topics she’s passionate about, like blogging for example, the thought of compiling it all into a course and writing down what she knows has her stuck. “I’m worried that I’ll miss a step,” she said.

This is such a common fear when it comes to creating your first course. So I shared with Vanessa a cool tool that I initially learned from Amy Porterfield. Whenever we create a course, we start with the end result. There can be a tendency to sell based off features (listing out how many modules it has, how hefty the workbook is, and more) when really the end result is often the deciding factor in a purchase decision.

For me, I break down the steps to reach that end result and try to stick to 3-5 steps. Then, I write down each of the components for each step on sticky notes. After they’re all listed out, I start putting the sticky note steps in order, moving them around until I find a course curriculum that feels right.

Seeing all of the pieces listed out and how they fit together, while having the sticky-note flexibility to change it up as you plan, is my favorite way to ensure I’m leading my students to the promised end result and not missing any vital information.

More from this Coaching Session

Vanessa and I talk about giving ourselves permission to change and update our education programs as we go, as well as the importance of saving more mental energy and time to actually launch and share your course than you reserve for the creation of it. We dig into finding your dream clients and students, how to get over the idea that someone else is already doing what you want to do in your course, and more.

This episode is great for anyone with one pinky toe in the water, wondering if it’s time to jump into the deep end of course creation. Let this conversation and coaching session with Vanessa be the pool noodle that keeps you afloat as you navigate so many of the questions that come to pivoting into the online education space. Press play on the episode above and be sure to connect with Vanessa Hicks @vanessahicksphotography on Instagram to see what she creates!

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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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