I love to learn but learning didn’t come easy for me.
I was certainly no academic, having received the grades I should have achieved in school, three years later at college!
But school and the education system intimidated me and looking back, it was a confidence issue, not necessarily one I would blame totally on the school, but some teachers really didn’t help.
Still, when I started my own business just after I left college, I realized that I needed more and more knowledge if I were to succeed in business and that meant mentally going back to my school and college days and covering those “gaps.”
In doing so, I then developed a thirst for knowledge that still rages to this day, some thirty-five years later.
There are many people like me and in today’s world, you can access information at the touch of a button and that may be a simple search where you can learn to cook your favorite Chinese or Indian food recipe, or a fully-fledged online University course and all from the comfort of your own home.
Learning online is the future of self-education and on the other side of the coin, starting an online education business from the comfort of your own home is both a practical and powerful business to start:
- Practical — you are working from home, you can keep your costs low and you don’t need any staff (unless you need some virtual workers ), to help and you can create and work at your own speed.
- Powerful — you can reach so many people with so many interests thanks to modern-day technology.
And you have plenty of willing students.
Depending on what you want to teach, you may or may not require a formal qualification and you must ensure that you are not violating any laws
This article is for everyone and even if you are an educator with formal teaching qualifications, you may well be inspired to expand your reach and deliver your services online.
Equally, if you are not a teacher, you may have some valuable information to share with others and that is what an education business really is, at its core.
At the time of writing, the world is gripped by the coronavirus pandemic and with many countries and people in a lockdown situation.
There is no need to go into the details as to how much the economy is suffering as it is well-documented, but I am seeing so many people who run traditional offline businesses now look to at the very least, connecting more with their customers online and some are going further and adapting their business models to an online one.
With many people sitting in their homes, there is a captive audience and there are always positive outcomes that emerge from even the toughest, most challenging times and starting an online education business is one outcome that is essentially within the reach of us all, as I will explain in this article.
So let’s make a start.
The online education opportunity
From Harvard University to a single person offering a course on a massive online educational platform such as Udemy, which offers one of the world’s largest selection of online courses and the opportunities are endless for those who both wish to study and those who wish to provide material for others to learn from.
You can see the growth potential.
We can teach and learn almost anything from the privacy of our own homes and more importantly, we can learn at our own pace, without the fear or intimidation factors that can exist in a more formal, classroom environment.
We are in a world where it is estimated that by 2030, ninety-per-cent of the population will be online and the Internet will be the main source of knowledge and information for everyone and that is where the platform itself, meets opportunity.
The opportunities will be endless.
Use your own knowledge
Think about this…in your head right now is a wealth of knowledge and doesn’t matter how old you are or what actual knowledge that you have because someone in the world will thank you for it and if there is even one person that is appreciative of what you have to offer, then chances are, there are more.
Take my 9-year-old son as an example — he spends his spare time outside of football, making videos teaching other kids how to play games and he is bitten by the learning bug and also motivated to share that knowledge with others.
Looking at the other end of the age spectrum, can you imagine how much “dormant” knowledge exists in the heads of people who are retired or nearing retirement that could be put to so much use in today’s easily accessible Internet-based world?
And everything in between.
Follow your passion
I am passionate about helping people to get online which is, of course, the start of the process if you want to launch an online education business.
When I wrote this article, “3 reasons to get online” and this book “Get Online” with Fernando Raymond, I was writing to inspire people to take the first step and that was to start to tell their story to the world and in doing so, they become more “marketable” to the world. — the book went into much further detail.
It is precisely your story that starts to become interesting, simply because we human beings love stories.
But taking this step a little further, within the story exists knowledge and using myself as an example, I have learned many things and skills that I could easily turn into educational material and courses.
You do not have to be a teacher to educate, but there are some subjects that require a formal teaching qualification in order to teach and as you would expect…but there are other ways to educate people less formally and that could simply be by sharing your own knowledge, through your personal experiences…and your passions.
My passions in life are many and I centered those passions around my life as an entrepreneur and here are a few examples of subjects that I could easily provide educational information and develop online courses for:
- Entrepreneurship — since there is no formal qualification for entrepreneurship and I have been one for nearly forty years, I am more than able to write a course if I choose to and I will start a selling and sales training course as part of entrepreneurship which I will use as an example in the next section.
- Golf — I have played golf for twenty years, but I am not qualified by the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) to teach and although you do not need to be a professional to teach, I would never describe myself as “teacher,” BUT I am more than able to put together a course on “How I lowered my own personal golf handicap from 24 to 10” as this would be me sharing my own experiences and frustrations.
- Cooking — I have been cooking for over thirty years, but with no formal culinary qualifications, I personally would not use the term “educator” and I would take the same approach as golf, but maybe with a course such as “How and ordinary cook can produce extraordinary dinner party recipes.”
- Martial Arts — I have been involved in martial arts for almost forty years and I am more than qualified to teach.
- Biochemistry — I threw that one in here because I have had an almost lifelong interest in nutrition, having been on many diets before I found the one that worked for me. It further inspired me to look deeper into the science behind the diet and led me to contact the various PhD experts in the field and settling with one, I could easily put out a diet and education program based on my personal experiences and give my opinion on the science behind it and how it worked or didn’t work for me, but that is as far as I could go.
You could be a facilitator
You could also put together education programs by using the knowledge of others (with their permission of course) and in that situation, you would become a facilitator rather than the expert.
One example and staying with the diet industry is a podcast called livinlavidalowcarb.com and it is run by Jimmy Moore.
Moore is like a conduit for people who want to follow a low-carb lifestyle or who are interested in doing so and he puts together experts and interviews them — for the expert he will offer them exposure to a specifically targeted audience where they will sell their products.
Another example could be that you are, say, a student and you want to help others by documenting your journey through a higher education course and share your tips and hacks. Here you are only documenting your journey and not teaching per se, but you are sharing knowledge.
There is an audience and a potential market for almost everything if you think about it.
You get the idea and if you are not formally qualified to teach a subject, then you can simply share your experiences with others…especially how you overcame frustrations and pushed through barriers.
It’s about defining the purpose of your educational process and/or your course plus the target market, which I will cover later.
Now we have to put the encyclopedia into action.
Marketing your online education business
“Wait a minute”…I can hear you say “I haven’t even got a course yet,” so why am I going to consider marketing first?
The most important thing to do here is to get people to see what you have to offer and that is why I strongly urge you to focus on how you are going to market your educational products before you fully build them.
Look at the stages from 1-8 above — research and learn them as you must have at least an understanding of the terms.
I use the word “fully” here because if you are starting from scratch, you should look to “test the water” first, so to speak, before you design your product.
Now the fastest way to build your audience is to use paid advertising and this can come in the form of social media adverts or google advertising because you can specifically target your audience and place your adverts in front of them…but this, of course, costs both time and money and it depends on your bank balance and how much you want to risk.
But there are some who prefer organic marketing, which I will talk about below.
Again, it is up to you.
Now you need to see if you have a market for your course and that means doing some research.
The aim is to build a captive audience that you can grow over time.
What you can do here is to put together a “mini offering” of what you intend to release and start to build an audience.
You could put together an outline of a course for example on email and a few 3-minute videos that will give people an overview of what you are going to get in the future…or both.
So build some content and look to share that content on social media, with your friends and try to form partnerships with other like-minded educators that you may feel you have synergies with.
Try to collaborate rather than compete…unless you have to of course!
Your goal here is to be seen and there are so many possibilities to think about — you simply have to explore them.
But it is essential to put in the groundwork and test your idea rather than going “all in” and spending a load of time and money that may not deliver the returns you expect.
Expand on the research
I am going to bring in my friend Fernando Raymond here and I strongly suggest you take a look at what Fernando and his team have to offer.
There is so much information out there today, that it is difficult to find the good people who offer solid and reliable information and Fernando is one of the good guys and I should know as I have been around the online world since inception and have seen my fair share of charlatans.
Neil Patel is also another good and valuable resource in this field and it is worth looking at his offering.
Look out for unreal promises
It’s very tempting to fall for the crazy adverts with bold promises that you often see on the Internet today.
So I will start this part with a warning — beware of the advertising that exists on the Internet today as there are some people who only have the goal of separating you from your hard-earned cash.
So many people are jumping on the online education marketing platform as they know it is a growing economy and there are many takers.
The “lure” is the usual “earn money while you sleep” and “wake up to a growing bank balance.” This, of course, can be true as if you market your business well, then there is no reason as to why you cannot earn money while you sleep (there is always someone in another time-zone ready to buy) and if you repeat the process your bank balance will grow.
But it takes a huge amount of hard work and effort, just like everything else in life and there are no free lunches.
I want to take a little time and talk about the claims that are awash on the Internet because I would hate to see you scammed!
The Internet economy is still a very young one and just like in all emerging markets, there are the snake-oil salespeople who will use underhand tactics which of course has the potential to damage the work of the good guys.
There are some good guys out there and my advice to you is to look at any advertising claim logically and I will take one industry as an example to help you understand what I am saying.
Everybody wants to make money and there are many people out there claiming to be qualified educators and running courses to help you trade stocks and shares and play the currency markets to live a luxury life etc.
My wife was a former currency trader for a major international bank and her working day started at 05:00 in the morning when she left to get to her desk. It was a tough existence and certainly not a lifestyle business, or for the faint-hearted.
She is still in touch with traders today and is therefore in touch with the money that is being made and to see some of the ludicrous claims made by advertisers on social media, for example, makes her blood boil.
If you look at real professional traders such as Lex Van Dam and Anton Kreil, you can see how the industry really works and they offer their own online courses that will take novices and teach them how to trade properly and with the minimum of risk.
But they are clear that there is a lot of hard work to be done and it takes time.
They were also former work colleagues who worked at the same investment bank and they have both found a market for what essentially is the same course, by using their own individuality.
So now you have a better idea of how to protect yourself, how do you start the hard work and get yourself on the road to success?
Get a website
Let me tell you straight away that you do not need to have a website to start an online education business, but if you are serious about starting one, then you absolutely should.
Whether you have decided to use paid advertising or not, you should absolutely build your organic marketing strategies and one of the best ways is to start a personal blog.
I cover this more in the section below about developing and delivering your course, but one of the purposes of having your own website is that you can develop your own personal brand.
People are becoming more and more interested as to “who” is behind a company when it comes down to dealing with brands they don’t recognize and if you are going to offer people educational products, it is very important to develop a level of trust with them.
I touch on it here and you should get started right now!
Developing your online education program
Now remember the part in the marketing section I talked about regarding starting with bite-sized pieces in order to test the water, so prepare this first and then expand.
I m going to use myself as an example here and talk about how I am going to structure a course that has been in the back of my mind for ages and it may give you a few ideas to get started with your own course or courses even!
When I started my own technology staffing agency, I decided that I would not recruit salespeople from the industry as I had a very definitive strategy that was virtually the opposite of how the staffing industry was working at the time.
If I were to recruit existing salespeople from the industry, they would have to “unlearn” in order to have any chance of implementing my strategy and I decided to go a different route and take people with no industry experience, but who could display desire, hunger, passion and a willingness to learn and in an industry that was exciting and growing fast.
I would personally train these people and then success and failure were totally dependent on me and my methods.
It worked like a dream and over the years I defined what I term “my sales methodology,” for selling products and/or services to companies at the highest level and in the most efficient and profitable manner.
Define and outline your style of teaching
So the first thing to consider is the style of teaching and if you look at the various free courses that are out there on YouTube, you will see a huge variation of teaching styles — you must, however, follow your own personality and please, never, ever try to “be” or copy someone else as there is only one of you, so make sure you stick to “being you.”
I found that it was very important to outline how you teach and what you expect from your students concerning the learning environment.
Now I have taught my course in varying formats, to hundreds of salespeople over the years and I teach in a very specific manner — in a classroom and the only requirement is that you listen to what I say, take absolutely no notes and never, ever try to remember!
Sound crazy and counterintuitive, but that is the style that I have had the most success with and if you want to see someone else who teaches languages in this manner, then take a look at the late Michel Thomas.
I found that I progressed so much faster with his style of teaching (I was learning Spanish), compared to the more standard methods and whether you believe me or not, I started to teach sales in this manner, long before I had heard of Thomas.
When I encountered his style of teaching, it just gave me so much more belief and confidence in the way I was operating.
So my style of teaching is very well suited to the online world, as all you have to do is to sit back, watch and/or listen, depending on whether I decide to go the pure audio route, video or both.
I also try to always use analogies when I am teaching so that the students can relate to what I am saying and I try to make the learning process as simple as possible — today, my 9 and twelve-year-old sons are my learning benchmarking tools and they must understand exactly what I am trying to teach.
It’s amazing how you have to make sure you are so clear in your explanations and definitions!
Set the learning outcome and process for your students
This step is critical as it will set the scene for the entire course and in my example, I explain:
That everything they are learning has been and still is being used by me personally and rigorously tested at the “sharp end.”
The course has been refined over the years and is heavily research-based with the aim of being able to pro-actively offer products and solutions based on knowing the customer’s vision, mission, strategy, problems, and toughest challenges before making any sales approach…
- They will be able to confidently approach C-Suite and executive business leaders in large corporations to more effectively, profitably and efficiently sell their products and/or services and build the foundation for longer-term business relationships
- There will be X amount of modules that you can complete at your own pace, with a clear goal set at the beginning of each module, a summary at the end and a series of test questions and scenarios at the end
- They can access me personally by email and phone by appointment during the course — email support will continue after the course
This is just an example just so you can get the idea.
Delivering your online program
I intend to deliver my course through a series of videos and then to offer face-to-face and one-on-one programs to follow up for those people who want those services.
In the sales industry, there is a race to get to the top of the profession because the rewards can be huge and some people will want personal instruction.
But it is up to you.
Although there are many platforms out there that will allow you to simply create and upload a course and some of these are excellent by the way, I strongly advise you to build your own brand on the Internet, with your own website and preferably using WordPress.org, because you will have more control.
I talk extensively about why I chose WordPress.org in this article “Starting a blog on WordPress: Why I decided to start a blog on WP (this blog).”
In short, if you use a third-party platform only to run your courses, then you are at risk if something should happen to that platform and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use them, just be aware of the risks and you have to de-risk things as much as possible and remember also that the Internet could go down and things could change with WordPress…anything could happen and as I said earlier, I am writing this article in the time of a global pandemic, which nobody would have predicted.
But let’s stay with WordPress at the moment and you can build your own online course delivery system with them, so take a look here at the WordPress LMS plugin and see what you think.
I’m not saying this is an easy option compared to say Udemy and other platforms such as teachable, but it is all about giving you the options and managing risk, but the WordPress option is highly customizable and some people like that feature.
Measuring the results
Metrics are critical in measuring your success as you can imagine, but they also serve as a valuable marketing tool and if you are successful with your online education program, then you need to tell the world about it.
Analytics do not lie and if you see that a number of people are quitting your course at a certain point, in a certain module, then you know you have to change things.
Of course, the opposite can be true and it provides valuable feedback from your students and even more valuable information to help you improve what you are doing and to design future products.
Also, do not forget to obtain testimonials.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is the time for online education.
There are literally millions of people who are hungry for knowledge and desperate to share their knowledge.
Online education can come in many forms — single YouTube videos teaching you how to replicate that Chinese take-out you had the other night, to online degree courses that will help you get the qualification you need to advance your career.
And everything in between.
And you don’t necessarily need a teaching qualification to launch an online program unless there is legislation requiring you to do so and you can start with what I term, “the encyclopedia of you,” just as I plan on doing.
Remember that before you start to design your course, think about testing the water to generate interest and to build an audience — at the same time, beware of the “too good to be true” adverts that promise you vast sums of money, in a short time and whilst working only a few hours per day.
Any successful entrepreneur, businessman, and educator will tell you that success comes from hard work and plenty of it.
I would suggest that you start by developing a simple website and begin to build your personal brand, as people want to know who is behind the products and especially in the current economy — they will and should not, hand their cash over easily.
Then go through the “testing” part as I have explained, measure the results and then…full steam ahead!
Last modified: September 16, 2020