guide marketing promotion online courses

A Novice’s Guide to Marketing and Promoting Online Courses

The hardest part of becoming an online instructor is putting together the content for your course. However, there is a lot of work to be done when it comes to marketing and promoting. Once your online course is fully developed, it’s time to start marketing and promotion. Whether you’re hosting the course on your own own site or on a marketplace like Udemy or Skillshare, you should be aware that promotion is crucial to the success of a course. It may be more complicated than you think.

This article — a followup to A Novice’s Guide To Building and Selling An Online Class —  will take you through the ins and outs of promoting online courses.

Use what’s available to you

The top ways of marketing your course include reaching out through social media, community support, your own loyal following, networking, and advertising.

For Yasheaka Oakley, a public relations specialist and founder of YOakleyPR, her specialty goes hand in hand with her online course, Integrating Social Media in Business.

“I do public relations for nonprofits, so when I started my course I used the email list and sent information once a month to subscribers and received feedback on who would be interested,” says Oakley.

“I then created a news release and sent that out to a separate list of people — the ones who said they were interested — and I set them up with a free trial pilot session to see how the course would be viewed. Then with that feedback, I could make changes for the big release.”

Creators who use a platform to host their courses often rely on that site for marketing as well.

Jonathan Levi, an online instructor whose main course, Become a SuperLearner: Learn Speed Reading & Advanced Memory,is hosted on Udemy, says he uses his own networking but also the advertising that his platform provides.

“We rely heavily on Udemy’s promotions and ads, as well as their affiliate network,” he explains. “The vast majority of our sales, once we sold the first 100 or so courses, have come from Udemy’s tireless promotions.”

Jack Zerby, says Skillshare does the marketing and promoting for his web design and copywriting course, so he can concentrate on running Goodsie, an e-commerce platform, along with his two partners.

“Honestly, I really don’t do any marketing on my end, that’s what made Skillshare so attractive,” says Zerby. “I can focus on building the courses, and they do a fantastic job of getting the word out.”

Use your expertise

For many course creators, this is not their first experience with the material they are using in their courses. If the subject is something you have an extensive background in, be sure to display that and use it to your advantage.

YouTube was John Purcell’s first outlet before he taught online courses in Java and software development.

“I was making videos for YouTube and someone told me that I could sell videos on Udemy.com.,” he says. “The YouTube videos were originally intended to help me sell 1-to-1 lessons via Skype. I have a YouTube channel with around 160 free videos now, which I also put on my website. Plus I have a big free course on Udemy.com. Free stuff gets people interested if you keep making it for a year or two.”

Sheri Gazitt, an aspiring course creator, is relying on her work as a life coach to help create and keep an audience.

“I plan to have a website where teens come and ask questions,” she says. “They can get a separate password so they can ask questions, view articles interesting and relevant to them, making it a safe place they can be comfortable. For parents, it will be the same way, a place that they can ask questions about their children. I do the same thing in real life with my full-time job, but now anyone can have access, not just those who are clients of mine.”

Keep your students coming back

Steven Pettit, pharmacist and creator of ThePharmacySchool, says the way to keep an audience interested is to keep the content fresh and up to date.

“Content is King – but Presentation is Queen,” he explains. “Having the most useful content in the world won’t help students if it is presented in a boring format. Graphics, animations, and overly animated instructors make a class tons more interesting. A little extra time or expense in post-production may be the difference in a class that sells or a class that stalls. As soon as I shoot the video and have the correct content recorded my job is only half done.”

Another way of expanding your courses to keep an audience is to make your information easy to access and understand.

Peer-to-peer communication is important, says Oakley. Make sure you use your own expertise to guide your students is one of the most useful lessons while managing the course.

Once the marketing and promotion material of course creating is underway, the only thing left is to wait for students to come to your site. With the right support, research and passion for the subject, these courses will be well on their way to success.

And stay patient, says Purcell: “Be aware that it’ll take time to really build up a big following. The start will be slow. But you can build up from a very small beginning to a big following over two years.”

How to market and promote your course successfully:1. Decide who you are trying to help.

2. Reach out to local media outlets to spread the word.

3. Utilize social media to grab attention.

4. Manage time.

5. Send updates.

6. Interact with students on a weekly basis to keep them interested.

7. Get feedback for future improvement.

8. Make full use your platform’s resources.

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