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July 25

10 Most Common Mistakes When Creating An Online Course



Creating an online training for your clients has been proven to be a great strategy to reinforce your brand positioning and elevate your credibility in your field of expertise. Although the idea may sound amazing, the task itself requires time and work to be successful.

Indeed, being an expert does not make you a teaching professional nor a good seller. You must be able to acknowledge it quickly and acquire resources that compensate for your weaknesses.

To make sure you have the wind in your back when starting your online training project, here are the 10 most common mistakes you should avoid in the process. 

“This all-in-one platform seems like the best solution”
Is it really?

Unless you have the time, money and resources to build your own online training platform, you will find many existing solutions at a wide variety of price points. 

Although they sure look sexy at first glance, all-in-one platforms can rapidly become a limiting factor in a growing project. Even though on paper these platforms give the impression they can do it all, the features list says nothing about their quality and the ease of use of the overall system. 

This approach usually ends up with a system that gives you a set of medium quality features, without truly distinguishing itself in any aspect.

Therefore, before choosing your online training platform, make sure you properly identify your needs and your budget. 

According to these factors, you might want to consider a platform that has fewer options, yet offers a better client experience, great interconnectivity and meets your core requirements.

With thousands of apps available on the market and service like Zapier to connect them, it is now way more strategic to focus on a set of systems that will meet your exact needs and will allow you more flexibility as your project starts expanding over time.

“My course will be created with nothing but videos”
Some media are better than others to achieve a specific goal. Texts, for example, are great for descriptions and detailed information. Videos, on the other hand, are more appropriate to explain concepts with visual support. If you have the resources to do both, your online training will already be much more comprehensive and valuable for the costumers. 

“I have this long video presentation that I plan to use...”
In most cases, your clients are busy people and do not have time for endless lectures. Many trainers will sabotage their own projects because they try to cut corners and record an in-room training or a webinar, presented in only one segment. Your chances of success are then much smaller.

Try to create content that is short, straight to the point and easy to squeeze in an already-full schedule. 

People will enjoy being able to take a small lesson on a regular basis a lot more than having to plan some time just to get one training module done.

It will also be easier for your students to revisit your content in the future if they have access to a well-segmented table of content. We never want to have a client dreadfully searching a specific subject in a long video.

“My training is so clear that everyone will understand”
A great way for a client to verify if he or she acquired the skills taught in your program is to take a self-evaluation test. As a trainer, make sure to include a quiz at the end of every module or any other tools that allow people to measure their progress. 

The real value of a training is the one perceived by your participants. Using an approach that allows the students to acknowledge their progression at every module will improved the perceived value of your content and, therefore, the satisfaction level of your clients.

It also is a good approach to let you see if the current learning curve is adapted or too difficult for your audience. Using quiz and exams allows you to modify and improve your training continuously to better respond to your students’ needs and expectations.

“It's an online course so I can't have interactions with my clients”
Although online courses involve that you won’t meet your clients in person, it must not prevent you from putting an effort into creating a warm client experience. Show you care through your learning structure, but also invite people to reach out to you during the process if they have any questions or comments about the program. 

Setting up a post-training follow-up email is also a great way to demonstrate your interest in your clients’ progress, as well as opening the discussion to receive feedback, suggestions and testimonies.

“I’m the best in my field of expertise, I don’t need proofreading”
You may be an expert in your field of business but having somebody reviewing the content and proofreading is always a good idea. Ask someone who could be your client, so you have an extensive critique of the understandability of your content, its readability and its efficiency. 

Being the expert of your content, it is easy for you to over evaluate the learning capacity of your participants and be biased by your own ease towards the subjects presented.

By asking the help of a potential client, you will be able to confirm if your approach is adapted for your clients, and if some sections could be better simplified.

You should also have a professional check the grammar and spelling to make sure small mistakes are not affecting the quality of the content, nor your credibility. 

“Webinars are great teaching formats for online courses”
This mistake is major and common.

A lot of online training creators will be hosting “free webinars”.

Although webinars are useful to reach new audiences, raise awareness and increase sales, marketing strategies and efficient teaching formats should not be mixed up.

Webinars are efficient when we use this approach with a marketing mindset. They are, however, not so efficient if we use this method for teaching skills and competencies.

Not only is this strategy time consuming, its return on investment is lower since you end up spending your publicity budget on a free webinar instead of promoting your actual training.

The time-sensitive long format of the webinars is not adapted to answer the learning reflexes of your participants. Furthermore, it is a counterproductive method as it nullify most of the advantages of online courses, such as the schedule flexibility and the easy access to the content once the training is done. 

“If the quality of the content is good, people will buy it”
I hate to break it to you, but no.

Unfortunately, the fact that your course content is good does not imply that it will generate sales by itself.

If you want to make sure your online course is successful, you should think ahead about the marketing strategy it will require to market it while creating the program. 

  • Who are the partners and actors within your industry that can help you gain visibility?
  • Is there a time of the year that is more favourable for your product launching?
  • What are the best communication streams to reach your target audience?

Through the proper tactics, you could already have a pool of clients before the official launch. 

“I heard this new strategy should guarantee my success”
Affiliates, sales tunnel, gamification, etc...

Do not bank the success of your project on a single marketing trend. Trends come and go quickly.

You can try any marketing stunt you want to sell more training; it will not be enough to secure a sustainable success. 

If you make sure to have a solid course plan, great client’s reviews, a good knowledge of your market and a strategy that generates leads to your training through your existing products and services, you should be able to gain new clients in a more organic way.

Those organic clients will be more engaged towards your brand and will be more easy to convert into ambassadors.

“Once it’s online I can stop caring about it”
If you upload a great online training program today, chances are time will make it lose some value as new techniques, discoveries and technologies will surface afterwards. 

To make sure you developed a product that lasts through time, you must make some updates when necessary. You can also add some new modules if it feels relevant and invite former clients to refresh their knowledge occasionally.

Of course, some subjects are timeless while others are meant to be updated on a regular basis. It is your responsibility, and in your interest, to maintain your contents so that you extend your training’s lifespan. Consequently, you will also optimize the return of your investment.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to keeping it simple and taking the required time to make your online course worth its value. If you do follow these suggestions, you will surely increase the quality of your content and your chances at a success.. 

Marie-Hélène Couette

Passionate about entrepreneurship, Marie-Hélène Couette has managed numerous business development, marketing and event projects in Quebec and on an international level. Through mentoring, training and content creation, she wants to help entrepreneurs succeed and live from their passion.