The virtual learning industry is on a variable upswing. This isn’t surprising given the push to make everything more accessible as we face year three of this global pandemic. Everything from youth dance classes to group support programs have migrated to the virtual landscape and it has created a much more level playing field for virtual learning and professional expansion.
With increasingly user-friendly platforms, minimal tech setups and a much more educated and accessible audience, the move to online course creation is a buzz with activity. We have noticed this trend making waves with our senior executives as they look for ways to expand their offerings or round out their careers with a legacy-inducing bang.
However, with development and expansion also comes doubt and trepidation. We often hear from our participants that moving into the virtual learning space is intimidating and seems unrealistic, but that’s simply not true. That’s why we are busting the top 7 misconceptions we hear when we start delving into this type of work.
We’re here to tell you, it’s not inaccessible to you at all; in fact, it may be much easier for you to get started than you would’ve ever thought and here’s why.
We hear this a lot. When you’ve been doing something for a long time (life’s work, kind of long time), it can feel comfortable, routine, dare we say, easy? That’s because we have built strategies that have become ingrained in our brain’s muscle memory and in most cases, we no longer have to think about how to plan or implement them. When you then try to change up the delivery from, say, in person to online or from solo execution to mass facilitation, the automatic (and limiting) beliefs are that it will be too time consuming, include too many additional tasks, take up too much mental real estate….and ultimately, end up being too much work.
We get it, you’re still working your full time job so it seems impossible to add more. However, when you have a proven system and guide on the side, the load lightens significantly. You may even find that as you start to lay out your content that you discover ways to streamline how you’re working your strategies in real time, increasing your efficiency and ultimately creating even more time in your day!
If you consider this career evolution an investment in your future, priming up a little bit of time and effort in the front end will free up substantially more of both of these assets (not to mention provide you with an ongoing revenue stream) which is a great way to round out your life’s work…if we do say so ourselves.
Obviously we all want our projects to be successful, that’s the nature of growth in the first place. However, having realistic expectations for performance is the key to sustainable expansion. A more reasonable approach is to figure out how many people you’re working with now in the run of a day, week, month, or year. Then, add 10% to those figures as goals to strive for within the first year of ‘going digital’.
You will likely notice as your online presence gains momentum (and you gain more confidence) that you can expand those projections further and further (and faster!). Virtual courses are designed to provide additional passive and/or active income, which is just that, additional. Attaching million-dollar monetary goals may be desirable and attainable for some, but for others it can take away from the original intention of your work, which is to reach more people with your expertise.
If you’re reading this, you likely have at least an inkling of what your own online offering might entail. Although, maybe you don’t. Either way is the perfect starting point. Knowing that you have value to offer is enough to get you going. We often work with clients who are known Subject Matter Experts (SME) in their field. They are accredited, celebrated, and highly regarded by their peers and communities, but they’re just not sure how to translate their knowledge into the virtual landscape, and that’s ok.
That’s where we come in. We work with our students to help them delve through their life’s work and reframe it for the online learning space. We know how to get the nuggets that will have lasting impact and we will help you build a learning framework around them that makes sense to you, but also is highly consumable by your target audience. You focus on what you can offer and we’ll focus on how you can best offer it.
Certainly, having a following or reputation is helpful when you’re launching a new product, especially if it’s your first in a new service category. However, it isn’t necessary to have a ready to go audience to move into the virtual learning space. As we mentioned in the intro of this article, the online learning atmosphere is ripe with opportunity.
Not only are there more and more people embracing professional development, they are also less intimidated and more technology advanced than they were in their pre-pandemic lives. Platforms like Zoom have made the jump to online learning much easier than most had expected and some of the additional perks of an online scenario, including the elimination of commute time and a more flexible schedule have made this type of learning much more attractive to a larger audience.
Building an audience does take some work, for sure, but you’d be surprised at how much of an audience you likely already have. As a Subject Matter Expert, you have likely built a pretty robust network throughout your career. Now, this community may not be your ideal audience as they likely have a level of knowledge base that exceeds who you will be looking to target. However, what they can do for you is promote, encourage, and point you in the direction you need to go to start building out that audience base. Add a dash of marketing on top and voila! You’re ready to promote!
This is one that we hear frequently from our students; the belief that they won’t be able to manage the technology or hardware involved with producing online content. And, in previous years, this would’ve been a legitimate concern. These days, however, getting online and in front of an engaged audience is easier than ever, and, in most cases, only requires an internet connection and laptop computer. To be completely frank, you could even do it with a mobile phone.
All that said, getting into the virtual learning space does offer a tiered approach. At the base level, you can start offering webinars via Zoom or any of the other software players with a small monthly membership fee, an internet connection, laptop, and (completely optional!) a slide deck. Additional setup elements may include some type of lighting; either acquiring some sort of ring light or strategically positioning your filming vantage point where there is an abundance of natural light will work. Depending on just how much on screen content you will be offering, it may make sense to invest in a microphone, backdrop, and presentation clicker, but none of these items are absolutely required to get rolling.
When you’re first starting out, making sure you have the basics to deliver a professional program is all that is really necessary. Once you’ve established a following and have decided that you want to invest more time and energy into your online learning offerings, then it may make more sense to explore different set ups and technologies to better suit your needs. Our motto, start small and build from there!
Depending on the type of course you want to deliver, you can be on or off camera as little or as often as you like. That is the beauty of the virtual learning space, it is very versatile and audiences have learned to expect both types of delivery. We will say this, being visible with your audience is invaluable in building rapport. So, if the point of your course is to funnel viewers into 1:1 coaching or additional services with you, then having more of ‘you’ with them throughout the experience will likely make sense.
You may find as you build more courses and gain confidence that you prefer to be on camera more, or you may find the opposite. The key is figuring out what works best for your content delivery and your audience’s consumption preference and building your programs from there.
This one is maybe the biggest myth we debunk with our beloved audience. No one is ever fully confident when they start. Even seasoned presenters, online or not, have doubts when they get started. The truth is, you never know how an audience is going to respond when you create new content, but there are ways to swing the odds in your favour.
Making sure that your material is well researched, laid out with optimal learning in mind and built into a highly consumable package will certainly allow you to feel more confident in delivering it. Working on your presentation skills (specifically in the virtual space) will also arm you with the skills needed to confidently deliver your message with impact.
All that said though, the only thing that will truly build your confidence is doing it, ready or not!
If you’d like to work with us to ensure that you are as prepared as you can be to knock your presence out of the digital park, then click here to apply for our Presenters’ Mastery Program and be the first to know when our next cohort opens up.