October 18, 2022

How to grow your online course community with Natasha M. Nurse.

Speaker Introduction: 

As a professor, I've taught an introduction to women's studies and assisted in the development of other community courses, as well as my own, and I'm sure you know that my driving force for community development and education is simply wanting to have more representation, right? Being a black woman, it was really important for me to be able to use my career and my voice to effectuate change and to build a community around positive entertaining as well as educational content, but then also, you know, there's just such a wonderful feeling of being able to help people get a job, help people present better, help people understand how they can be more in touch with themselves and figure out what their purpose is and what their passions are, so a little bit about me.

1. Everyone must take baby steps toward establishing an online business, an online course, or any type of online business. How do you set up the business, and when is the right time to bring in the community aspect?

So the first step is to always start from a foundation of why you're doing this and what you're trying to solve because your course shouldn't just be another piece of content it really needs to solve something so what is it that your audience that you're trying to reach who are they and what do they need and so first, I recommend people just use hand and paper and a pen and like write out an outline or if you want to save the trees which are really important too, type out an outline I prefer a more pulse-type output of content as opposed to, like, here's a course that's five hours long and has seven sections, and you know, doing too much so I recommend that, but also what are the action steps that you want the community that's going to be taking this or supporting this to do from this, so for example, if you're building a course around like career, that's an awesome space why? Because people are always going to be wanting a career So career-oriented content will always be vitally needed. Uh, you know, there's a lot of competition, so you want to find your narrow space for what's not currently being addressed right. 

We don't want to just do the same thing that's already out there, but you know, are you saying to people, "Hey, build your resume" that you know, buy passes XYZ and gets you in front of the recruiter, or is it something around Ace that interview, how do you develop questions that will help you perform better in the interview process like what is the specific thing that you're addressing and then I would recommend, uh, really giving yourself some guidelines like deadlines and how you're going to accomplish this because a lot of times in life we have a lot of great ideas but ideas without action are as if you shouldn't have had the idea so, okay, I have the idea in October, when do you do it? I mentioned Arizona, so the United States, right? So we're going to be getting into the holiday season, so Thanksgiving-Christmas doesn't make sense to launch a whole new course when people are busy cutting up turkeys and wrapping gifts. Maybe not, maybe we start in the new year right after everyone's like, "you know, in that kind of like new year, new opportunity beckons and they can jump right in right and you can give them a 30-day course, whether it's self-paced or if it's going to be live, or a little bit of both, and then you know what they're going to accomplish at the end of this: how is it going to better themselves, better their business?" 

2. When it comes to community, do you take feedback from users on Day 1 or do you wait for it to conceptualize? 

You know, especially when trying to sell the course to your community that you already have or try to build it, you know that a really great lead magnet would be getting people to come in and say, "Hey, if you take my course for free and you give me a review or you give me feedback, that's a great gift." You have real data and real information as to how you can tweak things and make it a little bit better, and then you can have the 2.0 version right where you've taken in all the contacts of all the feedback you've gotten and made it that much better. The people you've invited to join this now know a little bit more about your platform, and if the course is somewhat good, they'll be a little bit more hungry to understand what your next step is. Mogul essentially, and you know he's always saying "start with free," like start with getting people to understand who you are, why they should trust you, and what you can give for them, and then once you've made that clear, you can always sell that; you can always add and add, you know, upon that level of trust that you've built and developed with that person or those people. 

3. When you look at your most successful course, what would you say is the one or two biggest reasons why it’s successful against the competition?

So, I believe you understand that you must define success for yourself. Obviously, if it's something monetarily and it's like, "Okay, this did five million versus this five thousand," you can measure that way, but for your own sake, because you know that competition or comparison is the thief of joy, I just encourage everyone to make sure that you're in the driver's seat of what success means for you and your business, your community, and whatever you're trying to accomplish, and so what I would say is that If you're selling it, are you saying, "take my course, take my course, or and this is something I have to constantly work on myself," or are you telling a story? For example, if your course is about resume building, does it make sense to just say, "Okay, take my course, and your resume will be better?" no. But if you do a little video of taking an existing resume and showing people how to take one sentence and make it more meaningful and impactful that is more storytelling around your course, you can have and add in that language of, "Want to see more?" "Want to see the final view of this resume?" "Join here right away." There's a difference between sharing and telling, and when it comes to content and course creation, we need to do more sharing. 



4. Which learning platform are you MOST excited about right now?


So, as a podcaster, I'm actually most excited about audio, such as audible courses, because, as I mentioned earlier, people are busy, and as a mother of a 15-month-old, trying to fit in everything is crazy. So, what can you do? You can give people content that is audible so that they can listen to your course while they wash dishes, do laundry, or run after their toddlers who are driving them crazy. audible content is the thing, and so that would encourage people to look at what they could do when they're developing their content for their courses: what could you do that is going to be attractive to the ear; what could you do that's going to be meaningful to listen to; and it's because some content actually does deliver a little bit better if you are visually watching it, so you need to pay attention to that, especially for something like a resume or something like that that you want to see, versus if you're going to do a course on interviewing, you don't have to watch someone talk to you; you How to frame your answers and how to present them in a way that's going to make you stand out.



5. In the short video world of Tik Tok, are people listening to longer formats, particularly podcasts, and what effect has tick-tock had on video courses? 


Because Tick Tock is short-form content, where information is like balls and pulses, I think with a course that's a great way for you to kind of condense everything in a really fun engaging way, maybe throw some fun music behind it but obviously, be mindful of licensing and you know do you have the right to use the content or the music but it's a great way to say you know how to take maybe one piece of your course and pulse it out to say like three ways to do right and if you want to throw a spun dance in there you do that.So I think it's a platform that will probably continue to be used for a little while longer. It's difficult to know how long platforms will last because there were platforms that we used to use and it's like, "Ugh, they're not there anymore." So you just have to pay attention to the technological and content news out there in your space that's affecting you and don't be afraid to try something new.



6. How do you overcome procrastination? And how do you sell your product or services online especially if you are a newbie?


Okay, so first you have to believe in yourself, and I say this because, and I know this isn't about sales, if you refuse to believe in yourself, you can never expect anyone else to believe in you, so I want to encourage people to start from a place of, "I am worthy of receiving support, I am worthy of making money, and I will and can and am ready, willing, and able to make money." When you bring that baby home, you have no idea what to do; you have to Nancy Drew it and figure it out. The same is true for your career, your content, and your business goals.


So, now that we've established a road map for what my course is and what I'm attempting to solve, let's plan the action items. Don't prepare for or, you know, foresee the time to procrastinate; don't plan for like, "Oh, okay, I can really do this in a month, so I'm going to give myself two months." No, give yourself deadlines, hard deadlines. What is an appropriate amount? Again, you can do some contextual comparison by going on different platforms and looking at how other people price things not just on your platform; there are things like Coursera and Thinkific that will show you how they've priced things out, and then you, based on the content, the time, the actions, and the impact, give yourself a price that you feel is appropriate. And guess what? I also recommend that people develop a confidence-building regimen for themselves because as you build and put your stuff out there, there will be new things you've learned, which usually decrease our confidence as humans. So you have to constantly go against that and try to listen to things like this, read books, surround yourself with people who actually support you, who actually motivate you, and continue to combat as you hone your skills.



7. Do you test pricing (up/down) to see what works best or just stick to a number?


So I think you know that as fun and easy as it is to just stick to a number, unfortunately, life and business don't work that way. As we see in the store, one week something is this and another week something is different, and I think you have to understand that's just the way the world is. You have to play the game once you understand the Rules of Engagement, and so, uh, if you already have a cohort in your pocket, whether it's five or ten people, these are the people who've been ride or die with you; absolutely work with them; and then, based on that, if you're going to put up a landing page and try to attract new people, you're going to run ads against that landing page. So, for example, if your same or a similar course is 25% more on other platforms that are in similar spaces to yours, you know, maybe on the landing page where you're trying to attract new people, you go up 25 or maybe you go up 30, like you can do it in context to what you're seeing, and then give yourself time for, you know, if it's a 30-day offering, then do that offering for 30 days, and based on what you see. But a lot of times when we're making decisions, we want to make sure that they're data-driven decisions, right? So, whatever you're doing, if you're engaging with people, try to get permission to contact them so you can try to hear from them, because the more you hear from people, the more people are willing to talk now than ever before. Everyone has a soapbox, and they're out here five days a week until sundown trying to share their story and tell you how you're doing it wrong, so take advantage of the fact that people are more chatty than ever before and they want to give feedback. People want to know up-and-down things all the time, so they want to hear from you, so I would just encourage you as you're testing to make sure you're trying to survey along with the test so you can see, you know, 80 percent of people like this, and you can adjust accordingly. We don't want to make business or course creation decisions based on your gut instinct because, as entertaining as it is, are you your audience?


8. If time is limited, would you recommend using it to keep creating more courses? or would you focus on building up your own platform and other marketing content?


We only have 24 hours a day and you know x amount has to be slapped on x amount and you know you got to take care of yourself and family and work and so you know we're always wanting people to understand that their life is limited and there's no more time than ever to think about that concept. It's a grind both ways, but what I'd recommend is that you time it so that you're collecting that survey data on an ongoing basis as part of your engagement with your community. As they continue to communicate with you, that's when you can then kind of map out, "Well, based on my community, it looks like maybe they're looking for a course maybe two to three times a year," and then you can orient yourself. 



9. I am a complete beginner willing to get into the world of online teaching. Needless to say, I don’t have an email list nor any existing audience. How can I get started?

The first step is that branding piece, right? Branding 101. So it's absolutely okay to get started with nothing. How do we come into this world naked and crying? all right So everyone starts as a beginner in something in their life before they're able to build, so the first step really is creating that footprint online and in person for who you are, making sure that you're going by the name of your choice for yourself and that you have an easy title for yourself. So even if you're just beginning, you can say you're a content creator. Well, what kind of professional are you? What is your career rate? All of that, and then choose the platforms on which to build your online footprint in order to eventually build and develop a community. So do you need to be on Facebook? Do you need to be on LinkedIn? Do you need to be on Meetup.com? Do you need to be on Tick Tock? Do you need to be on Instagram? Do you need to be on YouTube? In any of the online social spaces, figure out which platform is going to deliver a community-building opportunity for yourself, and that's the online component.

The in-person component is the other component. I know it's like, "In person, yes, honey, you have got to get out there in the world and you've got to do some networking and you've got to join some groups," and it's not always just the traditional networking of like, "Let me go to a business conference or a specific group for the space that says you want to be an actor or you want to do like tutoring content or something like that." "I'm going to teach," you say. Oka. Okay, but there's also "My Class," so when you're food shopping or at the mall, you can network and integrate any aspect of your life, so what do you do? "Do you have to make do?" You are consistent. How are you introducing yourself? So, whether it's a 60-second elevator pitch or a 30-second elevator pitch, you have to make sure you're consistent in who you say you are in this world, both online and in person, and then it's a grind, right? My life motto is to meet someone new and learn something new every single day, and I can do that and have done that for a very long time because of the internet.