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Types of online courses

Types of Online Courses

In the last of the Starter for 10 series, we looked at the top 10 online course mistakes.  Now, we will show you how to avoid those pitfalls and set up your online course for success. In today’s article, we are looking at types of online courses.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for online courses. Therefore, choosing the right type of course will depend on a number of factors – your audience, their lifestyle, your content and, of course, your own preferences. 

Let’s outline some of the options that you can choose for your online course and the factors that you need to take into account for each.

1. Modular

Perhaps the most common and easiest to understand is the modular online course. At its simplest, content is structured into a number of topics or modules. Using text, audio or video, the student is taken through the modules to move them from their starting position to their desired outcome. Most course creators will charge a one-off payment for access to their modular course. However, the content can all be live immediately or drip fed and released over a number of days, weeks or months. Finally, you can choose whether to have a closed or evergreen course. An evergreen course is continually available for purchasing/access. Whereas a closed course has a limited purchase window and may only be launched once or twice a year.

The advantage of a closed course is that it creates a deadline and that in turn can create more of an urgency to buy. But the downside of a closed course is that you have a finite promotion opportunity. If the timing is wrong or if your audience misses the promotion, you can end up with a smaller cohort than you would like. Instead, you can get around this by keeping a wait list of prospects who are interested in purchasing and contact them directly prior to your launch.

However, if your online course is evergreen, you can use a more constant marketing strategy to drive people to your course. Although you may need to make the offer more enticing to have people commit without a set deadline. 

2. Monthly

Another of the types of online courses is the monthly (or alternative timeframe) set up. Think of this like a magazine subscription. You have people sign up to receive content each month. This could be a video, an audio/podcast, an article, or even a webinar. It’s usually a short and highly focused piece of content that directly addresses the needs or goals of your audience. These types of courses tend to be a subscription where people pay monthly for access to the content but they can also be a one-off payment – or you could offer a discount for members who pay in bulk in advance (for example, a discounted yearly fee for a 12-month subscription). 

3. Coaching

One of the core advantages of adding a live coaching element to your online course, is that it avoids the issues of creating digital content and the associated EU or UK VAT costs. This can be particularly challenging as Digital VAT charges are payable in the country the subscriber originates. See https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-vat-rules-if-you-supply-digital-services-to-private-consumers#definition-of-electronically-supplied.  Here is  a summary of what types of delivery are affected by Digital VAT:

Chart of Digital VAT

When you are considering creating an online coaching course, you need to get really clear on what you are able to offer and how. When and how can you offer group coaching? What level of accessibility can you offer? And how many people can you effectively coach without compromising on quality? 

4. Membership

One of the most appealing (but often least utilized types of online courses) is the membership site. A true membership site creates a community for people to get involved, share thoughts and opinions, be supported and challenged to reach their goals. When engagement is high, it works well because people who bond with each other and form strong relationships are much more likely to commit longer to being a member and can even form a welcoming committee for new members. The most challenging part is getting the conversations started. It takes time and effort initially but can be highly beneficial in the longer term. But it also requires monitoring and moderating which can be time consuming.  

Things to think about when choosing a type of online course

Of course, your online course doesn’t have to be just one of these. It may well be a combination. But here are some things to think about when you’re choosing the type of online course you want to create:

  • Who is your audience?
  • How do they currently consume info? (for example, business people may listen to podcasts on way to work)
  • What time or environmental restrictions may they have? (for example, busy parents may not have an hour to sit down and watch a video)
  • What format does your content lend itself to? (for example, it is difficult to convey technical info over audio)
  • Your own preferences – you don’t want to set yourself up to be constantly online or shooting video if you detest it
  • Pricing – how much do you need to earn from this and what value do you have to offer to get people to pay?

If you are not yet clear on what type of online course to create, don’t worry. In the next part of the Starter for 10 Series, we are going to dive deeper into your ideal audience, look at who they are and what they need, and that may provide further clarity.

STARTER FOR 10 SERIES

Do you want to know how to avoid these potential pitfalls and get your Online Course right from the start? If so, get access to our Starter for 10 Series direct to your inbox.

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