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Zero to Launch

Can you turn that idea into a course this spring?

How are those spring launch plans coming? Are they taking shape?

I’ve heard from so many people that launching a course was in their 1st quarter plans!  (You too?) And they’re wondering things like Is spring do-able for me? How much time will this take? and (I love the honesty) What parts can I skip & still get something viable out the door? 

What does it look like: to go from zero to launch with a new course?

It seems like a daunting prospect – creating an exceptional course  – but, like any elephant, it can be eaten one bite at a time.

I’ve written before about all the moving parts to getting a course out the door, but here I’m going to pull back and take a higher-level approach to answering the question. Let’s look at it from the 10,000 foot level.

What You Need to Get A Course Out This Spring

1. A testable idea.
You’ll want to get a first-draft idea together and see if she’ll float. A little validity testing makes sure your course is the right idea at the right time (at the right price) and this will buoy your step as you head into the intense part of course building.

Ingredients for a testable idea: Who it’s for + what they’ll be able to do better as a result + how the course will be delivered + a price point.

– 1 part brainstorming: Check out the helpful checklists in You Already Know What to Teach and How to Create Your First Group Course.

– 3 parts idea consolidation:

When you’re done brainstorming, you should be able to answer these questions:

I want to help (these sorta people) _______________________________________

get better at (your broad category)              ______________________________________

by teaching them (main topic/s) _________________________________________ .

By the end of this course, they will be able to ___________________________ better than they can now.
It’s designed to get ______________________________________________ (target customer) out of ____________________________________________________ (pain problem) and into _____________________________________________________(new bliss).

And, this product will probably be (put a check by what you’re considering):

[ ] A single downloadable PDF
[ ] – with worksheets
[ ] – with a link to a video or two

[ ] A live webinar
[ ] – with written content/documents
[ ] – with slide content

[ ] A multi-week course that drips out content over a few weeks
[ ]- with written content &/or worksheets to download
[ ] – with presentation slide content
[ ]- with pre-taped video content
[ ]- with live calls
[ ]- a forum (FaceBook or Google+ or something else)

– 1 part testing:  How to (not) survey your customers (and what to do instead)

2. Fantastic course design:
I know you know that a course is more than a List O’ Topics and bunch of bullet points. What makes your course different than a wikepedia article? Your expertise. Not because you can talk all day on it — but because you know how to reduce the content to only those things that will significantly change performance.

Experts and novices think about problems differently. Novices dwell on surface details, while experts dig into deeper, underlying issues. [source] You’re an expert, and so your course should be designed around busting through the real barriers to performance.

This means aggressively defining and solving your customer problem before you tackle materials creation. This is the secret sauce to exceptional courses. 

3. A project blueprint:
Hookay, you have an exceptional design plan – how to make it see the light of day?

Make a list of what you need done + estimate duration for each task + get it on a calendar.

Work forwards from today, or backwards from your launch date, if you already have one. Project management software is your friend, for this step. Find one you like and use it daily. It can save your sanity, if you let it.

Two recommendations: You can Use Trello to Manage Your Course Creation Project, or try the sexy new look of Redbooth (my current favorite).

4. Sweat equity
You’re set up for success, but this course isn’t going to build itself. Chunk out time daily or weekly, and stick to it. It’s a mix of sheer creation, detail management, and (let’s face it) tedium. But there’s enough of each to go around to suit your energy levels, so try to suit the task to your mood.

I recommend Using Evernote for Your Course Creation Project to give yourself an organizational leg up.

That’s the report from 10,000 feet, and the essential ingredients to getting a course out this quarter.

If you’re inspired to dig in, be sure to check out my free Getting Started Resource Page, and my other course-building resources.

Can you turn that idea into a course this spring?
Yes, you can!