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Updated: May 2, 2022


You’ve been the student, heck you’re still learning, but now it’s time for you to be the teacher - and earn income while doing it.

If you’ve clicked through to this post, you’ve likely already got an idea or two of what you’d like to teach and are looking for help on how to best teach your topic - or perhaps you’re still working on defining the problem your audience may be experiencing and seek the means to guide them to a solution. Bottom line - if you have a passion for what you’re wanting to teach, know you’re good at, and are ready to leverage what you have experience in it - you’re ready to become a thought leader online. The best part? You can earn passive income while doing it (mine even pays my rent!)

In this first video, I’ll walk you through the key steps involved in creating an online course, the benefits, and helpful tools and resources that I’ve used myself. I’ve adopted the methodology outlined on Skillshare’s blog - PLAN, PRODUCE, PUBLISH, PROMOTE.


STEP 1: THE PLANNING PHASE


K.I.S.S METHODOLOGY


Think K.I.S.S stands for keep it simple, stupid? Not today! I am all about keeping it SLOW & STEADY when creating online courses.


One of my favourite YouTubers, Ali Abdaal (a doctor and podcaster, whose all about exploring the principles, strategies and tools that help us live more productive lives) often speaks of the Heavy Lift vs. Slow Burn approach. Online course creation is by all means a slow burn and I would caution against trying to cram everything into a weekend.

Particularly if you’re creating online courses part time, you’re going to be spending about 3-4 weeks researching and reading all that you can on the topic before you’re ready to go live. During this process, personal anecdotes will come to mind that you’ll be able to overlay into your content in parts, as will more topical insights. I love doing the Google news search on several aspects of the topic before filming to make absolutely certain I have the most up to date information on hand.

You’ll want all the content you gather to live in one space and Notion is a multitaskers dream, allowing you to structure your course setup and work on multiple projects both seamlessly and simultaneously.


Working with a kanban card view, you’ll be able to see all your various modules, and with the drag and drop feature, you’re also able to work on what you’re feeling at the time and revisit a section post-reading something interesting, to add to it.

I previously worked on PowerPoint and created modules sequentially, so having this overview in Notion means you can add nuggets throughout as you find them, is an absolute game changer. In many ways, the planning process is EVERYTHING. Despite not being a productivity Youtuber and generally steering clear of anything which sounds like it may complicate things - I have found that tools like Trello or Notion actually help make things simpler going forward. The process of course creation can be anything but sequential so having the option to shift things around makes being agile that much easier, and helps you have a special place to make sense of the thoughts in your head.


In this video, I compare Notion with Trello specifically - so if you want to understand some of the key differences, you may want to give it a watch before deciding how to proceed.


GROUPS ARE GOLD MINES

Don’t go underestimating the value that lies in Facebook Groups; in them lie established, specific niches, and are a great tool for market research. You’ll be able to unpack the FAQs and biggest challenges facing your audience - allowing for a better understanding of their mindset and what they’re battling with in real time. Here are some of my favourites:


1. Future Females - a really powerful group, with loads of inspiring stories from members and also a great place to be able to post your own content.


2. The Resource - here you can find job boards, and poke questions around tasks, it’s a place for constructive and helpful banter. (This is South African specific so be sure to find something similar in your region).


3. Instructor HQ - here’s where course creation can be shared, and its really helpful to run polls and get virtually instant feedback.


DATA IS THERE TO HELP YOU!


If your existing website already has a lot of content, then you can absolutely make use of Google Analytics as a means to extract topic favouring. It’s data at your finger tips and most helpful especially if the sample size is meaningful. In lieu of this, another tool from Google is Google Trends, it’s free, shows interests and comparisons, and you’re able to filter this info by time and country.

PRODUCE

Pick a Platform

Next, you need to pick a platform - you need to be creating your content for the platform that’s true to you and you’re good at. Understanding the nuances and subtleties of your audience and where they hang out online will greatly help you.

Skillshare is a hub for creative people, featuring shorter content forms (20-60min) and is very hands-on, interactive and engaging, making use of interesting video angles. It’s also project-based, so bear this element in mind as it needs to be in the bedrock of your course as you create it.


With Udemy, people are actually buying the course upfront once previewing it (instead of paying a fixed fee once a month), which means even more so you’re needing to prove the value of your course, and inevitably ending up covering much longer content. It’s the biggest marketplace and a highly competitive space with the deciding factor would be most dependent on how detailed your topic is.


Other platforms worth mentioning are Teachable, Thinkific and Podia - and in many others you are 100% responsible for getting traffic to your page (tricky if you don’t have an audience when starting out, as you then need money to send people to the website or a biggish mailing list to utilise).

Think of your Introduction as a First Date


Your intro is your selling point and your ultimate hook! It really is your golden opportunity to promote your course from the get-go and make it count. With platforms such as Udemy this is even more important as people would have to check out at the end of this video. Showcase your personality, bring your best energy and outline the course benefits from the beginning.


Become a Batching Belieber

Batching your content is hotly contested but I feel strongly that shooting your videos back-to-back is ultimately way more efficient. Setting up your equipment, cleaning your room and looking presentable can all take time so doing this endlessly is likely just to give you excuses to procrastinate. Depending on how energetic I am feeling, I can film up to 90 minutes of content in a go so aim for 30 min initially and see just how much you can get in.


A good microphone is key (I make use of a Rode video mic) and overall, keep it simple, talking off the cuff. Come back to your most handy tool, Notion, where you’ve drafted the outline of your script and refer to the talking points you’ve made there.


There are free and simple video editors to minimise friction; Filmora, Adobe Premiere Pro, iMovie to name a few…. But I can strongly recommend iMovie to beginners (for Mac users) - it really covers the solid, good basics, is straightforward and quick, and doesn’t complicate the process. If you do happen to have a Mac and are keen to delve into iMovie, you may enjoy this video - it's crammed full of editing tips.




For PC users, I’d say DaVinci, it’s free and a bit more advanced. For when you’re feeling fancy, dabble in Premiere Pro for colouring and titling and remember you’ve also got Canva that can be used to inject your creativity. Including visuals and interactive elements into your content such as templates, assignments and quizzes really help liven up your online course.

In terms of slide decks, make sure your formatting is tight as it helps keep your content to the point. You may find it helpful to open with a talking headshot and then your video pops into the bottom left hand corner as you go.


TOP TIP: Bear in mind you don’t want any graphic/imagery in the corner that would affect your slides.


A great tip for your final slide is to cue what’s coming next - this keeps people interested and engaged with your content beyond the end of that specific video. I can recommend using Loom, which allows you to press pause, subtracting all the editing work at the back end.


You may be wondering about including music in your videos. I’ve played around with bedding tracks across YouTube, Skillshare, Udemy and honestly, I find them more distracting. That being said, you could try a short backing track for your intro, with a jingle and then silence, besides for your sweet, smart voice.


What about sounds effects? These need to be subtle, if used at all. You could opt to selectively use a swish when swiping left or right, but what’s even more effective is the use of jump cuts bringing yourself closer as you’re mentioning an important point, or even cutting to the side if need be. If you’re someone who’s going to be filming their content predominantly seated, it would help to also zoom in at points when you’re sharing something more personal.

PUBLISH Many of us are so fixated on a perfect outcome that we often never get the project or task at hand truly off the ground. Another of my favourite YouTubers, Lavendaire (a fellow content creator and entrepreneur who is an excellent resource for personal growth & lifestyle design) maintains that getting it done is better than it being perfect, and so I’ve learnt to adopt a more of a professionalism approach rather than perfectionism. Think of this as more of an MVP (minimum viable product or minimum viable course) - get your videos up, start seeing the traction and take note of the feedback. It's unlikely that you will only ever do just one version of a course, as time goes by you’ll surely find yourself adding to it and evolving it as a whole. It may seem like a lot of work but ultimately you want to put something out there that’s tried, tested and which you can build upon.

PROMOTE

Brainstorm your selling points as a teacher and your course’s selling points. Your promo video needs to make use of captions that speak to strengths such as your own experience and projects to date. With these in mind, get active about promoting by using platforms such as LinkedIn to promote your YouTube video and remember to include your Skillshare link. Again, Facebook Groups are a goldmine to promote your content and see peoples’ FAQs. All in all, you have the marketplace as a means to promote for you as well as going the extra mile and promoting to your mailing list and social media accounts.


Now, with Skillshare in mind, here’s another video to help you on your way.


As you know, creating an online course is a great method of generating passive income. Since establishing myself on the Skillshare platform in May 2020, I’ve earned about $2000, and gained over 1,200 students.

Remember your course needs to be practically centred as learning by doing is favoured with Skillshare. Project-based courses encourage interaction, engagement and feedback and including this fun element is imperative to one’s learning journey.


The format of your content needs to be focused and digestible. Skillshare operates on between 20-60min of pre recorded videos, with a minimum being as little as 10min. The ideal is to break your videos up into 2-5min servings, using varied content forms, spacers and visuals. The more digestible golden nuggets of info being served, the better.

Mix it up - use different lenses and means of recording, and Loom is a great tool for this. Designing your slides in Canva keeps them visually appealing well structured. Check that your headshot doesn’t interfere with screen, and making use of spacers; at the beginning of a segment with a title slide or an animation as an intro into the next piece of your course.


For Skillshare particularly, I suggest doing 6-10 subsets of a course. You would ideally shoot your promo video last, as that way you’ll know exactly what you’ve covered and not as well as your precise structure. Skillshare will allow self-promotion only in the intro and outro takes, along with your logo so cover your welcome, and overview and then dive in.


HOW FREQUENTLY SHOULD I PUBLISH COURSE ON SKILLSHARE?

In terms of publishing frequency, you’d look to have a Skillshare class a week (so multiple subsections of one course over the weeks). Take your time to get the content right as once you do publish your content, it can’t be deleted, only subsections replaced (and that’s time consuming to go back and do).

HOW TO MERCHANDISE & PROMOTE YOUR SKILLSHARE CLASS


Merchandising your course is a real thing. Carefully consider how you go about setting up your shop - which cover images you use, your titling and then tags, as these allow for better visibility of your content to appear in search results. When it comes to promoting your content you need to completely put yourself out there - tell EVERYONE. You’ll need that initial traction to your site to win with the algorithm. Being able to leverage off of the mailing list means you can earn income from the referral link and premium minutes watched by people ($10 made for every successful sign up, regardless of whether someone cancels after the free trial or not). You’ve put in the work, so it’s time to share your expertise and make awesome passive income while you’re at it.


HOW MUCH MONEY DO PEOPLE EARN ON SKILLSHARE?


Earnings on this platform are anticipated around $200 for first time teachers in their first month. Whilst I made $40 initially, I’ve learnt and grown and now make about $500 - $700 a month, with top-end instructors making around $3000 a month! In this video, I break down exactly how much money I make and what proportion comes from premium watch time vs. referrals.


Pssst: My earnings are now enough to pay my rent about 2.5x (after being on the platform for only about 9 months).


TOOLS OF THE TRADE


There are a LOT of tools in my back pocket while creating online courses, based on loads of trial and error. If you are interested in equipment, editing or software tips, ready on.


EQUIPMENT Halo light

  • Halo Light

  • 50mm Canon camera lens (blurs the background and zooms in nice & close)

  • Lens Love camera strap

  • Canon camera 760D (flip screen helps for ease of viewing yourself) which I have since replaced with a Canon EOS RP

  • Rode microphone (also currently trialling the Boys Lavalier Mic I found on Takealot)

EDITING SOFTWARE MAC - iMovie, DaVinci Resolve, ScreenFlow, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro PC - DaVinci Resolve, VSDC, Filmora Lightworks, Camtasia, Adobe Premiere Pro


I hope that this post, along with the videos I’ve included, have been a helpful approach in getting you started in the journey of creating your online course (through Skillshare or any of the other platforms).


I’m here to support you as you delve into the world of online teaching, so go for gold! If you have any questions, why not check out this video which addresses the common concerns I often hear. Otherwise, leave me a comment!


Big hug and so much love,


Meg x

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

Join me as I chat to Dale Imerman, the founder of The Mojo Dojo and Catalyst Africa.


Dale Imerman has the much envied job title of technologist – but enviably wears many other equally impressive hats – such as entrepreneur, corporate educator and keynote speaker. He is also a friend and someone whose opinion I really value when it comes to how COVID has impacted businesses and the way they use technology.



So of course – I invited him to chat all things digital marketing with me on my YouTube channel! First things first, I asked him the secret to becoming a technology whisperer. He attributes his career path to being a naturally curious person who gravitates towards new and exciting things. Also being born in 1980, he is grateful to have been born into a world where there was an offline before there was an online – helping him better appreciate the progression of technology.

“I have been lucky enough to always work for companies who were quite progressive. One of my bosses many years ago would say to me – I am willing to try anything twice – despite being a conservative financial company.” The reoccurring threads which have been stitched in his life have been creativity, technology and mindset, creating a burning desire for him to combine these three vital components in all he does.

Dale’s business, The Mojo Dojo, is a purpose led business whose main objective is to take the anxiety out of technology for corporates through education and team building. But in true Dale fashion, he wanted to create an even bigger impact in the tech space. So he and his business partner launched an event called Catalyst Africa which aims to bring people together and unpack mindset challenges.

After attending many conferences, he had become tired of the tried and tested approaches to conferences. He felt that after sitting in a conference room for 9 hours – being scared and excited in a rather formulaic way – saw him returning back to work on the Monday with no more tools in his arsenal. This all changed when he attended South by South West (SXSF) in Austin, Texas.

What did he love most about this event? He felt that it embodies one of his favourite quotes - “Blowing out someone’s candle won’t make your light shine any brighter.” This was because his experience of the event demonstrated a genuine desire of attendees to connect, facilitate and help one another.

This collective light gives everyone a better opportunity says Dale, and so he wanted to bring this concept to South Africa and disrupt a somewhat staid industry here. Last year’s event had 45 sessions happening over two days and every session had practically takeaways to be applied a bit more easily in everyday life. Dale feels that this is an important thing to note - that innovation needn’t come from an innovation department – it can come from anyone in an organisation who can identify where things can be done differently, if they have been empowered to act on their insights.

During this time during the pandemic – there have been a mix of needs which clients have approached Dale with in terms of how they can pivot their business. He is most excited by the collective realisation that the technology which people potentially didn’t have the time nor inclination to unpack previously is now being adopted en masse. Skype for one was actually launched in 2003 – so is almost two decades old! “But only now that people have been forced to use the technology, and have a couple of things going wrong or a couple of things gone right and understand the capabilities… are they in a position to say let me try this or try that”.

And further than technology simply unlocking new ways for teams to connect remotely, things like cloud computing, business processes and gaming have surged. This in stark contrast to the companies which have been severely impacted negatively – which no amount of video conferencing can solve! Dale referenced a number of cool ways which green screening is being used more extensively and not just internationally but locally in South Africa too.

And yes, whilst tenacity is a wonderful quality for employees to have – much like perseverance – other qualities (even ADHD) may be the ones to bring companies to the fore. “High value” individuals, Dale explains, may actually be the people who are simply more adaptive and cope better with change.

Apple also launched three products during lockdown Dale explained – the iPad Pro, MacBook Air and a US$400 iPhone - and managed to still do it in a lifelike way using augmented reality to bring a “digital twin” to life. This trend can be for objects as large as automobiles and as small as airpods – and underscores how far eCommerce has come – from when fabric close ups seemed like the best thing to envision what a car interior may seem like.

FNB is a local company which Dale references as something which consumers possibly have perceived as an overnight success in so far as its technological offering is concerned. But the reality is that it was more like a five years process of iterating how to help their staff with bandwidth, then their consumers and finally interrogating the devices which would help everyone to unlock their new connectivity.

In so far as the Mojo Dojo is concerned specifically – their business model has always been lean – bringing in experts in each field as necessary - so Dale’s business has possibly been less affected than others – but he is still having to relook at how Catalyst Africa can work as a more digital offering. In the meantime though, The Mojo Dojo team feel they have been lucky in that there is also a greater demand for augmented reality, facial recognition and natural language processing.

Of course, I couldn’t let Dale get out of the interview without asking him for his own secret sauce to #dodigitalbetter. His answer may surprise you. “When I think of digital, I think of a set of tools. In the history books, this might have been a sharp rock – which would have been used in a variety of ways. Our current tools are no different.” He recommends always asking yourself what problem you are trying to solve vs. using technology for technology’s sake, to help people demystify technology and how it can help them. That and watching my YouTube channel, thanks Dale – you are a good friend :)


Feel free to follow along Dale’s exciting journey through his website or LinkedIn. I for one am very excited to see what the future holds for this future thinker.


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Updated: Jul 8, 2020

Join me as I chat to Armin Wieland, Founder & Managing Director at V5 Digital of V5 Digital


Are you a small business owner wondering how (practically!) you can implement digital marketing for your product or service? I called on my friend and digital marketing heavy weight Armin Wieland, to answer some burning questions about going digital. True to form, Armin offered fantastic advice based on his years as experience.



Armin worked for many years in corporate digital marketing before launching his very own digital marketing agency – V5 Digital. This was a longtime dream of his, which was only amplified when he did his MBA at Stellenbosch recently. This, coupled with the fact that there were not a lot of digital agencies in Windhoek, made him realise he was onto a winning business idea. Two years ago, he turned his vision into a reality – and is now making waves in Namibia with a small agency with loads of heart. He is also really encouraged by the startup scene which is emerging in Namibia – full of young people with innovative ideas. The internet, he explains, is the great equalizer. So it no longer really matters whether you are – if you have a good internet connection and the same passion he has for digital – you are already half way there!

V5 Digital brings to life the possibilities of data driven decision making, on various digital marketing channels for the many brands they work on. Now more than ever, businesses seek out Armin and his team’s advice on how to market more effectively online. Whilst there is hardly ever a silver bullet solution to marketing (particularly in a time of crises) – Armin had some great tips on what you can do practically to uplevel online.

One of his first nuggets of advice is to keep marketing – to maintain top of mind awareness even if your sales are down – and that doesn’t have to mean spending loads of time or money on content. He suggests using any down time to review content you have created for your business and expand or adapt upon it – so repurposing it on other platforms or creating a blog post to tell people more about what it is that makes your business so special. Then he urges it’s time to look at an effective paid media strategy to support these key messages. He says that it’s important to promote the messages your customers need to see – but not rely entirely on social media networks. Armin suggests looking at your CRM data and how this can be utilized cleverly – for example for email marketing purposes.

He is also very optimistic about small businesses and emphasizes that they are perfectly poised to embrace digital transformation due to their agility – and the ability to roll out changes quickly – course correcting along the way.

Whilst most trend predictions for 2020 are probably out the window for now – the one trend which Armin believes will endure is automation! This can be as simple as ensuring your Facebook Messenger auto reply bot is set up correctly – or as advanced as you have an appetite for.

Tools which Armin swears by include Trello to work collaboratively with his team whilst working from home, link shorteners like Bit.ly (which Armin always suggests customizing to be more on brand!), Typeform for building forms easily and intuitively (there is a free version!) and the lead generation/marketing automation tool Sharpspring and finally Zapier - the “glue” that connects all your systems and automates messaging.

Armin’s pragmatic approach to digital marketing means that he is able to help clients enhance their presence online without creating unnecessary complexity – but rather focusing on brilliant basics and optimizing along the way.

If you would like to get in touch with V5 Digital, you can email: hi@v5.digital or check out the V5 Digital website here.

A big thanks once again to Armin to being such a great sport in agreeing to be my first interviewee! You can also connect with him on LinkedIn.


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