Who are you creating your courses for? Do you know your Audience?
In the film, Field of Dreams, the tag line was “If you build it, they will come” That might work with two teams of long dead baseball players, but unfortunately this is not a good strategy for online courses
You need to know who your audience are. The image you create of your ideal student is called an Avatar – nothing to do with that film either! This is a profile that you create based on what you know of the type of people who will be taking you course.
How do you find this out – is the next obvious question. Simple. Speak to them and ask them. My audience for my online courses about creating online courses is less demographically specific and does not have a gender bias.
On the whole these are people 15 to 50 who are entrepreneurial, creative, expert, smart. They can come from any part of the world – my courses reach 164 countries.
Start listening to your audience. Ask them questions. Create messaging dialogues. Organise Skype calls. Get under their skin.
Find out who they are.
I ask my students at the start of my courses to introduce themselves. This helps me to understand a little more about them and when they do leave a message in the course, it’s a great opportunity for me to ask them a question and keep the discussion going.
This information is very powerful.
When you talk with them or message with them start looking for key phrases of information about their struggles, motivations, goals, ambitions and objectives. These pieces of information are golden and will be particularly valuable when we come to discuss the next section – Problems.
Do not be afraid to niche your audience down.
By being very specific about your audience, you will resonate with them. If you keep your definition very broad, in order to capture a wide audience, you will resonate with no-one. When you start it is better to focus on one niche but as time goes on you can address multiple niches with your courses.
Try to create an outline written profile of your Avatar.
Even give them a name. Who are they married to or in a partnership with? Do they have children? Where do they live? What is their home like? What is their income? Do they have a car? The more you can fill out this profile, the more you can get to know them.
When you create your courses for them, it is much easier to feel that you are speaking directly to them, engaging with them. Although you are making courses for hundreds, if not thousands, of students, it is still a very personal method of transmitting knowledge. In the course there are only ever two people. You, the instructor, and the student and the more you can make your courses feel intimate and personal, the better will be the student experience.
This is one of the reasons I believe that Alun Hill is so successful. He works very hard to answer all the questions and discussions with his students and when you take his courses, you feel as if he is really talking directly to you. He does not lecture in the traditional sense of the word, he communicates the information you need to know in a very relaxed and no nonsense way that makes you feel that you know him as well as he seems to know you.
This is not an accident nor is it easy to do well. Many courses I have taken have seemed as if the instructor was delivering information to a disembodied spirit somewhere. Learn from this by really getting to know your audience and you will create better courses.
So, I strongly recommend that before you start creating your courses, you spend the time making sure that you know WHO you are creating them for!