I often get asked to teach how to create online programs. However, according to popular marketing principles, my approach to course creation and marketing is considered completely backwards! My slow-building, intuitive method of course creation and marketing have never been met with an enthusiastic response from people who want to start up an e-course business quickly.
Popular marketing wisdom tells us to build a big audience first, then survey the audience to see what they want to learn. Later, you create course content once you learn what the market wants and needs. This is what I would call the extroverted approach to creating and marketing courses.
The Wisdom of Starting Small
Today, some people go into e-course creating expecting to make six-figures in the first few years through building large email lists, and I often wonder, is this fast track realistic for introverts? As an introvert myself, it has taken me ten years of weekly sharing and growing right along with my email list.
I must say, I am in awe of the rapid speed of current marketing approaches. Today's course program marketers now build the same size email list that I have built up over a period of ten years in as little as a year - usually through group teaching programs and online interview series.
Even so, I do feel gratitude for the online interview series and group teaching events I am asked to partake in because they invite my introverted self out to speak out loud!
Please do join me for my most recent online interview about Creative Resistance with Dawn Montefusco. Dawn and I had a good laugh about our differences before we went on air. Dawn is a true extrovert! She loves talking on video. It is so easy for her. For me, every online interview takes some effortful contemplation and preparation.
You can sign up to see my interview with Dawn HERE.
Inside-Out Course Creation
When I was first building Expressive Art Workshops ten years ago I understood how easily influenced I was by the outside. Because I had such a history of being overly influenced by others, I stayed off the internet for many of the earlier years of building my business. I only went online to write my blog posts and email my courses.
Needing to originate my own voice, I created my courses from the inside-out. My newsletter subscriber list was tiny at the beginning. As an online course creator, it has taken me ten years of slow emotional maturation to personally be able to hold a wise, safe and stable container for a larger audience.
The Process of Authentic Expression
“If the path before you is clear, you're probably on someone else's.”
Many people have said to me, "I want to do exactly what you do and I want you to teach me how to do it!" The thing is...my marketing and course creation methods have no formula! I have just listened to my intuition every step of the way. Together, all of my intuitive steps eventually formed a cohesive online business that I could have never planned or trained for.
Behind the scenes, my process of business growth has been very ordinary. I have simply been willing to show up in a dedicated way even when no one was watching. Ten years ago, I was working full-time facilitating art in health care. When I got home, I made dinner for my family. I then wrote on my blog and created my e-courses before I went to bed. And, I still spend time tending my course creation and maintenance - in some capacity - every day.
Intuitive Course Creation
“The job of an educator is to teach students to see vitality in themselves”
~ Joseph Campbell
I was recently interviewed about my approach to online course creation and marketing and the article I wrote was not published. I surmise this is because my intuitive methods do not reflect current marketing standards. However, because I often get emails requesting online course creation and marketing coaching, I wanted to share the interview with you.
Because the e-course hustle is now all over the internet and a multitude of experts seemingly abound, it can seem pointless to start in a loud and oversaturated market.
I share this interview because it is easy to give up your original voice in today's market. If you are looking for an immediate large feedback loop for your original work, you might stop sharing your true heart before you really begin.
Before I started teaching online, I dreamt of a quiet, contemplative way to earn a living, and I have been surprised to learn that it is possible.
And, as a person who loves quiet time and solitary creative activities, I did not expect that sharing my authentic voice publically would help me to heal emotionally, and hone me into a vastly different human being.
My Unpublished Interview
1. You have lots of e-courses about pretty specific topics. How do you choose the course topics?
My course writing process reflects my own emotional healing journey in some way. I process my traumas, hardships and difficulties through expressive art. When I get through to the other side of a painful emotional pattern, I offer what I have experientially learned to others in the form of an e-course.
I first get an intuitive sense of what to write based on emotional themes I am working with inside of myself. Sometimes I begin writing a course right after I get the first insight, and sometimes I work on a course for a very long time.
2. How do you consider how a course will fit into the rest of your product line or customer base? Do you try to appeal to the same people with different products or offer things from many different angles for different customer types?
I have been in the online course biz long enough to see that every teacher has a very specific niche that reflects what she or he most needs to learn on a personal level. This deep engagement with our personal growth process is how we become a true teacher and a lifelong passionate learner in our area of interest.
In my niche, I support introspective, sensitive people to maintain creative practices that support emotional healing. As a contemplative introvert, I like to provide choice, privacy and variety in my online educational platform. So, I offer a profusion of creative practice prompts to invite people to come out of emotional hiding and into honest self-expression.
3. What's your biggest tip for teaching a physical, offline task like journaling in an online format?
I seem to be able to generate endless prompts for expressive writing and art-making. This is probably because I have been creating expressive art for my own emotional healing for over 20 years.
After going through many deep emotional healing journeys myself, it is no surprise that I love to create "idea sparks," and also in-depth lessons for people who need some inspiration to get honest, dig deep, and free themselves from emotional pain.
My courses provide a plethora of creative inspirations for deeper inner looking. My courses provide regular lessons with idea sparks for expressive art-making to support people to deeply explore their emotional life offline - and on online if they so choose.
4. What is one thing you wish you had done better or more of when you launched your first course?
When we are creating courses from within our own life process, we teach what we most need to learn. For this reason, it can take years to fully mature into our true teaching. Online courses come only as a hint or an inking at first, and then we have to flesh them out in writing, imagery, voice and video over time.
My first e-course called "Collage for Self-Discovery" was written over ten years ago. Back then, I used to personally email the various course lessons to each of my participants every Sunday afternoon! Initially, I taught only 1-4 people at a time, never dreaming that online courses would become so popular.
What is the one thing I wish I would have done better? I wish I had not judged the worth of my first courses by how many sales I made. When we are innovating teaching processes from within our own original growth process, the courses we create might be expressing a paradigm shift and may be ahead of their time.
I always feel better emotionally when I focus more on the process of creating my courses than my course sales. I love immersing the process of course creation because it opens my heart so deeply to the people I imagine will take my course. I find when I take my mind off of the numbers, and share from my heart, I am surprised and grateful when my courses sell well....either now or later.