How to Become an Online Teacher: Creating Content

ByMike V. Cooper

Dec 8, 2015

Don’t miss part one and part two of this series on how to become an online teacher.

There comes a time when you’re creating your course where you sit down in front of a blank page and think, “Do I have to create ALL the content? »

From organizing modules to creating videos, blog posts, and PDFs for each lecture, that sounds like a lot, and to be honest, it is.

Staring at a blank Word Doc putting together my lesson plan was one thing, but consistently churning out the content week after week for my Teachable (the company I work for) of course it was a game of endurance. But deep in the process, surrounded by mic cords, scripts, post-it notes and three empty coffee cups, I found my rhythm.

Know your audience and talk to them

When I sat down to create content, I started thinking about the thing I loved doing the most: writing. But then I realized my audience didn’t want to sit down and read a novel about me, they wanted to see it and experience it.

This meant for me that it was time to create videos. As someone who likes to hide behind punchy punctuation and black and white text, this didn’t seem appealing. Besides, I didn’t know how to make videos. Sure, I know how to promote it, but actually I cut, edit, export and embed. Ehhhh.

But the reality of content creation is that it’s not about you, it’s about your audience. Point blank.

So I got over it.

I started reading tips online and talking with my teammates about best practices for creating quick, easy, and engaging videos that speed up my course launch. Additionally, I’ve turned everything I’ve learned about video editing into blog posts to share with Teachable’s course creator audience via our online blog.

So I did! I created a video, I’m ready to go, right? Bad. This video was a piece of content in a lecture in a module in an entire course. I looked at the mountain of work in front of me and one thing came to mind: disgusting.

Break your course creation process down into smaller steps with deadlines

It was time to race down the mountain. The best way I found to accomplish this was to break my journey down into small steps and set achievable timelines around them.

It worked well because my own method of creating courses is based on transforming my audience. For my course, this is how you go from ideation to the first online sale. I’ve broken this process down into what’s essentially a step-by-step process, with each major step becoming a module in my course.

I set myself a deadline of one module per week. These timelines weren’t arbitrary, I hacked my own psychology.

While that might be the most tech-savvy thing I’ve ever said, it’s true. I did some research on deadlines and realized that the best way to get things done is to set deadlines that are rapidly approaching a week at a time, which are aggressive, but achievable.

A big part of this is Parkinson’s Law, which states that a task stretches out for a given time. In fact, I first heard about this law when I read the feminist mystic in reference to household chores, but it has been repeated by content markers and growth hackers.

Daily proof found every time I pack for vacation, which can be twenty minutes if my flight leaves in two hours or two days if my flight leaves at the end of the month.

What this meant for my course was that I had to set strict deadlines and get. this. Finished.

While still working on my course content, I came across another key concept that changed the content game for me.

Crush the content before it crushes you

Creating content is hard. It is so hard. Post after post, video after video and interview after interview, it’s exhausting. If you feel this, please let me know.

Since I am a content marketer after all, I started using some of my favorite tips to make the course creation process easier for me.

Ann Handley is the gold standard for me. She co-wrote Content ruleswhich emphasizes the importance of repurposing and repurposing your content.

For example: an ebook has several chapters, each chapter can become a blog post, each H2 of your article can become a tweet, your blog intro becomes the newsletter. Effective, right?

I started applying this to my course. I started reusing blog posts as scripts, using videos as course content. New material I introduced in social posts and exciting intros as inspiration for launch emails.

It sped up the process. And no, I don’t think it’s a cheap shortcut. With my “extra time”, I create additional resources for my students and increase the quality of my course. This is, simply put, a very good thing.

I’ve also put together a list of go-to websites that have helped me in the process:

With these things in mind, I was on a roll and found that I was enjoying what I was doing. While it’s work, I teach something I love and see the benefits of producing quality work.

Don’t miss part one and part two of this series on how to become an online teacher.