Online training courses have become a defacto tool for growing almost any personal business. This is certainly for professionals who work in a field or who have a profession which lends itself naturally to “training”. Examples include author/writers, motivational speakers, in-person corporate trainers, certification experts, HR trainers, coaches, industry experts, and more.
You might think that with the success of Udemy, Linkedin Learning, Udacity and other corporate training platforms that the online training market is saturated. Research shows that it’s not even close. The global MOOC market, which includes any kind of online course, is forecast to grow at a whopping 2% p.a. between now and 2025.
And key drivers of the market will be the education and skills training course segment and corporate customers. These customers are looking for cost-effective training, upskilling and onboarding tools.
Enter your online training course in whatever subject matter you focus on in your profession.
What kinds of courses are best for online training?
Generally, if you are looking to expand your brand and passive income streams by offering “training”, it’s best to think in corporate terms. So topics such as compliance training, i.e. related to environmental health and safety, healthcare, human resources or financial services regulation are good examples. Also, general business-related topics such as sales, marketing, supervision, leadership, executive/management coaching, communication, business software such as Excel. The kind of topics one thinks of when the term “eLearning” is used.
Of course, if you have your specialty, whatever it is, and you think you can pitch it as “training”, then use that topic.
Why create online training courses to grow your business?
Quite simply, creating an online training course, if done properly, will help grow your business brand and customer base. And with the plethora of learning management systems and online teaching platforms available, such as Thinkific and Teachable, its easier than ever to take this step.
And the benefits to your business are many. Here’s a few:
Lead generation – You can use an online training course to help you find and attract new customers without having to do a lot of leg work. Let’s say that you are a motivational writer/speaker. It makes sense to create a course for your website that people who attend your seminars can easily refer to and refer their colleagues and friends to.
You could start out by creating a mini training course, say on one topic. Give it away for free on your website. Then promote a broader course to the email list you develop by doing this.
Sales – Online training courses are an extension of your existing business and a new source of revenue. They also serve to reinforce your other revenue streams, such as consulting or speaking engagements, books, in-person classes, etc.
Customer retention – It costs a lot more to get a new customer than to keep one. And keeping your customers and followers has an exponential effect on your business growth. (Think about it, would you rather follow someone with 5 followers on Twitter or 5,000?). You want to keep your hard earned customers and following and creating some training courses will help you do that.
Online training modules and courses allow you to provide something new and value-added to your customers. You can offer a course that helps them progress in whatever it is that you are already giving to them. You can even make your course for existing customers only to make it feel “exclusive”, or, offer some kind of promotion on your course for existing customers.
Let’s say for example, that you have done training for a business before. You can offer your online training course to this business, say, for a low-cost monthly subscription or per user fee, or even for free. You can create the course to “supplement” the in person training you are already doing.
Upskill your own employees – You might have your own business with your own employees. Maybe it is a high turnover business, such as a restaurant or retail space. Why not create your own online training for each new employee to go through?
Another use of online training would be to periodically test your employees’ knowledge, say for compliance or sales reasons. You could periodically have them redo an online training course that you’ve created with quizzes and tests embedded to make sure their skills and knowledge are keeping up and hold them accountable. You can reward them with a certificate of completion or keep an internal leaderboard.
When your employees know exactly what to do, your business will operate more efficiently.
Increase authority and credibility in your field – If your field happens to be one where expertise and authority pay, launching your own online training course can help position yourself as a thought leader.
Community/Loyalty – Whether your online training course is open to a larger community or limited to yours or someone else’s employees, you will build a community in its users. The result is greater business loyalty, better engaged customers or employees, and increased revenues for your business.
Finally, just to give you an idea of the potential for online training courses, here are stats straight from Teachable for 2018:
- 17 course creators made over $1 million on Teachable
- 2 of those course creators made over $4 million
- In November, 656 course creators made $5,000+ on Teachable
Let’s say that you’ve got a great sales training program going already. Who wouldn’t want an extra $5,000 or more income by putting your training online?
Important Components for Online Training Courses
The eLearning market is slightly different in focus than, say, creating a course on painting or motivation in Udemy. There are certain expectations for business customers and sophisticated learners who are seeking to develop their skills in a focused way. In this sense, certain elements, while important for any online course, are particularly critical to think about if you are creating an online training course.
Curriculum Content Structure
Training by nature involves many steps. So think carefully about whether or not you are looking at creating a single course that focuses on one specific topic, or multiple courses that perhaps culminate in some kind of “certification”. Consider the total time needed to master whatever it is that you teach.
If you have a 10 step program for developing leadership skills, do you break it down into one course per step or a 2 part series of five steps each? Or one entire course? It helps to consider as well as the ways in which you will test the learned knowledge at the end.
While you might be tempted to use Udemy as your platform for your online training course (and you know Teachinguide is a big Udemy fan), the one thing Udemy lacks is the ability to incorporate interactivity for students into your course. For corporate users and the younger generation of learners who are upskilling for professional development, interactivity is key.
If you’re going for these more sophisticated learners that will pay more than the typical $10 Udemy course fee, none of them will appreciate a static online course. Think about how it would reflect on your brand if someone was bored with your course!
The good news is that there’s a multitude of options for hosting your online training course which provide lots of interactive features (more on that later).
So interactive online course elements provide multiple benefits for your potential learners. For starters, interactive learning replicates as much as possible the in-person, immersive learning experience that most people are used to. In this sense, interactive features help students to feel more interested in your topic, which means that they’ll keep coming back for more learning – whether that be to continue and finish your course or enroll in a second or third course.
The biggest benefit for your brand/business is that making your online training classes more interactive taps into learners’ emotions which increases their retention of concepts learned.
Here’s some common ways that you can incorporate interactive elements into your online training course:
1. Incorporate some kind of interactive element on each slide – It could be as simple as clicking a button to view something or using a drag and drop. The point is that the user is engaged in doing something.
2. Use animated videos or interactive 360 degree video (via a Youtube or Facebook video link) – This is another new way to create an immersive experience. Animated videos mix it up and gain attention, possibly even laughter. 360 degree videos are good if you are trying to convey what a work or other environment might be like and create an experiential training experience.
3. Create simulations – Simulations use thought-provoking scenarios that get a learner’s attention and help them think through how they will use what they are learning. As a business owner or corporate trainer it should be easy to think of relevant, tangible scenarios or problems that you have seen in your experience and bring them to life in your online training courses. For example, if you’re creating a sales team training you might create a simulation of a difficult negotiation with a customer.
4. Incorporate digital stories – Film people who are going through part of the training, say employees being onboarded, or one of your coaching clients doing and exercise. Have them tell about their experience, give testimonials. Then incorporate these stories into your online training modules. This creates a more emotional connection to your course for learners and helps them remember.
5. Provide branching scenarios – This popular technique lets the student decide where the online course will go based on choices made a decision points that you create. It helps increase engagement and retention to add gamification to the learning experience, something that younger generations crave.
6. Pop quizzes and knowledge checks – Even in Udemy you can make liberal use of quizzes to help with active recall and keep learners on their toes and out of a passive learning state. You can make quizzes more interactive with drag and drop or button pushing responses.
A variety of content
While in Udemy, you are fairly limited in what content you can provide in a course, for online training courses, you’ll want to max out the types of content you provide. Think content that supports permanent learning such as case studies, Infographics, 10 tips/checklists, downloadable tools and templates, crowdsources tips using polls, FAQ’s and action plans to name a few. The point once again is don’t let your sophisticated users get bored.
While presenting training materials in the right format is important, you also need to keep each lesson a reasonable length. In our recent article on Udemy for Business, we noted that a common complaint from users (most of who are employees) was that many courses were simply too long to get through at work. If your course is long, employees will get distracted, overwhelmed, or simply lose interest in a training course that has too much information.
On that note, a big and successful fad in online training has been microlearning. Time and attention is very important and lacking for the “screen generation”. As an online training course designer, you have to keep learner interest.
This is where the concept of microlearning comes in. It involves creating very short pieces of training content, less than 5 minutes long. The advantage of microlearning is that it makes learning on the go, something we all like to do on our phones while we wait in the doctor’s office, possible.
Microlearning will also encourage you to be very efficient in conveying your training concepts. There’s no room for droning on and on and boring your learners.
Offer a certificate
This kind of “badging” process is particularly important in eLearning training settings. For your customers, employees and corporate workers, the provision of an online certificate, or even certification from your company holds value. For workers and professionals, professional development and upskilling for career growth are very important. A certificate proves that they have put in the time and effort, even if it’s not coming from a top university.
Offering certificates is not difficult. Your learning management system can help you to streamline the delivery of a certification program and allow your learners to track their progress and dynamically access new modules. An LMS also helps you track the success of your online learners. You can easily determine total number of participants, and how many of them actually complete the certification. That, in turn, allows you to make adjustments to improve your users’ experiences to maximize successful participation and completions.
Platforms for creating online training courses
It would be nearly impossible to cover all the choices available now for publishing courses. But here’s a list of the more popular ones to get you started.
So that’s our brief overview of how to use online training courses to beef up your existing business. If you want to get very specific on how exactly to go about creating a training course, we suggest taking a look at any of the many platforms above. Or browse our blog to get some ideas!