The secrets to creating a lasting and effective online course pt. 2

Following yesterday’s post, here, which focused on the current abysmal state of online courses, this post will focus on good practices (i.e. how to get it right). Just like yesterday’s post, today’s post is based on Dr. Carrie Rose (Amazon link) well-written book mixed in with my own thoughts and experience. 

  • Emotions
    • instead of just posting regurgitated material,  which is what most courses are doing today, instead, a good course should
    • understand where your customer is at right now (i.e. how do they feel)
    • What is their objective destination (i.e. where will they be after completing this course)
    • to me, it appears that the online course you offer shouldn’t just be the online equivalent of a textbook, instead, it should a whole ecosystem that helps those taking the course achieve a very specific goal
    • The best way to increase completion rates delivers a product that customers really enjoy is to deliver what they want. How do you figure this out? As Tim Erway, Founder of Elite Marketing Pro, said it, what takes the most times when he creates a course is understanding the target audience. He says that you have to strip away the surface level emotions and the surface level desires and get to the core of the emotions and desires. Once he figures out the audience’s goals, ambitions, dreams, etc., he arrives at the crux, aka. the real reason for their interest in the course.
      • In my opinion, this is why get-rich-quick schemes are so successful. Who doesn’t want to get rich overnight with minimal effort?! By appealing to a desire (getting rich) that 99% of humans have,  you have captured their interest.
  • Deeper meaning/goal
    • The course you create needs to be something that truly enriches the lives of others
    • A lot of the time, the reason why the audience does not take full advantage of the course material is that of a barrier they cannot overcome.
      • For example, for the Drive Clean exam:
        • some may have anxiety about writing a test, so tell them how to be a better test taker. E.g. relax, deep breath, skip questions you don’t know.
        • Other may be worried about not knowing/understanding questions. In which case, I would reassure them that they are permitted to use a dictionary and the proctors are extremely helpful
        • Other may fear that they are stuck in a dead-end job and that they will never be able to escape. In which case, you provide motivation and hope
        • It’s incredibly insightful to understand that even though they intend on doing the course, there may be many psychological or physical barriers. Teaching them how to overcome those barriers is creating value! See the quote below from Henry Ford
Often times, our customers don’t know what they want. (credits:
  • As Ashley Konson, a former professor of mine at the Schulich School of Business and an incredibly kind and smart thought leader used to say, your purpose is the intersection of what you love, what you are good at, and what the world needs.
This is your purpose (credits:
  • Brand management
    • Whether or not you like it, you are not online selling a course about a topic/process/etc. (e.g. like going to the farmers market to sell apples), you are selling you (e.g. the apples I grew are grown with organic manure that comes from horses that only eat organic hay from a local farm that we support)!
Yummy organic manure 😀 (credits:


  • Here are a couple of items to think about when branding yourself:
    • Who are you? Write a profile and talk about how you are the best possible instructor for teaching others how to grow organic apples in their backyard.
    • What do you stand for? Organic food + support of local communities
    • Who do you serve? Farmers all across North America or the Globe that want to grow organic produce
    • How do you serve them? I am an accomplished apple farmer with a Bachelor’s degree in organic farming from The University of Guelph and I publish weekly articles and create online courses
  • Actionable items for your course
    • Tell a story about you
      • e.g. Why I want to create an online course? because my father-in-law was studying and I absolutely could not find an online resource of any kind of this course. I love learning so I decided to make cue cards for him. He scored very highly, so I decided I need to help more people out there. A mechanic’s strong suit is usually not reading complicated documents, so here is where my skills come into play! I love reading, I am good with computers, and there is a need for this, so it’s my purpose!
    • Do a survey at the beginning before they buy the course to ask where they are and how you can help
      • e.g. Hi there, I am offering a course on how to pass the online drive clean test, please tell me more about
        • Your experience as a mechanic
        • Your comfort level reading and comprehending English
        • What your learning style is (i.e. reading, watching, listening, doing, etc.)
        • Lastly, you will need to study X hours and I guarantee a pass, if you are not comfortable studying X hours, I suggest trying this course at later date. If you interested in studying, here is what a typical study plan and path to success looks like.
Life is full of failures (credits:
        • Where they will be after the course.
          • They will learn how to obtained Drive Clean Orientation and a full Drive Clean Certification
    • Include a few surveys throughout the course to gauge what the customer is looking for.
      • e.g. one at the beginning, one halfway through, and most importantly, one at the end.
    • The course needs to be more than just the certificate. Given the fact that most people’s desire when looking at such a course is earning more money. Thus, the course should also include how they can make more money. E.g. how to find jobs that fit them (e.g. Indeed email alerts), how to create better resume, how to do better in an interview, or include a 30 min coaching session with your audience.
    • If your sole objection is generating revenue, that will show through your writing, videos, communications, etc. If the objective of the course is revenue generation, that’s nice, but to be truly successful, you need to go beyond that.
      • in my case, my goal will be helping mechanics become more qualified and hopefully earn more money (try to make this intention radiate from your course). How do I help mechanics do that? As mentioned above, it could be coaching, finding other classes for them, job searching, etc.

That’s it for this post, more to come in the next post. I am finding that part 2 of the book is harder to understand and digest as it is basically the highlights of interviews the author carried out with a dozen successful online instructors.

thank you for reading (credits:


Hadi is Honours civil of engineering graduate with solid project management experience in the construction industry. Solutions-focused, results-oriented with strong business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit. Currently, he is working as an assistant site-superintendant with Darcon Inc. at one of Vaughan's biggest developments, Centro Square.

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