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How I’m Creating an Online Class So You Can Too

Ryan Latta
I help developers navigate their careers to the lifestyle they deserve. My full bio - https://sleek.bio/ryanlatta
Originally published at ryanlatta.com on ・4 min read

For more than a few of us, 2020 put an idea firmly into our heads—having extra cash from a side-hustle is a good idea. One of mine that I started recently is making an online class, so I wanted to write about the steps I’m following so you can too!

Choose a Topic

The first obstacle for many folks is choosing a topic that you think you can teach. This is hard because our own inner critic tells us that we don’t have anything worth teaching. That critic isn’t going to help you.

Instead, a better way to think about this is to list a few topics that meet a few criteria.

  • You love talking about it
  • You’ve helped someone with it before
  • You’ve seen some interest in this topic in the public

That’s really about it. So for most of you, you can probably come up with at least one potential class with those criteria. The first criteria helps you maintain your energy and passion through the process. The second validates that you have something worthwhile, and the last helps identify the size of the market.

My process is a little different since I wrote a book in 2019. I am making a class that my book can supplement.

Choose Your Format

Okay, there are many course formats, and which one you start with helps guide your content creation. There are two I’d recommend looking at first.

  • Cohort-led
  • Self-Paced

A cohort-led class, in this case, is one where you have a group of students that you take through your material live. This format is nice because it means you can maintain high engagement while you figure out your exact material. Most classes like this meet weekly for 4-8 weeks.

Self-paced classes are something a lot of folks are familiar with from sites like Udemy and the like. The content is all hosted on some platform, and students can take themselves through it at their own pace.

Now, while I’m indicating these are two good places to start, nothing is keeping you from combining these or having multiple versions over time.

For me, I’m starting with self-paced. I recorded all 31 videos in my class in one shot. I’ve been coaching individuals through this material for years, and I speak a lot publicly, so this isn’t a stretch for me.

Marketing

My biggest weakness and I suspect the biggest weakness of most of us, is attracting people to our class and convincing them to buy. I’m devoting a ton of energy to this topic right now, and I’m far from smart about this.

One book I liked reading was called the 1-Page Marketing Plan. It does a great job of making the wide world of marketing approachable and leaving you with the significant elements to focus on.

A few things to consider no matter what are:

  • Who your customer is
  • How you’ll reach them
  • The price you’ll charge
  • How you’ll make them a fan for life

It can be tempting to start blasting junk on social media, but that may not be your best shot, even if it casts the biggest net.

Pricing is also a topic you need to consider. You could price low to attract a lot of customers, but are they the customers you want long-term? You could price higher, which brings a lot of nerves.

One way someone described setting a high price was instead of letting your inner critic say that you’re not worth that price, asking instead, “What can I give that is worth it?” In other words, think of the price as a bucket of value you fill-up.

In my case, I’m charging a pretty high price though I’m constantly wrestling with it. I’m charging $1,000 for my self-paced class. I landed on that price because I can guarantee a 10 to 1 return for people who take it. Also, long term, I want a community of passionate people and not tourists.

Then What

I think it is also worth thinking about what happens if you succeed. Imagine you have people taking your class. What will you do then? Will you create new options for those initial customers? Will you create a community from them? What can this first-class lead to in the next five years?

Thinking long-term like this means that as you build things for your class, you can begin to create a path to those future ideas.

Two examples for me are creating a cohort-led class at a higher price, one-on-one coaching with me as an add-on, an in-person retreat, and a few other ideas. I don’t have anything ready for any of these, but by realizing that they can exist, I can leave myself the opportunity to grow.

Platforms and Payment

I want to keep this simple. There are a ton of options you can choose from to facilitate everything. My only guidance here is don’t bet your business on a single platform. If that platform changes rules or goes under, you might lose everything.

This has happened with Facebook over the years.

Past that, make things as easy to do for everyone. Test your onboarding process and make sure that first contact with customers is easy and painless.

Lastly, I’ll highly recommend you begin building an email list with your customers and people who express interest. It’s a highly effective means to maintain contact with people who are interested in what you offer. I use Sendfox for mine. ConvertKit is extremely polished but comes at a higher price point.

There you have it, the significant elements of putting together and launching an online class. I’d love to know if you’ve done something similar or what you’ve tried!


If you liked this post there're two more things I'd like to tell you about. First, I'd love to have you join my newsletter that everyone from first-time devs to CTOs read weekly.

Second, I just launched my first ever online class that guarantees to get more interviews, offers, and negotiate higher pay.

You can find out about both here.

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