Creating an online course is not easy. Sometimes I feel like I'm keeping my course alive using duct tape. There are so many different disparate systems that have to work together in order for us to deliver 1 course.
Sure you can use just one platform; maybe something like teachable.com or newzenler.com. But you're still going to need tools to create content, market your online course, deliver your course and stay in touch with your students.
The list of online tools that are at our disposal goes on and on, with new tools being added every single day!
My goal is to provide you with a list of FREE tools that I consistently use to make my life as a course creator, much easier.
Now, the idea is NOT to use ALL of these tools together. But maybe use a few of them to compliment each other. I'm going to break this post down into different categories. So feel free to skip a category and move on to the next one.
So let's get started!
1. Facebook Groups (DO NOT SKIM THIS ONE)
As the saying goes "meet your ideal avatars on the platform where they already are"! Fine, I made that up. The point is that everyone is on Facebook. It's a necessary evil. I personally don't really use facebook other than being part of a group. As an online course creator you can leverage FB groups for 2 main purposes:
1. Prove your dominance by responding to all the questions being asked and establish yourself as a subject matter expert.
2. Connect with your students and provide that high quality 1:1 touchpoint by helping them through their journey. They purchased your course because they want to learn from YOU! So be there for them and help them with the support they deserve.
Even though you might find that hosting a Facebook Group is going to distract you from creating and selling online courses, it truly is a necessary evil.
So even though FB Groups are great for a collective hive mind kind of scenario, Slack really shines when it comes to adding channels to your group. You can use channels in many different ways.
Say your course has 9 modules, you can create a channel for each module so as to restrict discussions to that particular module.
Slack also gives admins a lot of functionality to control the way your group operates. Instead of having someone read through your group rules you can do all the moderation on the admin side of slack.
One of my favorite features in slack is the ability to integrate seamlessly with external apps. This allows you to bring in more data and make your slack group even more powerful!
Slack is definitely a formidable tool to have if you're going to be communicating with your students in a 2 way manner. The out of the box free version gives you ton's of functionality and truly let's you customize it to make it resonate with your students and allow you to have that branded look/feel.
Unless you live under a very big rock, you've been on youtube. Whether it was to learn how to crochet underwater or to watch cute videos of a blobfish.
But what most people fail to do, is leverage the power of YouTube. Between Youtube and Google, Google DOMINATES the search engine market. IMO - every course creator should have a Youtube channel.
Use this free platform to get some eyeballs on your content. If you're the camera-shy kind of person then just make a video without showing your face.
You can just share your screen and talk to the mic. In fact, you don't even have to create a special video for Youtube. All you will need to do is upload some of the content from your student area on Youtube as free content.
This will increase your organic growth in search results and also help you get some more traffic on your blog/course page.
Here are the search results from Google on How to crochet underwater. As you can see, Google now serves up Youtube videos in search results. Be sure to leverage this to your advantage.
Don't miss out on this opportunity to get free organic reach using one of the most powerful search engines in the world!
Reddit.com boasts itself as the "Front page of the internet". Here you can find anything under the sun. It's a community of communities.
As an online course creator, you can use Reddit to your advantage. Here is how Reddit works. You essentially search for a topic by typing it in the search bar.
Below you will see the results for the keyword crotchet. I know what you're thinking at this point, this guy loves to crochet. I just picked a random topic for demo purposes. I have no interest in crocheting anytime soon (sorry all you crochet fans out there).
My point here is that you can join a Reddit group - also known as Sub-reddits and start providing value in those threads.
If you are always replying to people and solving their problems then, you establish yourself as an expert. Next time someone has a question who do you think they'll reach out to first?
There is a high possibility that you're leaving money on the table by not being part of the reddit r/community
Their tagline is "The place for copywriters & marketing minds to dissect & discuss great marketing examples."
Swiped is a great resource for finding quality content when you hit that writer's block. Whether you're creating an online AD or looking for inspiration for your autoresponder emails. Swiped is my go-to place for all marketing related content.
The best part - it's FREE!
Given that swiped.co is a free resource, you have no reason not to use it for some "inspiration".
While we continue to stay true to our theme for this blog post i.e. FREE, Mailerlite is hands down my favorite email marketing platform. Before using Mailerlite, I was using MailChimp. Although MailChimp by far the most used email marketing automation platform, it is very limited when it comes to behavioral marketing.
This is why I give my vote to Mailerlite. Within the automation studio of Mailerlite is a robust workflow engine that allows you to create splits and apply tags based on user behavior.
Below you will see an example flow where I can resend the same email to a person if they did not open my previous email within a specific time period. This screenshot is from my personal Mailerlite account.
Here's a full list of features that Mailerlite currently offers.
Every free plan gets between 1000 - 2000 free subscribers. These limits are set by Mailerlite admins and can be raised after you've used Mailerlite to send successful email campaigns.
Once you've crossed the 2000 subscribers mark is when you'll have to move to a paid plan. The paid plans are not too pricey either.
In the end, the important thing to remember is to pick a platform that offers ease of use along with scalability.
Mailerlite is a robust email marketing platform. If you're just getting started and not looking for complicated flows then Mailerlite is a great contender.
I love me some Niftyimages!
I first found this tool after receiving an email from Neil Patel. Neil was holding up a whiteboard with my name on it and he was making a sad pouty face.
The whiteboard said something like, Amit I missed you on the webinar. I was like whoa this is so cool! And went on a quest (google search) to find how I can replicate the same results and stumbled upon Niftyimages.
From personalized images to countdown timers, Niftyimages has it all. Here is a list of things you can personalize using their services.
Based on your email service provider Niftyimages will add the appropriate tag within the image e.g. %%FullName%% Vs. $$FullName$$.
Then you simply insert the image URL in your email service provider or embed it has an HTML block.
Using this in your emails will put you far ahead of the competition and also break up the monotony of emails that our prospects receive on a daily basis.
On the free plan, you get up to 10,000 opens. So what that means is that 1 view of the image is considered 1 credit. So if you send an email to 5000 subscribers and all 5000 open and view your email then you'll have used 5000 thousand credits.
Out of those 5000 subscribers if 500 open the same email twice then you will use up 5500 credits. Hope that makes sense?
For a smaller audience size, you would be hard pressed to hit these limits. If you outgrow the free plan then you can always upgrade to their paid plans.
Niftyimages get my thumbs up for being a unique player in the market. Use of tools like these will totally 100% up your email game and making you a marketing ninja!