Who wants to take courses online? Everyone! More people than ever are taking online courses for personal and professional reasons, and the time is ripe to start your own business developing and marketing online education. But how do you get started?
To start with, you’ll need to get smart people on your team, so you can build as much of your business as possible without hiring outside help. Next, you’ll need to identify your target market and build your brand. Finally, you can start designing – and selling – your courses.
Get Smart People on Your Team
Online ESL writing specialist and online course creator, Dr. Frank Bonkowski, argues that one of the single most important things you can do when building an online education business is to get smart people on your team. You don’t want to go it alone when you’re building an online education business – at least, not if you can help it.
Why? Well, for one thing, because building a business from the ground up is hard, even if your storefront is on the internet. Even after you earn the appropriate credentials, such as a master’s in education administration, you’ll probably need additional help getting your business off the ground. You may need skills you don’t have, such as web development, marketing or writing and editing. By bringing in smart, talented and hardworking business partners, you’ll be supplying yourself with a pool of skills and talent to tap to make your business dream a reality.
Even if you had all of the skills and competencies needed to get your business up and running, starting an online education business is a lot of work. You’ll need help because it simply isn’t physically possible to do all of the work needed yourself – even if it is, going it alone will mean your business takes that much longer to become viable. You may find that, even when you divide the work among two, three or several people, you’re all still be working seven days a week at first to get the business up and running.
Identify Your Audience
Before you start building your brand or developing your courses, you need to identify your target audience. You can’t target everyone because “everyone” isn’t your customer base. The contradictory rule of building a successful online education business is that, the more general you try to make the appeal of your courses, the fewer people your courses will actually appeal to. You want to be specific in your appeal because you need to reach out to a specific demographic.
Of course, who your audience is will depend somewhat on the skills, experiences and passions you bring to the table. What are you going to teach? Perhaps you have a Ph.D. in English Literature and several years of experience teaching undergraduate literature and writing classes at the university level. Your achievements may enable you to develop successful online writing classes. Or, perhaps you’ve spent many years of your career repairing motorcycles and want to put together online coursework to help students learn to fix their own bikes. Figure out what you want to teach, and then nail down the audience that wants to learn those lessons. The more specific your target audience, the better.
Build Your Brand
Once you’ve identified your target audience, you can build a brand that will appeal to that audience. In building your brand, think about how you can position yourself as an expert in your field. How can you appeal to your target audience? What value can your courses give them that other courses can’t? Make sure that anyone who visits your website for the first time will quickly gain a clear and compelling picture of who you are and what your company does.
Develop Your Courses
Now that you’ve assembled your team, identified your target audience and built your brand, it’s time to develop your courses. This is the easy part – right? Well, maybe not, but it will get easier as you gain more experience and find ways to streamline the process. Do some research to find out what content similar courses contain. Consult with teachers to develop lesson plans and curriculums that appeal to all learning styles. At this point, you may want to contract with other teachers to begin developing some of your initial course offerings.
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to work hard for a big payoff, then starting an online educational business could be for you. You’ll be able to teach while being your own boss – it’s the best of both worlds. Start your journey now; you’ll be amazed at what the future can bring.
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