Online courses: Are you sure you want to create one?
I have to admit, I’ve been bit by the online course bug
What I love most about online courses is:
- They’re not that hard to make (if you know what you’re teaching… and you should)
- They can be set up for very little expense
- They are a great source of recurring revenue
- They are easy to maintain – especially if you work to make your content “evergreen” (always relevant)
Between these two courses I bring in around $1400 per month.
Not bad, huh?
Even though these benefits of an online course are pretty cool, I’m not rushing into them anymore
That doesn’t mean I won’t do any more of them, just that I’m taking it much slower before I leap in.
Because of this passage:
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. – James 3:1-2
I know as well as anyone that James had teachers within the church first on his radar.
He wanted to ensure that those coming into the role of teacher understood the great level of accountability they’d be taking on.
Got it. Check. Good stuff, James.
But could this apply to teachers in other realms?
I think so…
James’ points are:
- Teaching is a high responsibility because you are in a position of powerful influence.
- When you are teacher, people respect you and look up to you.
- Those you teach will look to you as an “authority” or “expert” in the realm you teach (“Authority Marketing” comes to mind).
- Because you’re human, you’ll make mistakes in your teaching… and that could cause great damage in the lives of people.
All of these, without exception, apply to any teaching role.
So what does that say for the online course you want to make?
James can’t be telling us NOT to be teachers.
If he were doing that, the church would have ceased to exist – at least in any healthy sort of way because nobody would have been teaching others about Christ.
What he’s saying is very simple.
Count the cost before you become a teacher. Know that you’ll be held to a higher standard (by God).
In my view, it’s pretty safe to say that your online course puts you in that category.
Because you’re influencing people for good or ill.
Practical take-aways for my future online courses
I get LOTS of “good ideas.”
From now on, I’m going to sit on them longer to make sure they are ideas I’m qualified to address.
And in case you didn’t notice my italics in that last sentence, qualified is the key word there.
There’s a lot I could say about a lot of subjects, but I’m far from an expert on most of them.
I’ll do more good focusing elsewhere.
I’ll create more helpful things focusing elsewhere.
And I’ll learn better how to reign in my multi-preneur bent to healthier levels.
Content creation has to be done with greater care.
As I said before, creating an online course is not all that hard if you know your subject matter.
But in light of James’ warning I need to slow down and ask some difficult questions with as much honesty as I can.
- Am I cutting corners?
- Am I leaving things out because I’m lazy?
- Am I sharing anything that’s misleading or deceptive?
- Am I venturing into waters where I don’t really know enough to teach a course?
Expertise is a very real thing that I need to consider and strive toward.
The temptation is to just “get something out there” in order to start making money.
You’ll find all kinds of big-name marketing folks telling you just that. In all honesty, they’re trying to get people over the hump of not starting. I get that.
But I can’t do that. Too much is at stake. I’m going to be held accountable for what I teach.
I must grow the integrity to make sure that I am only teaching in areas I truly know.
Of course, none of us will ever know all there is to know about any subject, not even the “masters” of it.
But there’s a huge difference between Mozart and the kid who goes on stage after church to play “Chopsticks.”
God’s approval of what I teach matters – in any realm of teaching.
That’s the most important thing to me. God will hold me accountable for what I teach.
He knows my motives and the places I’ve cut corners.
He knows my level of expertise and where I could have given more.
He knows if I’m really qualified to coach someone with a particular need.
I can’t take that lightly. I’ve got to consider every potential course in light of that.