I've been struck recently by what seems like a contradiction in the advice given by my interviewees on Course Builders TV.
I get a lot of people saying that the route to success with courses is speed. To get something out quickly in a pilot version to get feedback and progress fast.
And I get a lot of people saying that the route to success is quality – to create a course that's so amazing and delivers such great results that people want to share and spread the word.
They can't both be right, can they?
Well, in some ways they can.
Firstly, quality doesn't necessarily take a lot of time. And it doesn't necessarily mean polished or high-tech or full of fancy features.
For most people, the “quality” of a course is really down to the results they get from it and the experience they have on it.
And it's certainly possible for people to get brilliant results from a minimum viable product version of a course that focuses only on the essentials. In fact for many that's far preferable to a huge course that takes ages to get through but only gets incrementally better results.
When it comes to the experience of the course, don't get trapped into thinking that means it has to be pretty with fancy videos and interactive quizzes and the like. A pilot version of your course that does everything live with a lot of interaction will deliver a great experience in a different way.
In fact, it's important to remember that the people who sign up for a pilot have different expectations to people who buy a mature product.
They're not expecting everything to work perfectly. And one of the reasons they've signed up is the opportunity to interact with you and get feedback.
So the live version will exactly match their definition of quality even if you don't have professionally designed slides and studio-quality video.
It's important to recognise this evolution of your course – and of your buyers.
Your first version will inevitably be a bit scruffy. Might even have gaps you have to plug via Q&A. But it will work for the innovators and early adopters whose primary motivation is early access.
As you begin to market your course more widely you'll get majority and laggard buyers. They'll be a bit more uncertain and want the traditional trappings of quality like a well-designed website, tried and tested exercises to help them learn, proper support and help features.
That means you can move fast and “do it live” in your pilot and the people there will think it's great quality. But you need to evolve the course over time to meet the quality expectations of a broader set of buyers.
But, of course, having done the pilot and early iterations of the course you're in a perfect position to upgrade the quality in that sense – and you should have the money from your pilot sales to enable you to do it!