If you're a consultant, coach or trainer then one thing that's no doubt been hammered home to you during the pandemic is that a complete reliance on face-to-face work is a huge risk.
When lockdowns first started around the world we saw an immediate switch to a variety of remote working approaches like conference calls and video workshops. These allowed us to continue current and planned projects without fundamentally changing what they were about. Instead of live workshops we did webinars. Instead of 1-1 meetings we did phone or video calls.
But the changes didn't stop there.
Even by June, researchers Brandon Hall were reporting that client organisations were pushing training sessions from webinars and calls towards pure e-learning and video based online courses.
And all the indications say this switch is going to be permanent rather than returning to "normal" after the pandemic.
As research by Fosway shows, the vast majority of Learning & Development Directors, Managers and Learning Technology Professionals say there has been a major shift in what they do and they don't expect things to return to a pre-pandemic scenario.
The logic behind this shift is clear.
Clients report increased engagement and retention of information with e-learning strategies, along with a better fit with busy employees lifestyles.
In addition, there's less time wasted on travel and breaks, and the environment can often feel safer for employees rather than learning alongside peers.
And perhaps most significantly, most clients embarking on e-learning projects expect significant cost savings as a result. IBM, for example, reported savings of around $200 million as a result of their e-learning initiative and McDonald's reported savings of 50% of their training costs by switching to e-learning.
It's little surprise that even before the pandemic the global e-learning market hit $200 billion in 2019 and was predicted to grow to $375 billion by 2026.
And from a service provider's perspective, online training courses have many advantages:
A word of caution however: creating online courses isn't for everyone.
Creating online courses is a significantly different business model to delivering services.
With traditional service delivery you market and sell to clients and your contract is confirmed before you start the bulk of your work. Often you get paid at least in part up front.
With online courses you have to invest up-front to develop the course and then sell it. And while there are things you can do to minimise your upfront investment (and we'll cover them in this guide), it's inherently a more risky business model. More investment up front for potentially exponential returns downstream rather than a more linear "get paid as you go" model.
The style of work is different too. Many service professionals enjoy working live with clients and being "in the moment" as they react to what clients say and do in coaching sessions or workshops.
Creating online courses is a very different style of work. It's largely solitary and the work is much more structured as you plan, design and create courses. And unless you're outsourcing elements of the work too, it's much more technical and requires mastery of recording video and audio, lighting, slideshows, video editing and online tools for course delivery.
Marketing and selling your courses online is also very different to marketing and selling face-to-face services. Again, it's more technical, more solitary and less "in the moment".
And the reality is that those differences in business model, working style and marketing just don't suit some people.
You need to go into this with your eyes open, and ideally to test it out quickly to see if this different style of working will suit you and you can make it a success.
That said, if you can get it to work for you the potential rewards are massive. Online courses offer the opportunity to serve more people, give unrivalled flexibility in your working life and (let's not mince words) make a lot more money than you could from face-to-face services alone.
So let's dive in to our in-depth guide:
How To Create an Online Course: A Step By Step Guide
Click on any of the sections below (or the menu at the left of the screen) to see the in-depth guide for that section.