How to Whip Up Your First Online Course

I had a crazy idea a few months ago. I decided to create my first online project management course in 30 days and create a pre-launch series in the following 30 days.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

I’ve had a lot of questions from other project managers and entrepreneurs concerning this project. I thought I would answer some of the more common questions to help others build online courses. Even if you do not have an interest in creating online courses, I hope to provide insights on how I approached a project, unlike anything I’ve managed before.

  1. Why did you decide to create an online course? I’ve been blogging for more than two years. I am fortunate to have people from all over the world read my blog each month. I love to teach in a classroom setting; however, I realize that many of the individuals who read my blog will never be able to attend one of my classes in person. So, I’ve decided to extend my reach to project managers through webinars, virtual classes, and online courses.
  2. How was this project different from projects you’ve managed in the past? Most of my career has been devoted to managing software development projects in the financial industry. I had never developed an online course; therefore, I had to learn to write scripts, create Keynote presentations, record videos, record screencasts, and upload videos to hosting services. In my corporate projects, I’ve always had human resources to staff my project teams. With this project, I had to be creative in how I engaged human resources (more on this in a minute).
  3. How did you determine the needs of your audience? First, I’ve been teaching project management for more than 15 years; therefore, I have a good understanding of the challenges that project managers face. Second, I created and presented the information to a different project management audiences in different industries including one international audience. The feedback was tremendous and helped me to develop the content further. Third, I conducted an online survey with my PM South mail list to get their feedback.
  4. What were the deliverables? The project included two primary deliverables: 1) a pre-launch video series entitled The Project Management Journey (Free 3-Part Video Series), and 2) the online course entitled Six Proven Ways to Boost Project Success.
  5. What was the purpose of the pre-launch series? There were several things I wanted to accomplish. First, I wanted to connect further with my audience. Second, I wanted to provide free online content individuals could quickly apply and gain benefit whether the individuals enrolled in the online course or not. Third, I wanted a way to introduce and promote the online course.
  6. What tools did you use to develop the online course?
  7. What process did you use to develop the online course?
    • Defined goals, deliverables, assumptions, constraints, and required resources
    • Defined course title and sub-title
    • Defined course outline
    • Developed logo
    • Developed logo intro video for modules
    • Developed whiteboard video
    • Developed Keynote template
    • Created scripts for each module in Scrivener
    • Created Keynote slides for each module
    • Recorded screencasts including the audio in Camtasia
    • Created Gumroad account including bank account information
    • Converted Camtasia .cmproj files to .mp4 files
    • Uploaded videos and project management templates to Gumroad
    • Tested course in Gumroad
    • Created emails containing video #1, #2, and #3
    • Created follow-up emails to distribute after launch
    • Close enrollment one week after launch
  8. Who comprised your project team? Here’s where the fun came. I do not have any employees at PM South. As I developed my project charter and the vision for the project, I bounced ideas off of anyone I could including project managers, friends, and family. I listened to numerous podcasts by Michael Hyatt, Amy Porterfield, and Pat Flynn to learn about the process of developing online courses. I engaged Fiverr resources to develop the logos and video intros. I shared some of the videos with my friends at Platform University as well as a few selected personal friends. This engagement helped me to test the videos and to get feedback on the content.
  9. What surprised you the most? The thing that surprised me most was the amount of time it took to develop the pre-launch series. I developed the online course in four weeks. I expected to create the pre-launch series in three to four weeks. It took me about five weeks. Keep in mind, I have a day job as an enterprise risk manager; therefore, I had to do this work early in the mornings, at night, and on the weekends.
  10. Would you do another project like this one? Definitely! I have enjoyed the creative experience of developing materials, templates, and videos to help project managers. I’ve also created repeatable processes that I can use for future online courses.