I have written and published two courses on Udemy, one of which has over 1,100 subscribers, less than two months after its launch. I want to share with you how I wrote this course, step by step, to help you with your course.
[Update Mar 2016 – its now 22 Courses!)
Remember the key to writing a successful, high quality, course is to get organised and create a process which you than then replicate for your next course. Be prepared to amend the process to suit your own approach and style as you work through.
Before you start make sure you watch the Udemy Course, “How to Create a Udemy Course”, which explains the technicalities of how to use the platform, the basis of basic course design and helps you with some of the technical issues involved in course creation. You can find the course here: https://www.udemy.com/official-udemy-instructor-course/?tc=howtocreatecourse.plantab
This is critical. Each course should have a specific objective. The course content you create must have a laser focus on achieving that objective. If content does not contribute to the objective, take it out.
My first objective is to produce a comprehensive but well structured and compact course. My goal is to have between 60 and 90 minutes of video content. Udemy stipulates courses should contain a minimum of 30 minutes of video content but if you are going to charge a reasonable price for your course, I prefer to produce a course which is longer than the minimum.
Remember the objective is to create a great learning experience and value for your students but this does not mean you put everything you know on a topic in one course. If you can create three hours of content, break it down into an Introductory and Advanced Course. The objective from your perspective is to get your course completed, published and to start earning money from it.
So here is how I do it.
Decide on the topic
What is the problem/pain?
As with any product or solution you need to be addressing a need/a problem/a pain that your potential customers suffer from. In the case of this article, it is the need to understand how to go about writing a best selling course.
This problem needs to be something that has value to your customers. Is this something that they will pay money for you provide them with the convenience of a solution? The more painful the problem, the more they will be prepared to pay.
How large is your market?
If your course topic is very niche, “How to Breed Yellow Frogs” for instance, outside of those people who are fanatic about Yellow Frogs, you are not likely to sell many courses. One way of assessing this is to see what topics are already being addressed by instructors on Udemy. If there are already several successful courses around your potential topic, this is a good indicator of a market.
Look particularly at the prices being charged and the numbers of students who have subscribed for the course.
Another advantage of looking at these potentially competing courses is that you can take a close look at how they cover the topic. You can design your course to take a unique approach and thereby differentiate yourself in the market.
Do you have to be an Expert?
Yes and No. You should select a topic on which you have some knowledge, interest and expertise. Students will look at your profile and expect you to demonstrate some experience in the topic you wish to address. I have a background in Finance and Strategy. Consequently, a Rollerblading Course from me is unlikely to fill potential students with confidence that I know anything about how to become a great Rollerblader!
When preparing your course I believe that you should include a research phase where you use the Internet to research your topic and make sure that you are covering all the salient points. Wikipedia is a great place to start here.
Create Your Main Lecture Structure
The key to a good course is one that is well structured. Bear in mind that you are aiming to create a course that lasts between 60 and 90 minutes. Excluding your short promo video (more on that later), you will need an introductory and closing lecture. These should be approximately 5 minutes each and no more.
That leaves you with between 50 and 80 minutes of video content to produce. In order to keep the pace of your course moving, I recommend each lecture should be around 5 to 8 minutes long. If you need longer than this, split it into two lectures. 10 lectures of 5 minutes = 50 minutes. 10 lectures of 8 minutes = 80 minutes. So there you have it. You need to structure your core lecture content into 10 lectures.
At this point, open a word document and list your 10 main headings. Note you are going to create your introductory and closing lectures last, so don’t worry about their content at this stage.
Key Points for each lecture
Having created your 10 main headings, it is time to put some meat on the bones. Thinking of your time constraints and lecture pace, I recommend 6 to 8 key points in each lecture. This will help your students absorb the information you are sharing with them in manageable chunks and aid their learning process.
By creating these bullet points, you are able to keep a clear overview of the content of your course and you are also creating the key points which will convert into a slide presentation, when you come to that stage
Key Lecture Materials
At this point I decide what materials I am going to provide for my students in each of the lectures. Udemy gives you the ability to up load a range of digital formats and you should select those which best suit your course content.
In my course on Strategic Udemy Course design, I uploaded all my Excel Spreadsheets and made them downloadable so that students could carry out their own analysis. In my best selling Entrepreneurs Guide to Startup Funding, I exported my slide decks with notes to PDF and made these available for download.
Don’t forget that most video software will enable you to copy the sound track of your video to a separate MP3 file, which you can make available as part of your course materials. If you combine these together into one MP3 file, you can provide your students with a “podcast” version of your course for them to listen to when they are out and about.
Don’t forget you can also create quizzes, which provide a bit of fun and interaction with your students.
While I am not going to cover course marketing in this post, you should give some consideration at this point, as to how you might create some limited content, which you can later repurpose as part of your marketing campaign.
Write detailed Notes
Now, revisit your course outline and bullet points for a third time. This time spend the time carefully writing out your course lecture notes, explaining all the detail you want to include in your course.
When you come to recording your videos, you can either read these notes (which I do not recommend) or use them as a detailed Aide Memoire for the voice content you then record.
As I am doing here, take the time to write proper notes and not just bullets. These notes can then form another part of your course materials, as lecture notes, or a course workbook, which the students can download to study.
If you produce a series of courses over time on connected topics, these notes might even become the genesis of your first ebook!
Always be planning ahead and thinking how you can repurpose content.
Decide On Your Presentation Style
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. I prefer to produce a slide deck and record a voice over using ScreenFlow (Camtasia is good too!). I can create recordings of my head talking to the camera if I wish using Screenflow, but I prefer to let the slides to the talking for me.
In my Introductory and Promo Videos I like to adopt a more personal approach, as this gives me the chance to establish a rapport with my students and give the students a chance to know who I am and what I look like – put a face to the voice before embarking on the course.
Produce Slide Decks and Transitions
In the next stage I decide on the look and feel of my slide deck and decide which transitions I am going to use. Think about keeping it clean and tidy and easy to read. I have to admit that I am not great at the creative side of things, so I try to keep it simple and learn from each video and course that I make.
At this point you might like to consider making a short (5 second) intro and outro for each lecture to give your course a more professional feel. This does not have to be much more than a short animated recording of the course title overlaid with a short music loop. Make sure you use royalty free music; I get mine from the library that comes with Garage Band on my Mac.
In this stage you set up your “studio” with your microphone and I recommend recording all your videos one after the other. If you have done the preparation I have outlined above, this will not be difficult and it will give your course a consistent look and feel.
If you are only doing voice overs, you will not need to worry about lighting. Do pay particular attention to audio quality. I recommend a short test run to make sure that the sound set up is a good as you can make it.
A good tip here is to find some free example videos that most instructors include within their course content to get a feel for how they have created their videos. Alternatively, sign up and take a couple of free courses to give yourself confidence that what you are doing is just as good.
Do all you can to exclude external noises. Make sure your family know you are recording and do not disturb you. Disconnect your land line phone. Make sure your mobile and iPad, if you have one, are switched off, as the telephone signal can create static interference in your recording.
Don’t forget to save your files and back them up immediately to a separate disk.
Record Wrap up video
Now you have recorded your course, turn your mind to your wrap up video. Make a list of six key bullets that your course has taught your students. You can summarise very briefly the 10 lectures but leave the students with a summary of the benefits they have gained from taking your course.
Be courteous and thank them for supporting you, giving of their time and wish them well, hoping they will benefit from what you have taught them.
Record Introductory Video
Now that you know what your course contains, you can go back to the start and write and record your Introductory Video. Use the same method as the rest of the course and aim to keep it tight and punchy. You are setting the tone for the rest of your course in this video.
Fill out details on Udemy
Now you can turn your attention to the Udemy website. Don’t forget to follow their Course Check list carefully. Complete your profile, highlighting your expertise relevant to the course you are teaching, fill out all the details of the Course Summary and then upload your course content and additional materials to the course.
I like to upload extra materials as a separate lecture, rather than as supplementary materials. These are easier for students to see when deciding whether or not to take your course.
Remember that the up load speed for your videos can be quite long if, like me, you have a relatively poor broadband connection. One tip is is to start up loading the videos as you complete them providing you can do this while continuing to work on the course. This upload process can become a real bottleneck.
Record Promo Video
Now you are nearly there. Time to record your Promotional Video which I believe should be very personal. If in any doubt, just go and watch some examples of other people’s Promo Videos. Follow the Udemy Course CheckList which makes it very clear what to include in your Promo Video.
Design course image
Finally you need to create a Course Image for your course. I admit I am not very good at this and Udemy are very helpful here and will create one for you if you ask. They actually go further and will change your image unilaterally if they do not like the one you have created. If they do, this my advice is go with the flow, they have a lot more experience on this topic than you do.
Udemy Course Checklist
It is important before you start to download the Udemy CourseChecklist and make sure you understand and follow its guidance. The Checklist can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1SbCv-uFZk6LiUh0D8tuwRmlK1Ybgnom0wXIPjvjuOdg