The research is done. The material is constructed and you’ve had friends test your online course. But you are nervous. Not feeling confident enough to launch a course.
So, why do you suddenly feel like you’re not ready?
Launching an online course is a move that can have a huge impact on your life. It exposes you to new opportunities and recognition as an expert in your field. It also exposes you to criticism. And, it’s completely natural to feel intimidated by that prospect. Before you launch a course, take some time to reassure yourself and deal with these common fears that online educators and other entrepreneurs face.
1. “This isn’t my real job.”
It is completely normal to feel some trepidation when you are entering a new field. In its most extreme form, this sort of anxiety is known as “imposter syndrome.” Imposter syndrome is common, with up to 70% of people experiencing it at some point. It leads to a feeling that you should not be where you are and everyone is going to find you out and ruin you.
The truth is, whether this is your central source of income or not, it’s just like any other business. You have information to share and the expertise to bring a course to market. This sort of anxiety is common, but its warnings are false. You have the capabilities to do this and to excel.
What to do: The only way to gain confidence in this area is to plunge in and do it. Start talking to people about your course. Write a few blog posts and create some social media updates. Launch an ad campaign. At first, you’ll feel awkward promoting this new venture. But, very quickly, you’ll find that people are open and accepting and that they are excited for you. Soon enough, you’ll feel comfortable about your course and promotion will be second nature.
2. “A lot of other people teach the same thing.”
There is nothing wrong with offering a topic that’s already out there. Amazon has no fewer than 68,620 results for “online marketing” but new, successful how-to books in that niche are written all the time.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time, but, you do need to approach your topic from an angle that makes it fresh and new. What do you know about your topic that you feel is unique? How does your approach to your field differ from others? Do you have a method of teaching that you feel is different and more effective than the others who are plying courses in similar topics?
Tip: Make a list of the qualities that distinguish your course and your personal expertise from the pack. Concentrate on those when you think about your course and when you describe it to others.
3. “No one wants to pay this much for a course.”
So, you think nobody is going to pay the price you have decided for your course? Nobody is charging that much fee. Well, that can become a distinguishing factor. If you do the positioning right, you can establish yours as a premium course. Need a proof of how much people spend on online education? Here you go:
According to Firepole Marketing’s recent industry survey, people collectively spent $107 billion on online courses in 2015. Position your offering the right way, and you can always charge a premium price. Many people happily pay hundreds of dollars for well-written courses that help them expand their knowledge and open up new opportunities in their careers.
So, how to deal with this fear?
A. One impulse you should resist is the one to lower your course offering’s price. Doing so can, paradoxically, hurt your course’s success. Often, a higher price will communicate greater value than a lower one. It’s human psychology. We are primed to consider premium priced offerings high quality. If you give in to fears that people won’t pay this much money for your course, you could unwittingly communicate that it isn’t worth all that much. Stick with your convictions and price your course at what you believe it is worth.
B. This is not to say that you cannot offer discounts. Highly successful online education entrepreneur Paul Jarvis regularly offers codes worth $100 off his $300 freelancing course. He’s had hundreds of signups and has earned over $100 thousand from this course alone. If you are worried about sticker shock keeping people away, try your luck with a temporary discount code. This can help you find just the right price point without having to work your way back up to a higher price when you learn that people are willing to pay more.
4. “I don’t think students will like me.”
Fear of being disliked or not being taken seriously plagues a lot of people. There’s a reason that public speaking comes in at number one on so many lists of people’s greatest fears, coming in ahead of death, heights, needles, bugs and zombies.
But, most people are friendly and open-minded. They are signing up for your course because they want to learn. They are optimistic and enthusiastic about the future. When people come to you with this attitude, it’s natural for them to like you.
What to do: If you still have trouble putting your mind at ease, work on qualities that are shown to make people more likable. Here are few to begin with:
A. Tune up portions of your course to introduce humor. This humanizes you and puts your students at ease.
B. Seeking agreement. It is a common — and often effective — to distinguish your course by taking a contrary point of view. If you use this tactic, make sure that you always do it in a cooperative, easygoing and approachable way. Reread every lesson and video to make sure that you are never forcing your views and that you always give the proper backup to what you espouse.
C. Make sure that your students feel that you are excited to have them. When we are valued, we value people in return.
D. When your students reach out to you, respond quickly and helpfully. You’ll build a reputation for being caring and responsive that will help the success of your online course.
To learn more about the art of likability, read the classic book on the topic, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. While the title may seem like it’s a book on manipulation, this is not the case at all. Instead, it focuses on how to train yourself to be more interested in others, to forge genuine connection and to make the people around you feel better about themselves and about you, too, by extension.
5. “I’m no expert!”
The truth is, no one has 100% expertise in a subject. Talk to someone who is regarded as an expert in a field like network security; chances are, they will tell you that the more they learn, the more they feel there is to learn.
The authority lies in the execution. We learn how to do things by doing them. If this is your first online course, it’s almost certain that you will make mistakes. Learn from them. Make changes to your course as feedback comes back to you.
You will also find that you learn even more about your subject once you start teaching it. Have you ever had a teacher who said that the best way to understand something is to explain it to someone else? When we talk or write about something, the act of expressing ourselves helps us get a better handle on the topics.
Plus, your students can be one of the greatest sources of new information and new angles. The questions that they ask will open up new avenues of inquiry for you. And, some of them will have expertise that you don’t, allowing you to learn directly from them.
If you aren’t an expert now (and, chances are, you are expert enough to be doing what you are doing), you will be by the time you have launched your class. Your expertise and your authority in your subject will only grow over time, making you more valuable to the people who seek education in your niche.
Building the Confidence to Launch a Course
The truth is, everyone feels some anxiety when they take on a new challenge. But, you can conquer your fears by assessing them logically and working to reinforce any weaknesses before you launch a course. By confronting your fears and taking action, you can construct a confident frame of mind to allow you to bring your first course into the world and assist others with your knowledge and expertise.