How Can I Scale My Online Course?

How can I scale my online course? Growing an online teaching business is tough. After all, you’re only one person, and the focus must remain on providing excellent services to students. As business grows and your schedule fills up, the idea of scaling the course will sound increasingly appealing.

The sheer fact that you’re teaching online will make scaling your skills much easier. There are a number of processes and services that can help along the way. Here are five techniques to help you scale your online teaching business.               

Create a video course

The easiest way to scale an online course or lesson plan is to offer it as a pre-recorded course. There are several ways to go about doing this. While pre-recording is not ideal for all circumstances or lesson plans, it can be great for general instruction on very specific topic or niche.

  • Students can proceed at their own pace and on their own timeframe.
  • Any grading, feedback, and interaction with individual students will be spread out instead of all at once.
  • Creating a landing page, giveaways, and other marketing efforts is simpler than with a traditional course. Take a look at some examples of how successful Udemy instructors are getting the word out.
  • There is no limit as to the number of students that can sign up (meaning there is no limit to your income!)

Of course, you’ll have to put the work in up front before you see any income, unless you pre-sell the course. But once its live, your workload remains mostly the same whether 100 or 1,000 students sign up (you’ll have to handle extra emails and back-of-house duties).

The downside to video courses is that as the teacher, you can’t personalize the lesson plan for students. It’s harder and more time consuming to make updates to the course/lesson. It’s also near impossible to make a snap decision based on a personal student’s problem or request. But overall, a video course is the best way for online instructors to scale their reach without having to massively increase their work and stress loads.

Drive traffic with a sales funnel

Sales funnels help get the word out about your course. With social media growing as a top marketing tool for online businesses, Facebook and other social platforms often play an important role in sales funnels.

Potential students may see an ad for your services on their page, or be led to you through backlinks on another website or a Google search. No matter how people are finding you, converting a higher percentage of them into students is key to scaling your online teaching business.

Outsource!

Outsourcing is perhaps the most important factor in scaling an online teaching business. To be truly scaled, you must be able to remove yourself, at least primarily, from the day-to-day operations. By definition, scaling means that your online business must be able to function well under an increasing workload.

If an additional hundred students sign up, will your business be able to handle it without being overwhelmed? By training a team of teachers to professionally teach your lesson plan, handling that additional workload is doable.

By hiring an assistant to handle customer service, appointments, and general inquiries, you as the business owner can focus more time on growing the business and less time on running it. That, in the world of online business, is scaling at its finest. 

Block off dedicated segments of time for grading and feedback

If you spend a lot of time grading, the idea of adding a high number of new students is likely very overwhelming. Perhaps creating an online course or bringing on a team of contractors to work underneath you isn’t exactly feasible right now.

One method that can make you more time-efficient and allow for growth is blocking of specific chunks of time for each duty.

  • Set a timer, and hold yourself accountable for sticking to the amount of time dedicated for the task.
  • Focus on grading and criticism that is going to personally help the development of the student. While noting errors is important, spend the bulk of your grading time on actionable feedback.
  • Cut out any assignments that can be classified as ‘busywork.’ Hearing students utter this term isn’t an easy thing for teachers. But sometimes they have a point. You can make your own life easier by focusing only on productive tasks and not worrying about filling time. Scaling, after all, is built around reduced workloads.

Overall, blocking off dedicated blocks for time-consuming tasks such as grading will help you identify and either update or eliminate any processes that aren’t necessary or aren’t being done efficiently. This will ultimately allow you to spend more time doing the productive tasks – such as marketing to grow your business.

Recurring billing and other simplification processes

Another big part of scaling is simplifying processes. The web is abuzz with apps and SaaS (software as a service) businesses that are designed to help business owners streamline their day to day operations. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

  • Recurly. Easily handle recurring subscriptions and payment processing.
  • LearnSmart. Easily train teachers/staff on your company’s IT services.
  • Knewton– Adaptive learning solutions which help you personalize lesson plans for large groups of students.

Scaling can be difficult to grasp at first, especially for those of us used to spending our time working directly with students instead of running a business. The process of scaling your online teaching services will likely take time and planning. But ultimately this will allow you more breathing room. In the beginning, focus on streamlining your processes and cutting any fat off so that growth can be as painless as possible. Then, implement these steps and services to accommodate a rising influx of students.

Ray is the founder and creator of Teacher Indie. He is an award-winning entrepreneur who has created online education businesses that have appeared in publications such as Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc Magazine, Buzzfeed, The Boston Globe and many others. His goal is to help teachers from around the world get online and gain the financial independence they deserve.

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