Episode 39 | Why You Shouldn’t Create an Online Course

I know it's tempting to create an online course...

Believe, me. I do.

Whenever I hear about a new practitioner launching an online course, I cringe a bit.

 It's not that I don't wish them well. Of course, I do! I'd love nothing more than to see everyone's online courses filling easily and making big changes in the world.

Unfortunately, that is not usually what happens.

In this episode, I share why I don't recommend that newer practitioners offer courses and programs. 

Essentially: if you're having trouble filling your 1:1 sessions and/or if you've only been in practice for a short period of time, an online course is almost certainly not the best option.

Work on building your 1:1 sessions up for now.

It's not easy, and it's one of these "the only way out is through" situations.

Get help if you need it ❤️

Questions? Thoughts to share? Let me know. 


Transcript of "Why You Shouldn't Create an Online Course" episode

Episode 39 | Why You Shouldn't Create an Online Course - powered by Happy Scribe

Well, Hi there. Welcome to in the Clinic with Camille. My name is Camille Freeman. I'm a licensed nutritionist and registered herbalist. And in this podcast, I share little tips and tidbits that might be interesting or helpful for other practitioners.

Well, hello there. I have a question for you. At any point in the last few months to a year or so, have you thought to yourself, you know what I should do? I should create an online course or a group program as part of my clinical practice. If those thoughts have crossed your mind lately, I would like to share a few thoughts with you about that before you take it out of your head and start taking action and bringing it into the world.

Now, a lot of people consider offering online classes or group programs or things like that early on in their clinical practices. And the reason that I'm doing this podcast episode is because I see it so much. I see so many people who put a lot of time and unfortunately, a lot of money into creating courses and programs early in their clinical practice. And unfortunately, they hardly ever work out. And I want to talk to you about why that is and why I really don't recommend that you start an online course or a group program until you're pretty far down the road in terms of your one-on-one clinical practice.

Now I can see why people do this. I understand why it's tempting to want to have an online class. Many times we're thinking to ourselves, you know what? In order for me to stay above water, I need to charge X amount for my one-on-one visits. And that's not affordable for everybody.

So I could also offer a group program or a class or something like that at a lower price point so I can improve my accessibility. So that's a really compelling reason to want to have classes or some kind of lower price point where people can still work with you. I also know that online classes are really fun to create. There's a visioning process. You get to imagine.

You get to do a lot of creative work and think about what's needed and what you could do and who might sign up for this and how wonderful it's going to be. It's a pretty safe thing to do also, because you're behind your computer screen or at your desk, you're sketching out pathways and creating lessons and PowerPoints and handouts and all this kind of stuff. So it's very safe. It's fun, it's energizing, it's safe. It's got a lot of potential in your head.

And a lot of us really like that. We like that more creative aspect of things. And many of us also see ourselves as educators in our clinical work when we are partnering with people. A big part of that is also teaching. And so the online role, the online class role, fits right in with that we see ourselves as teachers.

This is a way we can teach people, and it's all lovely and exciting. So the other thing that kind of pushes people in this direction is that there are a lot of programs and promotional materials and things like that out there, geared towards people who are new to business or to starting their clinical practice that are selling products and programs related to this. You can buy, you can spend thousands of dollars on a program about how to run an online class and how to fill your practice with an online class and how to make $50,000 and six figures and so forth with your online class and how to launch it and how to promote it and how to do it and so forth. And it's very compelling. It sounds great.

You're like, oh, well, perfect. I can launch this online course and make plenty of money. And this is going to be great. I see people doing this all the time. And so, you could tell by this point in the episode that I'm not a huge fan of this.

Like I said, this hardly ever works out like people think it's going to. In fact, I don't know anybody who has taken one of those really expensive classes about how to create and sell an online course who's had that be successful for them in the context of a clinical practice. Is it possible? Of course, it is. And for the most part, I don't think it makes sense as a place to start.

Okay, why not? Here's the number one thing. You need a big audience to make it work. If you are having problems filling your one-on-one slots, it's going to be extremely challenging for you to fill a group. And that's once, not to mention if your model or your idea is that you're going to fill this once a month or twice a year or what have you even once a year.

If you don't have a really big audience, that is incredibly challenging. You really are not going to be able to fill a course very effectively when you're not able to fill one-on-one slots very effectively. It is a skill and the first way to learn it is by working with people one-on-one. Ok. So if you are having trouble filling those one-on-one slots, my first recommendation to you is figure out how to do that, work on building a larger community, a larger network, and wait.

Now, the other thing I see people doing often is building out whole courses, spending months, sometimes even years creating courses. You've got all these videos recorded in handouts and all these kinds of things. They've invested in a course platform and a delivery system and a fancy email software and all this stuff and don't yet have anybody who has paid them any money for it. You have no indication that somebody is going to sign up and you'll believe me when I tell you that online courses are not if you build it, they will come situation. That is not how that works.

I beg of you. If you ignore everything else in this episode and you decide that you are going to create an online course anyway and it's the beginning of your practice, you're towards the beginning. You've been in practice maybe a few years. If you insist upon doing an online course at this phase of your practice, please don't start building it out until you have at least a handful of people who have paid you money. Not said, oh, that sounds interesting.

I like that. Yeah, but actually signed up for the class, then you can start building it out when you build it out. Because I know some of you are going to ignore me here. When you build it out, it is a pilot. The first time you teach this course, it is not going to be perfect.

I don't care how long you've spent recording your videos and editing and tech software and any of that, there are going to be mistakes. The first few times you run it, you will learn and you will need to redo large pieces of it. So do not create it once as if this is the final product. Don't spend tons and tons of money and tons of tons of time thinking you'll do it once and it'll be good to go forever. It will not be.

Especially not the first few times you do it. Okay, so hear me on that. Wait till people have signed up and paid. Give yourself a little buffer so it'll be starting in a month. You can sign up now, wait till you have the minimum that you need to run it and then start creating it.

Please, I beg of you. Also, these online courses are costly to do well. You are going to need to have some knowledge. You're going to need to have some time set aside, and so forth. One of the big things I see people doing when you create these online courses and you spent so much time and so much money and so much love getting them up and ready to go.

And then you realize, okay, I don't have a very big audience and maybe you've got two people that signed up or three people and they've paid. And so you're like, Well, I can either cancel on them or I can run it with three people, which is not a great use of your time. You're actually making less than if you would have seen people just one on one. You'd work with those same people one-on-one.

I want you to think about again, if you insist upon doing an online course or a group program or something, before you start it, before you start promoting it, before you start launching it, any of this kind of stuff, think about what is the minimum number of people that you need to run it. Write that down in advance, and if you don't reach it, what is your plan? If you've got however many people under that threshold that have signed up, what will you do? Okay, come up with that number beforehand so that you are not having to make challenging decisions once you're in the thick of things. Okay, so I hope this is giving you some pause, some food for thought about whether a group program or an online course or something like that makes a lot of sense for your practice.

They can be great. It's a wonderful way to build community. It's a wonderful way to maximize your time. And again, it lowers the price point sometimes for people and so forth. I'm not saying you can never do an online course or a group program.

What I am saying is that almost everybody needs to wait. And so when do you know? When is it time to consider, potentially consider, having a group program or an online course or something like that? In my opinion, the time to start thinking about something like this is when you are working with people one-on-one and you reach capacity. Your one-on-one work is so full that you cannot feasibly see more people without burning yourself out or for whatever.

You've maxed out your capacity or your systems. At that point, then you can start thinking, OK, maybe I could do this. Why do I recommend waiting until then? Number one, you will have a bigger audience, a bigger connection, network, that sort of thing. But number two, you can create a much better online course or group program once you've worked with enough people to see what are the commonalities, what are the things that most people are asking questions about? Where are the sticking points for most people?

Once you've worked with enough people to where your capacity is up there, you will have the experience that you need to create an online course. That is not theoretical. It is based on your own clinical experience. If you don't have enough clinical experience, your online course, I'm sorry to say, is probably not going to be that helpful unless it's about another topic that you do have a lot of experience on, in which case this is a different scenario. Okay, so wait until you do have a good amount of clinical experience.

You can use that to create your program or course. If you don't have that focus on your one on one clients, getting that experience and building up your one on one practice, most people will be like, okay, well, I tried to build my one on one practice that didn't work. So now I'm going to try online courses because maybe that's easier. Maybe I have a knack for it. I'm a good teacher, all that kind of stuff.

No, the problem is what you did is you started to try to build your one on one practice it got hard and your mind was like how about I do something else because this is hard and not fun so you hit a stumbling block and you decided to pivot what you need to do is hit the stumbling block and be like yes it is hard and I'm going to keep going. It's going to be uncomfortable this is going to be a little awkward for me because I'm learning and you need to keep going. You can't just try something totally different. This is like if you're trying to learn how to walk and then you're like oh I keep falling down I think I'll try to learn the bicycle instead. No you have to keep falling and getting up and being a weird Walker for a long time until you get good at walking.

Same thing here with finding your one on one clients. If you get to the hard part and it feels awkward and nobody is doing what you thought they would do and they're not signing up to come see you you are doing it right. You're in exactly the same place that everybody gets in the beginning of their practice and you have to keep going. You have to learn from what worked and what didn't work. Try new things and keep going right fill your private practice fill your one on one spots get that get at least a few years of really good experience and then you can think about you can think about doing an online course once it's clear what the needs are and what you have to share.

Okay I hope that's helpful. I hope it didn't offend you I have been wanting to say this for a while and now it's out there and hopefully it will be helpful for some folks. Alright have a great week everyone and I will talk to you soon.


About Camille

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and licensed nutritionist specializing in fertility and reproductive health. I mentor other practitioners who need help building and growing their practices, working with complicated clients and getting clinical hours. I have a doctorate in clinical nutrition, and I'm also a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating. 

My pronouns are she/hers. 

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