Creating an online course - part 2

Updated: Oct 6

Producing your course - recording and writing copy


In part 1, we looked at how to pick your course topic, where to host your course and finally how to build a good and easy to follow structure for your course. Today is all about actually making the course, meaning writing a full script and recording. A good quality video and sound will help you charge more, get more referrals and gain fans. I will discuss the tips I learned when creating my branding course so you can save time and frustration with a little bit of upfront planning. Since you only have to make the course once but can keep getting new students as passive income over time, spending a little bit of extra time producing your course will pay off big in the long run.



OVERVIEW:

  • Choosing your background/set

  • Writing a script

  • Audio and video quality

  • Editing your course

  • A note on organisation


Choosing your background/set


Using a video of yourself talking is a great way to build trust and show the viewer how to do something in a simple way. Before you start filming, make sure you have a background that suits the feeling you are trying to create. You want to avoid just having an empty wall but having a very busy background can be distracting. If you have an office space that is in line with your brand and the content you are creating, for example posters of typography if you teach a lettering class, that is a great opportunity to show your personality. If you are unsure what to use as your background, I suggest opting for a shelf with a few things in it. This way, you can stage the background to work well in terms of the number and colours of things being displayed. In my recent course, I decided to place design books and plants in my background to create a friendly and creative feeling. The same rules are a great trick for your clothes as well. Make sure the combination of your background and clothes create a cohesive impression and don't compete with each other.


Example from my simple setup with design books

Writing a script


Before you start recording either audio or video, it is important to have a script. In part 1, we created the structure for the course. Now it is time to write down what you want to say in each part to make sure you get straight to the point and avoid sidetracks that could confuse your audience. Once you record, you can use this script as the blueprint. You don't have to read it out word by word, in fact that might feel quite stiff, but you can use it as bullet points to keep you on track.


When you write your script, think about the level of knowledge your audience already have about the subject. Are you teaching marketing to other experts or are you addressing a complete beginner? Make sure your script covers enough explanation to help the student feel considered and motivated but not so much that they feel bored or like the course is not for their skill level.


Before you start recording, read through your script a few times all together to make sure it makes sense as one cohesive course. Add any information you need to make things more clear. If you have a work book or an external place where students can complete tasks, make sure you refer to these and explain how it works as part of your script.


Audio and video quality


The production quality of your course can help you charge more and get more happy customers that refer you to friends and colleagues. In other words, don't spend all this time and effort only to have low quality deterring students.


In order to have a good video quality, make sure to set up good lighting. Sunlight is a great source of light and you seldom need professional lights in order to produce a quality course. However, if the natural light comes from one direction, you might see shadows in your recordings. If this happens, try using lamps from around your home or office to create additional light sources. This will make the video feel more professional and the lighting will look softer. To record your course, a video camera usually works best but many new phones have a good quality if you are producing your course on a lower budget. Make sure you have a good enough SD card that can store large video files. Many cameras cut off the recording if the memory card gets close to capacity so look for an SD card used for recording rather than typical photography.


To make sure your course has good audio, pick a recording location that naturally has low noise levels. If your office or home is in a noisy area, consider recording early in the morning or late in the afternoon when there are less distractions around. Nothing can be more frustrating than being halfway through a great recording only to be interrupted by a noisy car horn. Once you have your location, consider the type of microphone you will be using. If you have a good camera, you could use the audio from your recording. If not, make sure you have an external microphone to use instead. The easiest way is to plug the microphone directly in to your camera. This way the audio and video will be synchronised. If you do not have access to this, you can also plug the microphone in to your computer and match the audio and video together once you are editing which is the next step. We used a microphone called Blue snowball which is a great budget friendly startup option.


Editing your course


Before you publish your course, you might want to edit out any bloopers or cut together screen recordings and video of you talking to the camera. This way, you can create dynamic and interesting content for your audience. If you recorded your audio separately, this is also the time to put it together with your video. When I created my branding course, I used Adobe Premier Pro since all I had to do was cut and edit videos together and make small changes to the colours and audio. If you are planning to have a lot more effects, like animations, I suggest using Adobe After Effects instead. Premier is great for reducing background noise and making sure the transitions between clips run smoothly.


It is ok to have cuts in your video as long as you keep the audio levels and video quality the same, keeping everything consistent. When you record, ideally take a small break where you move as little as possible before and after you are done speaking to make the cuts appear less obvious. The same is true if you are opting for an audio only course. As long as the levels are the same, your audience will not notice the cuts.


Once you are happy with your edits, export your videos or the audio alone if you are going for a podcast format course. If your course is purely a written download, the editing process is limited to checking your script and making sure your downloadable pdf looks great and is easy to follow.


A note on organisation


Creating a course usually means you have many moving parts, multiple files both for audio and video and many times a lot of recordings and re-recordings. To save yourself a lot of time, make sure you have a clear way to name and store your files before you get started. I suggest naming your files according to the chapter and order they are supposed to appear in. It can also be a good idea to store raw and edited files separately to avoid confusion.


Next week we will look at the last part of creating your own course, part 3 marketing!


If you are creating your own course or thinking about ideas, join our Facebook group and share it with our creative community. Everyone is welcome and we are a very supportive bunch!