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  • Vasco Cavalheiro - Course Creator

    Vasco Cavalheiro - Course Creator

    Online Course Creator, teaching web technologies. I taught over 100k web developers over the years, and I'm now sharing everything that I know about online teaching here at the Creator Academy.

    More posts by Vasco Cavalheiro - Course Creator.

    Vasco Cavalheiro - Course Creator

The Secret To Creating a Successful Online Course (with High Reviews)

Course Creation Tips & Tricks
rvw_str Platform Review
The Secret To Creating a Successful Online Course (with High Reviews)

Learn how to create an online course that your students will love, and recommend to their friends and colleagues. Achieving this has almost nothing to do with the equipment used or any particular recording technique.

Of course every course creator wants to create an online course that their students will love 😉.

Course creators are a sort of online teachers, that teach through pre-recorded content.

But even if the teaching is done through video, the goal is still to teach as many people as possible. And nothing makes a course creator happier than knowing that their content is being used by lots of people and that they are learning what they need in an effective way through you.

And of course, the more people love your courses, the more they will buy from you in the future as you create new courses, and the more they will share your courses with their friends and family, bringing you a larger network effect that will generate you more sales over time.

So the question is, is there any particular way that you should be recording your courses to make sure that students actually love them, as in "this is exactly what I was looking for!", and they just go off and give you a 5-star review?

Actually, yes there is, but it's usually not clearly explained anywhere. And it has nothing to do with any special recording technique or trick. It's actually quite simple.

Want to learn how to build a successful online course?

Keep reading as I'm about to tell you the secret of why some courses stand out and my best tips for creating online courses.

Table of contents

It's Really Not About The Production Values

Although making your course look great definitely counts for something, that is not the main reason why someone will absolutely love your courses.

I've been taking online courses for almost 10 years now, and I can tell you that I've seen a lot of different courses.

Some of the courses that I have enjoyed the most were the courses produced with the simplest means possible. Sometimes, it was just a very simple PowerPoint course with a voice-over, and that's it.

And I absolutely loved many of those courses, and still remember what I learned until this very day.

However, other courses that I took had great packaging and awesome production values. The filming was great, the audio was perfect, and they looked great.

But in the end, I ended up feeling disappointed as I did not learn much from them, it was really just a bunch of fluff and not the deep first-hand experience and deep knowledge that I was looking for.

Other times, the higher ticket price that I paid for a full package just gave me access to just more of the same repeated information, or to a few extra cheat sheets and other downloadable PDFs that I didn't ever use.

Once, I paid almost $300 for a full package just to access a bunch of extra videos, that were just the creator more or less reading the same material from the $25 book that I could have gotten with the base package, without providing any extra information.

This type of experience is disappointing, and needless to say I have never purchased from that creator again.

Production values still play a role as they are part of the user experience, but as long you have decent videos and especially if you have acceptable audio (that you can get with any $100 microphone), then you're all set.

An extra fancy animation or image, or an extra PDF download, that is not the reason why students will love your courses. It's something else entirely.

So What Makes a Student Love Your Online Courses?

The real reason why students will love your courses is the same reason why you probably didn't have a great experience learning from many of your high school teachers.

If you recall your teachers back in school, you will remember that you had the occasional great teacher.

But if you had an experience similar to mine, most teachers that you had ranged from either bad to average at best.

At least in my case, many times in in-person classes I did not learn much, even with upfront preparation. I would get frustrated after not being able to follow along after 10 minutes of lessons, as I did not understand anything that the teacher was talking about anymore.

But why was that?

This was mostly due to the bad habit that most teachers have of systematically glossing over many concepts, or making wrong assumptions about your prior knowledge of the topic.

This happens a lot when someone knows a topic very well, and they are trying to explain it to someone that does not know the topic yet.

The teacher will systematically gloss over and under-explain important concepts, not tie them down to previous concepts, and rush into introducing new concepts as fast as possible.

The teacher, while being able to understand the topic very well, has effectively lost the ability (or is no longer willing to make the effort) to explain things to someone who does not know the topic yet.

This effect is sometimes known as the expert's curse.

If you notice, the better teachers don't fall into this same mistake, and as a consequence, you can learn a lot more from them.

Despite knowing the topic very well, good teachers can explain it in a way that makes sense and is relatable to beginners, explaining things in simple terms that their students can understand, and connecting those new concepts to other existing concepts that they may already have.

So What Is the Secret Trick to Avoid the Expert's Curse?

If you know a topic very well, it's still possible to avoid the Expert's Curse. Some people are naturally better at avoiding it than others, but this is not some god-given quality that you either have or don't.

In fact, you can very effectively work on it, and the secret is very simple: you need to adopt, both in the outline of your courses but more than anything in your audio explanation, what I like to call an over-explanatory style!

Most course creators don't take this approach, which is good news because once you adopt this approach, you will have a clear competitive advantage.

This is however much easier said than done, and it does require constant practice and a commitment to this approach. So how do you do it exactly?

You simply need to constantly resist the temptation to gloss over anything at all, however small that is, and however obvious it might seem to you.

First of all, try as much as possible to not make any assumptions about how long it will take to explain something.

Instead, just start recording, and if it takes 5 minutes then it takes 5 minutes, but if you have to break it down into 3 lessons of 8 minutes, then go ahead and do so.

This is not about making your courses intentionally long just for the sake of it, this is about making them as thorough as possible and as useful as possible for the widest range of people, of all skill levels.

But won't I sound too basic?

You might think that some of the details are so basic, that you are probably going to bore some of the students, and you might want to go faster to get to the more advanced stuff, which is what you think leads most of the students to buy your course.

In fact, by speeding up the pace of the course and glossing over some of the details that you consider as basic, you are losing a lot of the students along the way!

The only students that can keep up with that pace are the ones that by some reason already know the topic, while the others who don't know it will be left behind, feel frustrated and stop taking the course.

If you take online courses yourself, how many times did you feel this? The course creator starts slowly, taking the time to explain the introduction, but then 3 lessons into the course the pace starts going super fast, as the creator introduces a bunch of concepts that were not tied up to the introduction, and you end up feeling completely lost.

In order to avoid this, you need to keep the constant over-explanatory approach in every single lesson, from the beginning to the end of the course.

You will sometimes repeat yourself, but that's OK. Don't be afraid to repeat yourself if you think that is going to help you reinforce a new concept, by tying it down in an explicit way to a previous concept.

Regarding your fear of boring some of the students because your explanations are too basic, I assure you that there is no reason to fear this.

Most students do want and need the level of detail that the over-explanatory approach brings them, while the few ones that don't need it will still appreciate it.

And this is because, even the students that already know some of the topics, are typically not sure of their knowledge, otherwise why would they have paid for the course?

Many times, a student's prior understanding of the topic might have been built in a precarious way, for example by watching a ton of related YouTube videos on the topic with various degrees of quality, or by reading a bunch of blog posts and going through a ton of comments, and by spending a lot of time in questions & answers forums.

Some of their understanding of the topic is correct, while some of it is wrong, and they don't feel comfortable about it. These students do know something about the topic, but they are not sure about their knowledge, so that is why they will appreciate a lot your over-explanatory approach.

This approach will explicitly confirm what they already know and give them reassurance that their knowledge is indeed correct, while at the same time dispelling any misconceptions that they might have acquired.

Summary: Tips for creating an online course

So there you have it, this is by far the biggest reason why a student will love your courses, and why they will remember them over time!

It's the thoroughness and usefulness of the information, it's the pace adapted to beginners making sure that as many people as possible are not left behind, this is what is going to make your courses memorable and make your students want to get more material from you again in the future.

The simplest way to achieve this is to intentionally adopt an over-explanatory style, explaining every single detail of what you are doing, with no stone left unturned.

And if you ever have a doubt if something should be explained or if you can safely skip it, make sure to always take the time to explain it thoroughly, your students will thank you for that.

I hope this helped! If you want to get notified when I release new content here in the Academy, you can subscribe to my weekly newsletter:

And if you have any questions about any of this, post them in the comment section below and I'll get back to you, you can also post them in our Course Creator Facebook Group if you prefer.

And, if you are looking for a platform to host your online courses, create an account at OnlineCourseHost.com and start creating your courses using our Free Plan.

Also, you can find all my in-depth guides with everything that you need to know about course creation on the Course Creator Academy Home Page.

Check out also any other posts that you might be interested in the blog home page.

That's all I got for today, see you soon and meanwhile, I wish you Happy Teaching!

Vasco Cavalheiro

OnlineCourseHost.com Founder & Online Course Creator

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