Last year, people started to bring me queso at book signing events. I actually found a job where people give me melted cheese. Take that, guidance counselor who told me my dreams couldn’t come true!
If 2014 was the year of queso, then 2015 seems to be the year of the online course.
It seems everyone and their grandmother has an online course.
It’s easy to be wowed by what some of these courses offer. Their sales pages are shiny, their testimonials are compelling, and the promises they make all but assure you a better life is just a few clicks away. The offer of magical “passive income” is a particularly bright carrot that is waved as an enticement. The Internet is littered with get rich quick schemes. There are no shortcuts. Anyone who tells you differently is usually trying to sell you a shortcut.
But the 1.7 billion course options you get when you search Google can’t all be that great, right? So how do you figure out which one is worth your time, energy, and money? Here’s how I do it.
I ask these three questions whenever I’m considering an online course.
Question #1 – Who’s teaching it?
Has the founder of the course done something more than be successful at selling online classes?
More to the point, have they done something that you want to do to? Michael Hyatt should teach a course on building a platform, because he’s built a huge platform and led companies for 30 years. Jeremy Cowart should teach you about photography because according to the Huffington Post, he’s the “most influential photographer on the Internet” and has been on the leading edge of the photography world for 10 years.
If you took a class at a college, you could trust that the school vetted the professor. In the Internet age though, anyone can say they’re an expert. Do your homework before taking a course and make sure the person teaching it is a real expert.
Question #2 – Is it worth the price?
Here’s the truth about pricing an online product in 2015: it’s the wild wild west.
If someone decides their class is $200, you have no idea where that came from. Maybe they’ve done studies to find the best price point for the value they’re delivering? Or maybe they’re having a bad fantasy football season and they’re charging more to support their DraftKings habit. How can you know? When someone says, “You can get this $2,000 class for only $200 today,” you should at least ask yourself, “Why is this worth $2,000?” Where did that value come from? Is it based in reality? Or was it just made up out of thin air and no one has ever actually paid that price?
Ultimately, it’s on you to figure out if the price is worth it. I’ve always believed that price isn’t just about what you’re paying, it’s about what you’re doing with what you’ve paid for. If a class is going to teach you how to book paid speaking gigs and you’ll actually put the lessons into practice, it might be worth $2,000. If you’re going to ignore the lessons in the class, then it’s probably not even worth $50.
Will your actions match the amount of money you’re paying? That’s my favorite way to determine if it’s worth the investment.
Question #3 – Is there a community aspect?
Study upon study shows that it’s a lot harder to get anything done without a community.
If you purchase this course, will you be on your own to learn the material and do the work, or will there be others doing it with you and helping you along?
The truth is, creating and sustaining a community isn’t easy. It’s a lot easier for a course creator to email you a PDF and send you on your way, in hopes that you can figure it out on your own.
Providing you with the help of others takes more work on a number of levels, but it always means more value. That’s why I ask if there will be a community that comes with the material to help me get the most out of it. For me, it’s not a “nice to have,” it’s a “must have.”
I’m skeptical of about 90% of online classes, but the 10% that are good tend to be really good. I hope those three questions will help you sort through all the ones that are offered. I’m sharing them now because I’ve been thinking a lot about courses lately.
For years people have asked me when I would offer something along the lines of an online course, and I think its finally time to do one.
I’ve got a 30-day challenge I’m working on. I want it to provide wicked high value at wicked low cost.
My new challenge won’t make your teeth brighter. It won’t turn you into Scrooge McDuck overnight with passive income.
It’s going to help you do one thing, but that one thing is awesome.