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How a digital course can accelerate your growth

How a digital course can accelerate your growth

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.”

– Socrates

Thanks to the advent of course platforms and user-friendly technology, creating digital courses can now be easy as ever! But still, if you have no idea where and how to start, it might be a little overwhelming and confusing — I know, been there, done that.

However, with the proper guidance and inspiration, you’ll get your digital course up and running in no time! This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of creating one, the benefits, and helpful tools and resources to make it a success.

What is a digital online course? 

Digital online courses are a type of learning that uses digital technology. Some examples are ‘Duolingo’, ‘Coursera’, and ‘Linkedin Learning with Lynda’. It allows students to take courses online, doing internet research, watching videos, and both student and teacher using digital tools like smart boards, tablets, or even your handy mobile phones.

In fact, 99% of mobile users stated mobile learning enhances their experiences, and most especially, the digital learning market is projected to be worth $325 billion in 2025. Now, how awesome is that?

And thanks to the rise of technology, and widespread availability of the internet, the barriers to learning are now a thing of the past. But how does this benefit and grow your business?

How digital courses can help your business to grow

A digital online course can help you develop a skill to boost your career — anytime, anywhere. But as a business, these online courses can help your customers use your product effectively and get better results.

Not only that, but it provides more value, attracts leads, showcases authority, fosters discussions, and most importantly, has the potential to reach a global audience.

The key benefits of including a digital course in your business

The benefits of starting an online course is huge. As technology continues to improve day by day, so does the effectiveness of digital marketing, especially online courses. And when leveraged correctly, this could get your business on a global scale.

The biggest advantages of having one are:

 

  • Wider audience base
  • More robust business model
  • Create more impact
  • Become an authority in your space
  • Create passive revenue streams

How to get started on online courses 

When it comes to creating a digital course, you don’t need to spend huge amounts of money on fancy equipment, a smart phone will do. What’s important is your expertise and how you deliver it to your audience.

Decide on a topic 

Decide on your course topic. When choosing your topic, focus on a niche area (a segment of the market) rather than going too broad on a subject. The more focused you are on a niche area, the more opportunity you have to convey your expertise, and students are also more likely to get better and more effective results.

Validate your idea 

Now that you have your course topic, it’s now time to validate your course idea. When it comes to your course, don’t make assumptions as you may find that you miss what your audience may actually need help with.

You don’t want to end up spending a great deal of time and energy creating digital courses that people are not prepared to pay for. Consider these questions in mind:

  • Why would someone pay for this course?
  • What challenge does the course solve?
  • What transition does it facilitate?
  • What are the expected learning outcomes?
  • Why is your course different from competitors?

Not only that, but you can also utilise search and engines and in-depth research relating to your course topic. Or better yet, you can ask your target audience by creating a poll, going on focus groups, doing webinars, surveys, and adding lead magnets.

In conclusion… 

You need to create long-lasting customer relationships instead of one-time, flashy ones that your audience forgets. With a digital course, you can build your customer base and improve brand recognition!

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5 key lessons I learnt in business during 2021

5 key lessons I learnt in business during 2021

There is nothing impossible to they who will try.

– Alexander the Great

Hello & welcome 2022!

Once again we welcome in a brand new year whilst saying goodbye to a year that has been filled with many triumphs and challenges.

Now I wouldn’t say that the last year has been easy (after all we were all still having to deal with the realities of a pandemic) however, for me, it was a year of growth both personally and professionally.

There’s nothing quite like running a business through such difficult times to test your limits, boundaries, resilience and tenacity. There have been many moments of self-doubt and fear as I embarked on what was perhaps my most testing year to date, but the truth is that despite all the ups and downs, last year was one of the best years I have experienced in business.

Now at the start of 2022, I look back at last year feeling a sense of pride, excitement and joy at what I’ve achieved.

At the start of 2021, having experienced what digital courses and digital products could do for my business, I decided to transition the company into this field so that our team could support clients in creating passive revenue streams for their businesses.

It’s a perfect addition to the services Pink Lemon already provides as, not only can we help with the extensive branding and web services we offer, but we can also continue to support our clients by helping them to successfully monetise their brand online.

At the start of the pandemic I realised that, as a service provider, I was heavily reliant on clients to generate revenue. I was spending most of my time finding new clients to pay the bills, rather than focusing on expanding my offering and doing what I really love.

Whilst in lockdown I realised that the way I was running my business was not sustainable and so something had to change if I wanted to realise my long-term vision. I started to consider other ways of running my business and working out how I could create passive revenue streams to provide me with more financial and creative freedom.

So far my move in this direction has been very successful and so I wanted to share with you the 5 key lessons I learnt in business last year.

1. Mindset is everything

And I mean EVERYTHING!!!

Something that I have learnt is that it really doesn’t matter what your goals are, if your mind is not there, you will struggle to achieve them.

In business, I believe it’s vital to cultivate a strong growth mindset so that we are open to taking risks and learning from failures. This can be really scary of course, but I do believe that it is a necessary part of growth. If we stay in our comfort zone, we will never be able to push past our fears and find our true passion.

The truth is that ‘failure’ doesn’t really exist, because when things don’t go to plan, we learn a lesson and we start again. We only truly ‘fail’ when we stop trying. Reframing how you view failure will help you to develop a mindset for success.

2. Perfection doesn’t exist

Everyone’s idea of perfection is different, which makes it subjective, and so we may therefore posit that it too doesn’t exist.

How many times have you been crippled by the need to deliver perfection? For me, I can honestly say, a lot.

We see people doing what we do, but earning more money or getting more recognition, and we view them as ‘perfect’, but that’s simply a fear response. The truth is that these ‘perfect’ people have worked just as hard as us behind the scenes.

Perhaps they’ve been doing it longer than us, perhaps they’ve been especially lucky, perhaps they’ve simply hit upon the ‘right’ way for them a little sooner than most, but sit down for a chat and you’ll soon find that they have been just as concerned with their imagined imperfections as you!

The key here is, once more, your mindset. Throw away the idea that everything has to be perfect, and realise that you simply need to do the best that you can at any given moment.  

3. Build a strong team

No man is an island and one lone person cannot make a successful business. Even if you are a solopreneur you still need a little help. Whether this is in the form of an accountant, a VA, a designer or even just a friend to act as a sounding board, you must never make the mistake of thinking you have to do everything yourself.

The biggest error people make when establishing a new business is trying to save money by doing everything themselves. If you don’t know much about building websites you can use a cheap DIY platform to set one up, but guess what… it will look cheap. It will devalue your service and will drive away potential customers.

In the long run, it’s really not worth it. There are a host of services available to help start-ups fund their new companies, so look into this aspect before trying to go it completely alone.

4. Always start with the end in mind

 
Know what you are trying to achieve and then work back from there. Define your vision, create your roadmap and outline your goals.
 
This is something I talk about a lot and it’s the first thing I establish when I meet with a new client. If your goals for your business are vague then you won’t be able to define a clear set of actions to take. If this is the case then you’ll end up simply running a business rather than developing one and you’ll never reach your potential, financial or otherwise.
 
For some people this can be an acceptable path, but for the true entrepreneur this way of working will feel stilted and frustrating. It’s worth taking the time to define your goals and, once you have, break them down into a few sentences, or even a few words, display them somewhere prominent in your home or office and refer to them daily in order to maintain focus and drive.

5. Stop worrying about what other people think

 
There are some people who will always judge others. Sometimes this is because they are jealous of other people’s success, sometimes it’s because they are so sure of their own path that they cannot bear to see people do things differently. People like this are a minority, but when we’re running a business we often feel as though those judging eyes are everywhere we look.
 
This self-consciousness can have a massive negative impact on us and our business, even though, rationally, we know that most of the people we deal with are firmly on our side.
 
The trick is not to assume that everyone is rooting for us (because we know there will always be those few who aren’t) but to make a conscious decision not to pay attention to nay-sayers.
 
At the end of the day, the only person who can judge you is you, and if you determine to treat yourself with kindness and respect then there’s nothing you can’t achieve.

Summary

So those are my 5 key lessons for starting (or upgrading!) a business. They may seem straightforward, but they’re things that many of us forget to consider once we get caught up in the mundanity of running a business. Hopefully seeing them here in black and white will help you to step back and re-evaluate things, and January is a good month for re-evaluation!
 
So does anything I’ve said here resonate with you? I hope so, and I hope that they can provide a jumping-off point for you as we head into the New Year. 
5 Key Lessons I learnt during 2021
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How to plan for your best year in business

How to plan for your best year in business

Without a plan, even the most brilliant business can get lost. You need to have goals, create milestones and have a strategy in place to set yourself up for success.

– Yogi Berra, US Baseball player, Coach and Manager

As 2020 was coming to an end, many of us hoped that 2021 would be a return to normal; or at least a return to the ‘new normal’! 

However for most people, certainly most business people, 2021 was another year of considerable upheaval, most of which was spent trying to adjust to a world that is changing very fast.

With a renewed emphasis on all things digital since the pandemic, business owners have had to adjust the way they work; but that isn’t necessarily bad news…

This month I want to talk to you about goal setting for 2022, so I’ve come up with 7 top tips to help you get your goals in order and start next year with a bang:

1. Reflect

Start off by taking some time to sit down and think about the past year. Grab a cuppa, switch on some calming music and take a look at your accounts, your marketing efforts, your customer feedback and even your diary entries, to give you a sense of the year.

What went well? What went poorly? Try making a list of these things to get them clear in your head.

2. Let go

Make a note of the things you did, or the things you have in place, that are not helping your business. Did that last social media campaign boost sales or did it simply stress you out?

If you’re currently doing things for your business that aren’t as successful as you would like them to be, then simply stop doing them. It sounds obvious, but sometimes we do things in our business simply because they work for other people, or because some ‘expert’ has told us we should.

All these little undertakings are worth a try, but every business is different and if something you’re doing isn’t working for you then don’t feel guilty or like a ‘failure’ if you want to stop and change direction.

3. Visualise

Create a vision for your life. Where do you want to be in 12 months’ time? I make sure to perform this exercise every year. I’m rarely where I set out to be last year because life isn’t predictable, but very often I’m somewhere even better!

The point is that with an image in mind of what I want my life and my business to look like the following year, I find it so much easier to create a plan of action to move me towards those ideals.

4. Set goals

Take that image and use it to create a set of tangible, achievable goals. Is there a certain amount of money you want to make? A number of sales? A particular project you’d like to finish? If so, make a note of these and place it somewhere where you can see it every day.

5. Design

Use your goals to help you design your actions for this year. Create a roadmap of how you will achieve those goals. This can be done in a few different ways, for example it could read as a journey: “first I will undertake some further study → then I will use my new qualifications on my website → my website will be the link I send to prospective clients etc etc.

Alternatively it could be a timetable: Jan – move office, Feb – create new client list, Mar – stage corporate event… whatever works best for you.

6. Diversify

One reason that our businesses can stall is that we may be frightened of change. However, if we’ve learned one this from the last two years is that change is inevitable and we should prepare for it and even embrace it.

That being said, it’s well worth considering diversifying your offering and, as I mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to do this in the current climate is with digital products.

Even if it turns out that 2022 isn’t the right time for you to launch all your new products, you will at least have considered and prepared your next steps so that if another big wave of change comes, you won’t be caught short!

7. Reach out

When people say “it’s not what you know it’s who you know”, they’re not necessarily talking about nepotism!

We all need a little help sometimes and nobody can succeed entirely alone. Think about whom you need to make contact with in order to make your goals come to fruition.

Do you need a VA or accountant? A designer or web builder? Do you need to join a new networking group or speak to someone with experience in your field?

A new year is a great time to forge new connections, so get out there and don’t be shy.

Summary

If you follow the advice above I guarantee you you’ll start 2022 with renewed clarity and drive, and that’s a feeling that can inspire you throughout the next year, even if it’s as crazy as the last one!

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10 tips on how to style your digital course

10 tips on how to style your digital course

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

– Steve Jobs

You’re an expert in your field; you’ve created an incredible digital course; you have so much to offer and yet… it simply doesn’t look that way.

They say the first bite is with the eye and that’s not just true of food: you can have the best content in the world, but if you haven’t considered your design and, more importantly, your branding, then you simple won’t be in demand.

Having a digital course as part of your offering is a great way to build your brand and expand your audience. It sets you up as an expert in your field, attracts a wider customer base and is one of the best passive income streams for any sector.

If you can hone in on an area about which you are both passionate and knowledgeable, you can create content that will appeal to your core clientele, and is guaranteed to get you repeat business.

I’ve said before that, even if your subject has already been covered in other people’s digital courses, it’s still worth doing because the way you present it will be unique to you. You see the student experience is as much a part of your course as is the takeaway, and a big part of that experience is you.

Additionally, your course needs to be engaging, fun and well structured, with clear objectives and valuable information. 

Because you are the expert, the course should be an extension of your brand: people are buying you and your expertise, so let them know that they’re getting excellent value for money. The best way to do this for this in order to secure new customers is to make sure the course looks every bit as professional as the rest of your business. If the branding on your course looks cheap or hurried, people will think you don’t care, and if you don’t care why should they? 

So what do I mean by ‘branding’

I talk a lot about branding as it’s a subject that’s very close to my heart. Having worked as a designer for over 20 years, I’ve often been asked to help with people’s branding and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve spoken to prospective clients only to realise that ‘branding’ to them is just a new logo.

That’s important, don’t get me wrong, but branding can’t be summarised in one graphic; it should go right across your business. Imagine you were to buy a motorbike and you got yourself a beautiful new helmet to go with it: that’s all very well and it’s the first thing people think of when they think of bikes, but you can’t just hop on and assume that a helmet is all you need. You need riding leathers, boots, gloves and a licence that says you can ride for a start! There’s so much more to riding than the helmet that everyone sees, and there’s so much more to branding than the logo that everyone sees!

Your brand needs to be consistent throughout everything you do: that means graphics, colours, fonts, tone of voice (the way you ‘speak’ in written conversation and on social media) and so much more.

It’s a lengthy but very worthwhile process and needs to extend to your digital course. To help you get started, I’ve put together 10 top tips to help you nail the branding on your digital course:

Tip 1:
Understand what you are trying to achieve and the goal of your digital course. For example: is this course a ‘freebie’, a stand-alone product, or is being used to drive leads to a bigger product. Having an idea of how your digital course is going to be used will help you to achieve clarity arounds its goals.

Tip 2:
Define your ideal student – where are you best placed to advertise to them, how do they speak, what will make them invest in you?

Tip 3:
Decide on your colour scheme – will you use your primary brand palette or will you extend your colours and create a palette that complements your primary palette? It’s important to stick with your primary colour as this represents your brand, but you could always build a secondary palette that feeds into the digital side of your business. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are staying consistent.

Tip 4:
Create a course logo – identities are not just for companies, they are for products as well, and a digital course is a product that needs its own identity. For example, my overall branding is Pink Lemon, but I could choose to brand individual courses as ‘green lemon’, ‘blue lemon’ etc to denote different aspects of my offering; or I could create a new logo that incorporates the Pink Lemon, but still allows me to go in a completely different direction.

Tip 5:
Choose your fonts – fonts can say a lot about your brand so choose wisely: is your business feminine and relaxed (and might therefore suit an italic, scripted font)? Or is it dependable and conservative (a heavy, bold font perhaps)?

Tip 6:
Pick your images – every image tells a story! The images you use within your course must complement what you are sharing with your student. Images play an important role in supporting the written word. The style of the image and the way it is laid out will convey a meaning, and so it’s important to align the meaning with the content of the course – you shouldn’t just search stock images for ‘business’ photos for example. Try, where possible, to use original photos or graphics that are tailored to your business ideals.

Tip 7:
Creating videos – make sure the videos within the course are consistent in terms of filming style and location, and that any title slides and graphics within the videos look as though they are part of your suite of design. Think about creating thumbnails at the start of the video that tell your students what the video is about so that it looks clear and polished.

Tip 8:
Create a Brand Style Guide for consistency. By this I mean you should have all the details of your brand written down in one place. Think of it this way: if you won your dream holiday and had to leave the country tomorrow, would you be able to leave the running of the business to someone else? Think of everything they would need to know from your colour palette to the way you use language and make a note of it. This will help you avoid inconsistencies within your brand.

Tip 9:
Digital course assets – make sure that all your design assets (header, hero banner, product image, thumbnails, checkout image, log-in graphic) within your digital course are consistent. Ensure the design you choose runs throughout all of the design elements so your course looks neat, professional and instantly recognisable.

Tip 10:
Brand your course like you would your business! Even if it’s 5 minute free taster session it deserves the same care and attention as the rest of your business. You wouldn’t wear your best suit to one meeting and then send your assistant to the next meeting in a onesie (I hope!) so don’t let your digital course make you look bad!

Summary

Branding isn’t just for businesses; it’s for products as well. Your digital course will be competing against others within the marketplace so you need to ensure that it looks and feels like your brand.

Think about how you want your students to feel when they see your brand, and then consider how that extends through to your course. The ultimate goal is to get your students to the end of the course having experienced a transformation. Make it as accessible and welcoming as possible so that they leave raving about your course and telling others about it.

Above all, make sure that your branding is so eye-catching, distinctive and evocative that one glimpse of it is all it takes to make people desperate to know more!

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The 4 pillars of branding!

The 4 pillars of branding!

This month’s blog is a really exciting one, because I’m going to tell you the actual, bona fide secret of good marketing!

Ok, so that sounds like one of those ‘too good to be true’ claims right? Well in a way it is, because nothing worth having comes without hard work. Even once you know the secret, you still have to make the effort to get that secret to work for you, but if you’re prepared to put in the time and effort then I guarantee that these 4 steps will take your business to the next level.

Step 1 – The Why

This is all about finding your true purpose. You see a lot of people start a business because they like the idea of it, because they’re good at it, or because they have certain goals they want to achieve, but very often their grasp on their ‘why’ is tentative. You can only make a business truly successful if you totally understand your reasons for doing it.

For example, I wanted to start a business helping people with their branding because I’m good at it, because I’ve been a designer for many years and because I wanted to make a good living. However, these things alone are not my true purpose.

You see, when you get right down to it, I wanted to help others with branding because I’m so passionate about mine. I’m good at what I do because I believe wholeheartedly in the power of good branding. I get genuinely excited at the thought of working on my own branding and at the thought of helping someone else with theirs.

I have had such wonderful experiences running my own company: I’ve made money, made friends, won awards and had incredible feedback, and I’m thrilled at the idea that I can help other people have those same experiences. I could have chosen to help other people’s businesses by being an accountant, and got that same thrill of knowing my clients were successful, but I’m an artist, and it’s that creative input that makes my heart sing. These reasons and many more make up my true purpose.

So you see, my true purpose is complicated, it’s all encompassing and it’s more than just a simple ‘I like branding’ sentence!

If you can get to the very heart of what makes you do what you do, then you’ll have an incredible and solid foundation on which to build your brand.

Step 2 – The What

This is where you start to tease open those abstract concepts of passion and drive, and create a solid, tangible business plan. If your goals are financial, what do those figures look like? If you can offer more than your competitors, what exactly is your offering? If you feel strongly about your company ethos, can you put that ethos into words? This part of the process is practical. It leaves you with set goals, with a list of tasks, with bullet points and checklists and concrete projects to action.

This is a step that involves a lot of hard work. Far more than I can fit into one blog. However, it’s one of the most satisfying parts of the journey and it’s essential.

Step 3 – The Who

So many people create a product or an offering and then just put it out into the world. “Hopefully someone will buy it” they think, without ever stopping to consider who that someone is. There’s an old saying in marketing: it’s better to be a specialist than a generalist. If you market your offering to everyone then you’ll almost certainly get lucky and make a few sales through sheer weight of numbers, but if you define your target audience and market to them specifically, then you’ll save time and money, get more sales in the long run, and get a better quality clientele.

If I marketed my brand strategy planner to everyone through Facebook, then it would be seen by big business owners, who have marketing departments to do this sort of thing for them. It would be seen by apathetical business owners, who don’t really care about their branding and have no desire to work on it. It would be seen by fly by night business owners, who just want to make a quick buck and move on.

None of these people would be interested in my products. So I’ve studied my ideal demographic: the people with the drive and passion and ambition to take my branding advice seriously and work hard to make their business better. I know who they are, where work and what they do and I market my products to them. A little hard work at the research stage makes my life much easier at the marketing stage.

Step 4 – The How

This step is the culmination of all your hard work. This is where you take all the research and the planning and you create a tangible and easy to action strategy. This is where you set up a document that you can show to other people and say “see: this is the secret”

“But how did you create it? How did you learn the secret?” they’ll say.

“Hard work” you’ll reply “but it’s all paid off!”

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If you want to really learn the secret to good branding, then click here to check out The Ultimate Branding Strategy Planner. There’s no such thing a quick fix, but there such a thing as a guaranteed fix!