4 Tips on Building Online Courses for Professional Development

4 Tips on Building Online Courses for Professional Development

Heather R. Huhman

As a general manager of professional development and training at Scredible, a social business consultancy that focuses on the use of AI, Bert Verdonck knew a thing or two about how to leverage LinkedIn for business purposes. He shared his knowledge in his online course called LinkedIn Profiles for Social Business Success.

Since it's January 2017 release, his course has reached over 35,000 views. These numbers show that many people are getting a lot of value from his course. The rise in popularity of online courses gives you a unique opportunity as a professional to share your expertise and establish your credibility. Additionally, it's an excellent professional development opportunity and is especially helpful if you're looking for a new position.

In fact, Job-Hunt's 2017 survey found that 17 percent of HR professionals say online courses are a form of high quality content they prefer to see from a candidate. This is a unique way for you to stand out from the competition and to earn attention from employers.

Let's take a look at how you can build an online course to impress potential employers:

Pick Your Topic

Before spearheading this large project, carefully consider what specific topic you want to establish yourself as an authority of. This should align with what jobs you're looking for.

For example, if you're a marketing executive who wants to find a similar role with a new company, focus on your niche and develop valuable content around that. Creating content is a crucial first step in making an online course.

The Job-Hunt survey also found that the second highest quality content HR professionals said they prefer is instructional articles. Use these pieces of content to build an audience and share your knowledge. Then, promote your upcoming online course to your following.

The best way to manage your content creation is by starting a publishing calendar. If you write a few pieces each week, you can get ahead and schedule postings on your LinkedIn page, Medium, or your blog.

Select a Host

This is a daunting task as more hosting services become available, which isn't surprising when you consider the size of the e-learning industry.

According to a report from Global Market Insights, the e-learning market size was valued at over $165 billion in 2015 and is likely to grow at over 5 percent from 2016 to 2023, exceeding $240 billion. Now is the perfect time to join this market.

First, identify what your limitations are, such as your budget and skill set. If you know how to code, you can build yourself a website to host your own online courses. If you don't have these abilities and can't invest that much time into it, look at outside options.

For example, companies like Udemy help with processing payments and video hosting. However, keep in mind that while your course is introduced to one of the biggest e-learning communities online, Udemy keeps 50 percent of your revenue.

Research other companies like Skillshare, LearnWorlds, CourseCraft, Thinkific, Academy of Mine, WizIQ, Ruzuku, and Educadium. Most of these come with a monthly charge and offer varying levels of support.

Create Your Course Content

Once you have your host selected, the fun begins -- content creation. An online course demands a lot of time and includes a wide variety of elements.

If you created a lot of content on a blog, like instructional articles, you can base some of your classes on them. Ensure your classes include engaging exercises and assignments, along with a well-produced presentation.

Learn how to edit your video lessons. This will enable you to record and edit as you continue to create lessons for the entire course. Otherwise, you're at the mercy of someone else, like a freelance video producer. This may take significantly more time and can become quite expensive.

Continue Promoting

This is arguably the most important step of this process. You created a high quality online course that delivers a lot of value to your audience, but you need people to actually see it.

Establish a strategy and hone your messaging in a way that encourages people to take your course. Let's say that as a marketing executive, you created a course on building effective email marketing campaigns. Consider what marketing professionals are looking for in online courses.

Pinpoint what keywords they're searching for online, and research what their biggest obstacles are. A common problem they have is low email conversion rates, so emphasize how your course teaches them best practices that are proven to yield more conversions.

Once you know how to talk about your course, start exploring strategies to encourage people to sign up, such as investing in paid advertising and sending links to influencers.

This entire process is a great professional development exercise. Not only does creating an online course allow you to share your expertise; it also shows that you're dedicated to helping others with their professional development.

Your commitment to spreading knowledge and empowering others will give potential employers a great impression of you as a professional. When you apply to jobs and contact potential employers, send them a link to show them how you are dedicated to your profession.

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, a content-marketing and digital-PR consultancy for job-search and human-resources technologies. She is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle.

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