Posted on April 16th, 2014 by Sara Funduk - 0 comments

I hear this from so many people: "I'd love to make an e-course but I'm just not sure what to teach!" Coming up with course content isn't as hard as you might think. If you don't feel ready to teach an in-depth course in your field, try starting off with something for the absolute beginner.

A beginner's guide is something almost anyone can teach and also attracts a wide range of people. A '101' type course is easier to market than a niche course since it appeals to a large group of people. It will also get you pumped for your next course and students from your beginner's class will want to join you for the next part.

I've made a list of a few ideas for a beginner's course that goes beyond just photography/sewing/guitar/drawing/yoga/bike repair/etc. for the beginner. Although, all of those are good ideas too! If you're at a loss, just take what you like to do and start teaching the basics.

  1. Starting a blog from scratch
  2. Social media 101
  3. Opening your first Etsy shop
  4. Projects for your first home/apartment
  5. How to land your first client
  6. How to get your products in stores
  7. Easy weeknight meals
  8. Crafting with kids
  9. Creative writing exercises
  10. Illustrator and Photoshop for bloggers
  11. Mood boards for creative inspiration
  12. Everyday makeup and hair ideas
  13. Starting a mailing list
  14. iPhone photography

Teaching a beginner's course can get you excited about online classes and will give you good practice for more complex and in-depth topics. So if you're unsure about what to teach, get back to basics!

Posted on March 13th, 2014 by Sara Funduk - 0 comments

You probably noticed that things look different on your course dashboard this morning! That's because we moved things around in hopes of making it more user friendly, less cluttered and a little prettier. The way it works is basically the same as it used to, so I don't think you should have any trouble finding things. If you're looking for the enrollment toggle or the copy/archive buttons, click on the little gear next to the course. We hid those away since they don't get used too often.

A few things I want to point out: First, the new activity feed! We think this is pretty darn cool. It's a live stream of what's happening in your courses. When some enrolls or comments on your course you'll see it all happen there (in addition to the email notifications you already receive). Next, you'll see we've separated the courses you've created and the courses you're enrolled in. We think this keeps things a bit more organized. And lastly, our Twitter follow button (if you haven't followed us yet, please do!) and a list of a few recent blog posts. These will keep you up to date on what's new with CourseCraft and a few tips on how to improve your courses.

As always, suggestions and comments are welcome!

Posted on February 24th, 2014 by Sara Funduk - 1 comment

You may have already noticed, but there are some pretty cool things happening on the Stats page now! Just go to one of your course, click 'stats' in the sidebar and get ready to be amazed. Ok so maybe you don't get that excited over graphs, but we think some of the new additions are pretty useful.

The first thing you'll notice is the 3 big numbers at the top of the page. Visits refers to the number of visits your splash page has received in the time specified. The splash page is where participants sign up for your course. It's the URL that you've been giving everyone to direct them to your course. Enrollments obviously means how many people have enrolled in your course in the time specified. Lastly, Sales is your total sales for that period before fees. Pretty simple right?

The graphs allow you to see trends in your Enrollments, Sales and Participant Activity. The Lesson Stats below the graphs are a fun way to track your participant's progress through the course. You'll be able to see if interest drops off after a certain lesson or which lessons produce the best discussions.

Your list of participants stays pretty much the same except for one very exciting addition: An export button!! Now you can export your list of participants as a .CSV file making things like mailings way easier.

We hope you really like the new Stats page and get a lot of useful information out of it. One thing to keep in mind is that the 'views' on the splash page and lessons only started counting when we added the feature last weekend. So while all the other numbers like enrollments and comments have been backfilled, views only recently started counting.

Stay tuned to the blog because I'll be back soon with some tips of how to interpret these numbers and improve your course using the insights from the Stats page.

Posted on January 23rd, 2014 by Sara Funduk - 0 comments

We just added a little option to CourseCraft that you probably didn't even notice, but I guarantee you'll find useful! Remember in December when I told you about Scheduled Lessons? We added some brand new options that let you either manually publish a lesson, set a specific publish date or publish a lesson a period of time after enrollment. Now there's one more option: Free Sample Lesson!

When you set a lesson to a Free Sample, that lesson will be available immediately to anyone who visits your course enrollment page. After people read your compelling course description, if they're still wanting more, a free lesson can give them a taste of what your course is all about. You'll see a button in the left sidebar with a link to your sample lesson. And yes, you can make more than one free sample lesson.

We think this can be a great selling tool for you, so use it wisely! A sample of your writing and style could help convince people who are on the fence to dive into your e-course.

Posted on December 23rd, 2013 by Sara Funduk - 0 comments

Our brand new Collaborators feature allows you to add friends and colleagues to help you with your course. You can do anything from working with a partner, to recruiting different people to write each lesson.

Collaborating with friends can help you with your e-course in many ways. If you've been dreaming of creating an e-course but weren't sure you have enough traffic to promote it, get together with 2 friends and suddenly you have 3 times the number of followers checking out your course! Collaborating can also help keep your content fresh. Ask a friend to write a guest post in their area of expertise.

Here are the basic step to add a collaborator:

  1. Type your friend's email address into the email field. Your friend must have a CourseCraft account before you can add them. So make sure you tell them to sign up!

  2. Once your first collaborator is added, you'll see them in the list with the status of 'pending'.

  3. You collaborator will receive an email letting them know you want to work with them. It will direct them to their dashboard where they will see your course listed. They may accept or reject the invitation.

  4. Once the invitation is accepted, you're collaborators! You'll both have equal access to the course with 2 exceptions; collaborators will only be able to view promo codes and not edit them, and collaborators can't add other collaborators.

On your dashboard, you'll be able to see who is collaborating with you. Your collaborator's avatars will be visible under the course they're working on.

We hope you get a lot of use out of the new Collaborators feature. Have fun working with your friends to create an amazing e-course!

Posted on December 18th, 2013 by Sara Funduk - 0 comments

We've just introduced a new feature that is sure to make your life easier! You can now set a publish date for your lessons and have them publish automatically. There are now 3 options when it comes to how and when you publish your lessons. Let me explain!

Manually

This is how you've always done things up until now! Publish your lessons any time you want on your own schedule. This option works great if you have an "evergreen" type course where participants are constantly enrolling and will have access to all the course material immediately. Once you're done writing, just set all the lessons to 'publish' and you're done!

Specific Date

This one is pretty straight forward too, just pick a date and the lesson will automatically be published on that date in your time zone. This option makes things easy for people who have a course that runs for a certain number of weeks and the lessons are released over that time period.

Time After Enrollment

Here's where you can get fancy! The 'time after enrollment' option let's you publish your lessons a certain number of days or weeks after the participant has enrolled. You can get creative with this option and publish and make a new lesson available to your students each week or even every day.

We hope you find this new feature useful! As always, let us know what else you'd like to see on CourseCraft.

Posted on November 18th, 2013 by Sara Funduk - 0 comments

This change is something that has been suggested/requested many times so we're very happy to introduce you to the new lesson editor on CourseCraft. We've been thinking that our editor was lacking a bit of pizazz and decided it was time for a major overhaul. Creating your lessons just got easier and more fun! We've designed a block-style editor to let you add tons of different sections to your lesson, rearrange them with the click of a button and see all your images and videos without previewing. You'll also notice that one of the blocks is a rich text editor. That means you can play with and style your text like never before!

Here's a quick little video I made as an introduction to the new editor:

The course description page got some fancy new additions too. Now it's simple to create a compelling course description that sells your course. Since I believe an amazing description is so important, I'll be dedicating a whole post to this very soon. In the mean time, play around with the new sections and check out the help doc.

Did you like things better before? No worries, just add a markdown block to your lesson and continue writing your lessons in markdown. As usual, you'll still be able to embed videos, quizzes and livestreams in a markdown block.

But wait, there's more!

As if that wasn't enough, we also added an auto-save feature! Since you spend so much time making amazing content for your e-course, you shouldn't have to live in fear of losing anything. Auto-save will kick in every 2 minutes to save your work. If you want to disable it, just click on the little auto-save icon at the top left of the editor.

Feedback is always encouraged.

As always, we want you to feel comfortable contacting us if you have any problems. We'll try to respond to your email immediately, but certainly no later than 24 hours. If you need help, something isn't working correctly, or you just have a suggestion, definitely drop us a line at support@coursecraft.net.

Posted on August 22nd, 2013 by Sara Funduk - 0 comments

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Today I'm really excited to tell you about a feature that's been in the works for a while here. We have added the ability to make your courses private! What does this mean exactly? Let me tell you about it using an example.

Wendy is a woodworker and she makes adorable little wooden toys. Her toys are sold in an online shop and Wendy has decided that she wants to sell DIY kits too. Then her customers can learn to make their own wooden toys. She plans on teaching her woodworking techniques using an e-course so she needs a way to bundle her DIY kits and her e-course. Offering her course for free would solve that problem but it also means that anyone would be able to access to her course without buying a kit and they really are meant to be purchased together. Luckily for Wendy, we now offer a private course option. A private course allows Wendy to restrict access to her course to people who have been given a special access code.

When her course is set to private, she buys 'seats' in her course for as many people as she needs. So before she mails out a shipment of DIY kits, a little card with her course's URL and access code is tucked into each package and a seat is reserved for that person. When the customer receives the package with the access code, all the they need to do next is enter the code to join Wendy's e-course.

You don't have to be Wendy the woodworker to use private courses! We think this feature is great for anyone who wants to sell their e-course as a companion product to something else. So whether you sell coaching sessions, craft supplies, books, jewelry, clothing or anything else, a private course could be a great promotional tool for you.

We really hope you like the new private course feature. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions just let us know! If you want more details on private courses, you should definitely read the help page.

Update: Now when you make a private course, you'll get 5 free seats to start off with. You could use them for friends, beta testers or just to try it out!

Posted on August 12th, 2013 by Sara Funduk - 1 comment

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1. Crowd Sourcing

Get on-the-go advice from your readers by letting them in on the writing process. While you're still in the planning stages of your course, let your followers know what you're up to and ask for advice. You may surprised to hear some pretty specific questions and requests that you might not think of. The best part is, you'll be creating a course tailored to your biggest fans.

2. Loyalty Discounts

Like an e-course frequent flyer program, offer discount codes to people who are already your customers. Once someone has purchased enrollment in your course, you have their attention so take advantage of it! Send a quick and friendly email offering a promo code to one of your other e-courses. Go to your course's stats page to find the list of all your participants and their email addresses. My advice is; use it but don't abuse it! These people signed up for your course, not a daily spam email.

3. Brand Ambassadors

Charissa of The Smashbook has gathered a small army of brand ambassadors to help promote her courses. It such a fantastic idea, I just had to share it with you!

Each ambassador gets perks like free enrollment, prizes and a $10 commission on each referral. I use the CourseCraft promo codes to track this. The code is specific to the ambassador and offers the customer/referral a 10% discount on the course. For ambassadors, there are weekly promotions (last week's was $150 cash in addition to commission) and also quarterly prizes for the top referrer. I also will be offering iTunes, Apple, Amazon and Starbucks gift cards as prizes. Because CourseCraft deposits right into PayPal, my ambassadors are paid via PayPal at the end of the month. It is so easy, and my course is being seen by a lot more people.

4. Giveaways

Generate some hype about your course by giving away a seat. Contact bloggers you love and ask if they'd be willing to host a giveaway on their blog. Then raffle off a spot or two in your e-course. Hopefully the people who don't win will want to get involved anyways. Worst case scenario, you've got one more eager student in your course! Not all bloggers are into giveaways so be prepared for some no's. Also, check their sponsor page first. Some bloggers have specific rules about the value of a giveaway item.

Posted on July 29th, 2013 by Sara Funduk - 1 comment

If you've been a CourseCraft user since the beginning you'll know that we are constantly making little improvements to the app. Sometimes they're things you can't really see like fixing bugs in the video player and sometimes they're very visible like the recent re-branding. I thought I would do a little round-up post of all (most) of the changes we've made to CourseCraft over the past few months. Maybe you'll see something you didn't notice before!

Code Syntax Highlighting

If you're teaching something technical, you'll probably need to include some code snippets in your lessons. We added Syntax Highlighting to make it easy to show code examples to your students. Click the 'editor help' button in the top right corner of the editor for more info on this.

Widgets

Widgets make it easy to sell your e-course on your blog or website. In just a few seconds, you can make a professional and polished looking button to help promote your course. If you have Custom Branding enabled (more on that later), the widget will use your custom colours.

Video Player

The video player was causing some problems before, but we have done a ton of behind-the-scenes work to improve it. After many sleepless nights worrying about your videos, it seems most of the issues have been ironed out. (Tip: If you're still having problems with a video, try uploading it again. We might have made a fix after you added your video. If you still have problems after that, contact us and we'll see what's up.)

Custom Branding

This had to be our most requested feature, and it turned out to be one of our favourites thanks to your input! Custom Branding lets you replace the CourseCraft logo with your own and change the colours of buttons and links. If you're interested, you can find more info here.

Public Profiles

Your Profile page now acts a bit like a shop for your e-courses. Direct people to your profile page and they can see all the courses you have to offer, find links to your social media pages, see your beautiful face and read your bio. This works great for people who have multiple courses running at once. Think of it as your personal e-course store!

Re-Branding

A few weeks ago we did a pretty major re-branding of the entire site including cute new buttons, a fresh colour scheme and a pretty snazzy new logo. This change probably took the longest because it was a really important to us to have a modern, clean look but not overshadow or clash with your courses. After all, the main attraction on CourseCraft is your content so the branding was always secondary to that.

File Download Buttons

This change might seem insignificant to you, but to us it represents the bigger theme of CourseCraft. It should be easy to make your course look good! All you have to do is add a downloadable file to your course (like a PDF or a Photoshop document) and instantly you have a perfect little download button. Ok, so it still seems insignificant? :) Maybe we get a little too excited over buttons.

Course Editor

And here is our most recent change! You probably noticed this morning that things were a bit different. That's because we did some rearranging. You'll now find everything that has to do with editing your course under the 'edit' button on the dashboard. That includes widgets, promo codes, lessons, etc. We think this keeps the dashboard cleaner and puts all the tools you need in easy reach.

We just wanted to send a big thank-you out to all our amazing CourseCraft users! You guys are so creative and amazing and definitely keep us on our toes. A lot of the improvements and changes we make to the site is because you have reached out to tell us what you want. So thanks for helping us make CourseCraft great!

Posted on July 2nd, 2013 by Sara Funduk - 1 comment

Update: Now that we've changed the way the lesson editor works, in order to use an embed code, you'll need to add a 'markdown' block and paste it in there.

Did you know that you can embed almost anything in your CourseCraft lessons? Well the Markdown editor we use allows incredible flexibility that you won't find anywhere else. Basically, if it has an embed code you can probably add it to your lesson. Adding different kinds of media to your course will provide a better experience for your participants and keep them engaged.

Example: Wufoo Form

Wufoo is so customizable, fun and easy to use. You can give a little quiz to your participants to see if they're paying attention or even get some feedback on your course. There are so many fields you can add to your forms, the possibilities are endless.

Just paste the embed code right into the lesson editor. Total gibberish, right?

Hit 'preview' and take a look at what your participants will see.

Need more ideas? Here ya go:

There are so many ways to use embed codes to give your e-course a boost. What embed code are you most excited to add to your course?

Note: We can't possibly test how every single embed code works in CourseCraft. While you most likely won't have any problems, let us know if you find that one behaves strangely.

Posted on May 7th, 2013 by Sara Funduk - 0 comments

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Pricing might be one of the hardest parts of creating your e-course. Putting a dollar value on your own work requires you to look at your course as an outsider would and be critical. There is no special forumla to follow, pricing (I believe) is a personal decision. Many artists and creative people undervalue their skills and feel that they shouldn't charge "too much" for their course. While it's true that you can only charge what someone is willing to pay, often lowballing the price can devalue your content. If someone sees a $5 price tag, they won't think that you're being a nice person, they'll think there is only $5 worth of information in that course. Remember: You have the right to charge for your knowledge, you have the right to make a profit from your course and you shouldn't feel like you need to apologize for the price.

Now that my preaching is done, I've put togther a few things that you can do to help people feel more comfortable about paying your price.

Offer a Free Sample

I've seen this work first-hand for Melissa Mora. Interested customers can view one of her videos for free and see her teaching style for themselves. Getting a taste of what's to come in the course will get people excited.

Be Real

Explain exactly what your course will offer in the course description. In fact- the more detail, the better. People want to know how many lessons there are, if there are videos, what materials they might need, etc. Give as much detail as possible. The course description is a great place to talk about your qualifications too. This is your chance to convince people that you are an expert and you have knowledge that they want.

Testimonials

Once you have a few people enrolled and working through your course, ask them for feedback. A glowing testimonial (or 3) in your course description will help convince people that they too will walk from this course a satisfied customer.

Discounts for the Unsure

Often when you first start offering your course you'll get comments like "Oh I'd love to take this course, just not sure if I have the time.". If you see people circling who seem unconvinced, offer up a discount code. Who knows, they might turn into a happy testimonial later!

Remember how I said earlier that there is no special pricing formula? Well, there still isn't. But if you want to charge big bucks for your course, it will need to include a few things. Participants who drop several hundred dollars on an e-course have high expectations and aren't new to the e-course world. Your course doesn't nessesarily have to make use of all these features, but checking off a few of these items will help.

Big ticket e-courses have:

  • lots of videos and photos. A video in every lesson would be nice, even if it's just you talking to the camera.
  • videos and photos shot by an experienced person. Do you have any photographer friends who owe you a favour?
  • many lessons. More than a dozen?
  • downloadable content like worksheets and notes.
  • an engaged and available course creator who is always there to answer questions.
  • lifetime access to course material.

I hope you found my tips useful! Pricing is a tricky subject and there are many good approaches to find the right price. Unfortunately it usually involves a lot of guesswork and trial and error. Leave your pricing tips in the comments, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Posted on February 5th, 2013 by Sara Funduk - 0 comments

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1. Be a student first

You wouldn't open a restaurant if you've never eaten out before, so why would you start an e-course without having experienced one yourself. Figure out your likes and dislikes of the e-course world by taking a few courses first! As you work through the course, try to notice details. Do you like the flow of lessons? Do you wish the instructor would respond to your questions faster? Do you like weekly lessons, or would you prefer to see something new everyday? After taking a few courses, you'll quickly realize there's no "right way" to design an e-course, but you can keep your experiences in mind when working on your course and make it something to be proud of.

2. Keep it short and sweet

Try to make each lesson easy to digest by covering only one or two major ideas at a time. Break down more complex subjects into a few smaller sessions. Within the lesson itself try to break up text with lists, headings, images and videos. Staring at a huge wall of text can be intimidating. Also, be conscious of how much of a time commitment you're asking for. If you release a lesson every weekday and each lesson (including videos) takes about 30 minutes to go through, that means you're asking people to commit 2.5 hours per week to the course. You should always make the course participants aware of the time commitment before they enroll so they know what to expect.

3. Proofread, proofread, proofread

To make sure your course is easy to understand and has a nice flow, you should read through the entire thing a couple times. If your course involves projects or patterns, work through each of them yourself to be sure there are no errors. Since there will always be little mistakes you won't notice, have a friend read through your course too. If it's in your budget, consider hiring an editor for a really polished finished product.

4. Interactivity

One of the best things about e-courses is the interaction between the course creator and the participants and between the participants themselves. Encourage people to upload photos at the bottom of the lessons to show their progress. Ask questions at the end of each lesson and invite participants to give their opinions or experience in the comments. Another important way to get participants interacting is to include assignments with each lesson. I'm not talking about assignments with a due date that you'll mark with a pass or fail. It can be something small like an idea to ponder for the next lesson, or something large like a page of brainstorming or a finished sewing project. However you choose to engage your participants, keep in mind that interactivity is a key component of a great e-course.

5. Be transparent

Make use of the 'course description' field and tell people exactly what to expect from your course. Here are some common questions people have that you should try to answer in some way:

  • How long will the course take?
  • What kind of time commitment should I expect?
  • What materials will I need?
  • Do I need to know anything about this subject before I take the course?
  • How long will the course material be available?
  • What experience do you have and what makes you a good teacher?
  • What are some of the topics we'll be covering?

Being up front with people is one of the best ways you can ensure they'll have a good time taking your course. If you answer all of their questions right away they'll be more likely to sign up for the course and probably have more fun too!

I hope these tips help you create an e-course you can be proud of. If you have any other tips, feel free to leave them in the comments. I'd love to hear what you think!

Posted on December 16th, 2012 by Sara Funduk - 0 comments

We are very excited to announce the official launch of CourseCraft! When I say excited, I mean the kind of excited where you bounce up and down clapping your hands really fast while squealing. You should be excited too (it's ok if you're not quite on the same level... in fact that's probably for the best) because your life is about to change. If you're reading this post, you probably have a special skill that you are just dying to share with the world. Well now that CourseCraft is a reality you can create an e-course right this very minute to share your knowledge and get paid for it. Did I just hear you squeal a bit? It's ok, I won't tell anyone.

All you have to do is sign up here and you can start right away. Be sure to check back on the blog often because we plan on offering lots of advice on everything from writing an awesome e-course to shameless self-promotion.

A Quick Note About PayPal

Update: PayPal is now supported!

We made the choice to launch CourseCraft without PayPal support, but it is in the works. The application process can take several months and we just couldn't contain our excitement that long. Right now, in order to sell e-courses you'll need an account with Stripe. But don't worry Stripe is really awesome, easy to use and trustworthy! Your course participants will thank you too. With just a couple clicks they can pay for the course using any major credit card without having to sign up for another account.

Last Bit of Blabbing

CourseCraft is a still a wee baby so we would appreciate any and all feedback you may have for us. We would love to see CourseCraft grow into an app that people love to use and that starts with you telling us what you want. So don't be shy, drop us a line.

Posted on October 22nd, 2012 by Sara Funduk - 0 comments

I'm speaking mostly to the creative types here just because I know that they usually have a lot to offer and most don't realize how valuable their skills are. The sewing, photo editing, painting or decorating abilities that you take for granted are things that people want to learn. However, these reasons can be applied to anyone's situation. Whether you want to teach people how to be happy and positive or teach people how to fix their cars, there is an audience waiting for you.

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Monetize Your Skills

As a creative person you know how much trial and error it takes to develop your craft. Whether you're self-taught or you went to school, it can take an incredible amount of time to hone your skills. You could be making money from your craft already, but another way to monetize your skills is to teach an e-course. All the tricks of the trade that you've learned over time will be invaluable to your course participants.

Connect With Your Readers

Interacting with followers on your blog and social media is a great way to update your fans on what you've been working on and give them some insight into your process. People love a peek behind the scenes. But if you really want to connect on a personal level with your followers, you need to teach them something. During an e-course they will not only get to know you better, you'll get to know them. Going through the learning experience of an e-course can turn a casual reader into a fan for life.

Reach (ie: The Internet is Big)

Teaching an e-course will allow you to reach so many more people than teaching a course in a physical location. You're not limited by the population of the city you live in or the convenience of the course time. There's no concern for geography or time zones and will literally open your course up to the world. It's like the difference between saying something quietly to yourself and getting on a mega-phone in a crowd of people.

We're eager to get CourseCraft up and running so you can start on your e-courses. Sign up for our mailing list and be the first to know when we're done.