Recently I have done an interview with Anatolii Ulitovskyi about selling online courses at cypress.tips/courses. You can listen to the interview at UNmiss podcast episode page or watch it on YouTube or below.
Of course, I am far from the top online trainer. The selling of courses online is new to me, I only started doing it myself in 2022. But I do have a lot of experience presenting technology at public events and training people in person and online. I hope this interview is helpful to anyone exploring this topic or trying to decide if a particular online training is good for them.
Main points I wanted to make
In roughly the order we cover them in the interview:
- people pick solutions and tools based on how well they can use it. You can set yourself apart by having a superior documentation.
- solving the problem is hard, documenting the solution is probably much simpler. Do not skimp time on documentation.
- when creating an online course or an electronic book, decide what you know best. A good topic might be something you help others with.
- my courses grew out of blog posts and videos I was posting for the last several years.
- writing blog posts and making videos give you a lot of training into the process of answering questions and making useful content.
- give away the content to figure out what might sell later.
- own your brand, otherwise you might get very little from trainings. Especially with online training, if you get paid yourself and not through someone else, it is more profitable.
- online courses grew from in-person and online workshop training.
- even paid courses should include some free lessons to give the audience a taste of the teaching style and the topic covered.
- if you a part of community and regularly visit the chat channels, and you answer questions there, that gives you great content topics.
- I keep a running list of questions in a text document that might become good lesson topics.
- I don't chase perfection in each blog post and video. Instead I iterate. I easily add more sections and links to the already finished lessons, or even record a new video later.
- my courses are different from other Cypress courses because they are hands-on exercises. You are supposed to code the solution starting from the code I provide.
- two out of three courses I have are at an advanced level, while the majority of courses are targeted towards the beginners.
- my courses are growing in response to feedback and questions. For example, the network testing exercises course has grown 3x its original size (from 30 lessons to 30 + 65 bonus lessons) already, and I don't know if I ever will stop adding new bonus lessons.
- each lesson is under 8 minutes, I try to keep the lesson focused on a single question.
- I suggest students take a few lessons per day and revisit the course a couple of weeks later to make sure the knowledge stays in memory.
- every lesson gives a few links to the basic material, like links to the Cypress commands we will use in this lesson. These links give you something to study or reference, in case you already know it. The exercise itself is a chance to practice applying the material. Then I show my solution in the video, which might show you an alternative view of the problem. There is also a code section with my full solution.
- students sometimes suggest alternative solutions or ask questions, and I update the lesson's text to make it clearer.
- I use tool Recut to automatically remove pauses from my recordings, saving me hours of editing time.
- if you decide to launch a course today:
- pick a topic based on some metrics (or even gut feeling) that will be useful to others. In my case, I could use network traffic to my blog posts to pick a topic
- own your brand and use your own site so that you have the control.
- think about payments, access, user registrations.
- build your audience. I suggest having a way to chat with your students, like your own Discord server. I also have Cypress Tips newsletter to make any major monthly announcements.
- my predications for the future:
- better infrastructure for practicing, like online containers to give you the immediate training playgrounds
- hybrid courses where static lessons will be combined with study groups and live lessons and workshops with instructor
- companies might use courses for training and interviewing steps
- you can find everything I do at glebbahmutov.com and find Cypress-related courses and content at cypress.tips