This week I officially launched my first online class. It is called Google AdWords for Beginners and it was made for entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them understand how to use AdWords as a tool to efficiently market their business online. The goal of the course is for students to learn all they need to know to launch their first campaign in a weekend (3.5hrs).
All and all, the course took about 50 hours to complete over a span of 5 weeks. I did the majority of the lesson planning, video recording, editing and design on the weekends with some late-night-after-work sessions sprinkled in. Over the course of the 5 weeks, I learned a lot and will be able to apply these lessons to my future classes and product launches.
1. Market Research
When initially starting out, I wasn’t sure which direction to take with the course. I knew that there was a need for a class, but I wasn’t sure where the biggest pain point was.
“Should it be for beginners?” I asked myself. I thought there was a market for this, but I also had some other ideas.
What about a prep course for the Google Certification Exam? Since I recently finished the test I knew how much information there was to consume and I knew I would have paid for a class that streamlined and simplified this study process for me.
What about an all-inclusive PPC course that covers Facebook, AdWords, and Bing? To me, this seemed like a lot of content to cover in one class, but if there was an itch, maybe people would scratch it with a class I created.
Instead of trying to guess what customers wanted, I asked them. I used LinkedIn to reach out to some small business owners to get their feedback. If they had used AdWords in the past, I inquired about the problems that they had with it. If they hadn’t used AdWords, I asked why.
There were two answers that came up more than once. First, they said that they lost a lot of money when trying AdWords out and never went back. Second, as an owner or marketer of a small business, they simply did not have the time to learn how to use the tool. They also said it was “too technical” or said “I am not a computer guy”.
This is what spawned my positioning for Google AdWords for Beginners. I decided that I would create a simplified course that would break down each element of a successful AdWords campaign and condense it into a course that they could watch over a weekend or a few evenings.
Another tremendous tool for market proof was Twitter. You would be amazed at the insight you can find when doing a simple search for your keywords. Below are some of the queries I used to find Tweets from people having issues learning AdWords.
- ‘ugh AdWords’
- ‘I’m learning adwords’
- ‘problem sAdwords’
- ‘not understand adwords’
- ‘Adwords sucks’
- ‘trying adwords’
Trying to make Google AdWords campaigns is like my dad trying to send a picture message. Too bad there’s no me-equilvalent in this metaphor.
— Alyson Weiss (@AlysonWeiss) June 27, 2013
Is it just me, or does anyone else just NOT understand #google adwords? I am now totally confused! Is SEO better? How do they differ?
— Louise Tilden (@LouiseTilden) June 26, 2013
This also helped me to further segment AdWords learners into two categories– Absolute Beginners, or ones that have never used the platform before, and Experienced Beginners, ones that have created a few campaigns but are not seeing the results they would like. I decided to try to help the first group.
2. It’s Not As Easy As It Looks
I learned about Udemy from reading about it on Techcrunch and PandoDaily a few times and decided to check it out. With online learning becoming all the rage lately, I figured they must be doing something right to be continually mentioned as one of the leaders in the space– and they absolutely are.
I was blown away by all of the classes that they have, and even more so by the quality. They have courses from Jack Welsh on leadership and an entrepreneurship course from Tony Hsieh. There was class after class of valuable information.
The second thing that stood out to me was how easy they made it look. I watched a few lesson previews and it looked like they recorded themselves, took a few screencasts, and put it all together. Easy as pie.
I thought to myself, “I have a webcam. I have iMovie. I have a microphone. Heck, why can’t I do this?” Plus, one of the things I enjoy most is teaching businesses to use online marketing technology. With a couple of free weekends coming up I could piece together a course, slap it on Udemy and whammo!
Boy, was I wrong. Planning the lessons and creating the PowerPoints that I would use for the screencasts took as long as I initially allotted for creating the entire class.
Then I had to re-record every lesson twice. The first reason was because I noticed about halfway in that my microphone was set on the wrong setting. Complete user error. I guess chalk that up to a lesson learned, right?
The second time was because I got extremely self conscious about how I sounded on the recordings. Every time I would stutter or have too many ‘ums’ I would stop the recording and start over. This got to the point where a 5-minute lesson could take up to 50 minutes to get it right. If you are a smooth speaker, you probably won’t have this issue.
The next thing that took substantially longer than I expected was putting together the class. Compiling all of the videos, organizing the course in a logical fashion and writing each lesson’s description was a whole endeavor on its own.
Writing the descriptions for the lessons (I had 30 of them) wasn’t required, but the Udemy team reminded me of the added SEO benefit for doing so and I figured the extra time would pay off in the long run. I also added links for further reading on topics discussed and links to tools that could help with each step in the account creation process, which added another couple of hours.
I didn’t have any issues with writing the landing page description for the class. One thing I would recommend for this is waiting until you are finished with the class to write it. This makes everything that you covered in the class more top-of-mind and the words spill onto the page much easier.
The last thing that took way more time than expected, and an area that anyone thinking of making a class can save time, is creating the promotional video and banner picture for the class.
At first, I thought it made sense to pay someone to create my promo video and course picture. But as someone that finds it hard to give creative control to someone else, I decided that I could make the course look as close to professional as possible by doing it myself.
The time I could have saved by just hiring a video editor and graphic designer from Odesk off the bat would have been worth its weight in gold. Another lesson learned, but I did up my skills with Gimp and even learned a few iMovie tricks in the process.
3. Offer Above And Beyond
This is something that I didn’t discover until thinking about launching my class. I started wondering about what would help me differentiate my class from other classes. What could I offer to people taking this class that would be so great that they would buy the class without thinking twice?
Again, I decided to ask instead of guess. I had a couple of Beta users test out the class to see if they found any issues. Once they began taking the class I noticed that they would ask me how to customize a strategy they learned for their industry or product. Since I knew the testers, I was more than happy to help answer anything they needed. They really appreciated this extra support and it seemed to help with the learning process.
But what about other students that I didn’t know? What if they got stuck? That’s when I decided that I would do a Live Session each Sunday where users could come and ask about anything pertaining to AdWords. Offering continued value will hopefully not only help me sell more classes, but also help reinforce the class and help subscribers get more value out of the course.
Even with that added, I still thought I could do more. After brainstorming for a couple of days, an email from the Google Engage program gave me an epiphany. Since I am involved in the Google Engage program, I have a bunch of $100 AdWords vouchers that I could give to students taking the class that they could use on their first campaign. Because most of the students taking the class were using AdWords for the first time, it was perfect. Essentially, they are getting $100 value for $49. I think it’s a win-win.
About the author:
Corey Rabazinski is the Director of Digital Advertising at .Com Marketing, a top 100 Internet Marketing Agency. He is Google and Bing accredited and has worked on advertising campaigns for companies such as Universal Studios, Tony Roma’s and Diamond Resorts.