This post isn’t about formal learning but I wanted to use that as a segue because my day job is more in the formal corporate learning space. My goal of this post is to share my newest project that I just started working on a few weeks ago and why I’m doing it.
I enjoy my job and while I love the idea of “learning in the flow of work” I don’t think it’s always practical or the only necessary way to help workplaces succeed. There’s definitely a place for formal corporate learning which is my daytime focus. My focus for this blog post, though, is online course platforms which are a bit more unofficial and many times revolve around a community of people who are passionate about a singular topic. There may not be a career goal, improvement to be made on the job, or anything that’s easy to put a monetary value on.
Sometimes people just want to take a quick course online that may be related to their job indirectly or it may just be for fun. You know, some people just want to learn how to knit or play the banjo, but they don’t want to hunt everywhere for disparate resources. They just want to find a good course that has everything curated into one organized course.
So, sometimes someone that’s an expert in a topic but not necessary an expert in training or course development wants to throw something up because they’re good at it. Why shouldn’t they? Not everything has to be formal or put together in a professional way. Sometimes a course can be just user generated content with no particular expertise in training.
My First Video Course
I built a course on Udemy many years ago (2014) about building a WordPress website for your personal brand. It was overall kind of a bust with very few sales and no community build around it. That’s likely because it was an overcrowded topic and it was my first video course I put together also. It wasn’t that great.
Even though I’m an expert in developing instruction for corporate environments, it didn’t translate to my course. The informality of it and the lack of working with a subject matter expert could have had something to do with it. Or, I could have just been overwhelmed because it’s a lot to deal with.
There are a lot of successful courses out there that people with a specific niche expertise have done well at. That’s respectable and extremely hard. You have to create the idea, content, market it, develop the website to sell it, and more. You’re essentially wearing a LOT of different hats. I guess that’s the nature of most small businesses, though.
What I’m Doing Now
Since that time I’ve worked on finding where my expertise is since I’ve bounced around a lot in the past decade. I started with web design more than 20 years ago, went into computer tech stuff, Instructional Design, and many other things. I found the love of my tech life, WordPress and since then have built a lot of websites.
Building websites can be fun but it can also be drudgery. I’ve also found it can be difficult to find a niche in the website design business. You can’t go into the field and find success just being a general website designer. There’s too many web designers out there and there are too many generalists.
It’s all about finding your niche which is why I started where I did in this post. I’ve been contacted a few times in the past to build course platforms for people who either had an already successful course active or where building their business in training. I consulted with a gentleman who was started an MMA course, I had meeting scheduled with other course builders too.
I enjoy working with those who are trying to share their knowledge with the world. There’s more information out there now than ever before and that’s a great thing. It’s easy to share what you know and the barrier of entry has never been lower.
The whole pandemic has made online learning more important than ever even though it was already growing. Now it’s going to be the go-to method of learning rather than in person first and then virtual as a fallback.
No more. Virtual is the primary method for people to start self-educating and online courses primarily of the video type are becoming the default. That’s great because anybody who wants to share their knowledge online can do so easily and there is a bigger audience now.
The easiest place to start for those wanting to create a course is a course marketplace. They are a great place to start, but they don’t give you the ownership of your content or how much you charge. In fact, they also take a huge chunk of your income.
I think more people who have successful courses are realizing that which means they’re looking for other routes to share their knowledge with the world. A dedicated course platform also isn’t that great because they’re proprietary systems that are limited and either charge you a lot or take a cut of your profit.
That’s not cool!
Not only that, but they’re not customizable and simply aren’t the best solution. Even the most luxurious course platforms aren’t really that great if you break it down.
So what’s the best option for long term success, lower cost, and more ownership?
Why WordPress of course. I told you I fell in love with WordPress. Well it’s for good reason. WordPress gives you ownership of your platform on an open-source platform that is so versatile it can do it all.
You know what WordPress does well? It lets you build an amazing website, have a blog on it, do email marketing, and… build a course platform that you own entirely.
That’s what I’m focused on while still keeping the focus on website design which is also essential for everybody building a course.
That’s where my new project focuses.
Starting My New Project
I am still maintaining my main website design businesses (Exprance for complex custom websites and Loclweb for simple custom local small business websites) but I wanted to build custom course platforms specifically. That didn’t tie in well with Exprance because that whole brand is built around expanding your online presence. There’s no question it didn’t fit in with Loclweb at all.
Since I’ve either worked with people building a course platform or have been approached by several asking if I could create a course platform for them, that’s my new focus. That way I can combine my interest in online courses, Instructional Design, and website design with WordPress.
I’m working on creating processes to make it easier and more affordable for me to build a custom course platform for those wanting to separate themselves from the costly and limited proprietary platforms and course marketplaces.
My goal is to build a custom course platform for those teaching online that also includes most of the other features needed for a holistic course presence. That means a powerful website platform, landing pages, marketing, and the course platform itself that gives you more power own your content and the student experience.
After a lot of brainstorming and figure out how I wanted to present this business, I came up with coursePlatform.dev so it communicates that I’m building my clients a custom course platform that gives full ownership. It’s not a platform that makes you pay for access to someone else’s system.
I’m building a 100% owned by you course platform that you will never lose. Sure there are things that you have to keep paying for like hosting and maintenance but those are pretty standard. The point is that all content and the platform is owned by you rather than someone else. You can take that platform, zip it up, and move it to somewhere else if you’d like even.
That’s as owned as it gets online because hosting is always required online in order to have your content seen and maintenance is just a no-brainer.
So, if you want to escape the tyranny of proprietary online course platforms or course marketplaces, let me know, and we’ll take about your future course content and who owns it (hint: it’s you).