When I started in on my Masters in Writing at the University of Southern California, I remember the frustration all the students felt at the lack of business training. In 2007, traditional universities hadn’t caught up to the changes in the publishing market (I’m still not sure they have). I saw the writing on the wall. To have a career in writing, you needed to have a brand; To have a brand, you needed business sense.
At that time, the internet was exploding with never-before-seen opportunities: the influence of social media, the emerging on-demand self-publishing industry, mega stories like J.K. Rowling, and the realization that if you had something you wanted to say, you could sell your own e-book through Amazon.
Flash forward to 2016 when we are seeing another new trend in publishing. The authors with the pulse on the ever-changing marketing whims of the internet are skipping leaps and bounds ahead of their competitors. The desire to build a brand has shifted savvy authors to the latest online techniques for building an audience. Authors are jumping on Facebook Live, running webinars, even releasing their book for free on Amazon for the first week just to achieve a viral buzz across the interwebs.
What else could an emerging or established author do? What are the masses not doing yet that a savvy author could take advantage of and be the first in his or her field?
Build an online course and community
Here at Rockstar Empires, authors are coming to us to learn how to create a successful online course and devoted community. These RockStar authors know their book has the potential to help others, change lives and inspire community. This medium is more than just another fad; it’s the key to solidifying a brand.
So how do you know if your idea for a book or a book that you've written is right for an online course?
There are three practical questions you can ask yourself to see if your book is worth the elbow grease to launch it into an eager, booming, online learning marketplace.
1. Does the knowledge you offer transform the student?
In order for you to create a successful online course, the knowledge you're presenting has to actually transform the student. The goal that you're presenting to them needs to be strong enough to persuade them to purchase the course and come out of the lessons with a skill, or a mindset shift, making them a fan for life.
At RockStar Empires, we really like to teach with a storytelling framework, so we see every course as a journey. Your student is like a hero. They're going to have conflict, but the information that you're giving them is helping them meet that conflict, change, and transform so they achieve their end goal. Therefore, the information that you're offering in your course has to be positioned to provide a transformation. If your book does this, read no further – it’s perfect for an online course.
2. Are there practical exercises the reader could take to implement the knowledge you're giving them?
Another key to a successful online course is that every lesson has a purpose. This is best expressed in an activity or checklist of information that the student can implement. Often you'll see books with an accompanying workbook or study guide. If that’s your book, hands down, it’s an online course.
Now, a mistake we often see is that people create lessons “talking at” the student. These courses have low completion rates and do not create that rabid community you need to build your brand. We encourage our students to think in reverse and concentrate on what the student needs to implement in order to make a change for that specific lesson. From that will emerge what the lesson is about. Put all those lessons together for the greater purpose: transformation.
3 .Would your readers benefit from a community of like-minded people?
The last key to knowing if your book could become a successful online course is to see if it has the potential to bring people together into a larger community for support during their transformation. We’ve seen time and time again. A successful community equals a successful course.
Community is often the secret ingredient to more sales, high completion rates, and enthusiastic fans and followers. Community can also be the key to know if your course is actually working and achieving results in your students. If your students don't go through your course, apply information that you've given and make the transformation, then your course runs the risk of not doing what it promised. The way to the ensure this happens is to inject the course with community.
How can you test and make your first lesson?
Sometimes the first hurdle is the hardest. Check out our worksheet on how to create your first lesson in less than 30 minutes. If you are able to fill this out successfully, then you have no excuse for not moving forward and investing the time to flesh this out into a 6-week online course for your readers.
The publishing world is changing. The possibilities for authors is changing. Seize the opportunities available to you.
It’s your turn to rock!