The content you put inside your course matters. The better the content, the quicker your students will get to the promised result and the faster they will become raving fans. Once they are fans, they'll organically spread the word about your course - it's a win/win.Putting together course content is a BIG deal and when you’re ready to dive into creating a course, it’s a good idea to treat it like a project. This is probably the most difficult part of the course creation process and it feels really good once you have it all done. Whatever you do, don’t approach your content as just another boring outline where you add a few headers, subheads and bullet points and then call it a day - you’re so much better than that! Approach this process with excitement and creativity - give this your special attention. To get started, organize your outlines inside of a Google Doc - I suggest doing them digitally because it makes organizing, copy & pasting and moving things around a lot easier. Here's how I like to organize my folders inside of Google Docs.
Here are the four steps to organizing your content:
1. THE MASTER BRAINDUMP
This step will take your longest out of all four steps. I suggest you take one full hour (longer if you need) and brain dump your entire course content into a Google doc. Then come back the next day and spend another hour brainstorming some more. I actually like to spend several hours on this process for a week. Regardless of how long you take, get it all out of your brain and onto the doc.Include everything in this step - there's no good or bad at this point. You don’t need to know exactly how you’re going to teach something, you’ll research later (don’t google anything now). And if some great idea comes to you during this time, put it down into your doc. And if an idea comes to you that you think “I could never do that it’s too expensive or way too big”, put it down, no judgement right now. Also, don’t worry about the order, typos, etc - stay in a creative space.Include: examples, stories, insights, case studies, experiences, research details, strategies, and tips - anything that you can think of that will enhance your training and content inside the course. Feeling a bit stuck? It might be that you’re not totally clear about this topic that you want to teach or you’re not clear, in which case you might want to go back and do some more course idea validation. The more feedback you get, the easier it will be to create your course. You’ll (hopefully) end up with LOTS of pages in the brainstorming session. Not everything you include will be used, you’ll refine and delete in the next three steps. Again, stay in a creative space as much as possible, don't worry about editing, deleting, and typos. Right now there are no bad ideas and no judgement (promise?).
2. THE ORGANIZATION PHASE
Once you have the brainstorming session complete, in this phase you’ll begin to shape your content. I suggest making a copy of your master brain dump inside of Google Docs and relabeling this step “Organization”. This is where you want to pay attention to sequence and syntax. Think about how you plan to unveil the content to your future students. The order in how you teach them will determine how easily they’ll follow along and how quickly they’ll get results. Start moving things around in this phase. You’re looking for a flow (such as a step-by-step, a process, or system) that will be easy to follow and complete. At this point, you can begin organizing your content into modules and then into lessons. In this phase, you'll likely move things around again and again (and again). Don’t be afraid to move things around quite a bit until you’re happy with how things are flowing.
3. THE STREAMLINE PHASE
Now you should have a fully fleshed out course outline - it should have lots of detail. How it's time to prune and rearrange. Look over your entire outline and ask yourself: Did you add too much? Did you go off track somewhere? Did you go off on a tangent? Add too much? Something doesn’t fit? On the flip side, you might begin to notice that you have some holes in your content that you need to fill. Here’s where you might need to go out and do some homework like reading books, going through some programs for inspiration, or even interviewing experts. You’ll want to think about your students and ask yourself: Will they be able to follow along? Are you leaving anything important out? Does any content seem confusing or out of place? Will this be clear to someone just starting out? Are you making it too complicated? Or did you simplify too much? This is also where it’s a great idea to get someone who knows your content or is in a similar industry to give you feedback and insights. I also like to create a simple outline of my entire course just with my module and lesson names. It comes in handy throughout the rest of the course creation process.
4. THE ENHANCEMENT PHASE
This is the step where you want to think about where your course could use extra support. Some ideas are cheat sheets, checklists, workbooks, swipe files, resource guides, exercises, trackers, Q&A interviews.When are these needed?
- Create a checklist when a list of actions is useful
- Create a workbook when a process needs to be figured out
- Create a cheat sheet when resources or tops will enhance your lesson
- Create an exercise when you want to assign homework to your students to make decisions
- Create a comparison guide when your students have lots of options to select from
- Create a resource guide when your students need extra support to implement
You don’t need to create an enhancement to every single lesson, however, it might come in handy. When considering adding these in, you want to be helpful, without overwhelming your students. Your goal is to make sure your students do the work inside the course and adding these extras will ensure your students actually implement before moving on to the next lesson. Once you’ve gone through these four steps you can now start to move things over to your slide decks (if that’s how you’re recording the course). The best way to do it is to have your entire outline completed, then do all of your slides and record everything last. The reason you want to leave the recording to the end because once you begin moving your outline onto the slide decks, you’ll still want to move things around. Ready to create your course? Download my Course Creation Planner to figure out your course budget, which software and tech are right for you, and how it all works together.