Designing and delivering a digital course

If you decide that you want to design and create a new digital course, the first thought you may have is – “Where can I host it and make it available to buyers?“.

My recommendation, and what I do in my business, is use a platform (or tool) that makes life easy for me (to design, create, and deliver), but more importantly, what provides a great consumer experience for my clients who buy it.

For me, most of my gated content is hosted by a WordPress plugin called ‘Memberpress‘. It’s pretty good at what it does, even though it’s probably on the pricey side at £400-£500 per year (although, tbf, that’s for 2 website licenses).

I say “most” because, of late, I’ve been using a new feature introduced by ConvertKit via their WordPress plugin that caters for ‘member-only‘ content.

So, just to clarify, included in my (and your) ConvertKit fees, we get a feature to support courses and member-only web pages – negating the need for any ongoing annual fees for the likes of Memberpress.

Now, before anyone jumps in to say I’m comparing apples with oranges, I know, I know… Memberpress is a more refined product (for managing courses), and includes many more features than that currently available via the new ConvertKit feature, but nonetheless, if all you’re looking to do is simple digital course delivery, it has you covered.

Designing your digital course

I’ll share with you the system I use whenever I’m starting out with an idea of a new digital course.

I like having a ‘stepped’ system, so I’ve broken it down into 7 steps;

Step 1: State who the course is for

It’s important to know who you are aiming this course at so that the language you use, both in course material and marketing content, is appropriate for the people who will eventually buy and consume it.

Example: The course will be aimed at freelance business owners who self-identify as ‘beginners’ when it comes to email marketing. They either use ConvertKit currently, or are happy to start using it now.

Step 2: State the intended outcome of the course

I start with the intended outcome – in other words, what will students of the course get as a result of completing it?

Example: To become proficient enough in email marketing and the use of ConvertKit to begin collecting new leads and craft automated email sequences that will be drip-fed to them whenever they become subscribers.

Step 3: Create a working title for the course

Example: “An Introduction to Email Marketing using ConvertKit.”. I know that I’m likely to change the course title before it goes on sale, but I like that it gives me a clear reminder of what I’m doing as I go through the process of designing it.

Step 4: Plan out the main modules

Example: Write the module names for each module you want to include;

  1. Module 1: An introduction to email marketing
  2. Module 2: An introduction to ConvertKit
  3. Module 3: Attracting subscribers
  4. Module 4: List maintenance
  5. Module 5: Automations
  6. Module 6: Email marketing best practices
  7. Module 7: Selling via email marketing
  8. Module 8: Summary and next steps.

Step 5: Plan out the lessons for each module

Example: Module 1: An introduction to email marketing

  • Lesson #1: What is email marketing
  • Lesson #2: The main components of an effective email marketing system.
  • Lesson #3: Email marketing software
  • Lesson #4: …etc.

You would obviously do this for each module listed in step #4 above.

Step 6: List any supporting assets you will provide

Example: You may decide that as part of your course, you provide other assets to complement your digital content.

  • Downloadable documents (PDFs, Spreadsheets etc.)
  • Private discussion groups (e.g. a LinkedIn group)
  • A ‘live’ monthly Q&A call where you can bring your questions/challenges
  • …etc.

Step 7: Decide on your price range and delivery model for your course

You probably won’t know at this early stage exactly what you’ll charge, but having a range helps keep you on track when it comes to the amount of content you’re sharing.

Example: The course will be available to buy between £100 – £150 range and all content will become immediately available on purchase. (as opposed to being drip-fed).

If you want a copy of my 7-Step System, you can download a copy of the document here;

Creating the course content

Once I’ve been through these 7 steps, I’m then much better placed to start creating my content. With my course outline ready, I begin to create the content for my course.

Depending on the type of content you create, the creation process time can vary greatly. A lot of what I create is over-the-shoulder style video content which takes time to craft.

In most cases, I need to do a lot of prep work to construct fictitious data to support what I’m about to share in my course content. I’ll create all the assets I’ll need, as well as more as part of my training.

All this content then needs to be edited, transcribed, and uploaded to my video-hosting platform (I use Vimeo), before being inserted into the course.

My tech stack for my digital courses:

  • Google Docs for any PDFs
  • Screenflow for screen recording and editing videos
  • Vimeo for hosting my course videos
  • ConvertKit’s WordPress plugin to control access to content
  • LinkedIn for private discussion groups
  • Canva for images
  • ConvertKitCommerce‘ to sell the courses (via ‘Products’)

Everything on my list can be used for free with the exception of Screenflow and Vimeo. Alternative free solutions are available, including Loom for screen recording, CapCut for video editing, and YouTube for video hosting.

Using ConvertKit’s WordPress plugin

As you’d expect, to use ConvertKit’s plugin features, you need to have it installed on your WordPress website and authenticated using your ConvertKit API keys.

I created an article showing you how to do this, click below to check it out;

Selling your course via ConvertKit’s Commerce platform

Using the Commerce platform inside ConvertKit, you can create a ‘Product(this is the term used by Convertkit regardless of whether you’re selling a product or a service) that you can then use both internally (within emails) and using a unique URL that allows students to purchase your course.

I created an article showing you how to create and sell products using ConvertKit, click below to read the article;

Bringing the whole process together with email sequences

When you use ConvertKit to create and sell the ‘Product’, their WordPress plugin to manage the access, it becomes complete when you craft all the email sequences that are crafted as a result of the course; here are typical email sequences that I create for my courses;

  • Sales email sequences to promote the course
  • Onboarding email sequence for new students
  • In-flow email sequences for students who are undertaking the course
  • Post-course follow-up email sequence to elicit feedback

If you want to learn more about how to create email sequences in ConvertKit, check out this article I created for you;

⚡️What to do now…

Have a go at planning and designing a digital course in your business. By walking through my 7-step system, you’ll have each area covered when it comes to creating the course content and delivering it to your paying students.

If you have any problems, let me know and I’ll help you out. 👍

* { word-break: break-word; }

John Bellingham
Email marketing strategist for aspirational freelancers.

If we haven’t already done so, let’s connect on LinkedIn.

The Thursday Email Club is a free group where freelancers level up their email marketing game with weekly ‘live’ webinars, workshops, and Q&As.

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John Bellingham
John Bellingham

Starting out as a software engineer over 30 years ago, I began working for large corporates before realising solopreneurship was my 'thing'. I've had many businesses over the years, which have taught me many lessons.

I now spend my time helping other solopreneurs to implement the strategies and tactics that worked for me, whilst avoiding all my expensive mistakes.

If you're a solopreneur who's either starting or running a business, then connect with me and let's have a chat.

I love Formula 1® so that's always a good conversation starter if you need one! 🏁 🏎

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