Your permission to ban perfectionism, launch faster, and increase ROI.
Webcam, mic, free recording software: all the tools you need to create your six-figure online course.
Please don’t click away: I know it’s more complex than that. For starters: you have something to teach and someone to sell to.
But… Many creators shoot themselves in the foot before starting. They waste dozens of hours choosing and studying tools. Then recording and rerecording to perfection (or at least their idea of it). Then editing like Hollywood studios.
I made these mistakes. I work with creators repeating them over and over.
I want to help you kick perfectionism in the ass, accelerate your course launch, and increase profits.
And to convince you, I’ll borrow some big names.
Some course creators have become superstars in the latest years. Think of Justin Welsh, Daniel Vassallo, Tim Denning…
Not only do they sell lots of copies: but students are also raving about the lessons. So, I caved and bought some of these wonders.
I could not believe my eyes and ears. The production quality was amateurish. Anyone with a laptop and an external mic could have recorded a video of the same quality.
And the delivery was casual, to say the least. Not sloppy, but not TED-worthy, either.
But these are six, seven-figure courses. And everyone seems excited about the content.
What’s happening here?
We often try to sabotage our own courses. Especially as beginners.
I’m a recovering perfectionist, and I work every day with aspiring course creators. I know the idiotic requirements we make up for ourselves.
We absolutely need:
- a fancy camera (with dongles and cables to connect it to the computer),
- a studio-level mic with an external audio capture card,
- powerful LED lamps with softboxes and stands,
- a scenographic background worthy of an interior designer,
- professional recording software (plus, a course to untangle its baroque interface),
- Holliwood-grade, word-by-word scripts for the entire course.
Then when we record, we amass takes like hoarders on Black Friday. Every sigh or slight hesitation forces us to stop and repeat.
Finally, editing takes 10 times the recording. We have to purge the clips of every single imperfection. We must include the fanciest graphics to convey our concepts.
This is enough to kill our course before he sees the light of day. If somehow we manage to get to the end of this exhausting process, we need a huge revenue to recoup the time, money and effort invested.
Sometimes it’s simply not possible. Especially when our audience is small.
So, we have to be smart like the rockstar course creators.
Justin Welsh made more than 1 million selling 2 courses for 150$ each (thanks Scott Stockdale). I went through Content OS.
The system for producing boatloads of content in no time is enlightening. Justin’s unbelievable productivity makes it credible. He explains every detail with perfect clarity and provides the templates to duplicate the entire system in a couple of clicks.
But look at this screenshot:
You could get the same capturing any zoom call.
He even apologizes several times because the microphone is hiding the keys while typing. There is no sign of editing: just straight recording and publishing. No fancy graphics either.
Years ago, I could have never allowed myself to do something so unprofessional.
But have you heard about the public outrage spurred by Justin’s frequent mistyping? Or by the absence of rich graphics?
Tim Denning’s and Todd Brison course “The 10X Writing Speed Blueprint” sold more than 400 copies before the end of 2021 (they tell it in one of the lessons). More than a year later, at 99$ a pop, we can safely suppose is near or beyond 6 figures.
Here’s a screenshot:
They didn’t even show the slides full screen. Had I done something like that, I would have stopped reading my business email in fear of irate customers.
Again, this is a course with no video editing, no advanced visual effects, no high-quality sound production. Just two guys talking over a screen share.
Then there’s Ayodeji Awosika’s “Medium Writing Superstars.” The course has everything a new writer needs to build consistency and write convincing articles. It helped people build large followings on Medium
But again, look at this screenshot:
He uses a fancy camera, but there’s no editing, just him talking and sometimes sharing his screen.
Let me stress it again: these are great courses. People are loving them. They deserve their success.
But after peeking under the hood, you realize that it’s not their production value that is making them successful.
The secret is in the ideas and the delivery.
All these teachers have systems, rules, habits, insider knowledge, and concepts that worked for them and other students. They are original (or originally presented) and well-structured.
I already knew most of what they taught in their courses. But I always found some new insight. Or a more effective way to formulate something I did not grasp entirely.
Then, their explanations leave no room for doubt, even for total beginners. They do not ramble or stutter. They are confident, motivating, and sometimes entertaining. It’s not like listening to the proverbial boring and unintelligible university teacher.
At the end of the course, you feel empowered. You have acquired new skills, learned new systems, and are ready to go.
Polish is wasted: you just need to reach a basic threshold in your production.
Everything more than that will not increase your students’ satisfaction or increase sales.
Simplify your tools
Here is your jumpstart toolkit:
A couple of fancier upgrades to solve or prevent usual problems:
- if the lighting is bad in your office, buy a LED panel like this,
- to make your job easier while recording, use Loom or Snagit,
- to distribute your course, choose Gumroad, the easiest solution.
But remember: the success of your course is not built on the tools. It’s all in the ideas and the delivery.
In other words, it’s all in the content.
These are the steps towards a best-selling course
Your students want to solve their problems, through proven approaches, without burning their neurons to understand them.
So, you need to complete these steps:
- Understand your audience’s problems.
Listen to their feedback on your content. Talk to them through email, DMs, and maybe a community. (Here’s a tutorial on creating a free community) You can get precious information from participating in other communities, too. (Follow these guidelines to do it)
- Create and test a solution to at least one problem.
It must work for you or your clients or your friends and family.
- Formalize your solution through frameworks, procedures, and templates.
- Be sure you can clearly explain the solution from start to finish, even to total beginners.
You are ready when someone from the street can go through your explanation and come out able to implement the solution by himself, from start to finish. You can practice through your content: share parts of your solution and listen to the feedback.
- Outline your course.
This will probably be a natural consequence of learning how to explain your solution.
- Learn the basics of public speaking. A no-edit video is like a performance.
If you tend to ramble, pause for a long time, or look for words, you’ll make your students’ life hard. You can practice publishing videos on Youtube, TikTok, or Instagram. But don’t turn it into another excuse to procrastinate. Just avoid glaring mistakes. Then go even if it feels uncomfortable. You will always be able to record an improved version of your course.
If you have been publishing for a while, you already have what you need to publish your first course.
Let the above examples sink into your mind. Let them shut down perfectionism. Focus on the ideas and the delivery.
Find a specific problem that’s bugging your audience and that you can solve in a couple of hours of video explanations. Outline it and start recording. (For maximum launch speed, sell it as a webinar, record it and sell the recording, as explained here)
If your audience is actually suffering from this problem, you won’t need professional copy to sell.