Guide to Creating Online Courses and 11 Critical Questions About It | by Ali ÇORAK | Aug, 2021

Why did I want to create an online course when there are thousands of online courses?

Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Let me be clear since I was little, I would like to show others immediately what I have learned. Later on, I realized that these requests were due to my curiosity to teach. Although it is very tiring to train someone, I no longer question and try to teach. I would like to explain these processes step by step. Here are 11 points that I will address in this article:

  • How did the idea for an online course come about?
  • Why did I think it would be difficult?
  • Why did I want to do it?
  • How did I overcome the things I was afraid of?
  • What course will I teach?
  • Who did I get inspired by?
  • What were the most challenging things for me during the course?
  • How did I make my plans?
  • What are the advantages of the course?
  • Was the result as I expected?
  • Why should you prepare a course or why not?

Note: I share the link of my course at the bottom of the article.

I am a web/mobile designer who is keen on web/mobile programming. When you think about it, I am interested in a sector where courses are plentiful. And, as you can imagine, other friends of mine who were interested in this sector — one of them was my brother — would ask me how these things were done. I would pass on what I know.

Mobile design (Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash)

When these questions were asked very often, I would recommend them articles or videos on the topic (that’s how I started writing for Medium). Later, I noticed that some courses were not prepared with a good plan. I thought maybe I could prepare better. Then I started to prepare a web and mobile design course.

I started to struggle from the very beginning. I knew what course to teach. It was clear on which platform I would upload the course. But the course content was not ready. I did not know how to prepare a course from scratch. I have never had a video course experience before. It was more complicated than it looked.

So I thought it would be difficult and gave up for a short time. I thought I wouldn’t be able to spare time for such a tiring course as I am currently working. I’m not talking about work-life balance, I was just getting mentally tired and resting made me feel more comfortable.

But I’m lucky that I got out of this cycle fast and tried to make time for the course. After work nights and pre-work mornings, I decided to devote some of my time to the course.

Working at night can be a bit tiring sometimes (Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash)

If there is one detail that will make us stand out in our work, it is online visibility. We are all aware of this. That’s why we share our Twitter, LinkedIn, GitHub, etc profiles.

Besides, wouldn’t my course contribute to my portfolio? Of course, it will. In this way, I would be able to present my expertise in my work. I would also have online visibility. So in short: show your work.

I talked about this in a previous thread. I thought I should show my work. There were some obstacles in my preparation for the course. I had to make plans to remove obstacles.

First of all, I accepted that teaching is an intense process. I also had to research my missing points (a huge contribution to personal development). I created a note and jotted down everything I needed to say in the course out of order. I looked at the curriculum of similar courses, and I came up with a broad curriculum.

Another issue is time. Once the curriculum is clear, you can predict what and how long it will take. Thus, I was able to plan my day more effectively and spare time for the course. I opened the file where I noted the curriculum and lined up the course contents. Next to each, I noted the estimated video duration.

Now everything was ready to prepare for the course.

I decided to give a web/mobile design course. I had already determined the curriculum before. I thought about how I could present all the content. Then I found a topic that has been very popular lately and that I would like to design; a banking app. While choosing it, I paid attention to its compatibility with the curriculum.

I chose to teach on Figma, which is used for web and mobile design. Because it is the program I know best.

Figma workspace (Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash)

If it’s your first time doing something, it’s probably wise to get inspiration from someone. It’s a bit different than the tutorials I looked at when creating a curriculum. I thought that the way I presented the course was very important, especially since it will be an online course. It’s a little more technical here. I researched who is doing this job well globally.

Note: Inspiration and stealing are different topics, you know the ethical part. If I were to appeal to the global, I would try to prepare a different course, not just inspired. But I was going to teach the course in my local language, and since it was my first online education, just getting inspired was enough for me.

I paid attention to the following;

  • How can I present the content,
  • On which platform should I present the course,
  • What should be the duration of the videos,
  • How to edit video,
  • Can each video be watched independently or should it be watched as a series,
  • Should it be an entry-level or a professional course,
  • Should I record the audio together with the screen recording or should I record it independently?

Like most people, I decided to upload the content to YouTube. The reason why I don’t upload to educational platforms like Udemy; I won’t be able to go back and deal with those videos later. If I could keep up with the course and we were a small community, I would upload it to Udemy.

There are some strange questions in the threads. For example, video editing. Let me be clear, the subject that I spent the most time on and gave the most importance was video editing. Because I think it’s harder to keep people in an online course. Annoyingly long videos, unnecessary pauses in screen recordings, fan noise from behind… These are the elements that make a video poor quality. Although we offer quality content, no one watches a poorly prepared video.

Another issue is my target audience. I mentioned this above, even if you are not aware of it. I mentioned that I wanted to show off my work. If I had given entry-level information, I would not have been able to show my work, I would have been no different from similar courses. Also, entry-level information can be learned from anywhere, it was boring for me to teach them. In short, my target audience; was an intermediate-advanced group.

If your job isn’t just to teach, but if you want to show off like me, skip the entry-level information. The audience that will not get bored of your course and want to learn more is not the audience looking for entry-level information. The audience looking for entry-level knowledge can easily give up on the course. What you’re describing may not be of interest to them. Get rid of them and reach the relevant target. In this way, your motivation to teach increases.

First things first, my hardware was not good. This was the thing that challenged me the most in the beginning. But after my job change, I needed more powerful equipment, the advantage of which was reflected in the video tutorials.

Yes, better hardware means more money. If you use bad hardware, you are more likely to encounter problems during the video tutorial. Also, video/audio editing takes longer than you can imagine. The time you spend on the course increases. I decided to renew my hardware because I thought the time was more important than money.

It looks complicated. Luckily we won’t need it anyway (Photo by Wells Chan on Unsplash)

By the way, don’t think of a big studio room. You don’t need this. I just upgraded from Macbook Air 2015 to MacBook Air M1 model. Of course, the fact that I could use a program for audio and video editing had a positive effect. Still, a single device is enough for a video tutorial at the beginning. If teaching is your main job anyway (or at least you want it to be), buy hardware.

Another thing I had the most trouble with was explaining. Knowing something and being able to explain it are two different things. I realized that I hesitated a lot during the test shots, forgot what I was going to tell, and couldn’t explain it clearly. I was bored, but it was normal, I had no experience before.

As a solution, I started taking small notes. On my left was the tablet with small notes. And in front of me was the screen on which I was teaching. These notes didn’t work either. I started to write the notes in more detail, sometimes I took a few pages of notes. I was taking notes word for word about what I should say about parts that I should not forget. I was often looking at my notes during screen recording. I was cutting the parts that I looked at my notes while editing the video.

As you can see, it’s not a professional method at all, and I’m not a professional anyway. But I think I have put forward a quality course with a good plan and hard work.

Sometimes I wrote down what I was going to say one by one. It wasn’t just because I wasn’t a professional. There are a few more reasons. I took notes in order not to make the course longer than necessary or to forget important points that I should mention.

Taking notes is important for the video course series. In the series, there is a flow of the subject you are going to teach. If you mention a point you should have mentioned at the beginning of the course in the middle of the course, you may have ruined the whole course. Not to mention all the time you spend and the fact that it affects your morale.

I now have a course. This is in my portfolio. Even if that’s the only advantage, it satisfies me. Also, the platform where I share the videos (YouTube) has turned into a platform where I present my courses. Anyone can access the courses at any time.

Note: Creating a community is also a good way to showcase your work. Creating a course can also help you build a community.

The only downside was the sleeping pattern. There were times during the day when I could not complete the video within the time I set for myself. In general, my sleep pattern is disturbed.

It depends on what angle we look at it from. I have failed to reach my target audience. The total views of my YouTube videos are around 700. It is an important factor that I do not address the global but tell it in my local language. I have no idea how to stand out on YouTube. It’s probably necessary to create regular content as with any platform (not for me).

The videos page of my course’s YouTube channel.

So frankly, this post is not “how I became successful on YouTube”. If your job is to teach and share across platforms, it may be helpful to work on the platform’s algorithms. My post is on “online education”. I’m open to YouTube suggestions.

On the other hand, I was pleased to prepare for this course. So, spiritually, the result was exactly what I expected.

I told my own story. Both my instinct to teach and my desire to show my work pushed me to prepare for an online course. If you have a busy life, it may be difficult for you to make time for all these. I work remotely and don’t have a family to take care of, moreover, I’m relatively young. I had plenty of time.

If you don’t think you need to show off your work and teaching isn’t going to give you mental peace, then you don’t need to.

But if your job is to prepare a course or you are doing it just because you are interested in it and you think you are good in your field; create a plan and teach online.

If you want to check it out, here is my course’s YouTube channel.

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