Episode 83

How to Monetize Your Skills, Passion, and Life Experience with Online Courses

In today’s LMScast Joshua Millage and Chris Badgett discuss how to monetize your skills, passion, and life experience with online courses, beginning with everything you already know and do well.

Start with who you are and what your field of expertise is. You know your subject well and may even have taught people about it, but you have no idea how to monetize it or build a business around it.

First, identify the problem you want to solve: income, autonomy, or legacy. Then you can visualize your opportunities starting where you are, and see more clearly where you could go.

Income makes it possible to do the things that are most important to you, and your online courses can generate that money. If you seek autonomy, online courses can give you that freedom. You may wish to leave a legacy of your knowledge and skills, and online courses allow you to reach more people than ever before.

If you’re teaching or conducting in-person workshops, online courses can extend those classes by allowing your students to continue training with you. You’ll also be able to reach people who want to work with you but can’t attend your presentations.

We’ll assume you’re a good teacher with valuable information and methodologies to share. You just need to learn how to transition yourself into the internet environment. There are basically two ways to do that.

You can do it yourself if you’re comfortable with technology and already have a blog or website. Using a learning management system like LifterLMS can get your courses online quickly with complete hands-on control of your online business.

You don’t have to worry about the technology though, because we also offer our Boost development services to help you get your courses set up and functioning based on your content, your preferences, and your passion. Boost lets you focus on teaching without the technology holding you back.

Achieving student engagement in the online learning environment takes a different set of tools and techniques than conventional classroom teaching. You’ll need some experimentation to learn how to make the most of your teaching style in this new learning environment.

Your 3 key steps to presenting yourself optimally online are:

  • See where you are right now and identify the problems you want to solve.
  • Decide if you want to be a technologist or hire a technology partner.
  • Commit to continuous expansion and improvement.

Decide how to monetize your skills, passion, and life experience with online courses. Then choose a platform like LifterLMS or a service like Boost to make your online courses a reality. Try a demo of LifterLMS today to see how our course development platform can help.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Joshua: Hello, Everyone. Welcome back to the next episode of LMScast. Today we’re talking about how to monetize your skills, passion, and life experience with online courses. Christopher, welcome. Thank you for joining me on another episode.

Christopher: It’s great to be-

Joshua: It’s always good-

Christopher: It’s good to be-

Joshua: To see you. Your mountain man face.

Christopher: I’m actually not a mountain man today. We’re both in the same state. We’re both in California. I’m down in Los Angeles right now, and you’re in Santa Cruz. We’ll be together shortly, in the middle. We’re going to Big Sur which is a mountainous region, very beautiful, overlooking the Pacific. Can’t wait to see you in a couple of days.

Joshua: I know. It’s going to be exciting. You are close to my stomping grounds where I lived in L.A. You got some San Gabriel mountains back there.

Christopher: That’s right.

Joshua: That’s good. Well I’m excited because today we can apply what we’re doing right now to this episode and break down for people how they can look at who they are and what they know and actually create a valuable asset with that. I’m going to bat to you, Chris, the first question here which is, let’s use a character, how about that, so people-

Christopher: Sure.

Joshua: I’m a retired teacher-

Christopher: Yeah.

Joshua: I’ve taught, let’s say art classes-

Christopher: Okay.

Joshua: In the public school system for fifteen years. I understand art, I understand a little bit about the internet. I’m passionate about it. I have a lot of experience as an artist myself doing various things, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to actually take everything that I know, and I’m very confident in my knowledge, but I don’t know how to take that knowledge and do anything with it and make it something valuable and consumable for a business, for a passive business or a relatively passive income. Where would you tell someone like me to start?

Christopher: At first, I think I would try to help you get, as an artist or an expert of any kind, get really clear on where you are, where you’re standing, what the opportunity is, and what problems you could solve and what the road looks like ahead. If I’m an artist, I’m looking to monetize my skills, passion and life experience as an art teacher. I’m really solving three different problems. The very first problem is often income. I want to … Maybe I’m retired but I’d still like to have a little bit more money than my retirement, maybe I don’t have a retirement, maybe I have travel plans. I just want more money, or maybe I’m a little bored and I don’t want to be retired and I want to do something but not for free, I want to generate money from that. There’s the income issue that you can address with online courses.

The second one is autonomy. In another episode we talked about how freedom is important to education entrepreneurs like us. THere’s three kinds of freedom, there’s time, income and mobility. You have freedom to do what you want with your time. You’re not tied down because of money worries and then mobility. You can be anywhere. If you’re an art teacher, maybe you want to go over to Florence, Italy and go check out some art. Maybe you want to go to Antarctica and paint the penguins or something. That’s the mobility or the location freedom.

The third, which is more subtle but often living in our subconscious and maybe we don’t even think about until the end of our time here is legacy. Okay, I taught a lot of kids in school about art, but I impacted whatever over the years, two hundred, three hundred, four hundred students. What if I could impact a thousand or ten thousand or a million students? Well that’s the crazy thing about the internet, is you can.

Joshua: Yeah. It’s actually possible.

Christopher: Income, autonomy and legacy, those are the three things that you can do with online courses and you can have a lot of fun doing it.

Joshua: Yeah. I think the thing about the online course space that’s exciting is that it can actually just be a magnification of other things you want to do. For instance, maybe you already do in-person workshops, or you do a class at the community center, or you work at a nursing home doing art therapy, you can take this and use it to magnify that. That’s what I love about the online course space is its never a … I don’t feel like it ever really detracts. I think a great example of that is the observation of how many tech companies are now adding an education, a paid premium education portal to whatever their product and service was. I think that it can only enhance what you’re doing. Again, I’m this artist here and I don’t know where to start. I got the ideas, I like what you’re talking about like what pain am I solving?

Christopher: Now we know where we are.

Joshua: Right. We’ve got, maybe I’m just saying I’m going to teach watercolors.

Christopher: Okay.

Joshua: I’m teaching … The pain I’m solving is people who have a desire to paint watercolors but they don’t have a system or an approach or a method or they don’t know where to go, they don’t know how to get going. That’s who my target is.

Christopher: I’m going to assume that you’re a good teacher and you have a methodology and an approach to watercolor, that you’ve done it a thousand times, that you’re ready to do that, you’re just trying to transition that to the internet.

Joshua: Yeah. Let’s unpack that just a little bit because I do think that’s really key. I think that a lot of people put the cart ahead of the horse on that one. We here, on LMS Cast and what the content that we share over at the LifterLMS blog doesn’t teach you how to have your student have an a-ha. That’s the teachers dilemma.

Christopher: Right.

Joshua: That’s what the teacher has to find themselves. If you’re a natural teacher, this is something you’re always refining and you’re always going for. I think that the curriculum creation process is something that you really have to dig into. That’s the magic in teaching. I think that a lot of people who’ve come out of an educational system, they’re use to taking someone else’s curriculum and teaching that, and that can be a disconnect. That’s for another episode on how to do that or ideas on how to do that better, but I do think that, I just wanted to put a pin in that. Take time to really develop your teaching style because what we talk about is how to take that and put it in other mediums but that teaching style and that methodology is really key and something that should always be irritative and always be improving.

Christopher: Absolutely. Now that we have that, we really have two choices. The first choice is what’s in the short term, the most economical is I can create my course, I’m going to get a learning management system or online course technology like LifterLMS, I’m just going to dive all into it, I’m going to figure it out. That’s an option. There’s a large part of our community who’s like that. Some have some technology experience, they’ve built a website before, they’ve worked with a content management system like WordPress, so they can get going and get started and get their hands dirty. The other choice which we see a lot of people do, typically people who are really time strapped but really passionate about this but also value the expertise of … They just been through the fire before, they’re seasoned, they know they’re not a technologist, they want to leverage the strength of other, like a technology partner, we have a service called Boost where those people come in and then, in and out in five days they’ve got their online course site up and rolling and we let them be the teacher. They got to provide the content like you said, they have to have the framework and everything, but we take care of all that stuff.

It just depends. That’s a choice of where to go and I think we could talk about a few mistakes like some people underestimate the technology part and they want to … They don’t realize that they’re going to have to learn this whole skill set of building a website, and what is hosting, what is content management system, which is totally fine and it’s never been more approachable and easy to learn, but there is an opportunity cost of time and learning there. That’s the next step.

Joshua: One hundred percent. One hundred percent. Yeah. I think if you can focus on being the teacher and creating the best course, technology will in a lot of ways, take care of itself. If you’re willing to make an investment, which I think the wise teachers do, make an investment, you work with people like us or other shops that can help you set this stuff up so the technology really just doesn’t get in the way, so I really love that. That’s great man. When I’ve got my methodology and I’ve got it up in some sort of system, now the rubber hits the road.

Christopher: Yeah.

Joshua: What happens after that?

Christopher: Well I think you’ve talked a lot about this Joshua, is the difference between an online learning environment versus in person, or like you said, you can add-on or it’s like I say, blend in, blend it with some live events and things. In an online learning environment, engagement is key and also having an iterative mindset is key. Just because you got it up, it’s out there, people are buying your courses, that’s fantastic, but the true serious education entrepreneur is now going to begin a series of experiments and tests to try and make the content more effective, more engaging, higher impact, better results for the students. They’re talking to the students, hey where’d you get stuck, they’re looking at their, if their using LifterLMS, they’re looking at their analytics, they’re seeing which lesson people are struggling with or not completing and they’re trying to solve that so they can deliver a course that people actually finish and actually get the result and the highest possible value they can.

Joshua: Yeah. That’s huge. That’s huge. Chris, we coming to the end of the episode, if you could sum it up quickly, what are the key things that someone who’s transitioning their life experience and knowledge and passion into an online course, what are the big meta ideas here that they need to talk hold of?

Christopher: The meta ideas are, there’s three of them. Number one is take a step back, get a lay of the land, realize where you’re at and what problems your solving, be that income, autonomy and legacy. The second thing is to make that decision between am I going to become a technologist or am I going to find a technology partner, like I said LifterLMS, and get my course out the door. Then a third is just continuous improvement. You’ve got to keep making it better. Just because it worked in your in-person art class when you’re standing over the shoulder, you might need to modify your approach and try different things to help deliver that same impact in an online format. Keep testing and the key word there is engagement.

Joshua: Yeah.

Christopher: Keep people engaged, define metrics that say, okay because of this that means they’re more engaged and then just keep making it better and better over time and change the world.

Joshua: That’s awesome. I love it. We’ll thank you so much and as always you can reach me @JMillage at Twitter or @ChrisBadgett. We love to have conversations over there with you. Thank you so much. We’ll talk to you next week.

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