Summary: Online course creators think the best way to grow their online course business is through creating another self-paced course. In reality, it’s much better to turn your self-paced course into a cohort-based course. Let me show you how.
Have you been creating online courses for years and you’re looking to grow your online course business? Many course creators just create another self-paced course or redesign an existing one and post it in course marketplaces like Udemy and Skillshare. For them, it’s a strategy to grow their revenue and get their current students to an advanced level.
In some cases, it works especially if you have fans who are really waiting for your next online course release. But what if most of the students who purchased your courses haven’t finished them? Would you still be releasing another self-paced course and asking them to buy it? Of course not. You will think of another strategy to increase your completion rates.
A better way to do this is to turn your self-paced course into a cohort-based course. Why is it better than creating another self-paced course? Now that you have good content materials from your self-paced course, all you need to do is to reuse them and add up a live learning discussion. We’ll talk more about this later.
Another reason is that cohort-based learning proves itself as an efficient way to learn online because of its collaborative learning features. Unlike self-paced courses, it goes beyond learning the content by interacting and learning with their peers or with a learning community.
Self-paced courses vs Cohort-based courses
First of all, let’s give you an overview on what are the differences between both course formats:
- Self-paced courses - students are learning at their own pace without a time limit. Flexible enough to go back and forth on the content. Students can access courses for a lifetime.
- Example: Learning how to learn from Coursera
- Cohort-based courses - students are learning in a live session, together with their peers, led by an instructor within a specific timeframe. These types of courses usually go hand-in-hand with an online community.
- Example: 11 Best Cohort-Based Courses of 2023
The Perfect Time to Turn your Self-paced Course into a Cohort-Based Course
If you will follow the trend, the perfect time to turn your self-paced course into a cohort-based course is now! Because cohort-based learning is at the top of its game. In fact, top course creators have proven that this learning format works in designing courses. Ali Abdaal is one of the biggest creators who are earning 6 figures on his cohort-based course alone.
But not everyone has built an enormous amount of audience like Ali—he has 3.4M Youtube subscribers and 2k Youtubers have taken his cohort-based course. I understand. So ask yourself these questions and figure out if this is the perfect time for you to turn your self-paced course into a cohort-based course:
Does your course has low completion rates?
Get ready to turn your self-paced course into a cohort-based course if your students aren’t finishing it. It only means your course is stuck and it's not progressing. If you want your self-paced course to keep going, you should be able to apply the course marketing loop.
Having high completion rates is essential to growing your course sales. So if students aren’t completing your course, you may add helpful features such as collaborative learning experience which is the core of a cohort-based course.
Are your students asking for real-time engagement?
You can check this out from the online forums you put aside from the course where students engage with each other. Notice how they interact. Are they active? Do they say, “hope we can meet up to discuss more”? Sometimes students may invite others to chat outside your forums. These are good indicators that they want to learn and engage more.
Does your course topic require group activities & hands-on practice?
Do you think your topic is better to understand if students learn it together? Does it require hands-on practice? Topics like coding, data science, and digital writing are topic examples that are better to learn by applying them than learning the theories. So if your topic is better for group activities, then turn your self-paced course into a cohort-based course.
Do you have time & resources to teach in live format?
Most course creators are creating courses as side hustles. So ask yourself if you have time and resources to teach live sessions and put in the hard work because creating a cohort-based course needs more time and involvement than a self-paced.
Do you want to turn your 1:1 coaching into group coaching?
Some self-paced courses offer add-ons of 1:1 coaching. If you’d like to turn this 1:1 coaching into group coaching, better to turn your self-paced course into a cohort-based one. It’s similar to meeting your coachees in groups where they learn together.
Are you planning to grow your online course business?
If yes, then you should try different strategies and create different educational products. Course creators and online academies nowadays are so creative that they’ve tried different strategies to improve their course offerings. And creating a cohort-based course is always on their list.
After reflecting if you should turn your self-paced course into a cohort-based course, then let’s move on to how you can start.
5+ Best Ways to Turn your Self-paced Course into a Cohort-Based Course
1. Validate your idea
Pre-sell your idea to validate if your audience would like to learn in cohorts. Because cohort-based courses require active involvement from you as an instructor, you don’t want to waste your time creating one without a market.
You can validate your idea by:
- posting a question or a poll on your social media where your audience can react, comment, and share
- creating a survey and asking your students to answer them. Send it through your email newsletter, DMs, or small groups in WhatsApp, Slack, or Telegram. Announce it in your forum too.
In this step, you can ask who is interested to participate in your first cohort and if they will pay for it.
2. Design your curriculum
Review your current self-paced course and decide which part goes live and stays self-paced. You can use the 70-30 strategy from our hybrid cohort-based course format where you mix synchronous and asynchronous learning together to come up with a scalable cohort-based course.
You can also add lessons, and resources that can make the cohort-based course transformative. Ask yourself what lesson you should omit and add. Use your forums, and small groups if you have any to check the data of frequently asked questions, what topics interest your students the most, and lessons that are challenging for them.
Based on the data, which lessons are better to turn into online activity or group work, and which are better to design in a peer learning activity.
3. Determine your course price
Research your market. What are the prices of cohort-based courses similar to your topics? It doesn’t mean that you will follow your competitor’s price or make your price lower than theirs. Researching your market can also help you validate your idea if your topic is best for a cohort-based course format.
Another one is to ask directly your students if they are willing to pay for this cost. Just remember to also check your audience persona based on demographics, geographics, and interest. Use the art and science of pricing to guide you decide on how you price your first cohort-based course.
4. Choose a cohort-based course learning platform
Choosing a learning platform designed specifically for cohort-based courses will ease up to 80% of your problems when creating a cohort-based course for the first time. Teachfloor is technically designed for cohort-based courses, learning sprints, and online boot camps because of its collaborative learning features that make any instructor’s tasks manageable.
It’s also designed to scale your cohort-based course with a Pro account for only $59/month where you can admit an unlimited number of students, create unlimited courses, and add up to 4 instructors to the platform.
Sign up now for a 14-day trial and start turning your self-paced course into a cohort-based course.
5. Schedule and automate
Once you decide on the timeline of your cohort-based course, create a shared calendar with your students using Teachfloor. Remember to use email automation to send out notifications on when they need to complete the lessons and what requirements or assignments to complete in a specific week.
This way, you can manage and monitor how your students are interacting with your course while you’re busy preparing for the live sessions.
Lastly, strategize your marketing plan
How are you going to promote your cohort-based course? After validating the idea, you want your audience to join the first cohort. Here are some strategies:
- email list. The best way to announce your cohort-based course is through a newsletter or direct email.
- social media. Validating plus asking who’s up for the idea of a cohort-based course in your social media is always a good idea. After that, you can also plan out a 1 or 2-week social media campaign where you share how you’re creating your cohort-based course.
- free mini-workshops. Another way to test out if your students want to meet up and collaborate is by organizing mini-workshops which can lead to attending your cohort-based course.
- guest blogging and podcasting. Get the news out there through guest blogging and podcasting on relevant websites and podcasts about your course launch.
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