Online Courses - How To Make The Most Of Them

Online Courses - How To Make The Most Of Them

Let’s talk about an area that’s fast becoming essential to any business - online learning. If you haven’t yet taken an online course of some kind, you’re in the minority! They’re a treasure trove of information and inspiration.

You probably won't be surprised to learn that online education is an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Wow. It’s massive and growing all the time.

Type “small business online courses” into Google and you’ll spend a week looking through the results. There’s so many courses out there that you could spend the rest of your life taking them. 

Which means it’s pretty darn hard to weed out the goodies from the weak, the slow or the complete waste of money.

The appeal of online courses

Why do people love taking online courses so much? Why are they so appealing? There seems to be a course for everything these days, and people keen to sign up. 

Here’s why online learning is on everyone’s radar:  

  • They offer immediate, available information that can be digested in your own time

  • They’re a fraction of the cost of traditional learning methods

  • You can study at your own pace (and around napping babies, school run, work and everyone else sleeping)

  • You don’t have to leave your house (ie, work in your pjs)

But the problem with online courses is...

Yep, there’s a cloud to every silver lining. And the biggest ones are:

  • There are so many online courses that it’s hard to know which to choose

  • There are lots of crap courses out there

  • It’s super easy to become an online course junkie. Which means you keep doing courses instead of ever putting your learnings into practice!

We’re also living in an age of aspiration. Everything is seemingly available and accessible, and online education perpetuates that ideal.

Have you ever bought a course or e-book or video or similar online, only for it to gather virtual dust in your inbox? Did you think, “If I could just do this course, I’d be able to...”?

You're not alone.

Last year, I spent $150 on a lifetime access course about... creating online courses. I figured that since I could come back to it anytime, I’d come back to it... later. 

I was also persuaded by the “Quick! Only available at this price for a fraction of a second” hype and I clicked the buy button too soon.

Sound familar?

My point here is not that this was a crap course. It probably could have been the best course ever. I still don’t know because I haven’t wiped the dust off that first welcome email. (Yet!)

The thing is that I wasn’t ready for that course. And that is the most important part of making the commitment to online learning. 

I’ve since (and before) taken more courses and I know how to get the most out of them. So, listen up and your next online learning program will be a much richer experience. 

Before buying an online course...

  • Figure out exactly what you want from a course. What do you want to learn? Why will it help you? What results do you need to achieve?

  • Research the hell out of the course so you know exactly what you’re getting. Read the testimonials. Follow the Facebook page. Google it.

  • Contact the course creator before buying the course to ask them any and all questions

  • Check the course refund policy (if it’s a decent program, they’ll have one for at least 14 days. Read the fine print)

  • See if there are any bonuses included for buying it early, paying in full and so on. These may include: face time with the presenter, a private Facebook group, coaching calls, downloadable worksheets and so on

  • Figure out how much you will gain (financially or otherwise) to see if it justifies the course cost

When you buy the course...

  • Set aside several hours a week to do the course while it’s on. This is fundamental! Put it in your calendar and commit to this time

  • Go through every step of each module, taking notes and writing down questions

  • Do all the activities, fill out the worksheets and get as much knowledge from the course as possible. Get your money’s worth

  • Put your learnings into action as soon as you can - while you’re doing the course if possible

  • Pepper your course presenter with questions each week. Like, loads. The presenter should be right there and available so take full advantage. You're unlikely to have such an opportunity again.

Once you finish the course...

  • Take note of what worked in the course and what didn’t. This will help you in the future when you’re looking at another course

  • Provide feedback to the course presenter if you want to

  • If you’re a blogger, this is a great content idea for a post

See! It's easy. Make the time to really get what you want from an online course, and you will! 

Did you enjoy this post? Then check out my weekly newsletter for more awesome freelancing insights and strategies!

Tell me, have you ever bought a course and never got through it? Or never even started like me? 

About the author: Lilani Goonesena is an Australian freelance writer, SEO copywriter and Squarespace web designer based in Vientiane, Laos. She loves boosting freelancers and small businesses with web designSEO content and digital marketing strategy. She writes an awesome weekly newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff". Lilani also blogs at the delectable Eat Drink Laos, just for fun.