Good News, Bad News
Good news – there are dozens of places to host your course content. The bad news is that you have to choose just one to start out…and that can be a hard choice,
The post below will help you decide between going in on your own versus hosting your courses on a third-party hosting platform.
If you decide to go with a hosting platform, you will then learn which platform is right for you.
Hosting on your own versus a third-party platform
The first decision you need to make when it comes to building a course is how will your students access it. There are two parts to this question.
1. What format does your audience prefer?
2. What is the best way to deliver that format?
Format refers to the type of content you will create. Typical choices are:
From there, you can drill down even further.
- Free content like YouTube
- Private content
- Webinars (live or recorded)
- Private audio recordings
- PDF guides
You will most likely have a mix of formats but you will want to pick one as your primary money maker and use other formats to supplement your main format or to use a freebies.
For example, my main content is paid video, however I have created PDF guides, books and YouTube videos to support my video courses.
Which format does your audience want?
You may have a preference for one style which is great but your preference isn’t as important as your audience’s preference.
In order to know your audience’s preferences, you need to review your research on lifestyle. How does your audience live? Are they always on the go? Are they mostly at home?
Do they have kids? If so, how old?
Why are these questions important? Put yourself in their shoes. If you are a busy person who is always traveling, then you may want content you can access from your phone. If that’s the case, audio and video are good choices.
If you are someone with kids who are constantly making noise, written formats may be better.
Also look at the perceived value of your format. What is your audience willing to pay for an e-book? Are they willing to pay more for a video course?
What equipment do they have access to? Are they primarily on smart phones or tablets? Do they sit at a desk all day with a laptop?
All of these questions give you clues as to what format is the easiest and most valuable for your audience.
Once you have chosen your main format, how will you deliver it?
We will spend most of our time on video format as that format has the most options but before we do, let’s look briefly at audio and written formats.
Hosted Private – You can record your voice using an app on your phone or your computer mic, save it to your computer or a hosting service, and then allow your students to directly access that content after paying for it or opting in to your list.
Podcast – You can use the same recording method but then upload your audio to iTunes or one of the many podcast hosting platforms. Keep in mind however, that most audiences expect to get podcasts for free. You make money from sponsors/advertisers and you need a large following to attract sponsors.
The technical side of creating and hosting recordings is beyond the scope of this article but here are some resources you may want to consider if you choose audio as your main format.
PDF Guides – PDF’s are a great way to deliver content. They are easy to create using Google Slides or a basic word processor. Keep in mind PDF’s are typically perceived as a low value format.
I am not saying the content is of low value. I am saying people are not typically expecting to pay a high price tag for a PDF guide.
Having said that, if you have a reputation for providing great content, you can get away with a fairly high price tag. I have paid up to $100 for a great PDF course.
E-books have a higher perceived value than a PDF guide however, due to the world of Amazon, most people are not willing to spend more than a few dollars for an e-book.
If you decide to host your book on Amazon, you can expect a price tag of anywhere from $0.99 to $8.99. I sell most of my e-books around $2.99.
If you decide to host your e-book on your own site as a download, you can typically get a much higher price. E-books can go for as much as $50. However, you have to find your audience 100% on your own.
With Amazon, you have a chance of being found but most likely you will have to do a majority of your own marketing.
Physical books are the riskiest form of content to create. I wouldn’t recommend you pursue this format at the start. You have to pay for a quantity of books up front if you self-publish. Alternatively you have to find an agent and a publisher if you want to go big.
If you want to test the waters, you can go with a service like Createspace which is Amazon’s arm for paperback books.
I have used Createspace to make paperback versions of the e-books I wrote. My black & white books do ok because I am able to price them reasonably. However, my full-color books are too pricey to be competitive.
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