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What is the best way to deliver your video courses?

There are a few considerations that will help you to choose your delivery options.  Let’s start off the discussion with the first main choice you will have to make.

Your place or mine?

The first question you have to answer is whether you will self-host your course or use a third-party service.  Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

Self-Hosted

Self-hosting courses means that the content is delivered on your website or blog.  All the content is stored on a platform you have control over.

What does all that mean?

Delivery – delivery is how the course is accessed by students.  For example, you accessed PDF guides like the Idea Party and the Audience & Niche Finder guides through my site.  It was delivered right from here.

However, I could have sent you to a third party who delivered the content.  I could have sent you to a Google doc for example.

Storage – Storage is where the actual content is parked.  PDF’s are easy to store right on your blog.  However, video is a different story.  Due to its large file size, video is typically stored on a third party site like YouTube.

I could embed a link in this post to a YouTube video.  In that case, the point of delivery would be my blog and the storage provider would be YouTube.  Make sense?

When self-hosting video course content you don’t want to use a provider like YouTube however because you don’t have much control.  YouTube could pull down your content and when your video ends, you don’t have much control over what pops up in the video window.

You want to store your content on a private site like Amazon’s Simple Storage called AWS.  That is what I use.  There are other cloud storage services you could use.  This article will give you some ideas.

A private storage service allows you to control who can see your content and what happens during and after delivery.

Ideally, I like AWS because it is very inexpensive.  You only pay when someone accesses your content and it’s only pennies per access.  When you are starting out, it’s nice to not add another monthly subscription bill to your budget.

 

Pros

The pros of hosting your own course content are:

  • You earn a larger percentage per sale.  You don’t have to split your income with a third-party site.
  • You have full control over the selling price.  Some platforms dictate the prices you can offer.
  • You have full control over the look & feel of your video.
  • You have full control over the length of the course.
  • Basically, you have full control over every aspect of your course.

Cons

  • You are responsible for troubleshooting delivery of video content.  You are the support desk for your students.  When they can’t access your content for any reason, you are the one who has to figure it out.
  • You have to troubleshoot your own site.  If you host your course on a WordPress blog and WordPress does an update, your video’s may stop working.  If you add a plug-in that isn’t compatible with your video player, your video’s could crash.  In short, you need to be tech savvy and patient to fix problems as they go.
  • You are responsible for any problems with payment processors.
  • You have to handle refunds personally.
  • You will need to spend time creating an appealing delivery page that maps out the course content in a logical way.
  • The features you can offer students will be limited by your tech ability – for example, if you want to offer a quiz or a completion certificate, it’s up to you to figure out how.
  • You may have to work with a course management plug-in which has its own learning curve.

Summary

In summary, you need to be comfortable with your website, video players and e-commerce technology to go this route.

Third-Party Platforms

You can use a third-party to handle all aspects of your course delivery and hosting.

Pros

  • The third-party handles the hosting and troubleshooting of video.  You don’t need to know anything about it.  They have their own support desk and will work directly with students on technology issues.
  • They offer extra features like quizzes, chat boxes, reviews, and completion certificates.
  • They have a professional look and feel.  All you need to do is drop in the content to their templates.
  • Some platforms will do marketing for you which helps you to find your first students.
  • Some platforms let you sign up for free so there is no risk.  You never pay anything.  You get a percentage of the selling price.
  • The platform handles all aspects of processing payments and refunds.

In summary, many platforms offer a “hands off” experience which allows you to focus on creating great content.

Cons

All this great “done for you” service comes at a price.

  • The third-party sets the rules.  You have to follow whatever policies they have.  You can expect rules about pricing, video length, the use of affiliate links, and the nature of your content.
  • Some providers require your course to meet their quality standards and have an approval process before you can publish your course.
  • The provider takes a large share of the sale price.  They can get up to 75% of the selling price to cover their administration and service fees.
  • At anytime the revenue share or the rules can change.  You will have to adjust to the new policies.  You could lose your income overnight.
  • You don’t own your student list – the provider does.  They can place restrictions on what you can send to your students and how often.
  • At anytime they can kick you off the platform which I have seen happen.
  • The value of your content is defined by the overall value of the platform.  If the platform sells courses at a deep discount, you won’t be able to get top dollar for your course.

In summary, these platforms are great to start out with because they have a low entry point but you will eventually want more control over your content and your future stability.

Which third-party platform to choose?

If you decide to start out with a third-party, which is what I recommend most new teachers do, you now have to choose which third-party you want.

You may be wondering, should I start out with several different platforms and then choose which one to stick with.  My answer to that is no.  Just start with one.  Get the hang of it.  If you want to try out other platforms, do that after you feel accomplished with the first one.  There’s so much to learn and you have limited time.  You want your focus to be on creating great content and not on mastering a particular platform.

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Platform Choices

There are several major teaching sites out there to choose from.  I have listed some of the best comparison articles for you to look at.  I choose to go with Udemy and here’s why.

  1. Udemy has a great marketing program.  They helped me gather over 17,000 students.  I did very little marketing on my own.
  2. They had quality standards.  Now, this may seem like a downside but when you are starting out it is nice to have some way of knowing if the quality of what you are producing is professional.  I never liked getting negative feedback from the approval team but it did make me a better video producer.
  3. There were no upfront costs.  I created a free account and have never had to pay Udemy a dime.
  4. They have a good record of paying their students on time.  I checked various reviews before selecting Udemy and I can say in the 2 years I have been with them, payments have always been right on time.
  5. Udemy is a trusted platform.  Since I was an unknown when I started out, it was helpful to have Udemy as my partner.  Students trust the platform and feel comfortable buying from them.

Having said all that, there are definitely things I do not like about Udemy.

  1. They have very strict rules that hurt your ability to grow your own list.  They make it difficult to get students over to your blog to sign up for a freebie or to join your list.
  2. You get a very small portion of the sale.  When Udemy finds the students for you, they keep 50% of the sale.  If a Udemy affiliate sells your course for you, they get 50%, Udemy gets 25% and you get 25%.  Now, this isn’t a horrible thing.  After all, Udemy and the affiliates are finding you customers for you.  I didn’t have to lift a finger to get the 25 % or 50% income.  However, see the next bullet.
  3. Udemy discounts courses drastically.  A typical Udemy sale price is $10.  If you decide to participate in their marketing program (which is the main reason to choose their platform) your course will be sold at the sale price.  So even if your course is worth $100, it will be sold for $10 during a sale.  That means you will get between $2.50 and $5.00 per sale.  If you find the student, you get 75% of the sale which is still only $7.50.  In order to make money on Udemy you need to sell a large volume of courses each month.
  4. Udemy courses are seen as low value.  Due to the constant $10 sales, most Udemy regulars refuse to pay more than that for any Udemy course.  It doesn’t matter how great your course is and how many 5 star reviews you have, students won’t pay full price for your course.

For me, Udemy was a trade off.  I was able to get started earning money and learn the ropes of being an online instructor.  However, my growth is limited and my perceived value is low.

In the next few months, I will begin launching new courses on Teachable.  Teachable is a site that still has the professional look and feel of Udemy however you have a lot more freedom with your content.  There are less rules and the platform takes a lower percentage of your sale.

However, you have to find your own students and you have to pay a monthly subscription price.  This is definitely a platform for intermediates and not beginners.  I won’t go in depth in this article into Teachable.  I think that is a platform for later.

For now, review the great articles below that compare different course platforms and pick the one that you think suits you best.

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Platform Comparisons

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