7 Top Trends in eCourses: What Matters Now

NOTE: This post was adapted from an episode of the Train Thrive Grow podcast. You can listen to the original version here

The world of online courses changes all the time. If you're working on putting a course together and you want to make sure that you are  keeping up with everything that's going on in the eCourse world-- then this post is for you!

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1. Building Community is More Important than Ever

This is one of the most important things that I see in online courses today. When people sign up for an online course, they are looking for, not just knowledge and information, but also a source of support and community. In other words, they seek out a group of people who are going through the same journey as they are.

Learners also really look to you as the teacher of the course to be a leader in that community. They really value connection to the teacher.

In practice, what this looks like for most of my students and clients, is that it means having some kind of a facebook group for your course students. You can use this group to not only let learners learn from each other, but also as a great way to give them easy access to you in a way that's really efficient and not super time consuming for you.

What I typically recommend for my students is that they do at least weekly lives in their Facebook groups for their online courses. The point here is to really be present in your community. You also want to make sure that you are leading with you both in how you market your course, how you present yourself on social media, and in the course itself.

You always want to make it obvious that there is a real person behind the content, so bring as much of your personality as you can bring to your course and your materials. 

2. Membership Sites are on the Rise 

Another important trend that's really picked up is the rise of membership sites. I've seen a lot of new membership sites crop up this year and I think the reason that they're so appealing to people is that they are a great source of the kind of learning community that we just discussed.

For folks who are not familiar with the concept, membership sites are subscription based and they allow members access to a set of materials that are only available to people who are inside that community.

3. Find Your Niche to Cut Through the Noise

Another important trend is all about the niche. So online courses have been around for a while, but while the market is crowded, it's not necessarily saturated. There are definitely things you can do to help you stand out, and one of the best ways is to choose a niche topic.

So what this means is instead of doing a course on photography, you could do a course on how to use your DSLR camera or how to take great pictures on an iPhone. You're kind of zooming in, not focusing on a broad topic, but rather on a particular niche that is going to be super appealing to a smaller segment of the online course taking population.

4. People are Looking for Transformation and Courses that Solve Problems 

Next thing I want to discuss is the idea that we should be focusing on the transformation and on problem-solving when we design online courses. 

I think this flows nicely from our discussion of niche courses. Adult learners typically seek out learning because they either want to solve a problem or achieve a goal.  So adult learners are very focused on creating some kind of immediate transformation for themselves. When we design online courses, framing them around a challenge is a great way to create value for your learners.

As an example, rather than a course that's a general introduction to bookkeeping, you might have a course about getting your business finances together the easy way.

Imagine I'm a person who's struggling with staying organized in my business finances. If I see those two different courses, that second course really appeals to me because it has that issue that I'm facing right there. I'm struggling with this. I want to make it easy, and this course is going to give me a way to do that.

What's key here is that you want to figure out what the language of your customer is, what they perceive their challenges to be, and really use that language in the way you develop and frame your course. This should come across in the course materials themselves, but also in your marketing copy and sales page, and in the way you talk about your course.

5. Give Your Audience Some Quick Wins 

Our next trend for online courses are quick wins. The idea behind quick wins is that I think a lot of people when they put a course together, they want to pack in a lot of value. That comes from a really good place, right? We want to provide value to our customers, but as we just talked about, our learners are focused on problem-solving for the most part, and to solve a problem a course, doesn't necessarily have to be a big long six-week program.

In fact, some of the most loved courses today are quick but value-packed. I love hearing feedback that's like, this took me maybe 40 minutes to get through, but has made such a difference in my business.

If you give your audience really specific tactical tips, they can implement them quickly. They can see them working quickly. That can be so powerful because people are busy. If you can give people those kinds of quick wins, get them feeling good, get them feeling confident and successful right away. That can be super powerful.

6. Make Your Course Stand Out with Value Packed Add-Ons 

Our next trend is value packed add-ons and tools. Course bonuses are a really good way to overcome some objections that your customers might have and help you sell more courses, but you want to make sure that you're picking the right bonuses.  Today I'm seeing more and more course creators really put a lot of thought and effort and energy into this,  rather than packing their courses full of lots of different bonus content that may only be tangentially related to the topic of the actual course.

What I'm seeing a lot more of, and what I think is really smart is that you're strategically including bonuses that make it easy for your learners to implement your content.

When I'm talking about a value-packed add on, I'm talking about things like stock photos, templates, and presets, things that make it easier for your learner to implement your content.

For example, if I were doing a social media course, I'm not teaching graphic design, but graphic design can be a barrier for my students who want to implement my social media tools. So what I might do is include a set of Canva templates.

7. Offer a Payment Plan to Increase Conversions 

One more quick one I wanted to mention is payment plans. So this one's pretty self-explanatory, but I am seeing more and more entrepreneurs offer flexible payment options. Using a payment plan does come with some headaches like chasing credit cards that have stopped working. But again, like with membership sites, payment plans lower the immediate barrier to entry for customers while still keeping the lifetime value of that customer high. So it can really help with your conversions if you offer a payment plan. 

What trends have you noticed in the online course world? 

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Meet Rachel

I’m an instructional designer providing eCourse solutions for creative entrepreneurs. My focus is on helping you learn how to talk to your audience and validate your programs to take the uncertainty out of launching.

Have questions about creating your online course? Click below to learn how we can work together!

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