Before you buy that online course – Read this

Online courses causing a headache? Here's how to make the right choice. © olly18 Deposit Photos
Online courses causing a headache? Here’s how to make the right choice. © olly18 Deposit Photos

Do you ever feel like this online business thing has too many moving parts?

There’s just so much to learn. Whether it’s WordPress or Periscope, sales funnels or digital product creation, you’ll need to acquire a lot of new skills in your online business journey.

Thankfully, there are many brilliant online courses to expand your knowledge, enhance your skillset and help you build streamlined systems. At times my inbox is completely aflood with exciting offerings from entrepreneurs and course creators I’ve come to trust and respect. But with so many to choose from, how do you know which is the right course for you?

Marketing campaigns for digital courses are designed to be both informative and incredibly persuasive. It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz of a launch and to believe that this course – this one course – will be the answer to all your business struggles.

Over a year ago – and well before I launched my Facebook page – I signed up for a course on Facebook marketing. I had clients who were on Facebook and I believed the course would help me serve them better. As a bonus, I would have a sound understanding of Facebook marketing when the time came to launch my own biz.

Or so I thought.

I soon discovered that to really benefit from the course, I needed to be fully in control of a Facebook presence. I needed to experiment and implement what I learned, then tweak and split test so I could refine the process. While I could make suggestions to my clients, that didn’t always result in immediate action and did not give me the freedom to learn on the go.

I also learned the hard way that social media moves fast. Even though I could download and keep all the course modules, Facebook has moved on. Much of the information is already outdated.

That’s how I discovered the difference between “just in time” learning and “just in case” learning.

“Just in case” learning is otherwise known as shiny object syndrome – that excited, “gotta have it”, this-is-the-answer-to-all-my-business-challenges feeling. (And sometimes, it’s followed by buyer remorse.)

“Just in time” learning means only signing up for a course if it answers one of the top three business challenges you are struggling with right now. It means being ready and willing to implement the course materials right away. It means doing your darnedest to keep pace with the course, so you can take full advantage of any live feedback, group Q & A sessions and office hours.

It means being fully committed, not just to learning, but to implementing the knowledge and processes you are paying for.

So if you’re wondering whether to buy that course, here’s how to decide:

  1. Define your learning priorities – Make a list of all the things you need to learn over the next twelve months to meet your business goals. Assign them a number in order or priority.
  2. Start a wish list – Every time you come across a class or a course you’d like to take, add it to your wish list. Classes that fit within your top three learning priorities should move to the top of the list.
  3. Do your research – Start following the people you’d like to learn from. Get on their mailing list and make a note of their next launch date, so you can set aside the funds to pay for the course.
  4. Absorb the free content first – Most online entrepreneurs put out a ton of free content, or sell low cost ebooks or bundles. If you are seriously considering purchasing a course, spend time on the course creator’s website and Facebook page. Read their blogs, watch their videos, listen to their podcasts. Learn as much as you can, for free or at a low cost. If you like their style and still feel you have more to learn from them, great! This could be the course for you.
  5. Dedicate specific study hours – Only sign up if you can set aside specific study time each week to keep up with the course work. If there’s no space in your schedule, now is not the time to do the course. It doesn’t matter if the fee is going up next time, or these extra special bonuses won’t be available. There is no point in shelling out hundreds or even thousands of dollars for something that will simply sit on your hard drive. Of course life gets in the way and you may slip behind, but from the outset you should make the course a priority in your weekly schedule. Thinking you’ll just fit it in somewhere rarely works.
  6. Focus, Finish, Implement – No matter how easy the course creators make it seem, learning time is limited if you are trying to run a profitable online business and juggle the demands of your personal life. Commit to only one course at a time and see it through to completion. Doing the coursework live will help keep you motivated and you’ll benefit from the support of others who are also working through the materials.

Finally, ignore the scarcity hype. Online marketers are genius at this. They’ll say it’s the last time you get their personal input, or they don’t know if they’ll be offering the course again, or that next time the price will double. They’ll offer limited time, ‘fast action’ bonuses for immediate sign ups.

All of that may be true.

And bonuses are great IF it’s the right time for you to take the course.

If not, step away from the shiny object. Often once the buzz has passed, you may find you don’t even think of that course again.

What’s on your learning wishlist? Share your learning priorities in the comments below and if I can, I’ll suggest some resources you can add to your wishlist.

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