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Photo Contest Insider Blog

How and Why Photographers Should Create Their Own Online Courses

July 15, 2017

Did you know as a photographer, you possess a unique skill set that people would love to learn?

Not everyone is a natural with a camera, nor can they edit photos, organize photo shoots, prepare moodboards, or any of the other unique tasks that your job entails!

Because of this, you are in a great position to actually create your own online courses – including ones that students pay to enroll in.

That’s right, thanks to the blossoming world of online business, it’s never been so easy to add extra streams of income to your photography career. The best part? Today we’re going to explain to you how and why photographers should create their own online courses. You could have one up and running in no time!

Let’s get started!

Firstly, How Does an Online Course Work?

If you haven’t taken part in an online course yet yourself, you may be wondering exactly how they work. It’s basically like any other course you might take, involving classes (or subjects / topics), along with worksheets, homework tasks, and stuff like that. The content is divided up into modules or sections, and may even be spaced out on a week-by-week basis.

There is also some form of interaction with the teacher or other students, however rather than in a face-to-face setting, this takes place online – whether it’s via email, in forums, or even through Facebook groups.

An online course might aim to teach you something within a space as short as a weekend or 24 hours. On the other hand (and this is usually more common), online courses can also be created to run for the duration of weeks or months.

How and Why Photographers Should Create Their Own Online Courses

What Topics Should You Cover?

This is the good bit! While you might be struggling to think of topics that you’re an expert in to teach, we can assure you that there are a lot more possibilities than you think.

What are the tasks you undertake day in, day out? Have you mastered the marketing side of your photography business, or have you been able to build a large and loyal social media following to showcase your photography to?

Do you frequently collaborate with brands or have you learned how to make your own amazing photo shoot props on a budget? Or perhaps you’re an expert at using a certain photography-related software or product?

The sky is truly the limit here, so grab a piece of paper and write down all of the tasks or things about your photography business that you love doing the most. Often, what we love goes hand-in-hand with what we’re both passionate about and really skilled in, so don’t be shy to write down whatever comes to mind!

Don’t feel as though you’re only limited to the subjects that you yourself have had formal training in. Remember, when it comes to learning, sometimes nothing can beat real-life, hands-on experience – even if it’s self-taught.

The Creation Process

Have you revised your list of potential topics you can teach other people about? Now you need to go over that list with a fine-tooth comb and really think about what topic(s) you would be able to create an entire online course about.

Can’t narrow them down to just one topic? That’s ok! Are there any general themes happening with your list? Perhaps you’ll be able to bunch a few overlapping topics together to create a more in-depth course for fellow photographers.

Here’s how the rest of the process works…

How and Why Photographers Should Create Their Own Online Courses

Outline Your Course

Now that you know what your course will be about, it’s time to think about every little step or action that students must take to achieve the particular goal your online course is focusing on.

For example, do you want them to be experts at using Photoshop by the end of the course, or will they be learning to become a more confident photographer?

What are the individual actions or things that they will have to learn about in order to get to this stage?

The major steps might become your modules, while these steps can then be broken down into bite-size goals. These will become your lessons. Just make sure that each module or lesson is focusing on something very specific, as you want your course to be as cohesive as possible. Think of it as a helping hand, ready to guide your student along a path to achieving awesomeness.

For this first part of the creation process, it’s all about organization. Simply planning your content’s modules and lessons in bullet points is enough for now.

Start Writing Your Lessons

Ok, this is the part where you flesh-out your bullet points from the section above. Open a blank Word document or Google Doc (or even grab the old-fashioned pen and paper) and begin writing away, lesson by lesson.

Be sure to include as much valuable information as possible. The aim isn’t to make your online course super long – in fact, you want it to provide people with a shortcut to their success. That’s why people take online courses after all, rather than enrolling in a traditional university or community college course.

Be sure to use easy-to-understand and conversational language to keep them interested and break up your text into short paragraphs, bullet points, graphs, images, or anything else that will make it engaging and educational.

How and Why Photographers Should Create Their Own Online Courses

Create Bonus Material to Complement Teachings

Now that your lessons have been completed (even if it’s just a first draft), you’ll need to think about the various bonus material you can include to help students even more. We’re talking about fun things such as printable workbooks, worksheets, checklists, swipe copy, templates, eBooks, calendars, and anything else that will provide value.

The important thing is to make sure that the bonus material actually complements the lesson or subject it’s included with. You don’t want to create things just for the sake of it. Everything must serve your ultimate purpose of making sure your student achieves what this course is about.

Choosing a Delivery / Access Method

This is probably the bit that course creators tend to stumble with the most and it may even act as a deterrent for some people.

Whether your course is free or requires payment for a student to join, you’ll want to ensure that they have access to a secure, easy-to-use, and aesthetically pleasing platform for your course material.

If tech isn’t quite your thing, don’t stress. There are a number of simple websites that let you quickly and easily set up a course. Some of them are as simple as using a ‘drag-and-drop’ website builder method!

We’ll list some of the most popular platforms below, before briefly discussing the option of setting up your content as a free email-delivered course.

  • Teachable
  • Thinkific
  • Zenler
  • Zippy Courses
  • Academy of Mine
  • Teachery
  • Skilljar
  • Braincert
  • Pathwright

Be sure to do your research, as everyone is different and one platform may be more suited to your course than others.

As we mentioned previously, you can also set-up your online course to run as an email course. While it can be a tad trickier setting it up as a paid course (although there are plenty of tutorials to help you), students often love the ease of having their lessons delivered straight to their inbox so they can go over them during their own time.

The trick to setting up email courses is to have each of your lessons as auto-responders, meaning that they are delivered after a certain ‘trigger’ (i.e. lesson two might be delivered two days after the student signs-up, and so on).

How and Why Photographers Should Create Their Own Online Courses

How Much Will You Charge?

We hate to disappoint you, but there is no specific rule or formula for working out how much you should charge students to enroll into your course.

The price per course is also not based on length either, as sometimes the most valuable online courses are those which teach students something in an in-depth way, but in way less time (i.e. ‘learn how to use your camera like a pro within just 48 hours’).

A good rule of thumb is to compare your course to others in the market. What are others charging students to enroll in their photography-related courses? Does yours offer more or less value and content than theirs? Can you offer any additional, bonus content (such as access to other online courses or even a private course Facebook group) to bump-up the perceived value?

How to Promote Your Course and Get Students

Promotion plays a vital role in online course creation, as without this step, you won’t spread the word about your awesome course or gain students!

The key to any successful online course launch is having an email list containing your target audience. In other words, the people who your course is actually aimed at (in this case, it will probably be other photographers who are less experienced than you).

Alternatively, you can also promote the course across your social media, but keep in mind that having a targeted email list is more important than having a large social media following. People can easily miss a tweet or Instagram post, but they will generally check their emails multiple times a day (and there’s no pesky algorithms at play here!).

Additionally, you can reach out to others who have a photography-related course or product and ask if they’re interested in promoting your course to their following in exchange for you promoting theirs. Keep in mind that you want to choose another course or product that doesn’t directly compete with yours. For example, theirs might be an eBook on how to market your photography business and your course is about how to get paid to work with brands as a photographer.

How and Why Photographers Should Create Their Own Online Courses

Examples of Photographers with Successful Online Courses

Need some extra inspiration from photographers who have had huge success with launching their own online course? Look no further than the list of talented individuals below!

  • Emily Soto (teaches multiple online video courses via CreativeLive)
  • Lara Jade (also teaches a number of online video courses via CreativeLive)
  • Zhang Jingna (teaches a popular online course about Artistic Portrait Photography via Learn Squared)

While the courses above only contain video lessons, be assured that you can have a successful online course that is text or audio-based also.

Resources to Find Out More

Have you devoured our guide about creating your own online photography course and wish to find out even more information? Below we’ve included some links to incredibly helpful content from more experts – this time focusing on entrepreneurs who make a living from online courses (and actually share their knowledge regularly!).

  • Femtrepreneur blog by Mariah Coz (a.k.a the online course creation queen)
  • Melyssa Griffin’s article titled ‘6 Things You Need To Know About Coming Up With a Profitable E-Course Idea’.
  • Wonderlass’s article titled ‘10 Things I did to Go from a $179 Course Launch to a $10,000 Course Launch’.
  • By Regina’s article titled ‘A Course Launch Case Study: $1350 with a 71-person email list’.

There you have it – our guide about how and why photographers should create their own online courses! Will you be going down the path of online course creation to increase your income streams? If so, we hope this information proved to be very valuable today!

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