Make an online course – conquering fear, again

I want to make an online course. There’s a lot that’s scary about that… but there are ways to conquer fear.

I’ve been in the doldrums, a bit.

I can’t say I started the year on a high, exactly, but I had (and still have) a set of plans and thoughts and instincts about ways in which I would change the way I did things.

A slice of that work was detailed in a previous post (The small business year ahead: Adventure – and fear). I know, you don’t want to go read the whole thing – in short, my plans included dedicating the early part of my day to a period of focused work; overcoming my fear of making an online course through fear setting; and developing my own approach to marketing.

I’ve done well, so far.

I have spent a good hour or more every morning working on that online course (combining two goals in one thing), and I have started thinking about how I do my marketing.

And now I feel a bit stuck.

I’ve hit the point in the online course where I must start writing the content and making videos. And for days in a row I haven’t actually done any of that (I’ve played around with video, and made a course outline, and got bogged down trying to make an old microphone work…. But no actual course creation has happened.)

Those are all familiar avoidance tactics. That means fear is in the mix.

Let’s talk about fear

I hauled out the pieces of paper on which I did my initial fear-setting exercise (based on a Tim Ferriss video, which details how to take your “what if” idea and look at all the possible things that could go wrong, and then look at ways to address those issues.

These are some of things I thought I feared (and still do), in answer to this question: “what if… I made an online course of some sort and tried to sell it”:

  • No one will buy it and I will have wasted my time
  • People will buy it and not like it and I will have to give money back
  • I will find out I don’t have the skills to make all the course things
  • I will pitch it wrong, or it will fail, and that will affect my main brand negatively
  • I will have to do things I don’t like (aggressive marketing or – horror – make videos)
  • The market is flooded; I have nothing to offer
  • I think something is a good idea and no one else is interested
  • I will put my hopes into this, and they will be crushed

There were a lot more, but they were mostly variations on the themes above.

Let’s talk about prevention and repair

The genius of the Ferriss fear-setting approach is that you then take each of those fears and look at what you can do to prevent them from happening, or what you can do to repair things if the worst happens. My list of these things was as long as the list of fears, but there were several dominant themes:

Start small (in other words don’t spend to much time on it)

  • Be open about my fears and vulnerability in the making of the course, and in any of my main brand marketing about that (and indeed, see this very blog post that you are reading), and in the long run use the emotional lessons I have learned to try to help other people.
  • Do some decent initial research
  • If people want their money back, give it to them! And if the course makes money, don’t spend it all at once.
  • Don’t refuse other work
  • Keep my hopes realistic (I said my goal was a course that I could sell to ten people for R300 a person)
  • You don’t have to do aggressive sales-funnel style marketing – do the work on finding other ways to do that.

What I’ve done so far

I’ve come up with a course idea and done some initial research – so far the indications are that there are people who would be interested, and who like the idea. I’ve started work on finding my own marketing path. I’ve found the online learning platform I need.

So far, all indications are that I should sail forth and get this done.

And yet here I am, stuck.

I’ve come to the conclusion that something about the actual act of making content is scary for reasons that I don’t yet understand. And so, I’ll be doing another fear-setting exercise.

I said 2024 was the year of adventure and fear; I’m coming to understand that it will be an iterative process. I’ll keep you posted.

Main picture: The Intertropical Convergence Zone (also known as the doldrums), NASA Earth Observatory


The small business year ahead: Adventure – and fear | Safe Hands

How to reach me

Contact me if you would like to chat about how I can help with all your communication needs (writing, editing, coaching and training, social media). I also help small businesses and organisations with project and operational management. 

I write a post every week, some about my professional life and work, and some about broader issues. You can get either of those, or both, in your email, by subscribing here.  

Comments are closed.