Your unique skills are the reason you’re in business today, and teaching those skills to others could be the next big thing that allows your business to thrive.
Teaching classes is becoming a popular way for business owners to connect with audiences and open a new stream of revenue. While many businesses began offering virtual classes as a way to engage consumers during quarantine mandates, the popularity of these virtual offerings hasn’t slowed. In the recent Square Future of Commerce report, 51% of beauty businesses indicated they will continue offering online classes and 25% of restaurants see cooking classes as a lasting stream for additional revenue and engagement.
If you’re ready to share your valuable knowledge with the world, here are some tips to start creating content for your own classes and tutorials.
Turning knowledge into revenue-driving experiences
While quarantining at home, many people sought online learning as a way to keep themselves occupied. Udemy’s online course platform saw a 425% rise in enrollment during lockdowns, with many Americans embracing creative courses around their hobbies. Airbnb and Uncommon Goods both launched online experience-based offerings where participants could access virtual courses, tastings, or tours. In a recent survey, 90% of respondents said that even once live events are back, they would still be interested in virtual offerings.
Entrepreneur Danira Cancinos has experienced firsthand the revenue potential of virtual classes. She funneled her baking skills into a source of income by teaching online courses on how to make cheesecakes, churros, and other delicious treats. With prices ranging from $20 to $285, and 300 to 980 participants per class, Cancinos was able to bring in nearly $335,000 in 2020.
Deciding what you should teach
The first step to creating your own class is deciding what you want to teach. Start by identifying what your audience wants to learn about. Conduct research on your target demographic’s interests, challenges, and needs. Or poll your audience directly, through social media, email, or surveys. Ask what parts of your business they are most intrigued by, and what they’d love to learn more about.
Another great source of ideas is to list out the frequently asked questions (or challenges) you hear from your customers. This is how Cancinos got the idea for her latest course offering. After frequently being asked how to get started teaching online, she designed a course for bakers who want to start teaching their own classes, with a starting price tag of $500.
Next, take steps to identify your differentiating talents and skills. What are you good at? If you’re a current business owner, start with your bread and butter: the skills of your craft that led you to open your business. Don’t forget that, as an entrepreneur, your skillset goes far beyond just the skills of your trade. You have likely developed knowledge and expertise in areas of business finance, marketing, social media, and more.
Another question to ask: What do other people often come to you for advice about or help with? Many of us have talents that we aren’t aware of because they feel so natural to us.
The intersection of what you’re good at, and what your audience is interested in learning about, is your sweet spot. This is where you’ll find the golden ideas for a course that you can teach.
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Tips for building an engaging class
Teaching your craft or skill is not the same as doing. There’s a reason that teaching is a profession with an entire field of study dedicated to it.
To make your classes successful, and to keep your audience coming back for more, you must create an engaging experience. A big appeal for consumers taking online classes and workshops is the experience that’s created for the audience to participate in.
Here are some tips:
Keep it simple. Break your subject matter into simple steps or pieces. If it’s getting too lengthy or complicated, consider whether the topic you’ve chosen should actually be two classes.
Outline the entire course agenda at the beginning. It’s important to set expectations so your participants know what’s coming.
Encourage questions. If you’re hosting a live class, allow time for Q&A throughout the class (not just at the end). This will help make your audience feel more involved in the class and foster two-way interaction. If it’s a prerecorded class that participants watch on their own time, consider providing a way to get in touch with you so they can submit questions.
Prepare a lesson plan and any resources. Outline how you plan to teach the subject matter, step by step. Don’t assume you can just “wing it.” Also, make a plan to create any content and supporting resources ahead of time.
For live classes, consider having a moderator. It can help to have someone manage the live chat, field questions as they come in, or help participants with minor technical issues so you can focus on the teaching.
Test your tech. Always test your equipment and the platform you’ll be streaming or hosting your class on. Do a rehearsal beforehand to run through your script and ensure all of your tech is working smoothly. If you prerecord any parts of your class, be sure to save your recorded videos and other content in at least two places so you always have a backup.
Above all, what makes a class successful is more about the experience that people have than the strict “success” of mastering the course concept in one session. Aim to leave your audience with a positive association, great memories, and the feeling that they were included, involved, and engaged with you.