This week I spend time with Erica Nash, an instructional designer who specializes in helping people create better experiences in their online courses. She’ll share exactly why it’s so important to stop creating courses the way we’ve seen them done in the past, plus share tips about what you should be doing instead!
Investing in time, energy, even money into developing a better experience in your course or coaching program ultimately means your students will be more successful and you’ll make more money. Win-win!
Today’s episode is brought to you by the Passion to Profit Marketing Academy™— an immersive group coaching experience that helps you scale up your income and impact sustainably to $10k months and 6+ Figure Success. Join me for a free Masterclass to see what's keeping YOU from hitting your goals and the exact steps you need to reach them. See you inside!
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Welcome to the passion to profit show, where we talk about how to scale your passionate business into a profitable empire. I’m Tiffany Barry, a marketing expert and relationship marketing enthusiast. Join me for 20 minutes or less every week to talk about business, scaling up CEO, mindset, freedom and flexibility for entrepreneurs level up to six and seven figures. Let’s get started. Welcome to this week’s episode of passion of profit. This week, I am talking about instructional design, intentional course design with Erica Nash. Erica is an instructional designer and illustrator whose special in the entire course experience and developing a strategy behind making better courses and actually creating a better experience overall for your students.
Tiffany Barry (00:52):
Thank you again, Erica, for coming on the passion of profit podcast. I’m so excited that that we have the chance to speak, and I love of what we’re gonna talk about today, especially in the online course and coaching field, because, you know, I feel like so many people are expanding their streams of revenue to include something like that. Or even shifting their business to be only that and, and a lot of them are doing it and setting it up in a way that they’ve always seen it done and, and it, it’s not always a way that works best. So I’d love to just have you, you know, introduce yourself a little bit about what you do and then we can kind of dig into what’s broken and you know, what, what you feel like should be you changing.
Erica Nash (01:44):
Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I am an instructional designer and illustrator, and I work with coaches that have courses, like you said, you know, as part of their revenue stream and I’ve sort of just made it my mission to help them make better courses because what we’ve always done with courses just isn’t really working anymore. And you know, I, I feel like consumers are looking for something just a little bit more and so I’ve kind of made it my mission to help them get those courses that they’re looking for.
Tiffany Barry (02:19):
I love that. I love that. So when you, when you start working you know, with, with a client or when you’re, when you’re talking with somebody who is developing a course or maybe revamping their course, what are some of the kind of big things that you see as being really, you know, problems in the industry, whether it’s you know, gaps that they’re not filling or maybe, you know, things are structured wrong, like are, what are some of those issues that you see right out the right out the gate often?
Erica Nash (02:48):
Yeah. you know, a lot of times I will find that courses are a big brain dump and it’s just, you know, let me take all of what I know and put it all out there and give it to people. And they’ll, you know, they’ll learn something from it and that’s not always, you know, that’s not always the case. And so we can dig in a little more to that later. I also see like how teachers are, I say teachers course creators are not necessarily teachers in the way that they’re just like, kind of absent. And so you know, they just, they put out this course and it’s just like, you know, 10 hours of video and 50 pages of workbook. And then they expect you know, students to be able to get a lot from that and apply it. And that’s not always the case because we’re gonna come up against objections and we need somebody to like walk us through those.
Erica Nash (03:50):
And and so the absent teacher is definitely another one and then this sort of one size fits all approach. And that’s just not the way that people learn. And I, I definitely find that some course creators, they have great content. They have great you know, they have like a really good framework. Their methods really solid all of that stuff, but the way that they’re teaching is only the way that they learned and just because they learned it that specific way doesn’t mean it’s gonna work for everyone else. And so, you know, kind of digging into that and, and putting in some you know, different learning styles you know, activities that will appeal to them and, and just, you know, doing different things. That’s not just going to, I don’t know, just one size fits all, just doesn’t work.
Tiffany Barry (04:46):
Yeah. Yeah. I see, I see when I see you know, people in networking and Facebook groups and commenting, there’s so many comments about people just saying, you know, don’t buy any course and don’t hire any coach because I had this horrible experience and this is the way it is. And it’s so sad to me because there is a better way, you know, like it doesn’t have to be prescriptive. It doesn’t have to be one size fits all. And, and honestly, I feel like, and, and you may have thoughts on this too. Like, I feel like those, those, you know, one size fits all tied courses are so much better suited to those like low ticket you know, really quick, actionable, like mini courses almost where it’s, it’s like, you know how to set up your Facebook ads or something, you know, something that is pretty, you know, step by step.
Tiffany Barry (05:38):
This is how you do a thing, but that high level strategy, which is what most people are looking for really does need to go, you know, beyond that, that cookie cutter type program. So what would you say are some ways people can fix that? Like, what are some, if they’re, if someone is listening and they’re looking at their course and they’re like, oh, no, this is exactly, this is exactly what I’ve done. I have a brain dump in teachable and, you know, like it’s just a bunch of video and I have a great workbook. Like if they’re sitting there thinking, oh, no, what do I do next? What would you recommend, you know, to maybe isolate some of those issues and make their program better for the people who are gonna be coming out of it.
Erica Nash (06:24):
Yeah. And, you know, I first it would be to not panic, like, and it’s not to say that there isn’t a place for those, you know, like you said, quick little courses that don’t necessarily require a lot of guidance or things like that, you know, that are very cut and dry, very straightforward. But you know, if, if somebody is out there with what they’re selling as a high ticket course, and it is, it does fall into one of those categories. The first thing that I would recommend is looking at the data of their current students. And so the data of their current students is going to tell them a whole lot about what is working and what is not working in the course. So looking at where their students are engaging and where they’re disengaging, and it’s a whole, you know, it’s a whole process, but the data is really, really important.
Erica Nash (07:17):
It tells us story. Right. And it, and from that, you’re able to sort of pick apart what is broken sort of in your course, you know, where the gaps are. And then once you identify the gaps and you’re able to see, oh, okay, well, this isn’t working. Why isn’t it working? And from there, it’s so important to talk to your students, like, they’re gonna be able to tell you, well, that was a lot of information. And I just don’t have time for that. You know, if it’s like a busy mom and she’s all over the place all the time, she can’t necessarily sit down at her desk by herself for two hours, right. Listening to video, you know? And, and so you really have, have to look at, you know, the whole picture of what you currently have and all of the data. And then from there kind of break it down into, obviously what’s not working based on, you know, the percentages and and then talk to your students and, and go from there.
Tiffany Barry (08:16):
Yeah. I love, I love that cuz you know, we, I, as you were talking, I was sitting here thinking that, you know, when, when we talk about course completion rates and course engagement rates, we so often put the onus and the responsibility for that on the people who are completing the courses, like, you know, something like nine or 10% of people are that, that small percentage are the people who actually complete the courses that they buy. And we kind of look at a lot of times we put that responsibility on them. Like, you know, people buy courses that they don’t complete, but, but really, I mean, when you think about it, the onus to create an engaging course is on us. It’s on us as course creators. So, you know, looking, taking those rose colored glasses off and looking at our own stuff and thinking, like you said, where are my students engaging?
Tiffany Barry (09:09):
Where are they dropping off? You know? And I think some people are scared to just talk to their students, you know, ask them what’s wrong because when something is wrong, it’s really easy to get defensive. And, and like you said, you have to be, you know, no panic, you have to be easy on yourself, but there’s things that you can do to make it more engaging, you know, to, to have a better curriculum. So, so what would, when it comes to, you know, creating that, that, you know, just that course experience that creates, I love to say, you know, evangelists for your program, like what are, what are people looking for? You know, and how can, how can course creators meet that expectation and really over deliver on curriculum and experience.
Erica Nash (09:59):
Yes. And I love that so much. And, and overdelivering really is kind of, I think where we’re at sort of in this whole online education space you know, people are ready to be wowed. They’re ready to have that over the top value. And I really think it comes back to knowing your students really well. And, you know, I know that like in the business world, we’re told all the time, like, you know, know your audience, know your audience and like know their pain points and all of that stuff. And really you know, that, that’s what it means to be an educator. It means to, and you, as a course creator, that’s exactly what you are. You don’t necessarily have to be like in the public school classroom. And so knowing your audience really well is going to allow you to create a course specifically for them.
Erica Nash (10:49):
And, and this is probably gonna sound a little overwhelming and scary, and it doesn’t mean it doesn’t, I don’t necessarily mean for it to be that way, but you know, each cohort that you bring in may require something a little bit different, but your curriculum should always be under construction. And so it should be a constant cycle of evaluation and revision, so that you’re able to go in and, and meet the needs of your current students, because as times change, as people change, as circumstances change, you know, like COVID it, I think that’s really why we’re seeing such a shift in the online education space. There’s more courses than ever. And how do you make yours? You know, how do you make your stand out? And so, you know, as far as like, how do you go over the top and, and offer that over the top experience, cuz that’s what it should be is, is a total experience, especially for a high ticket program, you know, knowing your students really well and meeting their specific needs.
Erica Nash (11:54):
And I’m gonna keep coming back to that because it is the utmost important thing that you’ll do in your course is meeting their specific needs. And so, you know, if you have a course for moms, know what moms need. And so again, like, you know, they’re probably not going to be able to sit down on by themselves and watch two hours of video and go through 50 pages of a workbook, no matter how good it is. So make it accessible for them, you know, can you put it in a podcast format so that they can put an ear butt in and listen on the go, you know, is there shuffling kids to, and from soccer practice or whatever. And so, you know, do things that are going to allow them to interact with the material in a way that sort of fits in with their life, not necessarily causing them to change their life in order to, you know, interact with your curriculum.
Erica Nash (12:50):
Right. And like what you said earlier, I really, I really kind of resonated with talking about how, you know, we tend to put the responsibility on the, the consumers for finishing courses when you know, it it’s a little bit of both, right? It’s kind of a give and take, like we have the responsibility to make sure that our courses as engaging as possible and then it’s on them to, to, you know, whether they do it or not. Right. But it is on us in some way to make sure that we are taking the opportunity to give them the best course that they, you know, can interact with. And so, you know, going over the top, like I said, making sure that, you know, your audience and filling the needs that they have and then community is huge. People want community, especially now that we are sort of so far removed from people in general, you know, whether PE it’s because people are working from home or whatever you know, we’re a little more together than we were in 2020, but still we’re pretty it different than before, right?
Erica Nash (13:56):
So people need community. And so building a community around your curriculum is a really great strategy. You know, a lot of times people will come for the content let’s say for the community. And then one of the other things that I really love to see is when a course leader will really go above and beyond to make the course delightful and fun and surprising. And whether that’s because they’re, you know, surprising their students with like a thank you gift or milestone gifts or whatever, or, you know, they’re allowing them to be, I don’t know, interviewed on there. Maybe that coach has a podcast, maybe they interview their students, give them a little bit of exposure. Maybe they’re, you know, meeting once a quarter to have like a virtual happy hour or it’s a little bit different that, that people aren’t doing that make people feel loved and seen and heard, cuz that’s really just what people want.
Tiffany Barry (14:59):
Yes. I love, I love that. Especially because it echoes so much of what we’re looking for in this space in general, like across disciplines across in this streets, you know, across themes and topics, you know, that personalization meeting people where they are meeting their needs. Like that’s something you know, I was just talking recently about in the marketing space, you know, we’re talking about what are the trends for 20, 22 and on marketing and what are we seeing? And we’re like, automation is great, but if it’s automation without personalization, it’s running your business into the ground because that’s the expectation now. And, and you know, you are seeing that in the course creator space, that that is a need. And I think when it comes to course creators, just like marketing, it’s one of the easiest shifts that you can make, maybe not. So, so, so simple, you know, it’s got a lot of moving pieces, but one of those easiest shifts that you can make is becoming customer centric, you know, like becoming personalized you know, adding things to, like you said to your program, things, to delight people, you know, it doesn’t take a lot of, of, of time and effort to, you know, send milestone check-in emails or, you know, do a virtual happy hour, you know, once a month or once a quarter.
Tiffany Barry (16:23):
I mean that’s 30 to 60 minutes of your time. And, but the impact that, that can have on someone because, you know, and imagine you’re, you’re in that program, you’re in that course and you’re thinking, you know, this is for me, this is, this is because I’m here. And it’s like, you know, I very much believe that when you’re asking people to invest in you and your course and your program that you 100% have to be willing to even more in them. And you know, you mentioned like doing those things really helps you stand out in a time when we’re seeing so many more courses than ever before. So, so yeah, I just think, I think everything you said, so on point like it’s, this is, these are shifts that the industry needs in general, but there are also shifts that are gonna grow the course creator’s business and help them stand out.
Erica Nash (17:22):
Yeah. And like, like you said, you know, people need to know like if, if you’re investing 2,005,000 whatever thousand dollars into a course and essentially write a course creator it’s so important for that course creator to show that consumer that they are just as invested in that consumer as that consumer is in their course. And, you know, it’s so valuable whenever they can get personal. And, and I don’t necessarily just mean sort of this personalized approach to courses in general, but just like talk to them, like have conversations and talk to them, get to know them, talk to them about things that are not related to business. Yeah. Like just get to know them on a personal lever level. And like, I think that is missing right now. And it really is so valuable because truly at the heart of it, like people just want to be seen. Yeah, that’s it.
Tiffany Barry (18:28):
Yep. Yep. I say that about, you know I do a lot of, of marketing strategy and, and there’s, there’s all this complicated mess about marketing and I’m like at its core level, just be a human and seek out other humans, like just look to provide value, look, to create like real relationships, not just, Hey, I see from your profile that you have two dogs, me too, like words. Yeah. You know, like, like you said, invest in, in each other. And you’ll go so much further in your business and you know, not only are you gonna be helping people and have a bigger impact, but you’re gonna meet more fulfilled at, as a business owner as a course creator because you are giving them all these, you know, tools, this, this entire toolkit to succeed. And then you get to watch that journey. And that’s such an honor to, to be able to guide people to whatever that transformation is that they’re looking for.
Tiffany Barry (19:30):
Like it’s such an honor and you know, that it, it fills you up and it makes you want to continue your business. Cuz there are gonna be crappy days and hard days. And you know, we’ve gotta also be thinking about, well, how are we gonna get through it? And F that fulfillment of seeing people succeed because you’ve set them up for success is just monumental. So when it comes to, you know, what, what you do I know if, if, if you have, if, if anyone listening has a course I know you do a kind of audit. So tell us little bit about how, if, if someone is listening and a little worried or, or just feels over their head on, you know, is, is my course right? Is, is it set up right? Can I do better? How what are some ways that they could reach out and, and work with you and partner with you to kind of get those high ticket experience that, you know, high engagement course and program built out?
Erica Nash (20:36):
Yeah, for sure. They can find me on Instagram and pop into my DMS and we can chat about, you know, whatever, whatever they’re worried about. Sometimes, you know, there are small things that can make really big changes. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge overhaul right away. And then, you know, they can go to my website and, and message me through there. But yeah, like typically it would start with an audit and just kind of look at the curriculum as a whole, the course as a whole, and just take stock and kind of see where we are, see where we’re doing, what we’re doing and, and how things are going. You know, because like I said earlier about the data, the data doesn’t lie. And so everything starts with data, everything starts with strategy. And then we’re able to kind of see where we need to go in and you know, see if, if what the current trends are, are actually carrying the course creator onto their goals, or if we need to make a shift.
Tiffany Barry (21:38):
I love that. I love that. Well, thank you again for coming on the podcast. I think what you shared is just so valuable and so needed. So I’m so grateful for your time. And we will have all of your links in the show notes. But anyone listening can also go to Erica N design.com to follow up with Erica. Again, thank you for coming on the show and we will see you all next time.
Erica Nash (22:03):
Thank you for having me.
Tiffany Barry (22:06):
That’s it. For this episode out of passion to profit, if you found it helpful, insightful, or just entertaining subscribe, wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. And if you’re ready to scale your business from passion to six figure profits, don’t forget to watch the free masterclass tiffanyebarry.com/masterclass.