Creating an e-course is no joke. Though I knew this going into it, I somehow thought I would create this super comprehensive course for Share-worthy Design, well branded no doubt, in no time. Whelp — that was a bit naive. The research alone to selecting the right topic, outlining your lessons, and committing to a platform can take up so much of your time. Not to mention actually creating the content for your course, editing the videos (if yours is a video course), and promoting. Needless to say, you are no doubt feeling overwhelmed as you read this intro! But that’s not my style. I in no way want to deter you from pursuing creating a course and sharing your knowledge. I’d rather give you an inside look into how I designed + created my course, with hopes of helping you in the process.
If you’ve thought of creating an online course, or have one yourself, this post is for you. Below are a few of the tools that helped me create my course. There are a wealth of options to choose from today, but after wayyyyy too much research, these are what I landed on. Hope this helps!
Branding: Design, as you might expect me to say, is what builds trust in your brand. If you are selling a product or course, you most definitely need to earn the trust of your potential customers before they hit purchase. Without their trust, your sales will suffer. Hence — why creating a quality brand design is crucial.
Because I’m a brand identity designer, I developed the design for the Share-worthy Design course myself. (yay for saving money, and a fun side project!) I opted to create a fresh name + accompanying logo and identity for the course. A lot went into this decision, and it wasn’t one I took lightly. Learn why I decided to create a separate identity for my course.
Custom Illustration: Let’s all take a minute and swoon over that stunning illustration. (ohhhh ahh!) Seriously, I’m still as smitten with it as when I saw the first proof. Though I design some illustrations myself, I never claim to be an illustrator. That is an entire different design than branding. I reached out to an illustrator who had a similar aesthetic, and she created this beauty for me. We have since worked on client branding projects together, and I’m so happy to have another member of the Spruce Rd. design team!
This illustration took my course branding to the next level. It’s fun, branded, and graphic — and has allowed my brand to really expand from using bits and pieces from this design.
Design Software: I used the “big three” Adobe programs for my course. Okay, no one really calls them the “big three” but that’s what I refer to them as since they are the ones I’m in daily. I’m talking about Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. Illustrator is hands down my fav, so I used this program to design the branding, promotions, and even the sales page (prior to developing). The course workbook was created in Adobe InDesign. I have no fear of this program, since using it daily for the past 6 years. It’s a close second to Illustrator in my book! I designed the workbook to be printed (!!!!) for the first few people who sign up for the course. Adobe InDesign allows for the best software in designing printed books. I also created a PDF for those who aren’t the first few to sign-up and receive the physical workbook. For promotional images that included photographs or mockups, I used Adobe Photoshop.
In the Share-worthy Design course I walk through how to use Adobe Illustrator, and a bit of Photoshop, showing you exactly how to create your logo design, branded elements (hello patterns + icons), down to promotional images to help launch your e-course or product.
Custom Photography: When creating my brand early last year, I reached out to a fav photographer of mine (Holly Booth) for a few custom branded images. I can’t recommend her enough! I’m still using these photos and customizing them for various uses. You can see a few examples above of how I customized the photos to promote the course. To see more examples, check the Spruce Rd. instagram.
Samsung Galaxy S6: Shhh… I traded in my iphone for an android this year. I somehow feel a bit of unnecessary guilt over that, but honestly feel as though I made the best decision. I mentioned earlier I’m a chronic researcher, and this purchase was no exception. As we were on a layover, I researched my little heart out to find the best phone for my business. It was time for me to upgrade from my sister-in-law’s hand me down iphone, and I was ready for a change. My #1 priority was to purchase a phone with an awesome camera. I’ve never been too impressed with the iphone camera, and had no idea what I was missing out on.
The Samsung Galaxy phones beat every phone (within that price range) in terms of photography. Low lighting? No problem. Seriously, purchase this phone if you want better photos, and are okay living without imessage.
I use Quicktime to record videos (free on your macbook) and ScreenFlow to edit ($99). I used to edit only in Quicktime, which worked fine for a while. When updating the course this go around, I wanted to re-do a few of the intros. I ran into a snag when the audio was drastically different between now and when I initially recorded a few months back. Quicktime, as far as I know, doesn’t offer much in the way of audio editing. That’s when I turned to ScreenFlow, and am so glad I did! It is SO easy to use. I literally created 5 short videos for instagram in about an hour. It’s enabled me to get creative with promoting my course as well. Highly recommend :).
I use Vimeo to host my videos. Previously, I used Wistia (which I loved), but alas I ran out of space on the free tier. It came down to which platform was more affordable, and Vimeo did the trick with a $100 to spare.
Website, Membership site, Payment, Email
Wordpress + OptimizePress: Most people avoid Wordpress like the plague, but OptimizePress makes it so easy to drag and drop your site design. As mentioned earlier, I designed my sales page in Adobe Illustrator, then jumped over to OptimizePress to translate it on web. I finished creating my sales page in a day on OP. Not too bad for someone with limited coding knowledge ;).
Teachery: Previously, I hosted my course on Wordpress as well. However, this year I opted to switch to a different platform with hopes of streamlining my process — Teachery*. Even though I’m a designer myself, and have designed several sites (including the previous version of this course), I wanted a more reliable and hands-off platform. My students pay money for this course, and I wanted to make sure there weren’t any hosting issues (as I’ve previously had), so they always have access to the course.
Teachery has been SO great, and I highly recommend this platform for e-courses. They allow you to focus on your content, rather than get hung up on creating a membership site — which, trust me, I was definitely spending way too much time on that instead of creating my course, or promoting it. I purchased their lifetime membership (one time $900) that allows for $0 transaction fees.
Payment: I use Stripe for payment of my course. This integrates well with Teachery, and is a breeze to set up. It has minimum transaction fees as well, so the cheap-o in me feels good about it.
Convertkit: Once a student signs up for the course, they will immediately be added as a subscriber to my email list, and tagged as a SWD member. I have used Convertkit* for a few months, and have loved this platform. Yes, it takes some getting used to, but like Teachery they allow you to focus on content rather than get hung up on distractions. Convertkit seamlessly integrates with Teachery as well, so that’s a bonus :).
Creating an e-course has been a great move for Spruce Rd. It just made sense with my vision, and passion for teaching others what has worked for my business. Not only that, but as you know I can talk for days about branding — and creating this comprehensive e-course has allowed me to do that :). If you are considering creating an e-course, I hope this inside look behind how I created the Share-worthy Design course has helped you in some way.
If you are ready to take your idea to the next level, or improve your current e-course / product branding, I’ve got just the resource for you. The Share-worthy Design course for Infopreneurs teaches you how to design your own beautiful branding without needing to hire a designer, or fumble through Adobe Illustrator on your own.
*denotes affiliate link — I already use + recommend this software :)