Distance education: how to tackle this market [complete guide]
A complete guide to begin teaching classes over the internet.
Distance education (DE) has seen a spike in the number of people interested in both higher education and free courses. This is due to recent technological advancements, the expansion of web access for various age groups and social classes, and to the benefits that online courses can offer.
According to the World Economic Forum, in the latest Global Shapers Survey, which interviewed 25,000 young people from across the world, 77.84% of them reported having taken online courses in the past.
Moreover, there was a 20% increase in the number of freshmen in undergraduate courses due to the growth in distance mode in the last 2 years.
Considering this data and the increasing variety of online courses, it is undeniable that DE is bound to grow even further and to increase its market share significantly. Whoever is interested in making a change in their professional life and venturing in digital entrepreneurship should look into the possibilities that DE has to offer.
In light of this opportunities, we prepared this post with information, tips and a complete guide to help you create your own online course and so you can enter this promising market as soon as possible.
Are you ready?
What is distance education?
Distance education is an educational model in which the process of teaching and learning occurs through the use of technological resources. Thus, the interaction between the teacher and student has the assistance of online tools and it doesn’t need an actual physical space.
There are currently several online class options, and this market involves not only undergraduate courses and specializations but also free courses in several areas of knowledge, such as cooking, languages, computer science, aesthetics, and many more.
Distance learning makes it possible for thousands of people to reach information and content in a much simpler, more dynamic, more economical, and faster way. With the absence of barriers, anyone can apply for an online course and therefore, the knowledge has a greater outstretch and becomes more appealing, given its easy access.
Who is Distance education for?
Considering what we have discussed about DE so far, we can conclude that it enables the entry of a much broader demographics than traditional face-to-face courses, doesn’t it? We live in a society that demands constant improvement and a rampant acquisition of people’s knowledge and skills. But the problem is, people have less and less available time.
Faced with this reality, spending time in traffic between two commitments or starting a task that does not allow other activities at the same time seems impossible for most people.
Distance education is for all those interested in studying certain content, but who have limited availability of time and require a dynamic and simple environment.
Additionally, they must have easy access to the internet and they need to be minimally organized to make it possible for them to take in everything the chosen course has to offer, even if in a more flexible context. After all, the student is the one who determines his needed study time daily.
The truth is that possibilities are endless when it comes to distance education. You can learn everything from a new profession to an artistic skill, all thanks to digital resources and the technological evolution. That’s why it’s so interesting to consider going into this market.
How to enter this market?
If you are a teacher and work with face-to-face classes, you are well on your way and you just need to adapt your teaching style to the virtual environment and its particularities. However, if you are not a teacher but are still interested in this market, do not be discouraged! Anyone who has a specific knowledge and is willing to share and step up to the challenge can do it.
Did you identify yourself with this profile?
So, check out our complete guide to get you started now on this great business opportunity in the world of DE.
1. Identify trends
More than having an extensive knowledge in a particular subject and willingness to share it, there needs to be an interest in that specific area. So, before you start teaching online, make sure that there is an audience for what you plan to teach.
There are websites like Google Trends and SEMRush that can help you in this step.
After this initial verification, carry out a thorough research on the niche market in which you intend to enter to check which trends are the most searched for and identify what you can bring that is unique and appealing to your target audience.
If you want to create online classes on making natural food for pets, for example, find out which segments of this business are trending and which ones have not been as covered but are still high on demand.
If there’s a saturation in the niche of natural food in general, study which specific topics the public has been asking for and still have not gotten enough material on. That way, you attract an audience that, even if it is smaller, it is not saturated from materials that are already available in the market and therefore have a greater chance of being interested in what you are going to teach.
2. Create a persona for your business
This step is critical to helping anyone who is starting their business to focus and invest in the right audience. To create a persona is to define who your potential client is by drawing up a complete profile of the characteristics, desires and problems of that consumer.
The persona is more than defining your target customer base, is to actually build an avatar that represents your ideal client, addressing all demographic and psychographic aspects, so that the marketing strategies are based on that profile and can be used to attract people who can, in fact, become consumers of your product.
Defining and knowing thoroughly who your customer persona is allows you to work out your content in a targeted way, avoiding wasted investment in an uninterested audience, and enabling you to enhance the material so that it adds real value to your customers.
Establish, then, the complete profile of your persona, with information such as name, age, gender, social status, education and profession. Remember to contemplate also personal tastes, personality, lifestyle, price range and quality that the persona finds attractive in services and products, among other important attributes that you find relevant.
3. Set the ideal format for your online classes
This is the time to think and define what will be the format of your classes. Distance education can be accomplished through videos or materials such as ebooks, for example.
All options are valid and have advantages and disadvantages depending on the niche market of your business. Therefore, it is essential to analyze carefully and choose what is most compatible with the persona’s profile.
An Ebook is a book in digital format and it must be predominantly written, but it can include images, graphs and charts to illustrate and highlight the information being shared.
For those who are apprehensive to appear in front of the cameras because they are shy, have difficulty speaking or lack resources, this is a good option.
The development of the digital content depends simply on your knowledge, ability to express yourself with ease through writing and a simple text editing tool.
In addition, it can be the ideal format for anyone who wants to create a product that doesn’t demand high speed Internet from the consumer and after being downloaded it is available offline to be accessed at any time.
If you want to undertake the e-Learning market with videos, you should be aware that its production requires greater elaboration, if compared to the written material.
However, it allows a closer relationship with the audience, on top of enabling the use of resources that make the course more dynamic, captivating and inviting.
(See also our guide that teaches you how to create compelling video classes.)
4. Plan your material
After defining what material will be used, it’s time to plan how you’re going to create, organize, and publish content.
If case you’ve decided to create an ebook, divide it in topics and outline what you will write on each one of them. Also be aware of the importance of connecting the submitted information, so that the text is consistent and simple to understand.
Research your chosen subject, so that you are able to present all of the important points and transmit information in the best possible way.
If you have already written something about that in other channels, such as blog posts, social media or articles, it may be interesting to use this material as the basis or part of your ebook.
Mind your spelling as well as your grammar and clarity of the content, pay particular attention to the your text formatting also.
When purchasing an ebook, customers seek an easy to understand material. That is why it is important to create paragraphs that are not too long, so as not to tire your reader, and images directly related to the written material should create visual coherence.
Also plan which images you will use and the their location on each topic so that they make the book more fluid and interesting.
You can use your own images as long as they are in high resolution, or use photos from Image banks available on the internet. There are several websites, both paid and free, that offer images of excellent quality and of the most varied themes.
If, however, you choose to make video classes, start developing a script for your course, separating the classes according to content and making sure that they complement each other in a linear way.
Think of how many classes will be required to address all of the chosen topics, noting that it is important that each class has enough content to hold the customer’s attention and teach him something, but without being too extensive to the point of being boring.
As we are considering that you have already build your buyer persona before we got to this point, you should consider his/her profile to find out the best approach, language, body posture and language to use in your online classes.
After all, to attract the attention of an audience, for example, of young people pursuing a degree in Humanities, you should use a totally different language from when addressing an audience of retirees aged between 70 and 80 years, for example, right?
To engage your students, practice your oratory and body language and, if deemed necessary, record videos for some friends to watch and give you feedback on the content and the way you conveyed the message.
The most important thing is to have a complete grasp over your theme so that you can convey the message effortlessly. Get your message across using a camera, a microphone, a bright setting, good lighting, and get someone to conduct the filming, and you’ll be on the brink of starting your business in the world of distance education.
Finally, we emphasize that in order to get a higher quality, more professional video, you also need good editing.
If you don’t know video editing you may consider hiring a professional to edit your classes if you think it’s worth it. But if your budget is tight, and you are interested in learning how to edit by yourself, there are several free and paid video editing tutorials and programs available on the internet.
5. Choose a platform to host your online lessons
Now that you’ve learned how to teach online, it’s time to choose the best platform to host your course. Among the available options, there isn’t a specific one that fits all kinds of businesses, so you should choose the one that best suits the needs of your course and your customers.
There are some important issues be considered, such as reliability and security for purchases, customizing options, and support for different screen sizes, among others.
If you need to know more about this subject before deciding, access our content on what to consider when choosing the ideal platform for your online course.
6. Advertise your lessons
There is no point in studying and trying so hard to produce quality content if your online course does not reach the desired audience.
So, after having gone through the entire process of deciding the best topics to address, creating your customer persona, setting the ideal format, planning and creating your online classes and choosing the best e-Learning platform to host the classes on, the focus should now be on advertising your material.
Creating and maintaining a blog is an effective way to educate your audience so that it gives you credibility and they see you as an expert in that niche market and, consequently, they will be interested in purchasing the product you are offering.
On your blog, advertise added-value content which relates, directly or indirectly, to your online course.
If you produced an ebook with tips and recipes for those who are looking to adopt a vegan lifestyle, for example, you can share in your blog information about the benefits of consuming only plant-derived food, celebrities who have become vegan, a few simple recipes or you can even discuss issues such as sustainability, conscious consuming or other related topics.
In your publications you must, therefore, focus on subjects that would interest your customer persona, without necessarily offering your product right away. That way, the audience is convinced that you are an expert in that niche and your product is the best solution.
In order to promote your product, one of the options is to create paid ads to be displayed in social networks, websites, advertisers and search tools, for example.
An advertisement that contains a clear, inviting image with an interesting text in websites usually accessed by your persona, should encourage the public to click on the ad, which would direct them to the link to purchase your product, which in this case, will be your online course.
Find out what social networking sites are used the most by your audience and be present on them in a consistent, alluring manner.
Such as on the blog, it is not recommended that you try to sell your product right away but you should work with exclusive content that creates an identification of users with your brand.
It’s a safe bet to use images and texts that are easy to read and understand so that you educate your audience in an unpretentious manner and strengthen the relationship with your potential customers.
Trust me, as much as it may seem dated, the forwarding of email marketing is still one of the best strategies to communicate with your audience and to turn potential customers into actual consumers of your product.
One of the ways to get your potential customers’ emails is to share quality, engaging content on in your blog or site, that requests the visitors’ emails in exchange for the download of the content.
Thus, you would have a public interested in what you share and you can start communicating with them through emails.
Choose one of the existing email marketing automation tools and nourish relationships with your users through diversified content until it’s the right time to finally offer your product.
Distance education is right for you!
After all we’ve talk about here, you may have come to that conclusion. After all, the e-Learning market has a place for all who are willing to to produce and share educational, relevant content.
Regardless of whether you’ve worked in the education field or not, if you have a specific expertise and feel like you are ready to share it with others, investing in creating online classes is, indeed, right for you.
What about you? Have you ever taken any online classes? Let us know in the comments section below!