Making a good online learning content product might seem at first glance to be difficult. If you’ve never done it before it might even seem far too difficult for you. And if you’ve seen some of the information content products out there, you may believe that if the gurus can’t make a good online product then how are you going to?
But there’s no reason to be frightened off!
Making a good online product is really easy. Yes, it does require a system and yes it does require care. But you’ll find that you can create a professional looking online product with only a small amount of effort. What it takes is knowledge.
Let’s start this off by defining “good”. After all, if you don’t know what good is how can you make a good online product?
The audience for a learning content product judges the product in three dimensions. First, they judge your content. Then they judge the organization of your product. Finally they judge the delivery of your product. I like using the acronym COD — mostly because I get to practice my bad Newfoundland accent. And it’s easy to get silly with COD.
So what do they judge about content? And how can we make sure what we deliver is good?
If your audience already knew what you were teaching then they could judge the quality of your content. But they don’t so they can’t. So what are they going to do? Well, the answer is the next best thing… they’re going to judge content based on relevancy. Is your content relevant to them? If not, it’s bad. If it is relevant then it’s good. Silly, but then again we tend to make decisions based on emotion so what do you expect?
So how can you make sure you deliver quality content? You need to make it relevant to your audience. Your process has to start with the audience. It needs to identify what would be relevant to them. And then you can begin to develop the product itself. All through the product creation process you need to focus on your audience and their needs. Every thing you do during the product creation and marketing process needs to be focused on delivering what is relevant to them and their needs.
So what about organization?
This is the other way that your audience will judge the quality of the content. If your learning content product is well organized then it must have great content. So organization of your product becomes more important than it should be. After all, not only is it being judged on its own merits but it is influencing their opinion of the content.
To ensure that your information product is well organized you need to perform what is called a structural edit. This simply checks that you aren’t going off into the wild blue yonder with your explanations and that your argument makes logical sense. Traditionally this was done after the product was created. But that’s far too late. Corrections are too expensive by that point. Instead you need to create a detailed outline of your product down to the paragraph level. Then you can perform your structural edit while it’s easy to fix the product.
The third dimension of judgment is delivery.
What does your teleseminar sound like? Is there an introduction? Is there closing music? Does your video have closing credits? Is your book free of spelling errors and major unintentional grammar errors? Unfortunately, the standard to which your audience is holding you is the one they are familiar with — television, movies, radio, traditionally published books. This means you need to look and sound professional.
So how do you look and sound professional? The trick is in the polishing and formatting steps. Once you have created your product you need to edit it and package it. In the case of video, this means adding credits and music as well as removing errors. In the case of an eBook you need to fix the spelling and grammar mistakes and then make the eBook look like a published book.