How Much Content Should You Put In Your Online Course?
Remember the story about Goldilocks and the 3 Bears? It's all about striking the right balance between not too much and not too little.
What does this have to do with online courses, you ask? Well, it's all about offering just the right amount of information to help people achieve their goals and dreams.
If you get this right, you end up with clients and students who achieve the outcome that you've promised.
If you offer too much or too little, on the other hand? That means disillusioned students and damage to your reputation.
Where's the Beef?
The question "Where's the beef?" isn't just about the lack of beef in a hamburger. It's about the lack of substance in a concept or product.
When you offer too little content in your program, all you're giving people is vague ideas and promises. You're not giving them enough to help them achieve the life-changing results you promised.
But let's look at the other extreme: too much beef, or content, in your course or program.
When your course is jam-packed with content, your students feel overwhelmed and defeated. If they have to reread the same text or think too much about each statement, they'll probably give up.
Even worse, they'll probably never want to learn from you again.
So what's the middle ground between these two extremes? How do you get something to feel "just right" as Goldilocks would say?
The key is to look at your online course or program in 2 different ways.
First, look at your course from the perspective of the creator. This is easy enough, since you're the one who developed the course.
Second, evaluate your content from the perspective of your student, client, or customer.
It's All About Your "Mission"
Now that you know what to do, let's take a deeper look into those perspectives, starting with that of course creator.
Every course has a "mission," or a specific goal that you promise your students. You need to give your students the right amount of information so they can achieve this mission.
Keep in mind the goal may seem larger than life for most students. So you want to give just enough content to help them get over their doubts and achieve the desired results.
Take my Experience Product Masterclass, for example. My promise is to help you create and market your own Experience Product® and make $2000 or more in just 10 weeks (or less).
It's a BIG promise, and it won't happen without hard work and effort. The amount of content in the course based on the amount of work that's needed to accomplish the goal.
That takes care of the perspective as the course creator.
Of course, that's only one part of the equation. Now, let's look at things from the viewpoint of your customer, student, or client.
When They're Right on the Edge
Here's something I've noticed about students in general. They're all busy. They're all stressed, and right on the edge of taking the plunge or giving up entirely.
This is true whether you're going to school, raising kids, or taking care of elderly parents. Most people have full-time jobs, and maybe even a side hustle just to make ends meet.
When you look at things from your students' perspective, you can see there's SO much going on with their lives. In short, your course or program may be the last thing they do at the end of a crazy day.
The natural reaction here is to think: I'd better not overwhelm them with too much content. But that's not exactly the right approach either.
The truth is, some things are complex and overwhelming, no matter how much you try to simplify them. But being overwhelmed isn't always a bad thing.
Let's put it this way. By definition, "overwhelm" is the feeling of being flooded. And yes, you can be flooded with bad things like stress or negative emotions.
On the flip side, you can be flooded with hope, potential, and the possibility of ideas for a better life.
The key is to face the things that are overwhelming, and to work through them. Help your students accept the state of being overwhelmed as normal and healthy. Because you can't learn and grow without challenges.
Instead of running away, encourage them to embrace that feeling with the knowledge and confidence you've instilled in them.
Here's a mantra I tell my students to repeat to themselves when they get overwhelmed: "Oh, my gosh, I'm overwhelmed. I must be learning! I must be on the brink of a breakthrough!"
Believe in Your Students
Based on a friend's recommendation, I recently watched the film "Stand and Deliver." It's based on the true story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher in East Los Angeles.
Every teacher has their challenges, but Jaime had his work cut out for him. He was teaching in pretty much the worst part of Los Angeles, trying to connect with students that everyone else gave up on.
These kids were suffering from poverty, abuse, neglect, and poor education. Yet, Jaime believed in their ability to do something great with their lives.
He believed so much in this vision that he decided to teach them advanced calculus. That's right - a form of math reserved only for the most gifted students.
Predictably, everyone - from the teachers to the parents - think he's nuts. They didn't want the students to get overwhelmed by something that was supposedly out of their league.
But this visionary of a teacher knew something different. His students needed to be overwhelmed. Not just by the complexity of advanced calculus, but by the possibility of achieving something they thought was impossible.
And his students did just that!
They did it because their teacher believed in them. But that, alone, wasn't enough.
These kids were from impoverished, often abusive homes. No one had any expectations for them beyond surviving from day to day.
So this teacher set the bar higher than they had ever imagined. Then, he created the right conditions for them to achieve their goal.
He met his students before and after school for study sessions. He even had classes over the summer and the holidays, so they could work through these difficult concepts every day.
The students all rebelled in the beginning, but his dedication eventually won them over. And guess what? All 18 students who took the advanced calculus test passed on their very first try!
The results don't stop there. That following year, twice the number of students passed this incredibly difficult exam.
Passing this test, by the way, would have been difficult for students from wealthy school districts. It's no wonder these kids lashed out and gave up repeatedly throughout the year.
Each time, their teacher got them back on track. He did this by focusing on the bigger picture of who they are and what they could achieve.
More importantly, he helped them believe in themselves. That they deserved to dream and work toward a successful future.
In essence, he helped them embrace the challenges of being overwhelmed, by focusing on the eventual outcome.
That's the takeaway from this movie that I want to leave with you. Overwhelm your students to help them learn and grow. Help them accept it and work through it so they can achieve the "impossible."
So, that's what you need to consider things from the perspective of your students.
Overwhelm them with content that will make them learn and grow. Flood them with knowledge that will inspire and motivate, so they can achieve extraordinary results.
Remember, your job isn't just to dictate information. Your purpose is to transform the way these people think about themselves, and their potential to live the life they dream of.
You have to make them believe in this dream, even if everyone else tells them that they're wrong or crazy.
When you create your program, think about simple, minimal amounts of information your students will need to achieve their goal. Then, focus on setting big goals, big opportunities - the "big picture."
Dare to go as big as you want! Don't be afraid to take people out of their comfort zone and overwhelm them with extraordinary possibilities. Because you'll be giving them the tools to get there.
Not only that, you'll be helping them normalize these feelings by keeping them focused on the finish line. By crossing that line, they can finally achieve the results they want in their personal and professional lives.
Now it's your turn?
Have you taken a course or training program that made you feel overwhelmed, but you got through it and achieved the results you wanted? Did it leave you feeling like you could achieve anything you set your mind to?
Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. I'll reply to each comment I receive.
Looking for a step-by-step guide to designing your own online course? Then, check out our Experience Product Masterclass to learn how to market and profit from your own online course! Don't let this opportunity slip by. There's no better time than now to create your own very own course or program.
Murray loves building software platforms that make life easier for marketers and entrepreneurs. It's all he does. He's built many tools over the years and helped thousands of people start and grow their business, which is his driving motivation.
His latest project is Xperiencify -- a new LMS / online course platform that fixes the "dirty secret" of the online course industry (which is that 3% of people get results from the course they buy.) They do it with a powerful combination of psychology 🧠, gamification 🕹️ and Silicon Valley "black magic". 🥷