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The best online course creation tips from a Lynda.com trainer

The Online Course Coach Podcast

Release Date: 04/27/2018

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We will be talking about various aspects of WordPress with Carrie Dils, a Lynda.com trainer. We will talk about things like why you should consider it and even the pros and cons of building your course on the WordPress platform. If you’re confused with what I just said, we’ll go in with some more details in a minute. I’m a big fan of using WordPress and I have a few resources that I want you to know about. The first one is a resource that will help you learn the best plug-ins, themes, and hosting for your WordPress website. I also have a 7-step checklist to know the best software to use to build your course. You can find both of these resources on the resource page of my website.

Easy Video For Courses

This episode is brought to you by Easy Video for Courses. Did you know that online courses that include videos are 83% more effective in helping students remember the information better? But as you know, one of the hardest parts of creating a course is knowing how to create effective course videos. I found that most people struggle with all the confusing equipment and software that’s available, the cost of buying the equipment, or they don’t feel confident in front of the camera. My background is in video production and I’ve done it all as far as creating high-end videos and even simple videos using an iPhone. I’ve taken all the confusion out of the process so you can make effective course videos in half the time. Go to Easy Video for Courses to get the course.

Background of Carrie Dils

She is a developer with 20 years of experience in web development and deep experience in full-scope WordPress projects. She has worked with various clients, from small locally owned business to Fortune 500 companies including Disney and Nvidia, to deliver creative and successful digital solutions. She is passionate about education and empowering others to do the work they love. She hosts the OfficeHours.FM podcast for digital freelancers and small business owners. She also teaches WordPress and front-end development courses for Lynda.com and LinkedIn Learning. She also offers business courses for freelancers at The Fearless Freelancer. When Carrie’s not working, she’s probably reading a book, playing with her dogs, drinking a craft beer, or eating a tasty meal with her husband.

What is your background and how did you get started in the business that you’re in?

Carrie: Sure. I kind of came in through the back door. I started out just working in software and desk jobs. But at some point, I became tired of living the cubicle life so I took an almost decade-long respite and went to work for Starbucks. I had this crazy idea that if I could learn the coffee business, then I could open my own coffee shop. After nine years, I determined that I never ever wanted to own a coffee shop. Right before I left Starbucks, the manager was telling me about WordPress. He was describing a lot of things that WordPress could do and these were the thing that I’d done manually in the past like creating a Content Management System, database relationships, and all those not-so-fun development work. When I found out that WordPress coulddo that out-of-the-box, I was all over it. So from there, I started finding clients that needed simple marketing websites. I did that for the past five or six years and eventually migrated over to teaching.

Is WordPress good to build and host online courses?

Carrie: I would say that Disney, MSN, and some of the top Fortune 500 and even top 50 companies are using WordPress. It started out as a blogging platform but it has really matured over the years into a fully featured Content Management System. That is not to say that it is right for every web project but it is certainly a great choice for a lot of them.

How did you go from knowing nothing about WordPress to knowing so much about the code, the backend, and everything else?

Carrie: I think it’s just because of my background as a developer. As a kid, I would unscrew everything I could find to see how they work. When you want to learn something, you just consume all the materials that you can find about it. That’s one of the things about WordPress. There is no shortage of information online, from learning how to use and work with WordPress. It took me a while to figure it out because WordPress is broad. There are the underlying code base and themes that control the appearance. And there's this other thing called plug-ins that add some sort of specific functionalities. I tried to educate myself and inserting myself into conversations about WordPress in social media by following hashtags. To supplement that, I went over to Lynda.com and started watching their Wordpress training videos.

Why would a course creator want to use WordPress versus some other software? What are the benefits of using WordPress?

Carrie: It all comes down to money and sharing money for your creations. There are a lot of platforms where you can upload your courses in a guided way. But the price that you pay for that is a certain percentage of your income from these courses. With WordPress, it is an open-source software. It is an "inexpensive" way to get started in publishing your own content. While it's all free and ready to use, there is a definite learning curve.

What should somebody look for when finding a theme?

Carrie: The one thing to know is that not all themes are created equal. Even because a theme is more expensive doesn't mean that it's higher quality. There are two things to look for when finding the theme. First, does it try to include every feature under the sun? Those sorts of themes are code-heavy and it takes a long time to load. Second is search engine optimizations. Google loves clean, well-formed codes. Some themes come with schemas automatically.

How were you able to become a Lynda.com instructor?

Carrie: Lynda.com had one WordPress instructor whom I'd spend hours learning from him. When I get to meet him in person, he and I just struck up this dialogue. A year or so later, he asked me if I would be interested in teaching WordPress courses. So I did, and I've been doing it for three to four years now.

What is it like to be Lynda.com instructor? How do you prep and deliver courses?

Carrie: Lynda.com has a physical location with a recording studio, equipment, and people who are working on their videos. They handle all the technical aspects. My job as an instructor is to come up with a course outline. Then I work with a content producer to make sure it jives with what they want. After that, I would script the entire course. It usually takes me about a week to record what eventually boils down to a three-hour course.

How can a non-Lynda.com instructor create better courses?

Carrie: Before you ever start creating a course material, start by writing an objective. Start by having a clear expectation of what your students are going to accomplish when they finish. From there, you can work backward by creating a table of contents.

How did you get started with online courses?

Carrie: WordPress draws a lot of small business owners or people who want to leverage it as a service to sell to other people. There are a lot of service-providers on WordPress, but there aren't a lot of people making a living doing it. I may not have all the answers but I have been doing WordPress for a very long time and I make a good living out of it. And I would like to teach other WordPress developers and designers how to do that.

Tell me about The Fearless Freelancer and what courses you have available?

Carrie: Right now, there are five courses that cover Freelancing Foundations. The first is Business 101. It's about money management, budgeting, and all that. The next is Finding Your Focus. When it comes to focus, who is it that you want to serve? And how are you going to solve your problems? I also have a course about basic marketing and legal matters.

How are you using masterminds and Facebook groups to add value to your students?

Carrie: What comes naturally for me is building relationships. I do have little pockets of communities. My Facebook community is fairly new and needs to be nurtured. But my email list is the number one place where I get sales from. So if you don't have an email list yet, get one. From the beginning, start segmenting people by their interests and why they signed up to your list.Segment your email list according to their interests.

Where can the audience go and find your courses?

Carrie: You can buy my courses at The Fearless Freelancers website and get a free e-course. You can also go over to The Fearless Freelancer Facebook group and let’s have conversations about issues that matter to people.     If you’re not sure where to host your courses or you want to learn more about WordPress, you can go to my website. I have a few resources that can apply best to this topic, such the best plug-ins and themes for WordPress as well as the 7-Step checklist to know the best software to use for your course. I also have other interviews related to this topic on my website. You can search WordPress and you will find my interviews with people like Joshua Millage and Corey Miller. I also have several other podcasts like The Best WordPress Tips for Online Course Creators and Seven Ways to Pick the Perfect LMS for Your Online Course. If you are in the process of creating a course, check out Easy Videos for Courses and you’ll be up to speed in no time. I purposefully made the content easy to learn and efficient to go through.