A Course Creator’s Journey and Pro Tips with Christina Hills from Website Creation Workshop

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This LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS is about a course creator’s journey and pro tips with Christina Hills from Website Creation Workshop. Christina teaches people how to make websites using WordPress, and today she tells a little bit about her story and where she got started.

Christina worked for George Lucas’ company Industrial Light and Magic and had a career as a special effects person. She stopped doing that when she had a baby. Christina has been teaching online for 10 years. Before she was teaching WordPress, she was teaching people how to set up shopping carts for online stores. This was before easy shopping carts when you would have to hire a coder to build you a shopping cart secure server.

She became an expert in 1ShoppingCart, and she would provide her customers with the code they could put into their website so they had the shopping cart. She found many people would say they could not do it because it was too complicated, and they had a poor relationship with their web designer.

After hearing of the difficulties people were having, she decided to run her own class on how to use WordPress, because then her clients who knew how to use WordPress could install the shopping cart easily. She eventually dropped her Shopping Cart Queen website and persona. Chrisina now teaches WordPress to newbies who are afraid of the complexity of this technology.

Chris and Christina talk about the four pieces of course building: constructing a community, having expertise or whatever it is you are going to teach, creating the course content and the strategy around the curriculum and engagement, and the delivery system and technology of selling it. They discuss how Christina has gone about managing these general steps to course creation.

Christina shares a story of someone telling her she sould get into selling diet supplements. She did not believe in them, but she decided to give it a shot. She ultimately did not make money with it, and what she was selling did not feel right. She learned that if it’s not you, it won’t work when you are selling something. If a product’s message does not resonate with you, then you should not try to sell it, because it is likely you will have a poor experience with it.

Refining and honing in on your process can be a difficult thing to do sometimes. Christina believes the best way to do this is to communicate with your customers and get to know them. This will allow you to find out what challenges they are facing, and that is the best way to figure out what you need to change or modify within your course. Christina learned that her expertise lies with having a style and way of explaining things for the non-technical person.

Providing incentives for completing parts of your course is very valuable for beginners, because they feel like they are accomplishing something and that keeps them engaged. Reminding your customers of their end goal with a course can also add a lot of value and help with them finish your course.

To learn more about Christina Hills you can check out websitecreationworkshop.com or find her on Twitter @christinahills and Facebook.

You can post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Chris Badgett: Hello and welcome back to another episode of LMSCast. My name is Chris Badgett and today we’ve got a special guest, Christina Hills from websitecreationworkshop.com. Thank you for coming on the show, Christina.
Christina Hills: Thanks, Chris, for having me.
Chris Badgett: Well, we’ve met before. My business partner actually met you at a WordCamp in Los Angeles I believe, but you help other people come online and you’ve had quite the online journey yourself. Can you tell us just a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Christina Hills: Okay. Well again, my name is Christina Hills and I’ve been teaching online for 10 years. Let me just tell a little bit about my story. The way I got started, before I was teaching WordPress I was actually teaching shopping cart setup. My first business I was the Shopping Cart Queen, and I helped people set up their online shopping carts. This was before Stripe and all those other easy shopping carts. This was back when you had to hire a coder to build you a shopping cart secure server. There was a system called 1ShoppingCart, and I became an expert in that. I decided to niche as the shopping cart expert. One of the things, one of the problems that people had was they wanted to sell online and they needed a shopping cart, but also they had a problem with the website integration. I’d say, “Okay, your shopping cart is set up. You know, here’s the codes. Just copy and paste his HTML to you website,” and they would like fall down. “I can’t do it. I don’t like my web designer.” All the kind of crazy website stories we hear all the time. Either they can’t do it, the tech is too hard, or they don’t have a good relationship with their web designer. Common, common story.
Then I decided to run this little class. Hey, why don’t I teach them WordPress? Then if they know WordPress they can get their shopping cart connected. What happened is I discovered that creating the website was way more creative than doing the shopping cart part. I mean, it’s not that interesting. You set it up, you put a Buy button on and you’re done, whereas creating a website, that gets into sort of who you are, what your message is, design flow. I know you’re really big on design flow. There’s a design flow for your course, but there’s also a design flow for how your website is.
I was teaching the class. I taught it a couple of times. My WordPress training got bigger and bigger and I eventually dropped my whole Shopping Cart Queen website and persona. I think it’s still out there, but I don’t do that anymore. I just focus on helping people build their websites with WordPress because WordPress is easy. Not only is it easy to use, but it’s so deep. WordPress is this deep ocean that you never hit the bottom of it. There’s always more you can do. That’s how I started teaching WordPress and I’ve been doing that for 10 years, mainly to newbies who are afraid of technology, mainly to those folks.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, I really want to get into your story and your journey, and the people listening, you guys can learn something along the way as we kind of unpack certain experiences you had, lessons learned, doing things the hard way, where you’ve found success with your students. But one of the things we talk about frequently on this podcast are the four building blocks for a successful online course project, or learning platform, or online school. It’s very rare that all of these qualities are in one person, which means in my experience from what I’ve seen, a lot of times people end up partnering on project or hiring freelancers or other businesses to help out with the various pieces. But from my perspective, these four pieces are community building, having an expertise or whatever it is that you’re so great at that you’re going to teach, the instructional design piece, the packaging of the course, creating the course content, the strategy around the curriculum and engagement, and then the fourth and final piece is the online course delivery system, the membership site, the learning management system, the technology stuff to actually launch it, sell it, and actually deliver the training.
Let’s go back to that first one. What have you learned about community building? How do you build community? How did you build your email list? How do you get people to resonate with you or just naturally attract them? What’s your experience with community?
Christina Hills: Community building, you’ve got to sort of … Are you talking about community building for people in the course or community building for people before they’re in your course? Because there’s the people sort of outside your world that are on the peripheral and then they come into your world. I see them kind of as two different things.
Chris Badgett: I’m talking about more people who aren’t necessarily in your course yet and how you position yourself also in your general industry. I do think in some ways the people who are in your course, they become a more inner circle part of your community. But how did you get going? How did it all start? How did the Shopping Cart Queen … You were probably doing it for yourself first and then somebody asked you, “Hey, can you help me?” That’s one person. Now you have this big audience. Tell us about it.
Christina Hills: Before I was the Shopping Cart Queen I was a web designer. Actually and then before that, so my background is in special effects for film and television. I worked for George Lucas’ company, Industrial Light and Magic and had a great career as a online special effects person. But then I had a baby and I quit that. I was like, “Okay, now is the time to be an online entrepreneur working from home.” I started out as a web designer building websites for people. Then I discovered the shopping cart and got into this I better niche idea, so became the Shopping Cart Queen. Then I sort of outgrew that in a way. I outgrew that, but I did build a list. I built an email list of people interested in getting their shopping carts set up.
Chris Badgett: How’d you do that? Through blogging or-
Christina Hills: I know it kind of sounds- I set up an opt-in box, put it on my website. I started going to conferences. I think that would probably be the first way I got it going. I would go to a marketing conference, introduce myself as the Shopping Cart Queen, had an opt-in box on my site for I even forget what it was, a free report, and I also did live teleseminars, which now people do webinars but back then it was teleseminars. It sort of built slowly, kind of word of mouth. Having something that people wanted to be a part of, which was a teleseminar. This podcast is in a way a version of that. It’s an event. You and I are doing an event right now and people are listening to us. Having an opt-in box, holding frequent teleseminars, having a report, and then getting out there and networking with folks. It just sort of slowly built, and then getting referrals. I was teaching a shopping cart course. Before I was teaching WordPress I was teaching a shopping cart course, which now when I talk about it it sound so boring like, “Why would you sign up for it?” But you have to remember back in 2005, this was sort of the big thing back then.
How did I build the community? I had a community of people interested in shopping carts. The very first time I taught my WordPress training I had 23 people. I had 23 people sign up. I think the best way to create a course, this is in my experience, the best way to create a course is get a group, run your course, survey them, what was good, what was not good, retweak it, run your course again. Kind of reiterate that until you get it to the point when you’re like, “This is rock solid. Maybe I don’t need to teach it live. You know, I can have it in my members area and videos, et cetera.” You just kind of slowly build and your reputation builds, and you get better at teaching each time you do it. When I say “teaching,” teaching could be live on a webinar, teleseminar, or in person. Or teaching could be you’re recording your videos and you’re putting them in your members area, because that is teaching and people are consuming it, but they’re consuming it on their own time. Did I answer you question?
Chris Badgett: Absolutely.
Christina Hills: Okay, good. Okay, good.
Chris Badgett: I just want to highlight a few things from your story. One of it was that you were going to conferences. You were getting out of the building. You were doing things live, even if it was remote like the teleseminar. The other thing you touched on was it was built slowly and it started with one person, and then maybe 25 people in a room. There’s no magic bullet, and then it’s referral. The fact that we’re connected now, it’s because you were at a conference that my business partner was at a conference, both getting out of the building.
Christina Hills: Exactly. Exactly. Right.
Chris Badgett: It’s easy in the online world to try to build it all in a vacuum or whatever. Nothing wrong with work from home. I know you’re really into it as a mom. I’m into it as a father, but I still get out of the building and go to some conferences. I even just started a local Meetup just to see what might happen, and I go to some WordPress Meetups and things like that. Then the other thing you touched on was the continuous improvement with your first version. I like to say that the launch is really just the beginning, it’s not the finish line. It’s a commitment, and when you commit to that continuous improvement, lots of things can come from that.
Christina Hills: Right. Well, here’s an important point that I want to make about expertise, which comes from a lesson that I learned early on. Most of us have an expertise from whatever, college, corporate life, whatever. Whatever your expertise is, you want to pick something you’re interested in and passionate about. Don’t pick something just because somebody else tells you, “Hey, there’s a lot of money to be made in X.” Because it’s not going to resonate with you and that is going to come through. Now, you might say, “Hey, I want to do a course. I’m going to create this course. Let me find another person who’ll be the expert and the spokesperson.” There’s nothing wrong with collaborating like that, where maybe you get together with a doctor. Doctors don’t know online and technology and they don’t know marketing, but you’ve got the doctor with the expertise and you build a course around that. There’s nothing wrong with that health and wellness. But if you’re doing it yourself and if you’re the teacher, guru, whatever you want to call it, make sure the market and the expertise is something you’re passionate about.
I’m going to tell a story. Early on someone said to me, “Hey, you can make money with diet supplements.” I’m like, “Diet supplements, I don’t believe in it. I don’t use it.” “No no no no. You’re going to make a ton of money. You’re going to make a ton of money.” “Okay. All right. I guess I’ll go into diet supplements.” I spent a whole month full-time working from home not making money on this whole diet supplement thing. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t resonate with me.
Then what happened is we had launched and then all of a sudden the FTC changed a bunch of rules about selling diet supplements online and I was so happy. I mean, my husband announced this to me. He’s like, “Wait a minute, the company we’re affiliating with, the FTC just came down. They changed all the laws and they’re shutting their doors.” He thought I’d be upset because I had poured all my time into this, and I was so grateful. I was like, “Thank you, God. I didn’t want to do this. It wasn’t me. It didn’t resonate.” It was a lesson learned: Don’t go into something you’re not interested in, passionate about, you’re not doing yourself. That is a good litmus test for being successful online. I don’t often share that story because I’m kind of embarrassed, but it was an important learning lesson that just because somebody else says, “You’re going to make a lot of money doing X,” if it’s not you, it won’t work. That’s been my experience.
Chris Badgett: I love that, and thank you for sharing that. Yeah, I think it was Jim Collins’ book Good to Great he wrote about the hedgehog concept where there has to be passion overlapping with market demand, like the opportunity you describe. Then you have to be able to serve that market. You could probably serve the market. You had the skills, it was a hot market, but there was no passion. It’s a good litmus test like you were saying.
Christina Hills: Right. Right. Right. Right, and another thing along these lines to ask yourself, “Would you read a magazine about the topic and would you go to a conference about the topic?” If you wouldn’t read the magazine, you wouldn’t go to the conference, it’s not your market. Do you like those people in that market? Let’s just take two different markets, like CPAs. CPAs, there’s one type of person, and health and wellness people is another sort of type of person. Think to yourself, “Are those people people you want to be around?” If you’re passionate about health and wellness, awesome. You’d love to go to conferences, you’d love to read the books, you’d love to read the magazines. If you’re passionate about taxes and tax laws and having numbers all line up and things that CPAs like, you’re going to be good at that.
That’s my point. Yeah. That’s your litmus test. Would you go to a conference? Would you read a book? Would you read a magazine on the topic? Saying to myself, “No, I don’t want to be around diet supplement people,” helped me get the clarity now that I bring into what I do now, which is the creative endeavor of building a website. Because building a website is not just about the website. A lot of it is there’s a lot of self-discovery that people go through when they create their own website. They have to get clearer on … Because I teach mostly to solo entrepreneurs, not agencies. The solo entrepreneurs who’s quitting their corporate job and deciding to go online to start their consulting or coaching, or their health and wellness, or whatever, there’s all kinds of people, they get clearer on who they are, what their message is, what visuals they want to put forward. I like it. That’s why I’ve been doing it for 10 years.
Chris Badgett: Me too. When I got into the web design and WordPress and all that, I was actually living in Alaska. I was running sled dogs. I was managing a tour business. I’ve always been one of those guy-
Christina Hills: Wow.
Chris Badgett: … who follows their passion, and I couldn’t describe it but when I started getting into WordPress, I first just had to build a site for a piece or property that I was trying to sell actually. That’s how I first discovered WordPress. I just got really interested in it, and I discovered the same thing I think you did where wow, this whole web thing is pretty powerful, really interesting. There’s a lot of self-discovery, and it’s a very creative thing. I would lose hours of my life in self-teaching myself WordPress through all these YouTube videos, which I’m glad you’re here now and have a structure around helping people. I discovered a passion for the online world and that’s why I’m still here after starting to do work online seven years ago. I’m still passionate about it. The more I meet the community around it, especially in the niche I’m in for the online educator, they’re great people. I love working with them and it’s fun, but that fuels the fire for me to continually develop my expertise. It’s not hard because I’m passionate about it.
Christina Hills: Right. Right. Right. Another litmus test is the Saturday morning test. You’re laying in bed, it’s a Saturday morning. Are you excited to jump out of bed and take action on your business or on the course you’re creating? If that excites you, if you pass the Saturday morning test, you know you have a good idea and a good market to help serve.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, let me ask you some lessons learned becoming an expert. As you tried out different things you figured out that you needed to have passion. That was really important if you were going to pursue excellence in an expertise or a given field. What have you learned along the way in terms of becoming an expert as somebody who can help especially the solo operator new person? Just developing your own expertise, what would you advise the people out there? Most people are sitting on lots of wisdom, but what have you learned about working with your expertise?
Christina Hills: The number one thing you can do to refine and hone in on your own expertise is to communicate with your customers, like get to know them, because they will help you refine how you’re teaching and what it is that you do. Also when I started out, I didn’t start out as I’m a teacher for newbies. I didn’t start out that way. I just started out as I’m teaching WordPress. I discovered like your community will tell you what you’re good at, and I discovered that I’m really good at teaching WordPress to newbies, that that was really my expertise because I have a style and a way of explaining things that breaks it down for the non-technical person. I’ve had people who sign up for my class and they’re a little too tech advanced and I’m not good for them. But that came from talking to people and getting the feedback and hearing where they needed help. Really just talking to your customers, whether it’s on the phone, in a chat, in an email, however, in a survey. However you want to communicate, that’ll help you refine the delivery of your expertise.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Let’s transition over to that third pillar, which is the instructional design. One thing that people struggle with is the curse of knowledge or teaching to beginners. That’s a strength for you. Why do you think that is, or how did you develop that ability to work with beginners?
Christina Hills: I think what I do, and I do this all the time, is put myself in the mindset of my customers. I’m always trying to look at things from how are my customers seeing it? When it comes to designing your curriculum, I find it’s good to do it in phases, meaning you design something, your curriculum. You put it together, then put it aside for a while, and then come back to it and look at it as if you are your customer. Then you’ll see everything that’s wrong with it, but if you stay too close to your course you can’t see it. Maybe your course has like six modules. Work on a module, put it aside, work on the next module, then put that aside. Then come back to the first module and you’ll look at it and you’ll go, “Wow, this doesn’t make any sense. Nobody’s going to understand this.”
You can then refine it, because we are experts in what we do and our community is coming to us for our expertise, but when you’re an expert, you know how people have that jargon problem where they’re an expert and they’re just speaking jargon and then their customers or their students, clients, whatever term you like to use, they’re not understanding you because they’re new to the expertise you want to impart. It really helps to become a good teacher to put things down and then come back. I don’t know, to me it becomes fun. It’s like I put something together, I come back and I’m like, “Wow, no one would understand this. I need to give a little bit more context for this concept I’m about to teach.” That’s how I’ve found what’s made me a really good teacher is putting things aside and then coming back. That’s why I like to do things in phases. Otherwise you might be listening and you might have been working on your course for months and months and you haven’t gotten it out. The key is to get it out even if it’s not perfect, because your audience will tell you what parts are good and what parts you need to change. Getting out of perfectionism is super, super important.
Chris Badgett: That’s fantastic. Well, let me get your input on an instructional design tool that I use to help experts if they’re like, “Well, I don’t know how … Give me a starting point for the curriculum.” We teach three or four different types of courses you can do. One is called a resource course, which is like basically a library of material or lessons that can be taken in any order. In my opinion those are the most dangerous courses, especially for a new expert because there’s literally no end to it, but it can be very cool too. Then there’s the process course, like this is very step-by-step. Like if you’re going to build a website in a week, here’s step one, step two, step three. It’s a very step-by-step process and it really should be taken in order. Whether or not you have drip content or not, there’s a process here.
The third kind is called a behavior change course. If you’re trying to help somebody become a morning person or end some kind of bad habit, there’s a way to teach that that may not necessarily be step-by-step, but it just has a certain way about changing a behavior. Then the fourth kind is just a hybrid. It’s like a combination of some of all of those resources, process, and behavior change. What’s your style, and if you are doing how to do things, how do you clearly define the starting point and what they’re going to be able to do at the end of the course? What’s your style for instructional design?
Christina Hills: Okay. Great question. I have two courses. I have my beginner course, Website Creation Workshop, and then I have an intermediate course. My beginner course is step-by-step, “Do this, then do this, then do this, then do this, and go in order.” My intermediate course is a little bit more I like to compare it to Netflix. You join Netflix, there’s a library of stuff and you just pick what you’re interested and there’s no order to go in with Netflix. What I find is people prefer the step-by-step, especially beginners. They prefer the step-by-step. When folks get more advanced, intermediate advanced, then they like the, “Don’t tell me what to do. Let me go in my own order. I want to go in my own order.” I think everybody listening to us needs to think about for what they’re teaching, what would work better?
But I find people, lazy’s not the right word. People like their hands held and they like to know, “I do this, then I do this, then I do this, then I do this.” They love if they get kind of a prize or they see the status bar that they’ve finished a module and now they can go on to another module. That sense of completion through the phases, if you can work that in they will be more successful. Like if they can check a box or see a status bar that says, “Complete. Now you’re ready to move on or take a quiz.” There’s lots of different ways to do it but I find the step-by-step works for them, because for some things you’re teaching people just need to do it, even if they don’t fully understand it. They just need to do it. Like getting on a bicycle, you just have to do it until it becomes part of you. For me with WordPress for beginners, a lot of them just have to do it. Just, “Here, publish a post. Just publish a post. You’ll see the results after you click publish.” I find step-by-step works the best with those little triggers of satisfaction as you go along. For beginners I think that’s better.
Chris Badgett: That’s fantastic.
Christina Hills: Now, I’ve never done behavioral ones so that’s pretty interesting concept. My course is not like that. But I’m wondering now … maybe I should incorporate it in, some behavioral changes. That is interesting, because part of being successful online is coming up with good habits, practice and habits. That would be a behavioral change.
Chris Badgett: Absolutely. I personally like the hybrid where it includes a little bit of all that. I just want to highlight what you’re saying. For the beginner, and sometimes in a lot of industries and niches the beginner’s market is huge. There’s a big business opportunity, and if you’re kind of new to teaching, it’s easy to start with a step-by-step course. “Okay, you’re going to start here. You’re going to end here. Trust me and just follow the process, and if you do the work and go through the steps you’re going to be able to do what I promise you you’re going to be able to do in the marketing.”
Just from having been around a lot of online courses myself, here’s a little professional tip in describing your course that beginners really like, which is just the phrase “step-by-step with no step skipped.” Because nothing frustrates a beginner more than going through a process course where you make the promise, “I’m going to give you a step-by-step system, I’m going to hold your hand through whatever the process is,” and then if you don’t 100% deliver on that or you make an assumption or squeeze in some jargon without explaining what it is, you’re skipping and people don’t like that. That’s one of those things I think if you have a feedback loop where people are giving you feedback about what they like, what they don’t like, people don’t like skipped steps in a process course.
Christina Hills: Right. Right. Also in a process course, the more you can keep them focused on their end goal, so you have to keep reminding them what is the end goal of this? What are you going to get at the end? Are you going to be a better bowler because you’ve learned these bowling techniques? Are you going to get a website? As people are going through what they’re learning, what is the outcome you’re promising that they’ll get if they do the work? They have to do the work. If they do the work, they’ll get this at the end and what will their life look like when they accomplish this thing that they want that they bought your course for? The more you can remind them on their end goal, that will help them through the struggles they may have, or the learning the jargon that they need to learn to get to the end goal. That really helps, which is sort of different than like a Netflix. There’s not one end goal in a Netflix type of course. I guess the end goal for Netflix is you’re relaxing because you’re enjoying a movie. Different courses are going to be different. The step-by-step, I would say that is my favorite.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I like how as a course creator you did the step-by-step and then you’re like, “All right, but I’m also going to do the intermediate level resource course Netflix style,” and that allows you to really relax. When you’re building the step-by-step course and you’re like, “Oh, I’m kind of getting a little advanced here,” you can just move it over to your resource course that you’ll create later. That helps the first-time course creator really stay focus, and yeah.
Christina Hills: Well, this brings up an awesome point which I want to tell everybody. Don’t put too much into your course. That’s what I did. I put way too much into my beginner’s course and that’s why I pulled it out into my intermediate, because if you put too much into the course, well they won’t buy a second course from you, but also they’ll get too overwhelmed and they won’t complete the course. Because you want people to be able to complete your course. My beginner’s course is all about getting your first website up. Once your first website is up, now you’ve got a whole bunch of other things you need to do to market your website. But by having it all together, for some people they couldn’t get through it. It was too overwhelming. People will be happy with you as a course creator if they feel satisfied like they were able to get it done and accomplish it.
I like to compare it to People Magazine. People Magazine, not very highbrow, but you buy it, you can read it, and then you can be like, “I read a magazine.” It’s a silly comparison, but there’s this like little satisfaction of, “I actually read this magazine,” versus some other magazines which are too dense and then you’re feeling guilty, “I never finished the magazine.” It’s a simple comparison, but don’t put too much into your courses. Make them attainable. People will be happier. As experts we’re like, “Oh, but there’s so much more they need to know.” You have to balance that with what’s going to accomplish the goal of the promise? Can they get through it? Will they feel happy? Then they’re happy, they tell their friends, they give you testimonials, you get to make them case studies for your course, so don’t make your courses too complicated.
Chris Badgett: Well, that’s a gold mine of tips and tricks and lessons learned. If you’re listening, I encourage you to rewind and listen to this section again about instructional design. The last piece is working with technology, creating a membership site, online course delivery system. You and I have an unfair advantage because we’re technologists, and we work with the tools and our stuff involves the tools. We’re very much in the insider community of building an online platform. For us, what we found is you either have to do it yourself or you have to get it done for you by a freelancer or another company. At Lifter LMS we have some done-for-you services we offer to help that person who is like, “Nope, I’m not going to get into the technology.” I always respect it when somebody tells me like, “Look, I got to tell you straight up, I hate computers. I don’t want to try to figure that part out.” I’m like, “No worries, but you got to get some help then,” because that’s just one of those ones that some people can’t do.
What’s some advice you have for somebody who’s like, “All right, I’m building community, I’m building my email list. I’m getting out of the building, I’m going to conferences. I’m getting pretty sharp at my specialty, my expertise. I’ve got an idea how I’m going to structure my process course or whatever kind of course I’m going to make.” How should someone approach technology and where’s the eject button that they should look out for to be like, “You know what? You’re better off just hiring somebody to help you”?
Christina Hills: Well, I teach people to be do-it-yourselfers. I’m a little biased. Let me tell you why I think it’s important to do it yourself. Now, before I answer that, there’s nothing wrong with someone saying, “Hey, I’m new to this. The tech is hard. Let me hire someone to get it set up,” but I think the goal should be that you’re updating it and managing it yourself. Unless you have a huge budget. If you got a huge budget, you got tons of money, then that’s another thing. You can just throw money at stuff. But what I find is you have an idea for your course, you put it together, but until you see it online in your members area, you can’t fully judge it. That’s why if you can do it yourself it’s better because you’ll put it together and then you’ll see, “Wow, wait a minute. I have to move this around,” because things need to go from your head to paper, and then paper online on the computer on your website. Once it gets up there you’ll see it with new eyes.
I’m a big advocate of doing it yourself because as a course creator, you’re going to need to make adjustments. If you have to outsource that, you give it to them, they turn it around in a few days or a week, and then you look at it again and you make adjust … “Oh wait, no this needs to change.” Then you tell your oursourcer, “Please make these changes,” and you have to give them a reasonable amount of time. If somebody can turn something around in 24 hours, that is fast. You’ve got an awesome person. But it takes time for people to turn it around. If you have a big budget and a lot of time that’s okay, but I’d rather be like, “Hey, wait. Wow. I put these modules together, but now that I’m seeing it, I think I really should swap these two modules. That makes more sense.”
I’m an advocate of doing it yourself, or hiring someone, let them set it up, and then learn how to move things around. But I think your courses will be better if you can do some of the tech. Unless you’ve got a full-time person sitting right next to you and they’re your tech. I know you’ve got an audience of different types of folks listening, but for me, creating a course, I consider that my art form is creating a course, and if I couldn’t do some of the tech, then my hands would be tied behind my back. I have people working for me, but the main how the course is coming together, it’s all me.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I really agree with what you’re saying there. It’s really good to do it yourself if you can, even if you think you’re not a technologist, because the very act of being inside the course building and seeing what tools you have might trigger ideas like, “Oh, I can actually make the lesson more engaging because I can do this achievement thing here,” or you know.
Christina Hills: Exactly. Right. Right.
Chris Badgett: The same way, just think offline. If you’re in a classroom, like imagine designing a course and you’ve never been in the classroom, and you get to the classroom and you see like, “Oh, I have these laboratory instruments over here, I have this whiteboard, I have this screen that I could project things on.” You might actually design something completely different than if you were just sitting at home with pad and paper.
Christina Hills: Right. Right. Right. I want to make, because I don’t want to lose this thought about creating online courses. This is a hot market right now. With the way the world is changing, a lot of people are doing college online, which I could never imagine before. Chris, you teaching people about creating online courses is very topical in the world we live in now because more and more people are doing it. Not you, Chris, people listening to us. What’s going to separate you from somebody else creating an online course? Make yours better. Make yours more engaging. Make yours more successful. That will make you be the cream rising to the top.
Chris Badgett: Well said, Christina. This is Christina Hills, websitecreationworkshop.com. Where else can people go to find out more about you and what do you have going on online that people could check out?
Christina Hills: Okay, well you can go to websitecreationworkshop.com and see. I’m always teaching new classes, so just go to the website and just look on the sidebar and see what’s coming up. You can find me, I’m on Twitter @christinahills. I’m on Facebook. Just look me up on Facebook. I’m sort of all over the place reaching out for folks, but my main website is websitecreationworkshop.com.
Chris Badgett: Awesome.
Christina Hills: I’ve got beginner classes, intermediate classes. I’ve got a class on creating graphics too. I love course creation. I think it’s fun and it’s fun to see the result of when people are successful. My other tip is when you’ve got successful students, capture their successes. Take a screenshot or a photo of them, or get a testimonial from them right when they’ve just completed your class, because you’ll get the best testimonials then. The great thing about testimonials and case studies is they kind of market for you, if that makes sense. People want to know, “If I take this course, will I be successful?” Often people forget to collect those testimonials, and so you want to get them while they’ve just had their awesome success.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, Christina, thanks so much for coming on the show and thank you for sharing your journey with us.
Christina Hills: Oh, you’re welcome. Well, you’re welcome. Thank you, Chris, for having me.

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