JULY 7, 2022

By Onder Hassan

4 Simple Content Formats Used By Industry Experts To Quickly Build A Great Online Course

Have you always wanted to create a course but felt held back by the technical requirements?

Do you have a course idea but are not sure how to create it?

Building a course today is one of the most valuable and lucrative things you can do for your business. 

If you’re just starting up and have limited resources and experience in creating one, then you may feel overwhelmed by the process of producing content and putting it together. 

At OptimizePress, we constantly listen to our community and the industry as a whole and often hear a common thread…

“Online course creation can seem too complicated, require lots of third-party tools and be too expensive to run and maintain.”

Despite this, video courses and eLearning continue to grow from strength to strength.  An interesting statistic from TechJury found that the mobile learning market could grow to $80.1 billion by 2027.  

Now is the perfect time to create new courses and memberships or refresh the ones you already sell.

The good news is that you only need to follow a few simple formats when creating course content. 

Using the ever-growing list of tools available and following the guidelines below, you can turn your home or small office into a small content creation hub all of your own with limited spending and zero previous experience.

So how do you go about actually making a course?

In this article, we’re going to break down the 4 common eLearning content examples you can use to get started with and provide a list of tips and affordable tools for each to show you how easy it can be.

Why Formats Matter

When creating a video course, it’s important to consider the best format types that your audience will find the easiest to consume. This will depend on the market you’re in and how well you know your customer.

Starting out, we recommend picking one that best fits your strengths that allows you to produce content the fastest so you can focus on getting it out to your customers and making sales. 

Whichever format you decide to use, the key objective to keep in mind is that the purpose of your content is to teach and to help your customers get to their goals as quickly as possible.

This will massively help how well your course is received as well as improve your reputation with your customers who will be happy to endorse your products and services to others who are in need of help.

Quick Tip

If you have an existing audience, run a poll to help discover which content format they prefer. Use your social media platforms, email lists and your friends and family to gather data and to help you decide on the best format.

#1: Record "To Camera" Video

Before the advent of smartphones, creating video content was often considered expensive and required equipment that was out of reach for most entreprenuers and small business owners who were looking to create videos on a budget.

A good quality camera would often set you back at $1500+ without considering lighting and other studio equipment.

However, most mobile phones today come equipped with 4k lenses, which for the first time allows anyone to create professional-quality videos without the need for an expensive DSLR camera.

Depending on how confident you are at speaking in front of a camera, video could be the perfect content format for your content.

You might not have the ''gift of the gab'' and be able to talk impromptu without a script. It's only natural sometimes to stutter, lose your train of thought or become anxious.

There are workarounds if you want to explore this format, which we will get into.

Making video content comes with many benefits:

It allows your audience to see a real face behind your brand.
Means you can better connect with your prospective customers and build authority.
It increases the production value of your content.
It builds engagement.

So let’s now look at some key tips, which will greatly improve your production quality while sticking to a small budget.

Tip #1 - Use a simple background or a ‘Popup Background’

A complex and distracting background can hurt your presentation and the content you’re delivering to your audience. It’s important that you strike a balance between minimalism and a fancy setting.

As you can see in this example, we opted for a nice white background, and a logo of our brand with a nice plant to help set the scene, which isn’t too distracting.

If you are challenged with finding a nice setting, then a great alternative is a popup background, which you can easily purchase on places like Amazon and is very affordable. 

The benefit of a popup background is its portability, allowing you quickly set up for filming in a small office space or home office setup.

Alternatively, most good video editors can remove the background and replace it with an image or animation. We recommend tools like PremierPro or Finalcut as the editors of choice. There are many affordable and accessible tools for editing videos that cater to all levels of the budget.

If you want to save yourself time and from having to learn to use another software tool, you can hire a video editor easily on any of the popular freelance services like Fiverr.com.

Tip #2 - Use a Script & Teleprompter

Not everyone will have the gab of Russel Brand or Piers Morgan. So naturally, this will discourage a lot of content creators, which doesn’t have to be the case.

We recommend a script using bullet points when presenting a video as it will help you structure your content and help you stay on topic. 

A crucial point: While a script will make for better delivery, it isn’t always required for a good video.

Conventionally, teleprompters would be used and placed in front of a DSLR camera; allowing the illusion of free speech without anyone ever noticing that you’re reading from a script.

There are some affordable teleprompters you can purchase, like the FOREST TP2 Teleprompter for iPad / Tablet / DSLR from Amazon.

Also, with advances in phone technology and front-facing cameras, you will now be able to purchase specialised apps that turn your phone into a teleprompter.

We recommend ‘Teleprompter for Video’ if you have an iPhone as it’s very affordable and allows you to get started quickly without any extra equipment to add to the costs of production. 

If you’re an Android user, a great alternative is ‘Simple Teleprompter’, which provides similar functionality.

Using a full script to use for your teleprompter will allow you to repackage it as a document that you can give to your audience as an added bonus.

Tip #3: Use a room with natural lighting

Lighting can be quite complex and a skill in itself when setting up the mood of a scene. 

So to get started, we recommend using a room with good natural lighting. This will, however, restrict when you can film, but it is the most cost-effective way to get started. 

We recommend placing your camera in front of the light source so light projects directly to you rather than away from you.

If you have a small budget to invest in equipment, we highly recommend getting some ring lights, which are again very affordable and can be purchased from Amazon. A ring light will give you the benefit of an even and consistent light on your face for a clean, professional image.

Tip #4: Use an external lapel microphone

Audio is without a doubt, the most important part of a video. While your viewers might put up with low lighting or a busy setup in your videos, if your audio quality is poor, then there is a chance you will lose their engagement and hurt an otherwise great piece of content.

Relying on your camera alone to pick up audio is generally not recommended as you will likely also pick up a lot of ambient noise, which can be a problem when you’re later editing your files and needing to remove any sound distortions.

For this, we recommend a good lapel mic that you can attach directly to your collar and is great for reducing ambience as it’s located closer to you.

The Rode Smartlav+ for the iPhone (also for a traditional camera) is a great microphone of choice and provides great audio quality and reduces sound editing post-production.

The benefit of this mic is that you can also use it on Android phones, which is great for providing flexibility and freedom of choice regarding which phone you have access to.

#2: Desktop Tutorials & Slide deck

A less expensive and the most popular format that content creators use is a desktop video tutorial and slidedecks.

A desktop recording, where you record the content on your screen, such as a slide deck, internet browser or software tool, is a great format and has proven an effective way to teach and present information to an audience.

What makes this format so common is that most of the software required is relatively inexpensive or will already be installed and freely available on most computers.

The two leading tools for desktop screen recording are Screenflow on Mac & Camtasia on PC. Both tools allow you to record your screen and microphone and edit those recordings.

You can also use a free web service called Loom, which is a popular tool for basic screen recording and makes creating screen recording simple. It also comes with basic editing functions to allow you to edit your recorded content quickly.

For creating a slidedesk on a Mac, Apple Keynote is generally pre-installed when you buy a laptop from the manufacturers with the PC being pre-installed with Microsoft Office; Removing the need to have to buy any additional software and requires a very small budget.

There are many benefits to desktop recordings and slide decks that are otherwise not as easy to present in other formats:

You’re able to show your desktop screen, slides, graphs and images as a way of explaining difficult concepts.
It allows you the ability to edit out mistakes which could otherwise be a problem when combining it with video using traditional person-to-camera.
Helps the viewer retain more of the information due to a combination of text, graphics, screen recording & audio.
You can record the presentation anywhere without having to worry about your setting.
You can easily repackage the content to other platforms like social media and inside blog posts.

Here are our recommended tips to get started:

Tip #1: Use An Outline Script To Structure Your Content

Have a plan on what you want to share with your customers. If you know what it is you’re teaching, the structuring of this will be pretty straightforward. Use Post-It notes, a simple word document or even just a conventional notepad.

In addition to traditional notes, most slide deck tools like Apple Keynote have the ability to add presenter notes to your slides; removing the need for traditional cue cards or notes.

With this, you will be able to structure your slides, which will allow you to present when you move on to recording your content.

Tip #2: Use Design Templates To Help With Presentation

Creating slides that are eye-catching may be a challenge if you’re not a designer or don't have a good eye for detail. We recommend using your presentation software’s In-built templates.

Going a stage further, you can also use Canva, which is free to use and has a wealth of design templates to choose from.

Using this will give you a great starting point to edit your own templates that best fit your brand and save you time with having to get this designed manually.

Tip #3: Use A Good Desktop Microphone

Most built-in computer microphones will not have the audio quality needed for premium content.

While you can use your mobile phone’s microphone, a few steps would be required to move the audio across to your desktop computer or laptop, slowing down productivity and time efficiency.

So we recommend investing in an affordable yet high-quality microphone that is portable and can easily transport wherever you go. Ideal for travelling and if you’re required to commute for meetings.

The Rode NT-USB Mini is backed by an awesome brand that has a long track record of producing some of the best audio equipment in the industry.

Alternatively, you can also use the Blue Snowball Mic, which is equally also affordable and a nice alternative to the Rode.

Tip #4: Tidy Up Your Desktop

One of the worst things you can do when creating content for your course or membership is to create a bad first impression.

So it’s very crucial to ensure that the screen you’re streaming is clean, tidy and easy to watch for the audience. After all, nobody wants to see a messy desktop and can potentially hurt your audience retention rates.

No one will take you seriously if your desktop looks like this... 👀

Spend some time organising your files and folders before your live presentation as this will help you with easing last-minute anxiety and nervousness when it comes to finally presenting your content.

Get OptimizePress Now 🚀

Today is the perfect time to secure your version of the OptimizePress Suite and get full access to all of these amazing tools:

Drag and drop lightening fast website builder
Done for you marketing funnels to convert more leads and sales
Sell products and collect payment with checkouts
Create courses using pre-created templates and visual course building
Build membership sites and protect content
Split test your pages and funnels to increase conversions
Monitor your leads and sales with full stats dashboards
And much, much more.

#3: Screen Share Video

Video conferencing and online meetings have grown to become very popular in recent years. 

As more businesses have gone virtual, with remote work becoming the new norm, many business owners are starting to see the benefits of its setup due to its cost-effectiveness and removing the need for a physical office.

This provides course creators with a huge advantage as you will be able to provide customers with a format that customers will already be familiar with, which would otherwise have been a challenge to promote just a few years prior.

It’s clear that there are some nice advantages of using this format, so here are a few more:

You can make sales without having a course already created (You’re creating it live in the presentation)
You can encourage active participation with your customers, which you otherwise will not be able to do pre-recorded.
You can repackage it to sell later and make additional sales.
You can gauge customer interest before committing to making the course.

If you’re considering going this route, we strongly recommend Zoom as it’s quickly grown to be the de-facto tool for conducting live video presentations. 

What’s more, you will also be able to record your meetings; giving you the opportunity to repackage your content to sell to your customers later.

As always, there will of course be standard procedures when doing a live presentation. So here are a few of the most important ones to keep in mind to ensure your live presentation is a success.

Tip #1 - Clean Professional Setting

Just like when you record your "to camera" video content, you need to ensure the background setting for your video is clear and tidy so you can project a professional and authoritative image.

Tools like Zoom also have impressive filtering that can replace your background image and do things like even your skin tones and enhance your audio.

Tip #2 - Use Clean Templates That Aren’t Too Distracting

As always, we recommend using pre-built templates as it will give you a great starting point to creating your own designs that best suit your brand.

Again, we recommend Canva as it’s free, easy to use and has a wealth of templates to choose from.

Tip #3 - Encourage A Live Discussion and Q&A To Build Relationships And Engagement

The advantages of doing live training are that you are able to communicate with your customers in real-time. 

Use this opportunity to build strong relationships, encourage questions and give your customers the opportunity to participate. It will also help you discover their common questions that you can answer in your future marketing content.

This will strengthen your relationship, improve the likelihood of them becoming long-term customers and endorse others to your business.

#4: Audio Only

We deliberately left this format until last, not only to get you to read until the end but because it is the easiest option to get started with and requires very little equipment.

What’s great about this format is that you can quickly record your ideas using any audio recording device, which you can splice later into an audio file, making content creation both simple and effective.

If you’re a business owner on the go, on a limited production budget or want a quick and easy format for your content, then going the audio route could be a great format to get started with.

A few benefits to consider:

You can easily repackage the content.
No need for a professional studio or location to create.
No expensive equipment is required in order to get started. You only need a microphone.
You can edit and get your content out there quickly and begin making sales.

As with all of the other formats we’ve listed, it will not come without its procedures, so here are our following tips to ensure you get the most out of your audio recordings.

Tip #1: Clean Up Your Audio

One of the best parts of recording audio content is that it’s generally very easy to edit and remove inconsistencies in the delivery.

Live speech will often contain useless filler words and padding that isn’t practical when it comes to sharing information. It can also disengage the listener, and cause them to stop consuming your content. 

With a good audio editor, this will be easy to fix and doesn’t require too much work.

We recommend Audacity as it’s free to download and use, works for both Mac and PC and has proven to be very popular with audio enthusiasts and professionals.

For a more advanced solution, you can also use an AI software called Descript, which can do everything from record desktop screens, edit video/audio as well intelligently remove any filler words automatically and replace them with different words whilst retaining your voice! Pretty crazy.

However, it does come with a monthly subscription, which might not be ideal if you’re just starting out and are on a tight budget.

Tip #2: Keep Your Audio Recordings Short And Concise

While producing audio content can be simple and effective, it doesn’t come without its problems. 

A long and padded audio file can very easily disengage and bore the listener, which can prevent them from consuming your content.

So we advise that you split your content up into small bite-sized segments and give away only the core information that a listener can quickly listen to and take away.

Tip #3 - Transcribe Your Audio Into A Written Document

Finally, your audio content will likely contain very valuable information that can potentially be repackaged and used elsewhere. 

Use a transcribing service like Fiverr, Rev or Descript to have your audio transcribed into written text that you can provide as a bonus for your customers or convert into Lead Magnets or Blog Posts in the future.

Time To Create Your Content!

As you can see, creating a course isn’t at all complicated and doesn’t have to be difficult to set up. Hopefully, with the tools and tips we’ve listed, it should dispel any reservations you might have and encourage you to begin creating one of your own.

Our top tip when it comes to creating course content is to go for it and get out of your own way. 

As Voltaire said: 

“Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.“

Your audience needs your help and knowledge, so don't be afraid to share it with them. You can't improve and refine a skill you don't use!

Combined with OptimizeMentor, you now have everything you need to get started.

We look forward to seeing your masterpieces.

Go create!

Get OptimizePress Now 🚀

Today is the perfect time to secure your version of the OptimizePress Suite and get full access to all of these amazing tools:

Drag and drop lightening fast website builder
Done for you marketing funnels to convert more leads and sales
Sell products and collect payment with checkouts
Create courses using pre-created templates and visual course building
Build membership sites and protect content
Split test your pages and funnels to increase conversions
Monitor your leads and sales with full stats dashboards
And much, much more.
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    2 replies to "4 Simple Content Formats Used By Industry Experts To Quickly Build A Great Online Course"

    • Vikram Anand

      Superb post on creating a course. Very well researched and written!

      • Onder Hassan

        You’re welcome Vikram. Thank you for the support.

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