As a graphic designer for 14 years, I have created 1,000’s of images for my clients. Course images need to be both dynamic and also effectively communicate your course subject matter.
You also need to produce a clean image that communicates a sense of professionalism. Using more than three images may overwhelm the viewer especially when course thumbnails are viewed no larger than 200x100 pixels at times. I like to create a course image and then zoom out, so I can see how effective it is as a small thumbnail. Can I see any course icons, logos? Is the background graphic or photo effective or not too busy? Are there any elements that seem unnecessary?
Text is not allowed on cover images, so make sure you use icons, logos or symbols effectively, but using only the ones that are absolutely necessary to tell the story of your course subject matter. How about the color of the course cover image? That does matter. I once created a bright yellow cover photo for a design theory class because I could not find one other yellow dominated couse image in my topic. I believe using that unique cover photo has helped that class stand
out among heavy competition .
Looking at what others do in your category, what do the top three ranking courses do with their cover photos? Why do you think they are effective? Lastly, should you have a theme with all of your classes, some sort of unifying design element across all of your course images? Yes, that can be helpful if the classes are connected (in a series) or you want to establish brand recognition. For example, placing your headshot on each cover photo so when people view your course cover photo, they already know who the instructor will be (but that may not be for everyone, including myself). You can also have a design: banner, slash, swoosh, circle, geometric shape, color that also unifies your courses in some way without making them all look line clones of each other. I have done something similar to this with a two-part series, creating those bright vivid yellow cover photos so those two courses seem linked in some way visually. If I were to make all of my course cover photos the same color, it may be harder to establish two courses in a linked series or to highlight particular course types. Just a few tips to think about as you start to create those course cover photos!
Also remember to think about the course tags (best seller, new, hot and new) when creating your course images, everyone gets a tag at some point (new tag) so do not put anything that cannot afford to be covered up in that upper left area.
Please feel free to post tips of your own that has helped your course stand out from the crowd visually.
Course creation takes a lot of time and sometimes being productive is hard. I would really like to know from all the instructors how do you stay focused and productive? What kind of schedule do you follow to complete courses? Your guidance would really be helpful. Thanks.
@GregReverdiau: Hi @ShubhiSaxena
Making a realistic schedule and sticking to it is important. There are many steps to producing a course and what has worked for me in the past is to mix and match all the different steps so I'm not always doing the same thing for an extended period of time.
For example, you could record 7-10 hours of content over 2 days, then edit it over a couple of days, then upload everything to Udemy the next day, then publish your course. Personally, I like to record 2-3 hours at max, then spend the afternoon editing (during my lunch break, the computer creates my proxy files so I don't have to waste time waiting for that to happen). In the evening my computer exports all the videos while I sleep, directly to a Dropbox folder, which uploads by itself while I sleep. Then in the morning, I load those videos in Udemy using the bulk uploader and while the videos are getting converted by Udemy, I record my next 2-3 hours of video.
Getting more proficient at editing will also save you a ton of time. I used to spend 4-5 hours to edit 1 hour of content. Now that my process is more streamlined, I spend about 2 hours to edit 1 hour of content. Big time saver!
What are your main issues or bigger time wasters at this point in the process?
Here, check this article out. Look at the discussion about quadrants, this may help you. If you don’t have the book, it’s a good buy, cheap on Amazon.
Make sure you have a filming 'studio' set up so that you can walk in and start filming whenever you are ready...
Great question! I don't really have a set schedule, but I try to do at least something for my new courses every day, even when I'm on vacation. That might be some programming for a lecture, making slides, taking notes or writing scripts, or filming or editing. I notice that if I take a few days off, it get progressively harder to get back into it. That helps keep me in the right frame of mind.
I'm very new to this whole formal teaching thing but I think I am finally getting a groove. I have taught before online but nothing formal or paid so I wasn't as concerned about all the small details. I digress..
I would love to do the batch processing thing except I tend to do some research, then talk. Then research, then talk. So, because of this, I only batch record a few videos at a time. Actually, let me step back.
My newest method I just started and love so far is this:
I have a written script of what I am going to say ahead of time prepared. Maybe just 8-15 paragraphs worth. I record myself talking through the script without the camera, errors and all (I can edit those out). The key is to talk a bit slow and create natural breaks.
Then, I start diagraming or creating slides for my script if I already didn't have them in the script. I'm actually editing the content now.
Finally, I will green screen myself talking about what I talked about behind the scenes. So, as I edit, I learn more or realized I needed to add something else. This is where I would switch to "me" on camera and just talk it. Then I splice it in.
So far, I really think this method is going to be my winner.
One slow down for me is that I switch between a Mac and a PC alot. I love the Mac but certain things I am just faster at with Windows on a PC.
Like I said, I am very new but enjoying the ride so far. Good luck.
I do nearly the same as @GregReverdiau regarding a schedule; although mine looks different as I have an FT job as well:
Film 3-5 hours at a time, I have done 8 the latter is a bad idea if you want quality. 3-5 hours of "tape" 2-4 hours of useful material for me.
Next week or a few days later I edit it all of it, my editing is basic (maybe too basic tbh) so that's 1:2, one hour for every 2 filmed so 6-10 hours later all done
I upload as I go in these bulk sets so that's usually a large chunk of my course overnight and hope my wifi doesn't fail me. It usually does so I then upload the last of it in the morning or hit up a co-working space by the day- well worth the $20 for free coffee (& beer!) and fiber speeds!
During the week I engage in social media, type landing page info, etc.
Repeat this 3-4xs over a month or two and viola a new 4-6 hour course!
Watch entire course before going live, I often submit and keep private for a week to tweak and have select students in "early" to give feedback and build some hype
It total does help to have a home studio, saves me 1-2 hours to not have to set up now.
What motivates me? Let me be real, I can't stand editing, seeing my face and hearing my voice for HOURS is painful and I mean in a cringe, why did I do that, why is my hair a mess, etc, so I am quick to film, edit and have a live course up to generate revenue. Yes, money and enrollment motivate me to complete a quality course quickly and on schedule. I also update my social media accounts and students with a launch date early on. It makes me stick to a schedule. Right now I have 10 days to complete my next course; 10 hours unedited, 5 more to film and I can see the sweet sweet finish line!!!
this is a great question. My favourite motto is "Eat the elephant one bite at a time". For me that means instead of being overwhelmed by all you have to do, just concentrate on one thing - do that until it's done! This has helped me alot especially when I am not feeling motivated.
It a great question. Staying on track is important. When off track, better to come back quickly.
Since you need to be creative whileaking content a break also serves as a breather.
This is how I stay focussed :
Categorize and break your course creation task. Mine are :
1) Outline, research, Script writing
2) video shoots, screen recordings, audio files.
4) prepare downloads in PDF.
I take up things in batch. I complete point 1 and point 4 simultaneously. I complete the scripting first. Mark the lecture numbers also. So redo is avoided while recording.
Mostly first I make my own outline. This keeps my content original. Then do the research and improve it.
Keep adding parts to the main outline.
Only once this step is complete I start recording. I record everything in a batch again, mark and save my files to edit in batch for next week.
Right now, for me it takes time. I follow a tight scripting schedule. For e. g. lecture 1 to be finished by (date)
This has to be done to stay productive. Since we are our own boss. By following this it's easier for me to be productive. I can easily script for two to three lectures ( 10 minutes each) in a weeks time. So in two months 8-12 lectures can be scripted.
You could just do one in a week and see it will start becoming easier. Sometimes it's just the load of work that needs to be done bogs us down. So little steps are also good to be productive.
After scripting I take 3 days for recording and a week's time for editing. I rerun everything again before producing. So another 3 days. Udemy has a template for video editing. It's quite a help.
On the days I do not feel creative, I simply research and find myself writing in an hour or so.... 🙂
Hope it helps.
@GregReverdiau I love this! I did my first course recently (published on Friday, so I'm about to embark on a week of promoting it through various means - wish me luck!) and I was chewing over a solid workflow for my next one. I was thinking something similar, but a little different: -Pre-Produce all my lectures and sort out my talking points (I've never liked presenting with a finished script. Bullet points FTW), outlining what next steps I'll be finishing each lecture with. -Film everything over a single day (2 if needed).
-Offload footage, backing up and transcoding overnight.
-Then aim to edit a bunch of V1 drafts, ready for my business partner to have a read of (benefit of having another set of eyes) each day - batch exporting these (To google drive - love your Dropbox idea Greg!) with Media Encoder.
-Start each edit day with any changes to existing edits, then queue up to Google Drive, ready for Bulk uploading and also getting Rev.com ready to go for captioning. I'll be processing these as soon as each edit is signed off. -Eventually all of my lectures should kind of be there within a couple of days to a week (depending on what other stuff I've got in my calendar that week.) Any thoughts as to how I can improve this anyone? I'm hoping to save myself a tonne of processing time in not shooting the whole thing in 4k (Yeah, that was a bit silly last time) but any feedback from more experienced minds would be super welcome!
Editing takes the biggest bulk of most instructor’s time. Some instructors are lucky to have video editors who can work with them/for them, but not all of us are so lucky! I do one hundred percent of my own editing and finding ways to streamline that process can save me the most time.
First of all, I create a theme or template video for my course I am working on. This theme will have a standard look for a lower third, banners or an intro screen. These graphics look consistent or have a branded theme. I start each lesson with this template, so I already have the first few seconds set up in my editing software, same for the outro, music and fonts. This saves me a ton of time as I do not have to set it up each time, I start a new lesson as there can sometimes be 60+ lectures. I also film in one day. I can film up to four hours of screen recording content in one afternoon. This way I can record it all and save the editing for one session. This also helps to cut down on editing time and streamline my process, so I am not going from filming to editing too often and shifting gears too frequently.
I also plan ahead. I open up a google doc with my course outline and I write out the title of each lesson. If I need to write a script ahead of time, I will do all this at once.
There is a theme here of sitting down to do one task before moving onto another. As instructors we can get excited about teaching that sometimes we rush to film before we really planned out the outline to our course, and “play it by ear”. I found that to be more time consuming in the end as I had to go back and refilm things I have said because I decided to change up the course after filming the first few lessons.
What are some things that you've done to create a course in less time?
@Artemakis: I also find it more efficient to first record all lectures/screencasts, and then start the editing process.
In my first course, after recording each lecture, I would edit it and only then I would proceed with the next one. It was a nightmare! 🙂
Then I switched to record all-first, and then edit them, which works much better for me.
@GregReverdiau: Personally, I too like to record one chapter in one day. I try to keep the editing to later in the day, the morning is my prime time to record while I'm fresh. Plus, editing in the afternoon means I can export the videos while I sleep, and since I export directly to a Dropbox folder, they are also synched by the morning, which means I only have to add them with the bulk uploader.
A few tips that have saved me a ton of time:
- I use FCPX and there is a way to save some of the edits and apply them later. For example, color correction, where my body is located on the final video, the size of the screen that I'm showing, my fake background, my keyer, etc... is all saved for each of the angles I have. It makes it super easy to do the entire setup before I start editing. I'm sure other software have the ability to do the same. It also helps with keeping everything consistent.
- In FCPX, there is a Multicam option available. This allows me to set up an unlimited number of "angles" that I can easily switch between when editing. I simply click on 1,2,3 or 4 on my keyboard when I want to switch to one of the angles. They are all synched in and all I have to do once it's setup is to play my course and cut between all the angles.
- I play my course at 2x the speed when I edit. I can still hear everything I say and catch the bloopers, and it really saves down on the time!
I hope this helps someone!
@SatyaAnandaDhar: I do basically the same.
I've also switched from more expensive and complex video editors to camtasia 9 to speed up the editing process.
What wears the most is the time lost waiting for rendering! Breakes the work flow! I always record the course and then I'll edit at the end. Sometimes I add one class or another when I see the material ready, for polishing What works for me is to create a video file with the introduction ando other for the "background" parts like text, images, quots etc.
I just wanted to add that I do screencast and PowerPoint based presentation courses and I've found that a lot of my time can be sucked up producing PowerPoint slides -- especially if I go for high production value with lots of animation.
Want to speed up your video production to the max? Do pure screencast software demonstrations. I can record as much as 1 hour per day using this method.
If I start messing around with PowerPoint slides, or of late talking head and green screen, the minutes start spinning like Clark Griswald's electricity meter when he had all the lights on in "Christmas Vactation". You get my point -- at least you do if you're a John Hughes fan ;-).
@Anonymous Great tip! This is exactly what I do. I do not even mess with PowerPoint and do all of my text and instruction right in screenflow (the mac video editing software I use). It is great because there is just one program I am juggling. I record my screencasts there but also edit video there as well, streamlining the process. It also adds a much more professional touch to my courses as my text is almost always, animated and structured.
If you are using Camtasia, you can render all of your Camatasia projects in bulk. What I'll typically do is record all my lessons, mistakes and all. I'll then edit them all. Once edited, I'll open Camtasia, select all of my lesson projects, and bulk process them - sometimes letting it run after I go to bed. When I wake up (or get back from food shopping, or return from the gym, etc), all of my lessons are ready for upload.
@kalimaAcademy: Hello, I use a " debut "program from a company " nch " that is easy to use and the payment is $ 49 for one time. For montage, I use Filmora.
Around my house there is noise, so I only shoot early in the morning for two hours, and then I do the montage and for noise removal I use the Audacity program, which is free. It is better to record several videos at once, because you will shorten the time to set the device and lighting, and then devote yourself to editing. The other command was prepared using PowerPoint, a simple introduction and I use it as an introduction before the videos and arranged all the things in one folder, and so I find everything I want in one time.
Many of us including myself create English courses even though English is not our first language.
Even though I lived in Canada for 10 years and no one complained about my accent, I was surprised to see the negative feedback from my udemy students that my accent is really bad. Turns out that I had a hard accent and Canada is really such a nice country.
To overcome the bad reviews regarding my accent, I had to take few actions:
1- Add subtitles/captions to my courses ... this really helped a big deal.
--- If you have a script that you read while recording you courses, creating captions would be easy...use youtube or a tool called "Subtitle Edit" to create the subtitles for you.
-- if you don't have a script, then take a look at what udemy has created for you already under the "Captions" tab of your course .... please please, review what has been created there and don't leave it as is ... for some reason, the auto generated captions are usually +18 :D, so your students won't like it as is.
2- In my welcome message of my courses, I ask my students to make sure they watch the Preview videos for my course...I even stated very clearly that I have an accent and I want to make sure they can get along with my accent
3- I took a udemy course to enhance my accent ... well, it's my career and I have to develop myself ... and to my surprise, I noticed my flaws and gradually they are getting better.
4- There's a difference between an accent and bad English. Accents are acceptable, bad English grammar is not. Make sure you English is good ... use spell checker, grammar checker whatever it take to make sure your English is good.
Well, that was my action plan to enhance my courses, If you have any other tips, please share them with the rest of us.
@GregReverdiau: Non-native English speaker here too. I think Point 4 in your list should be point 1. Bad English vs strong accent are two different things. Like you said, bad English is not acceptable!
Getting rid of an accent is difficult but it is possible. Take online courses to improve your accent, record yourself and listen to what you say and how it should be said then say it again correctly out loud several times. If you have a friend or significant other that is around you a lot, ask them to correct you. It sucks at first but if they do it with good intentions, you will learn quickly. After 16 years in the US, I still find myself saying words out loud several times when they don't "sound" right.
@Robin_Slee: Great Points! One thing that I have noticed over the last few months is that several new instructors are very shy when it comes to presenting on camera. They feel very concious about their voice and tend to get very quiet. This is something that I struggled with when I created my first course. To overcome this, I set aside about ten minutes a day for two months. I simply opened audacity and practiced talking into the computer. I tried different speaking voices (soft, firm, loud etc) I also tried to clarify certain words that I found difficult. I even tried rehearsing lyrics! Even with a strong accent, a little practise really helps. You can rehearse as often as you want, you only have to record it correctly once! 🙂
Good luck and keep us posted 😉
@PadmaRallap477: This is Padma Rallapalli, from Visakhapatnam. What you said is absolutely correct, sir.I was a lecturer in English in Reputed schools and colleges. But now stopped working.
I would like to work from home. Udemy gave me a chance to fulfil my
desire. But the problem is my uploaded videos are not reaching them to get feedback. My approach is making videos with message giving stories and teaching English. I place images and give my background voice.
If I put camera in front and give lecture
I am conscious of it. Please watch my
Videos and give your feedback. I'm YouTuber. Please check my videos with the name Padma Rallapalli.
@DeniseFletcher: These are fantastic tips @Maged-Koshty. I love the approach you've taken in that you've taken positive action to get round the accent. I personally like an accent as long as I understand what the person is saying. But yes if the the written English is poor then I find that more annoying. Having said that I had a complaint because I provided handouts in English (UK) and not English (US) spelling. Sometimes you just can't please everyone.
Recording your desktop can be achieved using any number of software programs designed to do just that. These programs are called 'screen capture software'. Many applications will capture not only what is onyour screen but also what is seen through your webcam and heard through your microphone.
You may have heard of Camtasia? Whilst this is a screen capture tool it is also a video editor and boasts a number of features targeted at the online education sector. Its down side is that it is not cheap.
You may also have heard of ScreenCast-O-Matic. This is also a screen recording software. And it does come with a very rudimentary editor (paid version). I like its simplicity and is ideal for quick short videos and screencasts.
You might even have heard of OBS (Open Broadcast Software)? Primarily aimed at gamers to stream gaming sessions. It can also save those streams locally as video files. This makes it a very good application for creating screencasts. Oh, and did I mention its free? 😉
So, whichever application you are using, remember that you may also need a seperate video editor? You might need a certain feature? Or, you might be starting on a budget? What ever your situation - there is something available for you to get started right now.
I hope you find this useful? If you do, give it a like and let others find this post.
Warm regards, Robin.
@georgippetrov: I use ScreenFlow and find it really good for what I do. First I start with iShowUHD but for some reason, I left it behind. Still, have it but just collecting dust. ScreenFlow is a good solution for people who just starting and need all in one solution. The software offer editing, transactions, effects, sound adjustments, just to name a few.
Most of the time I edit everything in Adobe Premiere Pro but as I mention if you starting and you don't have a subscription for Adobe then ScreenFlow is good as a one-off buy.
Of course, all of the above mentioned are good solutions but I never try them and can't say much about them.
@AmrinGrewal: Camtasia is great for price!
@Chris_Haroun: I use Wirecast as I stream a lot online...and I am not smart enough to understand OBS - no joke : )
Prior to this, I used the following 2 products:
On my Mac: Quicktime
On my Windows PC: PowerPoint (on the Windows version you can do an "Insert Screen Record")
@ZbigniewMisiak: I use Loom (https://www.loom.com/)
@MarcoAdda75: @Robin_Slee for Mac users, I work with Screenflow, free and easy to use, it's a great one.
@JeffSharman592: I would like to add my experiences in course creation right from the beginning.
My first course was trial and error. I made some talking heads video using a Canon camera on a tripod. The sound quality was terrible. I then did the same thing using a Samsung Smart phone on a tripod. Much better than the camera.
I use a Dell laptop with built-in webcam and Mic. Originally on quite an old laptop. It was OK but the sound quality needed improvement. I purchased a separate Mic which improved it a lot.
It is always necessary to have some good audio and video editing software. There are some free ones around, but I opted for NCH Videopad, Wavepad and Debut Video Capture. All excellent and not that expensive. Very user friendly and effective.
I now have a new Dell laptop and I still use the built in Mic and Webcam. Excellent quality and after editing, noise is virtually non-existent. I don't use a separate Mic anymore or Webcam for my recordings.
I have made a recording booth to cut down echo and outside ambient noise. Cheap and easy. A plastic box covered in a thick multi-layered blanket. Works beautifully.
It is nice to know that you don't have to spend a fortune to obtain good results.
I use zoom for my Virtual Classroom learning. It does record during the class so it should work.
I am now contemplating upgrading my current set up of webcam and mid range mic.
I would like to spend some money on investing in a camera, mic and some lighting with a backdrop.
What is your current set up it terms of camera and mic, plus what lighting fo you use?
Really intersted to know before I take the capital expenditure plunge.
@GrahamNicholls: Hey @JulianJenki396
Here's the basics of what I use.
I use an Ipad as a camera that has a Rode Lapel mic plugged into it via the 3.5mm port which provides HD quality video and great sound (the Rode mic is fantastic).
As far a lighting goes I've got 4 Pro Softbox lights to light the area I record in.
@LawrenceMMiller: You will find a huge range of responses in terms of the sophistication and expense of the equpment that instructors are using. I suspect that I am somewhere in the middle. Here are two photos of my office/studio. One is from behind the camera, the other looking toward the camera from where I stand.
Obviously, I use a green screen and insert a background photo in editing. Here is my gear breakdown. I have been using a Fuji XH1 camera with a variety of lenses, usually the 16-55/f2.8 set to f5.6 and a custome K scale level (3300) to match the lights, auto focus off and auto white balance off. I recently acquired the new Nikon Z7 and I may use that for my next course. I use a laptop for a teleprompter, but that is just to give me an outline or a graphic, which I use a lot of, to remind me of my key talking points. I use a Sony URX-PO3 wireless receiver and transmitter. This is a relatively expensive unit ($500) but I went through several other cheaper units and they kept failing for one reason or another. This one is excellent. Lighting is probably the most critical element of your set up. I have four Generay Spectra 500 bi-color lights. These allow you to adjust the color temperature of the light. Two are in front of me and two only illuminate the green screen. I have two smaller lights that are above and behind my head aimed at the back of my head, this eliminates the glow you can get around your head. These aren't shown in the photos. Oh, notice my mascot, Bella on the couch. Very imporant. This is her position while I am filming so she isn't looking out the window downstairs and barking at people or dogs walking by. Hate that!
@KylePew: I started out with a logitech webcam and a couple of small lights. After a couple of courses I upgraded to using a Sony A6000 with a Sony ECM-GZ1M mic in the cameras Multi-Interface Shoe. I also purchased a simple retractable green screen, from Elgato. When I made the upgrade I also changed from using Camatasia to OBS. OBS is super easy to use with the green screen adjustments. I recently upgraded to a Sony A6400. This camera gives me more options as far as microphones are concerned as the A6000 didn't have a Mic input other then the Multi-Interface slot at the top of the camera. My lighting has also changed over time, I now have a couple of LED panel lights to light me and the green screen.
@Hypnodan: Hi @JulianJenki396
For camera, I use a Sony AX53 camcorder or Sony A6400 camera. On either I use Rode Mics. Either the Rode Lavalier microphone (about £40) or the Rode VideoMicro (about £40). Obviously the cameras I mention here are quite expensive, but the microphones are reasonably priced.
For lights, I use the 'Neewer 3 Packs Dimmable Bi-color 480 LED Video Light and Stand Lighting Kit - LED Panel (3200-5600K) with U Bracket Light Stand for YouTube Studio Photography Video Shooting' (about £150 for 3 lights plus stands. You can buy them cheaper individually if you don't need 3)
I used to use softbox lights which were much cheaper (about £40 for two plus stands), but they take up a lot of room.
I rarely use green screen, but do have a green screen setup I can use if I want. It was quite cheap (about £35) to purchase the set which included green screen plus white, black and red and the frame, which at it's largest is 2m x 3m.
I also have a teleprompter. I don't use it often. It was about £80 and you put your tablet device lying down on it and read off (using any free 'teleprompter' or 'autocue' app) the slanted perspex which is in front of your camcorder. It fits on the tripod and you put your camera on the telepromper.
All the best
@AliciaPaz: I've made some upgrades recently, not sure your area but I also initially used Omni which is an app where you can borrow stuff and tried a DSLR first. I made an Amazon list of what I use/have used- not an affiliate link below, a wide range of items and all pretty cheap. I started with an iPhone 7, $9.99 lapel mic and a $9.99 app (ProMovie.)
Current set up is a lighting kit; 2 on tripods and umbrellas and one softbox on a tripod, blue ICE mic which is bungee corded to another tripod with a pop filter. I use a Canon DSLR as well which has made a huge difference in quality.
My basic kit for social media and promo is that I use my iPhone and a ring light that attaches to it.
I don't use a green screen and my videos are all talking head (it's less ego and more that I am a therapist!) and I have this as my background in all videos. I also use Mac products so I also have 23029508 adapters due to the C-port.
I should add I also have a room I use as a studio with no windows (3/4 basement) and white walls so lighting is easy as is sound. And to prevent echo I have a mattress against a wall- it might also be my never used guest bedroom so it also has a dresser and nightstand to the sides.
If I had to choose what to buy looking to upgrade presuming someone's set up is alright, to begin with; mic > lights > camera
@GregReverdiau: I just finished construction of my home office/studio. This is my setup.
Logitech 920 Pro or iPad
available light or 3 photo LED lights
Greenscreen on a frame and stand
Auna USB MIC 900B with mike stand and pop filter (might be a different brand in the US) which is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone. The mike is very important because I do screencasts. This mike is simply overwhelming and really makes the difference. This has improved my sound quality dramatically. I used to have a Rode smartLav+ before, but in comparison, the Rode is like phone quality.
Bottom line: mike is king, the rest is nice to have.
@RobinHills: Some of these bits of kit are very impressive. They may be very off putting to new, inexperienced instructors.
PLEASE do not think that you have to have all this gear to be successful on Udemy. I started out with a Logitech c690 webcam giving me HD video and a Blue Yeti microphone giving high quality sound. Together both cost about £150 (~$150 equivalent). They got me started and established with my courses.
Over the months I have invested my Udemy income in a DSLR camera (Nikon d5600), a Rode Video Pro microphone, a white screen, a lighting kit and a teleprompter.
Having got got my professional kit together, I still haven’t mastered the art of producing great videos that I am 100% happy with!
So ok you’ve had this great idea to create an online course. You were full of enthusiasm but today you’ve hit a brick wall. You just can’t seem to get going. You are procrastinating. It’s all milling around in your head but nothing is happening.
Don’t worry we’ve all had those moments. I am a super procrastinator so I can go off track really easily especially if I’m finding something challenging to do, like course creation.
So how can you unblock yourself?
Here are some tips to try out…all you need to do is grab your notebook and a pen.
Just pick 2 or 3 things from the list below and do each one for just 20 minutes.
Just doing something different for a short time can trigger your brain into focus and bam you’re back on the production train again.
1. Get your outline onto the Udemy dashboard if you haven't already - so you can physically see the course building bit by bit. 2. Explore your course objectives / course landing page and see if you can improve them – again write them into your course and keep tweaking. 3. Start to fill in the lecture descriptions - and remember you can tweak as you go along. 4. Watch a variety of preview videos from courses in the same topic area as yours to understand their offering and work out how yours will be different. 5. Get a blank sheet of paper and brainstorm your own Bio – explore other instructors Bios for ideas 6. Start to write your Bio into Udemy - and remember you can tweak this at any point. 7. Research and explore additional documents /material you can add to your course. 8. Create your additional documents. 9. Spend time here in the forum Studio U observing and getting involved. 10. Brainstorm course titles and subtitles. 11. Have a play and experiment with your test video and filming in general. 12. Take the plunge and submit your test video - you'll get great feedback. 13. Get creative and start to explore your course image(s).
14. Get brave and hold yourself to account by posting about your course and course launch date on social media. 15. Try not to be a perfectionist. Tell yourself your course is a "work in progress" and you can continually improve it after it is live. 16. Remind yourself that doing something is better than nothing.
17. Have a complete break, grab a coffee or go for a walk.
Have you got any other tips to add to the list?
@AliciaPaz: Love this list and I am the Queen of procrastination at times. I would add for me to do something! If you are like not into filming today and the script seems overwhelming go choose something else- #14. Make the graphic for the course, write the landing page, anything even a 2 min. project just to have some momentum.
My best/worst tip and this might be bad if you truly procrastinate and don't do anything- I post on social media my launch date! Yes, I give myself a public (reasonable) timeline that I feel an obligation to stick to. I create a countdown on IG and the pressure is enough for me to put my ass in gear!
Also over time, I have streamlined my process (I think @GregReverdiau started a post on it a month or two back) and it has helped me make this so much faster and also choose my next step over a long to-do list that is too much to handle so I just eat ice cream instead!
Great list. Thank you. Here are a couple items I’ve found that might be appropriate.
Do something on your project every day. DeniseFletcher suggests 20 minutes. I opt for 10. In any case, the point is to do something every day.
If you are still not in the mood after that initial 10 (or 20) minutes, then stop. I find that if I don’t EVER honor my commitment to stop after 10 minutes, then I never start. I seldom abandon my project after 10 minutes, but there are times when things just aren’t working. Forcing myself to continue just generates frustration, resentment (and garbage).
Be willing to scrap an afternoon’s / day’s / week’s / (okay, not month’s) material. If you are anything like me, some of your best work just will not fit your course. My biggest frustration is trying to adapt my course to include a lecture that doesn’t fit. It may be entertaining, interesting and some of my best work. And I’ve spent hours and hours developing it. But if it disrupts the course flow, it needs to go away. That’s hard. But continuing to try to make it fit creates an almost insurmountable course development blockage.
It seems that every instructor on Udemy has an opinion about what makes an effective online presentation, but rarely do we have a discussion about evidence based research. So... I thought I would post some of the research I have found, encourage others to post additional research, and hopefully, instructors (Including myself) can make better informed course creation decisions.
How Video Production Affects Student Engagement: An Empirical Study of MOOC Videos Key findings:
Seeing the Instructor in Two Video Styles: Preferences and Patterns
Instructional content designers of online learning platforms are concerned about optimal video design guidelines that ensure course effectiveness, while keeping video production time and costs at reasonable levels. In order to address the concern, we use clickstream data from one Coursera course to analyze the engagement, motivational and navigational patterns of learners upon being presented with lecture videos incorporating the instructor video in two styles--first, where the instructor seamlessly interacts with the content and second, where the instructor appears in a window in a portion of the presentation window. Our main empirical finding is that the video style where the instructor seamlessly interacts with the content is by far the most preferred choice of the learners in general and certificate-earners and auditors in particular. Moreover, learners who chose this video style, on average, watched a larger proportion of the lectures, engaged with the lectures for a longer duration and preferred to view the lectures in streamed mode (as opposed to downloading them), when compared to their colleagues who chose the other video style. We posit that the important difference between the two video modes was the integrated view of a "real" instructor in close proximity to the content, that increased learner motivation, which in turn affected the watching times and the proportion of lectures watched. The results lend further credibility to the previously suggested hypothesis that positive affect arising out of improved social cues of the instructor influences learner motivation leading to their increased engagement with the course and its broader applicability to learning at scale scenarios. [For complete proceedings, see ED560503.]
Delivering an effective presentation
An effective presenter needs to be flexible, energetic and enthusiastic. This guide will help you turn your written presentation into an imaginative public performance.
Lawrence M. Miller (@LawrenceMMiller) Management & Leadership Coach
What process and tools do you use to create a new course from scratch? Particularly for courses that are mostly either talking heads or slideshows with a voiceover (rather than courses that are mostly screencasts of software being used).
Do you, for example, sit down and script the entire course before recording your talking heads/slideshows. Rather than using a script, do you use bullet points to cover everything?
Is there a tool that you use to help you with the course planning and scripting process. Does anyone use Scrivener for example, or something similar. The few times I've looked at Scrivener, it looks pretty confusing.
I've been using Microsoft OneNote and I find this has been quite good, but maybe there's something more intuitive. My process varies, dependent of course on the kind of course I'm creating. I generally create slide-based lessons, so the text on the slide determines what I'm going to talk about, so detailed scripts can be unecessary, but when doing talking heads I script every word. I think planning a course has been one of my weaker areas in the past as I tend to start creating content before the planning process has been finished.
@GrahamNicholls: I don’t script anything, I sit with pad and pen (yes I’m old fashioned), I mindmap the subject and then do a lecture list.
Then, when I’m ready, set up and record.
simple yet effective
@DeniseFletcher: Hi @CharlesCorn
Mostly the courses I create are from things I've delivered in person but none the less in trying to improve content I go through the same process as what I do when I create a course from scratch.
1. I buy an A4 hard backed book to jot notes in. Each course has it's own book.
2. I create a summary structure of the course on one page as a mind map which then becomes a linear structure which then I set up in Udemy ( I find that seeing the course visually on Udemy helps).
3. Then for each part of the landing page - objectives, ideal student, course description I create a one page minde map
4. I do the same with each section / lecture
5. I research lecture content where I see gaps
6. I go to a coffee shop / pub and sit in a quiet corner to start thinking about visuals and scripts so I have no distractions.
7. I then create each lecture as a powerpoint presentation and use the Trainer Notes view to write bullet points / script
8. I explore / create draft additional resources
9. I record the lectures one by one and add to Udemy
10. I finalise additional resources lecture by lecture and add them to Udemy
11. I then revisit the landing page and tighten up
12. Press the magic button and plan out marketing / promo
So my note books become full of mind maps and drafts and powerpoint helps me to polish it all. I should add I am a terrible procrastinator and I faff a lot - one of the reasons for making myself go out to a coffee shop with no laptop and just the notebook.
I hope that helps
@Chris_Haroun: Charles here are 2 videos on how I create the content for a course from scratch (the first video below shows how I come up with and script/organize the content and the second video below shows how I place the content in my teleprompter set-up...I used 2 videos with lower resolutions as you can't upload more than 500MB per file here); thanks:
Please let me know if you have any questions,
@GregReverdiau: Personally, I use an Excel spreadsheet to create my strawman of all the areas I want to cover, then I divide it into logical categories. Then when I create my slides, they contain the bullet point ideas of what's important and I expand on each of those in front of the camera. Sometimes (most of the time) I show the bullets to the students, but sometimes it's just for me to stay on track. I never script, I tried for my promo videos and I'm horrible at it. I'm much better with just an idea that I can expand on. With that said, everyone is different so whatever works for you and makes you comfortable in front of the camera.
See what instructors are using to edit videos!
My workflow is based aroud Adobe apps. Premiere Pro is a main "work horse", I also use a bit of AfterEffects, when I need infographics (to be honest, I don't do that too often). I record videos in Camtasia, but I don't edit there, it is way simpler to organize big project in Premiere Pro.
Personally, I use Final Cut Pro X (Mac only). It is an industry standard along with Adobe Premiere. It provides me with the video editing, audio editing, acts as file organizer. One thing I love is that it lets me save presets from previous videos (such as how much crop, where the video is positioned, color corrections, etc) so I can apply them to future videos. That's been great to save a lot of time once I setup my studio correctly.
It also has a great green screen option, it allows for outside plugins (such as on-screen graphics and animations), and the multi-camera option has allowed me to save a TON of time when editing. It's a bit of an investment at $299 and I know there are lots of other options for free out there too.
I use Adobe Premier Pro and love it. With that I also use Audition to clean up our sound. I tried Final Cut, and while it has amazing tools, Premier just clicks in my head. I am working on an iMac Pro if that helps too. I used iMovie back in the day but one of the version updates they did took away all the features I liked and used and I got mad at it and have barely touched it since.
Screenflow for Mac has been amazing! I do have the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, so technically, I can start to explore Adobe premiere and Adobe after effects, but for teaching courses screenflow keeps it nice and simple with some pretty decent transition effects.
I use Adobe premier pro. Mine is just slides and voice over. Only takes couple of days to edit. So, usually when I finish editing, I unsubscribe the service. Adobe is so generous that they do refund if service period is less than 2 weeks.
I also use ScreenFlow on my Mac. I have been using it for many years now and it has grown from an application to just record and edit screencasts to something more capable. So nowaydays I even use it to edit talking head videos etc.
I am sure that pro-level applications like Premiere or Final Cut Pro X have a lot more bells and whistles. And I might look into that in the future. But for now I am pretty happy with it.
Instructors share how they dress up for when they're recording their course lectures. Read this post to get some inspiration!
Most of my videos are just screencasts or slide narration where I don’t appear, so in reality I’m usually wearing a t-shirt and jeans! But when I do appear on camera, I do put some thought into my attire. You want students to identify with you, yet you still want to look like a respectful authority figure. For courses aimed at engineers, I’ll usually wear a collared shirt, but without a tie or jacket. But for courses aimed at executives, I break out the sport coat. It’s also important to avoid complex patterns in your attire, as they can create odd interference patterns on camera. I have a section of my closet that consists of tailored, solid-color shirts for use on camera. And I also think it’s important to have some sort of “signature” in your apparel. Steve Jobs had his turtlenecks; Bill Nye has his bow ties. For me, it’s a flat cap, and I’m never on camera without one.
Do you have a "signature"? What is it?
Greg Reverdiau: I do mostly talking heads and I use the same grey short sleeve collared shirt. I don’t know that I would call it a signature per se but it does help with consistency and it is easy to white balance.
Graham Nicholls: As all of my videos are me on screen I wanted to look presentable and professional so I started out with a black shirt and that has continued throughout my courses. The only difference being that I now have my logo embroided on it..... I guess, therefore, that the black shirt is my signature.
Although I did get one review with someone complaining that the black shirt made them feel dark and down so they requested a refund..... you just can't please everyone!
Hypnodan: I like to wear the same thing all the time in all videos. I think over the years I've been on Udemy I have had three different shirts I've worn in my videos, one shirt I wore in my 2014/2015 eCourses, another shirt in my 2016/2017 videos and another shirt in my 2018/2019 courses.
I tell myself that this is for consistency in the videos (which it partly is), but I like having a 'work outfit' and I like things to be unchanging. When I was working full-time in my last couple of jobs I wore the same shirt every workday from 2007-2015. My wife hated the shirt and made sure it was thrown out once I left my last job.
Alicia Paz: Mine are all talking head and I wear different things every 3-5 videos and have a rack of clothes while filming I organize pre-filming to change into as I film 8-12 at a time. I joke privately I have costume changed like Beyonce. It's business casual and low on patterns but overall brighter colors. Partly it's because my courses are meant to be done 1-2 video per week (Udemy suggestion: courses that can be "dripped,") so in my head, different clothes signal some kind of "stop" to students who want to binge the whole course.
My signature...I would say 80% of my videos I have the same red lipstick in, a handful I have a purple color which has received some comments on in the past and I stopped wearing- but at this point, I brought it back from my newest course. Also, I rock some funky and ornate nails and use my hands a lot (East Coast problems) so I get a lot of comments on social media about them- although all positive and sometimes for close up shots of them. This also fits my demographic.
My background is the same in all videos, but one which is busy on purpose as it's about distraction.
You do not need to spend a lot of money to get started. Here I share a few tips to help you.
This short video was filmed using my four-year-old iPhone and its microphone. The green screen cost me $15aud for the material. I have an orange ring light - the only light I used for this from Amazon. The image at the end was free from Pixabay. It was edited in Screenflow which cost $149 - there is cheaper editing software out there. Most of all practice loving the camera and allow your love and knowledge to shine through.
Check out what instructors are doing to remain motivated during the course creation process!
@GregReverdiau: It can be difficult from time to time to stay motivated but think about all the future students you will help with your course. It might seem like a gigantic task to create an entire course so create a little checklist of all the things you have to do and tackle one after the other. I also like to mix it up by just doing different tasks throughout the process. Like creating slides, then recording, then editing, then creating slides again and starting the process. It helps with the daunting task like editing which can take a long time.
Best of luck to you.
@Laurence-Svekis: This is one of the hardest parts I find to building the courses.
I break apart the process in manageble chunks then set my weekly schedule to accomplish them.
I have courses that have taken sometimes 6 months or longer to build and the task tracking has kept me one track.
My key tips are:
breaking down tasks into sizeable chunks
As they say, 90% of the work is preperation. If you've planned your course well, then, like a jigsaw, it will all form together nicely.
I spend most of my time planning the course sections and lectures within those sections. I gain an idea of what I want to cover and then I bullet point key points. I then (since my courses are technical) plan the code that's to be used during the lectures.
Once happy with the planning, I start creating content by recording videos. I then place these draft videos into a depository before editing them to a finalised version.
If I take a step back and look at all the tasks ahead, it would be like looking at a moutain of work. To avoid this, I schedule by outstanding tasks and then schedule time each day week-by-week to clearly state what I want to achieve and devote time doing it.
Bit by bit you will complete lectures and sections. By the end of the schedule you'll have next to a perfect course that has been well formed and designed.
As they say, each journey starts with a single step. The motivation for me is finding out if my course is going to be successful. People I'm sure will say it's mostly about helping people (for which it plays a big part) but money is also a motivator. Some courses (if done right) could make considerable amounts each month. For me it's 50/50. 50% helping people and 50% to provide a new source of income (yes, I'm being very honest - but hey, we've got to live, right? 😉 )
Finally, I would say that hard work pays off. Many people spend time after work watching tv, playing games etc. Some of us (especially on this instructors board) make use of our spare time and from that everyone's a winner. It takes devotion and effort but remember the pain of it all is only temporary.
@McCleish868: What helps me to stay motivated is knowing that I will be added value to at least one person. Also, in the building process, I usually like to try something new that I have never done before so it makes it to be fun as well. Lastly, just talking with friends and family where I am at with the building journey and they adding value to me with their thoughts on the course.
Continue to keep building!
This is a question many instructors or soon-to-be instructors ask themselves at some point, and the answer might not be very obvious.
As many experienced instructors would probably tell you, a course might never be complete. If you want your course to stay relevant, you will need to keep improving it over time, but I will focus mostly on the second part of the question here.
The decision of when to publish can have big consequences: If you publish too soon, when the course and/or you are not really “ready”, you might risk wasting the opportunity that having a just-published course represents.
The first 90 days of your course are very important.
If your course is well received by the market and you do your part to promote it correctly, it will start getting students and reviews, and eventually earning some badges that would make it more appealing to potential students. Also, the Udemy system will probably give your course a boost in searches and would make it more discoverable, which would, in turn, bring you more students, starting a virtuous cycle that could put your course on the path to success.
If, on the other hand, you publish a course of poor quality, with noticeable errors or missing content, it might get some students, but also some bad reviews, and that could be the beginning of the end for a new course from a new instructor, not because it is not possible to bring it back to life, but because most people will probably feel frustrated and will lose interest in devoting more time to something that appears to be a total failure.
But publishing too late is also dangerous.
If you keep repeating or re-doing things because you find very small mistakes or are never satisfied with what you have created, you might end up never actually publishing your course.
Also, if you delay it too much, someone else might get ahead of you, publishing a course that covers the same topic, in a very similar manner, thus, taking advantage of an opportunity that could have been yours.
So, in light of this, here are some ideas of the things I would make sure to have covered before hitting the publish button (in no specific order). Nothing more, and nothing less.
Your course content already covers all the main topics a student would need to learn to feel that they received value and that the course allows them to feel proficient on the topic, even if you still have some additional non-crucial content you would like to add.
You have a promo video, which was specifically created for that purpose, so that the system doesn’t need to set your first lecture as the promo.
You have a good course image ready (unless you plan to ask Udemy to create it for you).
You have carefully selected the lessons you will allow for free preview.
You have your bonus lesson ready.
You have uploaded all of the videos to the Udemy platform and have previewed (watched completely) all of them as a student, to make sure that everything works fine in all of the lessons, including the availability of resources and similar things.
You have reviewed and optimized your course landing page, to make sure it is appealing to potential students (but doesn’t mention anything that is not currently covered), and it includes the necessary keywords for it to be correctly searchable.
If you plan to enable captions from the beginning, you already have them ready, or at least have set some time apart to review and correct the ones the system will automatically generate .
You have the text for your automated messages ready, if you plan to use that feature.
You have at least a basic plan for your marketing .
You have completed the Instructor Identity Verification Process (only needed when publishing your first course).
Is there something else you would add? Or maybe, there is something you would remove from this list?
See the full discussion here.
Hi guys, I thought it could be interesting to have one post with a list of all the usefull sources for instructors, like music, graphics and software.... I started with what I usually use and with what is free. I hope you can add some more sources to the list so it can become very usefull for everyone in the comunity. If you want me to add something write it in an answer to this post and I'll gladly add it to the list.
Free Pictures and Videos: - PIXABAY: https://pixabay.com - PEXELS: https://pexels.com
- FREEPIk: https://www.freepik.com
- FLATICON: https://www.flaticon.com
- UNSPLASH: https://unsplash.com
- NEWOLDSTOCK: https://nos.twnsnd.co
- VIDEEZY: https://www.videezy.com/
- VECTEEZY: https://www.vecteezy.com/ (Vectors)
- THENOUNPROJECT: https://thenounproject.com/ (Icons)
Free Music and Audio Fx: - INCOMPETECH: https://incompetech.com - YOUTUBE AUDIOLIBRARY: https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music - FREESOUND: https://freesound.org/
Free Video Capture and Video Editor Softwares: - IMOVIE (Mac only): https://www.apple.com/imovie/ - QUICKTIME (Mac only): https://support.apple.com/it_IT/downloads/quicktime - OBS STUDIO: https://obsproject.com/ - LIGHTWORKS: https://www.lwks.com/ - OPENSHOT: https://www.openshot.org/ - SHOTCUT: https://shotcut.org/ - HITFILM EXPRESS: https://fxhome.com/hitfilm-express - VSDC (Windows only): http://www.videosoftdev.com/ - DAVINCI RESOLVE: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve/
- SCREENCASTOMATIC: https://screencast-o-matic.com/
Free Photo Manipulation / Editing Softwares:
- GIMP: https://www.gimp.org/
- CANVA: https://www.canva.com/
- INKSCAPE: https://inkscape.org/
Free Power Point Templates:
Udemy Specific Resources:
- Official Udemy courses on how to create Udemy courses: https://www.udemy.com/user/udemymanager
- Instructor revenue share: https://support.udemy.com/hc/en-us/articles/229605008-Instructor-Revenue-Share
- Verification process: https://support.udemy.com/hc/en-us/articles/229234067-Instructor-Identity-Verification-Process
- Educational Announcements guidelines_ https://support.udemy.com/hc/en-us/articles/229605828-Educational-Announcements-Rules-and-Guidelines
- Promotional Emails guidelines: https://support.udemy.com/hc/en-us/articles/229605908-Promotional-Emails-Rules-and-Guidelines
- Bonus Lecture guidelines: https://support.udemy.com/hc/en-us/articles/229232847-Bonus-Lecture-Rules-and-Guidelines
If there's one thing that's important for a first-time course creator, I think it's in choosing the right topic to teach. So, here's a dump of my own thoughts on how to approach this. The biggest decision you can make when launching a new course is what topic you’re going to teach. If you choose the wrong topic, it doesn’t matter how good your course is. Teaching a topic that’s not in demand, or teaching that topic poorly, will ultimately be a waste of your time. This is the one thing that is absolutely essential to figure out.
Ideally, you want to find a topic that you love and have a real interest in. That will help keep you motivated through the long process of creating a quality course in it, and make it easier to maintain your energy and enthusiasm while you’re recording the course. When you’re teaching something that excites you, that excitement becomes contagious to your students. And that alone can set your course apart, and increase the impact it has on the people who watch it.
Think about the great teachers you had in your life – they’re the ones who inspired passion in you for a given topic, and I bet they did that by demonstrating their own passion for it. If there’s one guy who changed my life, it was my math teacher in high school, Mr. Foresta. He somehow made calculus fun, because he had fun with it himself while teaching it. Be like Mr. Foresta. Be a teacher who inspires, by teaching something you love.
Passion alone isn’t enough, however. You have to know what you’re talking about, and your potential students need to trust that you are an expert in what’s being taught. Udemy does not vet its instructors in any way, nor are our courses accredited in any way.
The onus is on the student to decide whether or not you’re going to teach them accurate and complete information, and not just making stuff up. You have to be able to establish yourself as an authority in your topic before students will trust you enough to teach them on it. Perhaps you can convey that authority through your professional experience, through higher degrees you’ve attained from college, or by running a successful business related to the topic you’re teaching. But you can’t just go read a book and declare yourself an expert on something, and expect students to hand you money to learn from you.
You need to have some sort of real experience in the field you are teaching. Not only does it give students confidence when enrolling in your course, that experience also gives you confidence while you’re teaching.
Students will sense your uncertainty if you’re teaching something you don’t really know about, and that only leads to fewer sales and poor reviews.
The most important circle in this Venn diagram is “what students need.” You already know what topics interest you, and what you’re an authority on. But Udemy’s students couldn’t care less about your personal interests. They are looking for specific skills that they need, often to improve their career, make more money, or solve some real pressing problem they are facing. Too many instructors focus on the intersection of “what you love” and “what you’re an authority on” and produce a course in that, in the name of “following their passion.” But if your passion is underwater basket-weaving, well, good for you – but you’re not going to find anyone willing to pay even $10 on Udemy to learn underwater basket-weaving. They can learn things like that for free on YouTube, and since learning to weave baskets underwater isn’t going to make money for them or further their careers, they’re not going to come to Udemy actively searching for courses on that topic to spend their money on.
If you’re looking for financial success on Udemy or to have any significant reach, you need to teach things that solve a real pain point for students on the Udemy platform. Things that are so painful that they are going to actively search for that topic on Udemy, and spend their money to learn about it. For example, I teach topics related to machine learning, big data, and artificial intelligence. There are a lot of people who know their technical careers can’t move forward without understanding these emerging fields, and they’re fearful for their livelihood if they don’t learn them. What I’m selling is some confidence in emerging technology topics that will enable people to keep pushing their own technical careers forward. It is an absolute no-brainer to spend $10 for that. Will the value of what you are teaching result in such a massive return for the student that they’ll be willing to part with their money to learn it? If not, then you’re not teaching the right topic.
“Need” also implies that there aren’t already a bunch of awesome courses in your topic that fulfill that need. Demand for a topic is only half of the equation; you also need to make sure you can produce a course that’s substantially better than the courses that already exist for that topic, if there are any. If your competing courses already fulfill the needs these students have, what can you offer that’s better? Fortunately, you don’t have to guess what pain points Udemy students are struggling to solve – Udemy provides the Marketplace Insights tool so you can gather real data on the demand and competition for a topic you are considering. But that's a topic for another post.
Great advice, as always! I agree with your venn diagram above. If you aren't an expert in something, don't teach it (no matter how much demand there is for that course).
Also, check the demand before jumping in. If you create the 513th Python course, you aren't going to be successful. You need to carve out your niche, and then dominate it.
Find the intersection Frank is talking about. Don't make the "Beginner's guide to X" course. Target the intermediate or advanced level students where there is less competition. These are the things you can do to give yourself a better chance of success.
When you first start out, you are going to make a ton of mistakes when filming your course. Before filming the entire course, film a few lectures and go back to watch them. There is nothing worse than filming an entire course to find out the audio was muffled, or the video was blurry!
When you first are getting started, remember that audio is much more important than video. After all, if a student can’t hear you or understand you, they will quickly stop watching. Video is much more forgiving than audio, so it is important to invest in a good microphone. There are numerous good quality microphones you can get for under $100 USD, like the ATR2100, the Blue Yeti, or the SmartLav+. When I started on Udemy, I used the SmartLav+ for about 18 months. It records very good audio, and I never got complaints from students for my audio quality.
Next, you need to figure out how to record your video. If you are doing a talking head style format (which I highly recommend), you need a smartphone or webcam to get started. The Logitech c930 is less than $70 USD and films in 1080p HD. This is the camera I used for my first 18 months on Udemy, as well. It provides a great picture for talking heads.
To record your screen, you need some form of screen capture software. For Mac, you can always use the built-in QuickTime software. For Windows, OBS is a good free option, but a little complicated to configure.
You will not be perfect and make Hollywood quality blockbusters when filming your first course. Remember, your first course is always going to be your worst course. Just try to improve each and every course.
Also, when filming your first course, pick a topic that is reasonable for you to complete in a relatively short period of time. Don’t try to make a 20-hour Python programming course on your first attempt. Instead, pick something in the 90-minute range. Make it a project-based course. Something that you can finish in 1-2 months.
For most people, it will take 15-30 hours of writing, filming, and editing to create a 90-minute course. It is a lot of work, but it is worth it if you can do it right.
Now, will the equipment above be all that you use forever? Well, I certainly hope not. This will get you started. Hopefully, you then start earning some money and can reinvest back into your new business of online teaching. My current setup includes a set of LED lights ($800), a prosumer model HD video camera ($1200), a really nice lavelier mic ($400), a teleprompter system for my camera ($500), and a really nice desktop computer to do all our editing on ($4200). Did I need all that to get started?
No! But over time we added a piece here and there, and now our quality of our new courses i son par with the professional production companies here on Udemy and beyond. That makes it easier for students to decide to buy our courses when compared against the "pros".
I hope this helps you get started out there,
A common question from new instructor is: " Should I invest in a decent microphone. Or, a decent camera when getting started? "
The answer is actually quite simple. Which do you consider to be the most effective way of delivering your course content?
Or, "Is audio quality more important than video quality?"
When we ask the question like this, then the answer has to be Microphone first, fancy camera second. Now don't get me wrong, a lot of the successful courses I have watched are stunning to look at. The graphics were crisp. The transitions are elegant. And boy, that stock photography must have cost a fortune!
But above all, the audio was clear. NO echo and No muffled sound and they are well articulated. Plus, minimal distractions like music etc.
I often watch courses that need me to follow along as I learn. This means that I am not actually looking at the video 100% of the time. Instead, I am listening. Trying things on my own. And following the instructions through sound.
Think about someone showing you, how to do something in the physical world. They are most likely talking you through the process as they show you. The visuals in this case are the results that occur as a result of the instructors actions. Not the instructors face on a screen, right? When it is your turn to 'have a go', a good instructor will still be talking you through the process. By hearing, doing and evaluating your results, you learn.
Audio plays an important part in conveying information. It should be easy to think about your lectures like a podcast. Imagine that you are trying to help someone achieve a goal over the phone! Be explicit in your instructions. Be clear and concise with your directions. Be empathetic and understanding of the challenges your audience are likely facing. Talk like every word matters and treat the visuals like supporting materials.
Your audience will be more likely to forgive a blurry image if your audio is good quality. Invest time into the visuals, after you have the audio nailed. And be sure to do your best to remove any ambient sounds in your environment.
You can even try recording your audio separately a s a voice-over. If possible in a controlled setting. This approach allows you to work on your video during the day and the audio at night. Especially useful if you are short on time and can only dedicate small timeslots.
My final piece of advice is to get 'up close and personal'. With the aid of a pop filter you can get very close to your mic without the audio capturing every little breath. By being closer to your mic, you can lower the gain and reduce nearly all background noise. Now, granted this can be hard when you 'have' to be on camera, but in that scenario, you should use a good quality lapel-mic.
Do you agree?
What do you think first-time instructors should invest in: audio or video?
Leave your thoughts and comments below.
Warm regards, Rob.
100% agree. Over time I've even been using less and less video in my courses - at least for my students, they want to see code, not me.
Also bear in mind more and more students are watching our courses on tiny screens on their mobile devices. Clear audio is required for a successful course. Fancy video should only be attempted once you've got audio nailed, and there are plenty of successful courses out there with minimal talking head videos. And don't start messing with green screens until you've got clear audio first.
- Frank Kane