Ever wonder what it actually looks like to create and launch a course from step 1 to step done?
If so, then stick around, cause that’s why I’m writing The Fire Path Project series: to give you an inside look at how I went from answering an email to creating an online course – step by step.
In my intro post to The Fire Path Project, I outlined the 9 steps that I took in order to go from no idea to launching a course.
Step 1 was: Listen to your audience.
Step 2 was: Create content.
Step 3 was: Repurpose your content.
Step 4 is: Test your idea.
So what does that mean exactly, how can you do it in your business, and why is it important? Let’s take a look…
How to test your idea
Good news: you’ve actually been in the process of testing your idea throughout the first 3 steps, which is why – again – it’s so important to follow this process, in order, and not move on to the next step until you’ve completed the last.
Testing your idea is all about getting feedback from your audience – a “green light” – to continue creating whatever it is you’re creating. But, we’ll talk more about this in just a minute…
3 ways to test your idea
In the last step, we talked about how to repurpose your content.
Now that you have several pieces of content that make up your “idea” (they all have a common theme, and for me, that was creating The Fire Path: A step-by-step guide for entrepreneurs looking to create and grow their dream business), you’ll want to use those pieces to start testing which aspects of your idea are resonating most with your audience.
1. Can we chat?
You can never ask your audience for too much feedback, and if you can actually get on the line with those who are consuming your content (and your idea), then the insights you’ll gain will be priceless.
Set aside 4 hours of your time and schedule 10 minute “strategy” chats with 16 people. A great resource for helping with the scheduling is ScheduleOnce.
Send out an email to your list, or make the offer in your online communities. I might have said something like:
“Hello! I’m in the process of writing a book that will walk entrepreneurs through the step-by-step process of creating and growing their dream business. It’s called The Fire Path.
My goal in writing this book is to provide entrepreneurs who are just starting out with a guide they can reference throughout their journey, so if they’re ever feeling overwhelmed, lost, or like they don’t know what the next step to take is, they’ll have a resource that can help them refocus and move forward.
I’d love to have a quick chat with you to hear about some of the struggles you’re facing in your business, and I’ll do my best to help you overcome those struggles in exchange for 10 minutes of your time.”
During these 10 minute chats, ask:
– Where are you currently at in your business?
– Where do you want to be in your business?
– What’s holding you back from taking that next step?
– What’s your BIGGEST pain point?
Once you’re done with the chats, look back over your notes.
– Did you talk to your actual avatar?
– What are the recurring themes from your calls?
– If you did not talk to your avatar, is it possible that you’re attracting someone completely different than you original thought?
2. Create a survey
Another great way to test your idea is to create a survey that you’ll send to your list, share with your online communities, and/or post on your website for people to fill out (in exchange for something that’s of benefit to them, like a cheat sheet or PDF download).
In your survey, make sure you’re asking very specific questions that will help you gain insights into whether or not the content you’re creating (and your idea) is resonating with those who are consuming it.
You’ll also want to include at least 1 question that is open-ended to give your audience the opportunity to share insights with you that you didn’t even know existed. And always be conscious of the language your audience is using – this is the same language you want to use to speak back to them.
I didn’t do a survey for The Fire Path content, but if I had done one, I would have included questions like:
– After reading The Fire Path, what’s 1 big lesson or process you felt was missing?
– Did you download The Fire Path Guide in order to follow along with the book? If yes, was this guide helpful? Why or why not?
– What’s your preferred medium for consuming content? (options: blog posts, PDF downloads, podcast episodes, video tutorials, other)
– What’s missing from The Fire Path?
It might be a good idea to put a time limit on how long the survey will be available for so those who are interested in taking it feel a sense of urgency to complete the survey now.
It’s also helpful to let people know upfront that the survey won’t take a ton of their time. Anything you can add like, “This survey consists of just 4 questions”, or “This 5-minute survey…” will make the opportunity look more attractive.
3. Just listen to your audience (again)
Okay, I know the first two options were a lot more specific than this, but this is the one I chose with The Fire Path.
As I continued to create multiple pieces of content across several different mediums to continue to grow my idea, I was listening to my audience the entire time.
Any comments on the blog, ratings & reviews for the podcast, emails in response to the book or the guide – every single one of them was a potential piece of feedback I could use to take one step forward towards creating my online course.
Here’s a couple of quick examples from Chapter 2: Defining Your Avatar that I posted on the blog:
Soren asked two questions – both questions potential topics (or additions for me to make) to this content.
Deb’s excitement for the series and validation that this chapter of The Fire Path was very helpful let me know I was on the right track.
Kris’ question about an avatar worksheet below let me know that this is something people would find helpful. What did I do? I created an avatar worksheet, of course!
The feedback you receive might come in the form of a request, some constructive criticism, or praise. In any of these cases, it’s feedback you can use to either pivot, re-think the direction you’re headed with your idea, or validate that you’re on the right track.
Much like the questions I included above – that you might use for the calls you have or in your survey – I was asking these within my content, usually as a call to action.
For example, at the end of each of my podcast episodes, I was encouraging listeners to head over to the post and leave a comment with their thoughts, experiences, or struggles related to that topic.
At the end of each of my emails, I was always inviting a response and promising a reply.
I mentioned in an earlier step that one thing I heard from my audience as I was creating the email campaign for The Fire Path was that they wished there was a single download of all the content.
By listening to them and creating this content, I was not only brining them one step closer to the online course, but I was also bringing myself one step closer to the online course by understanding what my audience really wanted and needed.
Why it’s important to test your idea
Without feedback from your audience, you’re never going to know whether or not your idea – what you’re creating – is actually something they want and need.
Testing your idea by continuing to create content that you can release on multiple mediums, (and then ask for feedback from your audience on) will ensure you’re ready to move on to step 5: Brainstorm the next level.