3 Common Mistakes When Building Cohort-based Courses

September 22, 1990

By now, you can tell that we are big fans of group-based live online learning programs. While cohort-based courses (CBCs) continue to grow in popularity, it's important to consider both what makes them successful and the common mistakes course creators make when building a cohort-based course. In this blog post, we will break down the three most common mistakes and how to avoid them. After reading, we would love to hear from you. Tweet us @tryvirtually and let us know if you’ve made any of these mistakes. If so, what did you learn from them, and how did you bounce back?

Mistake #1: Focusing on the features

While CBCs are designed to deliver a transformation, many course creators focus on the features and format of their courses rather than identifying what problem they are trying to solve.

Speak directly to learners’ pain points and communicate how your course will be the solution. Instead of describing what the course includes, state what students will learn and how life will differ after taking the course. Bonus points for using the exact words your ideal audience uses. While talking to potential students is ideal, searching relevant Facebook groups and forums for keywords related to your course topic is a good place to start.

Also, share why you are uniquely qualified to lead this program. Years of experience, results you’ve gained for either yourself or your clients, as well as awards and accolades, are all valid qualifiers.

Mistake #2: Starting with the product rather than the community

Like how some people put too much emphasis on their programs' features, many course creators skip building an engaged community that supports their online education business.

While tempting, do not rush the process. Instead of creating a course you think people will want, focus on building an audience of like-minded people interested in your topic. Later ask them what problems they are struggling with and create the perfect solution. Since it's much easier to sell to an established audience who already know, like, and trust you, prioritize building a community first, then introduce products later on.

Attract and nurture an audience with long-form content by launching a podcast (audio), blog (written), or YouTube channel (video). Other ways include growing a social media presence and building an email list.

Read Next: How To Build Your Online Audience

Mistake #3: Not validating your ideas

Gauging interest and validating your ideas ahead of a course launch will save you time, effort, resources, and unnecessary frustration and disappointment. Here’s the reasoning -- if no one pays attention to your free content, then they will not pay attention to your paid offers. 

Ways you can validate a course idea include:

  • creating a free email course or challenge
  • running webinars
  • conducting interviews and surveys with ideal students.

Overall, you can avoid the most common mistakes when building a cohort-based course by prioritizing your students' interests. Keeping them at the center of all that you do will improve sales and increase the effectiveness of your course.

Read Next: The Power of Cohort-based Learning

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Danielle Desir

Danielle Desir is an author, freelance writer and the host of The Thought Card, an affordable-travel and personal finance podcast. (danielledesir.com) Follow on Twitter: @thethoughtcard