StudyItOnline.com Course Promotion Guide
A step by step guide to promoting your online course for free.
|Last update: November 29, 2009
There are thousands of online course sites out there. It is very difficult to rise above the crowd. You are not only competing for attention with other instructors, but with software as well. It can be as difficult as beating a computer at chess.
There is, however, a distinct advantage that you have over any machine: creativity.
Over the years, I've done many things to promote my online learning sites and courses. Now I'm going to share what I've learned with you. Bookmark this page because I update it whenever something new comes up or changes.
Step 1: Learn to write effectively by posting at least some of your work for free.
This is the most difficult if you don't have a natural writing talent. It is necessary even if you intend to have someone else edit your work. You need to be able to make sure that your message is coming across to the audience, your students.
One way to learn effective language skills is to join an authors' community. There is a very good one at AuthorsDen.com. You'll get alot of positive feedback, and supportive criticism from other writers. The most crucial difference between AuthorsDen and some other writers' sites is its relationship with search engines. It is so good that the only thing holding you back would be your own writing ability. Through your statistics there, you can accurately gauge your work's popularity. If it's there and it's interesting, it will get attention and plenty of feedback from both writers and seekers of knowledge on your topic.
Another good attention getting site is EzineArticles.com. There, writers post their articles on a wide variety of subjects, and people looking for free content for their websites can copy and repost them in exchange for posting your link. So not only does your work get viewed by vast numbers of readers, but they're required to link back to your site if they use your work. This site is extremely effective, and is well established. Another well established article base is GoArticles.com. Some of my articles there have gotten picked up by other sites within a couple of days.
If you want to test run a learning blog, you can always do that here on StudyItOnline.com. Just contact us with a proposal including what your topic is, and we'll set you up a WordPress blog here. It's a good idea to run it here because this is a specifically educational site. You can also start a blog at WordPress, but you'll have much more competition for attention.
Step 2: Host at least one of your courses someplace popular.
UniversalClass and Suite101 are the most popular online course sites with built in pay structures that allow instructors to create courses. I personally prefer UniversalClass because they take the least amount (40%) of your profits and do a great job of promoting the courses. They also have a very good review board, and host courses in a very wide range of topics.
UniversalClass now has a new resource called GoGoEd for hosting free courses. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm sure that since UC is running it, it's got to be good.
Google Sites is also a great place to host a free online course. It's very easy to use, and you can create tests and quizzes using Google Documents' form creation tool. You can see a site I'm hosting there at CookingSlim.org's Free Online Course.
Hosting someplace popular, even though it will take a bite out of your potential earnings, will gain you a reputation as an online instructor.
Step 3: Get out there and add your URL everywhere that will take it.
Since you're teaching online courses, you've already solved the content part. Now all you need is for search engines to see that.
Don't depend on the host to promote your courses. They're promoting their own service and have no particular interest in promoting your course unless you are paying them specifically for advertisement. So you must do your own extra promotion if you want to make money beyond the first few days your course is listed as new.
Do not go for pay per click search engines. Aside of being a rip off most of the time, it will not bring you the kind of quality advertisement that a fairly rough and raw search engine like Google will. They give priority to their paid advertisers, but everyone knows that after their paid ads, there's going to be the most relevant quality links. So focus on getting high rankings in the search engines people use the most, which are going to be the ones that aren't the search engine equivalent of spam.
Go for pay per click ads, but only with services that post your ads on relevent sites. They will get you the visibility that you want much more effectively than pay per click search. When you can afford to, allot $100+ per month for this. Google AdWords is the best because their ads are tasteful and monitored.
To make the submission process quicker, use AddMe.
Then submit your site manually to AltaVista.
Then start submitting your site to individual learning sites. Go to Google, and then type "(your subject) add url" without the quotes, and work your way down the line. This is how Cornrows.co.uk got top rankings even before it had its own domain.
Do this last step at least once a month, and add your url to sites that may not have been highly ranked the last time you checked. Eventually, every relevant site on your subject with a links page will have your links. Make sure to honor link trades religiously.
Step 4: Join TrafficSwarm.
TrafficSwarm has a very popular and unique way of getting your link on sites you might not have otherwise found or thought to trade links with. It is a major traffic pull. Other webmasters surf sites listed there to get points to display their sites. Along the way, many of us find great sites to trade links with permanently. In addition, your site is displayed on other TrafficSwarm webmasters' sites according to how many points you have. You can also buy extra points or upgrade to their premium program and basically pay them $30 a month to do their magic. Aside of affiliate programs, TrafficSwarm is one of the most effective ways of getting targetted traffic to your site.
I cannot stress the importance of this enough. I would even go as far as to say to put links in your online calendar to remind you when to visit certain forums. Join every forum or mailing list you can find on your topic, and make sure that a link to your course is either in the signature line of every message you send, or in your profile.
Offer information about your subject to readers who ask questions. Don't give away a courseful of information for free if you don't have the time, but try to be a consistent source of information.
If you follow these simple steps, you'll rise above the crowd. You might even find yourself a sort of educational activist like me.