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Cutting-Edge Web

How To Create an Online Course with Just the Right Amount of Content

Recently, someone asked me on Facebook, “Hey Marisa… how do you know how much is the right amount of content to put in your online programs, courses, masterminds, whatever you’re selling?”

And I like to think of this as the 3 Little Bears Question:

How do you put not too much or not too little but just the right amount of content in your courses and programs?

Getting this right is super important if you genuinely want to serve your students, clients and customers.

Get this wrong and you end up with a bunch of unhappy people or, worse, you could hurt your reputation….

Where’s the Steak?

So, let’s start at the edges and explore both ends of the spectrum — too much content and too little content.

When you include way too much content in your course or program, your students will feel like they can’t work through all of it and they’re going to get stuck.

They might even give up, which is not why you created your course and it might prevent them from wanting to buy from you ever again.

Then we have the other end of the spectrum where you have too little content in your course or program.

When that happens, you won’t be able to help people experience the deep transformative result that you promised and you’ll probably develop a reputation for “giving the sizzle and not the steak.”

So, what do you do if you want to get it just right?

You start by looking at your course or program from 2 perspectives.

The first is your own perspective as the course creator and the second is the perspective of your student, your client or your customer.

What’s Your Mission?

Let’s dive deeper into both perspectives, starting with yours as the course creator.

You want to give just the right amount of content that your student needs to achieve what’s called the “mission” of your program.

This is the outcome, the goal, or the result that you promised.

Chances are that goal — that outcome — is HUGE so how do you give someone just enough to get the results they’re looking for?

In our Experience Product Masterclass, my promise is to help my students design, market and make $2000 (or a whole lot more) with an Experience Product® in 10 weeks or less.

Yes, I know that’s a big promise and it takes a LOT to get there so there needs to be a significant amount of content in that program — that’s my perspective as the course creator.

Now let’s look at things from the other perspective, which is the perspective of your students, your client, or your customer.

On the Brink of a Breakthrough

The first thing to keep in mind is that your students have busy lives. Really busy.

Maybe they’re parents, maybe they’re caregivers, maybe they go to night school, maybe they have a day job and a side hustle business that they run on weekends.

There are SO many things going on in their lives so you’ve got to look at how your program or course fits into their routine because it’s not going to be the only thing that they’re doing each day.

So when you’re thinking about your course, you need to make sure you’re not overwhelming your students with too much content, right?

Well, yes… and no.

Let me tell you something I wish I’d known when I created my first online program — it’s impossible to avoid overwhelming your students 100% of the time.

And that’s because overwhelm is the feeling of being flooded…

Flooded with things you can do, flooded with possibilities, flooded with ideas, flooded with potential.

Overwhelm is a part of growth.

So instead of trying to avoid overwhelming your students, I recommend that you focus on normalizing the feeling of overwhelm for them. Help them understand that feeling overwhelmed is natural when you’re learning and growing and the best way forward is to embrace and welcome that feeling.

Let them know that when they feel overwhelmed, it’s time to start thinking, “Oh, my gosh, I’m overwhelmed. I must be learning! I must be on the brink of a breakthrough!”

Stand and Deliver

I recently watched the movie Stand and Deliver which is based on a true story about a high school math teacher in East Los Angeles.

Jaime Escalante genuinely cares about his students who are mostly poor and not very well educated — he wants his students to learn and do something meaningful with their lives so he teaches math in a way that nobody has ever taught before.

And then he decides he wants to teach his students advanced calculus.

The other teachers think he’s nuts. They believe the students will end up failing and losing even more hope in themselves and their future.

But this amazing teacher feels differently. He knows his students can conquer advanced calculus…

And they did!

They rose to the level of expectations he set for them.

Don’t forget, these students come from troubled homes and difficult lives and they were used to having almost no expectations placed on them.

If anything, most people — including their parents — expected them to amount to nothing.

But this math teacher expected more and then he created the conditions for them to achieve more.

He had them come in early in the morning, stay late, come in to class over the summer, and over the holidays.

He believed in his students and guess what? The very first year, all 18 students who took the advanced calculus test, passed!

That was unheard of in the school and in the next year, double that number of students passed.

Now, this was not an easy outcome to hit and these students were often overwhelmed.

They wanted to give up several times but their teacher got them back on track because he guided them to see a bigger vision for their life and for who they could be and what they could accomplish…

Even when they were feeling overwhelmed.

Overwhelm is a natural part of learning, it’s a natural part of growth and when we can get our students and our clients to get past it, amazing — even impossible — things can happen.

When You Promise Extraordinary Results…

So, yes, I believe in overwhelm 🙂

Not overwhelm for the sake of overwhelm but overwhelm for the sake of learning and growth.

Because as I said before, to overwhelm is to flood…

To flood with possibility, to flood with potential, to flood with hope, to flood with knowledge.

And part of the path of teaching people and being an agent of transformation is to help them stretch and expand way beyond their current set point.

And yes, that does involve some overwhelm.

So, when you’re creating your programs, it’s good to offer people the minimum amount they need to get the result BUT know that if the result you’re promising is extraordinary, it will probably involve some overwhelm.

Don’t let that stop you, though.

Dare to set big goals. Dare to go for big opportunities. Dare to see a bigger picture, a bigger vision for what’s possible for your students.

And dare to be the facilitator that challenges them and takes them outside of their comfort zone so they can truly grow and achieve all that they want to be in life and in business — no matter what domain you work in or what your area of expertise happens to be.

Your turn…

What’s a course, program or training you took that made you feel overwhelmed but you came out the other side, with the results you were looking for and feeling like you could do anything?

Share your thoughts in the comments below. I read and reply to each one 🙂

And if you want a step-by-step roadmap and coaching to help you design, market and profit from your very own online course, then check out our Experience Product Masterclass! We’re currently accepting students since now is the perfect time to create a course. 🙂

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Joy Taylor

    yes! … I just finished a 5-week course and asked participants to evaluate. In the past I always had people saying, “too much information”… this time no one said “too much” and I thought to myself, “well, I did not challenge them enough” … So many have told me to teach less, and it never felt right….after watching this video, I’m inspired to share MORE. Thanks! you rock!

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      It’s a balance Joy… you want people to succeed. And you do want to challenge them as well. <3

      I think it's less about info and more about action.

      Reply ·
  2. Len Phillips lentheaussie

    G’Day Marisa … Now I got up at 4.30am today for a hot milk as I was having a night of dreams … BIG achievements for a guy who has long retired so I was on fire .. I sat down on my computer as there were a couple of emails staring up at me and one from Marisa . It has been awhile since I saw your happy face and bubbly personality on my screen .So good to see again and I will pass this on to my x partner who is producing some magic seminars and Q&A on line with his clients .

    This new techo stuff along with the lock down with the virus is making people be more inventive and really get out and chase it. I will go look for your movie you mentioned and later today as I continue to throw out 30years of transparencies from business and free the mind of clutter we shall see.Murrays new software sounds like a real plan but I am over it however I will pass it on to another business . Murray always was ahead of the pack too . best wishes from Down Under …

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Hi Len! I haven’t been able to bring my videographer in recently because of COVID. So I’m running out of video blogs to share… thanks for passing this on. <3

      Reply ·
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About the Author Marisa Murgatroyd

Marisa is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes, and the creator of Start With You where she helps people just like you to discover the business they're meant to build, not just the business they can build. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. She’s the “go to” brand builder for industry luminaries and heavyweights such as Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely and Susan Peirce Thompson. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.