Have you thought about whether you could offer your services, classes or courses online? If you’re wondering about whether it’s worth it, then the answer is most definitely yes. The online teaching sector was already growing prior to 2020, but now it is really blossoming and the longer term potential continues to become clearer. Even if you prefer working face to face, having the flexibility to offer both just makes it easier for you to adapt to a changing world and gives you a bit more stability in wobbly times.
I have spoken to people I know who’ve found surprising success in moving their work online, from personal trainers, yoga teachers, holistic therapists, spiritual teachers, healers and more. The convenience of not having to leave home has resulted in new clients for some who would otherwise not have time to attend classes in person. It also offers the ability to work with a broader reach of people, previously, those who only offered face to face classes relied on working with those in the same cities, however, now the potential to work with those overseas has increased the reach of students and opened new possibilities for classes.
During these challenging times, a greater number of people are drawn to prioritise self care and development, so it is no surprise that those working in wellness, fitness, spirituality and education are doing well.
But there are so many professions that could find opportunity in moving their businesses online, so please do consider whether you are ready to move online too. Online business is here to stay.
What You Need:
- A Website
- Online Calendar/Scheduling
- Zoom Account
- Online Course Builder or Platform
First of all you need a website. If you haven’t already got one, I recommend either Squarespace or a paid for WordPress site.
- It’s simple and beautiful.
- You can do it all yourself.
- Easy set up means it will be pretty much ready to use straight out of the box.
- Excellent features and add-ons
- Can provide all the things you need including hosting, website domain, emails etc.
- Can be expensive in the longer term
- Design limitations may become obvious after a while
I recommend a professionally designed and built WordPress for those who want a website that can do a lot more. You will need to find a hosting platform such as Siteground to host your wordpress website with. You can get everything you need directly from your host, including wordpress, domain name and email addresses.
Perhaps you already have a website and are beginning to feel like you want it to be able to do more, like have more pages, with more flexible design. I design all my websites with DIVI and either a child theme template, or I design a site from scratch. I then use lots of plugins. WordPress on its own is still very limited in what it can do so you need to spend a little time building all the extra parts together. If you want to be able to have all the features to teach online, the wordpress route requires more technical knowledge and ability so I’d suggest getting help from a pro if you go this route.
- More flexibility in design – the options are almost endless
- The ability to host everything on your website rather than use lots of different platforms for different things
- Cheaper in the long run.
- More technical knowledge required, may require the help of a pro
2. ONLINE CALENDAR & SCHEDULING
Acuity or Calendly
If you choose Squarespace for your website, they offer an inbuilt calendar and scheduling app called Acuity that also takes care of your payments for you. In fact, it’s so good that this is the exact same app I recommend to install into your wordpress website if you decide that route.
I strongly recommend that you also consider this even if you only do face to face appointments. Making it as easy as possible for your clients to book your services (or buy your products) is really important in running your business professionally. The more steps or clicks you put between you and your potential client, the less likely it is they will book at all. Take away all the obstacles (and the stress) and let your website handle it for you.
These apps allow you to choose your working hours and availability so clients can pick a time that suits them best. It automatically confirms and sends an email and calendar invite. You can also set it up to send reminder emails to your clients so you don’t get annoying no-shows. It allows clients to cancel or reschedule easily according to whatever cancellation/rescheduling policy you choose. No more boring appointment email chains back and forth for you. Also, no more awkward conversations about payments, it gives you many options for how you’d like to take payments (eg. 100% up front, % upfront, payment afterwards etc).
3. ONLINE APPOINTMENTS
I’m sure there are other great online conferencing platforms, but Zoom is currently the best for handling all online appointments. For those who haven’t yet tried it, it is very easy to use, offers password security, you can host and manage large groups, create break out rooms, record sessions and so much more. The best thing is that Zoom integrates so easily with apps such as Acuity. So when someone makes an appointment on your website, it can automatically send a calendar invite with all the zoom details. Again, no more emails and messages about where the call login details are. The best thing is that there is also a free option which is often enough for individuals.
4. ONLINE COURSES
Thinkific, Teachable, Kajabi, Udemy etc.
There are many excellent platforms that will host your courses for you in a beautiful and professional way. You will still need to create your own content, but it is very easy to upload to these websites and structure your syllabus and bam! it’s ready for the world.
Many of these platforms can handle your orders and payments or you can easily set up a shop on your website and simply allow your clients to be redirected to your course upon payment.
Setting up a shop on Squarespace is very easy and they will show you how on their website.
If you have a wordpress website, you will need to use a free plugin such as WooCommerce to run a shop on your website. On WordPress you also have the option to host the courses directly on your website, this requires special plugins. The advantage of this method is that you don’t pay ongoing fees or commissions on your course sales, but you may still have to pay an upfront fee for the plugin itself, depending on which one you go for. However, it is a much more technical process to build and you will probably need help from a professional website builder/designer to do so.
All of these functions work best when married together on your website and will make it easier for both you and your clients to be able to work together. It also creates an impression of professionalism which is also really important especially if it’s the first place people can get to know you.
If you have any questions that I haven’t answered here, please feel free to email me and I will do my best to help. I really want to see more people making use of the fabulous technology we have available to us in order to be able to connect with one another.
Christine @ Kokoro Creative