This is the seventh project update for my project “Digitally Literate Courses” as part of the One Side Project challenge. In my first update, I identified the focus and goals of this work. In my second update, I discussed some of my thinking about the pricing plan of the courses. In my third update I discussed reviving my mission and focus. In the fourth post, I detailed the deliverables that will be included in the courses. In the fifth update, I discussed the need for a critical friends group and identified the name for this initiative. In the sixth post, I described the structure of content in the courses, modules, and learning pathways.
In this post I’ll discuss my considerations and questions about launches and leaks.
Working openly online
Throughout my career, I try to work openly online, and share what I have learned over time. Mostly this is to help me make sense of my thinking and archive decisions over time. I’ve found that others appreciate my openness, and granular way in which I try to make sense of my experiences. An example of this is my series of posts as I started building, issuing, and breaking digital badges.
In this specific work about the development of a series of online courses, I’m following this same practice of blogging openly about my journey. I signed up for the One Side Project challenge to serve as a reminder to follow through on these posts…but I definitely wanted to document my thinking online.
As part of this, I’m blogging about platforms I’ve tested, iterations made in the model, and openly reflected about potential business plans. In some of my upcoming posts, I’ll share “rough copies” of some of the initial modules and courses as I build them. This process has me questioning the overall efficacy of my process as I’m supposed to be launching this as a business or entrepreneurial effort and not just giving things away for free…as I usually do. 🙂
Building an audience
Embedded in this discussion is the idea about building up an audience for your product. As I’ve detailed in previous posts, I know who my audience is, and have identified the “avatar” that I’ll focus on as I build, revise, and market my courses. Most of the guidance from marketing, business, and entrepreneurs indicates that you need to build that email list. The thinking is that you need to build up an email list and a following in the thousands before you leverage that to share and market your ideas.
This is one of the reasons why I started up my weekly newsletter. If you haven’t already…please subscribe here. 🙂 The newsletter serves as a way for me to build and connect my audience, or “tribe” across my spaces online. I leave a link for my newsletter within all of my posts. I share it in my email signature. I also share out my newsletter openly online on Medium to build and connect my audience. At this point, things are going well with the newsletter. I’m up over 500 subscribers after a year of issues. I’m also learning more about my work and process along the way. Even still…this number is paltry considering the thousands I’m supposed to have for a real launch of an online product.
This past summer, I gave three keynotes at conferences for educators from Pre-K up through higher ed. Before one of my talks, a group of friends and I were discussing how one of my recent blog posts about being digitally agile was blowing up. I said this post basically detailed exactly what I was discussing in my keynotes, but also was the focus of my planned series of courses and modules that I’m detailing here. Their advice was that I write a book that unpacks the post and provides guidance for educators as they start up in this process.
Their thinking in this was that the book (and the publisher) would help me kickstart the email list, kickstart the audience growth, and put me in a position to (later on) launch the courses. This has me wondering if I need to write and publish a book to connect with all of this. I recognize that there are many people out there that connect to books, and this might help me reach a market that isn’t tuned in to my online spaces…but should be. I have to say that I’m busy carving out time to book together this book prospectus and send it out to publishers. 🙂
Credibility as I build and iterate
Finally, I’m wondering how all of these elements will intersect. How will a potential future audience feel as they read back through these posts. Will they value the honesty and openness in what I’ve shared? Or will they look at everything and say…I can do this on my own, why pay for the access?
I also wonder about the slow drip, and textual autopsies I give in these posts as I build, develop, and iterate. This slow drip of information about the courses and my thinking about them may attract, but it also may repel my intended audience.
Finally, I do wonder if my considerations about audience and publishing books is a form of procrastination. If I have a big project or paper to work on, I’ll typically procrastinate and put it off until the last possible second and then knock it out. You will know I have a deadline approaching because I’m cleaning my desk, or rearranging the furniture in my office. Is this consideration about building my tribe part of the process, or am I delaying the process?
I’m continuing to play and build the site and initial course. I’m hoping to have something to launch and share in the next update. I did share a sneak peek in my newsletter last week. 🙂
Please feel free to act as a critical friend and send along insight/critique of anything you see above. Thanks again for joining me on this journey.