Before building your course, understand your learner first.

Varun Balsara
3 min readJul 5, 2022

If you expect to build a course and learners to flock to it, you are most likely going to hear crickets. Instead, if you build with your learners, you are most likely going to get many wanting to take your course.

The Purpose of your course

A course is fundamentally a bridge that takes your students from an unacceptable status quo to a new life (e.g., from not being able to ask your boss for a raise to having the confidence to look them in the eye and demand a raise). Hence, you need to understand your learner first and then build a solution around their problem- i.e. your course.

In business, we say a product that can satisfy what a customer wants is said to have a product-market fit. Similarly, a course that can fit with what the learner would like to learn is said to have a course-market-fit. The key is to understand your learner extremely well.

Understanding Your Learner

A good way to do this is an empathy map. This tool enables you to think about your learners' needs, wants, desires and problems. After which, you can build a learner persona. This is a summary of what a typical learner would look like. Think of this as their profile.

An empathy map
An Empathy map. Souce: https://thecanvasrevolution.com/product/empathy-map-canvas

Make a high-level outline of the course showcasing what the future life of the learner will look like should they choose to take the course. And, learning outcomes that you will teach to help them get there.

Then, send this via a survey to your potential students. Make sure the survey includes the following:

  • Their name and contact details- Collecting phone and emails is an idea
  • What other things might they want to learn from you regarding this topic
  • Are they willing to pay $____ for this topic? How much? And, why?

Your Feedback Needs To Answer 3 Things

1. Is what you are teaching something your students want to learn? If so, why?

2. How important it is (usually indicated with the price they are willing to pay)

3. If not, what are the other things they would like to learn?

Talk to Your Potential Learner

Make sure to start having conversations with your learner(face-to-face is ideal) and share with your learner what type of course you are building.

Iterate on the feedback and launch. Remember that preliminary research is great, but shipping your course and testing demand in real-time is also important- avoid paralysis by analysis!

To Summarise

  1. Before you launch your course find your course-market fit.
  2. A way to get closer to finding course market fit is by understanding your learner very well.
  3. To understand your learner very well make use of an empathy map and map a few learner personas.
  4. Following this, reach out to your potential learners with questions surrounding what you will be teaching, and how much will they value it.
  5. Iterate on the feedback and launch.

About the Author

Hi 👋 thank you for reading. My name is Varun Balsara. I write about my three passions: The Knowledge Creator Economy, Cohort Based Learning and The Future of Education and Entrepreneurship.

I am the co-founder of Let’s Level Up, a platform that personalises support and provides the technology infrastructure to build, launch and scale cohort-based learning experiences.

If you are keen on building your own Cohort Based Learning Course/Community, check out our free, 4-week accelerator.

Connect with me: LinkedIn | Twitter | Email

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