How to Get the Most Out of an Online Course or Info-Product

How to Get the Most Out of an Online Course or Info-Product

Did you know that roughly 20% of people might pay for a course and NEVER sign in?

That’s what happened to Jon Morrow with his Guest Blogging course. Roughly 2 out of 10 students paid $500 for his course and then flushed the money down the toilet by never showing up to it.

If you’re going to spend that kind of money, you should do everything you can to get the most value possible.

So to help you dramatically increase the value you get from an online course, here are several best practice suggestions:

1. Go Through ALL the Course Content

It never ceases to amaze me at how many people gloss over training materials they’ve bought. If a neurosurgeon only skimmed through his textbook on brain surgery, would you want him operating inside your skull?

I rest my case.

2. Do the Course Exercises

Good online courses include exercises and worksheets so you get hands-on practice. The exercises might seem simple, and you might be tempted to put them off until later – or even skip them.

But the combined results of reading all the material is compounded by doing the exercises. In fact, it’s powerfully compounded.

3. Take Course Notes

Writing out notes is a great way to reinforce learning. And writing notes often results in new ideas you hadn’t thought of.

Taking notes also enables you to build a custom implementation plan to integrate course concepts into your business.

4. Interview the Course Creator

Interviewing course creators helps you learn both how they succeeded.  You’ll get personalized advice on completing the course, and you’ll also have the opportunity to promote the course as an affiliate as well.

5. Interview the Most Successful Students

The next logical step is to interview the most successful students of the course.  Leverage the opportunity to find out what made them successful. Ask what they did in the course that worked, what didn’t work well and what they would do differently next time.

6. Participate in Forums

Forum participation is one of the most underused experiences. Ask any successful student, and they’ll mention the role forums played in their ability to get the most from the course. Forums are also a great place to connect with other students and share ideas.

7. Repeat the Course at Least Once

The first time you go through a course, you won’t absorb all the knowledge from the material.  Taking the course a second time with a clearer picture of how the pieces fit together lets you approach it with a more powerful perspective.

8. Create a Best-Practices Guide

If you’ve done all of the above, then you should have tons of notes. In fact, you’ll have all the material you need to put together a best-practices guide for the course. Imagine offering the creator of this course a guide that he or she can share with their students!

If the guide is good, you’ll get credit, traffic and people looking your way.

9. Start a Mastermind Group

While some courses include a mastermind group, starting your own could make a big difference.  It gives give you the opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss challenges with peers in the course. An extra benefit is that a mastermind group helps you remain accountable.

Signing up for a course is just the first step. It’s what you do once you’ve paid good money for it that really determines your success.

Have I missed any ideas? If you’ve taken a course, what would you do differently next time? What would you suggest as a best practice? Let me know in the comment section.

P.S.: If you’re looking for one of the best online writing courses and a top investment that brings your business great returns, stay tuned. The Damn Fine Words online writing course for business is coming your way May 7 – don’t miss the early-bird registration for big savings!

Post by Srinivas Rao

Srinivas Rao writes about the things you should have learned in school, but never did. He’s also the host and co-founder of BlogcastFM, where you can download his free webinar on the 7 Pillars of Blog Traffic. You can follow him on Twitter @skoolofllife.

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  1. Nice list!

    I would add two more ideas as well.

    9. Remember why you wanted to do the course in the first place.

    10. Apply the course to your personal needs

    As adults, and entrepreneurs, we don’t have time to learn for the sake of learning. We should only be picking courses that will help achieve our business goals. Then we should work extra hard to put those new ideas into practice to grow our business and make more money.

    And finally listen to the teacher. That is the reason why you signed up in the first place – to learn from the expert.


    • I agree, Ainslie – a lot of people want to take a course just because. Just because it sounds interesting. Just because it sounds cool. Just because they think they should.

      Knowing WHY you want to take that course takes you much, much further. That’s why I like to suggest people pick a specific project to work on and devote their learning in the course towards making that project the best it can be – it eliminates the ‘well that was great; now what do I do with what I learned?!’

  2. Having just released a course of my own, I experienced the ‘not signing in’ phenomenon myself. It pains me to see good money go to waste. So far I’m taking the time to send a reminder email and attaching the welcome pack.

    Being a two time DFW student… and planning on taking the course again a third time, I can’t emphasize on the importance of the forums enough. The real action of DFW is there.

    • It’s curious, eh? You see names that dip in for a few minutes… then disappear. Thankfully, it’s always a tiny percentage of people, so the ones who actively want to be there are always the ones who show up and put the course to good action!

      See you in the forums! 🙂

  3. I can’t understand why people pay good money to do a course then never do it. (Well I do, but it’s ludicrous.)

    I did a correspondence course (not an online one, but most of the challenges are the same) in publishing, proofreading and editing, and I sucked it dry. I made notes, did every single exercise, used the online forum (which was incredibly helpful) and asked my tutor as many questions as I could think of.

    I’m glad I did, because it helped me start a (modest) business, and set me on my way towards my current passion: writing.

    The course was a good one, and I’m sure there are many other good courses out there, but they are what you make of them.

    • Sounds like you had a great experience, Chris – you definitely made the most of that course, from what I can tell!

    • The reason why you can not understand those people who pay good money to do a course then never do it, it is because of course you think differently. It is that difference that makes may be the light of knowledge and so wise.

      Even if you did did a correspondence course in publishing, proofreading and editing, and you sucked it dry.Even if you made notes, did every single exercise, used the online forum and asked your tutor as many questions you could think of it is because you are interested in that career.

      But , what you have forgotten is that people enjoy different leisure.

      I am glad to hear that you are glad because it helped you start a (modest) business, and set you on new way towards your current passion:of writing.

      So do I. Keep moving as you can see it in my comments

      The course was a good one, and I’m sure there are many other good courses out there, but they are what you make of them

  4. These are great tips for anyone who wants to really *learn* the course material. It can be easy to pretend that if you buy it you will learn it automatically — completely forgetting that you have to actually study the content.

    Great post, Mr. Rao.

  5. This is not always on the student side. I took John Morrow’s Guest Posting class, went through the materials and found that my subject matter was a bit weird for the content. I found I wasnt really connecting with anyone on the forum there.

    It would help me greatly if I not only got reminders but was paired up with people who I could “buddy” with. These online classes can be incredibly lonely experiences.

    Building community is an important aspect even if it is short term community.

    • That’s a big reason why we made sure the Damn Fine Words course is both self-paced and also highly interactive – some people like working alone, some like working with peers. Meeting both needs makes for a better course overall!

  6. Matt makes a really good point here. Not all students are natural networkers and especially during the first week or two, the presenter should be at the forefront of forum interaction. When students feel excluded, the risk of dropping out is greatly increased. I found this out the hard way during the first cycle of a course I ran for about two years.
    Great post, Srinivas Rao – thanks!

    • That’s a tough one – it’s very difficult, as a course instructor, to know what every single individual student is feeling or what that person needs. Good instructors try to cover it all and make sure it’s clear that they’re there to help and are happy to welcome everyone – but we can’t read minds, so it does mean students have to sometimes take that first deep breath and step a little bit out to say, “Hi! I’m here!”

  7. Hi Srinivas,

    Thanks for the great tips, especially #8 and #9.
    I’m planning to join the Damn Fine Words writing course soon so I’ve bookmarked this post.

    It’s amazing that one out of five students didn’t even show up for Jon’s course. Perhaps they could afford the course but just didn’t have the time.

    Tip #11: Before joining the course, make sure you can spare the time to do the course.

    It’s like a neurosurgeon rushing to operate on another patient before he’s completed the previous surgery. Scary thought, that!

    • I agree: Planning your time involvement and making sure you can meet it is important! (Also, never rush a good neurosurgery. Mmhm.)

  8. I am SHOCKED people would pay for a course and then not attend or participate. It just doesn’t compute in my brain. They must have … no I can’t even imagine money to throw away like that. Why did they sign up?

    I read a post today about how many people download free ebooks (promotions) and then never read them. I understand and have done that too. But a $500 course–especially from someone like Jon Morrow. Geez.

    • Heh, it happens. Some people will always look for that magic wand. And you can bring water to a horse, but you can’t make him drink.

  9. Forgot to ask, What is a “best practices guide”?

    • A best-practice guide is handy. It’s the sort of addendum guide that says, “You’re in the course – great! And you’ll learn tons… but here’s how to really get the most out of the course.” Then it discusses things like planning time, study habits, what to do when… general good-sense guidelines that many people don’t naturally think of but that someone who has taken the course would know by firsthand personal experience and observation. It’s a great idea!

  10. What you’re saying is of paramount importance – all nine points. Also, the realisation should be driven home that a student is responsible for his/her own growth and development. The most important “best practice” is to interact as much as possible with the material, fellow students and the facilitator. Real learning only takes place when we start doing the exercises and applying the principles. Many a student expect to gain insight and acquire skills by leasurely reading or scanning the material. That’s not on.

  11. All what you’re saying in all nine points is of piramid important for me . But most importantly , mastermind group works better for me , not only it gives me the opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss challenges with others in the business or during my business courses, but it gives me also an extra benefit to position myself .

    We shouldn’t fall a sleep like two friends of mine who quarreled and while one of them decided to go waiting to the gate with a hammer to finish his life, he found himself sleeping and a hammer has picked by his so.called enemy.

    We do betray our pens while working on something through taking notes of some work when we do fall a sleep not noticing what others are doing. That is when our business collapse.

    We shouls pay attention while working with mastermind group. A mastermind group helps every one remain accountable.


  12. Good post first off some good info in it. I cannot get over how people would pay $500 for a course and not even attempt to do it he must have very high class clientele seems like a big waste of money. He needs to send some of his clients my way lol just kidding Jon

  13. I’m a fan of repetition.

    I learn best when I first take a fast pass through,end-to-end, and then go back and drill in deeper and more deliberately.

  14. You’re interview with Jon illustrated once again that if you follow a proven system, you’ll accelerate your success.

    Do you ever wonder what happened to the 20%? I’d be fascinated to find out what their motivation was to shell out the money in the first place. Psychology must figure in somewhere. I’m thinking there’s some kind of correlation between a person’s psychological state at the time of purchase that dictates whether they’ll stay the course, bolt like lightning, or quietly fade away.

    I’d also wager that most people feel pretty confident when they take on something new. Face it, we’re all looking for the quick buzz from the thrill of doing something out of the ordinary. Adrenaline can be a powerful liquor. Shoot it once with a euphoria chaser and you have the makings of a happiness cocktail everyone wants. I’d invite the power of creative marketing to the party, sit back and watch the magic happen. Sounds like an intriguing case study.

    I recently decided to expand my horizons and take an online course. I can vouch for the power of the adrenaline rush. I was super excited and motivated to start, but within days, my drive was starting to lose that new car smell. I just keep reminding myself that I’m following in the footsteps of somebody who has already blazed the trail. I don’t have to make the journey all by myself.


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