How Using Video in My Courses Helped Me Connect With My Audience

Written by
Lizzie Davey
Jul 20, 2016

It wasn’t until I’d replied to hundreds of emails and offered advice to thousands of budding freelancers that I realized there was a need for some sort of course that showed people the first steps to take to become a self-employed writer.

I’d been a freelance business and lifestyle writer for about 18 months and had been blogging actionable tips and advice along the way before I released my debut course, Launch Your Life as a Freelancer.

It is a self-paced, 21-day course that takes students through the different steps needed to set up a freelance business and turn it into a long-term, lucrative career. We’re talking lessons on pitching, pricing, marketing, and everything in between. I compiled everything I knew and everything I had learned into a sturdy course for new freelancers.

While creating the course, I wrestled with what medium to publish it in – would it be solely text-based with accompanying worksheets, or would it comprise video lessons?

I decided to mix the two, so each lesson contains a workbook, a worksheet, and a video element.

How I Created the Videos

I’ve created hundreds of videos in the past (I once took a course to get better and even worked at a video production company for a year – albeit as their Community Manager), so I kind of knew what went into a great, engaging video.

I’d also started a YouTube channel while blogging, where I posted quick tips and actionable advice in a more personable fashion. So it’s safe to say I wasn’t a beginner when it came to video creation.

Step 1. Write notes for each video.

I created a script for each video, so I knew exactly what I would cover. As a teacher, I wanted to showcase my expertise and forgetting my train of thought definitely wouldn’t do that.

Step 2. Create a slideshow.

I chose to create slideshows for my videos so students had something tangible to take away. I branded each slide to the colours of the course and highlighted the most important information.

Step 3. Record using QuickTime Player.

My Mac laptop has QuickTime Player installed already, and I simply had to choose the option to record my screen. You can select which area of the screen you want to record, and then speak over the slides.

I also created a welcome video using QuickTime Player, where I used the outward camera to record a talking head shot.

It really was that simple – just 3 easy steps to creating professional videos that represented the branding of my course and added another dimension to the learning process.

So, how did video help me connect with my audience?

1. It added a personal element

I don’t know about you, but I like to watch videos of people before I take their courses so a) I know they’re a real person (the internet brings this paranoia into the mix), and b) I can get a feel for their teaching methods and how they present themselves and their materials.

This is precisely why I wanted to add videos to my course, so my audience could see me in person and get to know me and my personality.

The result? Students felt like they were “getting to know me” and could build a person-to-person connection.

2. It gave students a choice

Before I created the course, I surveyed the members of my Facebook group to see whether they would prefer a text-based course or a video-based one.

The results were fairly mixed – some said text lessons were easier to print out and read on the go, while others said they were more likely to sit through a video lesson and absorb all the information, as opposed to skim read a text lesson.

This is why I decided to incorporate both text and video elements to the course – so students could choose the medium that worked best for them.

3. It cemented my expertise

I spoke earlier about how using video allowed my students to create a deeper connection with me, their teacher, but it also helped cement my expertise.

Listening to someone speak passionately in-person (or via a video) about their topic of choice or the subject they’re most knowledgeable on serves two purposes.

  • It motivates the students. Seeing someone so passionate about a topic is contagious.
  • It builds trust. Seeing someone talking so openly and knowledgeably about a topic creates a “safe” feeling for students – basically, they can see the teacher knows what they’re talking about.

4. It helped “show” rather than “tell”

I pride myself on creating actionable lessons and blog posts for my students and readers, so tutorials and guides are a huge part of my courses.

Sometimes all it takes is to see something laid out in simple steps so you can understand it better. Video allowed me to add this actionable element to my courses, providing students with detailed tutorials for creating websites, building email lists, and so on.

“You don't just lay out a list of what I need to do, but the details of HOW I can make it happen. That's the element that is missing in so many training courses on freelance writing or blogging.” – feedback from one of my students.

5. It humanized the learning process

Online learning can seem a bit cold and isolated from the outside, which is one of the reasons I implemented video elements to my courses.

They serve to humanize the learning process and show students that I’m “there” for them and support their learning process, even if it’s not in-person confirmation.

In a landscape where most learning is done online via reading Wiki articles or searching the depths of Google for the right post, using video helped my courses to stand out, to offer students something more, and to create a connection both with me and the materials I presented.

This is precisely why video is such an important part of online learning, so start creating your visual training today with Mapout.

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