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Karen Davies

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Online courses vs programmes

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“Knowledge without action is meaningless.”

– Abu Bakr

If you are thinking about creating an offer to sell in your business then you maybe considering which route to take… should you create an online digital course or a tailor-made programme?

You must have a good understand as to what your aspirations and goals are, so that you can create the RIGHT product suite that’s going to support your business’s growth. Creating any type of offer for your business really does need to start with the end destination and where you want to take your business. Once we know the end destination, then we can reverse engineer our efforts and make a then solid, well structured and strategic plan to get us where we want to be.

Online courses vs tailor-made programmes

Online digital courses

So let’s start with online courses… as entrepreneurs, we are always chasing time. Time is this precious thing that we just never seem to have enough of and so looking at ways to create offers in our business that saves us time, is what will help us to grow – and make our lives that bit easier. Online courses are a great way to get time back in your business because you build the product once and then sell on repeat.

Now of course there is upfront work involved, however once the course has been created, you don’t then need to be there in person to deliver it over and over again. That’s essentially the point of creating an online course.

Online courses are a great way to still deliver the same (if not even more value) than you would delivering a workshop in person but instead it’s automated and your students benefit because they get to work through the content you have provided, in their own home, at their own pace and on repeat so that they can walk away with a result that’s really going to help them move forward in their life.

Online courses gives you your precious time back so you can focus your efforts on where it matters whilst still making money. There is no better feeling than having alerts appear on your phone, telling you that you have made another sale without you having to be there to deliver it.

Some advantages of creating an online course is that is also enables you to expand your reach and widen your audience base because you are not limited to location. Having online products means that you can sell worldwide because you are selling via the web which means that there is limitless opportunity available to you.

Once you know what your course is, who it is for and how you can help your students in the easiest and quickest way possible, you can develop strategies to help you to sell to volume online. This is not something that will necessarily happen immediately but just know that it is possible ad with the right strategies in place, you can create financial freedom.

Tailor-made programmes

Now programmes are a little different because you are most likely going to need to be there in person to deliver your programme and that’s one of the key differences.

Programmes are a great way to deliver a one-to-many offer to your audience so if you are currently running training sessions where you are delivering them on a one-to-one basis then you could turn that offer into more of a programme so you are delivering it to a group rather than just individuals.

Now the other thing to think about when creating a programme is that a programme is often more comprehensive so the transformation is a lot bigger.

With a course, you can create, say a mini course that focuses in on a small area of a topic – so for example – how to start an email list. This course may take the student from having no idea on how to start and email list to building their confidence around what they need to do to getting started. It may include actionable steps that gets them to a place where they are building their email list and generating the results that they need.

Now if you were creating a programme around this topic, your programme would mostly likely be a lot more in depth & comprehensive and it would mostly likely take place over a matter of weeks or months instead of hours simply due to the depth of teaching involved.

So if you were creating a programme around growing your email list, you are going to be expanding on the topic and including things like how to create a freebie (or lead magnet as it’s know), how to set up landing pages, how to build email funnels and write compelling email sequences. Now you can of course also create an online course that includes this content but it will most likely be a bigger course which will take you longer to create.

Creating a programme, allows you to be there in person so you can help your students navigate through the content, making sure that they are understanding it correctly and implementing the teaching so they are getting the results.

Another difference between a programme and an online course is availability of content… with online courses, students are most likely to have full access to the content (unless you choose to drip feed the content over a period of time). Drip feeding content may come in useful if your course needs to take place over a period of time.

When delivering a programme, you are more than likely going to only make content available only at a certain point where you cover the content in the programme. This means that, whilst all your students gain access to the content at the same time, some may work faster than others and therefore they may be ready for it before they are allowed access to it.

The downside to this – and an advantage of creating a course – is that if you are students that are ready to move on to the next stage of the journey, it may cause frustration as they will need to wait until the content is released before they can access it. With an online course, content is there and waiting for them to access when they are ready (and not the other way around) which means that if they want to power through the course then they can. They can work at their own pace and complete the course as and when it suits them.

An advantage of creating a programme means that you will have a direct contact with your students so that you can create a more intimate and tailored approach to your teaching which you can’t do when delivering an online course. Because online courses are pre-recorded, it does mean that you record the content once and then that’s the content students get whereas with a programme, you can tailor your approach to your audience.

An advantage of delivering a programme over an online course is that you can build a deeper connections with your students because they are seeing you there in person, week-on-week. They get to know you and you get to know them. It provides you with the opportunity to run Q&As and accountability sessions, these are great for gaining insight into what your students need, what they are struggling with or what you can great additionally to support them further.

How much time is involved?

Depending on the type of course you choose to create, it will determine how long it will take you to get it out in the world. The more extensive the course, the longer it will take for you to create, which is why I recommend that if you are just starting out then consider starting with a mini course because it will take you less time to create, giving you a quick and easy win. When it comes to online courses, you can make it as simple or comprehensive as you want it to be.

When it comes to creating a programme; it may be that your programme is comprehensive which means that it will take longer to create. Entrepreneurs often create programmes as their high-ticket offer that sits at the bottom of their sales funnel because of the depth of content included and the amount of teaching involved. Creating a programme is therefore not ideal if you are looking at achieving a quick win. You would be better off considering creating an online course.

What is the revenue potential?

Online courses are often a lot cheaper to sell and provide a more cost effective way of learning for the student. You can scale more easily with online courses (which means you can make decent money) because the work has already been done where as programmes are often a lot more expensive for the students to buy and require a lot more of your time and commitment to create. However, you can deliver a far bigger transformation and more effective results through a programme which means you can charge a lot more for it. You can also scale with a programme but you just have yo be really careful not to lose the personal touch, if that’s what is important to you.


So there you have it; the main differences between online courses and programmes.

If you are currently ‘on the fence’ not knowing whether to creating an online course or a programme for your business then I want you to consider the following:

  • Where do you see your business, 5 years from now?
  • What kind of business do you want to create?
  • Do you want to create a business that offers teaching online or do you want to build a community & support your audience by giving them direct access to you?
  • Do you want to create a business that generates passive revenue so you can get your time back?

Also consider, what will bring you the most joy… do you enjoy creating and if so, will you enjoy creating an online course or would you prefer to deliver your teaching in person?

Creating an online course isn’t for everyone, some people love creating online courses where they build it once and then sell it on repeat… others enjoy delivering their content in person. Either way it’s about you, what you want to create and what is going to give you the enjoy in what you do. No one can make that choice for you. If you are wanting to scale or create passive revenue in your business where you don’t need to be there in person then online courses will give you what you need.

Whatever approach you choose; the one thing I do believe is that in order to create true, long-lasting success in our businesses, we must find absolute joy in what we do, how we create it and also how we deliver it to our audience as well.

The direction you take must align with you, the goals of your business and ultimately lead you towards the freedom and financial independence that you truly desire.