Saturday, March 26, 2016

creating an online class

I haven't made anything in five weeks. Three of those weeks I had a sinus infection, two of them I was in pain from having a tooth pulled and the last two I've been recovering from falling down the steps and spraining my knee. I've spent the entire month of March on the couch.

Thankfully, the last couple of days my knee has felt a little better so I was able to get the kitchen clean, most of the laundry caught up and today I spent several hours cleaning my studio from top to bottom. I'm finally feeling like myself again: happy and hopeful which is my normal state of mind. :)

While sitting on the couch, I did a thorough planning of my next class which will be about titles. I'm still tweaking the name of the class but it's going to be five lessons, five layouts, five videos + a handout and will be priced at $10 so that those of you who have never taken a class from me can try out my teaching style and see if you like it.

Now that I have three classes under my belt (Easy Hand Lettering, Ready, Sketch, Go! and Start With The Story), I've developed a system for creating classes so I don't have to rethink the process each time. Since I like to talk about business here, I thought I would share a behind the scenes look at how it all comes together...

Step 1: Come up with a concept. 
The topic must be one I am genuinely passionate about, can speak easily on and one that I have a good base of knowledge and ideas for. For example, I believe a title is a pivotal element in storytelling so I'm going to teach my students how to make their title more thoughtful and tie it in with their journaling. I have about five classes already conceptualized that I'll be creating this year. When I have an idea for a class, I write it in the notes app on my phone on a list I call "Creative Business Ideas."

Step 2: Write an outline of all the lessons in great detail.
The outlining part of a class is one of my favorite tasks because I love to organize and make lists and I always get excited about the class in the early stages of planning. The ideas come to me quicker than I can write them down. I've been making notes for weeks about what I want to include in the titles class and now it will simply be a matter of fitting it all in.

Step 3: Choose stories and photos for layouts. Print photos.
This is the part of the process I'm in today and it's the most time consuming and difficult step. I begin this process by looking at my social media for the last few months to find my most recent stories/photos. Then I sit for a while and think about older stories I want to tell that I haven't told and sometimes I sit and think about products I want to use in the class and let those products prompt a story. I write out a detailed list of stories as I choose the photos. (I'll be talking about this a lot in my titles class.) I've just written a list of 20 stories (for my next two classes) and in the next few days I'll be printing the photos and starting to think about design. For every class, I try to get this step done in 1-3 days.

Step 4: Design and create layouts.
My class videos are process videos but so they will flow smoothly, I create the layouts in advance and then take them apart before filming and put them back together while I film. This way, I can film in "real time" and talk about the layout and my process without having to make a lot of choices about design as I'm speaking. Creating, for me, is a process that involves getting into a flow and isolating myself mentally from all outside distractions. I enjoy creating more without the pressure and distraction of the camera. I've found that creating in advance and then putting it all together in a video is a great compromise for me. I can keep my videos to 15-20 minutes and it's easy to chat about the process because all the difficult decisions have been made. I like to give myself one day per layout to create so I can enjoy the process. I often type up details as I'm creating or jot them down on an index card so I can refer back to my thoughts while filming.

Step 5: Film process videos.
I like to batch process my class videos so once the layouts are created, I spend several mornings filming the videos. For "Ready, Sketch, Go!" I filmed all 15 videos in 4 days. I use my iPhone to record my videos and it's really a fun and simple process once the layouts are designed. Through my podcasting and filming experience, I've found that after the first video is done, my voice sounds better and I speak more confidently.

Step 6: Upload and edit videos. 
This is the most time consuming part of creating a class. I plug my cord from my phone into my computer, download the videos and then load them one at a time into Windows Movie Maker. It takes about 30 minutes for my video to "render" so I can edit it. I enjoy the editing process and it is similar to editing my podcast. The editing takes about 30 minutes. I add intro music, create opening and closing graphics and save it as a high def video which takes exactly 30 minutes. Then I watch it back to make sure I didn't miss any errors (sniffs, coughs, etc.) and then import to Handbrake to compress the file which takes 20 minutes. Then I load to YouTube which takes about two hours for a compressed file. For my Ready, Sketch, Go! classes, I go through that process 15 times which equals out to about 60 hours of editing and uploading. Of course while the videos are loading I do other things but it is a long process that I have to keep going until it's done (kind of like laundry, ha!).

Step 7: Photograph all layouts.
This takes much longer than you would think. I have to take the photos on a sunny day, in a certain spot in my house. I usually end up taking them several times before I'm happy with the end result. Put the memory card in the computer, download them, try editing them, are they good enough? Nope. Put the card back in the camera, take the pics again. That's how it goes until they look good. I always get this step done in one morning.

Step 8: Create lessons online. 
The next step is to create each lesson online (in my blog or on the class site Jen and I are building which I will tell you more about soon). Create links to the next lesson, list tips and tricks, embed the videos, etc.: basically build the classroom. (Thankfully Jen did this for our class together and she did a great job.) It usually takes me 2-3 days to complete this step.

Step 9: Create a .pdf handout.
In Microsoft Word, I type up all the details from the class that can be conveyed in writing and save it as a .pdf. I insert photos of all the layouts and add all the written info I can. I can usually create a handout in one afternoon but the 25 page handout I created for my class with Jen took me 8 hours to create.

Step 10: Create a logo and class description.
Creating graphics is one of my least favorite parts of my job because I don't have the graphics program I am most skilled at using...Corel Draw. I need to invest in a new version of it since my version won't work on my current computer. I have the full version of Photoshop and tutorials but I don't have time or the inclination to learn it. So for now I use PicMonkey and even Paint sometimes. This step takes about four hours, depending on how much I've been thinking about it in advance.

Step 11: Create a listing on ECWID (my storefront) and write blog post.
Once the class is created, I make a listing for my storefront. I write the description, upload graphics and set the price and then write a blog post introducing the class.

Step 12: Advertise the class and put it up for sale.
Finally, I advertise the class on every podcast and social media avenue I have and put it up for sale. After weeks of investing my time on one class, it's a great feeling to get to Step 12. This step is the quickest, it takes about 30 minutes.

So that's it. Twelve easy steps to creating a class online. I think I'm tired just writing that but I'm glad I this list in one place so I can refer back to it every time I create a class!

Monday I'll share some of my stories I'm working on printing photos for. I thought if I shared the stories and photos with you now, it might be fun for those of you taking my classes to see how I translate them into a layout.

I'll end this post with a new review I read last night of my class at Big Picture Classes and I want to say thanks so much to each of you who are supporting me in my creative journey of creating, teaching and podcasting. It means so much to me that you even took time to read this blog post and reviews like this one absolutely make my heart sing...

"My scrapbooking will never be the same after taking this class! 
The handouts are so helpful and Tracie 
has a way of clearly communicating her ideas and tips. 
I will re-visit this class over and over!" - @msaula

Thank you @msaula! If you are reading this, please let me know your real name so we can connect online! I'd love to send you a little thank you for leaving me such a great review.

Have a wonderfully happy day dear readers!


Adrienne said...

Thank you so much for sharing this information. I recently started my blog and have so much to learn! I appreciate you taking the time to help others grow and chase their passion.

leighann said...

This is such a great blog post and very thorough! I can see why you have successful classes with this strategy! Thank you for sharing!!! 😃

Hannah Lemieux said...

Thanks for sharing this!! Great blog post! I love how you even shared how long it really takes to edit, or write up PDF's these are things we often forget to think about when calculating our time.

Keely said...

I'm glad you're feeling better Tracie!! It sounds like you were productive during your couch time. Your blog post gives us a glimpse into how much work you must put into your classes to make them great. As you near your one year mark as a full-time crafter, you can be proud of everything you have accomplished!!

Unknown said...

I loved reading about how you create your classes, Tracie! The time and effort you put into everything shows in the great quality of your creative output. Thanks for sharing!

Mel Davis said...

Love that your process includes ensuring no sniffs in your videos. I'm am that person who will offer a tissue to a "sniffer" at work to give them the hint they are driving me crazy! I often skip to the end of YT videos if the voice over includes sniffing - why can't they pause their recording?
Your whole process list for really shows the exceptional value of your online classes!

Unknown said...

good post

Diann B said...

I'm exhausted just reading the whole process you go through to create a class. I had no idea it was this involved and took so much time. Your new class on titles sounds very interesting, and I can't wait to take it.

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