I have quite a few movies and series on my ‘I can’t wait for them to come out’ list. I also have a few books under the same heading, and I am sure you can relate.
So, how do you know about the items on your lists? Most probably you have watched trailers, seen mentions on the pages of influencers you follow, or read about them online. Your expectations have been skillfully built by crafty marketers, knowing just where and how to catch your eye.
When you are about to launch your course, you need to be that crafty too and since you probably do not have the equipment and expertise to create a Hollywood-style teaser trailer, the next best thing is to turn to blogging and create an engaging series to act as the preamble to your course.
It’s not as complicated as you may think if you follow a few logical steps:
Set the scene
The essential components of a blog series are much like the makings of an engaging story (told over several chapters). A regular blog post needs to have a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion. A series is constructed in a similar way:
- The first post should act as an introduction, telling your readers what they can expect moving forward and what they stand to gain by following. It’s important that you just outline the basics without giving away too much (think more in terms of a teaser than of a comprehensive summary).
- The middle posts are where you should dive into the topic you chose, making sure that each post builds anticipation for the following one.
- The post ending the series is where you should tie up all the loose ends and leave the readers prepared for your course launch.
The point is to make them want that learning experience.
Pick the right topic
You need to find a subject that is related to and complementary to whatever your online course is about. Even if you have not yet finished all the polishing, you ought to have a good idea of what it will contain.
There are several ways of choosing what you will do a series on. One is to take a smaller topic from your course and develop that over several blog posts.
Another way to go about it is to find the online groups that are closest to your target audience and see what is trending there – in the online environment, timing is everything. If you find a subject that has already piqued a lot of interest and your blog post series elaborates on it, you will surely get a lot of attention and so will any content you put out there.
However, be careful to pick something you feel comfortable and knowledgeable enough to cover – you will need to do some research regardless but still, it should be something you have some command of.
Create the outline
Write an outline to get an idea of how many ‘episodes’ the series will have and what which of them will cover. While initially requiring some time and effort, this step actually ensures you don’t waste much of either along the way.
Writing an individual post can be rather trying with all the necessary preparations and research, choosing the right sources to quote, the appropriate imagery, and figuring out the perfect length. And all that before taking the time to edit and polish.
Having an idea about the series as a whole will help you dose your time and efforts in a much more efficient way. For example, if you are researching for one specific post but you come across something that will be relevant for another, you will be able to store that information and use it later.
You will also constantly be aware of how far along in the process you are.
Test your hypothesis
Before you start the writing process, check to see if what you think is a good idea that will work is deemed so by your target audience as well. Especially if you are passionate about a topic, you can get carried away. It’s important to like what you are writing about but it’s even more so that you hit your mark – get a large enough audience excited about your upcoming online course.
There are several methods for ‘testing the waters’. You can set up a poll on your page, you can ask for input from your professional network or you can take your questions to online communities that are open to this kind of market research and are willing to offer you feedback.
You will find that people really appreciate it when their opinions are valued. If it turns out that the levels of engagement with the topic are not what you wish, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. If you were spot on, it’s time to start typing away.
Preparation is key to both a successful blog post series and to a strong course launch. It all needs to tie together neatly and get the highest possible level of interest and engagement. Having a good command of the topic you will be writing on is as important as knowing your target audience well.
Raluca Cristescu has over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.