A version of this post was originally published on June 11, 2020, on eLearning Industry.
Building an online course is a solitary affair. While many people enjoy the autonomy of working alone and are really good at it, being completely on your own just isn’t right for everyone.
If you are on the “work better as a team” team, you don’t need to give up on your online course business ideas. There is no rule that says you don’t need a co-instructor and in fact, many successful courses have more than one person working behind the scenes.
Working with a co-instructor can take some workload off your shoulders, especially if you’re creating a more complex course. Having someone else to manage part of the promotion side is also a boon. Plus, the work of two instructors means seeing the content through more than one perspective, which learners will appreciate.
How to choose the right co-instructor for an online course
If you haven’t had a business partner before, much less a co-instructor, it can be hard to know what to look for or whether someone you already know might be a good fit. Thankfully, finding a good co-instructor is much like finding a business partner or co-teacher. In fact, it’s a combination of both.
So, before you seal the deal, read on to find out which are the main aspects to consider when choosing a co-instructor for your online courses:
They share your vision
Your vision is what underpins everything you do. Ideally, you and your co-instructor would have a shared vision before taking the plunge and start working on a course.
Usually, you build a working relationship in time, but you can figure out if you have similar ideas about learning, the domain that you’re passionate about and generally whether you agree on important things, such as the learning platform that you’re going to use.
Moreover, if your ideas clash with each other, there are bound to be conflicts and your learners will be very confused in the process. In everything you do, you need to send a cohesive message, even if you present things from two different perspectives.
They have unique complementary skills
The greatest advantage of having a partner is finding what are your unique skills that complement each other, and how to maximize this opportunity. Depending on how complex is your course, this would rule out the need of finding a freelancer to help you out.
Maybe you’re not so good at creating the visual parts of your content, but your co-instructor has the skills to do it in no time. Alternatively, you might be more comfortable in front of the camera, while they’re good at editing videos. Most importantly, you could be able to handle some aspects of setting up your site, while the other person will be primarily in charge of marketing.
They are good communicators
Since there will be just the two of you, you’ll need to work out a good communication system. Most likely, you won’t be able to meet face to face very often so having a schedule for planning is crucial, as well as setting milestones and dividing tasks.
A recurring source of conflict stems from the fact that we often forget to manage expectations. Do you have similar ideas about what the outcome of your work will be? Do you feel 100 percent OK with making some compromises if needed?
Even if you are already friends or feel that you have some chemistry, having similar work ethics is way more important. At the same time, you should be able to easily express what is bothering you, give constructive feedback to one another, and show respect for each other’s opinions, even when you disagree.
You are both dedicated to the project
Sometimes course creators find a workaround on promoting their course and choose to affiliate with someone because that someone already has a following and some courses under their belt. However, if they’re not contributing to the course creation process, is it worth it?
Learners will be a bit suspicious if your courses just have someone else’s name on it — but not their work. If you want a partner, they should be all in; otherwise, your learners might actually feel cheated, so tread carefully.
Instead, you can set up affiliate links through which a person gets a commission for every purchase or work out another agreement in which they can help with marketing.
You talk about financial aspects early on
For beginner entrepreneurs, money talk can be awkward, but let’s face it: not budgeting for your online course business can affect your collaboration, no matter how well you’re getting along. Instead of being put off by financial aspects, you should initiate the conversation yourself, and do it early, because it’s going to affect you sooner rather than later.
Depending on what the law is in your area, you should be able to sign a contract. Discuss how you want to price the course, how the earnings get split, what percentage of the earnings get invested back into the business, who contributes what at the beginning.
You can also seek financial advice from a professional and use an online tool to help you keep track of spendings and earnings. The first tool that you’re going to use anyway is your learning platform so make sure it has a built-in analytics feature.
A partnership is a good idea as long as you’re both on the same page, have similar goals, and have complementary skills. At the core of a great co-instructor relationship, you will find good communication and dedication to the work you both love to do.
Ioana believes that learning doesn’t stop when school stops. When she is not writing about learning and ed tech, she can usually be seen reading a book and drinking lots of coffee.