Design a digital course that takes your student by the hand and empowers them to get massive results

Design a digital course that takes your student by the hand and empowers them to get massive results

a graphic showing Steph Woods and Jen Vazquez about Design a digital course that takes your student by the hand + empowers them to get massive results

Design a digital course that takes your student by the hand and empowers them to get massive results

Welcome back!! If you’re new here, I’m Jen Vazquez a Pinterest Marketing Strategist + Manager who brings in experts on all marketing subjects so you can take action and grow your business.  

Today I’m excited to be chatting with Course Creation Expert Steph Woods of Steph Woods Co

Steph Woods is a learning experience designer & course creation expert. She is a speaker and bestselling author who specializes in impactful educational experiences. Steph is a nerd for understanding and harnessing how people best learn. She shows entrepreneurs how to design a digital course that leverages time (and profits) so they can work less, earn more, and have a life outside of their biz.

We chatted about this content:

  • How Steph got started in her digital course creation business
  • Who Steph worked with at Stanford in her position there.
  • Tips on how to come up with an idea for a course.
  • What she recommends in getting started on course creation
  • How people should decide on the most engaging and effective delivery methods 
  • Tips on creating a digital course that people actually finish and take action?
  • Steph talks a lot about how courses have come to this place that they aren’t effective anymore and her opinion on that.
  • Designing a curriculum rather than content and the difference?

Podcast and Youtube

Listen to the Marketing Strategy Academy Podcast and watch the video below.

Transcript

Jen Vazquez

Do you want to design a digital course that takes students by the hand and empowers them to get massive results? If so, keep listening. Welcome. Back. If you’re new here I am Jen Vazquez, a Pinterest marketing strategist and manager who brings in experts on all marketing subjects so that you can take action and grow your business. If that sounds like something you’re interested, definitely subscribe so that you’re notified when we release the next episode. Today, you guys I’m so excited to be chatting with my friend as well. As a course creation expert Steph woods of Steph Woods. Steph Woods is a learning experience designer and course creation expert. She is a speaker and best selling author who specializes in impactful educational experiences. Steph is a nerd for understanding and harnessing how people best learn. She shows entrepreneurs how to design a digital course that leverages time and profits so that they can work less earn more and have a life outside their business. Hello, who doesn’t want that?

Welcome Steph. Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.

I am so excited to have you. I feel like this has been really in the making for over a year now. That I’ve been wanting you want to hear so I’m glad we like just made it happen. I always love to hear origin stories and I know my listeners do also. So let’s get started. Tell me about your business and how you got started and then got to what you’re doing right now.

Steph Woods

Okay, of course well I would have to say that my business was in me way, way, WAY longer before it actually became a business. So my mom was a teacher. My dad was a small business owner and my entire life I had kind of seen both of them and their struggles doing each one. So in my mind, I was like, Oh, I don’t want to be a teacher. I don’t want to be a small business owner and here I am being both right. So, um, I tried to avoid both my entire life. I went to college, got a minor in education because I was like, you can’t get away from it all the way just in case mostly just in case. And then ended up as a graphic designer. But even as a graphic designer, I was constantly doing education type things. I was doing trainings. I eventually even became a I ran a team that was for customer resources for like customer education. And then eventually ended up at Stanford where I was really infused with my love of all things education. So I was running a business that I was doing graphic design and branding for startup for just friends and then someone was like, Oh, I have a friend of a friend. They paved. Okay, right. Accidental businesses like things happen a lot of the times. And then one day, I was kind of sitting there and I had a good friend of ours, Rebecca and she was like, why aren’t you teaching people about all of the things that you’re doing at Stanford? Why why is that just a Stanford thing? And because these business owners they need to learn how to make courses too. They need this they need you. And so that’s when I pivoted into helping people create online courses that actually get results for people.

Jen Vazquez

Yeah, that’s, that’s the key, but also in my opinion, that’s how you stand out from all the other educators in this space. Truly, because I believe that your focus on making courses that people can actually get through and take action is sadly not not always the case. And we’ll dive in a little bit deeper on that later on. But tell our you know, audience a little bit about the people that you’ve worked with that Stanford because I get my mind blown all the time.

Steph Woods

Yeah, I’ve had such a wild ride at Stanford. I started off doing graphic design for like their, the decks and the worksheets and stuff for faculty, and then got pulled into a couple of projects that just kind of changed everything. The first one was with Tyra Banks. And she came in and was creating a course about personal branding. And the really cool thing about our guest lectures when they come in to the Graduate School of Business at Stanford is they have this excellent, like, expertise and experience in a certain thing like Tyra Banks, you think, Oh, she has an amazing personal brand. She’s created so many other brands out of it as well. But really, it’s her that it has that like magic but has that fire. But she has no idea how to teach. She’s Yeah, she’s not an educator. Right. So part of my job was to come in and help someone who’s excellent at what they’re doing. And turn it into a course that students learn from that students are find actionable, that they can go and just like start infusing it into their lives, and even business students need personal brands we think about like personal brands is like I have a personal brand you have a personal brand, but your personal brand is also what you bring to the table. If you’re in an interview. If you’re, you know, presenting yourself on LinkedIn, all of these things that like yeah, business students need as well. So it’s a wonderful, wonderful course that we developed, it’s called Project to you. And we taught it for multiple years and at Stanford and COVID. But right before COVID We actually developed another course with someone who is also very good at what they do and that’s Alex Rodriguez. I’ll Iran came in and his course is all about pivoting like what to do for your next pivot. He’s someone who has pivoted multiple times in his life. He’s gone from you know, baseball player to real estate investor to now. Investments and yeah, building like this big fitness brand and all of these things. So we took that and use that to create another course about how to prepare yourself for a pivot when you want to change what you’re doing. And it’s not necessarily exactly in line with what you’ve done before. Like, what are the things you need to think about and all of that so that was the second big course that I got to work on. That was amazing. And Alex is fantastic. Both tyre and Alex are absolutely fantastic. They got it. They like know their stuff, and they show up and they just like give so much so much value.

Jen Vazquez

And what about what did you work on with Gary Vee

Steph Woods

So Gary just came in and he talked about some stuff with in the tire class and we actually, we did some preparation with him about like, what would find valuable for the students. He’s someone who knows business really well, but it’s not necessarily your traditional business. So when he came to us he was like a little unsure about like, what should I talk about that is graduate school business level. And so we’ve worked on some stuff with Gary to

Jen Vazquez

very, very cool. Well, you clearly know your stuff. So let’s start at the beginning. Do you have any tips for people who are like trying to figure out an idea for a course? I know, that’s super broad question. So whatever comes up for you on that, like, as I’m saying the question, I’m like, oh, that’s real broad, but you know, go ahead and let me know your your ideas.

Steph Woods

Yeah, well, okay, so you’re the course that you’re going to create the best that’s going to be you solely your magic comes from what I call your course sweet spot, which is the combination of what you’re really good at what you enjoy doing, because you don’t have passion for what you’re teaching. People are gonna know people are gonna see it and the energy is just not there. But then also what what people will pay for what they want from you like what they want to learn. And in the middle of those three, that’s your course sweet spot. And how do you know those things? First, you brainstorm all three of them, right? Like okay,

Jen Vazquez

what am I gonna Yeah, like Oh, give me think about that. That’s super smart. Yeah,

Steph Woods

what do people always say I’m really good at, but also what do people come to me for help? If there’s someone if I keep getting the same questions? So like, as a graphic designer, I got really good at InDesign. And people came to me for InDesign questions over and over and over. Right? That’s something that people kind of like associate, oh, I have an InDesign question. Who should I go ask, Oh, let’s go stuff. Write the things that you’re good at. And then the second was what you’re passionate about, like how do these things light you up? And I like to say start with the things that you’re good at. And then kind of rank them about how excited you would be about that.

Jen Vazquez

Yeah, because you could be really good at something that you’re just sort of over and you don’t necessarily want to create a course on something you’re over because it’s worth a little bit of work.

Steph Woods

Yeah. Oh, yeah. No, you’re making an investment in your business by creating a curse, of course for sure. And then the last one, what people will pay for and how do you know that? You ask them. People love to talk about themselves. They love to talk about what they need and what they want. And so just really getting in there and talking to your audience and talking to those who are in your niche and say like, Hey, and it doesn’t have to be super formal. It can be like, Hey, I’m thinking about doing a course on my Instagram Stories. Here’s three things like what course but

Jen Vazquez

yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, that’s smart. Because people love doing polls.

Steph Woods

Yeah. Oh, yeah. Very good. Fun. little hit of endorphins that Yeah, exactly.

Jen Vazquez

exactly correct. What we pick our phone up for, you know, um, so do you. This is a very basic question, but it really is something that I thought about like do you start with writing out content then you film it or do you like obviously, we know now that you start on this research area to make sure that a you’re gonna love your content, and be that people are gonna buy it? Because I know a lot of people who have built courses to crickets. So what is the what is the sort of journey that you take through building a course?

Steph Woods

Yeah. Well, I think a lot of people assume that you just jump right into making an outline, which is a good way to like do it really fast and get it out there but is it the right way? To do it? Not really. So I like to teach what’s called in instructional design. It’s called learner led, course design. And that means that you have to get really, really clear on who your learner is first. And really, really clear on what that goal is, and then you kind of work backwards you work backwards from the goal to where they are, and bridge that gap. So when you think of it like that, you have to the first couple steps are to actually define really, really extensively what that goal is, so that you know where you’re reaching. You’re

Jen Vazquez

where you’re taking them where you want them to end and, or and finish, right.

Steph Woods

Will start and they’re just like, I’m just gonna take everything that I know and I’m gonna dump it and I’m just gonna like, give it to them. One of the biggest mistakes that I see is overwhelming people with so much content that’s not intentional. Of course, it’s about intentionally creating this journey for them, that they’re going to learn and they’re going to get to this place where they can not only know the things that they want to know but be able to do the things that they want to be able to do because transformation one of my favorite quotes is transformation does not happen in knowledge. Transformation is what happens when you apply that knowledge and action.

Jen Vazquez

That is so I’m all about taking action and I talk about it like ad nauseam. So but the way that you just said that was so much more effective. So yeah, cuz I know personally, if I go into a course and there’s like their hour long modules, unless it’s like technical step by step which of course can take a little bit longer, but your eyes roll in your head, right? The courses that I love the most are the ones that you kind of get a quick win with kind of a homework situation to like, apply it like I feel more accomplished. And I’m more I’m more interested in finishing, if that makes sense. Yeah. Oh yeah. There’s a lot of started not finished courses out there. And not

Steph Woods

just you it I know for me too, but not just you and me. I think it’s really, really something that’s going on right now. And it’s because people haven’t designed them intentionally.

Jen Vazquez

Yeah, and and I feel like too, with all of the social media going to like sort short form video. That’s almost the expectation these days is to have it be shorter. How should people decide on the most engaging and effective delivery methods like what are you seeing out there?

Steph Woods

Ah, okay. I personally love short videos, no matter what it is, like what you said, we have such short attention spans, but I want you to think of it as learning, applying the learning, learning, applying the learning, right? So there are some things that we can tell about like so. People like to learn from people, right? So yes, you have to have a instructor presence. You have to know the person that you’re learning from an event, right. So yeah, I’m going to tell you that you want your face out there. It doesn’t have to be out there all the time. But if it’s just slides, it’s going to be a little less connection. Yes, right. But think about how you can actually mix it up, are gonna say that one style is, is better than the others. But really, it becomes so much more engaging when you mix that with slides. Sometimes, sometimes I’m gonna walk you through something. Sometimes I’m gonna give you even like, I’ve seen courses that have like, Okay, this is a long process. I’m gonna feed you a Trello board that has boards for that has. What are they called? Trello cards

Jen Vazquez

for yeah cards to make.

Steph Woods

So that we can get through this longer process together. Right. So I think it’s more about one. Also, knowing your audience. If you’re creating an audience, if you’re creating a course for people who have ADHD, you’re going to want to go out it a little differently than if you’re creating a course for I don’t know, executives, right? Knowing your people and what kind of like makes them continue and what gets them excited. And I mean, with ADHD, knowing what kind of like works for their brain.

Jen Vazquez

Yeah, and I think social media is leading many people toward that type of feeling anyway. What will what are some tips then on creating courses or designing courses that people actually finish and take action? What are just a few tips? Yeah,

Steph Woods

well, I would say that’s one mix it up. Keep it interesting and think about the activity that they’re doing and how best to be able to get them to do that activity. Right. And actually, that’s what itself is think about it as action and not just knowledge. So we’re going to learn this knowledge together. But then what can they do to show not necessarily an end like kindergarten, it’s like, Okay, after show you that I can read or first grade, I can tell you that I can read to your teacher, but

Jen Vazquez

even math, you do the math, but they want to see how you got there that you didn’t just copy somebody else.

Steph Woods

Yeah, but sometimes adult learners need that too. They need to like show themselves okay, I learned this I know how to do this. Sometimes it’ll learners are harder because they kind of like doubt themselves. And they’re like, not sure. So having a structure giving them kind of like an overview of the journey we’re gonna go on just so they know where they are, and kind of like have their, their get get where they are in their journey. That’s definitely something that that really helps people continue through and they’re like, oh, okay, I know I’m two thirds of the way through.

Jen Vazquez

Yeah, and I think to getting them through the whole course. Part of part of getting them through the course is to see change is to take action and actually see the change in your business or whatever courses you’re creating. That gives you excitement. Yeah, yeah.

Steph Woods

Yeah. Even like you were saying earlier, little wins right at the beginning, right, create momentum. One of the things that I like to have my students do at the very beginning is to do a visualization and to do some journaling on why am I doing this? Because then anytime you start to kind of like, falter a little bit and lose a little momentum, or get a little overwhelmed, you can go back to read. Oh, this is what Stephanie at the beginning of this course said, This is why she’s doing this. That’s inspiring, right?

Jen Vazquez

I want to keep going. That that is that is really good. Well I know that you talk a lot about court, like how courses have come to this place where they aren’t necessarily effective anymore. So I’d love for you to dive into into that.

Steph Woods

Wow. A couple years ago, during COVID everyone decided to take what they were doing in their businesses because we had to adapt right we had to pivot. Yeah, do adapt and thought okay, online courses like I can help more people that are not in my immediate in my immediate network. Let’s create a course. So they kind of just threw things together. And I’ve said already a couple of times intentional intentional is really a big ticket thing when it comes to creating courses. So we have a lot of courses out there that weren’t really thought through or weren’t done, very intentional. They took all this content and put it together, but they’re not really thinking of it as an entire educational experience. That’s kind of one of the things that I try and get my students to do worth thinking about the experience of being in this course. There one of the biggest things is that when people don’t finish courses, I like to call them my four little motivation stealing monsters, and these are the four things that get people knocked off their their momentum. And that’s boredom. Boredom is when really you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing. So you’re not really seeing it as part of the big picture and you’re like, Oh, I’m kind of bored with what I’m doing. Right? I’m overwhelmed. You can give them too much content. And if it’s not intentional, they’re gonna get overwhelmed. Procrastination, procrastination. Is when you’re what you’re trying to teach them. It’s just not there. There. It’s not their priority for today. And confusion. We want to give them that structure so that they know exactly what they’re doing now and what they’re doing to do next. So in action like trying to get over these little for motivation, monsters looks like super short, bite sized lessons, right? We want to be really clear in what we’re teaching them and telling them We call those learning objectives. So at the end of this lesson, you’re going to be able to blank like like that’s your objective. That’s what you’re learning here. Again, that obvious structure that they can track their progress on. And then anytime you can, answering the question of why do I need to learn this? That connects them to like the larger journey. If you’re taking a course on social media and someone gives you a lesson about mindset. You might go Wait, I thought we were learning about social media. Where does mindset fit in? If I don’t tell you where mindset fits in, you’re not gonna think that it’s important and you’re not going to pay attention as much right?

Jen Vazquez

You’ve already lost them at that point. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I know that you are really big on designing a curriculum rather than content. Yeah. Which sounds great, but I’m not really sure what the difference is. So can you help me out because I’m sure others probably are curious as well.

Steph Woods

Yeah, of course. Um, so I think our Word of the day or one of this podcasts podcast is sponsored by the word intentional, right? So the biggest difference between a curriculum and content is that it’s intentional. Or intentionally creating a path for your students and laying them out this journey to get them to their goal. I think of content as kind of like the tips and tricks and the stuff that we see on Instagram. They’re like little bite sized information, serving a variety of different purposes. Like to inspire, to connect to entertain or promote, those are things that content does, but curriculum is more this like very curated journey or set of information that has the purpose of getting you to a transformation. It’s when you develop that clear purpose and the process that they’re going to do and is it becoming the the product that you have to craft an effective learning experience that your students don’t get just from like binging content, how many times you go down Instagram, rabbit holes on some Yes. And you’re like, Okay, this all sounds really good. And then you just take a step back and go, Oh, well, what do I do?

Jen Vazquez

Yeah, exactly. Let’s again, we have a lot of people taking like education, listening, listening, listening, but very, very few are actually doing that next step, which is implementing everything that they’ve learned,

Steph Woods

putting it into action.

Jen Vazquez

Amazing. Before we get to the gift that you so genuinely sleep generously shared are sharing with the audience. Tell everybody about your exciting masterclass you have coming up. I’m so excited to attend but I want to make sure you let everybody else know about there.

Steph Woods

I’m super excited because I’ve been working on this masterclass and putting together what’s actually in it and it is going to be so juicy and good. We are talking about how to design an online course that actually gets results without overwhelming yourself in the process. Even if you have really no idea where to start, or you are super swamped with one on one client work or you don’t feel like an expert. Because really, at the end of the day, like we’ve all bought those courses that looked really great on the sales page. And then you get into didn’t

Jen Vazquez

deliver didn’t solidly Yeah, yeah.

Steph Woods

And I think that at least the people that I talked to you and the people that are in my or in our orbit, like they actually care about getting their students results like that’s a big thing. And I can tell you even from experience, before I kind of started infusing my courses, infusing my clients courses with these tools that like when people don’t get results, it’s disheartening. You go Oh, is what I’m doing wrong is what I’m doing. No, no. And so people really want their students to be successful not only because not only will it give you the confidence to talk about your course, right because if I’m going to sell something, and I and let’s face it, selling is talking about a thing over and over and over. Yes, I have to talk about something and I don’t think that it actually works. I’m going to be a little shy about it and I’m not going to be able to sell it as as great as I would if I knew that it worked and I had confidence that I’m like changing people’s lives sometimes. I think, Oh, is that really dramatic to say that you’re changing someone’s life with your digital course. But no, I don’t think it is. I think like what we want to do is we want to create courses that create transformations and that is changed.

Jen Vazquez

Absolutely so in courses can absolutely do that if they’re designed with curriculum in mind versus that content. Exactly,

Steph Woods

exactly. So in this masterclass I’m gonna have some of my best tools to kind of like stop this overwhelm of this daunting task of creating a course it’s not daunting. I’ll tell you. Well, I believe

Jen Vazquez

Wait a second. It is daunting. Unless you have someone like you in your corner to help you along the way for sure. Yeah.

Steph Woods

But yeah, so we’re talking about things like five myths, things that like our experts out there are saying that I don’t agree with that. I don’t I don’t believe that’s holding you back from creating this course. Because you’re hearing these things. You’re thinking these things. Now get rid of them. We’re talking diving a little deeper into that. Course sweetspot, figuring out how to figure out exactly exactly what it is and then how to validate it. And then we’re talking about a couple of different ways that courses grow your business, other than just the income like courses aren’t just about the income and even the impact that you’re making like courses, do these like magical things to your business that I’m not gonna give it away but I talked about I talked about

Jen Vazquez

Yeah, I was gonna say Don’t Don’t give it away. We’re gonna have the link for sure down below. So please, please, please check out the notes and stuff is generously giving us a kickstart download, which is really exciting. So tell everyone what’s in there. Yes.

Steph Woods

So my digital course kickstart kit. And it is the basically the first three steps when you start creating a course and exactly what you need to get clear on before you get to that. That outline stage. However, we talked about it a little bit. For there’s some great stuff in there too. Like how do I know if I’m ready to create a course. That’s good. And then we talk about the difference between an offer that’s a seed, a plant or a garden, which is a metaphor I use for the kind of courses that people create that are kind of doomed for the from the start, which all it’s in the kickstart kit, so I won’t spoil that one either. But, um, but yeah, there’s lots of great stuff in there, what to think about, and how to shift your mindset towards creating a course that actually gets those results.

Jen Vazquez

I’m so excited that I finally got you on the podcast and YouTube channel for this interview. Your advice is valuable and actionable. What is the best way to get in contact with you in case anyone wants to take the conversation further? Obviously, I’ll have all the links down below. Yeah,

Steph Woods

I think I am the most responsive on Instagram. Quite honestly, I love meeting people through DMS. So jump on Instagram. My handle is step Woods dot CEO. Hence Say hi. Say Hey, I heard you on Jen’s podcast. I’d love to meet you hear about where you are in your course journey.

Jen Vazquez

And if you guys have found some ideas, inspiration or tips to toward this content, I would love so much for you to leave a review. I’m trying to grow the podcast side of my business as well as YouTube. But I just would love to have you tell us like what you liked about it. Also, I think it’s very important that you go out there and take action. So take action today by snagging stuffs gift and gift and absolutely

Blog Ideas for Photographers that will help with SEO and book clients

Blog Ideas for Photographers that will help with SEO and book clients

You may be asking why I’m talking about writing this blog as a Pinterest expert, but blogs are so important when you are marketing your business on Pinterest. Pinterest is an amazing and easy way to spread your information and build a strong online presence both of which are key to generating leads and finding new clients.  Many of my Photography Pinterest Management clients struggle to know what to blog about, so I thought I would share ideas that I’ve given to them to help you start blogging or blogging more.  I hope you get inspired and start blogging today!

Don’t Forget to Pin It!

Design a digital course that takes your student by the hand + empowers them to get massive results
Design a digital course that takes your student by the hand + empowers them to get massive results
Design a digital course that takes your student by the hand + empowers them to get massive results
Design a digital course that takes your student by the hand + empowers them to get massive results
photo of steph woods being interviewed about digital course creation and design