Pitfalls of Buying Online Courses – It’s Not All Lamborghini’s & Bikini’s!
11 min read
How to decide on the right online courses:
When was the last time you saw a sales pitch for an online course or seminar?
I bet that you’ve seen at least one ad for an online course within the last few days, am I right?
That’s because the internet is almost like a year-round Christmas Sears Catalog where you can pick and choose what you want to learn about! Anything from being a beer judge, paleontologists, dog psychology classes – almost anything you can think of can be learned online.
If you know what you’re looking for, you can dig through all of these available online course options like a paleontologist digs for fossils, to find the most information-heavy and beneficial course for you.
You simply have to do your research and find the right fit for what you are looking for.
Do you know how to decide on the right online courses for you? In case it’s fuzzy, I wanted to write some pointers on how to choose the right online course for you.
Why would you need to go through all of this research before you buy an online course?
Well, it depends how much the course is. Courses range from $50 dollar up to thousands of dollars. If you’re dropping $5k on a course, you better be looking around to make sure you get the value for the money, otherwise, you can put that money towards the down payment on that car you’ve been eyeing!
Not all online courses are created equal
In fact, because most courses are created by freelancers or normal people such as ourselves, you can imagine that some courses will be packed with information that you could find simply by using some Google-Fu and internet scrounging. Unfortunately, you will find some courses full of fluff, while others are jam-packed full of knowledge.
It’s the nature of the beast.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is
The old advice is true. Your “scam” nose should be ready to sniff these courses out quickly so that you can focus on finding the most valuable ones.
Just because it worked for them doesn’t mean it will work for you
As an entrepreneur and someone looking to build a business online, you should always be tuned in to what works for you, or what can be harmful to your success.
You need to be able to identify what information you should be learning – because the learning never stops! Make sure you are focused on the right topics.
The course writers with the Lamborghinis in the background, always on vacation, beautiful ‘gram photos – it all sounds amazing….
But it’s also likely that the students who took the course may not have the same results. There are too many reasons to list as to why the students may not have found the same success.
However, in the scientific field, the only way to prove that something is true or real is to replicate the study repeatedly.
Your mileage may vary quite widely, but the only way to prove that a course works is to have repeatable results for more than one person.
The gentleman who drives the Lamborghini could be selling you a course on how he became successful. However, there are people who are only successful from selling their courses but claim their success came from a particular project. Be aware of this.
How to verify the course you’re thinking about buying
Are the course content creators reachable?
If you come across a course that seems excellent, I think it’s important to know if you can reach the creator at any point with questions, concerns, or support.
Someone who genuinely cares about your success in their course is the type of person you want to buy from. Their focus should be 100% on providing value and support to you. Even Tony Robbins is reachable and works 1:1 with his students in his live events. Who is promoting the course? Who runs all of the advertising webinars? Keep an eye on that…
Don’t believe all of the testimonials on the landing sales page. Google around to see what actual students who have bought the course are saying. Look on their Facebook groups or other blog posts.
Also, be aware the some of these “reviews” are actually affiliate links (which they legally have to disclose to you). This means that these are students who went through the course, but then decided to promote the course as well, and now earn a commission for each course bought through their link. How much do you trust that person’s review?
NOTE: It’s not a terrible thing to make money on sharing an affiliate link with a course you’ve taken. In fact, it’s an essential part of making money online today.
However, I do think it’s important to be educated on this and to make an informed decision, which will help you in the long term. We’re lookin’ out for you, babe!
How old is the course?
If the course is more than a year or two years old, especially if it’s a course on anything having to do with sales, internet, marketing, e-commerce, etc. – then you are likely receiving outdated information.
Is it a live course? Do they update it? Is it free for life?
UNLESS the course has “live” updates or a “lifetime membership when you purchase, you may want to avoid this type of course. If you’re buying a course on how to make knitted hats out of your cat’s hair, or churning butter, I’m pretty sure there’s not going to be any new information – so be aware of what type of content you’re looking to consume.
How active are the course members?
A few months ago a company wanted us to launch their products internationally for them in our Amazon FBA business. A simple post in one of these groups connected me with someone who lives in that country who was also in my same position. This person was invaluable and so generous with helping me navigate the unknown waters of this project.
There have been multiple times where I’ve needed help and someone has jumped in to answer questions, offer support, or simply just an ear to listen to me when I’m stressed.
Sharing information is vital to operating a good Facebook group and is valuable to your students if you are a course author! Therefore, it’s important that the course you’re joining has an active group that you can participate in. These Facebook Groups can sometimes be more beneficial than the course itself.
The members are really the gold in the mine, here. Often, the best information doesn’t even come from the course creator, it comes from its peers!
To see if a Facebook group is active, look up the group and scroll down to “Activity”. This will show you
- When the group was created
- How many posts there are recently
- How many members
Look at the course outline
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when reviewing the outline:
- Do you know over 25% of the information in the course? If so, find a different course that’s more advanced.
- Can you find most of the information in a book or another source?
- Is it going to take too much time to learn everything from a book or video?
- How valuable is your time?
Does it fit your learning style?
Are you looking for a course that has more checklists with small actionable items to follow? Or are you looking for something that is more concept-based, where you can fill in the blanks yourself?
I’ve taken both types of courses, and mentally I’m always aware of what I think is missing in the course. I learn better with examples and to-do lists, which motivates me to finish the course and helps me feel accomplished.
Compare courses to its competitors
What content is the course you’re looking at missing, in comparison to others available? (some course makers share proprietary content, while others won’t show all the steps involved. I don’t blame them, but make sure you’re getting your values worth).
How much does it cost compared to its competitors?
A higher cost course might be more beneficial because of either the amount of information available along with the community offered (often a mastermind group). Here’s a link to read more about how course authors price their product: https://www.thinkific.com/resources/pricing-online-courses/
How much free information are they sharing compared with their competitors?
This will tell you if they are providing enough valuable information. Those course writers who give you a lot of valuable information up front have your best interests in mind and are looking to provide you with the most value possible.
After you join, make sure you get your money’s worth
Make sure you finish the course.
Did you know that 90% of students don’t finish a course they purchased? (https://blog.withcoach.com/how-to-engage-the-90-of-students-who-dont-finish-your-online-course-c8d90149c152)
Why buy it if you aren’t going to finish it?
It’s a sense of self-respect if you don’t finish the course. You’re disrespecting yourself by not taking on the full potential that could be if you had finished.
It’s important to participate in conversations in the group
Bringing together people who have knowledge in all different areas, people who have experiences in different things, strengths and weaknesses, the benefits of interacting with these people can be invaluable.
I’ve learned SO much from Facebook groups that I wouldn’t have gotten in a course itself such as new ideas, secrets of the trade – It’s important to be active and participate so that you can gain the knowledge of these things! (Does it remind you of back in your college days where you were required to post on bulletin boards? XD)
Sometimes I’ll see posts that no one has responded to. Why not respond to them? You may just make a new friend! This is what keeps a group lively, exciting, and informative.
Be kind and respectful of the course creators, don’t overuse their return policy
With digital products, it’s a very slippery slope when it comes to returns. As the course creator, you don’t know if your students simply copied all of the information or consumed the information (which likely has happened).
The course creator still needs to make a living, even to continue providing value to you as their customer.
Aaaand this is pretty much why all music artists are angry at the internet!
Be aware of this sales pitfall:
Content creators sometimes will open their doors for a limited period of time. Don’t be fooled, this is only for “pressure” and a sense of urgency. Remember that if you don’t purchase the course now, you ARE NOT missing out. You can simply join in the next time – or there might be a better course out there!
Before you run out and grab your Lamborghini, make sure you do your research and buy the right course, so you can actually pay that car payment!
You don’t want to be paying for their sports car while you sit in your ancient ’98 Honda after regretfully buying their expensive course!
Although these are mostly insights to watch out for when buying a course, I do encourage always learning new things! Go ahead, go BUY SOMETHING!?
Ready to buy your first online course?
So, now you know how to decide on the right online courses for you! You have learned what to look out for, the pitfalls, pros and cons of buying a course, and how to decide if that course is right for you!
If you’ve already purchased a course online before, tell me, what’s your favorite one? Do you think you could have easily learned it online from Youtube or some other source? Share in the comments below!
If you have any questions, I’d love to hear them, let’s work on it together!