Online Courses: One Sure Path to Success



I just started taking a new online course and it’s been superb.

Before I get to the ‘one path to success’ promised in the headline, a backgrounder: Besides launching Side Project Plan, I also host the Freelance to Founder podcast for Millo. I took over with season two and we’ve got season three interviews kicking off within the next week.

This is how I put together episodes:

Freelance to Founder Podcast - 300x300The Freelance to Founder podcast workflow

  1. Interview my guest via Skype, recording the call in two ways:
    1. With my portable recorder.
    2. With Ecamm’s Call Recorder for Skype app on my Mac.
  2. Listen to the episode and jot down key points from my interview where my guest either had wonderful aha! moments, insightful moments from their childhood, or interesting lessons in how they run their business today.
  3. Write my narration for the episode, picking out the key quotes from my guest that I’d insert to reinforce the point.
  4. Record my narration in Hindenburg software.
  5. Drop in the audio for Preston Lee’s intro and sponsor ad reads.
  6. Drop in audio of my guest’s quotes.
  7. Add background music.
  8. Add the intro and outro.

I should clarify that this was my typical workflow. It was derailed due to my beloved MacBook Pro’s logic board melting down after recording three or four episodes and having to record on-the-go with another laptop and software for the last four to five.

The result? I was minimally satisfied with the production quality of season two. (Side note: I was also minimally satisfied with how I conducted the interviews, but I’ve already remedied that with a revised approach.)

I resolved to do a few things regarding production quality for season three:

  1. Upgrade my hardware.
  2. Improve my technique.
  3. Streamline my process.

I’ll spare the rest of the boring details. I’ve gone too deep as it is. But suffice it to say, I have that new hardware, in the form of a Zoom H6 recorder. It’s phenomenal, and I’ve previously owned a Zoom H5 so it’s familiar—but it’s advanced enough compared to that H5 that it’s intimidating.

There’s an online course for that

Daniel J. Lewis’s Zoom H6 for Podcasters to the rescue. It’s my latest online training course. It just so happens that I learned Daniel was preparing this course in a Slack community we’re both members of, after I’d already committed to buying the H6. And it just so happens that his course went live two days after my H6 arrived at the home this past week. That’s fortunate.

My last online course was the seanwes offering, 30 Days to Better Writing. The bar was set high, in other words. Sean is comprehensive in everything he does. One of Sean’s great talents is putting himself in the position of his learners. Though he’s personally mastered the principles he teaches, he’s able to think like someone who hasn’t and writes to that person.

That’s a crucial teaching principle: You’ve got to be able to think like your student.

For example, Sean talks about how important it is to get inside peoples’ weekly cycles. A short excerpt:

“Weekly output is the minimum if you want anyone to notice or care. Everyone can commit to publishing weekly. Everyone. If you can’t commit to a weekly output, then you don’t really believe in what you’re doing! You’re not sold on the benefits of writing and staying top of mind. In other words, you’re just kidding yourself.”

“You have to commit to this.” 

Daniel has a very different style from Sean, and this course is more video-based (where Sean’s is text-based), with transcription.

Here’s Daniel J. Lewis’s sure path to online course success

But Daniel was super smart to create this course for five reasons. I’m absolutely certain it’s going to be a success for him:

1. He chose a topic that no one is really teaching about

If you Google “Zoom H6 online course” or something along those lines, you’ll only find a short series by B&H, this Skillshare series, and some okay tutorials bouncing around YouTube. Everything is an overview and nothing is in-depth.

An increasing number of podcasters are upgrading their equipment to improve their show quality. The Zoom H6 is becoming the most-recommended recording device, besides one’s computer, which is always risky to record with, whether Mac or PC.

2. He chose a niche audience

I could watch some of the YouTube videos or the others I mentioned in the last section. In fact, I did. The advantage of Daniel’s online course is that his content is focused on podcasters. So the scenarios he highlights and the settings he recommends are those that make sense for podcasters.

There are many videographers who are using the Zoom H6 in tandem with their videography work. I don’t want to watch a video addressing those professionals and then have to imagine how it relates, or guess how to change certain settings for my situation. Daniel is speaking to me with his course.

3. He built an online course the hardware maker should have provided

Every hardware maker provides a manual in multiple languages. While I like having these manuals for quick reference on-the-go, I dislike having to find information in them; it’s painstaking.

Zoom does a decent job with product feature videos on YouTube. But they’re not comprehensive. Their manual could have been made available in video form. But they didn’t! (Nobody does this for their hardware—why is this???)

Daniel saw the gap: Build the course that Zoom could or should have created. Just like others have written ebooks that are positioned as the manual Company X should have provided, Daniel has created the video online course Zoom should have provided.

4. He made each lesson bite-sized

Making lessons bite-sized does several things:

  • It makes it easier for the creator to build the overall course. With shorter lessons, you’ll have less likelihood of making a mistake where you’ll have to re-shoot the entire lesson. Smart.
  • It makes it easier for learners to go back and rewatch a lesson. With a laser-like focus for each lesson, learners can glance at the syllabus and know exactly which lesson they should fire up to review a lesson later.
  • It makes the online course’s value appear greater. What sounds better: A 6-video course for $79, or a 25-video course for $79?

That third one isn’t a joke. It’s a real path to success.

5. He added audio transcriptions to his videos

I’m a visual learner. Not everyone is, but I am. While I loved reading Sean’s content because it’s so compelling, I wanted more hands-on training with my new Zoom H6. Video is what I prefer in general, and what I needed for this training.

But knowing that plenty of people also like the text available, Daniel transcribed his audio and provided that text, almost exactly word for word. That makes it easier for me to reinforce my learning. I can copy some of his text and add it to my Apple Notes to remember.


I’m looking forward to launching my own online course this winter. Though I’m not training on the use of hardware, I’ll follow some great principles I saw in Sean’s online course and in Daniel’s latest.

And if you’re a podcaster who uses the Zoom H6 reading this, you’ve got to enroll in his course. Very few online courses are as comprehensive and accessible for just $79.

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