Expand Your Reach
Expand your reach and start connecting
We often hear new instructors say they’re hesitant to market themselves, they don’t feel like they have a network, or they just don’t know where to start. But there are almost certainly people who are eager to see what you’ve been working on! When you shift your thinking from “I’m selling something” to “I’m sharing with people who want to learn what I offer” you will find things much easier. Think of this first step as generating good karma and getting to know your potential students.
- Think about all the networks you’re part of or have wanted to join
- Review your target student description and research where your students hang out online
- Sign-up or join those communities and start getting to know your students
What instructors say
“Just find people, whether in person, or online, to engage with authentically. I teach a lot of leadership and personal development type stuff, so what I’ve found that works for me is to share with other people experiences from my own life where I’ve applied the techniques I teach in my course. …[T]he only really unique thing that I can bring to the topic is my own experience with it, so that’s what I try to do.” – Jonathan E.
“Daily search for hashtags related to your course topic (in my case, #marathon #marathontraining #halfmarathon #running) on social media. Every social media platform has a search function which is updated in real time. Look, like, and comment on whatever is hash tagged. Offer useful help and/or where they can find the solution to a problem. Real engagement is key. Include a course coupon link in your social media bio, so when they look at your profile they can click to access your course.” – Simon S.
Focus on giving information versus selling
Decide on a few websites, groups, or social media sites you want to experiment with, and join or update your profile. Remember that you’re just joining the party, so behave as if you would socially, not as a salesman. The goal is to show that you are informed about your topic and able to discuss it in a way people can understand and find appealing. Start out by posting or offering useful information and generally being of service.
Try different techniques and styles when answering questions, offering information, or responding to others in chats. You’re going to be looking for what resonates with people, and also gathering information about their problems, questions, and goals. This is a process of trial and error, and you’ll learn a lot about your students both by what works and what doesn’t.
If you join a group or site but realize it’s not where your target student is, don’t give up. There’s a lot out there, so keep expanding your circle. You can ask what other groups people are part of, and go look there. Eventually you’ll have a handful of sites and groups to work with.
What instructors say
“I have a cooking course, so I piggyback on other food/cooking publications’ posts on FB or LinkedIn offering my perspective, whether I agree or disagree or teach a complementing technique. For instance, Bon Appétit frequently posts about poaching eggs. Their method has never worked for me, so I like to share their post, describing my experience and linking to a YouTube video of my approach, which then pitches the course.” – Jenna E.
Where to look for your community
- Start with who you know. Keep spreading the news in your personal network.
- Professional and alumni networks. List out every group you’re a part of or could be a part of. It might be from several years ago, but that’s fine. Check back in with these groups and follow them on social media or sign up for their newsletters. You will be surprised how long people remember contacts! See what they have been doing and get back into the circle.
- In real life. Every time you attend a meetup, event, conference, or social event such as church, school, or community meetings, you are interacting with people who might be interested in learning from you. Use your face-to-face meetings to ask questions and see how they react. Test ideas and ask for opinions.
- YouTube. You just completed filming a course and perfected your audio and video skills. This is a community of people you’re already similar to! Create a YouTube account and fill in your profile. Next you’ll use this to promote some of your own course videos, but for now just start commenting and liking other videos to get started.
- Make a Facebook business page and find groups. If you have a personal Facebook page you might be tempted to use that, but it’s not professional and your friends might find too much promotion annoying. Create a business page and start posting articles about your topic, trends, and other items of interest to your audience. Facebook groups are a good way to find collections of people interested in a topic.
- Brush up your contacts on LinkedIn. Your professional network includes people you’ve met at conferences, former colleagues, and others in your industry. Don’t worry about overlapping contacts between social media sites.
- Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and more. Use hashtags, conduct searches, and keep looking. When you see someone who is the student you want, see who they follow and interact with. You’ll probably also learn things that could inspire another course!
What instructors say
“Experts know that they aren’t the only expert in their field. Take the time to create a “helpful resource list” of other people’s stuff in your market to help your students progress. Read a few books by other people in your field and review them for your audience. Position yourself not just as a knowledgeable person in your field but as a great overall resource and the “go to” person on your topic.” – Sean K.