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11 Ways to Make Your Online Course Go Global as a Freelance Professor

Author, speaker and qualified educator Sarah Cordiner explains how to get started as a freelance educator and reach a global student base online.

recent article by Fast Company interviewed three futurists about what they believed will be the most in-demand jobs in 2025, and the “freelance professor” made it solidly to this list. Joe Tankersley, a futurist and strategic designer at Unique Visions, said, “The continued growth of online courses and the introduction of alternative accreditations will spawn a growth in freelance or independent professors. By 2025, all you need to start your own university is a great online teaching style, course materials and marketing plan.”

The booming demand for self-study, on-demand and access-anytime training and education is evident through the popularity of platforms like Udemy and Coursera. Whether you teach K–12 math, train aviation engineering or lecture on English literature, the online learner is ready and waiting for your course. 

Many educators are shifting away from their traditional teacher, trainer and professor roles at brick-and-mortar institutions and realizing the benefits of freelancing, such as sharing their expertise beyond the walls of their classroom and earning extra compensation. By adding online courses to their teaching portfolio, they can go from an employee to their own walking, talking, passive income-earning university; and now is the perfect time to start building it.

As soon as you put your professional training into an online format, you immediately open it up to a global marketplace. However, while many educators are sensational in their field of work, marketing may not be something they have had the opportunity yet to master. Up until now, the institution they have been working for has provided a room full of students and its brand power. Going online and become a freelance ‘edupreneur’ means learning how to get your course out to the world yourself. And there is a lot more to that than simply pressing ‘publish’.

I have more than 40 online courses of my own, have built close to 1,000 courses for other people and currently have more than 9,000 students enrolled in my online courses in more than 130 countries.

In this article, I will share 11 tips that I have used to grow my global student base, so that you can grow yours too.

1) Break it Up Into Its Smallest Parts

Consumers are in control of their knowledge because now they can Google search ‘how to XYZ’ and quickly find an answer. With this in mind, a great way to rapidly go global is to start providing your audience with those answers.

You also need to keep in mind that in the big, open online market, your potential customers may not know if they want your course yet. (They might not even know it exists yet.) This means that you need to simplify any over-technical or academic language to the search terms that they might be using to find information like yours on the internet.

If your content appears as one of the top results for every ‘how to’ question that your audience has, then it is your online courses that they are going to buy.

Here’s what to do:

  • Write down every question that your audience has on your topic;
  • Write a simple ‘tip’ answer to each question;
  • Record that tip as a video;
  • Keep each video as close to the 2-9 minute mark as you can. Please note that it is not wrong to film longer videos than this at all. It’s just that the modern day online learner may not watch the entirety of a video that exceeds this length and therefore may not get the full value of your content;
  • Add the video to YouTube, your own blog and social media, ensuring it has a ‘how to’ title that is the most likely to be searched by your audience.

Every video you add increases your chances of being found by your audience as ‘the one who has all of the answers.’ If you achieve this kind of recognition, your future courses will become a no-brainer for them to take.

2) Add Smaller Pieces of Your Courses to Marketplaces

Online course marketplaces are like the supermarkets of online courses. They are big, powerful, have huge reach and big customer numbers. One downside to using them, however, is that you (as the course owner) do not own the student data, or have full control over your course pricing. However, many of them have millions of users — all of whom you have the opportunity to get your course in front of if you have a course on the shelves. Because these marketplaces can highly discount your courses, I advise you to only use a smaller (high-quality) ‘taster’ version of your course on these sites and use them as a way to get yourself in front of millions of customers from around the world that otherwise wouldn’t know you.

Marketplaces like Udemy, also have a corporate membership option which can have your professional and academic training courses offered to businesses to train their staff — increasing your income and your exposure significantly without any extra effort.

3) Add Your Courses to Marketplace Discount Websites

The online course marketplaces have now become so big, they have markets within their own market! There are hundreds of websites and social media groups that are dedicated to sharing discount coupons and promotions for marketplace listed courses. Create a discount coupon and add them to these promotion sites (I have a whole downloadable document of these available in my online course) and you will see a huge influx of international students

4) Start Blogging and Guest Blogging

Every online course is essentially a collection of learning outcomes, key points, tips, advice and strategies for something. Pull out every single key learning point, tip and strategy one by one from your course and for each one write a short blog post about that tip. Not only will your own website be more discoverable in search engine results due to the keyword content and data (meaning that more people will be able to find you), but you can also repurpose those blogs as articles that you can send out to industry-relevant magazines. Getting your article into a popular online magazine could get your course in front of hundreds of thousands of highly-targeted readers and could even win you a regular column as a writer.

5) Run a Webinar

Webinars are the global classroom. There are endless webinar tools out there that are free or very cheap. Start by selecting a handful of tips from your online course. (Hint: The ones that people want to know the most are the best ones to pick.) Next, create a free webinar where you share sensational value and blow your audience's mind. Then, at the end of the webinar, reveal to them that there are ‘X’ more tips just like those that you have to share in your online course. Give them a discount coupon and expect to see some significant enrolments if you wowed them.

6) Hijack YouTube’s Audience

YouTube has more than 1 billion users. You’d be crazy not to tap into that global platform.

Add a selection of the videos from your online course to YouTube. You can now schedule the publication of your YouTube videos so that they drip publish over a period of time, which maximizes your exposure. Create a discount coupon to your course and add it in the YouTube video description box to entice viewers to check out your courses.

7) Create a Free ‘Taster’

Just like the deli counter lets you taste a little square of cheese for free before you buy a block of it, allow your prospective customers to nibble on a piece of your training for free. This will allow them to be assured that you are the expert that you say you are by seeing for themselves.

Create a mini version of your online course and give it away for free as a lead magnet opt-in on your website. Make sure that you let them know that they can upgrade to the full course at the end of the freebie.

8) SEO (Search Engine Optimize) Your Course

Make sure that search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing can find your course so that customers will be able to see it when they search queries. Write down at least 20 keywords and phrases that people might type into these search engines to find a course like yours. Then, look through all of your course descriptions, lecture titles and module titles as well as the course name itself to make sure that they are optimized for search ranking by including the keywords you have selected. Then go into the back end of your website and your online school and ensure that you list all of your keywords and phrases into the SEO areas on your site to increase its chances of being found.

9) Create Your Own Facebook Group

Facebook groups are a fantastic opportunity for you to build strong relationships with your customers. They go way beyond the power of a Facebook page which these days have very little reach without paying. A Facebook group is a way to make your audience feel like they belong to something. If you can create this in your own global community, you will gain loyal fans from around the world forever.

10) Turn Your Courses Into Books and eBooks

Books are another fantastic way to reach your audience at a global level, and these days it's really easy to self-publish one of the most credibility-enhancing mediums out there. Simply send your online course videos to a transcriber, do some heavy re-writing, filling, editing and formatting, upload your book onto the Amazon platform and you’ll immediately have your content open to more than 63 million people.

The added benefit of this is that your book and your courses then begin to promote one another.

11) Create a Podcast

I only started podcasting at the end of 2016 and the first thing I asked myself when I released my first episode is why I hadn't done it sooner.

Create a podcast delivery plan around the content in your online course. The key here is to remember that everyone likes to consume information in different ways, so you don’t have to work 10 times harder to get 10 times the reach. You simply have to take one single video from your course and share it in ways where more people can find it.

The more you can repurpose your content into every different medium possible, the more your global student base will grow.

Here is a free mini-course on how to immediately increase your online course sales

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