Running an online group program is a great way to leverage your time, effort and expertise so you can reach more people and generate more income. (Download your FREE “Create a One Month Program That Keeps On Giving Start Kit – $69 value – here)
Many coaches I work with are aware of these benefits, yet got held back by the “technology” side of things. What tools to use? How to make these tools work together to provide a seamless experience?
Good news is, you only need a few tools (many are free or low-cost) and link them together to provide a professional experience.You might have participated in group programs by some high-level coaches with a lot of bells and whistles, and you feel that you have to build the same platform before you can launch – which of course, is not true!! Keep in mind that it’s your guidance and relevant content that your clients want most from you, not a spiffy membership site to which they can upload their pictures!
Before you go about researching different tools and websites, sit down for a moment and write down how you want your clients to experience the content delivery of your program. Is that through PDF guides, teleseminars or webinars? Do you want to offer online support in-between session, and what level of involvement do you envision? Do you have a lot of supporting materials that you want them to download?
Mapping out the entire user experience can help you focus on selecting the tools that can provide targeted solution, so you don’t have to spend time, money and energy on “extra” stuff that you don’t need. (hello, bright shiny objects!)
Of course, an online group program can take many forms – depending on your expertise, how your materials are best delivered and learned, as well as the preference of your target market. Here are a couple of scenarios you can work off:
1. The Basic Set Up
Let’s say you deliver your coaching through teleseminar. You can sign up for one of the many free conference call services (e.g. startmeeting.com – make sure you can get the recording download link to send to your clients) and email the call-in information to participants (if you only have a handful of participants, you can just set up a list with your email address. If your group is larger, you may want to set up a list with your email newsletter service so you don’t get deliverability issues). If you are just emailing them from your regular email address, you can simply attach any handouts as attachment. You can also upload the handouts to services such as Dropbox and provide the download link in your email.
For the support component, you can create a closed Facebook group that you can invite participants to join and use it as discussion forum. FB is great for interaction, and since most people are already using FB, they are more willing to get on and participate, instead of having to sign into another forum.
2. Up a Notch
To create a more “members only” experience, you can create a hidden and/or password protected page on your website where your clients can have access to all the program materials as they are made available. Participants can just go there to grab what they need and you will be fielding way fewer emails on “where is my stuff?”. Each time new materials are added, you can just email the URL and password to the list of participants (through your regular email or your email newsletter service).
If you want a more involved “forum” experience, you can look at creating membership sites – this will involve some initial set up and cost, and I don’t find that to be necessary unless you have a very elaborated delivery sequence, or if you are doing it as an “evergreen” type of launch. For membership site, you can look at ning.com, or wordpress plug-ins such as Wishlist, Optimized Press or Premise.
These two options should be sufficient if you are running a small to medium size group – I handled a program with 40+ participants with option 2, very smoothly. I sent out notifications via my regular email. Every week when I released new materials, the files were posted on the hidden password protected page (created on wordpress) and participants received an email with the page’s URL and login information. I also created a private Facebook group to add a community and support component (which can help you increase the perceived value of your program).
Ready to design, structure, price and launch your very own program? We can get it done in 4 weeks (or less!!) – let’s chat.