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Wearing the Hat of an Online Course Instructor
by Alice J. Wisler

As writers wanting to make a living, we have to wear many hats. Over the years we learn not to expect all our income to spring from one source. The expert writers who have been in this field for decades tell us that in addition to publishing books, e-books and writing articles on a variety of topics, we need to dig deeper to see what else lies within us.

How about an online writing course?

When interest sparked from a woman who hosted online writing workshops, I sent my course to her for consideration. My topic was writing through grief and my workshop was called, Writing the Heartache. Over the years, I'd presented this course to a live audience at seminars and conferences. Because of this, I had plenty of material and fit it all into the lessons and then created a course objective. The woman was unable to offer my course on her website because it wasn't a perfect match to line up with what else she was offering. My course was grief; her workshops were more for the novel-writing types.
Now, what was I to do?
Well, I had a website. And I had connections to those who, like me, had a child die. I'd start there. I promoted the course through my e-zines and through bereavement organizations. That was six years ago. Since then I've offered Writing the Heartache, a writing through grief and loss workshop, and am happy to say that people have consistently signed up and paid to discover how writing through the hardships of life can benefit their health.
So how does creating a writing workshop and offering it to the masses work? Here's how.

Topic: Make sure this is a topic you enjoy and have a considerable knowledge of. I appreciate a lot of things in life, but would never offer a course on how to write murder mysteries or how to barbeque duck because those topics are not in my line of expertise. Since the death of my son, I live and breathe the tremendous benefits of grief writing.

Interest to others: You want the topic to have appeal to others. Do a Google search to see what comes up when you type in your topic. Jot down the names or groups of those who would want to take your course.
Start with an objective: In two to three sentences write what the purpose of the workshop is and what folks who take it can expect to get out of it.

Create a course with lessons: Let your mind soar with creativity! What do people need to know and do in order to master the objective? Break the course into segments with assignments you can send to your participants each week.

Determine length of course: As you look over your material, how long will it take for attendees to successfully complete the course? My Writing the Heartache Workshop is five weeks long because of the five lessons I have to cover the objective, while my Writing the Psalms course is only three weeks.
Format of the course: How will you send the course materials and lessons to the participants? I place each lesson in a separate Microsoft Word file to send out every week.
Cost of the course: I started charging a very reasonable amount for my five-week Writing the Heartache workshop ($30) and over the years, have only increased that amount by five dollars. Determine how much to list as the price of the course---not too low or too high. Your time is valuable and you are going to be spending time reading the assignments and commenting on them.
Payment for the course: If you don't have one yet, open a PayPal account. Go to the Merchant Services tab after signing into PayPal ( http://www.paypal.com ) and by following the directions, create a Buy Now button for your website. Paste the HTML code into your webpage where you are showcasing your workshop. You can also open a post office box or use an existing one so that people can send payment for the course by checks made out to you.

Setting dates: Once you decide when to start your workshop and when it will end, get busy promoting it.

Get the word out: Spread the news on all the social media sites, your website, blog, and in email messages to friends and family. Send an announcement about your workshop to everyone and ask others to pass it along to those who might benefit from your course.
And smile wide because it feels good to wear the hat of an online course instructor!

© Copyright 2011, Alice J. Wisler

Alice J. Wisler, author of the Southern novels Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation (Bethany House), lives and writes in Durham, NC. On sunny days, she places her decorative tri-fold poster board with pictures and information about her novels out by her mail box. Email her for more ways to build your sales at wisler@mindspring.com. Visit her website at http://www.alicewisler.com

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