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Choosing the best software for your online course, programme, or digital product can get… a little overwhelming, to say the least. You know what you want to create, but the question now is, how the heck do you make that happen?

✦ Where does your content live?
✦ What features do you need?
✦ How do your students pay?
✦ Is this going to be a complete pain in the behind to set up?

Before you know it, you’re buried under an avalanche of shopping cart systems, course platforms and membership sites. You’re Googling and YouTubing and clicking from shiny option to shiny option thinking, “ooh, maybe this one’s the answer, it looks amazing!” then,” Wait, that’s how much per month??”

Stop! Step away from the laptop and take a breath.

Here are 5 simple steps to get you out of software analysis paralysis and into action with creating your product.

Get Crystal Clear on Exactly What You Need

The fastest route to overwhelm is to start searching through course hosting and digital product tools without being clear on your non-negotiables and your nice-to-haves.

Here are a few questions to kickstart your thought process:

  • Are you creating a course, membership, digital product, or hybrid?
  • What’s your budget?
  • What are the key features you want, e.g., members’ community, robust analytics, gamification, engagement tracking, etc.?
  • How customisable does the platform need to be?
  • Do you need it to integrate with software or tools you already have?
  • Would you prefer the ease of an all-in-one platform, or are you ok with connecting tools together to get what you want?
  • Are there specific payment options you need to cater for?
  • Will you have help with building out and setting up your course or are you going solo?

The answers to questions like these will help you to filter out the noise a bit and get specific on what you’re searching for.

Do Your (Time-Limited) Online Research

Once you’ve got your list of key features, it’s time to start searching for software that fits the bill. So that you don’t fall down the research rabbit hole, put a limit on how long you’ll spend here. And if you’re fairly new to course creation (or don’t have any help with this), I suggest sticking with the more well-known platforms.

The last thing you want is to end up spending hours wrestling with a complicated setup or, worse still, dealing with tricky tech or poor customer support down the line. I’m not saying there aren’t some lesser-known gems out there, but these platforms are popular for a reason and for the moment, we’re keeping it simple with the goal of getting your product up and running as swiftly and smoothly as possible.

Ask Those in the Know

Next, it’s time to ask for some recommendations for those who’ve been where you are. Think about:

✦ Business friends/colleagues who’ve already launched courses, programmes or products
✦ Asking in trusted Facebook groups, networking sessions or other entrepreneurial communities you might be part of.

If you work with a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager (or have a business friend who does), they often have some excellent insights to share on this topic. There is of course the option of throwing the question out to a wider audience by asking on your social media platforms, but be wary that you’re going to get a huuuuge range of opinions here, which might just confuse the situation further.

Try Them on for Size

Now you’ve got your shortlist narrowed down to 2 or 3 solid options, look for an opportunity to actually access and play around with the software you’ve got in mind. Lots of the bigger platforms offer free trials, so you can really get a feel for the setup and how it might work for you. If that’s not possible, you need to think outside the box a bit. Do you have a business friend who’s already using the platform you’re considering? If it’s appropriate, ask them if you could have a peek into the interface (without compromising any client data of course!), or at least a quick whistle stop tour.

Take The Plunge and Go For It

The honest truth is there’s no one perfect solution for your course or programme tech… but there are TONS of platforms that will do an absolutely excellent job.

This is the point where you need to make your decision, hop off that fence and get creating.

Remember that nothing is set in stone. Yes, it’s true that it might cause some extra work and hassle down the line, but you can always swap software later on if it’s really not working out for you.

So many business owners get tripped up by the possibilities at this point of the process, so don’t let choosing the tech be a block to getting your knowledge and expertise out into the world. Think simple – you can always add on more bells and whistles as you go, but the key thing is to get stuck in and get started.

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