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Convert your offline classes to live-streams in 9 steps

Want to convert your offline classes to live-streams? Follow these 9 steps to start live-streaming your courses today.

April 7, 2020 by Taylor Barbieri

So you’ve decided to convert your offline classes to live-streams, and you’re super excited for the transition. 

But there’s a snag. 

You had a well-oiled machine for promoting and selling your offline courses. You’re not sure how to build an equally smooth system online without months of fiddling. 

The good news is that converting your offline classes to live-streams doesn’t have to take months. In fact, you could probably do it all within a few days. 

But hey, I get it -- climbing a mountain can seem impossible if you don’t break the journey into individual steps. 

That’s why we’ve compiled nine steps educators can follow to transition offline courses to live-streams with minimal headaches. 

So grab your metaphorical hiking boots, and let’s take the first step together. 

How to convert your offline classes to live-streamed classes

Step #1: Select a live-stream provider

Globally, 67% of people have live-streamed a video on any device or platform. 

People don’t just tune in to live-streams to pass the time. 46% of viewers watch streaming or online videos to learn a new skill. 

So you definitely want to pick a live-streaming platform that can deliver the quality of content and education your viewers are accustomed to. 

Fortunately, there are options for virtually every budget. 

Facebook Live, Instagram Live, YouTube Live, and Twitch are all suitable options if you’re looking for a free platform.

(YouTube Live can be especially helpful if you plan on selling your webinars through Podia. Podia integrates with YouTube Live, meaning you can sell your YouTube Live live-streams without any fuss from your Podia website.)

Planet Fitness uses Facebook Live to offer at-home fitness trainings to their customers, as in the video below

Ballerina Tiler Peck used both Instagram Live and Instagram video posts to teach ballet lessons. 

K. Werner Design live-streamed their watercolor tutorial on YouTube. 

As you can see, creators in all niches can launch successful live-streams and webinars through social media platforms. 

But if you’re looking for more advanced features and functionality, you may want to use one of the top webinar platforms instead. They’ll (usually) cost you more and aren’t as easy access as social media, but you get more bells and whistles, including two-way interaction.

Either way, after you decide on a platform, you need to find a payment processor to manage your course fees. 

Step #2: Pick a payment processor 

Online payment processors can help you accept virtually any type of payment. 

PayPal and Stripe are among the most popular options for creators who want to accept payments from multiple countries or who want a payment processor that integrates with many ecommerce platforms. 

Amazon Pay, Braintree (owned by PayPal), and Authorize.net are also popular options.

When picking your payment processor, you’ll minimally want a platform that can handle bank transfers, debit, and credit card transactions, since 62% of online transactions in the U.S. used a card. 

It would be smart to use a platform that doesn’t charge high transaction fees (the standard is 2.9%) or make managing your payments a hassle, too. 

For example, many Stripe users saw decreased management, support, and development staff time costs after using Stripe to handle payments, among other perks. 

One final consideration is to make sure your payment provider syncs up with your website and product pages, which happens to be our third step. 

Step #3: Select an online platform

Chances are your website or product pages builder offers ecommerce capabilities. Unfortunately, not all website builders come with all of the functions you need to sell online courses. 

Many builders aren’t equipped to help you transition to an online format quickly and smoothly, either. 

WordPress may not be a good solution for selling online courses if you don't have much time to deal with technical maintenance, for instance. 

Likewise, platforms like Teachable and Thinkific can be limiting if you ever want to sell anything besides online courses. 

Many other platforms come with limited features. That means you may have to purchase, coordinate, and manage multiple third-party services to run your business. 

Your best bet is probably to pick a platform that takes care of the technical headaches for you. 

As it happens, I know the perfect one to recommend. 

Sign up for Podia so you can sell webinars, online courses, and membership programs from a customized website.

You can create beautiful landing and sales pages that are customized to your brand on Podia, like this stunning example from Swiss Innovation Academy

Store Growerssales page is also worth mimicking.  

You can also use our built-in customer messaging tool for customer service to answer students’ questions, as Coding is for Losers does on their website. 

35% of shoppers want to use live messaging to ask questions about products and services, so it’s not as optional of a feature as you might think. 

Plus, customer messaging can be a much quicker and tidier way of answering customer questions than sorting through piles of support tickets. 

And as a bonus, you can also use an all-in-one platform to implement our fourth step: creating a listing for your course. 

Step #4: Create a listing for your live-streamed course 

Now that you’ve moved your classes online, your students need somewhere to purchase their seats. 

Even if students are attending your course for free, it’s still wise to have a central location where students can enroll in the class. 

To help your students out, build a sales page where students can sign up for and purchase your course. 

Minimally, your sales page should include your course’s price, a brief description, and what students should know about the course now that it’s online. 

If you want to build a sales page that converts more new customers, you should also address commonly-asked questions about your course. 

Organized and Creative Mom included this detailed FAQ section in their SYS 20/20: See Your Stash in a New Light course. 

Customer testimonials and reviews are always a nice addition, so would-be customers can understand what makes your course so special, as well. 

Just consider how beautifully the testimonials on Jamie Keddie’s sales page complemented his persuasive marketing copy. 

One final element worth adding is upselling and cross-selling functionality. Upselling is when you recommend a customer buys an advanced version of your course when checking out. 

For instance, your base course could be just a live-stream. The advanced version could include your course and a private one-on-one session.

Cross-selling, on the other hand, is when you recommend a customer purchase related products in addition to the original purchase. Both upselling and cross-selling can help increase your sales.  

For more details on how to make a standout sales page, check out this guide to writing a high-converting sales page for online courses. 

This is the gist of it:

Create a sales page where students can enroll themselves in your course. Not only does this save you from having to manually enroll each student, but it also gives you the opportunity to upsell or cross-sell to customers more easily. 

Of course, few students will likely find your sales page unless you put our next step into play. 

Step #5: Update your customers about your new class format

You sent an email to your customers to notify them that they can now take the classes through an online format. 

And your email was probably quickly forgotten by most of your students. 

It’s nothing personal -- people get a lot of emails on the day-to-day. If you want to get more students in your course, you’re going to need to send multiple reminder emails. At a minimum, we recommend sending three emails, but you can definitely send more than that.

To start getting the word out about your new format, make an announcement prominently on your business website that you’re now live-streaming classes, as Dabble Events did on their homepage. 

You should also take a note from Dabble Events’ book and explain your online classes’ format and how students can participate, such as on this page for their Spanish cooking class page. 

Next, make sure to repeatedly notify your social media followers of your transition to online courses. 

Barre instructor, Valerie Senior, posted several updates notifying her followers that she was offering live-streamed courses. Her updates also showed excerpts from her courses and thanked students for joining her online courses. 

This post, as an example, encouraged students to message Valerie for information about the courses.

Whereas this post thanked students for their participation. 

And, as I mentioned earlier, don’t forget to send multiple emails notifying students of your transition to online classes, too. 

Send a handful of reminder emails the week or two before your classes launch online. Make sure to send emails for a few weeks after your launch in case students missed your previous messages. 

To ensure students pay attention to each email, mix up your messages. For example, you could send a simple explanation of why you’re going online in one email. 

In a few days, send another email about how you expect the transition to online courses will benefit your students in the long term. You might also share statistics about why online learning is good for students or suggest tools to make their transition easier. 

Let’s look at Planet Fitness’ example. Planet Fitness sent this email reminder to students about how and when they could join live online classes. They also outlined the benefit of joining their classes, namely, that anyone could get an at-home workout even if they had no equipment. 

The same email also recommended music students could listen to during the workout and where they could purchase helpful gear. 

Clear and frequent communication is the name of the game when it comes to notifying students about your new course format. Don’t stress about sending too much information or emails -- as long as you’re not emailing them every day, you’re probably in the safe zone.

OK. At this point, you’ve tended to all of the online aspects of live-streaming your courses, and now you’re ready to prepare the physical “home” of your courses: your recording space. 

Step #6: Prepare your live-streaming space

We’ve all watched a webinar or video where the lighting was wonky or where the presenter had a boring -- or alternatively, too cluttered -- background. 

The good news is that you can record videos for online courses even if you don’t have fancy equipment for props. 

To start, clear a quiet and well-lit space in your home. It doesn’t have to be an entire room, but somewhere that gives you enough space to move around to teach your class. 

It’s okay to have items in the background. Still, make sure your background is tidy and not distracting -- think bookshelves over baskets of laundry. 

If your streaming provider allows it, you could also use a virtual background for your classes. Zoom, for instance, allows presenters to set virtual backgrounds for their streams, as in the example below. 

Natural light, such as near a window, is ideal for lighting your courses. Otherwise, try to gather as many lamps as possible and position them, so they light up you and/or your teaching space. 

Dr. Mark Wolters of Professor Wolters set up a well-lit recording space using his living room’s overhead light and windows, for instance. 

Next, get your hardware. Most creators should be able to shoot professional-quality video on their smartphones, especially since so many live-streaming and webinar tools work well both on mobile and desktop devices. 

Logitech’s C270 webcam, C920 HD Pro webcam, and C930E Business webcam are all suitable options for beginners if you’d rather stream from your computer instead. 

Now, let’s talk about microphones. 

Most smartphones, tablets, and webcams come with built-in microphones, so you probably won’t need to purchase a separate microphone. That being said, a separate mic is a good idea if it offers much better audio quality than your phone or webcam mic. 

Blue’s Snowball iCE and Yeti microphones are some of the most popular microphones for creators across all fields, in small part because of their reasonable price and excellent audio quality. 

Rode’s smartLav+, available at B&H, is also worth considering if you’d prefer a wearable microphone. 

After you’ve gathered all of your recording gear, you’ll want to position your hardware so that your students are close enough to see and hear you, but not so close that your face takes up the entire screen. 

Ulanzi’s phone tripod mount is an affordable option for creators who plan on using their phones to record, as is Aduro’s phone holder for desks. This AmazonBasics 60-inch tripod may be a better fit if you’re recording with a camera. 

Regardless of the equipment you use, don’t neglect how you position them. The wrong position can put a serious damper on a great class and really limit students’ learning experiences.

Consider this yoga teacher as an example. 

They positioned their computer far enough away that students could see how their entire body moved, but not so far that the movements would be hard to see. 

Your final step is to test your live-stream. Make sure the lighting is sufficient, and that it’s not hard to hear you from where your camera and microphone are positioned. 

And then? It’s showtime. 

Step #7: Collect feedback

After you’ve successfully hosted your first live-stream, give yourself a few minutes to bathe in your success. 

After that, get feedback from your students about how you can make the experience better for them. 

Contrary to popular belief, customers are often willing to give feedback. They like it, even.  83% of millennial and Gen Z consumers said they would be more likely to purchase from a company that asked for their feedback.  

And if you think a traditional survey may not work out, you can use a mix of strategies to collect customer feedback instead.

For example, you could send a simple one-question survey, as Would You Rather did in this email. 

While whimsical, you could borrow Would You Rather’s format to gather feedback from customers without bombarding them with a multi-question survey. 

If you need to send something a little longer, follow Food52’s example and assure your students that the survey won’t take up much of their time. 

You could also include the questions in an email or message to your students, as Quora did.  

Alternatively, you could offer customers a reward for completing your survey. In exchange for feedback, Eames promised to enter customers into a giveaway to earn a Hang-It-All. 

Regardless of which strategy you use, I’m sure your live-stream classes will be a hit. But it’s always a good idea to source feedback from your customers so you can continue making your lessons even more valuable for them. 

Speaking of value, don’t skip over our next tip -- it’s essential for maintaining old customers and attracting new ones. 

Step #8: Keep wooing your current and potential customers

Online courses are like offline courses in that you should constantly work to make your current customers happy and bring new business in. 

On the bright side, running classes online could help you scale your business more efficiently than by offering classes only in-person. 

For one, you can now reach students worldwide, as opposed to those who live in your city. You can also hire the best help from around the world to help you run your business, whether that’s an assistant, accountant, or another educator. 

Now that you’re familiar with how to live-stream courses, you could expand your business to include other digital products, too, such as membership programs or ebooks. 

To keep your current customers happy and in attendance, consider thanking them with rewards like discounts, small gifts, and exclusive offers. 

After all, 53.8% of American internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 said discounts were important to their buying decisions. 

Another 61% of shoppers like when brands surprise them with gifts and offers simply for being their customer.

Nurturing your customers with email marketing and videos can enhance your marketing efforts even further. 

In regards to attracting new customers, perhaps the easiest and highest ROI option is to encourage word-of-mouth from your students. 

Many consumers in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America tell their social circles about their favorite products and services at least once a week

For that reason, it’s savvy to not only encourage your customers to spread the word about your brand but incentivize it by setting up a referral or affiliate program

You should also ask for reviews from happy customers. 28% of customers will leave a review after a positive experience. 97% of shoppers consult product reviews when making a purchasing decision. 

You could have an entire section of your website dedicated to reviews, as Larry Silverberg did on his sales page.

You might also follow Mojca Zove’s example and pepper them throughout your sales page. 

Essentially, feature reviews prominently throughout your website so they can sway would-be customers. 

Beyond that, email marketing, organic and paid social media marketing, content marketing, and influencer outreach can all be helpful.  

Of course, the more successful you are with live-streaming your online courses, the more outreach you’re going to have to do -- and for that, you might need some help.

Step #9: (Optional) Hire a virtual assistant

70% of small business owners work over 40 hours a week. Additionally, 81% of entrepreneurs work weeknights, and 89% work weekends. 

Besides that, one-third of small business owners said running a business was harder than they expected. 

We’d wager that whether you consider yourself a solopreneur or entrepreneur, you could probably use a little extra help launching your courses online. 

One way to lighten your load is by hiring a virtual assistant (VA) to help you manage any task which takes up valuable time you could spend elsewhere. 

VAs can handle any tasks imaginable, from answering customer service messages to helping to onboard students to the new online class format. 

VAs can also help you moderate customers’ questions during your live-streams, so you don’t have to continually interrupt the lesson.

Listen, there’s no shame in acknowledging that your time and energy are finite. 

Hiring a virtual assistant or outsourcing business tasks can help you run your business more efficiently without sacrificing your time, health, or course quality. 

Speaking of saving time and energy, let’s look at how simple Podia makes it for creators to sell webinars online. 

How to sell live-streams and webinars with Podia

Need to set up a listing for your live-stream or webinar in a snap?

Podia has you covered. 

Here’s how to do it from your dashboard. If you don’t already have a Podia account, grab a free trial to follow along.

To create your live-stream listing, first head to the “products” button in your dashboard header.

Then click “new product”.

Click the “webinar” option and give it a name that is both descriptive and enticing, something that exclaims to your customers, “I’m the webinar for you.”

Move on to “create and continue” so you can fill out the details for your webinar. 

You can add a category to your listing so customers can more easily find your webinar if they’re looking for a certain type of product.

Next, tell your customers how to join your webinar using the “instructions” box, or add a persuasive description to convince your customers to buy.

Don’t forget to add your YouTube embed link while you’re at it.

Next up, set your webinar’s start and end times and time zone so students can pick the webinar time that best fits with their schedule (remember, there’s no cap to how many webinars you can sell with Podia). 

Your next step is to set up your reminder preferences for students. 

After that’s filled in, scroll back to the top of the page and click “pricing”. 

You can then set the price, payment plan (if any), and upsells (if any) for your webinar. 

Finally, scroll back up and click “published” so your webinar will officially be available for sale. 

And there you go -- you’ve just published a listing for your live-stream or webinar! Give yourself a pat on the back for knocking another item off your to-do list, and then get back to what you do best: creating. 

Start live-streaming your offline classes today in 9 easy steps

I know taking your classes can feel like touring unchartered waters in a flimsy rowboat, but with these nine steps and Podia’s live-streaming feature, you should be able to make landfall before you know it.

To start, you’ll want to:

  • Find a live-streaming platform that supports your course needs and class size
  • Pick a payment processor so you can accept payments
  • Pick an online course platform where you can sell your courses -- and other products -- hassle-free
  • Make a listing for your live-stream course so students can enroll themselves
  • Inform your students that your courses are now online
  • Gather your recording device and prepare your recording space with the appropriate lighting, background, and camera set up
  • Talk with customers to find a way to make your classes better
  • Keep nurturing and delighting your current customers and look for ways to attract new students 
  • Hire a virtual assistant if you need a helping pair of hands

Converting your offline classes to live-streams can have its ups and downs in the beginning. Yet with a little willingness to experiment and determination, you’ll be a live-streaming pro before you know it. 

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