How To Outline Your Digital Course

product Sep 21, 2020


The road ahead is bright!  If you’ve been following these lessons with me, step-by-step, then I just want to say that I’m proud of you and I know you can do this.  Most people don’t make it this far and the fact that you’re here is a testimony of your resolve to make a difference in the world, to change your current situation and get paid well for doing what you love. 

Today, we’re going to talk about creating a course outline.   

This is honestly one of the most painful things to do.  This was when I struggled with procrastination the most.   

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The Joy of the Journal

When I built my first business I knew I would struggle with procrastination and perfectionism but I really wanted to build a blog.  I was on fire and super motivated to start but I knew that eventually I would loose steam and in a matter of days, probably less than a week I would have put it off and it would have never gotten completed.

So I decided very early to do something that has forever changed the way I fight procrastination:

I journal.

From the beginning, I told myself I would journal daily even if I didn't do anything related to my online business.  And you know what? This little trick worked. 

Since I entered the online business arena in 2012, I've missed a few days, in fact, in one case I missed 3 consecutive months of journal writing but that was because of life events everyone experiences.  You just have to promise yourself that you'll journal even if you fail to do anything related to your business and even if you don't really have anything to say.  Here's an excerpt from my journal:

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Download your Brain 

The first step of outlining your course is what I called a “Brain Download”.  You simply want to open a new Evernote document, a new Word Online document, a new file hosted on Dropbox and just start freely typing everything related to your course idea. 

It doesn’t matter how wild or zany your ideas sound.  At this point, the only thing you’re trying to do is to get everything out of your head into a digital document so you can sort through the mess later. 

So again, it doesn’t matter how shocking, controversial, extreme, obscure, or strange your ideas are.  During the brain download stage your chief goal is to simply get everything out of your head.  And when you think you’ve gotten everything out... take an extra 15 minutes to extract the last remaining bits hanging out in the often-forgotten corners of your mind. 

These ideas include stories you could tell to bolster your message or even examples you want to share to strengthen your content.  Your ideas could include quotes you vaguely remember, lesson ideas and module ideas. 

During the Brain Download stage I would devote a solid uninterrupted 90 minutes for this task.  I know that sounds like a lot but you don’t want you to rush this part.  

Also don’t worry if you don’t think you’re qualified to teach the ideas you’ve dumped.  If you feel like you haven’t researched the material that is fine for now.  We just need to  dump EVERYTHING from your head into a document.  Don’t edit or delete or modify anything.  Dump the raw ideas and most of all... 

Have fun. 


And download your brain. 

Organize and Categorize 

Now this is the part where you go back through that giant mind mess document and start carefully looking for patterns.  You want to start grouping, sorting, linking and organizing your ideas so that related topics or ideas end up in the same place. 

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These idea groupings will eventually become your course modules and lessons.  You can think of a module like a book chapter and a lesson as a sub point inside that chapter. 

When you get to the organize and categorize phase you will find yourself slowing down because you'll be doing the hard work of sorting everything.  I wouldn’t put a time limit on this just make sure you don’t stop until everything from your brain dump is in a related category. 

As you start to group disparate ideas you'll start to see a sequence beginning to unfold.  You should start to see steps, processes, a system, a work flow that takes your prospect from a place of no result to a place of a desired result. 

Feel free to move things around multiple times and in many ways.  You are not locked into anything right now.  So embrace the flexibility you have during this stage to do what you want. 

Shave The Fat 

In the next stage you are going to cut out any irrelevant details.  You want to shave off all the fat in your course that is making it unnecessarily large.  This is also where you start shaping your course into something of value. 

You need to start asking yourself these questions: 

  • Is there any content that seems just... awkward or confusing?   
  • Is there too much content?  Don’t just put something in there to have a “beefier” product.  Remember the goal is to give your people results not information overload. 
  • Are you walking people through each step, carefully, deliberately and efficiently? 
  • Did you forget something? 

When you start doing this you’ll begin seeing a course pattern. 

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For example, inside my flagship course SGX I used this exact process.  Here's a snapshot from my outline I typed up in a simple text editor:

Inject Your Awesome 

In this last stage of your outline process you want to totally blow the roof off your course content. 

By this point you should have a pretty detailed outline with lesson names and a logical flow in place.  But now we need to step it up a notch. 

Look at ways you can enhance your course: 

  • Recording direct-to-camera video is often difficult for new entrepreneurs but it does increase the perceived value of your course.  This is why I like recording a short 5 minute video introduction to each chapter module.  I just hand hold my iPhone (nothing fancy) and speak to the content after I created it for that module. 
  • Remember, you don’t want to overwhelm your audience with content, so something that has historically proven to work in various niches is including a checklist or a roadmap of the course in the first lesson.  You want to take people on a journey so a roadmap can help people see the lay of the land and walk them through their results journey. 
  • Your roadmap can be a PDF you create in Canva or Microsoft Word.  Try to stay away from worksheets and exercise sheets if you can as I think people are starting to dislike them since they require too much time.  A checklist or cheat sheet is often more desirable because it can give customers quicker results. 
  • I strongly suggest you create a resource guide or a resource section in your online course. This last move is a power play.  The idea is you want to catalog all the resources you think they will need and then Google around to join as many affiliate programs related to those resources as possible.  This is exactly what I did.  What happens is when you present your resource guide you can transparently tell people you will receive a small commission for sign-ups and it also gives you a really easy way to augment your income every time someone signs up for something you are an affiliate for.  People love resources guides so compile your best resources in one section, join the affiliate programs, honestly tell your people about the affiliate links and then explain how each resource will benefit them. 
  • The other course enhancements you can include are: audio downloads of the lesson, transcription PDFs of the lesson (you can use to find someone to transcribe the course for a cheap price), slide PDFs and more. 
  • Think of any bonus material you can include to really wow your customers. 

Quick Action Result 

Once you have everything organized start creating folders in Google Drive or Dropbox and upload everything there. 

Your quick action result is to spend one day this week, just one day doing these things: 

  • Download your Brain 
  • Organize And Categorize 
  • Shave The Fat 
  • Inject Your Awesome 

Once you finish shoot me an email to let me know you knocked it out.  You can join my email list below to do that! 

In the next lesson we’re going to talk about the nuts and bolts related to actually building and recording your flagship product! It’s going to be bonkers man!  I’ll see you in a bit. 


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