The following is a guest post from Teachable creator, Christi Johnson. Christi is the owner and creator of Magic Threads. Christi has previously shared a glimpse into her daily life as a full-time course creator. Now, she’s sharing a special guest editor’s letter in which she details the unexpected hurdles that popped up when she first launched her online course. Below, read her story and get her best insight into how to overcome these creator hurdles and begin your own journey as a course creator.

Mind over matter

My biggest challenge in creating Magic Threads, my first online course on embroidery? My own mind. As an artist, I’m no stranger to bringing life to new ideas that maybe haven’t existed before. But the online course was different, and a whole new world of hurdles emerged

Creator hurdles 1: Internal challenges

I felt that I needed to be an expert with a certificate from the Royal School of Needlework, that I needed to have a degree in teaching, or that I needed to at least have people knocking down my door saying, “Christi, we need your online course.” None of which ever happened. 

I kept looking for external factors that approved what I was doing, instead of paying attention to what lit me up inside. That “light up” feeling is contagious, and it’s what makes your course so unique. Trust me, your students can feel it!

Creator hurdles 2: Seeds of doubt

To make matters worse, after spending many hours developing a lesson plan and even recording some sample videos, I presented the idea to some friends who worked in marketing and digital media. They were…less than excited. 

I was told people wouldn’t want to pay for the courses, and that all of the information I was teaching could easily be found searching YouTube

I still love these friends dearly, but I learned not to ask people in cushy, secure full-time jobs what they think about my wild ideas for new ways of existing in the world (as for the YouTube comment…read to the end to hear how I used that to my advantage!). Thankfully, they were completely wrong about no one wanting to pay for the course. It has sold out every session.  

Creator hurdles 3: But about everyone else?

The last thing I wanted to do was create an embroidery course that already existed. I realized over time that, if I’m teaching from the heart, that is basically impossible. Yes, there are most likely other people teaching what you’re wanting to teach, that is OK! That is great in fact; that means there are people out there who want to learn what you want to teach. 

The goal is to figure out what makes you different. While there were plenty of YouTube videos and blogs on stitching and embroidery, [but] none of them were in the magically-infused style that I wanted to teach in. I could have internalized this and said, “Oh well, I guess no one wants to learn in the style I want to teach.” But instead, I made that the focus of my lessons. 

Creator hurdles 4: The time is right

I can’t even remember how many times I tried and gave up on making a course—thinking I was wasting time, thinking my videos weren’t good enough, thinking the curriculum needed to be better. 

Then when I finally sat down and decided to do the thing (thanks to the courage gained from a one-off live online teaching experience), all of those previous attempts wove themselves seamlessly into the final course. All I needed was there all along: It was my belief in myself that was missing. 

I didn’t wait until everything was perfect! I waited until I just couldn’t take it any longer and needed to give birth to this idea. Your course will never be perfect, and that is OK. 

If people want to be entertained, they will go to Netflix. If they want to learn, your passion and excitement will make up for less-than-studio-quality lighting or a few flyaway hairs! Your videos shot on your cell phone are enough. Your PDF’s existing as simple word documents – instead of painstakingly over-designed graphic art masterpieces – are enough.

The only way to get better at teaching and perfecting your course is by teaching. Hearing from students about what they don’t understand or what was really helpful is feedback that is infinitely more valuable than trying to perfect your course materials before you’ve even finished. (Using the drip feature that Teachable offers means you can create the course as you go, taking the feedback and infusing that into your next lesson before students get access.)

But what about the YouTube comment?  

As for the YouTube comment I mentioned above, I actually turned that into a sales pitch for my beginners course: 

“Q: Can’t I learn embroidery from YouTube?”

“A: Sure you can do so by watching dozens of free videos and ads. So when you find the YouTube channel that also explores the history of embroidery in a style that you can easily work along with, infuses magic and intention into each and every step, and that helps you explore color and composition in a way that is vibrantly alive—please let me know!”

Don’t let your own doubts, or the doubts of others, stop you from doing what feels right in your heart. If that voice saying “Teach! Teach!” isn’t going away, maybe it’s time you started. 

Wishing you a very-honest-with-your-dreams course creation process,

Christi