The following is a guest post from the Teachable creators behind Decoding Couples. Decoding Couples is made up of two relationship experts, Stacey and Rachel, who happen to be therapists. In 2020, the duo realized they weren’t alone in needing a new type of relationship space. One year later and Decoding Couples has turned the relationship self-help space upside down with a fast growing following, relatable Reels, tools that work, and a tight knit, supportive community. In honor of Teachable’s Creator Month, in which we celebrate and share the expertise of creators everywhere, Stacey and Rachel share how to teach a course on a sensitive subject.
Online course creation can be a rewarding and intimidating process, especially when your course topic is based on a sensitive or emotional topic. But if we’re being honest, it’s also our favorite topic to teach in an online course! Our first online course, The Relationship Roadmap, takes a deep dive into the hardest parts of a relationship and walks everyday couples through getting unstuck in three major areas of their relationships. This course helps couples work through some tricky, sensitive subjects (hello, unfulfilling sex life and arguments on repeat) and knowing how to navigate these emotionally loaded topics is key to creating a successful course.
Why create a course around something you love?
Working with a course topic you are passionate about allows you to create real change in people’s lives. In addition, it permits you to reach more people than if you were seeing them one on one. It also allows you to connect with your audience on a personal level because you have been exactly where they have been and you know how to get to the other side. It’s also the best kind of experience to build a profitable business around something you love and it deeply impacts other people.
Tips to create a course on a sensitive or emotionally loaded topic:
1. Be human
Don’t be afraid to be you. Balance your content with your personal experiences and vulnerability. This is one of the reasons why we’ve been able to build such an amazing community with Decoding Couples while sharing & educating around extremely emotional content. We aren’t afraid to share the ways we mess up in our relationships, what we struggle with, and what is going right.
We also love to bring our personalities into our course which includes corny jokes, puns, and being a little goofy. Just because a topic is emotionally charged, doesn’t mean it has to be delivered in a serious tone or way. Remember, humanizing tough subjects goes a long way!
Run your course idea by your intended audience. Listen to their responses and take note of the feelings and thoughts they share in response to your course topic. Then, infuse that into your content creation. This is extra important with sensitive or emotional content because you need people to feel comfortable enough to buy into what you’re teaching. Your audience will tell you which part of your ideas are good to go and where they need some tweaking.
3. Stay in it together
We love using direct quotes or questions from our community members in our work because it allows our audience to connect with us and each other. Finding a balance between using your own lingo and experiences and your ideal audience/client is key once your course idea is validated.
One of our biggest goals during course creation is making sure that our audience doesn’t feel alone. We truly want them to know that other people, including us, have experienced their same emotional and relational struggles. And, there is a way to get to the other side of it.
4. Keep a clear path
Make sure your course identifies a clear path forward. There should be an obvious outcome or solution that they hope to achieve. Get really specific on what your clients are going to walk away with from your course. Normalizing sensitive topics is the place to start, but you also have to make sure you’re able to provide “the next steps” to provide hope that there is a way out or through the sensitive topic you are teaching on. We want the audience to feel seen and we also want them to feel like they can get to the other side of what is going on.
5. Ignore bumps in the road
When you are laser focused on a topic because you are passionate about it, you are bound to miss a few things along the way. That’s really normal and part of the territory during course creation. A few bumps in the road (tech learning curves, content changes, creative differences, etc.) don’t mean you have a poor idea or your course won’t be successful. Mistakes along the way are how you learn and improve your course.
We have a free “seven step course idea list” to help you hone in on what you’re passionate about. You have skills worth teaching, so let’s step to it.
What we are saying is: You can have your cake and eat it too. You can create a course that is personal, authentic, and profitable. We’re living proof. And, we’re getting ready to do it all over again with course two because the response from our audience has been an overwhelming yes.
Find that emotionally charged topic that makes your head spin with ideas and put it on paper (or Google Docs). If you need some inspiration along the way, don’t be afraid to reach out to other creators who you admire or whose work resonates with you. These passion projects turned profitable courses don’t get made in silos. Lean into your community when you need a little pick me up along the way. That’s how we got here. And, we’re excited to watch you do the same.