Ep.28: Where Does an Online Program Fit Into My Practice?
A couple of years into my practice, I started to wonder if I could do things a little bit differently – and about my love for teaching.
I wanted to give my clients more by continuing to educate them and share with them information that I thought was really important, but they just didn’t have the time for more in person appointments.
It got me thinking, “Where does an online program fit into my practice?” It’s a question I get all the time and that’s what I’ll be answering in this episode!
Here’s what I covered:
- The gap I was finding in my private practice (maybe you’re noticing the same things!)
- The many ways I have run my IBS program (all with my one topic!)
- 3 kinds of online programs (and which one helps increase engagement and results!)
- 5 different ways you can do an online program (remember there’s no one right way to create an online program!)
- Questions to reflect on what would work best for your clients and your practice (and you!)
I walk you through the process of figuring out where an online program can actually fit in your practice and give you lots of examples, so you really get an idea of how you can make your online program idea a reality.
If you enjoyed this podcast, you may enjoy these 3 other podcast episodes where I talk about how to create an online program:
Prefer reading? Here’s the transcript below
Stephanie: A couple of years into my practice, I started to wonder if I could do things a little bit differently. I’ve been teaching people with irritable bowel syndrome how to improve their symptoms, how to get rid of their symptoms, and how to improve their lives. And, a couple years in, as we all do I think constantly, I was just thinking about how I can improve and how I can do a better job.
You know, for me, I started to think about my love for teaching, and because I was doing a private practice one to one, I didn’t teach a lot anymore. Well, I taught one to one but I didn’t teach classes. I always felt drawn to teaching classes, whether it’s to teach cooking or to teach in the community.
I also started to notice, I wonder if you’ve noticed this as well, I was repeating myself a lot. It felt like with every new client assessment, I said the same things over and over again to every client. And then throughout the time we worked together, I was repeating myself over and over again.
I also found that my patients, and my clients just didn’t really have a lot of time. You know, they only wanted to see me for a certain number of appointments for a certain number of months. And they just didn’t really have a lot of time to come back. I mean, I would have loved for them to come back every two weeks, so I could continue to educate them and share with them information that I thought was really important.
I also felt like in an appointment, it’s really, really key for us to listen. So you’re not just talking for a full half hour or hour.
So I found this gap in not just repeating myself, but also having more information that I wanted to share, but a real lack of time. This is really what had me start thinking about how to create an online program in my practice in 2014.
I’m so glad you’re here with me in this episode. This episode is all about you and your question, Where does an online program fit into my practice? It’s a question I get all the time. And if you want a guided resource to lead you through this question, and to lead you through where to get started with an online health program, you have to head over to TLPresources.com.
At TLPresources.com that’s where I have The Online Health Program Getting Started Guide. I’ve just put it together for you and it will walk you through the first couple of steps to figure out how to get started with an online program. I’m going to answer questions like, Is now the right time to create an online program? How do you develop a program that people actually want to enrol in? What’s the right idea for your first program? I dig deeper into where an online program fits into your practice. So head on over to TLPresources.com and grab that Getting Started Guide.
Where does an online program fit into my practice?
In today’s episode, I am going to walk you through the process of figuring out where an online program can actually fit in your practice. I wanted to start with my story to share with you the things I was going through and maybe some of those things are popping into your head as well.
There are so many reasons to create an online group education program, and there’s a lot of different ways that you can do it. So in this episode, I’m going to talk to you about the different kinds of online programs, the different ways that you can teach, and then how we can develop a program in your practice, where it fits in.
There’s lots of different styles. So please know, right away that an online course is not the only way that you can improve the way that you educate your clients and your patients in the world of health. There are lots of different versions. In The Leveraged Practice Workshop which I hold with my clients, we figure out the right online program for them and their practice and the way that they like to teach and what their clients actually need as well. So let’s dig in a little bit more.
Now with my story, I ended up doing the IBS program a lot of different ways. The first way I did it was I created a 12 week program where I held group calls, and I had pre-recorded videos. I ran that a couple of times and then I partnered the 12 week program with 12 weeks of one to one coaching. So I also did what is known as a combined program of doing one to one coaching appointments or counselling appointments along with this online education. Then I launched it into a membership program, which was amazing. I can talk to you more about that in a minute. Oh my gosh, it’s taken a lot of different forms.
So if you’re wondering where I have experience in an online program, I have done it, my friend, every single way possible. I mean, one of my online programs actually came from a live workshop I taught in Toronto. I hired a video crew to record the entire live workshop, and then put it online. That’s one way I would not recommend, because it was very expensive. Well, it wasn’t very expensive but it was an investment of time, and energy, and money. And then the final product wasn’t very nice, even though I had spent money in them recording it. But once the live event was done, it was recorded, I spent all this money, like I had to use it.
Another thing with online programs is that they change over time. So the format you pick may be by the end of this episode today, may not be the way that it ends up a year or two from now. So know that that happens. Give yourself the flexibility and the ability to move with the times, and change depending on what you like to do and what your clients like to do, and learn along the way.
3 Kinds of Online Programs
Okay, so let’s start with three basic kinds of online programs or three different ways to educate online. So the first is a DIY self study style of online program. Now I’m always going to use the word online program with you because program is kind of all encompassing of all these different styles of programs.
From this first one, this self study DIY program. You can kind of think of this as – I think how online programming started a few years ago, where it was just, well it didn’t start here – but what we’ve been seeing a lot of over the last few years, which is just that, one and done.
You create a program, you put it online, maybe it’s four weeks or five modules, and you pre-record video content. People give you $100, $200, and they work through it. And you don’t really show up at all, there’s not really a lot of support. It’s just a DIY, and I say DIY, like Do It Yourself self study program. And it’s really something that doesn’t have a lot of support.
It’s not the best version but this version has a place, it may be really useful. You can think about a self study program as one of those kind of more passive income products or a passive product for you to sell, because you’re not super involved.
It’s almost like putting a book on the internet, you know, because that’s what a book is. It’s a self study program. People read through chapters, maybe there’s lessons, maybe there’s actual exercises and things for them to apply.
I mean, I’ve read some great $20 books that actually felt like a course and had exercises and things for me to do and reflect on each chapter and got me forward. One of my favourites is Story Brand. You may have heard me speak about it before, but it’s a marketing book to help you identify and clarify your message. Great book, but a great example of a book that’s actually a course.
And so in a DIY or self study course or some people might just call it an online course, is that version where there’s kind of like a book. Think about chapters, lessons modules. You record them, you put them online, and people go through them.
The price point for that these days is pretty low, could be $50, $100. In the health space, you may even find self study programs that are $500 or $1,000. You know, the price of it can be anything.
What I’m finding, though, is that less and less people want less and less of a self study program, especially in health. But also, that style of program is not for everybody, especially in health, right?
A self study, follow along on your own program is for someone who’s very driven, who’s a self starter, who is going to complete the program, who doesn’t need any support. Or it’s for like a really light topic, like a really short, maybe intro topic. So if you teach on a specific health issue, maybe the beginning, maybe the first part of when people are just learning about the issue, maybe that can be a little self study program.
If we take my specialty IBS as an example, a self study class or online program could be about IBS. It could be about how your digestive system works, what IBS actually is, and maybe even a starting point on, I don’t want to talk about like what foods are good or not good for IBS, because it’s so much more complicated than that, isn’t it? But maybe some how topics would kind of have a getting started version, in a particular health condition. So that’s a place for a DIY or self study program. You need to have the right client going into that and completing it and you need to have the right topic.
The second kind or style of online program is a pre-recorded program similar to the self study with Office Hours. So this is kind of like a distance education course that we had 20 years ago at college or university where you would learn online and the classes were pre-recorded. So this can be a pre-recorded video of face to camera or slide decks, like voiceover, slide deck, or other kind of video.
So people are watching the content, maybe they have a PDF or a workbook and then when they have questions, they have a place to ask those questions and for you to answer them. So this can often be with an office hours call, which can be a dial in teleconference phone call. It can be a video conference with software like Zoom, or it can even be an office hours that you hold in a Facebook group or another style of community where you can go live in there. So that is a combined between a pre-recorded video, but you’re still showing up and supporting people in a live way.
The third style of teaching or kind of online program is live teaching. So this is similar to what so many of us clinicians and health practitioners are doing in real life in our offices, which is teaching a group program.
I taught a program when I was just getting started in my career called Craving Change, a cool program on eating behaviors. It was related to weight loss, but not really. More about just eating behaviours and the way we eat, instead of what we’re eating. I remember I would teach it in person, in a small room with like six to 10 participants every week for four weeks.
So many of us teach this way. Maybe we teach about cholesterol or heart disease, maybe we teach about diabetes, maybe we teach about weight or weight loss and maybe we teach about digestive health. Maybe we teach mama groups about, prenatal or postnatal information. There’s so many classes out there that pretty much each and every one of us practitioners have taught in the past or are teaching now.
And guess what? We can put that online. All we do differently is teach the same thing, but on the internet. So you can also teach an online program that is made up of live teaching. This is actually how I run The Leveraged Practice Workshops. I love live teaching for my particular topic because I think that live teaching, when you have to show up on a certain day or a certain time, if you can’t show up, you can watch a replay pretty quickly, but you have to keep up with the content as we move forward every week, just like in university or college. That style really helps with one, engagement, and really helps with two, results.
So, how many books do you have on your shelf right now that you’ve never read? Have you ever bought an online program that you have never completed? Maybe not the program thing, I know some of you have. But the book thing is legit. Like we have books that we’ve never opened. It could be a cookbook, it could be a story, it could be a business book. It’s easy to buy things that are a low price point and then never use them.
And so I think when it comes to online teaching that using the live teaching model is something really interesting, I think we’re going to see more and more live teaching models coming out as we move into 2020 and beyond, and in teaching health as well. It can be so useful to have people show up every week, engage in some live teaching, and just be accountable for them actually moving through the process, making the change and getting the results they need.
So those are the three styles of online programs that you can create. There’s lots of different combinations and versions of this that we’ll get into next.
How to Decide Your Online Program Style
So, how do you decide which style you use? Well, it’s going to have to do with the people, the client. Who is your ideal client? What are they like? What are their schedules? Like how much time do they have? What will help them complete their results?
As we talked about the self study program, that’s really for someone who’s a self starter and actually going to complete it without any accountability, That is not everybody. Does your population need accountability? Are they going to have a lot of questions and need support? Then maybe you’re going to have some office hours or some ways to connect with you.
The other thing is, when you’re running your first group program, compared to when you run your 10th version of the group program, like three years from now, or however long from now, as you first start to teach, you’re getting clear on the process.
So just a side note here, I never recommend that if it’s your first version of your online program, you start with a self study program. Okay, I don’t want to say never. Let me take back never. Once in a while a pre-recorded self study program can be useful. But it’s very, very, very rare that I ever recommend that you start there.
But long term, like my IBS program now, is very well put together. I’ve run it for six years over and over again, and lots of different versions, and the version we have now is very, very good. I could go hours and hours explaining to you what we have in that online program to make sure that we’re supporting people well, that we are helping them overcome obstacles, that we’re engaging with them and keeping them accountable. There’s lots of really cool pieces of technology and tools that you can use to do that, and automate the process as you build out these programs. But it can get a bit more complicated and more expensive and I wouldn’t say it’s the place to start for everyone.
So really think about what your clients need. Think about how many times you’ve run a group program, where your experience lies, where your expertise lies, and what the first version might look like.
How an Online Program Can Fit into Your Practice
Let’s move on to how the online program can fit into your practice. Okay, so it really depends on so many things. And again, I’m going to repeat myself and say, you know, it depends on your client and what they need. It depends on you, and how you enjoy teaching, what you want to create, what you want to do. It may also depend on how much money you want to make, because there’s different versions of your program that you might charge more money for. It’s also going to depend on how you want to break up the education.
There’s no one right way to create an online program. What’s so amazing about health is that you are unique. You have your own insight and your own perspective on how to approach this particular health topic with your audience. That’s what you bring forward. That’s what will make it wonderful, and what will make you and this program perfect for some people, not everybody, but some people.
That’s why we need more amazing experts just like you teaching online. So we can have more incredibly useful programs in a way that really engage with people, make it convenient for them to learn and to get those results that they need. So we need to start with the people and what they need, and then move to you and what your perspective is, how you like to teach and what you want to create, at least the first time, The version you create today, the version you start with, will probably change in the future. So where do you want to start?
Okay, so once we do that, it depends on what you’re doing in your practice right now, what topic you’re teaching. And there’s lots of different ways to do this.
5 Different Ways To Do An Online Program
I’m going to go over five different ways that you can do an online program. And then I want you to think about, what your schedule is like now, where the sticky part is, and where you feel like it would be easiest maybe to get started with an online program.
So the first option is a standalone class or workshop. You could be doing this right now in your practice, just in person. Or maybe you’ve thought about doing a one off class or workshop, but you haven’t yet or you’ve done it in the past, a standalone class or workshop is one particular topic. This could be the live format where you teach it live, or it can be recorded video. But this is where participants are going to just get one topic covered. It could be an hour. It could be an hour and a half. I mean, it could even be longer than that. But think about it as a standalone class.
You know, some examples could be like we were talking about before, just how to eat for IBS. Just really simply getting started for foods that are better for digestion compared to foods that aren’t so great for digestion. It could be a simple exercise workshop where you do yoga for pregnancy, or you do how to train for a marathon. That might be a few more than a standalone workshop. It can be a professional skills workshop, perhaps you want to teach something to other professionals.
I once coached someone through creating a standalone workshop, it ended up being about two and a half hours on the topic of leaky gut, which was very interesting. But he wanted to teach it as a one off workshop, a one off class, just stand alone, and it went really well. It sold out pretty quickly and it was a great thing to do. And so, it could be a professional workshop like that. Or it could be just a standalone class that you want to do, maybe understanding your numbers in relation to heart disease.
You could even do the second option, which is a series of classes or workshops. So this is similar to the first one. It’s pretty much the same thing where you have standalone classes, but you put a series together. And so maybe when it comes to heart disease, or when it comes to training for that marathon – I’ve never trained for a marathon, obviously, so I don’t know what it takes to do that – but training for something, or managing a particular health condition.
Whatever it is, whatever your topic is, if you feel like there are multiple classes on this topic, you can make them standalone classes or workshops in a series so that people can sign up for one or all of them. So that would be these individual classes. And again, it could be you know, maybe like a how to cook or meal plan for busy families, that cooking, that food part of life.
That could be ongoing classes that you offer here and there where people sign up for one. It could be related to so many issues, like communicating with your partner or managing anxiety. There’s lots of different topics out there. This is best for when you see this vision of teaching, but you see it as these individual components where you want to teach this class, and this class, and this class. And again, that can be live or pre-recorded in a video.
So if you look at your practice, right now you can think about, do I want to offer a couple of classes every month that I teach live online? It’s convenient for my clients because they can meet me online. Maybe it’s at noon, lunchtime, so they can jump in from the office. Or maybe it’s in the evening, so once they put the kids to bed they can jump in online. And it’s a convenient way to teach your clients, instead of having them book the time off work, drive in, park their cars, get into a class, show up, be there for 90 minutes and drive home. Like, that’s so hard for people to do these days. So maybe that fits for you.
Or maybe you see a series creating a series of classes every quarter for new moms who need to really understand a certain issue and it becomes sort of like a community thing, where they come back to over and over again. And they’re ongoing, and they can do them when they fit into their schedule.
Let’s move on to a couple of more different styles of programs. And you can again, think through how they might fit into your practice, what you want to do and what your clients need.
So there’s that standard online program, I don’t want to call it an online course. But just like a cohesive program made up of modules and lessons. This is something beyond just a series of classes where people can sign up for one or five or whatever they want. This is more of like a 12 week program or a four week program or a six month program. This is something that maybe you’re doing right now in your practice one to one with clients, but you could be teaching it in a group environment. You could be teaching it as a group program, because just like I was dealing with six-seven years ago, I was repeating myself all the time with my clients. I just thought there was a more effective way to do it.
So an online program, again, can be something like a 12 week program, a four week program, a six month program, whatever you feel. And the way to come up with this is to think about what you’re doing right now in your practice one to one with people. And what are you repeating? What could you do better? What information are you leaving out that you really want to give them?
This is how you can create an online way to do that. It can include a variety of components from pre-recorded video or live classes, office hours, like I was talking about before. Maybe you have support emails or a supportive community. There can also be an online portal with all the information, like videos and handouts and PDFs and quizzes, with everything that they need.
We can build out a robust online program over time. It doesn’t start this way, but over time that can really be hands off because you built in so many tools and features to guide people through.
This is what I’ve built for the IBS program, where we use lots of different tools to engage with people. We have lots of different strategies in there to help them continue to move forward and see progress and do tracking. All kinds of really fun stuff.
So the online program is more of an investment of energy in the long term to build something that people can work through, along with getting some support from you as well. There’s lots of examples of this, like Weight Watchers now does an online program version of their in person program. Also, Charlene Johnson does the one3one method, which she calls them a metabolism, body transforming program.
There’s lots of different programs that are available online that are more of a program, step by step go through. This fits for a lot of our health practices, because we’re already doing this one to one. So you want to think about, Am I doing this one to one and I can actually just map out what I’m doing one to one, put it in an online 12 week or four month or whatever program and teach it in a group environment? I bet the answer is yes, for you. And so many of us.
Okay, another version of an online program is a membership. So this is a subscription style education program. It’s something that would have a recurring revenue stream, meaning that people are paying you on a monthly or annual basis. Many of us have memberships with our colleges or with our national bodies where we’re paying an annual fee. And we’re getting access to certain resources, classes, tools, networks, that kind of thing.
It’s the same in health, we can build out membership style programs, when it fits for people. I actually built out my IBS program as a membership model several years ago, and it was a really cool model. I ran it for just over six months, actually before I rebuilt it into more of a corporate ready program, so that we could sell it to larger companies and they could put their clients through it. I had to move it into a different model. But I’ll tell you, I loved running the membership. It was very low price point. So that’s a great thing to consider on if it fits into your practice. If you want to create something that’s more affordable for perhaps clients that can’t see you one to one. And that’s one way to do a membership.
The other way to do a membership is perhaps when clients see you one to one and they work with you for three months, let’s say. And they still want access to you and resources, and ongoing maybe Q and A’s with you, but they don’t necessarily need a full one hour appointment every week or every month. An ongoing membership is a great way to stay in touch with those people to continue to support them. But in a lower, I want to say lower maintenance or lower active or involved way.
A community or a membership is such a great tool for so many health practices, because it can fit into our practice in so many ways, as I mentioned, especially in that after opportunity to continue to support people. So you know, examples are things like a meal planning membership, where each week or month people get recipes and meal plans. Or same thing for an exercise membership where, people get a five minute exercise straight into their inbox, five days a week, something like that. Or it could be a community for new moms who are rolling through this idea of breastfeeding and then picky eating. It could be related to stress or anxiety throughout these times and the problems we’re dealing with, oh gosh, there’s so many, so many things.
I’m a mom of young kids so there’s so many memberships that are needed for moms, and especially young moms. Or for people that are busy and just don’t have time to sit down and watch a 90 minute workshop or class. Maybe they would be better off with a few micro learning micro education videos on a weekly basis.
There’s also tons of apps that are actually memberships because you pay for the app on your phone on a monthly basis. So one that I know of and love is Tone It Up. If you look up the Tone It Up app, you can see they have access to lots of different things there. It’s mostly an exercise and community app. So there’s lots of different things that are coming out.
The membership style really satisfies that person that needs small tips, small advice and accountability to do it ongoing. And again, it can fit into your practice in a variety of different ways.
The final model I’ll talk about is a combined model, which I mentioned, I also ran for a time in my business. We ran it for about a year, I would say. The combined model is online education with individual counseling.
So actually, a couple of people who have signed up for The Leveraged Practice semester with me this time around want to build this style of program. Where they’re doing individual one to one counseling, and they have a team of people doing this, but they want to one, improve outcomes and results for their clients making sure that they give them enough health, education and enough of the tools, resources and information. They can’t fit it all in the one to one appointments. It’d be tricky to do that.
And two, they want to make sure that people have access to this material after they see them. So sometimes people are in your appointment, you know, they’re listening, they go home, and they have a crazy day, a crazy family, all kinds of stuff happening, and they completely forget everything you taught them. So having that access to the education after is fantastically helpful, especially in our busy environment today. In addition to being able to add in extra resources and exercise and decrease the amount of time that you see a client.
So an example would be if you find yourself seeing clients for an hour every week they come in, how much of that is education? Let’s say it’s 25 minutes. What if you could shorten your appointments to 30 minutes, or 40 minutes, or 15 minutes or whatever it is, and then put that education piece online? So that they come in, they see you, they do the assessment, they do the check in, it’s 15-20 minutes, let’s say. But then they go home and they log in and they get the tips for the week or the recommendations or they watch a couple of videos on the specific topic for the week. Do you know what I mean?
So you can partner this and you actually reduce the amount of time with people. Then you can still make the money you want to make and see more clients if you want to see more clients, grow your practice and still educate in a really beautiful way. So it’s another way you can do it.
The Many Ways to Create an Online Program
Remember, I’ve done all of these models with IBS. I’ve done so many different things over the last six years with my topic, with my one topic. And I’ve helped my clients to do all kinds of different things. I say that too, because I want you to know, there’s no one right way to create your online program.
And please, if you’re seeing people online, on Facebook, or you’re getting on calls with people, and they’re telling you, there’s only one way to do it. There’s one way to create an online course or this or that, it’s just not true.
I’ve done it so many ways, and so many of those ways were actually successful. And I’ve helped so many clients to build out what works well for their clients and for their practice. And like I said, it also can change up. Like you start with one version of a program and as you run it, you put clients through, you get so much more clear. Actually, it’s a 12 week program, not an eight week program.
Or for some of my clients it’s actually a shorter program. It’s not an eight week program, it’s only a four week program. Or they start to teach it and they realize this is actually a series of classes that people can do individually. Or I have three programs here, not one program.
The trick here is to identify what you want to do next? What you want to focus the next three to six months of your energy and time on? Do you want to create a product, a program that you can integrate into your practice? Where does it fit for your clients? What do they need? How would they get better outcomes and results? And what fits for you in the style of practice that you want to run? Do you want to be more hands off and do less one to one work? Or do you want to see more people one to one and just increase and improve the health education outcomes?
There’s so many things we can talk about. And if this interests you, and you want to chat more with me about how an online program fits in your practice, please head over to TheLeveragedPractice.com, find the contact form, and message me, book into my calendar. I would love to chat with you more about this. You can find me at Instagram as well @TheLeveragedPractice. We can have a conversation about how this fits into your practice. Which one of these versions, which way you want to teach and where we get started. I’d love, love to talk to you about it more.
And remember, you can download the Getting Started Guide to create an online program if you are getting started with this idea, with this topic and you’re not sure where to start. You have questions, like so many people do like, Is now the right time? Where does it fit? How do I create a program people want to enroll in? What’s the first right idea? Those are some of the biggest questions I hear. So I created this guide for you. You have to go to TLPresources.com to download that Getting Started Guide. It’s absolutely free and it will answer some of these biggest questions for you and help you on your way as you figure out how an online program fits into your practice.
I hope that you found this episode helpful and practical and useful to get you moving towards thinking how to create an online program or how to run a better online program for your practice. I’m Stephanie Clairmont, the facilitator and founder of The Leveraged Practice. And if you need any more help with this topic, or you’d like to join me for a live workshop, you can find me at TheLeveragedPractice.com. I’ll see you back here next time.