Let me show you my drawing.
It is terrible, right?
If you’re on my team for Pictionary, you’re guaranteed to lose the game.
But recently my wife got a new toy for our daughter - you paint on a piece of plastic following the lines then you can tear it out and paste it on glass.
And this is my latest artwork. It is not so bad!
Out of no where, a thought hit me that this is an important lesson for creators who want to build successful businesses teaching others how to do things.
Many creators inspire and teach, but their audiences are basically drawing on blank canvases. They are told the beautiful painting they could draw but are never given the right environment and instructions to achieve it.
The most successful creators are the ones who give guidelines to get people from point A to point B.
If you’re a creator focusing on pleasure and entertainment, this likely doesn’t apply to you. But I doubt your content is about you posing or dancing if you’re reading from me. I’m focusing on knowledge-based creators who want to build a business teaching others.
So this new toy my wife bought has guidelines to help me draw a bear, cake, boat, and many more. As a creator, what can you do to teach someone as clueless as me?
I have 3 progressive steps for you to level up as an educator:
1. Ask questions in your content
Go back to one piece of your latest content, do you have any questions in there?
The next time you write, I suggest you imagine someone sitting and listening in front of you as you read out your content verbally. The questions and line breaks you add to your content are the moments where the other person is nodding or frowning - it means she is digesting!
In my early days as a creator, I made the amateur mistake of dumping everything I knew on my audience and students. I thought the goal was to turn them into me if what they wanted was to learn from me.
But now, I do it differently.
Recently, I finished recording my newest video course, Easy Content Magic. My goal was to have my students spend the least time to learn how to show their work - the easiest form of content any time-strapped entrepreneurs can create.
Instead of doing pure lectures, I recorded my videos like my live workshop.
I raised questions and set timers so students can do it with me (even though they’ll be watching the videos themselves).
I did this because I wanted to encourage them to reflect & take action. Action sparks learnings.
2. One thing at a time
I always have so much I want to share and teach.
In the past, whenever I had a chance to teach, like running a 60-min workshop, I wanted to shove all my knowledge in there. I also talked fast so I could cover everything.
But if you scroll back up to look at the guidelines for the bear I drew, the book didn’t ask me to draw a real bear. It gave me the simplest lines so I could easily follow without effort.
Over time, I learned that the most important lesson in teaching is to get students to focus on one thing only at any given time.
Once they get it, you can move on to the next thing.
And when all these small learnings come together, they create a transformative experience for anyone.
3. Create a sandbox environment
In the software world, a sandbox means an isolated environment where code can run without affecting a real application. It is a place for testing.
Often times, you hear people say that they take courses run by big name creators with a huge following but only to end up being super disappointed.
The course creators basically created 4 presentations and delivered them live. It was not only boring, but it didn’t do anything to help students progress.
So I started honing into a different approach - I needed to become a learning designer!
This is because the best learning happens when you create a safe environment with a clear goal. You set boundaries, give instructions, and set the students free to take actions.
When they take action, the learnings kick in.
They repeat and repeat to get that transformative experience.
My goal was to teach other creators how to build in public, so when I designed my Build in Public Mastery course, I created a 21-day challenge.
This is my way of saying - to master Building in Public, you have to Build in Public.
Students set the goal of what they want to achieve, then they have 21 days straight to show their work every single day. In parallel, they get to watch self-paced video lessons (lectures) and take part in live workshops in which I also focus on interactive activities.
When they’re taking actions inside (workshops) and outside (the challenge) the course, it is impossible to have no progression.
What it means to you
If you’re determined to build your creator business teaching others what you know, you must move away being a creator who creates content. You want to become an educator who understands how to get students going from point A to point B.
Once you unlock this part and more and more of your students, fans, and audiences experience the transformation, your business will be unstoppable because everyone will be recommending it.
So, what’s the one thing you would change now to help your students?