August 11, 2020

3 Lessons I Learned Building a Personal Investing Course in 60 Days

yaya zhang

For anyone who's built a course, don't laugh (just facepalm silently ?)

Some lessons you have to learn the hard way-- by making the mistakes yourself, and experiencing the outcomes first-hand. I wanted to share what I've learned for anyone that might be thinking of launching their own online course.

Lesson 1: Pre-sell the course before you build 90% of the content.

It seems obvious to test demand first, yet starting out I naively thought I could just build good content in 2 weeks and then launch quickly.

Lesson: building compelling content is extremely hard. Editing down to the key gems is even more time-consuming. If I had to do it all over again, I'd build out 10% of the course to gauge how long it'd take to produce the rest, and then pre-sell it, with an estimated (and conservative) launch date. I wouldn't however, pre-sell the course without having built any content and getting a sense of how long it will take you to produce great material.

Lesson 2: The hardest part is not starting. It's the middle.

Building great content can be a total slog. When I first started, my excitement levels were at an all time high - I had grand visions of how to tell the story, the kind of insights, graphics, themes I wanted to share. Building content piece by piece - designing scripts, visuals, episodes, and stories - all of it takes time and you can't rush it. I had to reset my schedule and expectations multiple times. You can make yourself really unhappy by setting unrealistic timelines and failing your own arbitrary deadlines.

Lesson: in the middle, when I encountered difficulties, when things got rote, I should have recharged more before I felt burnt out. You have to pace yourself.

Lesson 3: Piecing together existing infrastructure isn't as easy as I thought.

It takes time to figure things out, and you have to build in time for troubleshooting the same way you would for marketing and content creation. I used the Teachable platform, yet even with all the existing infrastructure, their site had a lot of bugs and it took me a while to figure out how to customize the look and feel of my course. Loom screen-recording was the same way. I found out too late it's harder to use Loom for PPT vs. Google Slides. I'm about to test the Pro version to see if the video quality improves. All this is to say there's a lot of great tools ?? out there to leverage, but it's doesn't necessarily mean you pull it off the shelf and you're ready to rock ?.

A few more reflections on my process and goals. Plus an ask of this community.

I decided to build a personal investing course for people in their 20s and 30s to build wealth earlier.

Building this course was fueled by the disparities I was seeing in who invests (not surprisingly, it's not enough young people, not enough women, and not enough people of color). It was also fueled by my personal experiences. I graduated in the 2008 Recession - at the time I was worried about jobs, finances, what my future would look like.

Learning to invest helped me break that paralysis, but it still took me years of ? and research to figure out how to invest the right way. It shouldn't be that hard to learn something that's so essential to your well-being, yet most schools and colleges don't teach it.

I'd love for anyone in this community to take the course, or share it with those in your circles that would benefit from it.

You can sign up at:

10% of all proceeds will go to an educational non-profit I've supported for the past 13 years that has a 50+ year track record of providing college prep and career opportunities to students of color. ?