Should subject experts write a book or create an online course?


In today’s digital age, there are numerous ways for subject experts to share their knowledge with the world.

There are mediums where you regularly publish – such as podcasts, webinars, public speaking and on social media. But there are more heavyweight options that take a lot more effort and consideration, such as a book or creating an online course.

Many of the subject experts we speak with are often considering both options, and it can be a tough choice. Both formats have their advantages and disadvantages, and in this blog post, we’ll explore which one is right for you.

Books as a Branding Superweapon

Firstly, let’s start with books.

Since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press back in the 15th century, books have had a transformative impact on the world. They have proven to be an effective way to share knowledge and become a permanent record of the author’s thoughts for years to come.

Yet it’s clear that for subject experts, books should be primarily viewed as a brand-building exercise rather than a significant income generator. Unless you’re in the top echelon of book sales (think Simon Sinek), then book sales aren’t going to make a huge difference to your bottom line.

Daniel Priestley even goes as far to suggest that subject experts give away their books for free as a way of sharing their methodology. This helps interested clients educate and qualify themselves before they even interact with the subject expert themselves.

In turn, this brand exposure leads to other opportunities which can be lucrative, for example, highly-paid public-speaking and high-end consultancy projects.

It can be useful to think of a book as the ‘North Star’ of your personal brand. This helps position you in your market, crystalizes your thoughts, establishes your credibility and turns warm leads into hot ones.

Monetize Your Knowledge through Online Courses

Online courses on the other hand, are a different proposition. In short, these are one way to monetise the interest you’ve generated through publishing your book.

While public speaking and consultancy can pay well, it’s impossible to be in more than one place at a time. Gigs like these quickly swallow up your working hours and put a ceiling on your income.

When designed well, online courses can help you reach a wide (and paying) audience at scale. You can also interact with your audience to learn more and develop your ideas, which is a dynamic missing in books.

We’re strong advocates for cohort-based courses, where participants learn as a group and collaborate, share their work and hold each other accountable.

These still need some of your time (and your learners want your presence), but we’ve helped many subject experts deliver these in a way that scales.

So in short, should subject experts write a book or create an online programme? The answer is easy – do both!

Andy Jack

Andy Jack

Andy loves helping subject experts, authors, speakers, coaches and key persons of influence to monetise their expertise with online learning. When not on his laptop, he'll usually be found up a mountain!

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