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Are These BS Excuses Stopping You From Sharing Your Knowledge With the World?

Admit it: you want to be famous.

Maybe not real-world famous. You don’t daydream about paparazzi chasing you on your way to red-carpet Hollywood premiers. You don’t want to see your face on the cover of a magazine at the grocery checkout.

But, you do want to be known in your industry. You want people to recognize your name online. You want to be mentioned in top blogs as an example of someone who’s doing online business right.

Isn’t that the whole point of building an audience-based business? It’s so customers will know who you are. So people will trust you and come back to you for solutions. So you’ll be recognized as an authority in your niche.

There’s just one small problem:

You Don’t Feel Qualified

Sure, you’ve been working in your industry for a while. You know something about your topic. But do you really know enough to call yourself an authority? Can you really put your voice out there next to the top leaders in your niche and claim you have something worthwhile to add?

Who do you think you are, anyway?

Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re not qualified to be an online authority. Maybe you have no idea what you’re talking about and nothing valuable to say.

But I doubt it.

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you do have something valuable to add to the conversation in your niche. In fact, you can probably do more than just talk about it. You might even know enough to write an entire class on your topic.

And maybe, that’s exactly what you should do.

Because if you’re serious about getting famous online, teaching a class is the best way to do it. If you have knowledge that helps people, you shouldn’t keep it to yourself. By creating an online course, you can leverage your knowledge to help a lot more people — and do it in a way that also builds a sustainable foundation for your business.

Sounds like a good idea, right?

So before you decide you’re not good enough to teach an online course, take a hard look at the reasons why you think you shouldn’t. Because maybe you’re right, and you’re really not qualified to teach.

But maybe you’re just scared, and your excuses are bullshit.

Any of these sound familiar?

Excuse #1: You Don’t Know Enough About Your Topic

You think you don’t know enough about your topic to teach other people about it. Other people know a lot more than you do. That’s why they’re famous, and you’re not.

But you have a blog, right? If you do, then you know more than you think.

It doesn’t sound like a great qualification — after all, anyone can start a blog. And it’s not like your blog is even that big. Maybe you have a few hundred subscribers; maybe you’ve even reached that 1,000-subscriber milestone. But when you look at the top voices in your industry, you know you’re just a small fry. You don’t really know anything. No one is listening to you — and for good reason.

But stop and think for a minute. How many posts have you written? Say you’ve been posting three times a week for six months. That’s seventy-two blog posts. If each of them averages 700 words, then you’ve written around 50,000 words on your topic. That’s an entire book! Do you really think you can write a whole book and not learn something about your topic?

The truth is, even if you started from nothing, you’ve learned a lot more than you realize — just by blogging. You’ve researched hundreds of ideas. You’ve written thousands of words.

And you probably didn’t start from nothing. If you’re like most bloggers, then you already knew quite a bit about your topic before you started. You already had a strong base of knowledge, and since then, you’ve learned a lot, just by writing and researching about it.

Blogging by itself doesn’t automatically make you an expert in your topic, but it can take you a long way toward expert status. Don’t believe me? Look at Pat Flynn. When he started his blog, he didn’t know anything about making money online. His blog’s whole purpose was to be a “crash test dummy” and try different methods to see what really works. Now, he’s a world-class expert on smart passive income — all because of his blog.

Excuse #2: You Think No One Will Listen to You

But what if you haven’t been blogging for six months? What if you haven’t been in your industry for very long, or there are lots of other people who know much more than you do? What if your industry is really crowded, and everyone else has been doing and teaching this longer than you have? Even if you do have some knowledge, what makes you an authority?

You can still be an expert — if you target the right audience.

You see, to teach something, you don’t have to be the best in the world. You don’t even have to be the best in your industry. You only need to be more knowledgeable than the people you’re teaching. So the key is to choose the right people to teach.

One way to do this is to position yourself as a teacher for non-experts. This is actually what Danny did with Firepole Marketing. When he launched Firepole, the first tagline was “expert marketing for non-marketers.” Danny was knowledgeable enough that he could have taught marketing to marketers, but he saw there were a lot of other people already doing that. Teaching marketing to people who knew nothing about it was a gap that no one was filling, so that’s where Danny stepped in.

But what if there’s already a lot of competition teaching beginners in your industry? Then you can become an expert by stepping outside of your industry. By taking your knowledge outside of your usual topic, you might find that what “everyone knows” in your industry is fresh, valuable information outside of it.

As an example, look at Copyblogger. Brian Clark started it with the idea of applying copywriting ideas to blogging. At the time, most blogs were either self-focused personal journals or information articles spun for SEO. Brian started teaching the basic principles of copywriting — concepts that everyone in the copywriting world already knew — to bloggers. By introducing those basic concepts to a new audience, he transformed the whole world of blogging for the better.

Excuse #3: You Don’t Know Anything About Effective Teaching Principles

Maybe you’re convinced now that you might have some valuable knowledge to share. But that doesn’t make you a teacher. Teaching is a whole separate skill — you need to know how to help people learn, how to present information in a way they’ll understand, and how to design a course. And you aren’t a teacher. You’re just a business owner with specialized knowledge.

But that’s actually the most important reason why you should consider teaching. Have you ever heard the saying, “Those who can’t do, teach”? There are plenty of teachers who are also capable in their fields, but the truth is that most people who are making money doing something don’t bother to teach it. If you’re successful at something and you know how to do it well, you can help other people do it too — and you’ll be a much better teacher than someone who only knows how to teach but doesn’t have your specialized skill.

And don’t worry — you can learn teaching skills like instructional design and student motivation. Teaching as a discipline has been around for a while, so there are a lot of resources on how people learn and how to present information effectively. You’ve already learned a lot of new skills in order to launch your online business, and teaching is just another type of skill — one that’s well worth learning.

For an example, look at Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing. She’s a freelance writer who’s been supporting her family through her writing for over ten years. In fact, she makes six figures annually from her writing. Who would you rather learn writing from: a certified English teacher with a master’s degree, or a savvy and experienced business writer like Carol?

Excuse #4: You Don’t Have an Interesting Personality.

Even if you learn the basics of how to teach, that won’t make you a good teacher. After all, you had plenty of professors in high school or college who had master’s degrees in how to teach. They used those degrees to stand at the front of an auditorium and drone lectures to a roomful of bored students.

Because there’s more to great teaching than understanding the principles, right? Great teachers are funny. Entertaining. Motivating. Exciting.

And you just don’t have the personality to stand in front of students and sound interesting.

It’s true that it’s easier to hold the attention of students if you’re funny and entertaining. But when you’re creating online courses, you don’t need to worry about holding the attention of a large audience. For online learners, you just need to be able to explain the topic in a way that’s clear, concise and informative to a single motivated learner. That doesn’t take a big personality. It just takes knowledge and the ability to speak clearly.

What really motivates students in an online learning environment isn’t a funny personality or an entertaining speaker. It’s engagement. And — as you know if you’ve been around Firepole for a while — there are a lot of ways to encourage engagement with your online audience. None of them require you to be anyone other than who you really are.

But if you still feel like personality is really important for your topic, why not bring in a partner? That’s what Corbett Barr did. Corbett is a great teacher on his own. But when he started his online learning forum, Fizzle, he joined with forces with Chase Reeves and Caleb Wojek. Chase has the comedic, outgoing personality that Corbett doesn’t, and he brings a whole different (and highly entertaining!) energy to the Fizzle learning community.

Excuse #5: Teaching Isn’t Part of Your Business Model

What if you’ve already established a business model, and teaching simply isn’t part of it? Sure, you might have useful knowledge you could share with your audience, and sure, maybe you could learn to teach. But what if it’s just not what you want to do?

Ultimately, of course, that’s a decision that only you can make. But, the reality is that teaching online courses is a great business model. It’s incredibly scalable: you can create a course once and then sell it to an infinite number of students. It’s replicable: once you have a good system in place, you can create new courses whenever you want. And it’s valuable: if you do it right, your students will see real results, which will grow your reputation and your audience.

Of course, that doesn’t mean teaching is for everyone. But if you want a sustainable way to grow your mission and your business, it’s a model you really should consider. You can grow your audience, establish your authority, and help your students make the world a better place.

Stop the Excuses

Convinced yet? Why not start learning the teaching skills you’re missing? In just a few days, Danny’s holding a webinar where he’ll explain how you can start creating your course today — and even make money while you’re building it.

So stop your bullshit excuses. Stop being scared. You’ve got important knowledge. You’ve got something valuable to share. You’ve got a sustainable, profitable business to create.

And getting famous? That’ll just be a bonus.

What are you big concerns around building an online course? Let me know in the comments below!

About Lisa Baker

Lisa C. Baker is the founder and partner manager at Authentic Partnership. Her mission is simple: to connect your business with influential partners eager to promote your products and services to high-value customers.

38 thoughts on “Are These BS Excuses Stopping You From Sharing Your Knowledge With the World?

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Lisa! I fell into ‘all of the above’ option of the equation. My excuses covered the five you mention here and a few more to boot. However, I have decided that I will launch my first online course ever by March 2015! The content isn’t complete yet, but I decided to start of with the introduction and first module. Just last Saturday, I was in the studio filming for both. This week, I’ll finish off my landing page. How sure am I of all the nuts and bolts? To be honest with you, I’m not… but I will not wait for perfection no more 🙂

      • Hey, Chavah! Stop bullshitting yourself! :<) With those credentials you have no excuses. Take one tiny, tiny step at a time…just one. Your fear will gradually ebb away and your confidence will soar. Looking at Danny's videos concerning The Course Builders Laboratory he and his team have built, it seems enrolling in that course would be a great first, tiny, tiny step. The course looks to be loaded with hand-holding tiny, tiny steps. No excuses! :<)

    • Well, those are definitely skills you can learn! — or outsource. And not to sound like a broken record, but you might want to check out the webinar too… 🙂

  2. My solution to this challenge: “Excuse #1: You Don’t Know Enough About Your Topic”

    One of my 2015 goals is to complete the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification (exam scheduled for March 2015). That’s a key indicator of credibility given that I run ProjectManagementHacks.com

    Re: “Excuse #4: You Don’t Have an Interesting Personality.”
    There’s a book on this called “How To Be More Interesting” by Edward De Bono. I recently read “Six Thinking Hats” by the same author so I’m thinking to get to work on becoming more interesting. 🙂

  3. Great coverage of the gremlins that we encounter when practicing lack of ability. None of us have gotten to where we are in life without gaining knowledge and expertise. Somebody taught us. They probably weren’t expert at it. So…I know I need to plunge in and use my hundreds of articles as a stepping stone into courses. Thanks for the nudge. Looking forward to Danny’s webinar – the two sessions he already did have been good.

  4. Thanks, Lisa!
    No matter how much we know we know – it’s all those nasty little voices in our heads trying to shout us down. (OK, so maybe I have more nasty little voices than the average person…)

    My favorite antidote to all the naysaying – especially the ever-popular, “Who do you think you are?” is to re-read Marianne Williamson’s quote from A Return to Love – especially the line: “Your playing small does not serve the world.”

    The rest of it is completely awesome, too. Just Google it if you don’t believe me – it’s often referred to as the “Our Deepest Fear” quote. Do what I did. Print it up – hang it over your desk and re-read the thing until you can quote it in your sleep, then, (maybe), you’ll actually start to believe it 🙂

  5. Thanks for the mention, Lisa!

    I do worry about what they teach writers in college programs — because I’ve mentored so many writers with M.A.s who are starving, because they have no practical knowledge of writing for any paying markets! The ivory-tower writing experience seems to be geared to creating writing teachers at colleges rather than professional writers.

    • Carol, that is SO TRUE! I went back to get my MA in Creative Writing and I was SHOCKED at how much isn’t taught! I learned WAY MORE by going to writers conferences and workshops than I did in my $35K master’s program. I tried to encourage my professors to add in few basics like plot and characterization, let alone the subtleties I wanted to learn but didn’t (like symbols, myths, neurology in storytelling). Learning how other people used to write doesn’t do a thing to help you make a living today as a writer. (But it sure gave me a market for my online courses!)

  6. I have to ask…are there any other artists out there who wonder if they can teach because they don’t think, explain, or do much of anything “in order”?

    Are you the worst joke and story teller you know? Do you skip around in books and magazines and add ingredients to recipes in the wrong order…even when you’re trying not to? When you edit your blog posts, are you constantly re-arranging entire paragraphs? Do *you* teach anything successfully? If so…what’s your secret? (Only target other artists?)

  7. Great encouragement, Lisa! I’ve been teaching online classes for about 6 years now. But it’s only been the last year, and specifically the last few months with Firepole, that I’ve been able to think of ways to scale my knowledge and target people who know less than I do. I’m excited about Danny’s webinar tomorrow! See you at noon! 🙂

  8. Hello Lisa,

    Nice post, I agree with you on “Because if you’re serious about getting famous online, teaching a class is the best way to do it. If you have knowledge that helps people, you shouldn’t keep it to yourself..

  9. Hi Lisa,
    Great post, I concur with all the excuses given above. If the man is afraid from some work and do not want to do it, then he/she likes to give these type of excuses.

  10. I love the idea of teaching to those who don’t know as much as I do. I always think of teaching as something you must be an expert to do, but perhaps its all relative. Maybe one person’s student is another’s teacher. Food for thought…thank you.

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  12. According to the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), Maryland is ranked #2 for LEED certified buildings. The USGBC, which is an international non-profit organization dedicated to green building strategies and certifications, used data from the 2010 census report to compile its list, in addition to factoring in green building projects in 2013.

  13. Lisa,

    Killer post–and so very important. You know what I find when I work with my clients? It’s not necessarily that they don’t know “stuff”, but they don’t know how to talk about that stuff within their community, content, and overall brand so that it sounds authentic and non-sales-y. That’s a whole other piece, I realize, and something I call brand voice. But, this too can be learned, and people can learn to speak with confidence about what they do, without sounding lame, conceited, or somewhere in between!

  14. I really believe that teaching should be part of every one’s sales strategy. I hear the same excuse all the time, especially from professional service providers. I think that is the short-sided and wrong way to think about your business.

    • Bingo, George! I totally agree with you. Much of the sales strategy today focuses on just the end point; getting clients to sign on the dotted line. It ought to be an entire process to be enjoyed; including teaching and educating clients. We ought to see the last days of pushy myopic sale-closers.

  15. Hi Lisa, I’m new to this community, having just came across Danny only recently. Thanks for sharing about dealing with excuses for not doing something we wanted to but were afraid or felt unworthy. I too, had an idea resurfaced recently but was afraid to launch out. You’ve scored a bull’s eye hit between my eyes. Thanks so much.

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