How to Get Started Creating a Course or Retreat


Thanks for reading this little “teaching love letter” to help you confidently create courses and retreats. You have wisdom to share with the world, and I know the world will be better for having that wisdom + teaching is a great way to grow almost any business and diversify your income.

Creating a course is similar to writing a book–you need a beginning, middle, and end, a “narrative arc” or flow that reaches a satisfying conclusion. How to find the arc and know what to put into it?

Here are some ideas to get you started!

  • Beginning is not the same as the beginning. Forget beginning at the beginning. Begin where you feel the most passion, the most juice or where you know a little tid-bit that makes you think, “I got this,” and then rinse and repeat, creating out of sequence for a bit.
  • You will create out-of-sequence best using a tool like Evernote. Work in small chunks so you can move about and thus see the flow. Paper and pen person? Get thee post-it notes and a wall. Go!
  • Get familiar with how you design best. For me, it’s through a little bit of teaching or coaching, a little bit of reading/research, and then being alone, thinking and designing the course or retreat. I need to be in dialogue with people – both mentors ahead of me on the path and students beside me. But not too much dialogue for too long – I need to go away and design when the energy starts flowing.
  • What helps you create new insights and what schedule gives you time to capture them and build on them? For example, if you get all hot with ideas after a coaching session, leave yourself time to create your course or retreat right afterwards. Have your writing materials or video camera at hand, and riff! Grab the insights. You can also record coaching calls and re-listen for your “wisdom bits,” and then build off what you said. Quote yourself!
  • Try writing your sales page first and then create the course to the spec of the sales page. We did this for the first round of TeachNow and now 1,006 students later, we’ve built a very robust and powerful course. Starting with a sales page will help you know what you want to deliver and then you can ask, “If that’s what I want people to walk away knowing, what’s the last, middle, and first things I will teach to help them arrive there?”
  • Find some “accountability partners.” If the idea of creating your course makes you quiver and quake, write the sales page but only show it to a few friends. Then ask them to hold you to the date the class starts. In other words, deliver!
  • Beta is your friend. Refine as you teach. Don’t wait to teach.
  • Steal structures: What learning structures do you like from other teachers’ courses, workshops or retreats? Use those and pour your content in. Not sure? Study for structure. Start with courses languishing on your hard drive.
  • One of your biggest obstacles to getting started might be believing that what you have to teach has all been done, and who cares what you have to add to the conversation? Well, that is just your mind on “mind crack.” What if what you have to teach – and, more importantly, the way you teach it – could save a life? A marriage? A creative soul? What if? Create from that “what if.”
  • Remember, most of the world lives in the McDonald’s paradigm and has no idea what you know. Find the students who don’t know what you know. It can take time, but it is completely and utterly possible.

Stop trying to get it right or to create what you think you should create for the marketplace. Follow your deepest, simplest joy first and then refine from there.

I hope this gets you off the ground creating, and if you like this, join us for TeachNow 2015. Registration opens on March 19th, so please click over here and give the whole course a gander. It’s been a powerful learning experience for so many. I’d love to have you in this year’s round.