We live in a world of a lot of opinions. We also live in a world of a lot of truths and a lot of untruths at our fingertips. The internet offers a whole slew of information and misinformation and it can be a tough job to weed out the real from the fake.
This is also true when buying courses online. If you go to a college, you assume that the school would vet all the professors, but if you’re buying a course from the internet, how do you know it’s for real?
More importantly, how can you show your potential customers that your courses are legitimate? One of the ways to legitimize your courses is to be transparent and remain your genuine self. How do you do this when you might feel like a bit of a fraud? Well, read on.
What Makes You An Expert?
Some people get in their own heads about creating a course or a blog about a certain subject. They have what some call the “imposter syndrome.” They think because they haven’t been professionally trained in something, they have nothing of value to offer.
Obviously, it would be great if you had some sort of credentials for knowing how to unclog your sink or how to make a perfect loaf of sourdough, but the truth is, there really isn’t. But this works to your advantage.
If you have a great product or knowledge, don’t sell yourself short! So what if you don’t have a plaque on your wall? How else can you SHOW that you’re an expert in what you’re teaching?
Here are some unconventional ways to prove you’re an “expert”:
- Personal story or experience of success
- Personal failure story and what you learned
- Examples of your work
- Consistent, proven good ideas
Think of your favorite Youtuber or blogger. Why do you trust them? Because you’ve tried some of their methods and they’ve worked? Or because what they say rings true to you? Or because they show you how they accomplished something right before your eyes?
These proofs of expertness are much more effective to an audience than a degree or certificate of achievement. After all, C’s get degrees. Just because someone does have a degree, doesn’t mean that they’re the best or even a good teacher.
Be Who You Are
Have you ever heard the quote by Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”? Well, it’s true. People aren’t looking for you to be exactly like some other successful person. They want to take your course for what you have to offer.
There are things about your genuine self that will ring true for many people out there. There are experiences that you have to offer and there are opinions that people need to hear from you.
You might try to be nothing but a positive influence in people’s lives, and this might be for noble reasons. You might want to be encouraging all the time. And honestly, no one wants to spend time around a downer. However, you can share your struggles along with your positivity, and this will only enrich your content.
If you pretend to have a perfect life, people may like to look at it for a while, but then they will get discouraged because you don’t have the same kind of challenges that they do. They will think they have nothing to learn from you. Or they will get stuck in this rut of thinking they could do what you do “if…” They would always have something holding them back. They will always have a reason to fail because you aren’t being transparent.
It is your challenges, that you’ve overcome or that you currently struggle with, that makes you the influential person that you are–not just your successes.
Now, this isn’t to say that you need to share all your hardships. Some things can be kept private. I have found that a good thing to do before you start your course is to decide what parts of your life are available and what parts are off-limits.
Do you want to share that you are a parent, and is that necessary to make you relatable?
Do you want to share problems with addictions or disabilities?
Being transparent doesn’t mean that nothing is off-limits. It means that you are comfortable sharing the things that are pertinent to the goal of the course or blog that you are creating.
Consequences of Being Disgenuine
Of course, there are consequences to being a fake person–even if it’s just online with a bunch of strangers.
Have you ever told a little white lie? And then the lie kept growing and growing until it was out of hand. If you had just backtracked at the beginning and owned up to the lie, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but now it feels like there’s no going back.
This is how your life would be if you tried to be anything but your genuine self. Even if your little white lie is that you are the expert in your field and you’ve never made mistakes. A lie like that would make a public mistake devastating.
Come Off As Annoying
Have you ever had that one friend that always had everything going great all the time? It can be exhausting to be around that person and it can make you feel bad about the day-to-day problems that you face. You also might feel a disconnect from that person.
It’s the same in your courses. You don’t have to show everything, but you should show that you are human. If you approach your course with an attitude of humility that doesn’t dip into self-depreciation, then you’ll be a pleasant person for people to spend time listening to.
How Can You Be Your Genuine Self?
This may seem like a silly question. You should know how to be yourself, but sometimes we can mirror other course instructors or influencers that we’ve seen without thinking about it. Your brain makes the connection that “that person is successful, therefore I must be that person.”
Here are some tips for staying on a genuine course:
- Write a mission statement with your values as a person
- Make a list of things you will and won’t share
- Think about who your audience will be. What demographic will they likely fall into? How does this change how you might communicate with them?
- Write your goals for what you want your students to get out of your course
- Listen to or read your course material, podcast, or video that you made previously before writing or recording a new one. We all have different moods and attitudes that fluctuate (by the minute sometimes). If you want a consistent sound while being your genuine self, emulate yourself from a previous episode. This will keep you from emulating other online course instructors you might see.
It is always best to remain true to yourself in every aspect of your life. Of course, you can try to be a more positive person, you can try harder to look your best in front of the camera, and you can try to write more professionally. This doesn’t mean you aren’t being true to yourself. This means you’re being the best version of yourself. However, if you are making so many changes that it is overwhelming or it feels dishonest, take a look at your course and yourself and figure out how to make your values remain steadfast. You and your audience will be happier if you are consistently transparent and trustworthy.