Generally, it helps to find a mentor when you are learning something new.
Mentors are great because they guide you through your learning journey. They help you arrive at your destination faster.
However, mentors aren't readily available for most people.
What is readily available? You guessed it, online courses!
But not all online courses are good. In fact, many of them are pretty bad.
Most 'experts' are just after your money. This begs the question; how do you discern a good course from a bad one?
Let's find out.
How do you spot a bad course?
Naturally, most people go on YouTube when they want to learn.
It makes sense! There are tons of people sharing free knowledge on the platform. The problem, as you probably already know, is finding legitimate teachers.
We're glad you decided to read this article. You'll learn about all the red flags you should watch out for as you scour the internet for a good course.
So, what are the top signs that a course is unworthy of your money and time?
- It is packed with get-rich-quick promises. If the teacher is promising you overnight riches by constantly mentioning insane figures in revenue, run!
Anybody who knows anything about building wealth can testify that it is a long process that takes time. Overnight millionaires are outliers. The norm is that the odds of finding success are stacked against you.
- It focuses on trends and shortcuts. Building wealth through a business is a long-term game. Trends and shortcuts may get you some results sometimes, but your business won't persist long enough to see long-term success.
- Talks more about profits than anything else. A good teacher understands that to build a profitable business, emphasis should be placed on the processes in the business.
When your processes are set up correctly, your business becomes efficient and profitable with time. Nothing kills your morale and infant business faster that obsessing over profits.
- It doesn’t teach you how to build an asset. An asset is something you can rely on to generate income over time. Bad courses do not use this language in their talks. Instead, they focus on quick profits and trends.
- The teacher lives a lavish lifestyle. This is the mother of all red flags. It won't be worth it if the teacher is obsessed with a lavish lifestyle.
You'll see fast cars, gigantic mansions, private jets, and screenshots of Shopify dashboards with inflated revenues. This is how they reel you in with false promises of overnight success.
- It has unending urgency on the purchase. You can tell there's an urgency when you see an offer with a huge timer on the website with only a few hours left. Their goal is to get you to buy the course now. Please don't fall for it.
To get you to take action, they'll show you the 'rewards' you'll reap from buying their course, like photos of cash, cars, mansions, and even girls!
- There is no refund policy. Any worthy product should have a refund policy. The seller knows that you'll get value out of it. So you won't have to return it unless it's defective.
Bad courses never have a refund policy. That's because they know you'll probably change your mind after getting in and realizing you've been duped.
- The price ends in a seven. Ah! The good old trick they use to make you feel like they aren't asking for a lot. You'll see figures like $997, $1,997, or $2,997. While there are legit courses with this trait, it's usually not a good sign most of the time.
- They can't stop telling you how much you will save from buying the course. You've probably already experienced this. When selling you the course, they break down its alleged 'actual value.'
They'll tell you its actual market value is an inflated amount, like $500,000. But they're only giving it away for $997 to a limited group of people for a limited period. If you see this, you should know what's happening.
Now, it doesn't mean that a course with any of these attributes is bad. But, the more red flags you can point out in a course, the more unworthy it becomes.
Before buying an online course, compare it against the list we've explored. Award each attribute one point on your list. The more points a course scores on our list, the further away you should stay from it.
There is no doubt there are plenty of terrible online courses. Watch the video below by Mike Winnet on YouTube:
He helps debunk fake courses...and incorporates some humor while at it.
How do you identify a good course?
What indicators indicate a course is worthwhile when you are shopping for one? What 'green flags' should you look out for?
- It has a high-quality instructor. How do you tell that an instructor is high-quality?
Google them. You'll generally see positive feedback on the search results if they are who they claim to be.
Also, to help you find better results quickly, append the name of a community website like Reddit or Quora to your search query. You'll see what people say about the instructor on those websites.
However, ensure the reviews are not from affiliate websites that help the instructor sell the course. These will not give you honest reviews because they also want a cut of the spoils.
You can tell a website is an affiliate because somewhere in their copy, they'll share a link to buy the course.
- Teaches you the fundamentals of a subject in simple language. When you are new to something, everything may feel like jargon. It can be overwhelming. This is why great teachers use simple words to help you get on board.
- Doesn’t overcomplicate simple concepts. This is different from simple language. A good instructor will put things as plainly as they can. If something is simple, they won't try to make it feel like rocket science to overwhelm you.
- It has a clear outline that is methodical. Good courses have clear outlines that tell you what to expect. Further, they are systematic. Ideas flow in a way that makes it easy for the student to grasp the course contents.
They should systematically move from simple to complex ideas, allowing students time to internalize the subject matter.
- Comprehensive refund policies. We can not stress this enough. If someone believes in their product, they will have a refund policy. It is that simple. If there isn't one, please steer clear of it. Do not try to justify their lack of one.
- Presence of an active community. Most great instructors try to add value to their courses by creating communities where students can interact and learn from each other. Not all courses have one, but if a course has a community, thumbs up.
- Up-to-date information. Although hard to tell when you are new, a good course needs up-to-date information.
To further help you determine whether the information is up-to-date, check out the comments people leave on a course. What are people saying about the course? More importantly, when were the most recent comments on the course posted?
You should keep moving if the most recent comments are from three or more years ago. Also, use your best judgment on this one.
- Practical lessons. To successfully impart knowledge and experience, great courses should have practical lessons.
This helps you practice as you learn. Learning by practicing is the best way to learn. You gain experience and knowledge simultaneously!
- Active support from the teacher. Assuming you've bought the course and started learning. Halfway through, you get stuck. You don't understand something, and you need help. Can you reach the teacher? How long do they take to respond?
- Supporting learning materials. These could be things like templates, e-books, webinars, etc. They help you get through some stages of the course—for instance, an e-book on creating excellent creatives for your ads. Or a website template.
- Course pricing. This one is tricky. A course that's too cheap could mean it's not good enough. But if it's too expensive (maybe over $2,000), it could be a scam. Check out how the course performs in relation to the red flags we discussed earlier.
Also, stick to your budget. If you only have $100 to spare, don't spend more than that. You will probably regret it.
So, those are some of the factors that will help you identify a good course.
Remember, some of these "gurus" are pretty good at conning people. But paying attention to their words will help you spot the red flags.
We hope that helps you make an informed choice!
A quick list of great online courses
All the information we've provided up to this point may be a little overwhelming.
You want to take a course but don't know whom to trust. We get this. It is totally normal.
If you must absolutely have a course, here is a list of the top five free online courses we recommend:
Should you take an online course?
Some people prefer reading books or articles, others prefer watching videos, and others like watching someone doing it.
All these factors influence your decision to take a course.
Regardless of your choice, one fact is clear; courses help you get started much faster than learning independently.
Experienced instructors can organize information that matters systematically so you can get the most out of it fast.
Also, you can explore and learn more with time when you practice what they teach you.
But if you can't afford it, don't fret. There are plenty of free resources online where you can get free useful information to help you get started on your online journey.
Take this blog, for instance.
We share free material you can gain from. And the best part is that each article you read leads you to the next step of your learning journey. We've got you covered, even if you're simply looking for specific information.
Read this article on the 17 Best Free Dropshipping Courses to start learning today!
Wondering whether dropshipping courses are worth the money? Read that article for more insight. It'll help you make a decision.
Alternatives to a paid course
Alright, so you've decided you won't pay for a course. Good for you!
But how will you learn about your business model? Are there viable paid course alternatives?
Lucky for you, there are.
But it all depends on what your learning goal is.
Before you start, identify and write it down. Once that's established, any of the following methods will help you proceed:
- Take a free course. That's right! There are tons of free high-quality courses online.
- Identify a website like Do Dropshipping that offers valuable free resources and start reading.
- Identify a YouTube instructor who doesn't sell you products or services in exchange for knowledge. (Here are a few great YouTube channels)
- You can find podcasts on apps like Spotify.
Here are a few great lists to get you started with learning for free online:
- 7 Best Shopify Webinars
- 7 Best Free Google Ads Courses
- 5 Best Free Print on Demand Courses
- Top 10 Ecommerce & Marketing Podcasts
- Top 10 Dropshipping & Ecommerce Blogs
- 12 Best Facebook Groups For Dropshipping
- Where to Learn Dropshipping and Ecommerce in 2024 for Free?
Now, you have just acquired valuable information in this article. What are you going to do with it? Learning is great, but taking action is even better.
Taking action teaches you a lot more than reading all the articles online.
So, to help you take action, here is a list of things you can start doing:
- Pick a learning method. How do you want to learn? Do you want to take a course? Do you prefer videos or articles? Pick one method, then start digging to find the necessary resources.
- Conduct due diligence. This will protect you from being duped. Ensure your instructor is not running a con on you. Gather as much information as possible and use it to establish their credibility before committing.
- Open your first store. Before you do anything, we highly recommend learning how to build an online store and using a trusted ecommerce platform like Shopify. This ensures that you can put the knowledge you acquire to practice as soon as you learn.
- Rinse, repeat. Keep learning and practicing. The more you do this, the higher your chances of success.
So, to answer the grand question: Are all online courses bad?
Not all of them are bad. Some are useful when you are looking to learn about something specific. However, if you intend to get rich quickly, disappointment awaits.
Otherwise, we hope that now you can tell a good course from a bad one.
Remember to be patient and kind to yourself. Some of the things you'll need to learn require time to be good at.
All the best!
PS: The best knowledge comes from experience. Take action!
Want to learn more about dropshipping?
Ready to move your dropshipping store to the next level? Check out the articles below:
- Dropshipping Mindset: 6 Things to Know Before You Start
- The 5 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Dropshipping in 2024
- The Pros and Cons of Dropshipping in 2024 (Is It Still Good?)
Plus, don’t forget to check out our in-depth guide on how to start dropshipping here!