But first, you need content.
We often hear, especially from those launching their first academy:
- “I don’t have enough content to launch a full-blown academy.”
- “I’m doing this alone and don’t have the time to create content, let alone good content. I definitely don’t have time to update it regularly or scale production in the future.”
- “I know videos and visual content perform better than text in many situations, but I don’t have access to an in-house designer. I certainly don’t have the budget to hire one.”
If you feel this way, know you’re not the only one—and we got you on this.
Bonus Content 🔥🔥🔥
Here’s the thing: You don’t need a ton of content to get started on your customer education journey. You also don’t need a ton of bandwidth or an instructional designer.
In this article, we'll explore three ways you can get your content engine running without a ton of resources or budget.
1. Make Use of What You Already Have
I’d wager a big bet that you already have the content you need to launch your academy—or at least the foundation of it.
While working with a designer to concept, outline, design, and launch a net-new course is great (and something you’ll certainly work toward), it’s not a non-starter.
I’ll say that again for everyone in the back: You don’t need to recreate the wheel to launch an academy. You can simply use what’s already available.
Here are some examples:
- Blog posts
- Slide decks
- Conference presentations
- Support docs
- Frequently asked questions to Support
You can use any of these assets to get your content engine rolling. And the best part is that you can version most of these into multiple assets, giving you enough meat to create a complete course.
- Separate a blog post into five lessons and deliver them via a learning path.
- Snip your webinar into bite-sized segments and include a quiz or assessment at the end of each
- Take the information in a slide deck and copy it into your LMS’ rich text editor (RTE).
- Turn your support docs and FAQs into short courses that address key customer challenges
You don’t need to be Monet or Picasso to create something great. You have to be willing to see what you already have and version it for your intended customer outcomes.
2. Quality Isn’t Everything
When someone first muttered the phrase “quality over quantity,” I doubt they had the expectation that they were going to set an unrealistic standard in the business world. For better or worse, the best business leaders obsess over quality, not quantity. As they should. And as a content marketer, I abide by that wholeheartedly.
Some world-class academies—think HubSpot—have set the bar exceptionally high. Like, really high. But HubSpot and others like it didn’t get to that point overnight. Seriously. I went into Google’s Wayback Machine and found what (I think) is the HubSpot Academy circa 2012.
Do you think HubSpot cared about creating “world-class” content back then? Of course they wanted to and put their best foot forward, but I highly doubt that quality was their north star—and Courtney Sembler, one of the founding members of the HubSpot Academy, said as much when she joined one of our webinars, Developing and Managing Content at Scale.
While creating content that looks awesome is great, it’s not a prerequisite to launching your academy. Just scroll through LinkedIn and look at what your favorite companies are posting.
Take Jesse Cole, the owner of the Savannah Bananas. He literally posted a video this video—a video he took on his phone. No flashy production crew or equipment. Just a phone and a snazzy suit.
To show you companies are truly abandoning over-produced content, here’s a post from Metadata.
B2B content, your academy included, doesn’t have to be flashy. Your customers don’t care. Focus on delivering value in whatever format and medium you can, and you’re already ahead of 99% of your contemporaries waiting for the production crew to show up.
At the end of the day, creating content for your academy should be about value, not the way it looks. If the video, webinar, deck, or article delivers value to your customers, you’ve already won.
Pro Tip: Use iorad to create guided, step-by-step guides and walkthroughs of your product. For example, you can create a product walkthrough to send to freshly acquired customers. At the same time, you can use iroad to educate your customers on new features and their benefits. (Here’s how we use iorad on our website.)
3. Embrace AI
The global AI writing assistant software market continues to explode. In fact, it’s growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.2% and is expected to surpass $1b in value by 2028. The explosion of ChatGPT is shining an even brighter light on the technology.
Bill Gates even sang its praises in a recent Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything).
AI is here, and while many people are concerned about robots taking over for a variety of reasons—and rightfully so—these tools are uniquely positioned to help you create content (assuming you use them correctly).
Use them to create content, outline courses, write course descriptions, develop video scripts, and more.
Here’s an example:
And another one:
And one more:
This is just the tip of the iceberg. While AI won’t replace your entire content creation process, it can significantly reduce the resources required and the speed at which you can create.
That’s a win in my book.
Creating Content Doesn’t Have to Be a Nightmare
Content creation can be intimidating, especially if you’re using more mature academies to gauge what content “should” be.
I get it but don’t use them as your guiding light. Instead, use the content you already have, keep it simple, and embrace tools to help you accelerate the process. Do those, and your content engine will grow in no time.