Facilitator + Trainer + Creative Coach |
Based in Connecticut, Working Worldwide

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Justine Ickes

Read This Before You Create Your First Course

Read This Before You Create Your First Course

Lately, I get lots of inquires about my “Launchpad” package for folks looking to create in-person and online workshops and courses. 

And you know what? I think long and hard before taking on new clients in that program.

Yes, you read that right: I sometimes turn down that type of work.

Why? Well, first off, it’s about my own integrity and what I know based on decades of experience as an instructional designer, trainer and coach.

Here’s the thing: While live workshops and online training can be perfect for some businesses, one size for sure does not fit all.

Sometimes your clients are better served by your staying true to your core services and offerings.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I understand the lure of creating a signature learning program. I get where you’re coming from. I really do.

* You’ve made it as far as you can with your current business model.
* You’re excited to reach more clients and make a greater impact.
* You’re looking for a way to package the tools, tips and strategies you’ve worked long and hard to develop.

And now you’re thinking, what’s next? How can I grow my business, create a new income stream, and reach even more clients? 

So you take a look around and see lots of other people jumping into creating and selling e-courses, webinars, and the like.

And then next thing you know you’re lost down the rabbit hole of online learning — Adobe Connect, Zoom, and a host of other platforms.

My advice? Before you start, get crystal clear on what will best serve your clients. Get in the habit of asking yourself these questions:

  • What is the real reason I want to create a course? 
  • Will a course truly serve my clients?
  • Is what I have to share better delivered in another medium or format? (Podcast, anyone? Printable worksheets? A mini learning sprint delivered by email?)

So the next time you feel the urge to cook up an e-learning program, make sure you’ve got the right recipe for your clients. Need help figuring out what makes sense for your business? Schedule a consult with me to learn more about my coaching and consulting services.

Justine Ickes workshop facilitator

Need to Know, Nice to Know

Need to Know, Nice to Know

Where do you do your best thinking?

In the shower? At the gym? In the checkout line at Whole Foods?

No matter when or where your creativity sparks, it’s important to capture your ideas so you can create engaging and effective learning programs.

When you’re an expert in your field, it can be tempting to pack your webinar and your course with everything you know. 

But smart course designers realize that it’s not enough to simply churn out a laundry list of topics. You need to be selective, too.

Identifying your core “need to know” content and prioritizing it over other information that’s merely “nice to know” is the first step in developing your signature learning program


Because in a live webinar or online course you can have too much of a good thing.

Cram too much information into your learning event, and you run the risk of giving students (and prospective clients) a serious case of information overload.

At the very least, they might exit the webinar or not complete the course.

Worse, learners might be so turned off that they don’t enroll in your other courses, buy your products or services, or hire you for other work.

Let’s say you’re developing a basic course for people new to photography. You’re passionate about the history of the art form and your bookshelves are bulging with biographies of Robert Capa, Annie Leibovitz and other legendary photographers. You can talk a blue streak about lens and editing apps and your Instagram account is ginormous.

Your ideal learner, however, still hasn’t taken her point-and-shoot camera out of the box. 

See what I mean?

When you’ve got oodles of ideas, scaling back on your curriculum is a good approach. But you need to make sure you trim the right content.

Skimp on the core learning and your students will leave feeling hungry and unsatisfied.

So, how do you serve up the right content?

The key is to select the essential information and skills practice and deliver it in a way that keeps your students sated. 

Ask yourself:

  • Does the learner need to know this?
  • Is this essential information?
  • How will this content help meet my course objectives?

Want some support figuring out your key content so you can develop, launch and sell a course that’s just right for your clients? I’ve spent decades designing courses for clients large and small and I’ve got a proven system to get you in the learning game. Check out “The Launch Pad”, my hybrid coaching + consulting program here. Or contact me for a consult to find out how I can help.


Justine Ickes coach trainer facilitator

Three Tips for Engaging Learners

What makes for a great learning experience?

The short answer = A laser-like focus on the learner. 

As we all pivot to new ways of connecting, business owners, coaches, creatives, and folks like you are looking for the best ways to deliver powerful learning experiences.

Whether it’s a live webinar, pre-recorded course, virtual instructor-led training or a combination of all three, there’s one key rule to follow.

Put your audience front and center with these three simple rules.

  1. Show, don’t tell.

Make your content real! Remember those amazing Apple product launches? Like the legendary iPhone reveal? Or the iPad presentation? Steve Jobs didn’t just talk about these products; he actually showed what they could do in real-time.

I’m pretty sure the former Apple CEO knew there’d be a learning curve. That people would need time to figure out all the cool things they could do with the new devices.

But did Steve get bogged down in wordy step-by-step instructions for all those features? 

Nah. He knew people would be so excited and motivated that they’d experiment and learn on their own. 

The same goes for your own courses. Instead of boring your clients and customers with all the details, structure your courses so people can jump right in and teach themselves.

  1. Make your content real!

Candy Crush is fine when you need a mental pick-me-up. But when a chocolate craving strikes, wouldn’t you rather have the real thing?

Real live adults — like the ones enrolling in your webinars and courses — prefer content they can relate to. 

So, instead of imaginary scenarios and stock photos look for ways to boost the real life quotient in your courses.


Here’s one idea: Instead of spending money on stilted, professional voice-overs, or robotic find someone in your network who has a great voice and have that person do the narration. 

Think about it. You know your niche inside and out, right? And your employees (if you have any) should too. (And, if they don’t, why are they working for you?)

Do-it-yourself audio lets you tap into your in-house expertise and emphasize your brand’s unique personality.

So, talk about your products and services in real-world language your prospects and clients can understand.

  1. Watch your language.

Social media sites like Twitter, TikTok and Instagram have made tongue-in-cheek quips and commentary all the rage. To be sure, a smart and sassy title can bring traffic and maybe even boost sales.

But, when it comes to effective e-learning, it’s best to steer clear of this style of communication. Because what’s great for marketing can be downright annoying to a learner.

Remember, people come to your course to learn, not to be wowed — or worse, confused or irritated — by clever titles.

The next time you’re tempted to serve up some snazzy, punny text, ask yourself: Is this really necessary? Is this the best, clearest, most helpful way of educating my customers?

Follow these three rules and you’ll be well on your way to creating meaningful webinars and educational courses that your clients and customers will love.

Want some support getting your signature learning program up and running? I’ve spent decades designing courses for clients large and small and I’ve got a proven system to get you in the learning game. Check out The Launch Pad, my hybrid coaching + consulting program. Or contact me for a consult to find out how I can help.

Justine Ickes online training trainer coach facilitator

Are you ready to create an online course?

Prospective clients often ask me, “Do I have what it takes to create an awesome online course?” 

My answer?

Of course you do!

With today’s user-friendly e-learning platforms, you can have a course up and running fairly quickly.

But don’t take my word for it. Read on to see if you’re ready to create your own online course.

You’re Able to Commit.

Let’s be honest. Developing an online course takes a large investment of energy, time and resources. 

From crafting your course outline to writing learning objectives and from sourcing images to editing videos, you’ll need to juggle a variety of tasks before your course goes live. 

Add all that to what you’re already doing to run your business and you might find your head spinning before you’ve even started on your course. 

Does that mean you should put off your course until the time is right?

No. But you’ll be much more effective if you’ve got realistic expectations and have a plan in place to keep your business running while you dive down the course creation rabbit hole.

You’ve Got Friends and You Know How to Use Them. 

Ringo Starr got it right when he sang about the importance of friends. In e-learning, too, things are easier when you’ve got support. 

Plus, as far as we know, no one’s figured out how to extend the day beyond 24 hours. That’s why it’s important to figure out your strengths and then seek help for everything else.

Are you great at writing copy but easily frustrated with technology?

While you don’t need to be a tech guru to create a successful online program you do need to have some basic technical skills and be comfortable navigating online. 

So if words like “jpeg”, “metatags” and “bandwidth” send you scurrying, consider hiring someone to help you with the tech-side of your course.

Do you have an eye for layout but stumble over spelling and grammar? Then delegate the copy-editing to your company’s resident grammar geek.

You Know Your Learners.

No doubt about it, online learning is an ever-changing environment. What’s popular today might not exist a year from now, or even a month from now. 

The good news is you don’t need to be up on the latest app or have the skinny on the newest technology coming down the pike.

When it comes to great e-courses what matters is that you know your target audience. What e-learning tools do they like to use? How do they prefer to learn? Will they be happy to follow along with a slideshow? Or do they love on-line chats and discussion boards?

How do you find out? Ask them! 

So, how’d you do? If you can answer yes to the three criteria I’ve outlined above, you’ve got a good foundation for creating a course that your clients will love.

Want some support to get your signature learning program up and running? Check out The Launch Pad, my hybrid coaching + consulting program here. Or contact me for a consult to find out how I can help.