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Author Archives: Nic Lyons

About Nic Lyons

Nic is skilled in scaling start-up edtech and education organizations to growth-stage success through innovative marketing. A former journalist and copywriter, Nic holds a postgraduate certificate in digital and print publishing from Columbia University School of Journalism's publishing course.
  1. 6 Easy SEO Tricks to Make Course Listings More Visible on Google

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    The secret to search engine optimization is that there is no secret. But a few easy SEO tricks can make your course listings more visible on Google. Not only will they help students find your course pages, they’ll also make those pages more user friendly and attractive for learners. 

    You might be wondering why we’re focusing on Google specifically. The answer is pretty simple — Google searches account for more than 85% of the global search market share. Optimizing for Google search is a high-impact way to increase the visibility of your courses across the internet. 

    We’re not going to tell you to hire a pricey SEO firm or rebuild your entire website from scratch. Instead, we offer real changes you can make today to improve your SEO performance. Because when it comes to search engine optimization, small changes can make a big difference.

    What Is Search Engine Optimization?

    Let’s start by defining our terms. Search engine optimization is the content, formatting, programming, and hosting decisions that help you show up first in search engine results. 

    For the purposes of this guide, we’re going to talk mostly about on-page SEO. That is, the changes you can make to content on individual pages of your website to improve your ranking. We’re not going to get into programming and web development. Although, if you really want to up your SEO game, your web developer probably has some suggestions.

    Easy SEO Tricks for Your Course Catalog

    Easy SEO Tricks to Quickly Make Course Listings More Visible

    These easy SEO tricks can apply to any page on your website, but we’re talking about how they can help with course listings because increased course page visibility often leads to more registrations for your program. 

    1. Digitize Your Entire Course Guide

    Printed course guides are still a powerful tool. Sending them directly to potential students can help interest them in your programs, but a print catalog can’t improve your SEO. Some programs try to get away with uploading their course catalog as a PDF on their website, but that won’t help either.

    Uploading your course catalog as a PDF does not help SEO since search engines can’t read the contents of PDF files.

    First, search engines can’t read the contents of PDF files. When your course catalog is a PDF, you miss multiple opportunities to rank in search for course types and individual classes. Second, it creates an accessibility barrier. Some people are anxious about downloading files that could potentially infect their computers. Others don’t have the bandwidth for big downloads. 

    Worse, if someone is visually impaired, their assistive tools may not be able to read all PDFs. 

    When people can’t read your content, they’ll spend less time on your site, which means Google will assume you were unable to meet the user’s needs. The search engine will be less likely to show your content in future searches.

    So, putting your course catalog online is good for potential students and for SEO. Without this step, none of our other easy SEO tricks really matter.

    2. Choose Keywords That Fit Each Course

    Keywords are a core element of search engine optimization. Search engines look for keywords to tell them what a page is about. If the keywords on your page match the ones a potential student typed into their search engine, you’re more likely to rank. Keep in mind that the most powerful keywords aren’t individual words at all. They’re keyphrases. For the blog post you’re reading now the phrase “easy SEO tricks” was one of our keywords.

    The most powerful keywords aren’t individual words, they’re keyphrases. Aim for at least 3 per page.

    For each page of your course guide, you should have a minimum of around three keywords. One, the primary keyword, should tell visitors the topic of your course. You can mix in a few secondary keywords to add context. 

    For example, if your keyword is “Beginners Acting Class for Kids,” you might include phrases like:  

    • Drama class
    • Acting training
    • After-school activities
    • Improve public speaking

    You can use Google Trends or other keyword research tools to find the right words. 

    3. Optimize Titles and Descriptions

    The most powerful place to include keywords is in your title. Let’s say you have a course that helps behavioral health professionals get certified. Your title should probably include phrases like Behavioral Health Professional Certification Training or Certification Training for Behavioral Health Professionals.

    Your secondary keywords can show up in your description. Don’t get carried away here. In the early days of SEO, the more you used a keyword, the better you ranked. Now, it’s all about context. 

    Your course description should be interesting and informative. Any keywords it uses should be grammatically correct and make sense in context. They should help the visitor understand what the class is about and whether it’s the right choice for them.

    4. Customize Your URL for Each Course Listing

    This is an easy SEO trick that many people miss. Every page in your course guide has a unique web address. It probably looks something like this:

    Make sure that the slug, or URL, for each course page contains your keywords.

    The part we’re interested in for SEO purposes is the text between the last two backslashes. This is known as the slug, and it’s a unique identifier for your page. You want to make sure that the slug includes the keywords for your course. So, if you have a course on How to Draw Animals your slug should be something like /how-to-draw-animals/. 

    Here’s what to avoid when choosing a slug: 

    • Don’t use an internal course number. /290340u57/ might make sense to you, but it doesn’t tell Google anything about your course
    • Keep it short. /how-to-draw-cats-dogs-chickens-pigs-with-artist-sarah-smith/ is too much and misses the keyphrase
    • Use real words and recognizable phrases, i.e. don’t shorten how to draw animals to /hw-to-drw-anmls/

    Most website content management software includes an option to customize your slug. Take the extra moment to do this and you’ll instantly improve SEO.

    5. Organize Your Course Catalog in a Meaningful Way

    Google doesn’t just look at individual pages. It also considers how those pages fit together. This is another case where improving SEO also improves the user experience. When you organize your course content in logical ways, both Google and your potential learners can easily find what they’re looking for. 

    Organize your course guide into logical categories and subcategories. Categories might include broad topics like: 

    • Career Development
    • Personal Enrichment
    • Business and Skills Training
    • High School Completion
    • Technology
    • Summer Camps
    • Health and Fitness

    Subcategories are more focused but still encompass multiple classes. So under Personal Enrichment you may have subcategories like: 

    • Arts and Crafts
    • Cooking
    • Outdoor Experiences
    • Personal Finance

    Try to choose categories and subcategories that your average student (or their parent) might search for.

    6. Include Location Information

    Mentioning the city and state where your class is located can make your listing more likely to rank for “near me” searches. So if someone types in “personal finance classes near me” your course listing is more likely to pop up in their search. 

    Skip this step, and you could be left off the list. It’s probably not enough to include the location of your organization on the contact us page. Make sure it appears on every course listing. 

    Think Beyond Easy SEO Tricks to Keep Improving

    The easy SEO tricks we’ve shared here will get you started. They’re a quick way to improve user experience and get seen on Google. But they’re just the beginning. Keep in mind that SEO is always evolving. What works now may not be a best practice in three years. Watch the headlines to make sure you never miss an update. 

    CourseStorm can help you create a user-friendly, search engine optimized course catalog.

    Our simple course registration software helps you stay organized, lets you customize your URL, and features location information for every class. For more tips on reaching more students, read our post on course catalog examples that boost enrollment.

  2. 9 Key Elements of a Course Catalog: Examples That Boost Enrollment

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    Building a quality course catalog can help you convince more students to register. The most effective course listings are more than a simple list. They combine all of the information students need to know to make an informed decision about your courses.

    We see a lot of course guides in our work with community and arts education programs. Among the hundreds we’ve seen, a few stand out as strong course catalog examples that other programs could emulate. You can use these examples as a model as you build your own course listings and to avoid common pitfalls. We’ll even break down each one so you can see what makes them effective.

    What Is a Course Catalog for?

    You may think that a course catalog is a list of classes offered by your program or organization. What people sometimes forget is that a quality course catalog is also a marketing tool. Students use it to decide which classes to take and whether those classes are worth their time and money.

    To be effective, your course catalog must capture the eye and the imagination of your potential students. It needs to convince them to register right now. 

    Potential students who browse a course catalog are looking for answers to two important questions:

    • What will this class teach me?
    • Is the value of this class worth my investment of time and money?

    Many programs struggle because they stop after answering question one. They tell students about subject matter and learning outcomes, but fail to explain why those outcomes matter. As a result, students know what the class is about, but may not see the true value in the experience.

    An effective course catalog convinces students of the value of each class. It uses every course title, description, and image to show students what they can get by taking the course.

    9 Parts of an Effective Course Catalog, With Examples

    An effective course catalog includes 9 parts. Each one helps the student gather information about the courses offered.

    1. Categories
    2. Subcategories
    3. Class names
    4. Class descriptions
    5. Images
    6. Instructor information
    7. Place and time
    8. Pricing
    9. Registration link

    Below, the course catalog example from San Juan College Community Enrichment shows all 9 parts in action.

    image of a class catalog with components as described below

    1. Categories: What Is This Course About?

    Categories help to group similar kinds of classes and make it easy for people to find the classes they’re looking for. Seek a balance between overly generic and too specific. The goal is to logically group clusters of related classes.

    Some categories that are broad, yet specific enough to be useful may include:

    • Kids classes
    • Workforce development
    • Fitness
    • Finance
    • Music and dance
    • Arts and crafts
    • Computer skills
    • Cooking

    For example, the category “Cooking” is precise. Someone can easily imagine the kinds of classes that might fit into that category. It’s also broad enough to include several different classes. Something like “French Cuisine” may be too specific, unless you run a cooking school.

    2. Subcategories Make Navigation Easier

    Subcategories can break down big topics into more specific focus areas. This helps students find the classes they are looking for by guiding them through your course catalog.

    For example, you may have 30 classes in workforce development that focus on 5 or 6 subtopics. Categories can help students find the courses that are most relevant to them.

    Some example subcategories for workforce development might be:

    • Computers & technology
    • Healthcare & medical
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Financial literacy
    • Skilled trades

    3. Class Names Tell Students What to Expect

    Effective class names tell students what the class is about. When writing class names, aim for clear description over cleverness. Here are a few examples of real class names that work:

    • Digital Photography: Capturing the Right Shot
    • Write From the Heart for Fun and Profit
    • Five Unexpected Books Every Classical Educator Should Read: Free Webinar
    • Websites That Work: Converting Web Visitors Into Customers

    These class names work because they’re clear and include keywords that search engines can find. Some also include extra details about format or cost.

    Of course, if you can be clear and clever, that’s even better. One CourseStorm customer put this idea into action for her “Learn to Crochet” class. Last year, the class was canceled due to lack of registrations. Instead of overhauling the class, she changed the name. This year, she quickly filled the class “Too Legit to Knit: Crochet Instead.”

    Pro Tip: If you run the same class every season, keep the name the same in each version of the catalog. (Unless you’re hoping to revitalize a lagging class!) This helps students recognize classes they’ve already taken and spot new ones on their preferred topics.

    4. Descriptions With Real Course Catalog Examples

    Course descriptions tell students what they’ll learn and why they should take a course. Focus on the real effect the course could have on their life. Writing a quality course description takes some effort, but the results are worth it.

    Here’s an example of a real course description from The Training Place:

    “If there’s one thing guaranteed in life, it is change. The way in which we navigate unanticipated change and stressful experiences will have a direct impact on our mind and body in subtle and not so subtle ways.

    You will be introduced to the Change RHYTHM model, explore the tone of your inner narrative, self-assess your relationship and mindset towards a recent change event, and define a set of unique resilience rituals that will enable you to adapt to and evolve through the change and maintain forward momentum in the new normal that follows.”

    This course description works because it:

    • Speaks to a real need the student has — dealing with change.
    • Explains exactly what students will learn.
    • Includes a clear outcome: “adapt to and evolve through the change and maintain forward momentum in the new normal that follows.”

    Pro Tip: If you realize you need to share more information than can comfortably fit in a course description, consider linking to a course fact sheet or FAQ attachment.

    Keywords: the Hidden Element of a Course Catalog

    Using key search terms in your course titles and descriptions makes them more discoverable to search engines. That helps your students find what they’re looking for. 

    You can do some basic keyword research using a tool like Semrush or Moz. Then, include those keywords in your course descriptions. Aim for a good mix of the two main types of keywords:

    • short-tail keywords are short and broad, such as “classes for adults” or “First Aid class”
    • long-tail keywords are longer and more specific, like “sustainable papermaking course for adults” or “Lego robot workshop for teens”

    Include both so search engines can see what your course is really about and who it’s for.

    5. Images Increase Engagement

    Images make your course listings seem more inviting. The best option is to use real photos from your courses. If that’s not possible, high-quality stock images or custom graphics can fill the gap.

    Look for images that are easy to understand at a glance. Smiling faces and bright colors tend to be most engaging. Remember to use images that include all the types of people who might take your classes.

    Screenshot of a course description with a photo of kids on playground


    6. Instructor Information Boosts Student Confidence

    Information about the instructor can provide a compelling reason to take a class. Include a paragraph about the instructor and their background, or link to their bio elsewhere on your site.

    7. Place and Time Help Orient Students

    Include information about when and where the class will run, so students can tell if it fits their schedule. Remember to mention whether a class is online or in-person.

    8. Pricing Information Is Essential

    Include clear pricing information for every class. Make sure you’re accurately portraying the whole cost of the program. Some students may love to take an art class for $300, but when they find out they have to spend another $300 to buy their own supplies, the course no longer fits their budget. It will save both your time and theirs to be forthright about pricing. 

    For big-ticket courses, consider offering payment plans to make them more accessible. Being open about pricing helps build trust and gives students the information they need to make an informed decision.

    9. Registration Links Let Students Act Now

    Every class listing should include a button or link where students can register right away. This makes it easy for someone to act while interest is high.

    Using online registration software with payment processing streamlines enrollment for students and for you. After registering online, all they have left to do is show up for class! 

    Avoid This Major Course Catalog Mistake!

    Some programs can get all 9 parts right and still not see the number of registrations they were hoping for. Why? Because they’re requiring an account before letting someone view their course catalog. 

    We’ve all had the experience of trying to read an online article only to be informed that we need to create an account first. Not only does this interrupt the natural flow for the user, but it also makes them mistrustful. They wonder, “Do you even want me to read your content, or do you just want my contact information so you can bombard my inbox with sales emails?” 

    Your class offerings aren’t confidential information—in fact, the more people who know about them, the better! Making your course catalog accessible to all gives students the chance to discover a class that’s a perfect fit for them. 

    Quick fix: Share your course catalog openly and freely. Make sure the link routes visitors directly to the catalog without a login.

    Course Catalog Examples: How It All Fits Together

    A well-organized course catalog is inviting. Whatever organizational structure you choose to guide your layout should be consistent throughout. For example, you may choose to list your classes alphabetically, or you may choose to list them based on when they run, or you may choose to list them by type category. 

    However you organize, make sure the course catalog is searchable. Bonus points if you can allow students to adjust how courses are sorted so they can view them by date, price, or alphabetically by title. 

    CourseStorm offers everything you need to build your own course catalog like the examples shared here. To learn more, start your free trial or contact us today.

  3. Low-Cost Course Promotion: How to Advertise a Class on a Budget

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    When you think about how to advertise a class, paid ads might be the first idea that comes to mind. That makes sense, since paid advertising absolutely can help with course promotion. There’s just one major drawback to this strategy—the cost.  

    Most education programs don’t have massive budgets to work with. They need affordable, maybe even free, ways to promote classes. Fortunately, it is possible to advertise courses without spending a ton of money. To help you do that, we’re sharing some of the ideas we’ve seen CourseStorm customers use to promote their classes and programs.

    Course Promotion Starts With a Clear Message

    You’ll use the same basic information in many different ways to advertise your course. So the first step is to collect all of that information. You’ll want a clear and compelling course description, some relevant images, and a link that people can use to sign up. All of this should be easily found in your course catalog. 

    Set up an easy website link

    The benefits of straightforward website navigation can’t be overstated! When folks visit your website, make sure it’s easy to find your newest courses. 

    Don’t assume interested students will dig through an entire course catalog to find the class they’re interested in. Make sure the link you share on social media or other third-party sites brings the user directly to the sign-up page for that specific course. 

    With this information in hand, you’re ready to start advertising your course. 

    Ways to Advertise Courses for Free

    1. Send an announcement to your email list

    The first step is to prepare an email blast to send to your contacts. Announcing the new class to your existing customers first is good practice, because these are most likely to be people who have taken your courses before. 

    Include the course description and a registration link. You can also mention that you’re sharing the news with your email list first. People love to feel special and in the know, so an exclusive first look at upcoming courses can help build student loyalty

    Keep in mind that people get a lot of emails. You might want to send the announcement a couple of times over two or three weeks to make sure it gets seen. If you send multiple emails, use different subject lines for each one. You can also personalize email content and subject lines to make messages more appealing.

    2. Share on social media

    Create an eye-catching social media post to share the news about an upcoming class. If you’re sharing on Facebook or LinkedIn, you can share the link with a short description, and the platform will automatically include your image. 

    For Instagram, you’ll need to get a little more creative with your social media graphic since you can’t share links directly. Include a link to the course in your bio or as part of your Linktree. Don’t forget to mention the link in your post. See the example below for one way to do that. 

    Example of how to advertise a class on social media

    In fact, wherever you post, include a call to action. A call to action is a short, specific statement telling users what action to take when they view your content. Examples of call-to-action statements include: 

    • Register Now
    • Save Your Seat
    • Sign Up
    • View New Classes

    Encourage your staff to share the post on their personal social media pages as well to boost your views. If you’re into social media advertising, you can also “boost” it as a sponsored post.

    3. Add a link to your email signature with a call to action

    It’s easy to overlook the not-so-humble email signature! They’re relatively easy to change and that makes them an excellent place to share major announcements.

    If you’re announcing a new class, edit your email signature to include a button, graphic, or link to the registration page. You can ask everyone in your organization to share the link in their emails as well.

    4. Use your voicemail message to alert your audience

    Most voicemail programs are easy to update, so big news can be shared in that space too. Be concise and direct listeners to a place they can learn more.

    For example, “Registration for our new Adult Dance classes is open now. Visit our website to save your spot.”

    5. Get it on a local events calendar

    Most local and even regional news outlets have community calendars where you can share your class information. They might be called briefs, upcoming events, or community news. Members of the community can submit short listings for events, workshops, or classes. 

    Check your local paper or publication to see if they have something like this. If they do, make sure you follow their directions for how to post. Some will ask you to send an email to a specific address. Others offer the option to automatically add your listing using a simple submission form. It’s a quick and easy way to make your classes more visible.

    6. Create a Facebook event

    Many people use Facebook as a tool to find out what’s going on in their community. Create a Facebook event to get in front of this audience. Make sure you clearly state that registration is required and what the class costs. 

    Include all of the location and scheduling information. Then link to your registration page so people know how to sign up. 

    Mixxer Iron Art Event on Facebook

    7. Send a press release to appropriate media channels

    A press release can help your program spread the news quickly. Write your class announcement following standard press release format, and email it to your media contacts. 

    If you don’t know anyone at the local news station, visit their website. They should have a page that tells you where and how to submit news. Your local chamber of commerce may also be able to provide you with a media contact list.

    If you don’t hear back within a few days, you can send an email to follow up. Keep your email short and polite. Something like this: 

    Dear Editor’s Name,

    I know you get a lot of press releases and there’s a chance mine got lost in the shuffle. We’re offering a new class that can help adults prepare for in-demand tech jobs. It’s a timely topic since the tech job market is growing rapidly. I’ve included the release again below so you don’t have to go digging for it.

    Your Name

    Keep in mind that making staff and instructors available as sources, and generally being helpful to the press is a long-term investment. When editors and journalists see that you’re a reliable source who provides newsworthy information, they’re more likely to work with you. Keep building these relationships to get your classes the publicity they deserve.

    8. Host a live stream

    People love live videos! You can share your news with a live video on your favorite social media channel. Don’t overthink it. Here’s an easy recipe for a successful live experience:

    • Announce it a few days ahead of time
    • Plan for no more than 15 minutes
    • Prepare a list of talking points
    • Practice beforehand
    • Go live! 

    As an example, here’s how to start a live broadcast on Instagram

    How to Advertise a Class Inexpensively

    9. Drop it in the mailbox

    If you have mailing addresses for prior students, you can drop a postcard in the mail to announce your new class. Physical mail stands out because it’s less commonly used these days. That means students may be more likely to pay attention to this tactic if it’s used sparingly. 

    You can target your list by deciding to send it to the people you think will benefit the most. That could be only people who registered in the past year or only those who pay with cash or a check. 

    The US Postal Service also provides special rates for bulk marketing mail that will allow you to target residents in a particular zip code. They even have discounted rates if your organization is a nonprofit.

    Good design is really important for physical mailings. You want people to really look at your postcard, not lump it in with junk mail. Make sure to include a short website link where they can access more information. You might also include a QR code (more on those in a moment).

    10. Put up posters using easy-to-access QR codes

    Posters are still a great way to announce upcoming classes. They target a local audience and can reach people who aren’t already on your mailing list or following you on social media.

    To make it easy for folks on the move to find out more, use a custom QR code that can be scanned with a cellphone camera to share specific information. You can make them for free using an online generator. We like Unitag but Canva also has a built-in QR code app you can access if you’re already using this graphic design software to make posters.

    11. Increase engagement with a promo code or discount

    A promo code can entice someone to read more or take a chance on a new class. The discount can be limited to meet a specific timeframe, like the first week after the class is announced. Send it out to your email list or print it on your postcard mailing.

    You might even offer discount codes as a reward for signing up. Students who register for your new class can get a code that they can use for future classes or share with a friend. 

    Download the Class Promotion Checklist

    Every time you have a new class to promote, you can follow this list. If you can supplement with some paid advertising, great. If not, these tactics should still help fill your classes. 

    Want a handy checklist version? We created a printable, easy-to-use reference to make remembering where to share even easier for you. 

    Download a checklist!

    Of course, figuring out how to advertise a class is just the first step. Next you need to make it simple for students to register. That’s where we come in. CourseStorm’s simple online registration and payment solution offers a streamlined class sign-up process for every student.

  4. What’s Your Mindset? Growth vs. Fixed and Why It Matters

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    As someone who provides educational experiences, you may have heard of the concept of growth vs. fixed mindset. This idea that what you believe about yourself impacts what you can achieve in life is not new. Carol Dweck introduced the concept of growth mindset to the world almost 20 years ago.

    Yet knowing is not the same as applying. Even though you model a growth mindset for your students, it’s sometimes difficult to apply it to yourself and your organization. At CourseStorm, we know that growth is a primary goal for many educational organizations. Let’s take a look at how you can apply a growth mindset to help your organization thrive.

    What Is a Growth Mindset?

    A growth mindset is the belief that you can develop talents and abilities through persistent effort over time. Basically, it says that anyone is capable of improving if they’re willing to work at it.

    This is a belief that many educators share. After all, the courses you offer encourage people to work to improve their skills. You don’t assume that a student comes to class already able to do everything you’re going to teach them. What would be the point?

    A growth mindset is the belief that anyone is capable of improving if they’re willing to work at it.

    Growth mindset stands in contrast to fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is the idea that you are born with a set of abilities or talents and nothing you do can change that. 

    Carol Dweck explored these two concepts in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success which is now considered a pop psychology classic. Yet, many people miss one key idea about mindset, and it’s an idea that’s particularly relevant to organizations. 

    Dweck says that you may have different mindsets in different situations. For example, you may believe that you are capable of learning anything, but that your level of athleticism is fixed. What does this mean for organizations? It means that even if you have an organization full of educators who believe their students are capable of growth, you may still have a mindset problem when it comes to the organization itself. 

    The Value of a Growth Mindset for Educational Organizations

    “We can’t expect big classes in our small town.” 

    “We can only offer one class at a time because we can’t handle too many registrations at once.” 

    Raising prices would mean we’d lose all of our students.” 

    All of these are examples of fixed mindset ideas. They assume that the organization’s ability to grow is limited by outside factors. Although context is important, growth-minded organizations don’t assume that a challenge is a barrier. Rather, they look for ways to turn these obstacles into opportunities. 

    “The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues.” – Carol Dweck

    Organizations with a growth mindset set goals for growth. Fear of failure could hold organizations back from even trying, but growth-minded organizations assume that failure will be part of the process. Just as a student needs practice to develop a skill, organizations may need to try multiple strategies to reach their goals. 

    What’s Your Mindset? How to Do a Mindset Audit

    It’s easy for organizations to fall into a fixed mindset. The burden of responsibility for students and staff members can make leadership more cautious. So can fear of social backlash or a loss of reputation. One fixed mindset person can influence the whole team, especially if that person is in a leadership position.

    Avoid the dangers of a fixed mindset by doing an annual Mindset Audit. Gather your leadership together and ask these questions. You can make a copy of our mindset audit form to collect responses.

    Mindset Audit Questions for Organizations

    An organization with a growth mindset sees failure as part of the process and uses challenges as opportunities to improve. Negative reviews or student complaints are valuable insights that offer guidance toward improvement. These organizations have clear, trackable goals for growth and support their employees to improve. Finally, they use scalable processes and procedures that leave the organization room to develop. 

    If you have an open and trusting relationship with instructors and administrative staff, you might ask them variations of these questions as well. 

    • In your experience, how does our organization respond to failure? 
    • Without looking anything up, can you list the organization’s formal goals for growth? 
    • How well do you feel the organization supports your career and personal growth? 
    • What processes and procedures might limit our growth? 

    Staff responses can give you insight you might otherwise miss. They help you spot whether your organization is acting on its values. 

    How to Apply Growth Principles in Your Organization

    If you notice your educational organization isn’t as growth-minded as you would like, that’s okay! You can make changes to shift that shared mindset. 

    1. Create an Organizational Plan for Growth

    Consider how you plan to grow and set clear goals for the organization. Keep in mind that organizational growth needs to be sustainable. If you want to add more students, you may need better systems or more staff to meet the workload. To grow revenue, you need more registrations, higher prices, or lower overhead. Think about your goals and what it will take to achieve them. Then, share your plan with the whole organization.

    2. Keep Failure in Perspective

    Nobody hopes for dissatisfied students, unbalanced budgets, or canceled classes. Yet, these things can happen to any organization, particularly when you try something new like a different type of course or a new software system. 

    Growth-minded organizations run a post-mortem meeting to figure out what went wrong and learn from it. But they don’t let this learning process feel punitive. The goal is not to avoid failure at all costs, but to learn from it. 

    3. Support Individual Growth

    No matter how skilled your staff members are, they still have room to grow. Your organization can support that growth through periodic performance reviews, training opportunities, and recognizing effort. If possible, you may even provide tuition assistance or fund professional development and attendance at conferences. 

    4. Plan for Negative Feedback

    It’s easy to dismiss negative reviews as the work of internet trolls or unreasonable people. But growth-minded organizations take feedback seriously. They read every review and try to understand how they could do better in the future. That doesn’t mean you take reviews personally, but it does mean thinking critically about the issues raised in a review. 

    You can also create a process for how staff members should capture and respond to feedback, whether it comes from online review sites or class evaluations

    5. Choose Scalable Solutions

    Organizations limit their own growth when they cling to high-effort processes. Although it is possible to manage student registrations with a spreadsheet, that process soon becomes unwieldy. It requires time and effort that might be better spent on directly supporting students. 

    Scalable processes, procedures, and software solutions give your organization room to grow. Take CourseStorm’s online registration and payment processing software for example. 

    With no monthly fees, you can scale your organization to meet demand without worrying about the cost of your registration software. Our built-in marketing tools make it easy to reach any group of students or potential students. Plus, automatic waiting lists and low-enrollment warnings help you fill classes and grow your program. For more details on how CourseStorm helps growth-minded education organizations thrive, contact us or download our State of Informal Learning report today.

  5. How Better Waitlist Management Can Improve the Student Experience

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    Imagine that you announce a new class and students quickly start signing up. Before you know it, you have more interested students than one instructor can handle. Suddenly waitlist management has become a top priority. 

    That might sound like a dream come true for your education program, or it may be a regular occurrence. Either way, smart waitlist management can help you make the most of this opportunity. It’s a chance to build a relationship with more students and understand what learners are looking for. We’ll show you how to manage a waiting list without investing in extra waitlist software. 

    What Waitlist Management Can Do for Your Program

    You might wonder if your classes really need waiting lists. It might be easier to just fill classes and not worry about the people who miss out. But with the right tools, managing a waiting list can be simple and having one opens up a number of new opportunities. 

    With the right tools, managing a waiting list can be simple and opens up a number of new opportunities like these.

    1. Keep Learners Engaged

    If a potential student learns that a class is full, they may get discouraged. When that discouraging experience is their first interaction with your class offerings, they may go looking for the class in other places. However, a waitlist can keep them engaged a little longer.

    Adding students to a waiting list gives them hope that they may still get to register. They’re likely to be extra engaged as they wait for news. This engagement creates an opportunity for you to reach out with other options—classes that meet at a different time or cover related topics. You might even provide a promo code they can apply to another class while they’re waiting.

    2. Improve the Student Experience

    A student who ends up on a waiting list is likely to be disappointed, but they also gain something valuable—early access to registration for upcoming classes. Students on your waiting list should get the chance to register before the general public. While the timing may not work out for them, you’ve at least shown the student you care about their experience. 

    3. Fill Classes Faster

    Waiting lists help you fill classes faster by preloading the class with waiting list students. Other potential students may be spurred to action by the knowledge that the class is filling up fast. This can create a positive feedback loop that leads to even more interest in the class. 

    4. Help You Plan Your Course Calendar

    A waiting list is a good indication that people are interested in the topic you’re teaching. You may choose to add a second session or create other classes around the topic. It might even be worthwhile to move resources away from a low-enrollment class so you can offer more sessions of high interest classes. 

    5. Influence Your Pricing Strategy

    If a class regularly has a waitlist, you may also have room to increase your prices. Students are often willing to pay more for a class they see as popular and highly valuable. 

    How to Manage a Waitlist

    Managing a waitlist can be simple if you have the right processes in place. An online registration system that includes a waitlist option (like CourseStorm) is the easiest way to manage your waitlists. You can enter the data into a spreadsheet or even a paper form, but the more you can automate the process, the easier it will be. 

    Students on a waiting list in the CourseStorm Software

    Here are a few more tips to improve your waitlist management: 

    • Tag everyone on your waiting list with the class and class category they’re interested in, so you can contact them with relevant opportunities.

    • Try CourseStorm’s new waiting list feature: when a spot becomes available, you can send people on the waiting list a link that expires after a set time. Then, they can either register right on your site or decline the invite. 

    • Have a clear waitlist policy so potential students understand what they’re signing up for. 

    If you don’t already have a waitlist policy, that last tip may require some explanation. Here’s what should go in a waitlist policy and how to share one.

    Write a Waitlist Policy

    Let students know how you’ll manage your waitlist by including a clear waitlist policy when they join. Students should understand exactly what they’ll get out of joining the waitlist and how you’ll communicate with them about upcoming opportunities. 

    Every waitlist policy should cover these 3 things. We’ve suggested some sample language to use.

    Even a simple first-come-first served policy needs some explanation. Every waitlist policy should cover: 

    1. How you’ll communicate with people on the list.
    2. What they get out of joining the list.
    3. How potential students can remove themselves from the list.  

    Here is some sample language you might include in your waiting list policy: 

    • “If a space opens up in the class you are interested in, you will be notified by email. You will have 24 hours to either complete your registration or decline the opportunity. If you have not completed your registration within 24-hours, we will assume you have declined and will offer the space to the next student on the list.”

    • “If space does not open up in the class you are interested in, you will get early registration access to the next class session. Please watch your email for notifications.” 

    • “We may email you with recommendations for upcoming classes related to this one. Please watch your email or visit our course catalog for more details.” 

    • “If you would like to remove yourself from this list, please email: It may take up to 48 hours to remove you from our system.” 

    If your waiting list policy is anything other than first-come-first serve, note that in the policy. For example, you may give preference to people who have relatives already in the class, are members of your organization, or have taken classes with you in the past. 

    Waitlist Management Made Simple

    Having a waitlist for your classes provides an excellent customer experience, can make your program more successful, and helps you fill classes. You can automate waitlist management by including the option for every class you offer. Learn how to build a waitlist in CourseStorm or contact us for more details. 


  6. The Best Class Registration Forms Achieve These 5 Vital Tasks

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    Online class registration forms can do more than gather information. They’re often your first direct communication with a student. You can use them as an opportunity to share information, better understand student needs, and tap into their insight. In short, well-designed class registration forms set the foundation for a positive student experience.

    To achieve all that without overwhelming the student takes some smart decision making. You want to keep your forms focused and relevant, but still collect and share the information you need. Let’s look at the basic tasks every registration form must accomplish. Then we’ll share a simple course registration form template you can customize with class-specific questions. 

    What Should a Class Registration Form Do?

    It’s easy to forget that class registration forms are a two-way line of communication. Collecting information from the student is only half their job. The other half is to provide the essential information a student needs to feel excited and prepared.

    Make sure that your class registration forms accomplish all five of the following vital tasks.

    1. Gather information about the student

    The first function of a student registration form is to gather all of the information you need to know about them. This may include their name, date of birth, and their email address or phone number. For some classes, you might also need information about the student’s gender, allergies, or disabilities that might need special accommodation.

    Be thoughtful about which information you really need. Gender, disabilities, and even date of birth might not be relevant in all cases. Show students that you respect their privacy by only asking for essential information.

    2. Share details about class requirements or expectations

    You can write a beautiful class description outlining everything students need to know, and they may still miss some details. If something is essential, include it on your registration form. Then add a box they can check to indicate that they’ve read and understood each item. 

    For example, the following paragraph packs in a lot of information: 

    “Family Float is a kayaking class for families. That means, children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. This is an immersive class, so you will get wet! Each participant should wear a swimsuit and bring a towel. Goggles and swim caps are optional. For your safety, you must wear your instructor-provided life jacket at all times while in the marked boating area.” 

    This might be a useful part of a class description, but it isn’t the best choice for your registration form. The friendly tone buries some of the details and students could easily miss important information if they’re reading quickly. They are more likely to come prepared if you list each requirement or expectation individually. 

    Like this:

    • I understand that an adult guardian must accompany my child at all times during this class. 
    • Both my child and their adult will bring a swimsuit and towel to every class. 
    • I agree that both myself and my child will wear our instructor-provided life jacket at all times while in the marked boating area. 

    checklist items on a class registration form showing that a student understands the expectations of the class

    It’s easy to take this advice too far. Although you want to cover the essentials, you don’t have to include every detail of your course. For example, the part about goggles and swim caps probably isn’t vital to providing a safe and positive student experience.

    If you do have supplemental information to share, you might want to include it as a linked PDF. Just keep in mind that students may not take the time to review everything. For the form itself, think about what information students will need to know in order to feel prepared for your course. Instructors can cover anything else during the class. 

    3. Include pricing information and ways to pay

    Clearly state the cost and method of payment on your registration form. Link any price-adjusting options so the total automatically updates. 

    For example: If you’re hosting an Intro to Photoshop course you may offer a discounted license for the software. Some students may already have a copy and want to pay for just the class. In that case, you could include two pricing options. One for the class plus software and one for the class registration alone.

    If you’re operating as a non-profit or providing free classes, you may also want to ask for a donation. Explain how your organization might use the donation. Wherever possible, include a suggested donation amount. A clear use and suggested donation amount can increase the likelihood that people will donate.

    Here are some ways to put this into practice: 

    • Your $3 donation helps cover administration costs for this class.
    • Foster a child’s creativity by donating $35 to meet the cost of class enrollment for one student.
    • $10 pays for your class materials, helping us offer this class to more students.

    4. Record consent for legal information or terms of use

    If you need any waivers, legal releases, or consent forms, ask for them on your registration form. This lets instructors spend less time on legalities, and gives students a chance to read and review material.

    Decide whether you need any or all of the following: 

    • Refund policy
    • Photo release or recording permission
    • Guardian consent for students under 18
    • Statements about potential allergens or hazards
    • COVID or other health policy statements
    • Guidelines for using equipment or facilities

    Even if you ask students to sign required documents when they arrive in class, include them with the registration form. This allows students to review them and ask questions ahead of time.

    5. Offer opportunities to provide feedback

    Feedback might be the most underutilized function of a class registration form. You don’t have to wait until a student has completed a class to start gathering their feedback. Opening a line of communication early shows students that you value their insight and are ready to listen. 

    Try adding questions like: 

    • How did you hear about this class?
    • On a scale of 1 to 5, how easy was it to register for this course?
    • What other classes would you like us to offer?

    Limit yourself to one or two feedback questions that the student can answer quickly. Too many questions can make your form seem cluttered and overwhelming. Remember, this is just the beginning of the conversation.

    A Class Registration Form Template Worth Copying

    When you’re ready to start building your own class registration form, aim for simplicity. In some cases you may only need the student’s name, phone number, mailing address, and payment information. Students will appreciate that you stuck to only the most essential questions.

    Example of a simple class registration form

    Some course providers fall into the habit of using one form for everything. So if one course requires special details, like allergy information, they include it in every form. The problem is that your forms quickly become bloated and complicated, which adds friction for the student.

    It’s smarter to have a basic form template that you adjust for each class. When you customize forms to collect and share the right information, you offer a better student experience.

    The checklist below will help you customize your forms. Use the optional fields only if you absolutely need that information to offer a quality class.

    Checklist for Better Class Registration Forms. Essential for every form: student name, phone, email, address, payment info. Optional, use only when needed: age gender or other demographic info; disabilities or allergies that need accommodation; details about class requirements; donation request; photo release or recording permission; guardian consent; equipment or facility use guidelines; feedback requests.

    Make Your Class Registration Forms Easy to Use

    Most importantly, your online registration forms should be accessible and easy to use. Make it mobile-friendly and use modern formats.

    When forms are relevant, easy to read, and full of useful information, online class registration is easier for students. And that’s the beginning of a positive student experience.

    That’s why CourseStorm offers built-in student registration forms and a range of customization options. We help you keep forms simple, while getting and sharing all the information you need to make a class successful. Contact us to learn more, or start your free trial and test the forms out yourself.

  7. How Value-Based Selling Can Help You Register More Students

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    Most people don’t get into the education industry because they love selling things. Yet, selling your courses to students is an important part of your job. Think of it this way: students need to register for your courses before they can benefit from them. Because you care about students and want to help them, value-based selling may be a great fit for your organization. 

    Value-based marketing and selling puts the student and their needs at the core of your sales efforts. It encourages you to work with students to help them find the right learning experience for them. Along the way, a value-based selling methodology can help you register more students. Let’s explore how you can put this strategy to work for your program.

    What Is Value-Based Selling?

    Value-based selling is an approach to marketing and sales that focuses on creating value to the customer. For programs that provide learning opportunities, this starts with adopting a student focus. You should understand what students gain by taking your classes and find ways to offer value before, during, and after registration. 

    Value refers to the worth or usefulness of something. A class can offer quantitative value (earning a credential), or qualitative value (improving quality of life).

    Value can be a slippery term, but basically, it refers to the worth or usefulness of something. Some products and services have quantitative value — they can help customers save or earn money. Unless you’re teaching workforce development classes, quantitative value might be hard to prove for your courses.

    Most enrichment and personal development classes offer qualitative value — they improve quality of life for the student. 

    Examples of Qualitative Value Offered by Enrichment Classes:

    • Increased confidence
    • Improved wellbeing
    • Stronger social ties and sense of community
    • Greater cultural awareness
    • Better physical or mental health
    • Deeper self-awareness through self-discovery
    • Higher emotional intelligence
    • Fun and entertainment
    • More resilience and grit

    Use the qualitative value of your classes to find your unique value proposition.

    How to Identify Your Unique Value Proposition

    Students have more types of learning opportunities to choose from than ever before. They can take classes in-person, online or both. They can choose a college, school, organization or private instructor. Free resources like YouTube and public libraries make self-study an attractive option.

    Your unique value proposition is what makes your classes different from your competitors’.

    Your unique value proposition makes the case for why a student should choose the classes you offer. It’s an essential part of your program or organizational branding

    Here are a few places to start looking for your unique value proposition: 

    • Small class size
    • Personalized approach
    • Unique focus or specialty
    • Award-winning instructors
    • Partnership with a local organization or employer
    • Ongoing support
    • Robust student community
    • Expertise in a particular student population

    Maybe yours is the only program that offers in-person classes on this subject in your town. Perhaps you have special expertise in working with teens, or have a certification in trauma-informed instruction. Anything that sets you apart can form part of your unique value proposition. 

    Just keep in mind that something only adds value if students need or can use it. If you primarily teach adults, having a staff member with a Ph.D. in child psychology may not add value. Unless, of course, you decide to add parenting classes to your course catalog.

    Sometimes what looks like a drawback can actually add value if framed in the right way for the right audience. Being the only dance studio in town without mirrors on the wall might not add value. Unless your program embraces body positivity and believes that dance is about how you feel, not what you look like. 

    Build a Value Selling Framework Around the Student

    The trick is to identify your ideal student and research the needs that student is likely to have. Then you can create marketing materials, courses, and support systems that provide value for that student. 

    The danger in this approach is that you’ll fall back on stereotypes. Instead of guessing at what your students want, research what they actually need. Listen to their complaints and concerns and ask them about their goals. 

    Here’s an example: You may know that your average student is a 30-55 year old woman. She is likely either married or divorced and has 2-3 children. She has a full-time job and a family income of around $80,000 per year. She lives in town and has her own vehicle.

    With this information, you can make some guesses or assumptions about what this student might value:

    • Price may not be a major concern for her. So you might choose not to focus on cost savings.
    • You might assume she would prefer evening classes she can attend after work.
    • With her busy lifestyle and many commitments, she might not have much time for building social connections. Maybe she would value opportunities for relationship building and community connection. 

    The best way to check these assumptions is to ask. You can use student feedback forms or course evaluations to ask questions like: 

    • What do you value most about this class?
    • How will you use what you learned here in your everyday life? 
    • To whom would you be most likely to recommend this class? 
    • How could we improve this class? 

    How to Apply a Value-Based Selling Approach

    Most of the articles you’ll read about value-based selling focus on how sales teams can use it in conversations with customers. However, many of your students will register online without ever speaking to a member of your team. In that case, a completely personalized sales strategy may not be realistic. You have to rely on value-based marketing, instead.

    Value-based selling relies on conversations with customers; if students are registering online on their own, you’ll need to focus on value-based marketing.

    Here are a few ways to apply a value selling methodology across your marketing and sales platforms.

    Value-Based Marketing on Your Website

    When creating your website, look for opportunities to communicate your unique value proposition. Make sure your homepage and about us page explain the unique value you offer students.

    • Instead of: We teach painting, photography, and drawing to students of all ages. 
    • Say: We help students of all ages develop their artistic skills and realize their creative vision through painting, photography, and drawing classes. 

    If you have a blog, offer useful advice and lessons, rather than focusing on your courses and program. Sharing this type of information helps build trust with students. 

    Including Value in Course Catalogs

    Write class descriptions that highlight the value of each class or offering in your course catalog. Paint a picture of the results a student can expect from the course. Here’s an example from a sailing class: 

    Deepen your knowledge of sailing and build fundamental skills, while developing appreciation for the sea and its mysteries. Join a community of like-minded adult sailors, ready to embark on new voyages and share tales of the open water. Together we’ll explore essential sailing terminology, equipment, and safety, as well as boat handling and reading nautical charts. Whether you dream of leisurely cruises or competitive regattas, this course will help you launch an unforgettable sailing adventure.  

    This example tells the student what they will learn, but also highlights the qualitative value of the course. It promises community and skills, and implies that students will come away with stories worth sharing. 

    Value-Based Messaging on Social Media

    Your social media posts should also focus on value, but they need to get to the point more quickly. You can use them to announce a class, but also to share valuable content that students might be interested in. 

    Consider mixing up your social media feed with: 

    • Industry news
    • How-to content
    • Polls and open-ended questions
    • Creative prompts
    • Fun facts

    All of these types of content offer value to students. They can also increase engagement, which helps more people see your posts.

    Targeted Email Marketing

    Email marketing allows you to provide value by offering the exact classes a particular student may be looking for. You can predict that a student who has finished the beginner’s class might be interested in the intermediate one. A student who took a class in post-Impressionist painting styles might also be interested in a class on Expressionism. 

    With CourseStorm, you can automate marketing emails. Our automated email system offers recommendations based on the classes students have taken before. Our streamlined platform simplifies the class registration and payment process, which saves your students time. With no monthly fees, you only pay when you actually register a student.

    Start your free trial of CourseStorm today or contact us for more information!

  8. Educating Arts Educators: 6 Ideas for Professional Development

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    All educators benefit from professional development. Teachers in the arts are no exception. In fact, art teacher professional development serves a double purpose. It helps professionals hone their teaching abilities while also improving their artistic skills. 

    Making art and teaching it are two separate but related skills. The best artist-educators find time for their own creative pursuits and also take opportunities for teacher professional development. 

    Fortunately, there are organizations that offer specialized workshops and classes for art teachers and other arts educators. We’ve rounded up some resources and suggestions for where to find these opportunities so art teachers can continue to work on their craft while supporting their students. 

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  9. Is Your Summer Camp Registration System Ready for Next Season?

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    School’s out and summer camp season is in full swing. Is your program dealing with last-minute registrations, changes, or cancellations? Are you stuck managing a complicated camp registration system that overwhelms employees and frustrates parents? Is your team wasting a ton of time chasing down payments, consent forms, or other essential documents? Are you paying a monthly subscription fee for a program you only use six months out of the year? 

    If you answered yes to any of those, you might dread camp registration season. But there are actions you can take to simplify and streamline your system and process for next time. It’s never too early to start. 

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  10. Course Marketing Made Simple With Ideas From Author Leidy Klotz

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    Welcome to the first post in our blog series reflecting CourseStorm’s core values: Simplicity, Growth, and Helpfulness. Our mission is to streamline access to education to empower personal growth through our impossibly simple course registration software. In this post, we’ll be discussing the value of simplicity. 

    If you don’t think of yourself as a marketer, and sometimes even if you do, course marketing can feel like a complex task with too many moving parts. You might find yourself wishing for marketing made simple—a way to do less, but still get great results. That is the very theme of the book Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less by Leidy Klotz. 

    Through research and anecdotes, Klotz explores how subtraction can help us address everything from climate change and racism to city planning and play. If subtraction could help in all those areas, couldn’t it also apply to course marketing? Let’s find out. 

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