Newsletter #2

Why You Shouldn’t Record Videos for Your Course

written by

Jon Morrow


Listen up, because in this issue, I’m going to:

  • Save you hundreds of hours of wasted effort
  • Dramatically reduce your anxiety around creating a course
  • Increase the success rate of your students

All by exposing perhaps the biggest myth of course creation:

That you need to include video.

“What?!” you scream. “All my favorite courses have video!”

And I used to be right with you.

Up until a few years ago, I believed video was an essential component of any online course. I felt like customers would feel cheated if I didn’t include it.

But then I saw the evidence.

We tested creating courses without video and our courses became dramatically more successful.

Today, I’m going to clue you in on some of our findings.

Let’s dive in.

The Two Reasons People Love a Course

As it turns out: there are two different reasons people love a course:

  1. It’s entertaining
  2. They get results

Ideally, you have both.

My favorite example is Frank Kern. He’s entertaining on video and does a great job breaking down Internet marketing principles for beginners. 

He is both an exceptional entertainer and an exceptional teacher. That’s why he makes megabucks.

But here’s the problem:

Most of us are neither.

If we did stand-up comedy, we would get booed off stage.

And if our life depended on us having successful students, we would be goners.

This is why so many courses suck. Not only are they confusing, meandering, and incomplete, but they are boring.

The result: no repeat customers. People buy once and then leave forever.

Here’s How This Relates to Video

You’ve probably heard the maxim that people remember most when they see, hear, and read the same thing.

And because of that, video must be the best medium for learning, right?

I used to think so, but I was wrong.

The most effective way to learn is to consume the content multiple times.

In other words, go through the course, try to do it, get lost and confused, go through the course material again, and so on.

This is the way people learn. I’ve seen the stats.

But ask yourself this:

What’s easier to go back and reference… written text or video?

Again, I’ve seen the evidence.

People hate watching videos over again. It was boring the first time they watched it, so watching it five times to catch the missing details is pure torture.

On the other hand, they will absolutely come back and read written text. Over and over and over again.

And this has a surprising effect…

Text-based Courses Have More Successful Students

In our case, one of the tests resulted in three times more students being able to pass the final exam.

Three times!

Now, one test is hardly scientific proof. I’m not going to pretend it’s conclusive evidence.

But we’ve also noticed our repeat purchase rate is much higher on text-based courses.


Because the material was easier to understand and implement.

Now, I can see circumstances where this wouldn’t be true:

  • You are highly charismatic and articulate
  • You suck at writing
  • Your topic must be demonstrated, not described

But in every other circumstance?

Well-written instructions and action steps are the most important part of your course content.

More Arguments Against Doing Video

If the above issue was the only one, I think it might still be debatable, but here are several other points to consider:

  1. Producing videos that clearly articulate and demonstrate what to do take vastly more time to create. In my case, it tripled the length of time to create the course.
  2. You can outsource writing instructions, but you can’t really outsource video if you are the face of the brand. People either want video from you or no one. This means you turn frustration into a job only you can do, and that’s not good for business.
  3. Video equipment is expensive and takes real skill to use. You can spend weeks or months just learning about cameras and lighting and sound acoustics before you even create your first video.
  4. Most people obsess about how they look and sound and end up recording the content a bunch of times and never being happy with it. This results in even more delays and procrastination, because our ego is at risk every time we record course content.
  5. Video is dramatically harder to update than text. You often end up having to rerecord the course every year or two because you can’t really edit the videos

If you add up all the extra expenses and time, especially if you count what someone would normally pay you, the cost is enormous! For me, the production cost of a video course was literally hundreds of thousands of dollars, all combined. 

The Flip Side: When Video Content Can Be an Added Benefit

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against video.

I’m against doing it instead of text.

Ideally, you have both, but if you have to choose, start with the text, build a successful course that gets results, and then come back and record videos on concepts that never change.

You’ll get started faster.

You’ll have more successful students.

And you’ll save a ton of time and money.

More Examples of Successful Text-based Courses

The Best Links:

Your Next Steps:

Once you’ve done all this research, it will actually be a wise investment to pay someone to look over everything for you. If you’d like to do that, book a consulting call here.

Otherwise, I have a favor to ask:

If you got value from this, and you know anyone who is interested in starting an online course, please let them know about it by using the “share” buttons to the right (if you’re on desktop) or below (if you’re on mobile).

The more referrals we get, the more awesome content we can publish.

Until next time,

Jon Morrow
Founder & CEO