Case Study: Teach Everything You Know

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In 2012, I was at a conference in New Jersey, trying out sketchnotes for the first time. I had just a read The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde, and wanted to try out some of the concepts myself. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked! What was funny is what kept happening when I posted the sketches to the conference social media sites.

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People really liked these notes. Then, someone asked me if they could start creating sketchnotes for her own work.

I was hesitant.

I sputtered.

I talked about stick figures.

I recommended The Sketchnote Handbook.

I didn’t feel like I had anything to teach, or anything new to say on the topic. I was learning too, who was I to teach?

Sound familiar?

This month, I want to help you fast-forward past that worry and insecurity of teaching. I also want you to see that almost anything is worth teaching to someone else. I’m teaching how to get ideas on paper with stick figures and basic shapes, and I don’t know if there’s anything simpler than that!

How do you start teaching everything you know? For me, it began with one question.

What do I wish I knew about sketchnotes when I started?

This is a great question to ask yourself about your topic. For me, I came up with several answers that gave me a starting point for teaching. People who came up to me and asked about sketchnoting were in the same place I was in 2012. If I was just talking to my past self, what would I share? Here’s what came to mind, and became the basis of my sketchnote starter course.

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  1. The basic shapes you need for sketchnoting
  2. The primary layouts to use
  3. How to begin “thinking visually”
  4. The best pens and paper to use
  5. How to capture, digitize, and share my sketchnotes

Each of those answers to my question became the basis for a lesson that I share with people. If you ask me “how can I start creating sketchnotes?” I’ll say you can go to IdeasNotArt.com/free-course to begin!

What frustrates you?

Coming up with the next round of lessons to teach is easier, because you can ask your subscribers! Most of the time they will tell you what they want. The best question to ask is this one: “What do you find frustrating or challenging about this topic?”

Again, each question becomes the basis for a new post, lesson, or video that you can put together and teach on the topic. You can ask these questions to more people than just your readers too. Ask your family and friends what they think about this topic, and what would interest or challenge them. When you’re around new people and you talk about your blog (you do mention your blog right?), ask the same questions! This is the number one reason I love going to conferences and meetups. People are naturally curious about what you do, it’s the whole point of being there!

In fact, conferences and meetups are usually where I get more paid course ideas and opportunities than anywhere else. Here’s the next question you ask: “How do you think this could help you at home or work?” From that question, I’ve started courses with teachers who want to teach their students, executives who want to use sketchnotes in meetings, and bloggers (of course) who want better graphics in their posts.

Every single answer is a new topic you can teach.

By asking those questions of yourself and your readers, you’ll form the basis for teaching your talent to an audience. Even if you are only a couple steps ahead of your readers, it’s a healthy place to be teaching from! It’s easy to be caught in the mind-trap of thinking you’re not “expert enough” to guide anyone, when in reality you’re the one who is closest to your readers and their level! The expert’s bias towards high-level concepts can be intimidating to beginners.

That’s where you come in.

When you want to learn the basics, do you go immediately to college? No, you head to grade school first! The successful teachers online are the ones who can teach a range of skill sets and “grade levels”. But when you’re starting out with your own blog, it’s good to help the beginners first and scale up with them.

But these two questions are just the beginning. When you teach everything you know, the possibilities for content open up, and you just need to be disciplined with sharing! When you structure it properly, you can take almost any part of your work and create a piece of content that will deliver value to your audience.

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What else can you teach?

Here’s the exciting part. Once you establish a baseline with the questions and methods above, you can really begin to teach everything you know. When you gain the trust of your audience from delivering helpful, consistent content, they will want to know more about how you run your blog, your business, and your even your life! Here are two more suggestions for how you can fully teach everything you know.

Don’t just share your products, but also your process

Shipping a product, ebook, or course is exciting! It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work, planning, and execution. The process you’ve developed is one that you will use and refine for the rest of your life.

Hint hint: this is what people want to know more about!

This is where you take the next step in your own development as a creator and teacher. Back to sketchnotes, even if people didn’t care about my topic specifically, they did cale about learning the process behind creating a course. One question I get asked about regularly is how I shoot videos for sketchnotes. What’s my process? Another is how I work with specific sketching apps on the iPad. How do I use them effectively?

Nathan did this early on after his success with Authority, by sharing a free course on how to master product launches. You can still find the landing page here. Right away, I bet that even if you didn’t know what Nathan made for his products, you’re interested in how to nail your launch.

Bryan Harris is an amazing teacher as well, and he goes above and beyond teaching everything that he knows. He may be the most transparent entrepreneur I know, and that’s saying a lot. Here’s a 3700 word post that teaches the entire strategy from his first product.

Teach in your margins

When your work comes full circle, start teaching in the margins of work. The level of trust you’ve gained at this point is rock-solid, and people look to you as a source of information of how to do anything online, even in life! They’ll start asking questions like,

How do you manage your finances?

What did you do when hiring your first employee?

How do you balance time with your family?

When do you find the time to exercise? What does it look like?

Which conferences are worth going to?

What’s your morning routine look like?

This is when you truly begin teaching everything you know. You become a trusted friend and advisor to hundreds, thousands, even millions of people who are asking the same questions in their own life. When someone is willing, confident, and vulnerable enough to teach, it resonates with people who are seeking answers.

Will that person be you?

Matt Ragland

Matt is a coach at heart, so he loves helping people build their audience and business with ConvertKit. Matt leads Onboarding and Training to help people get started and comfortable right away. He lives with his wife, son, and chocolate lab in Nashville. You should check out his vlog at YouTube.com/MattRagland

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