I was having a quick lunch with an exec from Lynda.com -- one of the most successful online training firms around -- when he said something that made me drop my tortilla. "It takes about 90 hours to produce about one hour of really good online training."
I thought that was an insanely high number. These people know what they are doing, but come on! It usually takes me a handful of hours to toss together a presentation. An enjoyable morning's work. Maybe I just work faster than other people?
Now I've learned how right he was. Because online business training is 100 times harder to put together than a typical webinar. You're not just up there vamping on a particular topic, maybe a few facts and figures, a few screenshots, some tips.... Instead, you have to begin at the beginning and carefully explain something from stem to stern -- often complex concepts that may not lend themselves to easy explanation on a PowerPoint slide.
You can't see their faces while you speak, you have no idea if you're making sense to the audience, so you have to be as thorough and clear as you possibly can be. Instead of tossing in a few screenshots to liven things up, you probably need to develop at least a few flow-charts or specialized illustrations to clarify things.
Also, since you're not promoting an existing book or site, you can't crib any content from the original -- this is the original!
Lastly, just because you don't put much text on a PowerPoint slide (because great presentations are light on written content) doesn't mean your writing time is decreased. It's increased. If you can only use a tiny handful of words to describe something, it's much tougher than typing away merrily on a book chapter.
Since I've started producing online tutorials and training webinars this summer for Subscription Site Insider, I've felt as though I'm learning an entirely new communication skill. Perhaps it will be quicker someday. But, I suspect never as fast as I'd once thought it would be. You can't be glib in online training. It's a painstaking business.