How do I create an online course in 13+ steps?

From course creation to pricing, marketing and beyond, here are the steps needed to create a successful online course.
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One of the best ways to share your knowledge with the world and earn money at the same time is to create an online course.

Online learning is the new normal, and most businesses and educational institutions are investing in digital courses to keep up with changing trends. It can be predicted that the e-learning industry will be worth $300 billion in the next five years.

If you're wondering how to create your own online course and share it with the world, keep reading. I'm going to give you a condensed, step-by-step guide to creating an online course this year.

Here, you'll learn everything from

  • Focus on the right subject.
  • Use authority in your chosen field.
  • Create course content and choose the right one e-learning platform.
  • Use marketing channels that generate the highest revenue.
  • And more...

By following these steps, you'll learn how to create a plan to launch your first e-learning course with confidence.

Without further ado, let's start with the guide.

Steps to follow to create an online course

Naturally, experts, entrepreneurs, and educators take the path of creating online courses to share their knowledge. For students, online courses have become more popular, which I think has only made online education more mainstream.

The idea that my parents actually understand what an online course is and that they are being used by universities only reinforces my belief in creating online courses.

There are several steps you need to take to launch a successful online course. From course creation to pricing to marketing, here are the steps needed to make your course a great success.

1. Search for and choose the course topic

Choosing the subject of your course is perhaps the most difficult but also the most critical step.

It's not something you can take lightly at all. This is what will or will not make your course successful. If you create a course that doesn't solve a problem for a group of people online, it will never be successful.

Don't think of yourself as just a “course creator,” you're a solution provider that has real value to bring to the market.

I suggest that you start market research tests with the following question:

What are the trending topics that people are most interested in finding solutions for? Les SEO software like Ahrefs and Google Trends can help you understand new and emerging topics that most people are interested in.

A small warning on the point above... You really need to provide people with a solution. For example, it makes a lot of sense for me to create a blogging course, but creating a dog training course makes absolutely no sense. Don't base your entire course on random research data. It is a tool and use it as such.

You don't have to be a subject expert to create an online course; you just need to be ahead of your target audience.

Another aspect that you should keep in mind here is that the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating online courses. From cooking classes to the basics of Jujitsu, you can create an online course on any subject.

However, a small personal tip: always choose a subject that you are passionate about (it is also helpful if you have a formal education in this area). For example, you can create guitar tutorials even if you are an accountant, as long as you have the know-how and passion to follow up.

Of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't create an online course on a subject you're an expert on! By choosing such a subject, the course creation process and the production phase will be simpler and easier to manage. It will also allow your students to derive professional value from the course and achieve results.

2. Check the market for the subject

Along with researching your course topic, you should also check whether your chosen subject is sufficiently popular with your target audience. Most online course creators think that if their chosen subject already has many courses available, theirs may not sell. That's not necessarily true.

If there are a lot of courses on the subject, it means there is a demand. To successfully sell courses, you need to find out where the demand is and offer unique and better solutions.

To better understand the best online course ideas In your niche, you can check out major online learning platforms like Udemy and Coursera. By browsing these sites, you'll get a good idea of what most online learners and students are looking for in your niche.

In short, during the first two steps, you need to find the sweet spot at the intersection of a subject that you are passionate about (or may be passionate about), that you have knowledge and expertise in, and that is also in demand. Once you've checked all of these boxes, you can focus on that topic (or even these topics) and move on to the next step.

3. Building authority to become an expert

I'm sure you've noticed that in both of the steps above, I mentioned that you need to have knowledge about the subject you're creating a course on. At the same time, I also said that you don't need to be an absolute expert to create your first online course.

These two statements may seem contradictory, but they are not.

While it's true that you need to have a basic understanding of the subject you're about to teach, you can also learn a lot as you go along.

There are two benefits to be gained from this:

First, you can get a large number of learning objectives and materials that you can use in your course videos and study materials.

Then, you can also gain knowledge about specific niches in the subject that could make your online courses more profitable.

People don't just want to learn from the greatest expert on a subject. They want to learn from someone they can identify with and trust.

It's great to be an expert, but if you're comfortable and ready to become an expert on the subject in order to serve your students, that's even better.

4. Determine your target audience

I am sure that you already have a clear idea of the subject on which you are going to create an online course. Now is the time to understand your target audience (your persona), that is, the demographic group that you are going to strive to serve.

It's helpful to be specific: not all topics are suitable for all audiences. Make sure your target audience is well-defined and interested in the topic of your choice. Here are some of the demographic factors you need to consider:

  • The age of your target audience
  • The genre with which your course is the most popular
  • The average education level of your target audience
  • The professional status of your audience

The list above is not exhaustive and may vary depending on your preferred subject. The average gender percentage of MOOC subscribers is 47% male and 53% female, and the average age of online students is 34.

Another factor that can decide your audience is seasonality. Some courses are more engaging at certain times, such as baking classes during the holiday season.

You can also target audiences based on their intent, for example, by providing a data science course for people looking to make a career transition to data science. An online course on home decor is another course idea.

Finally, don't forget to use social media to your advantage. Social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram groups can be a quick way to identify a target audience for research. That's exactly what I did for my blogging course and it worked wonderfully in identifying the exact angle of the course.

5. Define the online course outline

Anyone can create an online course and sell it. However, creating an online course that actually delivers results and is successful requires serious planning. It took me over 6 months to properly develop, test, and launch my blogging course as a business.

That's why, once you've chosen your target subject and audience, you need to create a detailed lesson plan. This is where you will need to take into account aspects such as the degree of depth of the course, the tone you are going to use to attract your target audience, and the learning goals.

The depth of the course will be primarily determined by the requirements of your target audience. An online course on management principles for postgraduate students will undoubtedly need to be more professional in style and depth than a cooking class that can be fun and quirky.

To learn how to create an online course outline, you can use several online course creation templates that are available. In general, you can start by breaking down your topic into specific themes and learning goals and then segmenting them into focused sub-themes and lessons.

Remember that creating a plan is not mandatory. You can start creating course content if you have a clear idea of what you want to convey to your learners. However, I suggest that you do not skip this step as it will help you structure the modules and define the results of your course, which is the next topic I'll discuss.

6. Define compelling course results

Once you've completed the course outline and structured the modules, it's time to define ideal course outcomes. Formulating the results is important, the students paid for the course in order to get results.

Think about it. You know what material your course contains and how it can help your students.

But they don't know anything about it, and if your potential learners can't get a clear idea of what they can get out of the course, they'll be less likely to enroll.

That's why you need to create a lesson plan that allows your students to get results as quickly as possible. Make sure to include these course results on your course page prominently. So that learners have a concrete idea of what they are about to enroll in and their potential learning outcomes.

Another benefit of creating personalized course results is that it ensures that only interested students enroll in the course. Good students mean higher satisfaction and completion rates, as well as fewer refund requests.

7. Create the actual course material

Once you've completed each of the above steps, it's finally time to get started and create the actual course material. I recommend that you opt for video courses, which tend to have the most impact.

Besides the video, you should also provide suitable study materials in the form of PowerPoint presentations, PDF e-books, or self-assessment questionnaires. Each course will be different, but the sole purpose is to create additional materials that help your students achieve results.

The most common problem online course creators face is figuring out which materials to include in the course and which to leave out. Whatever subject you choose, you are sure to find multiple resources and references to use in the current era of information overload.

This is where your online course outline and results will guide you. When selecting materials for creating the course, be sure to include only the material that is aligned with your course structure. This will help you streamline course content and reduce creation time.

Finally, once you have all the equipment in hand, it's time to record the videos. Here, you have a lot of flexibility; you don't have to be a professional videographer to create high-quality online courses. All you need is a good webcam and screen capture software such as Camtasia.

Choose screenshot videos, talking head style videos, or even a combination of the two. If you already have webinars or podcasts on the subject, feel free to reuse their content for your online course. All that matters is to stay on topic and to provide added value.

8. Monetize properly

Now that you've created the online course content, it's time to decide how you want to monetize it. This may involve tactics such as offering a free course as a magnet to prospects or setting up a subscription model.

For premium courses, you will also need to conduct market research. Check out the prices of similar courses on the most popular eLearning platforms, and understand enrollment rates.

Another aspect that you should keep in mind is the purchasing power of your target audience. After all, there is no point in setting such a high price for a course that no one can buy it. In this case, you need to find the right balance between profitability and affordability.

One last thing about pricing: make sure that the price of your online course matches the value you provide. If you want to charge higher rates than the market, you need to provide better content than the competition; it's as simple as that.

9. Choosing the right distribution channel

After completing the steps above, you need to decide how you are going to deliver your course to your audience. In general, there are three standard ways to sell online courses. Each of these is discussed below under separate headings.

A. Online course platforms

Online course platforms are one of the most popular methods for distributing your online courses. Platforms like Coursera and Udemy are dynamic course marketplaces where you can sell your courseware. These platforms provide a stable, integrated environment for downloading, marketing, and selling courses.

Coursera front page

If you are downloading a course for the first time, you should take advantage of the goodwill and marketing reach of these platforms. They make the process smooth and comfortable and even allow you to download testimonials, worksheets, and personalize your course content.

Here is my Thinkific reviews and why it's my first choice of online course platform and the one I personally use.

B. Learning Management Systems (LMS)

An LMS is an online education system that can be linked to your website and function as a brand platform for your course. LMS simplify everything from creating online courses to setting up a profitable online course business.

Although there are numerous LMS options On the market, my recommendation is Thinkific (Teachable is another great alternative). This online course platform allows you to fully personalize your courses and makes every step, from the subject or idea of the course to creation and distribution, a breeze.

Thinkific home page

C. Website plugins

If you have your own website where you want to host the online course, you can choose from the numerous website plugins that are available on the Internet. WordPress offers the greatest flexibility for creating an online course membership site.

Whichever option you choose, make sure you have the tools you need to enroll and validate students. Also, don't forget to integrate your learning platform with payment gateways to facilitate registrations and refunds if required.

10. Create an email list of enthusiastic fans

Most online course creators and startups make the mistake of thinking that they'll have a steady stream of revenue once their course goes live. That is not true. Once you've created and uploaded your course, the real work begins.

Now you need to market your online course, and there's no better way to do that than email marketing. Based on our experience, the email marketing still offers the best return on investment among all digital product marketing channels.

To take advantage of email marketing, you need to create a list of people you can sell your course to. I recommend that you start a social media marketing campaign to collect emails. You can even offer part of your online course for free in order to capture prospects.

Once you have a fairly large email list, you need to send personalized, targeted emails to learners who have shown interest in your course. This way, you ensure that they are able to go from prospects to paying customers.

11. Create a sales landing page

However, don't think you're already out of trouble, because capturing emails is only half the battle won. Sending engaging emails is the best way to get customers to your course landing page and website. But once they get there, you need to make sure they have an amazing experience.

The best way to do this is to create a landing page that reflects the essence of your online course. A high-quality landing page is the best way to ensure that learners get comprehensive information about course content.

When creating the landing page, you'll need to keep several factors in mind, such as the target population, the interests of your audience, and even your topic.

Another good step is to create different landing pages for different audiences and test which one works best. Such a split-testing model will give you a clear idea of the layout organization.

12. Jump on the marketing bandwagon

Email lists, landing pages, and social media taglines are all part of the overall marketing plan that you need to follow to successfully launch your online course. An ongoing marketing strategy is essential to ensure that your online courses are delivered.

Here, you have several options to consider: you can launch early bird campaigns that offer attractive discounts or even ads on search engines or social media. Additionally, you can also take advantage of content marketing strategies and promote your target list.

I'm sure you already understood that the last three steps, including this one, were devoted to marketing courses. This additional focus on marketing is vital because as soon as you stop marketing your course, you effectively stop selling.

13. Maintaining a dedicated community

At this point, you have finally published your course.

But now, an even more important part of the process needs to be addressed: building a community of dedicated students.

One disadvantage of online courses is that they remove much of the direct interaction that exists in a classroom learning environment. However, you can easily overcome this disadvantage by using online channels such as a social media group and webinars from videoconferencing that allow you to interact with your students.

Learning is a social process, and people enjoy interacting with others who are on the same path as they are. These interactions help to make the learning process more enjoyable and promote a sense of community around the course.

Another benefit of maintaining a dedicated community is that it helps spread word of mouth advertising on your course. And when your customers become advocates for your brand, your course will start to grow organically.

14. Remember to update your course over time

The last thing you need to focus on when figuring out how to create an online course: updating your course. Competency requirements change over time and new skills need to be added to your course inventory. You can't expect a three-year-old course to provide the same value to your students as when it was first launched.

Be sure to constantly add new course materials and update them according to market demands. In this way, your online course remains relevant today and continues to provide value to your current students.

Summary

Hopefully, this condensed guide was able to help you understand the entire process of creating online courses.

eLearning statistics Showing that this sector is experiencing a strong upward trend, entering this niche is a good idea.

Not only will you create a steady stream of income, but you'll also have the benefit of sharing your expertise and becoming a thought leader in your niche. It's better than any passive marketing strategy you can buy.

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Stephen MESNILDREY
CEO & Founder

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