Creating online courses is a booming business nowadays.
The reason for this?
It’s very lucrative. You create an online course once and sell it over and over again.
It is not difficult but it can be quite a bit of work. The most important thing for a profitable online course is a good process and a step-by-step plan.
And that is what you’ll find in this complete guide on how to create your first online course from scratch.
Why Should I Create An Online Course?
That’s a good question. There are several good reasons
To Make A Bigger Impact
With your online course, you can serve lots of customers at the same time. If you’re currently in coaching, public speaking, or any service where you help others in a one-on-one setting, creating courses is a great way to multiply the number of customers you can reach. This way, you can have several customers at the same time.
To Scale and Automate Your Business
An online business with digital products like an online course or a membership allows you to scale your business without putting in more hours. There is also the opportunity to automate many different aspects of the business system, which enables you to increasingly more freedom.
To Build a Stable Recurring Income
If you’re automating your marketing process or offering memberships, there is a guarantee in the amount of money you can count on coming in every month. Creating and selling an online course helps you to provide a consistent income without having to seek new customers all the time.
When Is It Not A Good Idea?
You Are New To Online Business
If this is your first online business endeavor, you may find it a bit overwhelming to start with. A successful course business will utilize several different working parts, each of which will require skill and dedicated effort to create and maintain. You may need to spend the time learning the elements first before you jump in.
If you’re in the beginning stages of online business, you may also lack an email list. This is a vital aspect of this business model. You may want to spend some time first focusing on building an audience and email list that you can then market your course to.
You Have No Time
A course business model is not a pie-in-the-sky dream. It is a lucrative business model that is seeing lots of success today.
But it is still a business you’re building none-the-less. It will take dedicated effort and maintenance. This will require a consistent amount of time and effort from you. How much time it will cost you to build an online course depends on different factors.
You Are Not An Expert
You don’t have to be an expert to build a successful course. It’s possible to simply teach what you know and do the research for your audience.
There is also a benefit to coming to the table with a beginner’s mind. Mid-level knowledge can help bridge the novice to expert climb that many of your audience will be attempting to make.
Step 1 – Do your Research
So now that you’re sure that this is the right road for you and you’re ready to create an online course, let’s go through the process of creating a good step by step.
Find Your Online Course Idea and Validate Your Idea
The very first step is to find a great topic and niche. Choosing and validating an online course topic can be some of the hardest work of this process. You’ll want to spend time researching the market of your niche through keyword searches, online groups, communities, and checking out market trends.
If you take care to make sure there is a market available, then you’ll have a much easier time in later phases where you’ll be marketing and selling this finished product. To get the ball rolling you can ask yourself a series of questions around your interests and areas of expertise, such as:
- What are some of my hobbies?
- What am I passionate about?
- What are my close family/friends/colleagues’ hobbies or passions?
- How have I made money before in my job or otherwise?
- What skills do I use on a daily basis?
- What do I know a lot about?
- What am I interested in learning more about?
- What’s a problem myself/customers/clients/colleagues/friends have that I can solve?
After answering these questions, you’ll have a nice list of topics to start with. The trick is to narrow into a niche then do the market research to get an idea of what size of audience you’ll potentially have and what sort of competition is in that field. Aim to make your idea stand out by choosing a unique angle or offering a solution to a specific problem that hasn’t been addressed.
Step 2 – Create Online Course Content
Choose An Online Course Platform
You’ll want to spend some time getting to know the platforms that are available to you to host your online course. Take into consideration the specifics needs of your course and topic. What sort of features will help you effectively teach the students who enroll? Discover which platforms offer those features of it you’d like to invest more into creating a unique experience.
There are 3 types of course platforms you can choose from, they are:
Weigh out the features, strengths, and weaknesses of each platform you look at. Choose the type of platform that will best serve the needs of your course and audience. Don’t forget to consider integration features if you plan to host a website that connects to another course platform or if you’d like it to be automated with email marketing software.
Plan Your Online Course and Create An Outline
It’s vital to begin with outlining the structure of your course. Once you have your topics and a good idea of the features you need to serve your audience, take time to outline the major points of the course. Clearly define the end goal for each person who takes the course and each step along the way to get them there. Consider the milestones they will meet, particularly challenging aspects of the material, and supportive material to help them learn.
You can add downloadable resources, add video, or create audio files to supplement learning. Think about your audience, who they are and how they learn. What will help them the most to get the full potential out of this course? Also, consider how you can help them reach the finish line of the material by keeping them intrigued and interested.
Beyond interest and helpful features, consider how to structure your content to best support gradual learning and mastery. Remember that the people who are buying your course will be paying for the promise that through the material they will learn and master or solve a problem they are currently having.
Create Your Course’s Content
Text can be an effective medium but it can also be dull to read. You can overcome this challenge of keeping a reader interested by integrating several writing techniques. Here are just a few suggestions to make great text-based content for your online course.
- Keep an active voice. Passive phrasing can be dull, lack engagement and seem long-winded. Keep your sentences short, use active phrasing and get to the point!
- Tell a story that conveys the information and weaves the major lesson into it. You lead them through the challenges and turning points.
- Utilize humor or an upbeat attitude. People like to be encouraged and appreciate the positive boost a good laugh gives them. Even if humor isn’t your forte, you can craft your writing with a voice of optimism. This will help keep your students motivated and wanting to read more.
- Be honest about the struggles. People usually appreciate honesty, as long as it’s done with tact. You don’t want to scare people away or discourage them, but you’re not doing anyone favors by hiding the real challenges that may exist on their journey. Being upfront and honest and possible difficulties they may encounter can help them be prepared for these upsets and hurdles.
- Use emotional writing and present logical arguments. We all need a good balance of using both hemispheres of our brain. A compelling argument will present both emotional value and logical elements. Be sure to address the emotional journey, the rewards, and upsets along the way. This is a deeply compelling and relatable element to any story. You can then balance out the atmosphere by switching over to logical elements that reason with the higher regions of the brain. This will keep your reader engaged for much longer.
It’s a smart idea to add additional downloadable resources with your course. This gives the audience the sense of having extra freebies and keeps the content dynamic and engaging. You can take certain elements of the content and turn them into self-contained downloadable PDF files.
This way, it gives the student a break from the main content and helps them integrate some of the information they’re assimilating. You can offer fun and useful resources such as workbooks that coincide with the course work or use PDF downloads to look at case studies. This helps give the student a more dynamic experience.
Audio is a great way to expand your course’s usefulness to a student. Many individuals are busy with families, work and daily life so creating a way for them to continue course work while commuting or going about their daily tasks is wise. This also breaks up some of the hard reading work and allows them to become more acquainted with you through your voice or to feel more engaged with this second mode of transmitting information. Audio can also help students who have a different learning style and widen the horizons of your course.
- Intergrate musical elements. This can improve the mood or further drive the brand of your business. This multi-media elements help your audience bond with your work and make it more useful for the dynamic value it provides to their life.
- Invite guest speakers. Become more engaged yourself by inviting others to speak. You can have a conversation in a podcast style, or simply ask someone to answer some questions. This may also be a great way to network and improve the quality of the information you present in your course.
- Record coaching sessions. With your students’ permission, you can offer coaching sessions that you tend to record and add to your course. This will give your future students a more intimate experience of learning the material you’re presenting. These types of sessions are relatable, effective and can be enjoyable to create and listen to. The person you are coaching may ask unexpected questions or help the student relate to the hardships of the transformation they are trying to make.
- Create meditations, visualizations or affirmations. This can be particularly effective for any topic related to self-help, healing or spirituality. These offer a way for students to further solidify what they’re learning and the transformation they’re making.
Video is one of the most effective mediums in terms of marketing and engagement. It is highly recommended to add some element of video to your courses. This can be you in a bright setting simply talking and introducing yourself and the material. Depending on your skill level, you can either include a higher production experience or go for a more cozy feel. Allowing your students to see your face and start to understand who you are will go a long way with retaining students and customers.
Price Your Course
When you’ve finished creating your course the next step is correctly pricing it. It can be tempting to price low, but this is highly advised against. This can undervalue your work and draw in the wrong type of customers. Take time to reason out the value of each element, considering the additional resources you provide, the type of transformation you provide, and how much others in the same field are charging.
That being said, there are a few different ways to go about this. They are:
You can create a smaller sized course for marketing purposes with the idea of it being free in mind. If you’re going this route, I’d recommend offering fewer resources, putting fewer hours into producing it, and having a paid service that this is going to help promote.
You will likely want to charge for your hard work. Scale the price depending on the target audience and market and the result you give. Extra resources can raise the price of a course.
- Baseline pricing. It’s recommended to at least charge $100 for your course. This is a general standard and there are very few cases where an exception would be appropriate. Mini-courses may be a good time to price lower than $100.
- Premium pricing. If you are going all out with a multi-media course that offers a community group, coaching sessions, and downloadable material you may want to charge premium prices. This is generally anywhere around $500-$1,000 or more. This is also recommended if you’re offering a highly valuable skill that can help your students make a large sum of money or learn a highly sought after skill. This may also be a good choice if part of your course includes a series of one-on-one coaching sessions.
Another option is to offer membership pricing. Your enrolled students may be granted access to multiple courses and an online community with this option.
For help with determining appropriate prices utilize teachable’s online course price calculator.
Step 3 – Get Your Online Course Online
Market your course
If you want to make good money selling your course, you need to develop a solid marketing plan. There are many options for marketing your course. Here are a few options:
- Social media can be a powerful way to get the word out about your course. You can develop a solid social media marketing strategy or take advantage of advertising options available on many social media platforms.
- Sales Funnels are effective ways to channel a steady stream of people through a system designed to guide them through the sales process. These can be easily automated and utilize paid advertising.
- Blogging offers a way to interact with potential audience and introduce them to your style of teaching and the topic you’re covering. To be successful with this, it’s wise to do heavy keyword research for your topic and plan your posts around those phrases. Guest blogging is also an effective way to increase exposure.
- Email Marketing is one of the most effective marketing strategies today. To do this you need to build an email list of potential customers. This can be done through offer free products then leading them to buy your course.
- Networking with influencers is a very popular way to get exposure for products. You can take advantage of this by reaching out to individuals with a social media audience and asking them if they could promote your product in exchange for something.
Test Your Course and Make Adjustments
After you’ve got all of the working parts of your online course business in order and you’ve launched your product, you’ll want to return to improve and maintain it. This may include listening to feedback and making adjustments. You will also need to keep an eye on how different elements of the process are performing, particularly any marketing strategies. If something is not working well it may be wise to adjust or change it. Before launching you can also considering have a select group of individuals review it for a final tweaking before its ready.
Launch your course
Once everything is tested and in order, it’s time to launch your course. Expect to run into some bumps and mistakes at this point, there may be last-minute fixes that are necessary. But don’t lose heart, continue to improve and maintain your courses. The most important thing is to have perseverance and a beginner’s mind. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn as you go.
Step 4 – Grow Your Online Course Business
You’re not quite done yet, launching isn’t the final step of this process. After everything is launched and running smoothly, you’ll want to consider the growth of your business. After all, one of the major benefits of having an online course business is your ability to scale up.
Measure your results
Keep checking out your analytics. See what ads are performing best, make adjustments to marketing plans and continue looking for ways to improve your course.
What is a good conversion rate?
The average conversion rate is at about 1%. That means for every 100 people who see your course, one of them will express interest or turn into a buyer. You can increase these odds by pinpointing the right audience who wants your product and improving your sales copy or marketing process. The top converting businesses enjoy a 2%-5% conversion rate.
Want to improve the conversion rate of your online course sales page?
Read this article from Conversion XL with 13 steps to improve your conversion rate
Automate your online course marketing
The best thing about all of this is that every part of this process can be automated once the entire product is finished and packaged. All you have to do is keep an eye on things and allow the passive income stream to flow. When you decide you want to scale up and improve things, you may be able to take your earnings even higher. But you can utilize software at every step of the way from email auto-responders to automated sales funnels.
Making an online course can be incredibly lucrative and rewarding, but it requires dedicated and hard work to create the finished product that people want to buy. If you put forth the effort in the planning phase and stay dedicated until the final adjustments and launching, you can count on being able to make something happen with your online course. Continue to tweak every part of this system until you find success with your course. Don’t give up and go forth and change lives with your online course!
- Why Should I Create An Online Course?
- When Is It Not A Good Idea?
- Step 1 – Do your Research
- Step 2 – Create Online Course Content
- Step 3 – Get Your Online Course Online
- Step 4 – Grow Your Online Course Business