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Creating Online Courses โ€“ A Step By Step Guide

Got a good idea for an online course? You're onto something!

Gone are the days where you have to leave your home to learn a new skill or start a new hobby.

Thanks to the internet you can type anything that you want to master - and voila! - you can start absorbing the knowledge.

This started a new wave of content creation where any person can share (and sell) their knowledge to a vast audience.

So if you're good at something, why wouldn't you share it with others and earn money in return?

This guide will explain what you need to do to create and sell online courses.

 

Why Create an Online Course?

Creating online courses can be both fulfilling and lucrative while also helping you grow your personal brand. 

Some creators start their course creation out of a hobby before eventually turning it into a source of income.

One thing's certain. If there ever was a time to create an online course - it's now.

Why?

Experts predict that the online learning industry will be worth more than $370 billion, with more than half of colleges turning to a mix of in-person and online education.

The covid-19 pandemic just propelled this transformation.

Source: Sell Courses Online

But online content creators were on the rise even before the pandemic hit. With content becoming easy to create, distribute, and access - anyone could gravitate toward a particular audience.

What does this mean? People will now seek guidance online whenever they're in need of particular knowledge or skill. At the same time, it will be easier for those who have that knowledge to sell it as a form of a digital product.

Not only that. But course creators can now do much more, like fostering a community online or building an authoritative personal brand in the niche.

Still unsure? Read on.

 

Successful Online Courses Examples

An online course doesn't have to be widely popular or target a broad niche. If you have an interesting idea you can still earn a lot.

Kyle Buchanan had one of those ideas. He's a professional memory coach who created an online course Memorize Academy. The training can help you improve your mnemonic skills and perform better. His online courses have over 20 million views and range from $20 to $500.  Not bad, right?

Another example comes from Amanda Arnelli, who earns seven figures selling a hand-lettering course.

That's right, it's a writing technique that can help you land a job in the design industry! Even if you never heard about it - it's there. And people are willing to pay for that knowledge. 

That's all you need to know.

Some online creators grow their personal brand so much that their courses are always in high demand.

For example, Parker Walbeck's FullTime Filmmaker course made him a millionaire and propelled him to create another course on course creation. You can read more about his journey here.

Long story short, why wouldn't you create a brand around a valuable skill that you have? Create and sell a course - it's easy!

 

Online Course Creation – A Step By Step Guide

The course creation process consists of three stages. Before the creation itself, you need to test the waters.

Deciding on your course topic, target audience, and developing a plan are the first steps toward building value.

The creation process itself can be quite easy. Especially now when the internet is full of relevant software that makes course building a piece of cake.

In the end, you'll need to master the art of marketing and distribution. Also, once you start selling the course you should look to build on top of that foundation to stay up to date.

But let's go step-by-step.

 

 

Step 1: Choosing the Course Topic

You need to choose the topic of your first online course before you start anything else.

First up, it needs to be a topic that you're passionate about. Creators try to plug a gap in the market and end up teaching a course on a subject they don't know much or care about.

The only way to provide real value is to radiate energy and passion about the topic.  If you don't like aquariums, why would you create an aquarist course? 

On the other hand, if you're a crafty carpenter you can make thousands of people around the world happy by passing the knowledge.

The key to remember is that there's an audience for everything.  The most important thing is how well you'll sell the course.

 

Step 2: Market Research

When you decide on what you want to create, you can use online channels to investigate the pain points of your target audience.

Online message boards like Quora, Reddit, and even Facebook groups could be a good way to get closer to the market demands. 

Find a core of passionate people that would like to learn more about the subject. Ask them what they'd like to learn. What is stopping them? Are there things they consider particular roadblocks?

For example, someone may want to learn more about beer brewing, unaware that they can easily start a microbrewery in their cellar. That can be a selling point as well!

This will help you understand how to outline your course and most importantly, how to sell it to your audience.

 

Step 3: Outlining Your Course

Now that you have a clear picture of the problem your course will solve, it's time to put the pen to paper.

Here, you'll focus on three things:

  • Defining the learning outcomes of your course.
  • Collecting content that you'll use in your lessons.
  • Drawing a roadmap of your course (dividing it into units, etc).
     

First thing, you need to clarify the outcome of the course.

Learn how to recreate historical events by 3d printing and painting miniatures.

Become a certified chiropractor by learning from the best in the business.

Learn to love life by changing your habits with this awesome course.

Etc...

Your students will want to know what they're getting before they enroll. If the result is too ambiguous they may search elsewhere.

Once you can define what your audience gets by completing the course, it's easy to get to work.

The second step is collecting content that you'll utilize in the course. Since the internet is an unlimited pool of information you need to know what questions to ask to get to filter only relevant info.

Some of the most successful course creators started creating their course by putting themselves in the audience's shoes.

Parker Walbeck says that he compiled a list of 100+ questions that he wanted to know as an amateur photographer. He then found all of his questions online and digested them into a valuable piece of information.

After he did this, it was easy to segment his course into different units and lessons that all follow a logical process. And it was the first step toward an 8-figure profit.

 

Step 4: Prepare For Course Production

Different courses require different production processes. Your content delivery will determine the preparation you need before starting your course content.

If you're a fitness instructor, you'll probably need professional camerawork and a nice, illuminating interior so your course looks good.

On the other hand, if your course is about copywriting, a simple screen share can be enough.

So make sure you get all the necessary tools and props before you start creating an online course. 

Free design and video editing tools will help you buff and trim your content and make it more compelling. 

Invest in a good microphone with noise reduction so your students can understand you.  Splash the cash on a good camera so your course looks professional... You get the point.

 

Step 5: Start Building the Course

It's time to start piecing the puzzle of your course content. 

If you wanted to start an online school a few years ago, you needed to pay a developer a hefty amount to custom code your website. Not to mention that if you wanted to create and sell that course, you'd need to integrate payment gateways and a bunch of other stuff.

But it all changed.

Now you can create a course on a platform like Udemy or Skillshare in a matter of minutes, or add a plugin on your existing website. You can even go a step further and create a digital store or a membership website with your course being just one of the products.

The possibilities are endless.

For example, Hyax can help you turn your course into a proper online school. You can host multiple projects, upsell your online course, manage payments, and even market it without any third-party plugins.

This will help you build much more than just an e-learning site. Try it out for free, create a landing page and test out all the features. You may start getting ideas! :)

 

Step 6: Determine Pricing

Selling your course can be hard if you can't align the price tag with your student's expectations.

That's why your offer needs to be compelling but still in a similar price range to that of your competitors.

But how to determine the pricing?

First, research the market. Check your competitors that offer similar courses and see how they structure their payment.

You can also test the market by offering a free course to early adopters. That small sample of students can tell you whether the price matches the value and what could be better. 

Pricing on one of Jordan Belfort’s courses

This can help not only in deciding on price but if you could split your course into a couple of smaller ones, for example.

 

Step 7: Think of Ways to Market and Sell Your Course

You can have the best possible course about gardening, but what if it never reaches your prospective student pool?

That's why you need to roll up your sleeve and do some effective marketing.

Here are  some tips:

  • Create a profile on all social media where you can promote your brand/course. Create free but valuable content (blog posts, videos) that you can use for prospecting.
  • Optimize your blog to relevant keywords so you rank higher, then promote your course using that blog post.
  • Explore different social channels where you can answer questions and build your authority.
  • Join the biggest Facebook group for your niche and impose your skills and knowledge.
  • Create a landing page and lead magnets to grow your email list and acquire customers through a sales funnel (you can do it with Hyax).
  • Promote your content using paid advertising.
  • Create partnerships with influencers or brands.
  • Run an affiliate or referral marketing program.
  • Host a live webinar that you can use to perk up your reputation.
  • Outreach to feature in relevant podcasts.
     

As you see, the possibilities to market your online course are endless. Develop and test different marketing strategies and stick to what works.

 

Step 8: Stay Relevant

The journey doesn't stop when you launch your online course.

If you don't want to get left behind, you need to stay relevant in your niche. It doesn't only mean posting content and updating the course from time to time.

It means that you should work on your course being just one segment of your personal brand. Your course should be just the first touchpoint for your other digital products.

Some of the ways online creators stay relevant are:

  • Upselling your course to membership: You can cultivate a community (example) and add that aura of exclusivity to your brand. Create a Slack, WhatsApp, Facebook group, etc. where your members can network, exchange ideas, and create new opportunities.

  • Engaging with your audience: Answer questions and gather feedback from your target audience. It's a win-win situation. You form a tight relationship and create "superfans" while you can also tailor your program to their needs.

  • Keep distributing content: Your members will feel confident in your brand if they see you're always in the loop. If there's something new to say - publish a blog post or a newsletter. Update your courses and/or create a podcast where you can invite guests and talk about trends in your niche.
     

Mixergy’s paid membership Facebook group

These are just some of the ways to maintain a close relationship with your students and fans. As content creators become even more important, so will the methods to increase brand awareness.

 

What Makes a Good Online Course?

A good online course needs to be engaging, methodic, and well-built.

First up, you need to replicate the feeling of a classroom. Something that's not easy when your students are sitting in front of a screen.

The course creation platform plays a huge role in making the class interactive. Videos, end-of-unit quizzes, and comment sections could do a world of difference. 

Keep in mind that today most people are visual learners. If your lessons aren't all videos, make sure you have visual examples (images, charts, or boards). A talking head at the corner is a great way to keep your students focused.

Gamification is also becoming popular.  According to reports, 83% of employees who went through gamification during their online education felt more motivated. 

Another thing is to understand the pacing and methods of your course. A quick course can overwhelm your students while a slow one can bore them to death.  Make sure you secure a way for them to ask you questions (either via email or directly on the platform).

This will usually depend on the type of course builder that you use.

The same goes for the course design. If it looks bad nobody will care about the value it provides. That's why all successful online courses are nice on the eye as well.

In the end, an online course is as good as the one who's teaching it. Make sure you are transmitting knowledge with a clear voice and intent. If you do, students will gladly come back for more.

 

Your Entrance to Personal Branding

Creating online courses is just one part of the content creator story. 

If your lessons start getting traction or even better - go viral - you'll have an array of other business opportunities.

It opens the door to memberships and masterminds. It helps you connect with others and start enjoying things that you love. Not to mention it can turn into a lucrative revenue stream as well!

So what are you waiting for? Knuckle down and get to work!

 



Jack Paxton
Jack Paxton is the co-founder of VYPER, a marketing tool that helps brands build email lists, social followings, and revenue using viral giveaways, referral, and reward programs. After millions of dollars spent testing different marketing strategies at his marketing agency. He then also co-founded Hyax a fast, conversion & design-focused course and funnel builder for creators.


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