Online education has experienced great popularity in the past 4 years, with ReportLinker predicting the industry to grow well beyond $450 billion by 2026. In 2020, a survey by Small Business Trends identified that 98% of participating organizations had integrated online learning for their employees.
According to the Research Institute of America, online classes allow people to learn at their own speed and allow students to retain 25% to 60% more than in classroom courses.
Educators have been quick to utilize the online course creation trend allowing them to reach larger student subsets while creating a sustainable source of income in the process with the effects of COVID-19 still lingering across the world.
So readers will want to know exactly how lucrative it is and how to create an online course. The corporate E-learning industry alone is expected to grow to a phenomenal $50 billion by BusinessWire. TechJury identifies that the online learning market will grow by almost $13 billion between 2020 and 2024.
We have you covered there. Our article takes an in-depth look at how to make an online course that attracts students through remarkable value.
1. Ensure You Are an Expert on the Online Course Topic
Do your colleagues, friends, and customers ask for your help on a certain topic that they think you are an expert at?
If yes, then why not create a course for it and sell it online? Surely more people besides your social circle may be interested in learning from you. When choosing a topic to build online courses, make sure you’re knowledgeable about the subject. You should be an expert on the topic you are choosing to teach in an online course.
If you have a passion for what you want to teach, then you can generate revenue from it.
People want to learn from someone who can offer valuable and life-changing knowledge that helps them to improve their professional skills. Think about what you are good at and on what topic people come to you for advice. Whatever you’re an expert at will be easy for you to teach.
For example, if you’re an expert at social media marketing, start an online course for it.
You don’t need to teach like a university-level professional. Think about your talents, skills, and all the life experience that you have been through in life. Just choose a topic that you love!
When you are passionate about something you explain it perfectly to others. You will be a great teacher of a subject you are passionate about and it will also be a cause of good income for you!
So, before we move forward, grab a notebook or open up the notes app and jot down possible online course topic ideas. This will help you kick off your digital course creation venture.
2. Pick a Niche for Your Course that has High Market Demand
There is a good chance that you have knowledge and expertise in a niche subject and you might know how to create a course so that others can learn too.
As a potential course creator, you can turn your course into a profitable online course by directing the efforts in the right direction and becoming more prevalent.
It is important to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the marketplace worldwide to identify potential course topics. Check what other top course creators and higher Ed platforms are offering, and look for gaps in the market that you can fill with the right course.
While choosing a course, make sure you’re passionate about it, and you’re trying to sell your course online to compress and share your expertise with others.
Online tools can be a valuable resource when searching for courses. Here are some great online tools for researching top courses and niches:
- Google Trends: You can get an idea of what people are looking for and exploring, while you can also identify popular keywords related to the topic.
- Coursera: You can use Coursera, a leading Higher Ed platform to understand what learners are looking for, and enrolling in as emerging trends.
- Skillshare: It is an online learning community where you can discover gaps in the market, and find the top most in-demand courses.
- LinkedIn: You can view what courses are most popular among professionals, and identify the skill gap that needs to be focused on.
For example, you can visit Coursera and find out the top industries, and the number of courses offered within each.
Finding Popular Course Topics & Niches
Finding the most popular course topics and niches to target is the crucial first step you probably need to think about. However, it is a challenging task to identify the most in-demand courses.
Here are some tips for finding popular course topics and niches:
- Consider your expertise
- Market research
- Analyze competition
- Study trends
- Ask your audience
- Identify a common problem
- Use keyword research
3. Identifying Your Target Audience and their Needs
To make sure that your online training course will appeal to your audience, you must first understand your target audience. To understand the target audience that may be interested in your course, ask yourself these questions:
- Is your audience familiar with your field?
- What is their level of proficiency, are they beginners or professionals?
- Have they previously taken a similar course?
- Is your audience experienced with online courses or eLearning?
- What does your audience want from your course?
4. Define the Course Learning Objectives
You must have some goals about what you want to teach your students, just make sure that you’re clear about them before you design a course. Once your goals are clear, you can deliver your best in the course to equip your students with the right knowledge.
Objectives will give them an idea of how they will be able to know whether they have understood and learned the lesson or not. For this, you can make an online course design template that will make it easier for them to understand the course structure and its goals.
Let your learners know:
- What new skills will they be able to acquire?
- What new knowledge they’ll acquire?
- How long will it take for them to finish your course?
Highlighting the learning outcomes of your course will ensure that only the best students sign up. This will also ensure that your satisfaction rates don’t suffer and you don’t get any refund requests.
5. Creating Engaging Course Content: Outlines, Lessons, and Multimedia
Creating engaging course content is important to capture the attention of the target audience, and foster their learning process. A well-designed course outline provides a roadmap for both the learners and instructors, ensuring they stay on the same page. Also, it ensures learners can track their progress and stay focused on the learning outcomes.
Use of engaging visuals, multimedia, and real-world examples in course content can help with retention and better understanding. Additionally, multimedia resources such as videos, podcasts, and online platforms deliver an immersive experience for the students to stay motivated, connected, and engaged.
Multimedia Content for Course
Multimedia content can enhance a course by presenting the information differently and appealing to different learning styles, ensuring high engagement. Multimedia plays an important part in information retention and makes it easy to process the data presented.
Here are some examples of the type of multimedia content that can be included to enhance outcomes:
- Virtual Simulation
- Live video
For example, Excel Basic for Data Analysis course offered by IBM on Coursera provides information on the multimedia content student will be provided during Week 1. This course includes videos, reading material, and quizzes.
Balance Theory & Practice in Your Course Content
A balance of theory and practice in course content is important to create a conceptual foundation and framework for an effective learning experience. By linking theory and practice, students are better able to have an understanding of real-world contexts.
Theory and practice both in course content provide a deeper understanding of the theoretical concepts that can be reinforced through practical applications.
6. Gather and Compile Your Course Material
With your course outline ready, it is time to compile the course material and content.
Putting together all the different information it is now time to identify which videos, notes, research papers, e-books, and other content will be used to create the course. Create the class presentations, and craft the assessments, quizzes, and other elements that will make the course interactive.
A great way to start is by using the course material that all your competitors are offering and creatively integrating your knowledge and ideas. Add video examples, unique research findings, case studies, and discussions to invoke creativity among the students.
Your course outline will now help put classes in an organized series, one topic followed by another, creating a holistic understanding of your niche topic. Adding research, professional surveys, and academic findings is an excellent way to introduce more value to your students.
7. Record and Edit Your Online Course
Probably the most essential step of creating a course online ladder, you must now put together and record your content in videos, pdfs, ppts, and other mediums ready for delivery. It is finally time to create your online courses through videos, live sessions, presentations, and other delivery platforms.
Jan Barley discusses that usually course creators can make do with a high-spec smartphone camera, but setting up a decent webcam can also work. Some essentials you may need to properly record your online course videos may include a ring light, a quality microphone for better audio, and a clean (single-color) background.
The Microsoft Office or Google Workspace suites can help with creating & sharing notes, presentations, pdfs, and assessments. A video editing tool can also be very helpful, with countless free software already available like iMovie, DaVinci, Resolve, and LightWorks.
8. Setting Up Your Online Course: Platforms, Websites, and Features
Now that you’ve completed your course content and lesson plans, it is time to take it live. There are several ways to publish a course online, including the following::
- On your website (WordPress, Webflow, etc…)
- On marketplaces for online courses (Udemy, Skillshare, etc..)
- On online course platforms or learning management systems – LMS (Teachable, Podia, etc…)
The first option requires complete website creation and channels, while the other two options are more flexible and less time-consuming.
For example, to post your course on your website, you’ll first need to:
- Purchase a domain name
- Purchase hosting to make your site live
- Install a CMS like WordPress on your hosting
- Install a theme for your website
- Install required plugins
- Build a landing page for your online course
As you can see, this is quite a hectic process and can be overwhelming for non-tech-savvy people. In case you go with the second option, you won’t have to deal with a lot of hassle. However, course marketplaces charge quite a significant commission per sale.
In addition to that, if you post a course on marketplaces like Udemy, you won’t be able to do any branding for your course. Sure, marketplaces will manage everything for you, but you will lose that feeling of control over your course content.
Keeping options one and two in mind, the third option is the most preferred choice for most course creators. Why?
Well, think of an LMS as your digital school. A school that you can link to your website. LMS not only makes online course creation simple, but it also enables you to fully brand your course. Posting your course on a self-hosted LMS will allow you to sell your course hassle-free.
Speaking of LMS, Teachable is the best platform that provides a facility for setting up online courses to teach students and also earn from your tutoring programs.
In case you want to post your course on Teachable, follow the steps below to get started right away:
- Just click the courses (in the admin sidebar) from your Teachable admin area.
- Click on “new course”.
- The new course will be opened where you can put in the details of your course including the title of the course and subtitles. You can also select the author by clicking the Select Author drop-down menu.
- After writing the title subtitles and other details related to your course then click “create a course”.
- You can use keywords to describe your course because Teachable allows your course landing page to make it more visible to search engines.
- Create sections of your lectures and upload their content of them.
- Click on “Add pricing” in the last step and set the amount for it.
The whole procedure of creating an online course on this platform is very simple and easy, so anyone can earn from it!
9. Choose a Business Model and Set Your Course Price Right
The price of your online course has a direct impact on everything related to your online teaching business, as it will affect the marketing strategies, the audience you attract, and the amount of support you can provide.
Pricing an online course can be tricky. We’ve rounded up some key points to consider while setting the price of your course.
- Figure out the value of the money you’re offering
- How lengthy and in-depth your course is
- Research what your competitors are charging for a similar course
- Consider charging less initially and then gradually bumping up the price
You need to keep assessing the quality of course content, and market trends, to strike a balance and set the right price. Continuously evaluate and test your course with different pricing, but don’t go for free-course or cheap-course option, as it gives a negative appeal to the target market, thinking it won’t be worth their time.
To further make our point clear, here is why you should avoid under-pricing your online course:
- It can compromise your market potential and will prevent you from supporting your students.
- Selling a low-priced course takes more effort than selling a high-priced course.
- If you underprice your course, you won’t be able to reinvest in scaling it.
10. Marketing and Launching Your Course: Strategy, Branding, and Pre-Sales
Marketing is an essential component of online course creation and teaching business, as it can help you reach the intended audience and achieve desired goals. A well-designed marketing strategy can help your course stand out in a crowded marketplace of online courses.
A launch plan is important to create the buzz around your online course and create a sense of exclusivity to encourage early engagement and interaction. A comprehensive marketing strategy and a clear launch plan can help you maximize the success of your course. Incorporating the services of an online course promotion agency into your marketing strategy can be a smart move for anyone looking to create and promote an online course.
Define Your Marketing Strategy & Create Strong Branding
Marketing strategy for your online course must include a range of tactics to promote the course and build brand awareness. Creating consistent and recognizable course branding across platforms can help you gain credibility and develop trust among potential buyers.
Here’s how you can create a marketing strategy for your course and build a strong brand:
- Identify the target audience
- Conduct market research
- Define the unique selling point
- Develop a brand identity
- Craft compelling message
- Create content plan
- Leverage digital channels
- Optimize conversions
- Track and analyze results
Create a Pre-Launch and Launch Plan to Generate Pre-Sales & Create a Buzz for Your Course
Pre-launch and launch plans for course marketing can help you build momentum for a successful launch.
To generate sales and create a buzz for your course, you need to follow the pre-launch and launch planning steps:
- Identify your target audience and define your buyer persona in detail
- Tease the course with a launch date and other details
- Update the target audience through blog posts or social media updates
- Create a sense of excitement and exclusivity among the target market
- You can offer early bird discounts on course enrolment and registration
- Use SEO marketing to drive traffic to your course webpage
- Host live events to answer queries and questions related to the course
11. Build Your Community and Continue to Improve Your Online Course
Community building is an important part of online course success. When the learners feel part of the community, they are better engaged and feel motivated to complete the course.
Also, the community can help provide learners with the opportunity to learn from their peers, and share knowledge. Online course communities can facilitate collaboration, and insights, and develop important skills to network.
Here are some ways how you can achieve this:
- Create a course community through online forums, chat rooms, or social media groups.
- Collect feedback from students through surveys, polls, and other tools to make improvements.
- Make sure your course stays relevant and up-to-date with the latest trends and information.
- Increase engagement through discussions on community.
- Offer ongoing support for students who enroll in your online course.
12. Gather Student Feedback for Constant Improvement
Engaging course students the first time is one thing, keeping existing students engaged and attracting new ones requires you to consistently improve. Updating older courses while creating new interesting ones requires you to collect feedback routinely from your audiences.
Recent research has also identified that successful course creators are:
- 2 times more like to track student engagement
- 2.7 times more like to collect students’ reviews, and
- 1.4 times more likely to collect course feedback
A survey from eLearning provider Mirasee identified that 57%, of course, creators claim they measure the success of their courses based on student satisfaction. Gathering student feedback allows you to identify new directions for content, lacking within the teaching technologies, and content improvement ideas.
How to Create a Digital Course Checklist PDF
Common Mistakes to Avoid During Online Course Creation
If you’re creating an online course for the first time, you might make some basic mistakes.
But that’s okay. You’ll learn from your mistakes.
But to help make your online course a best seller on your first attempt, we have compiled some online course creation mistakes that you should avoid.
Avoid Creating Lengthy Lessons
You may want to go in-depth and share as much information with your learners as possible, but we’d suggest not doing that. Instead, keep your lessons short. Because the fact is, most of us have short attention spans. If you overwhelm your students with too much information, they won’t be able to retain any of it.
Depending on the length of your course, you may want to have a 5-minute intro, and a comprehensive video lesson not exceeding 20 minutes in length at max.
Don’t Be Scared to Try
You may be overwhelmed with so many thoughts when thinking about creating your online course. It’s perfectly normal. But how would you know if your course has any potential unless you try? If you’re skillful and you’ve researched your target audience well, then you should leap. Create your online course and market it well. Within no time, you’ll start generating a stable income for yourself.
Not Testing Your Course
Before you take your course online, run it through your social circle to see what they like or dislike about it. Asking your friends and family can help you figure out any mistakes that you can fix. Fixing all the errors in your course content before sharing it with your students is crucial to building credibility. If you fail to make a good first impression, it may turn away potential students.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How much does it cost to create an online course?
You can make a professional-looking course for between $350 and $1000. Some factors that can increase the cost include software, equipment, hosting, and promotion of your online course.
How to create a profitable online course to sell online?
The most important thing to create a profitable course is to get aware of your audience. Know what they are interested in and come up with the best profitable online course. For instance, if you are advertising B2B training, it’s a good thing to connect with your presented touch points on the phone and try to understand their needs before you begin cold outreach.
What are the different types of online courses?
There are multiple types of online courses that you can find online including digital marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, content writing, and so on.
How to create an online course with WordPress?
WordPress is one of the best platforms for web designing and development. You can create an online course involving WordPress training by including designing, coding, content editing, plug-in installation, and so on in the course.
What are the steps to creating an online course?
Here’s how to create an online course that sells:
- Find the right niche to create a course for
- Choose a platform where you want to publish your course
- Select a course topic
- Analyze your competitors
- Figure out how you want your course to be (webinar, text-based, video-based)
- Create your online course content
- Set pricing for your online course
- Market and promote your online course
- Measure your course’s performance
- Continue to improve
How can I create online courses and make money?
The easiest way to create and sell online courses is to publish your course on Udemy, iSpring Market, or Thinkific.
Which platform is best for online courses?
Here are some of the best platforms for online courses:
- LinkedIn Learning
- Shaw Academy
What software do I need to create an online course?
- Learning Management System (LMS) such as Blackboard or Canvas.
- Content Creation Tools such as Articulate, Camtasia, and Abode
- Course Website or Landing Page Builder such as WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix.
- Payment Processing Tools such as Stripe or Paypal.
- Communication & Collaboration Tools such as Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, or Slack.
Online courses can be a rewarding and profitable business idea, especially in today’s digital age. With the growing demand for online education, now is the perfect time to start creating and selling an online course that aligns with your expertise, experience, and knowledge.
By partnering with an online education marketing agency, you can maximize the potential of your course and reach a wider audience.
To summarize, creating an online course requires the best selection of the right strategies, plan, and tools to create, deliver and manage your course. You need to market your course effectively to attract learners and deliver value for them to generate revenue from your education business.