Want to know more about how to create online courses?
You’ve heard how profitable they can be for your business but not sure how to take your idea to a fulling fledged, and profitable, online course?
You’ll be happy to know that online courses can fit into so many business models. If you have a skill that you can teach others, you might be able to create an online course with it.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning when you click through and make a purchase I receive a commission. This occurs at no cost to you.
In this post, I’ll outline the steps needed to get your online course from a very vague idea to a profitable course.
A step by step guide to creating profitable online courses
1. Figure out your topic and niche
When we think about creating an online course, we need to make sure it ticks a few very important boxes. Is your idea for the course profitable, scalable, relevant and will you enjoy creating it? Does it solve a problem that your audience is wanting help with? What would be the ultimate outcome of the course?
If you’re stuck on ideas for your course, then have a think about what your audience (if you already have one) is asking you. Are they asking very similar questions? You could always poll your audience or ask in your Facebook group or in an email. Another option is searching through Facebook groups that you are a part of, looking for questions that your target audience are asking. This will give you such a great idea of where they’re pain points are how you can help them overcome them.
Look at your most popular blog posts (you can find this in your Google Analytics) and see if they could form the basis of your course. Is there a topic that you’ve written about that could be expanded on? Or is there a blog post that you always get more questions about? They could give you the perfect idea for your online course!
2. Validate your idea
Once you have your idea, it’s time to validate it. There are a few ways that this can be done and it will give you a good idea if your idea has legs before you invest much more time into it.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Google – the easiest way to validate your idea is to do a simple Google search. Simply search for similar courses and use keywords that you would be aiming to rank for. If you haven’t entered the world of keyword research, then I use this tool to get ideas for all of my blog posts. If you do find similar courses, what are they teaching and how can you improve on it? Can you offer something slightly different or is there a way that you can add more value. Maybe a Facebook group or other bonuses?
Facebook Groups – again hit the relevant Facebook groups that you are a part of ask them. Make sure you’re allowed first but ask the audience what they think about your idea and maybe this would be a good place to offer an introductory offer or offer the course for free for feedback.
Poll ask your audience – Like when you were thinking about your idea, this can be asked on your Facebook page, email list or in your email marketing.
3. Choose your platform
How are you going to host your online course? I guess this point is also a good point to ask yourself whether the format of a course is the best option for your idea. Other options might be a membership program or an ebook.
If an online course is where you want to go, then I highly recommend Teachable as a platform. It’s really easy to use and I love it from a customer point of view. It houses all your courses that are hosted on Teachable in the one spot. Being an e-course junkie, I have been known to forget or lose a few courses. When I log into my Teachable account, they’re all there in the one spot!
The other great thing about Teachable is that they have a free option (no membership fee just pay a percentage of sales) which is great to start!
4. Outline your modules
The main thing here is that you know what you want your students to know at the end of the course. You must be 100% clear on it!
Once you’ve figured that out, think about the steps that they need to reach that outcome. Think about how you got to that point. What did you need to know and do to get there?
Start writing down the main points and then expand on each point. That should give you the basics of your course and you can then go in depth with each module as you need.
5. Start creating interest in the course
Now that you know what you’re going to sell, it’s time to gather interest!
Start talking about your plans with your email list, your social followers and in your Facebook group. Share snippets of behind the scenes, what you’ll be teaching and talk about pain points that your audience would be experiencing and how you can help solve their problems.
Start funnelling people to an email list to register their interest. Create a free opt-in at this point. Something that will give them an idea of what to expect and will have them wanting more. Share it where you can throughout your site, on Pinterest and on your social platforms.
6. Create the course
There are a few ways that you can go about creating the course. I know some people say not to create the whole course before you start selling it and others disagree.
You can do either or. Whatever you feel most comfortable with. So essentially, you have 2 options here for creating the course:
- You could promote the outline and have a discounted launch in exchange for some feedback (keep in mind though that they have paid for the course and therefore might not give you feedback).
- Or you could create the course, as a beta and have 10 or so people review the course – these could be people in your audience, some hardcore fans or even people with a similar but larger audience that could then go on to promote it, offering them to be part of a generous affiliate program, usually 50% for digital products, to help with that process.
Whatever you choose, you will need to eventually create the course!
Every student is different in terms of learning style and I don’t think it’s possible to accommodate everyone. Pick a style that suits you and the business, then maybe add offer another option as well. You can choose from text, video (both screencasting or videos of you showing the process) and audio.
Go deep into each module, creating content to best serve up the information. This is really easy to work through within Teachable, it’s just a matter of adding the content and other files as you go.
However you create the course, make sure you keep it to the point and make it easy for your students to follow.
7. Proofing and editing
Now that you have your content ready, make sure you put the energy and time into proofing and editing. This might be something that you outsource if you can. I know I have a really hard time editing my own work and love it when I can get someone else to do it for me!
8. How to price your course
This can be hard! And it might be something that evolves as you and the course does.
I know that course creators are often tempted to add so much content because they think it’s going to create a course that can justify the money. That’s not always the case though!
The course that adds the most value to the student can demand a higher price. What is your trying to achieve?
Does it solve a problem that would save your student $20? You would have created a lower cost course.
Does it should your student how to create hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue? You have created a course where you can charge thousands.
I hope that concept makes sense to you!
In terms of adding value, think outside the box. What are other things that you can add that create more value?
Having access to an exclusive Facebook group? Having access to you in one way or another, perhaps weekly lives or Q&A sessions?
Get creative here!
8. The Launch
It’s time to launch your online course to the big wide world!
It can be nerve-wracking but you’ve done the work and you have a product that you know will serve your audience and make their lives better. Have faith in that.
Here are some steps that you might want to take to launch your course with a bang:
Promote the lead magnet that you created.
Get it everywhere. On your homepage, a welcome mat, on your sidebar, share it where you can in Facebook groups (without being spammy). You’d be surprised how many places you can share it!
Create a nurturing sequence with your lead magnet.
Give your reader value and have them begging for more. The purpose of the nurture sequence is to lead them to purchase your course. The sequence should provide value, inspiration and of course, a desire more information from you.
I can’t recommend this course, Flawless Funnels by House of Brazen, highly enough. Elise shows you step by step how to create profitable funnels.
Ask your testers and early customers for testimonials.
This also includes screenshots of positive reviews that are left on your Facebook page. Simply ask them to provide feedback or in your follow up email, give them the direct link to your Facebook review page. Reviews on Facebook are far superior to ones on your website and give a potential buyer the social proof they need to make their decision.
Be sure to include them on your sales page, in your social media strategy and in your email marketing, with permission of course.
Create an affiliate program.
When this is done well, you can see amazing results. Provide your affiliates with images, copy, email templates, show them how to create reviews and blog posts for your course and even offer them a discount code they can use with their audience. Another great strategy that I’ve seen is having sales and creating an ‘affiliate leaderboard’ where you offer the highest selling affiliate a prize. Keep them in the loop and communicate with them regularly. Teachable has an inbuilt affiliate program when you have the paid version.
Reach out to your testers and offer them an affiliate spot.
This is a great way to get other people to spread the word for you. For digital products, the average affiliate commission is 30-50%, with 40% being the most common. The more generous you are, the more likely you are to have them promote it for you, remembering that it doesn’t take you any extra work to generate more sales.
Create a sales page if you haven’t already.
If you’re using Teachable, this is done in-house with them. Things to include on your page are; a great headline, your testimonials, a course outline and pricing options. Tell a story about you and how the information has helped you achieve what you’re teaching.
Use Facebook advertising.
Create a blog post for your freebie opt-in and use that as your first Facebook ad, this will get them in your funnel but you could then retarget them with another ad that’s more of a sales ad. If Facebook ads are over your head, I recommend this course from The Digital Picnic.
Get it out into Pinterest-land.
You can create pins (I recommend testing various styles) to direct readers to your course but you could also send them to the blog post about that course that you created. The key here is to experiment but don’t get spammy. This course is great if you need help with Pinterest, Pinning Perfect.
Create a social media strategy and promote it across your channels.
Be sure to include your new online course in your social media strategy. Make sure though, that you keep to the 80/20 rule – 80% value and 20% sales. I know there are businesses out there that don’t follow that rule and are still successful but unless you have an audience that are hardcore fans, I’d suggest sticky to it.
Create a time-sensitive intro price.
There’s nothing like creating a bit of urgency for your product. If your audience is on the fence, this will help give them the nudge they need!
Now you’ve learnt how to create online courses, it’s your time to get creative and get your courses out there to the world!