Today, people are much more open to online education than in the past. According to this source, the online education industry is expected to reach $335 billion by 2025. Did you know that 80% of companies have used an e-learning platform? And, more and more organizations are shifting to online learning.
For students it’s a convenient and effective way to learn new skills. Sitting in a classroom or conference room for a seminar or presentation isn’t the only option anymore.
If you have a skillset you want to teach and are thinking about how to create an online course to share your knowledge, you’re in the right place.
This guide will show you how to create an online course step-by-step so you can go on to build your course and serve students online.
Step 1: Find your target audience
This is an important step, you have to figure out who your target audience is. Once you have this, you can begin to outline your course to appeal to that target student.
For example, if you want to teach others how to clean their house with DIY natural products, who is the ideal person who will buy your course?
Moms? Business owners? Millennials? College students?
Pick a customer avatar and then outline and build your course around that avatar.
For example, for the above course idea on cleaning with DIY natural products, your customer avatar might be:
- A stay-at-home mom with small children in school
- Living in the U.S.
- Interested in naturopath therapy, DIY, and crafting
- Enjoys essential oils
- Has pets at home
Keeping your customer avatar in mind when designing your course will help you speak the language of your audience. You can write your content geared toward that customer group and this can help you niche down your course, too.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll move onto outlining your course.
Step 2: Outline your course
You might have an idea what you want your course to be about. Refine your ideas and pick your course topic.
Then, outline your course.
Your outline can be informal. You want to jot down your ideas about the course and what you want included in it, like figuring out:
- How many sections your course will have
- How many lessons/modules
- Breaking up your ideas into a curriculum
- Including bonuses
- Building a community (like a Facebook group, Discord chat, Telegram chat, etc.)
With your outline ready, you’ll begin to set up your sales page.
Step 3: Set up your sales page
Your sales page is the page your target customers will land on. It should be organized, professionally laid out and have all the information your prospective students are looking for before they buy.
Here are some ideas for what to include on your sales page:
- Identify the problem and solution
- Talk about yourself/your expertise
- Share your mission
- Address common FAQ’s
- Place “buy” buttons on the page
Identify the problem and solution
First, on your sales page you want to identify the problem. Make it clear what struggle your prospect is dealing with. Then, present your course as the solution.
For example, a problem your customer might be struggling with is the tedious chore of changing their cat’s litter every three days. The chore is time-consuming, back-breaking, expensive, and undesirable.
The solution is your course on cat potty training, which shows cat owners a step-by-step guide to toilet training their cat. This will save money and eliminate the chore of changing cat litter every few days.
Identifying the problem and sharing a solution on your sales page is key. People don’t buy products, they buy solutions. So make your solution to their problem clear.
Talk about yourself
Next, talk about yourself. Tell people who you are, what your background and expertise is all about.
Share why you decided to create a course around the topic you chose. Tell a story, talk about why it’s important to you, why it’s beneficial for your target customer, how it helped you, etc.
It’s good to brag a little here.
Show off your skills, insert screenshots or images, before and after photos, to paint the picture.
Share your mission
When you talk about your mission, you’ll be explaining your “why.”
What led you to develop this course, why is it so important and how can it help your target audience?
Share goals and objectives you have around the course, like:
- Helping 1,000 women achieve XYZ
- Saving $1,000,000 amongst the millennial community
- Teaching 10,000 stay-at-home parents how to XYZ
Having an FAQ section is a great way to answer common questions your audience might have. It’s natural for people to hesitate, especially when committing to making an online purchase from a stranger, so use your FAQ as an opportunity to overcome their obstacles.
You can list out every single common question you can think of here or just name the main ones.
Using buy buttons
Lastly, make sure to use big, clear, unmissable, buy buttons on your sales page.
If your sales page is long, consider having multiple buy buttons.Or even one that floats on the top of the page. So when the customer is ready, it’s very obvious how to move to the next step.
You want to make it as easy as possible for your prospect to buy your course.
Best practices to creating a winning course sales page
Then, aside from the above, make sure your sales page is using your brand colors, logos, and font.
Use images, graphs, charts, screenshots, video and other media to make the experience engaging and interactive.
If you have testimonials or reviews from past customers who you’ve worked with or had as clients, use them in your sales page too.
Step 4: Pre-sell
Pre-selling is about testing your idea.
Even if you think your course is a total masterpiece and it’s going to be a huge help to your audience, it could flop.
You can save a lot of time and money if you presell it first.
Here are three ways you can do that:
- Pre-sell your course
- Start a waiting list
- Build a mini course
Pre-sell your course
Pre-selling your course can be done with only a simple landing page. The idea is for you to gauge interest in the topic before committing to the build process.
Essentially, this is selling your course before you make it.
Why would people be interested in a pre-sale?
First, if the course provides a solution to their problem, they will be interested.
Next, pre-sales usually are tied to an incentive for the buyer, like a discounted pre-sale price compared to the full launch price.
In a pre-sale, you can go a few different routes.
You could sell discounted access, then take your time building the full course and release access to those who already bought, along with doing your full launch to the public.
You can also do live trainings to your customers over the course of the next few weeks or months. This will give buyers access to the content one week at a time (or however often you do your live training sessions) and it will feel like live coaching, which a lot of people love.
Once you’re wrapped up with the training sessions for the course, you can collect testimonials and reviews that you can use on your sales page and in your full course launch!
Start a waiting list
A waiting list is another way you can pre-sell your course. We actually did this for our Facebook Side Hustle course.
You can add a signup form for the waiting list right to your sales page. You get to gauge interest and see how many people are actually interested in the course material and grow your email list.
So, worst case scenario, if you don’t have enough interest, at least you have new emails added to your email list!
Build a free mini course
Lastly, you can choose to put out a mini course.
A free mini course lets you touch on one of the subjects you’ll focus on in the main course without having to build out a full-fledged course.
It’s a mini version so that means it doesn’t have to have all the components of the full course like videos or bonuses. This will cut down on the time it takes you to build the mini course while you can still provide value to your student.
The mini course helps your student learn something valuable that can help them. For you, it’s a way to test student interest in the topic, plus get feedback and testimonials for a larger full fledged course you can create in the future.
Step 5: Build your course
When you’re ready to build out your full course, you’ll need a way to record the course. Oftentimes this is some kind of screencast software where you can record your computer screen and voice at the same time.
This is great if you have slides. Your student can see the slides and hear your voice. You can also have a small bubble in the corner with a recording of your face while you talk so the student can see both the slides and you at the same time.
Check out these screencast software programs:
Loom: Loom’s free plan offers unlimited videos but has a 5 minute time limit per video.
Screencastomatic: Screeencastomatic’s free plan has a 15 minute time limit on videos with unlimited videos.
Berrycast: Berrycast’s free plan has videos of unlimited length but is restricted to 10 videos per month.
All three services also offer paid plans that include unlimited videos of unlimited length along with a variety of other features. .
There are tons of great course platforms out there. To get you started, here are 7 of the best online course providers.
You’ll want to pick a course platform that has all the features and services you need for your business. The platform should be affordable and make sense for you. And, it should be relatively easy to learn with a shallow learning curve.
Step 6: Final Touches
Before you launch go through a checklist to make sure you have everything set before you go live to the public:
- Do you have your shopping cart turned on?
- Do you have your course priced?
- Are your sales funnels in place (if, any)?
- Will this be an evergreen course or an open-close enrollment?
- Is the curriculum fully built out with all bonuses working?
- Is the community accessible and open to join?
Pricing Your Course
This can be tricky. Generally, a longer, more in-depth course with lots of material can be priced higher than a shorter course but, where is that line drawn? And, what is the difference in price?
One of our favorite course platforms is Teachable.
They have hosted over 100,000 creators who have sold over $1 billion dollars in courses and coaching.
They have a really helpful blog post on how to price your course that you can check out. It will show you everything to consider when pricing your course.
Set up Your Sales Funnel
A sales funnel can be a critical part of your marketing strategy. It’s the flow you take your customer through that can generate sales for your business.
It’s like guiding your customer down a path, offering them free and paid content along their journey. The funnel gives you more time to capture your customer. If they’re on the fence, taking them through the funnel can improve your chances of converting them from a lead to a paying customer.
To learn more about funnels, read the beginner’s guide to creating a sales funnel.
Evergreen courses vs. Open-close enrollment courses
An evergreen course is a course that’s always open. It’s available 24/7 for customers to purchase.
An open-close enrollment course is a course that is open for a limited time for enrollment. Then, when that enrollment window closes, interested students have to wait until the next enrollment window to join.
There are benefits and drawbacks to both. You just need to evaluate both and decide which option you’d like to pursue for your course.
Identify this as early as possible as it will have an impact on how you design your marketing strategy.
Build Community Support
Providing access to a private online group is a great way of giving even more value to your students.
The online group can serve as a place for students to mingle and network with their peers, ask questions, share feedback, successes, and failures. Adding a community can also help you up your course price.
They’re relatively low maintenance and as the group grows, you can add moderators to help manage it.
Here are some examples of communities you can create to go alongside your course:
- Facebook group
- Slack Channel
- Discord server
Step 7: Launch
Then, in this final step it’s all about marketing and managing your post-launch.
First, there’s your course marketing. Marketing spreads the word about your course and attracts customers.
How can you market an online course launch?
- Organic marketing
- Paid marketing
Outreach is about reaching out to people to promote your course, like the media, influencers, your fans on social media, friends, and family.
You could pitch publications, get on podcasts, be interviewed online and in person, speak at events, etc.
Next, there’s organic marketing which can be as simple as posting messages on your social channels telling your fanbase about the launch of your course. You can also email your subscribers from your email list to share your course there, as well as make announcements everywhere you have a presence online like Snapchat, Clubhouse, YouTube, etc.
Lastly, there’s paid marketing. This includes all paid advertising you push for marketing your course, like Facebook ads, influencer marketing, sponsored placements, etc.
Then, you have your post-launch activities.
This could be:
- Answering payment questions
- Helping students get logged in to the platform
- Answering general questions/inquiries about the course
- Introducing yourself in the community
Be present and available to help, which will affirm your students’ decision to buy your course.
Final word on how to create an online course
Course creation can have a ton of perks for you and your students. You get to educate others about what you’re good at, helping them learn and master a skill. Students get the opportunity to conveniently learn the material right online from the comfort of home.
And you get to enlarge your online footprint as an expert in your industry, create an additional income stream, and connect with your students.
There are thousands of online courses that exist in many interesting niches like beekeeping, taxidermy, floral design, body painting and more.
Are you thinking about getting started? What will your online course be about?