Our world has changed a bit since 2020, and one of the changes has revolved around the growth of e-learning. If this has led you to an idea to create online courses for selling, then you’ve come to the right place.
If you’ve researched how to create online courses, then you know there’s a ton of information out there. If you are only beginning to put your ideas in motion, then you should be aware there are quite a few decisions to make before you get started.
Are you still contemplating if you should create an online course? All indications are, this type of learning is not going away. Not only is it here to stay, it’s predicted to reach $375 billion by 2026.
There’s never been a better time to jump into the world of online learning. The best part is, if done correctly, your online course can generate passive income. The key is doing your research and homework up front, so you’re rewarded later on down the road.
Steps for Getting Started
Not preparing your course in the right way leads to frustration down the road. There is some groundwork to do first so you set yourself up for success.
Define Your Niche
The very first step when you create online courses is to narrow down your niche. When it comes to an online course, you can’t be all things to all people. Instead, you have to narrow it down as much as possible, so you can help solve an existing problem.
What exactly does defining your niche involve? Think about a big topic or idea, let’s use “How to start a succulent garden.” This is pretty broad. When someone goes to search for this topic online, a ton of information will come back and there are plenty of videos and blogs on this topic. And this topic alone is not really solving a specific issue.
However, if you narrow it down further and add “outside” and “in an apartment,” then suddenly you are solving a problem for someone who happens to dwell in a condo or apartment and only has access to a balcony for growing succulent plants.
Now you have what you need to conduct thorough research. This will guide your research as you focus on planters made for outdoors and succulents that thrive outdoors, versus indoors.
Narrowing down the topic is essential, but so is understanding who your target audience is. Again, going back to our succulent example, knowing your target audience are likely city dwellers living in condos or apartments is a great starting point.
However, you can drill down even more. Start thinking about all the different demographics your online audience could fall into, including their:
- Subject matter expertise
You might not have the target audience completely figured out when you get started, and it’s okay to tweak this area as you go along. However, having the target audience in mind provides greater guidance in your research.
Finding an audience may seem a little daunting, but you are likely already familiar with the places you can find them. Try joining relevant Facebook groups, look on YouTube channels and Twitter. If you already have a decent social media following, then offer up a poll or survey.
Name the Problem and the Solution
As you’ve identified your niche and target audience, at this point you should be able to clearly name the problem your online course is addressing.
At the same time, your online course needs to offer a clear solution to this problem. At the end of the course, your target audience will know the exact steps or knowledge they need to tackle this obstacle. This is the beauty of an effective course – it gives solutions and step by step guidance for each audience member.
If your topic is too broad, then it can make the research phase of online course creation even harder. Once your topic and target audience are defined, then it’s time to hit the books.
I’m not talking about actual books, of course. Research takes on a variety of forms and materials.
The first place to start is with yourself. How much knowledge do you have on the subject matter? Is it based on personal experience? For instance, with the outside succulent garden, do you happen to also live in a condo where you grow a variety of succulent plants on your balcony? If so, you can certainly draw from this experience, plus any other materials you already have on hand.
Once you’ve reviewed your own information, then you can reach outward with other materials. You can even go back to the groups and forums you visited before and see if there are any resources to draw from.
Don’t forget to check out the competition too. This is another form of research and it’s valuable to understand what others are saying or offering.
From your research, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Create an Outline and Content
Once you have your amazing research in hand, it’s time to organize it. Putting all the information into a course outline is a great way to get your thoughts organized and check the flow of the course.
From here you can create sub-niches and subheadings to break your topic down into more manageable chunks.
This will also be an ideal time to insert the different media you intend to use at different points throughout your course. Media such as illustrations, videos, text, live lessons, or any combination.
Once your outline is complete, you start adding your content. And remember, there are a ton of different ways to teach content. You can do it through PDFs, videos, articles, quizzes, infographics…whatever you feel your target audience will respond to.
The Best Platforms to Create Online Courses
You’ve done the hard part and created your online course. Now what? How will you get this brilliant content into the hands of an audience?
The answer is, by choosing the best platform for both your budget and what fits your needs. Ask yourself a few questions before choosing a platform:
- Do you have a website? If yes, you can host a course on your own site.
- Do you want a dedicated domain just for your course, whether you have a website or not?
- Do you want to market your course, or place it on a platform where potential customers can browse and find your course?
Once you figure out which one works best for you, then you can move on to choosing a specific platform.
Truthfully, there are hundreds of online platforms to choose from. However, there are a few options that stand out as you narrow down your options:
Teachable: Teachable is a great choice for a beginner or more advanced course creator . The interface and dashboard for tracking sales are easy to use. This platform gives you your own domain, with or without your own website.
Thinkific: Like other platforms, Thinkific has everything you need in one place to create online courses. There is also a free version you can start with, and then upgrade to a paid version later on.
Udemy: Udemy features everything you need to build your own online course, plus access to the giant Udemy marketplace. It’s one of the biggest online marketplaces in the world for online course sales.
Podia: If your desire is to create online courses, your best bet is to put the hard work in up front. Carefully choosing your topic, audience, and content will lay the foundation to a successful online course.
Once you’ve pooled all of your information in one place and you’re ready to share the course with everyone, then it’s time to choose the right platform to fit your goals and your budget.
If you want to learn how to launch your course, here is our guide to course launches.