People are creating online courses in record numbers, and for good reason. Today, experience is more valuable than education, and online courses offer the benefits of both. I can’t watch a YouTube video without getting pitched an online course about marketing or blogging. I even see online courses teaching people how to create an online course. So, what does it take to actually create one?
How To Create An Online Course In 10 Steps:
If you follow the steps outlined below, your online course will be helping tons of people learn from your expertise! We’ll dive deeper into that soon, but let’s first talk about why you should create an online course.
If you’re an expert at what you’re doing, it didn’t come easily. You had to make sacrifices, spend time (and probably money), and you had to learn from people who had done it before. You wished there was someone to help you get started, or get through the especially difficult times. This is your chance to make the next person’s journey a little easier.
Creating a professional and trustworthy online course establishes you as an authority in your industry. It’s can be a great solo business model, or a way to expand your services and revenue streams from your current business. More and more people are trusting online coaches to help them master their trade. Read why Forbes thinks e-learning will be a $325 Billion industry by 2025.
Note from Money Nomad owner, Zach Zorn:
After going through the trial and error of creating niche websites, and then becoming successful, I created a course helping others create websites quickly while minimizing the “roadblocks” and failures. I host my course on Teachable (more information below about this platform) and have been able to help over 1,600 people since 2018. My course is primarily made up of videos that students follow, along with several printable PDF’s. Don’t be afraid to use a mix of videos, audio clips, photos, and text when creating your course.
Here is an example of one of my intro sales video for the course:
I highly recommend you start creating a course today as you can help others, meet new people, and create extra income all at the same time. Michelle makes six figures from her courses!
#1 – Be An Expert In Your Field
Before you can show someone the ropes, you need to know them yourself inside and out. But having the knowledge isn’t enough, people want to see that you’ve done it, and done it well. We want to feel like we are getting the best help available, and we find it difficult to trust someone who doesn’t have a proven track record. Tiger Woods would be a phenomenal golf coach, but you wouldn’t want him teaching you how to throw a football.
So before you create your course, be the Tiger Woods of your field. Be in a position that your audience wishes they were in. Experience things your audience dreams about. Creating a valuable course will be easy if you do this, and marketing it will be even easier.
#2 – Teach Something People Will Pay For
Just because you’re qualified to teach it, doesn’t mean people want to learn it. I recommend using free tools, like UberSuggest or Google Trends, to make sure people are searching for keywords in your niche. You can also simply search different questions about your niche on Google or Facebook, and analyze the results. Are people writing articles and making videos about it? Are people posting and talking about it?
If your niche is too broad and competitive, try focusing on a specific angle or topic when making your course. If it’s too narrow, and the search volume is low, try teaching something a little more broad.
#3 – Choose The Correct Online Course Platforms
A lot of online course platforms are offering to host your online courses, and there are many great choices depending on the features your specific business needs. For now, let’s just talk about the main ones, that any first-time course creator can learn and use in no time:
Thinkific is a drag-and-drop editor, which makes designing your academy easy and fun. They offer great 24/7 customer support, and they have lots of tools to assist you with everything from email marketing to memberships. Thinkific is best for serious course creators. They offer a free or a $49/month plan, but you can get a one month free trial off their pro plan here!
Over 83,000 instructors have trusted Teachable to help them earn $555 Million selling online courses. Teachable is the easiest platform for beginners to use, and they have tools to help you make tons of engaging content for your audience. They have some unique and affordable pricing options, which you can check out here!
This platform has been getting more attention than the others lately. Why? They’re extensive collection of pre-made themes, pages, course catalogs, and content creation features. LearnWorlds is also great for your students. When taking your course, LearnWorlds makes it easy to take notes and save pieces of content. They integrate your academy seamlessly with social media, and the whole platform is just $24/month.
LearnDash (WordPress Plugin)
If you’re already running a WordPress site, LearnDash is your best option for introducing online courses to your audience. They offer all the easy-to-use features of the other platforms, all integrated into your WordPress dashboard. Learn Dash is 40% off right now for a limited time, check them out here!
For your more sophisticated instructor, Kajabi has the most features and capabilities of any on the list. They have extensive marketing, analytics, and content creation tools. They also offer gorgeous themes and page designs, whether you want to introduce physical products or a blog to your new academy! Kajabi is $119/mo, and you can learn more about them here.
#4 – Use The Proper Equipment
You’re asking people to trust you, and having high-quality, professional looking content, will go a long way towards winning them over. You don’t need an expensive camera to start — an iPhone shoots high enough quality video.
Audio is quite important, however. It’s going to be very hard to teach if your students can’t hear you. Most people elect to use a small, discreet lavalier microphone. I suggest using the Sony ECM-AW4 if you’d like something with Bluetooth, or the Rode smartLav+ if you won’t mind having the wire.
Here is an example of quality video and audio:
If everything goes to plan, soon you’ll need a professional-level camera and audio equipment, but don’t break the bank when you’re first getting started
#5 – Create Professional Quality Content
Creating a course is about helping people, and making their lives easier. You’ll be more successful if you address your content from their perspective. You want to make something entertaining, informative, and in a tone people from your niche will jive with. If you were the student, what else would you want out of the course? Can you provide transcripts of the lessons? Do you have workbooks, quizzes, tests, and certificates of completion? Any details you can add to improve your customer’s life and learning process will be appreciated.
Your setting is also crucial, so make sure you have a plan on where you’re going to film your courses. Welding students don’t want to see you sitting in your office, they want you in the shop. And if you’re teaching tree-cutting, you’ll probably be filming in the woods. Fieldwork is what people want to see — the nitty-gritty stuff. So make sure you have a setting and equipment that will make your life easier.
#6 – Create A Class Structure
Before you ever release your first lesson, you should know every step your students will take along the way. What information do they need out of the first lesson to help them get the most out of lesson two? Having pre-requisites, knowledge tests before you can move on, and visuals to show progress are a huge plus. This will also help your students learn better, and know what to expect.
Remember, the better your students perform, the better your reviews and the more referrals you’ll get.
#7 – Choose The Right Pricing Structure
The real decision lies between selling your course at a flat price, or setting up membership plans. Selling your course for a flat, one-time fee ensures you get the total payment upfront, and relieves you of providing much customer support. Membership customers are more valuable and provide continual monthly income. But you have to give these people a reason to stay around. If you can provide new and relevant content, tools they can’t find elsewhere, or an active community of support — membership sites are your best choice! For most beginners, I’d suggest creating a course and selling it for a flat rate to start. If people are buying it and you see an opportunity, move to a membership model as soon as possible.
#8 – Brand Yourself
Once you’re the best, and you have a course teaching people how to be the best, it’s time to tell people how great you really are. You need to have a presence in your online communities. Each niche audience hangs out in different places on the internet, and it’s your responsibility to find them, but social media is usually a good place to start.
People from every niche gather on social media to talk about their passions. It’s safe to say you’ll need a Facebook and Instagram, but people are making millions selling their courses on YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, and others. If your ideal students are hanging out there, it’s a good idea for you to be there also.
Put out content that’s relevant and useful to the people you want to attract, and never hold back. Free information is what sets the best course creators from the average. You may think you’re giving your best material away, but customers are thinking “if they’ll tell me this for free, what kind of amazing stuff will I get if I pay?”
#9 – Sell The Results, Not The Process
This is marketing tip number one for online course creators. When you post on social media, send an email, or make an ad, don’t spend your time telling people what they’ll learn. Instead, tell them what they’ll be able to do once they finish your course.
Don’t tell them how much higher they’ll jump, tell them they’ll be dunking on their friends after taking your class. People flock to those they want to be like, so make sure when they envision their post-course selves, it’s someone they’re aspiring to be. If you nail this down, you’ll be a successful course creator for years to come.
#10 – Grow With Your Audience
As more people finish your course, there will be more experts in your field. Do you have more content for these newfound experts? If not, you’re leaving money on the table. If someone bought a course form you once and enjoyed it, chances are they will again. But this only works if you can provide them value.
So, grow with your audience. As your course becomes more popular, you’ll get plenty of feedback and have plenty of your own ideas, not to mention you should still be getting better at your own craft! Introducing “pro-level” courses, next steps, additional materials, or one-on-one coaching are great ways to turn your students into repeat customers.
Bonus Tip: Contact your best student and see if they’d be interested in helping you create more content for your courses. Adding a new team member will help you grow and include ideas you couldn’t have had on your own — plus they’ll be trained by the best!
Popular Online Course Examples
Need some examples of popular online courses before getting started? Here is a list of courses that range from language to Amazon selling…you can create a course on nearly anything!