» How to Create a Successful Online Course

How to Create a Successful Online Course

By Nagi An
— June 12, 2022


Selling an online course can be a lucrative source of income for many digital content creators, including bloggers, YouTubers, and podcasters, among others.

Considering the availability of user-friendly course creation tools, launching your own online course may seem very easy these days. However, building an online course can be time-consuming. You must take precautions to ensure that the process is worth your time.

This guide will walk you through creating a successful and profitable online course in six steps.

#1 Choose the right course topic

In order to get the topic right from the beginning, focus on an area you are an expert in or aim to become one. Go over your passions, hobbies, talents, skills, and other life experiences. Choosing your topic from an area you have a deep interest in will help you stick longer and prevent you from giving up creating your course.

There is a caveat, however. It’s not enough that you enjoy your topic; there must be other people who want to learn about it also so that you can sell to enough students and build a profitable business. That’s why you should do market research to learn if your candidate topics are trending and there’s a demand for them.

To this end, you can do keyword research and check the search volumes using tools such as Mangool’s KWFinder. You can also use Google Trends and read about what people are curious about on websites like Reddit and Quora.

If you have an audience already, you can send surveys to ask about the subjects they like to learn.

It’s also a good idea to search for competitors. If there are other education products related to your topic idea, it’s usually a good sign that there’s a demand.


#2 Validate your idea

Before putting in the long hours of creating your ultimate course, you can validate your course idea through a minimum viable product (MVP). The aim is to see if your audience will pay for the MVP. An MVP can be an e-book, an email course, or a shorter version of a video course you plan to launch.

Another way to validate your idea is to presell your course before creating it. For many online learners, it’s customary to enroll in courses earlier than the launch day. An approach to reaching such learners is selling your course at a discount.

#3 Outline your course

Next, start structuring your course. How will you transform your learners? The outline is the path you will follow to bring them from where they are now to where they desire to be. It should include descriptions of what topics your course covers. Knowing where you are going also helps you create your course more efficiently.

To create your course outline, you can group similar themes together and then break down your content into chapters and lessons.


#4 Create learning outcomes

Make sure your students clearly understand what you’ll teach them with your course. You can achieve this by writing compelling learning outcomes for each lesson you determined in the previous step.

A learning outcome expresses what the student will be able to do at the end of each lesson. In a way, they represent learning goals. They can empower students to engage more with the course material.

Each learning outcome should include an active verb, such as demonstrate, identify, design, etc. Avoid verbs like understand or know.


#5 Develop your course content

Gather your course material and decide in which formats you will deliver it. In practice, most successful online courses are a combination of video, audio, and text-based materials. They also incorporate carefully selected exercises and practice activities that adult learners find relevant and meaningful with regard to their learning goals.

It’s also common practice to integrate small wins into the course content. Small wins are simple activities that provide your students with a feeling of accomplishment. Also, consider making your course more engaging by incorporating interactive elements like quizzes and assignments. Other things you can include are checklists and case studies.


#6 Publish your course

There are multiple paths to publishing your course. Depending on your priorities and technical skills, you can choose the most suitable one.

Your first option is to host the whole course content on your own website. This option is a less expensive alternative; however, you have to deal with everything yourself. In this case, particularly, assuring website security, setting up payment methods, and following transactions can be cumbersome.

The second option is to publish your course content in a course marketplace, such as Udemy. In this case, all you have to do is upload your content. Another advantage is there are already many students in the marketplace. So, if you’re just beginning and don’t have an audience yet, you can opt for this alternative. On the other hand, the marketplace will cut your profits in a considerable way. As of writing the article, Udemy course creators only get 37% of the revenue created from the sales of their courses, for example.

The third way is to publish your course on a reliable and time-trusted platform which is dedicated to online course creation. Two of the most popular ones are Teachable and Thinkific.

Teachable homepage screenshot

You can start for free on both platforms. This is a great advantage because you can familiarize yourself with the tools while still creating your course.

Thinkific homepage screenshot

In contrast to the above-mentioned two options, however, these platforms require higher investments when you want to build a scalable business. Typically, you must pay a monthly fee, which is, at the moment of writing, $39 on Thinkific and $29 on Teachable, both for a basic membership. 

Final Words

Creating an online course is a great way to build a scalable business because you only create it once and continue to sell for a long period of time. Having online courses also has the potential to grow your existing audience. You will also enjoy sharing your valuable knowledge, skills, and passion with the rest of the world. 


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