How to Create a Profitable Online Course: Beginners Guide
If you have expertise in a broad range of topics and are looking for how to make money online, something you should try out is online courses.
An online course is an easy way to showcase your expertise and make money off your knowledge from the comfort of your home. However, the difficulty lies in creating the online course properly.
Unlike an ebook, an online course requires a more outlined approach to enable your students to understand everything you’ve taught in the course. Putting all the information together can lead to information overload, thereby defeating the aim of the course altogether.
In this article, we share the best ways to create an online course so you can get your ideas off your doc.
1. Decide on a course topic that sells
The first step to creating a successful online course is by choosing your course topic. What are you most good at? What profitable ideas do you have and can teach comfortably?
Many people defer to online courses because of the following reasons,
- They want to learn a new skill,
- They want to add to their knowledge,
- Or they are bored and are looking for something new to learn.
So, feed their desire with your course. There are lots of topics you can choose to teach but the best bet is to go with a topic you have deep knowledge about.
Conversely, if you think you can easily learn a new topic or subject, and having background knowledge isn’t a criterion for teaching, then one way to decide on a good course topic is to ask your audience.
Come up with five strong topic ideas you think you can comfortably teach and ask your audience to choose what they’d want to hear the most from you. Ten is okay. But five is to help you understand the point.
Your audience knows you better and whatever their choice is, should be what you focus on creating.
2. Research & outline your topic
Once you have your course topic ready, the next step is to research what it is about. Researching your topic can be both offline and online. You can start with academic and professional books on the subject, then other free and paid material online.
You can also search online for people’s experiences and thoughts on your topic. Do not forget that whatever topic you choose, isn’t a new invention. You just need to be more creative about it.
After research, you outline your course topic into subtopics. For example, if your main topic is Content Marketing, you can break it into sub-topics like content and SEO, why content marketing is good for your business, etc.
Arranging it in a logical order, helps your students have a better understanding of your course. Selar has an in-built course outline feature that helps you to structure your curriculum.
Here are two ways to know if your course topic has a high demand;
1. Find out if people are searching for information about your topic
Simply, are people searching for and asking questions about your topic? Here’s how to know
- Go to forum platforms e.g. Quora to see what questions people are asking and the answers being posted.
- Check online groups such as Facebook to see some of the challenges your audience has and the solutions they are in search of.
Take note of recurring words in the questions being asked. They will form the keywords you use to search for trends.
Next, use keyword research tools such as Google Trends or Answerthepublic to know if the topic you want to teach about is being searched about.
For example, “How to Create Content” spiked in 2022, and has since then gained significant popularity because people want to learn how to create content online and become digital creators.
You may also use other keyword research tools such as SEMrush to know the search volume (that is, the number of people searching) for the keyword.
2. Find out if your customers want more
Something you really want to bear in mind while creating digital products is that you are not the first person to create such a product.
You have competitors, and one of the ways to stand out is to make your course different from what is out there.
Do some research to know your competitors and what they offer in their courses. Then think of how you can do things differently. It could be as small as using a real-life example to explain your point to including practical worksheets for your students or offering certificates.
Think outside the box.
3. Set your course goals and objectives
What feat do you want to achieve as a course creator? How many students do you want to enroll in your course? What extra knowledge do you want your students to have after listening to your course?
With these, you can set a learning goal for yourself and your students. Learning goals for your students gives you a direction in which to create your course.
Also, it can help you come up with great pitches for your course. Because now, you have a clearer understanding of your course outline and what it will achieve for your student.
You’re not left out, as creating a course can teach you a few organizational and focus skills along the way.
4. Create your course
The next most important step is to create your course. Based on the research you’ve made and the outline you’ve put out, you’d now need to start creating your course.
Depending on your course type, you’d need various media productions for your course. Remember, people are going to pay good money for your class, so you might as well want to give them high value for their money.
Your courses should have higher quality than what you’d get with an average YouTube vlog.
You may decide to repurpose your old content to make a course. But we recommend you start from scratch. Conduct new research, get more ideas, and create something better. Of course, your old content can come in handy at some point. But it shouldn’t be all that you use to create your course.
To start, you’ll need;
- A good HD camera
Canon PowerShot G7X Mark III Digital 4K Vlogging Camera or a Panasonic Full HD Video Camera Camcorder HC-V770 are good options. Alternatively, you may use a good smartphone.
- Good lighting
Again, people are going to be paying good money for your course, so you do not want to look like you recorded with a low-camera phone.
Lighting rings are a good way to get enough lighting for your online course. There are good studio lighting kits on Amazon that you can get for about $100 or less.
Your thoughts need to have a direction. Without a script, you’d jump on different ideas from different angles and everything may just turn out scattered.
With a script, you have an idea of how your teaching style should be. The right words to say and when to pause. Apps like Teleprompter lite can aid you in turning a laptop into a teleprompter.
- A green screen
A green screen allows you to change your background for any image you want. It is useful when you want to add images and graphics to your video. If unavailable, you can choose a part of your house with the best background to shoot.
- Editing Software
For all the times you’d make mistakes, you need good editing software to help you produce a good video. If you have no editing experience, we recommend you hire a professional video editor to get the job done.
While recording, aim to take short breaks in between as a long video lecture can bore your students.
Start by recording each topic alone. For example, if Module 1 is Introduction to Creative Writing, record it as a stand-alone video.
In cases where you have sub-topics under one broad topic, record each video separately. The aim is to have short videos, anywhere around 10 minutes or less for each heading or topic.
With all these, it’s time to create your course. Set up your equipment and record your first video. It’s exciting!
Don’t forget to create learning materials to help your students understand better. These include test questions, workbooks, practice sheets, etc.
5. Price your online course
This is often the hardest part about creating an online course. Pricing can be very tricky as the market is always changing. So it’s going to take a few guesses and trial and error to get it right.
To begin, it all depends on your course, and how much value you give out in it. Then, the willing spending power of your target audience. That is, how much your audience will be willing to pay for a product or service.
There’s no special way to know this, so you’ll have to ask. Find out from your audience what kind of product they want from you and how much they’ll be willing to pay for it. So you don’t turn out to be one of those creators who believe that people don’t want their course.
In general, the price of online courses goes from $5 to thousands of dollars. Your course will likely fall within this range but it can vary based on the topic, audience, and value given.
When deciding the price of your online course, consider the following;
- Audience. What kind of people do you intend to sell to? How much will they be willing to spend on a course?
- Competitor price. How much do your competitors sell their online courses? What makes their course different from yours?
- Course fit. Is the course a lead magnet? One of your digital products? or your primary product?
- Revenue goal. How much do you want to make from selling your course? What is the realistic amount you can make?
With these, you can get an idea of how much to price your courses. But it doesn’t end there. You need to have a payment structure for your course.
Here’s what I mean.
Would it be a one-time payment with lifetime access to your course? Would it be a recurring payment? Every month? Would it be a multiple payment structure where people can spread the cost over time?
If the price of your course is significantly lower than that of your competitor’s, people will automatically think, yours is of less value.
And if you have a high revenue goal, you’ll have to market to more people to reach your goal. For example, here are 5 different scenarios to make ₦500,000 from your online course.
Regardless of your price, the efforts to market your course will be the same. So you want to make sure you are setting a price that matches your effort. Ultimately, understanding your target market is key in setting a price for your online course.
6. Select an eLearning platform
With your content ready, it’s time to choose a platform that makes it seamless for you to sell your course, and for your students to access them.
These platforms are a great opportunity for people who don’t want to go through the hassle of building websites or creating an online presence. Some of the best platforms are Selar, Kajabi, and Thinkific.
An alternative will be to go for online course marketplaces like Udemy. However, Udemy charges 63% commission for course sales made without instructor coupons or referral links.
With Selar, you only need to pay a pro plan subscription of ₦8,000/$20 to access all the features you need to sell your course. This includes drip content, course certificates, email marketing, etc.
While the course platform you choose to sell your course is important, the core content of your course is more important. That’s what will attract students.
7. Launch it
You’ve done the not-so-easy part, creating your course, filming, and editing. Now it’s time to go harder by launching it.
Creating your course is just the first step of the entire equation, launching it, determines if you’ll make your first sale or not.
In reality, after you’ve launched your course, you need to continue marketing it to make more students aware of it. In fact, your marketing strategy is the difference between no sales and a seven-figure course.
To have a successful launch, you need the following;
- A goal
- A launch strategy
- A launch funnel
1. Setting a goal
To set a goal, answer these questions;
- How do you intend to launch your course?
- What do you need to make it work?
- How many people do you want to enroll in your course?
- If you have a community, by how much do you want your community to grow with the release of your course?
- How many sales do you want to make? (If it’s a paid course)
Answering these questions helps to arrange your thoughts in devising a good launch plan.
2. A launch strategy
This involves your plan for launching your course. You may choose to drive organic traffic to your course or you may decide to run ads to boost your traffic rate, or you may even decide to do a combination of both methods. Whichever one you choose is entirely up to you. The most important thing is that you are getting results.
Here are some questions to guide you;
- How will you get people to enroll in your course?
- Do you have an audience ready for your course?
- How do you intend to put your audience in a loop where they are fed content about your course till they make a purchase?
- How will you hit your sales goal?
- What will you do if nobody enrolls in your course?
- How will you handle feedback?
- How will you provide support to your audience when the need arises?
3. A launch funnel
A launch funnel is a structure you set up that allows you to attract and enroll students in your course. It’s like a pipeline that you draw them into and continuously feed them content that influences their buying decision.
In general, how do you turn them from people just aware of your online course to buyers and eventually loyal customers?
- A lead magnet. A free product that attracts people to sign up to your email list
- A landing page.
- An email sequence. A series of various email content types you intend to share with your audience.
- Good ad copy. Read this article on writing effective sales copy
- A sales page.
This article on How to Successfully Launch an Online Course explains everything you need in detail.
8. Market your online course
Everyone is aware of your course now. But there’s still more work to be done. You need to market the hell out of it.
Great marketing rewards your product creation efforts. You can have the best product but if you have a crappy marketing strategy, you’ll miss out on lots of sales opportunities and eventually lose money.
Here are some strategies for marketing your course
1. Leverage email marketing
Email marketing like every other form of marketing is an easy way to get to your customers and nurture them till they buy from you.
However, the distance between connecting to your customers and making them buy your product is separated by a thin line – content.
To begin, focus on building an email list. To do this, you need to share valuable content online that helps people solve a problem. Consistently doing this, gives people a reason to believe you and want to learn from you.
In contrast, people who join your email list may not be ready to buy at once. Hence, you’ll need to set up a marketing funnel with content that convinces them to buy down the line.
This article on Email Marketing, explains how you can write emails to sell your products.
2. Create a content strategy
The best way to attract customers to your business is by first offering high-quality valuable content.
Now, you must understand that “value” is relative. A post on “How to Lose 5kg in 3 Weeks,” is highly valuable to someone trying to lose weight. However, that same post becomes highly irrelevant to an underweight person looking for healthy ways to gain weight.
So you must discover the pain points of your audience and create content tailored to their needs.
3. Create a sales page
A sales page shows your offer, what your brand is about, and the benefits your users stand to gain outrightly. As a result, when you create a landing page, it needs to be clear, simple, and effective.
So while your online course is waiting for your reader to enroll, the sales pages direct the reader’s attention to one thing – enrolling in your course.
With Selar’s page builder feature, you can create ideal landing pages designed to drive traffic to your funnel and convert prospects to customers. The best part? It’s easy to use with no technicality required.
To build an effective and successful sales page, you need to have the right elements on the page. The most effective sales pages contain two most important things – text and elements.
The texts, also known as copy, are written to compel the reader to take action. While the elements further complement the copy in influencing the reader to take action.
See this article How to Build an Effective Online Course Sales Page for more tips.
4. Run paid ads
Running paid ads like Facebook ads or Google ads on your sales page can be a powerful way to market your products. Target customers with an interest in your content or similar content for your ads. In all, try to keep the cost low. Your cost of acquiring a customer should be less than the price of the course.
That is, if your course is $100, your cost of acquiring a customer (ads)shouldn’t be $100. Or else there’s no profit.
5. Social media marketing
Identify the best social channels to connect with your customers and go heavy on them. Build a social media strategy that prioritizes giving value consistently and engaging with customers.
9. Collect feedback and testimonials
Once your course is live, pay attention to how your customers react to it. You can track various metrics such as course completion rate, video watch times, and even email opens from your selected hosting platform.
Tracking these metrics help you look for ways you can improve your course and be better.
Additionally, collect feedback and testimonials from customers who have taken your course and are implementing what they’ve learned. This feedback can be used as marketing material to convince prospective customers of the value contained in your course.
One way to collect customer testimonials is by asking specific questions. For example, rather than asking for a general positive experience, ask direct questions like, “What new strategies have you implemented from the course and what results have you seen?” or “How has your revenue grown since you took this course?”
Specific details on how your course was helpful are better than vague generalizations.
How to Create an Online Course With Selar
With Selar, you can easily upload your online courses, use the drip content feature, accept payments in any currency, and manage your students, all from one dashboard.
Start by signing up on Selar, and uploading your course. Create the course modules, set the price, create a sales page, and leverage email marketing. The ball is in your court.
For easy reference, here’s how to create an online course
- Decide on a course topic that sells
- Research & outline your topic
- Set your course goals and objectives
- Create your course
- Price your online course
- Select an eLearning Platform
- Launch it
- Market your online course
- Collect feedback and testimonials