Have you ever wanted to create an online course? Maybe you’re simply motivated to share your passion with others. Perhaps you’d like to leave a positive legacy. Or, maybe you’re after a passive income stream. You may even be driven by all three!
If you’re reading this, you’re already aware of the fact that the online education industry is booming, with the demand for soft skill courses seeing a rapid growth of 4,000% in 2020. No matter your expertise or passion, there are people out there who would love to learn what you have to share.
And, there are so many reasons. The possibilities are endless!
Build a Career Creating Online Courses
In fact, now is the best time to become an online course creator and join the movement to democratize education! There are 3 massive shifts coming in the next 4 to 10 years that will explode the online course industry.
4 BILLION people worldwide will be gaining access to the World Wide Web for the first time—what will they be looking for? Access to KNOWLEDGE.
Exponential technologies like artificial intelligence, automation, robotics, 3D printing, and computing will radically change the economy and disrupt industries. As people adapt to these changes, they’ll need to re-tool skills and, you guessed it, they’ll do so through online courses.
Knowledge was democratized by the printing press. The internet democratized information. And now, online courses are democratizing education—and you can be part of it!
How to Create an Online Course?
Most content you’ll find “out there” about how to create an online course will focus on either production or marketing. In our experience and having trained thousands of course creators, we can tell you that most would-be course creators never even get to that part because they’re stuck at the point where they’re wondering,
Is creating an online course a good fit for me?
Who would I sell it to?
What would I teach?
How do I design the content?
And that’s why we’ve created this guide to walk you through the steps to identify what online courses can be for you, what you are going to teach, and how to teach it, record it, and put it out into the world!
Whether you’re converting existing content into an online course, starting from scratch with a new idea, or have no idea where you’d even start, below you’ll find a crash course in online course creation.
This is the exact step-by-step process that we have used to create more than 80 online courses and reach 500,000 students. Yes, you can do this!
Let’s dive into how to create and sell online courses.
How Online Courses Work
With the rise of digital training and virtual education, there are thousands of online courses available to the average student. This is a great time to join the online learning industry and offer your unique perspective and skills to help others grow and learn.
The 6 Stages of Online Course Creation
1. Determine the right online course strategy for your business
Your course topic should be something you’re passionate about or have a strong interest in.
2. Identify your niche and target market
Your topic expertise can come from life experience or formal education (or both). But don’t worry, you don’t need a Ph.D. to provide value to knowledge-hungry students! Everyone has a story to tell and wisdom to share.
3. Determine what to teach
In this step, you should also formalize the learning outcomes your students should expect when taking your courses. If students don’t know what they’ll get out of a course, why would they take it? The learning outcomes should tell prospective students what they’ll know by the end of the class.
4. Create your online course content
At this point, you should compile all the resources you need to plan out your lessons. This is where lots of online course creators get stuck. Don’t worry! You’ve got this. Break up the content into different buckets and organize information in a logical flow.
5. Production: filming, editing, and publish
After you’ve planned your course, it’s time to practice and deliver your lectures on camera.
Choose your platform, launch your course, and market to potential students. Creating online training courses isn’t always the hard part. In fact, learning how to sell online courses can be the toughest challenge.
1: How to Choose The Right Online Course Strategy for Your Business
Now that you’ve decided you want to pursue online courses to share your expertise on a given topic, it can be tricky figuring where to start. Fortunately, Transformation Academy has a proven guide to help you pick the best approach for your online courses and provide the best value for your audience.
Below are our 8 steps to choosing the perfect online course strategy for your business.
Start with WHY (Strategy)
There are many different ways to make money and grow your business with online courses, so the first step is to ask yourself WHY you want to create an online course? (Check as many as apply to you.)
Teach How to Do What You Do (and What You Love)
I have personal experience that I am passionate about sharing with others to help them transform their lives
I have expertise, knowledge, or skill in a specific area that I can share with others to help them advance in life or business
Free Your Time
I am a current consultant, coach, trainer, or another professional who needs to leverage my time so (aka, stop trading time for money and create passive income)
Increase Your Revenue
I am (or want to be) an entrepreneur who wants to make money online (even though I am not sure yet what I want to create courses about)
I want to add new revenue streams to my business
Increase Your Impact
Reach a broader audience
Reach more people in less time
Become the go-to person/expert in your industry
Increase your credibility (online courses are like the new book!)
Secure Your Legacy
I want to create a safety net of income that will still be there even if I could not (or did not want to) work
I want to pass on my knowledge and experience in a way that will outlive me
To sum this all up, you’ll want to figure out what the most important reason(s) are for you in creating online courses, and should also consider what other, or secondary, goals there may be.
Choose Strategy Based on Purpose
Up-sell: To offer a higher-end, more detailed program to sell to customers who already have purchased a lower-level product (such as an ebook, for example)
Down-sell: To offer a lower-cost program to sell to customers who are already enrolled in higher-end programs (such as life coaching or consulting, for example)
Sideways-sell: To add online courses to your catalog of available products to give your existing customers another option for how to do business with you
Lead Magnet: To offer new customers an opportunity to do business with you. This can be a low-cost option that acts as a traditional lead magnet to get people in the door, with the intention of offering them additional products or services in the future. It can also be your first and only product (for now).
2: Identify Your Niche and Target Market for Your Online Courses
One of the biggest mistakes course creators make is that they jump into creating their content and marketing their course before they even know who their course is for. In order to pick a topic that is desirable, you have to understand who has a problem that your course is solving.
In order to design the content of your course, you need to first know how much your students already know and what they desire to learn. In order to market effectively, you have to know who you are targeting so you can put yourself in front of them and speak to them in a language (marketing copy) they will connect to.
What is the broad category or industry are you in?
What segment or topic do you focus on?
What 3 to 4 categories of people within your industry/focus are the best target market for your product or service?
Is there one group or type of person who represents your IDEAL customer/client?
What are their demographics (age, geographic location, ethnicity, etc)?
What makes them unique among ALL people who do business with companies in this industry?
What are they passionate about?
Need the most?
How do they feel?
Is there anything else you can think of that identifies your specific area of focus (niche) and the specific people who are your best customers?
3: Determine What to Teach in Your Online Course
What you create your course about depends on what you are best able to teach about. The source of this knowledge will come from your personal and professional experience. Below you’ll find brainstorming questions designed to help you generate ideas for your courses by identifying the unique expertise, skill, or experience you have or if you have any processes that have brought you success in any area of life that you can teach to others.
First, looking back at the target market you identified, what problems do they have?
Which of these problems have you solved during your career or could you otherwise help them solve?
What is your main area of expertise (knowledge, experience, wisdom)?
How long have you been doing what you currently do (whether working in a particular field or doing a particular activity or hobby)?
Have you accumulated valuable wisdom in your field that others who are not as advanced can only learn from experience, or from you teaching them what you have learned as a shortcut to their success? If so, what is it?
What knowledge do you have that others would PAY TO KNOW?
Consider Your Skills/Talents & Personal Experience:
What talents do you have that are unique or unusual?
What can you do EASILY that may be difficult for other people?
What skill have you learned (through education, your career or as a hobbyist) that someone else would want to learn?
In what other areas do you have unique or extensive experience?
Do you have any PERSONAL life experience that you could use to help others? For instance, did you overcome a challenge?
How could sharing what you have learned help others in the same situation?
Think about Process
What measurable or desirable result have you achieved in life or business that you could help others achieve?
What processes do you use or have you developed that you do over and over again to get consistent results?
After reviewing all of your ideas, what are the 1 to 3 top ideas for an online course:
For each idea, ask yourself: In what ways could teaching this course SAVE PEOPLE TIME, STRESS, OR MONEY (or improve their lives, careers, or businesses)?
4: How to Create Your Online Course Content (Curriculum)
Now that you know your goals for your online course, who it’s for, and what you’re teaching, now it’s time to start identifying the format and structure of the content of your course.
Decide on Course Length
How long will your course be?
The content of an online course is similar to a seminar, a workshop, a training program, or even a book, depending on what type, of course, you’re creating. A seminar can be a short as an hour, while a training program or book could be 10+ hours of content.
If you’re focusing on a narrow topic or niche, you may be able to cover your content in an hour or two.
If you’re providing a complete guide to your topic, expect it to take 4 to as much as 20+ hours to thoroughly cover all material.
Decide on Course Curriculum
In the same way, you would design a workshop or book, you will be breaking down the steps of your process or the sections of your content into topics and subtopics.
From there, you’ll want to divide these topics into “videos” which consist of subtopics, divided into segments that will be 5 to 15 minutes long. Research has shown that videos less than 20 minutes long are more likely to be watched. 10 minutes is ideal.
This list of topics and videos is your outline. From there, you will need to flesh out the full content for each video.
Decide on Teaching Format: Self-Paced or Guided?
The word “online course” can mean different things to different people. What’s important is for you to identify what it means to you, meaning: what does your online course include? How will it be presented?
INDEPENDENT STUDY: Usually online courses are virtual and self-paced, including prerecorded video and printable handouts/worksheets. Being completely hands-off makes this type, of course, the easiest to sell and fulfill, as the student can enroll any time and complete it at their own pace.
GROUP TRAINING: Online courses can also include a live group component, conducted online through videocasting (Skype, Zoom, Webinar), online support groups (Facebook), or even in-person workshops. Usually, the students are doing independent work and watching pre-recorded videos in addition to the live events. This type of group course is not self-paced, meaning the entire group is going through the material at the same time, on a schedule.
GUIDED TRAINING: Other instructors guide their students through the training by having the student utilize pre-recorded videos and worksheets on their own while meeting on a regular schedule with the trainer or coach for additional content and support.
5: How to Get Production Started: Filming and Editing
Different Types of Filming Formats:
One of the decisions you need to make is whether or not you will be on camera (talking head) or if you will be recording audio-only and using either PowerPoint slides or recording your screen to demonstrate what you’re teaching (screencast).
Depending on the format you will use to film your course, you will need video and audio equipment and lighting.
·Screencast Recording Software
·Screencast Recording Software
·PC—Sony Vegas ($50+)
·PC/MAC—Adobe Premiere Pro ($32/month)
·iZotope RX (starts at $99)
·PC/MAC: Debut Video Capture (Free or $29)
·iZotope RX (starts at $99)
·PC/MAC: Debut Video Capture (Free or $29)
·iZotope RX (starts at $99)
Lighting kits are available or make your own using daylight bulbs and clamp lights.
6: How to Market Your Online Courses
When most people think about marketing online courses, they think about Facebook ads, email funnels, and social media (aka digital marketing). To be honest, most of our success has not come from these methods. Below we have shared the conceptual marketing framework of marketing that will help you determine where and how you will market your course, as well as how you will monetize it.
Different Methods of Selling Courses
This selection will depend on who your students are (whether they are your existing clients or new ones). Note that you can use multiple methods.
Self-Hosted (DIY – Do It Yourself): You will sell your courses through your own website and doing marketing to attract leads to this website
Course Marketplaces: You will sell your courses through online course marketplaces, which are websites with thousands to millions of existing students who are already enrolling in online courses
Licensed: You will be selling your courses through organizations that will pay a licensing fee to sell your courses to their customers or make them available to their staff
Below are highly effective ways of monetizing your courses (in addition to simply selling them).
High-Volume/Low Cost: This is how the online course marketplaces work. They sell a high volume of courses at a dramatically reduced price.
Multiple-Courses: One of the secrets of success for online courses is to create more than one. Once you have a student in one course, they are very likely to buy additional courses from you. This strategy works both on your own website and in course marketplaces. This is what leads to the exponential growth potential of online courses.
Big-Ticket Programs: You can use your courses as a lower-level product that you can then upsell to a big-ticket program. You can also have your course be your big-ticket program, especially if it is a leveraged/group training program.
Marketing Strategies for Online Life Coaching
How you will market your course will depend on WHO your students are.
EXISTING CLIENTS: If you are taking this course for your EXISTING clients (whether you’re converting a program you already have into a video-based course or you’re creating new content to meet your clients’ needs) you will be promoting your self-paced or leveraged course to your own email list or social media followers.
INDUSTRY CONTACTS: If your course will be used to train leaders or organizations in your industry, you will be capitalizing on your industry knowledge and contacts to market your course. You’ll either be talking directly with leadership that you are already working with as a contractor or consultant, or you will be identifying and contacting decision-makers at organizations within your industry.
DIGITAL MARKETING: If your students are individuals who will be taking your course for their own personal or career development and they are not already currently your clients or customers, you will be using a variety of online marketing strategies to drive traffic to a website, webinar, or sales page where you will be promoting your course. You may utilize online advertising, such as Facebook ads, joint ventures in which a collaborative partner or affiliate promotes your program to their list or a variety of other online marketing strategies.
COURSE MARKETPLACES: Again, there is an entire industry of course creators who earn tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year selling courses through online course marketplaces and discount sites.
Learn How to Create an Online Course TODAY
Transformation Academy can teach you how to create and sell online courses. No previous teaching experience is required. We simplify the process with our Online Course Revolution course! We cover everything you need to know, from video-recording tips to course content development to finding the right educational platform for your class.
We do the hard parts for you so you can start sharing your skills, passion, and knowledge with others. And, you can keep adding to your repertoire with our entrepreneurship course catalog.
Start monetizing your knowledge today and get the expert guidance you need to create and sell online courses.
Joeel & Nataile are co-founders of Transformation Academy®, where they train leading-edge entrepreneurs, leaders and life coaches how to master their mindset and create a purpose-driven business. They have started more than a dozen businesses, and trained over 500,000 coaches from 200_ countries and territories. Joeel is a former psychology professor with a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Education is currently completing his dissertation on eudaemonic happiness for a Ph.D. in Psychology.