Sooner or later, every business owner is going to run into this question: how do I scale my business without working myself into the ground?
The answer is to create an online course. Creating a digital course is a great way to share your knowledge and expertise with the world. And here’s the best part: you only have to do the bulk of the work once!
There’s only one catch. These days, it seems like nearly everyone is creating and launching an online course. That means it’s more important than ever to get it right from the start so you can stand out.
It takes careful planning and organization to put together an online course that meets your objectives and keeps your audience engaged. But don’t let the challenge scare you off – taking the time to plan out each step will help ensure that your online course is as successful as possible.
In this article, we’ll discuss the steps involved in designing, developing, launching, and marketing a successful online course, including identifying your ideal customer, choosing a topic, finding the right platform for hosting your course, pricing strategies, and more. We'll also discuss tips for keeping learners engaged throughout the duration of your course – so they keep coming back for more, ready to buy your next offer.
10 Tips for Creating a Profitable Online Course
1. Define Your Course Goals and Objectives: Before you start building your online course, it’s important to have a good understanding of what you want to achieve with the course, who it’s for, and how you plan on getting there.
Take some time to think about the goals and objectives of your online course. What is it that you want your online course to do? Who are you targeting with the online course, and what do you want them to learn from it?
Let’s say your niche is indoor home gardens, and you want to create a course for the beginning home garden enthusiast. Since it’s a basic course, you’ll want to stick to the basics! This seems obvious enough, but if you’ve been gardening for years, then you might have a tendency to overdeliver in your online course. Instead, think back to when you were just getting started – and what your audience needs to move forward.
2. Research Your Target Audience: Knowing who your target audience is will help you tailor your online course content to their needs and interests. Do some research into your ideal prospect and what they’re looking for in online courses. What topics, formats, and learning styles will best meet their needs in an online course?
For indoor gardening, you’d want to look at online forums and groups where novice gardeners hang out. What are their frustrations? What questions do they have? What are they looking to gain from having a home garden? Do they want to save money, eat healthier, enjoy more self-sustainable living? Do they just want a hobby where they can get their fingers into the dirt?
While you’re at it, take a look at your competition. How are they structuring their online courses? What aspects of their courses can you present in your own way? What’s missing from their courses that you could include in yours? Looking at the table of contents in nonfiction books related to your niche can also help spark ideas. Also make sure to check out the book’s reviews. What are people praising about the book? What didn’t they like?
Once you have an idea of what your online course should look like and who it’s for, it’s time to start planning out its structure.
3. Create an Outline: An outline is an essential tool that will provide the structure, organization, and timeline you need to build your online course in a logical way.
Before you create any content, make sure you have a clear plan in place that outlines what topics and ideas you want to cover throughout your digital course – as well as any supplemental readings and material you may want to include.
If you’re an author modeling a course after your book, your outline is easy – it’s your table of contents. (And if you don’t have a book yet, then your new online course is a perfect basis for a book!)
Again, make things simple and clear. So, for indoor gardening, you’d cover topics from selecting plants that are suitable for indoors, understanding the different needs for light, water and soil type, as well as providing tips on pest control, fertilizing techniques, and harvesting methods. Maybe you can even throw in some recipes.
4. Choose Your Materials: Once you have an outline in place, it’s time to start gathering the materials for your online course. Think about what types of materials will be most beneficial for your online course, such as videos, slideshows, webinars, text documents, and more. You can also include online resources, such as interactive tools and quizzes in your online course.
Maybe you could create a seasonal chart for your indoor gardening course, and another resource guide on where you like to source the materials for your garden.
5. Develop Your Content: Now it’s time to create the content for your online course. Focus on providing clear, concise information that is easy to understand and relevant to the topic at hand.
It’s also helpful to include examples or case studies from real-world scenarios so students can draw connections between the material they’re learning and actual businesses or products. People love an inspiring success story.
Make sure to include activities, assignments, quizzes, and any other materials that are necessary for each lesson – and in an organized way so students can easily access them when they need them.
You don’t have to get complicated. Some of the most successful online courses have been the most simple. You can use a basic program like Camtasia to record presentations with just your voice, or you can invest in a full studio setup with video. It’s really about whatever your comfortable with and what your budget allows.
6. Set Up Your Platform: Once the content is all ready to go, it’s time to set up a platform where you can host your online course. There are plenty of online platforms out there that allow you to easily create and host your online course, such as Thinkific, Udemy, or Coursera.
7. Test It Out: In Product Launch Formula®, we teach the Seed Launch – a perfect way to create your course in real time with your audience, and even get paid to do it!
In a Seed Launch®, you assemble a “beta” group of students, and you customize the content to them as you deliver it. This way, you are creating a course that includes exactly what your audience needs – tweaking and refining as you go along.
Once the course element is complete, you can package the recordings and materials and sell them in a launch or through an Evergreen strategy. You can also add on extra components, such as live coaching or individual one-to-one sessions.
8. Price Your Course: Speaking of bespoke coaching, add-ons like these increase the value your course provides, which means you can command a higher price.
Think about developing different price structures depending on how much support people need. So, you might offer, for instance, recordings, and downloadable PDFs for $597, and then an upgrade option that includes live components and more coaching for $1997 – or more.
9. Promote Your Online Course: Once your online course is all set up and ready to go, it’s time to start promoting it!
Use social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to share information about your online course, as well as any special offers or discounts that you may offer. You can also post ads on related websites or send out emails to people who may be interested in taking the online course.
An unexpected bonus of creating and launching an online course is that you will grow your list of subscribers. Even if someone doesn’t immediately buy your course, having them on your list means you can keep making offers to them.
10. How Did You Do? Once your course is live, don’t forget to continue to track its progress by tracking how many people have enrolled, how they are interacting with the content, and if they are having any issues.
This will allow you to make any necessary changes or improvements to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable learning experience. Additionally, it’s important to stay engaged with students and answer any questions they might have throughout the duration of the course.
Bonus: your current students can help you attract future students. When people feel they’ve benefited from your course, they’ll naturally want to “give back” in the form of testimonials. So let’s see how you can deliver the kind of learning experience your students will want to tell their friends about…
CREATING AN ENGAGING ONLINE LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Creating an engaging and effective online learning experience is essential to the success of any digital course. To ensure that learners are both motivated and engaged, there are several key components that should be considered when designing an effective online course.
1. Consider the needs of the learners. Careful consideration should be given to the intended audience, the level of learning they’re at, and what they hope to gain from the online course. This will greatly influence the content, structure, activities, and assessment approaches used throughout the program. Once these needs have been identified, then appropriate activities and assessments can be created to meet your students where they’re at.
2. Build your course modules around a theme: You might want to come up with a theme or concept for each class that ties into the content of the course. For example, if you’re teaching a digital marketing course, one class could be focused on email marketing, another on social media marketing, and a third covering search engine optimization. Each class should have its own structure and specific goals that relate to the theme of the course.
3. Create an interactive environment: Use a variety of multimedia elements such as videos, audio clips, text-based exercises, quizzes, simulations, and social interactions. By including many modalities, learners can better retain information while staying more engaged in the content.
4. Keep them motivated and accountable: Personalized feedback is a great way for instructors to provide timely and individualized support for their students throughout their learning journey. If possible, include automated or semi-automated feedback loops so learners can maintain momentum with their progress without having too long for personal support from you.
5. Provide opportunities for collaboration: Community can be hugely valuable in your course offering. One of my students hosts ongoing “knitalongs” for her students so that they can do her online knitting course as a community – creating lifelong friendships in the process.
Maybe you could incorporate opportunities for collaboration so that students can work together on tasks or projects. This helps keep them engaged with each other while providing an opportunity for knowledge exchange among peers which could lead to a better understanding of course material.
6. Keep things simple and linear: By keeping the structure of your online course simple and organized, more students will likely remain motivated during their online learning experience due simply to the ease of understanding what they need to do next to move forward in mastering the material at hand.
With a clear plan and a drive to serve your audience, you too can join the ranks of successful online educators enjoying sustainable, passive income. So what are you waiting for? Start creating your own unique online course today.