You’ve made up your mind— it’s time for you to finally create a course. You’re equal parts excited and overwhelmed. You’re happy to know that you can build a source of passive income by offering an online course, but you have no idea where to start.
I completely understand where you’re coming from, and that’s why I’m going to give you this step by step guide to planning and executing a killer course. Let’s get started.
Here’s a handy checklist for creating your first online course. Subscribe to receive this extra resource.
Step One: Come Up with a Killer Idea
It’s all a matter of asking yourself one question: What problem can I solve?
If you think about it, whenever you tell people what you do, you probably get the same question over and over again.
For example, let’s say you write a budget travel blog and highlight all of the fun and fantastic places you visit for cheap. Your number one question is probably, “how do you do what you do without being a millionaire?” You can answer this question with a course for beginners on how to travel the world on a dime.
People will buy your course if it provides the answer to their problem. Thankfully, it’s not any more complicated than that.
Step Two: Understand Who You’re Targeting
Your course shouldn’t be a generic, “open to all the peoples of the world” type of course. It should be laser-targeted, and specific for one type of audience. That audience is the one asking the question. Borrowing from our earlier example, not everyone wants to learn about budget travel, or yoga, or starting a business online. But those who do will be searching for this question on Google, Facebook, and Pinterest.
You’ve got to know who the audience is for your course, where they hang out, and what they want to do with the knowledge gained from your course.
If you can determine these three things, you’ll be able to:
Speak their language
Market to them in the places where they hang out the most
Position your course as the solution to their problem
Step Three: Create the Content of Your Course
All good courses start with a good outline. You need to know where you’re headed and that you’ve covered all the necessary topics.
But, before you start outlining your course, here’s my recommendation: keep your first course short, sweet, and (you guessed it) to the point. Don’t go overboard and attempt to cover everything. I’ll give you three reasons why:
First, you can’t possibly discuss everything related to the topic in one course.
Second, any attempt to do so would be overwhelming for both you (the creator) and the course taker.
Third, the more narrow your focus, the more detailed and comprehensive you can be with that topic.
Make it easy on yourself (and your audience) by getting specific with an eye on brevity.
Speaking of which, decide how long your course should be.
Will it take one week? One month?
Even if your course is self-paced, how long would it take for most people to successfully complete the course?
Use this as one of the course’s selling points. Remember not to make it too lengthy because it can feel overwhelming.
Step Four: Decide on the Platform You’ll Use to Teach the Course
There are various ways to teach a course and deliver the lessons to your audience. Let’s take a look at the different ways you can present your course:
Written Material - The content of your course can be in written form and delivered on a schedule you set via an email provider. You can also offer self-paced lessons through a website.
Tools you can use:
Google Docs (for content creation)
Apple Pages (for content creation)
Canva (for image editing)
Pixabay (for free images)
ConvertKit (for email delivery)
Teachable (for course creation and hosting)
Thinkific (for course creation and hosting)
Video - Record videos where you speak directly to the audience or teach them how to perform a task step by step. Upload these videos to YouTube, and be sure to make them unlisted. Then, host these videos on a private page accessible by password.
Tools you can use:
Pricing - It's All About the Ask
Pricing is probably the most complicated part of course creation.
The price you decide on must represent two things:
*All of your effort to create the course. Do you really want to charge $10 for a course you spent three months creating?
*The value of the course. Don’t dramatically undercharge what the course is worth. If it’s too cheap, it can backfire on you. Your audience will perceive that your course isn’t really valuable.
It’s tempting to slash your prices and try to appeal to the masses, but you would be sabotaging your own success to ease your fears. Your audience will think, if she’s only charging X, when she should be charging XX, she must not be going into detail. This course probably isn’t what I’m looking for.
That’s the last thing you want.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. If people believe that your course is worth the price of admission, they’ll justify the cost. I’ve seen the same course go from $500 to $5,000, and there’s still a market for it.
Now, I’m not saying to charge outlandish prices and expect your audience to go for it. What I’m saying is this:
Calculate how much someone who takes your course would spend in time and money to do this on his or her own.
For example, let’s say you offer a course on gluten-free nutrition. You explain what it is and offer a “jumpstart my gluten-free life” 30 day meal plan. You include all the recipes (plus photo instructions) of how to prepare these gluten-free meals. You hand-deliver each lesson directly to their inbox. Not only that, you also maintain a community on Facebook or Slack where people who took the course can connect with one another.
So, how much would that cost the person taking your course if they did it on their own? They may even be able to find all of these resources for free, but their time is not free. It can take months, if not years, to find all of the content you’ve packaged in your course.
Be sure your price reflects that. People expect to pay a premium for premium service, otherwise it doesn’t feel very premium at all.
Market Your Course
Now that you’ve created a course, it’s time to get the word out. You can do this in various ways:
Paid Ads - Use Facebook Ads and Google Adwords to reach a targeted audience. You can set an affordable daily budget and appeal to a very motivated group.
Free Exposure - Pinterest is one of my favorite options for free exposure. You create a visual pin to attract attention and be sure to link to your course’s landing page (more on this next).
On Your Website - Don’t forget to advertise on your site. Either through pop-ups, banners, or sidebar shoutouts, use your site to get the word out about your new course.
Your Email List - Subscribers want to stay connected to your brand. Give them exclusive, first access to your course.
Create a landing page for your course
Because your actual course will be delivered via email or accessed via a private webpage, you need a separate page to advertise it.
This page is known as your landing page, and it’s crucial for getting people who are curious but on the fence into enrolling in your course.
The good news is, you don’t have to be a techie to do this. There’s one simple tool to do this, and it’s called LaunchRock.
LaunchRock is the simplest way to build a landing page tool and it’s free.
You’ll send all incoming traffic to this landing page (including those coming from paid ads, free sources, and even your website).
I hope these tips helped to demystify the course creation process. If you need any help, please let me know.