7 Steps to Creating and Selling a Profitable Online Course

It’s the perfect time to create and sell an online course. The e-learning market size surpassed $200 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $375 billion by 2026.

More and more people are getting accustomed to using the web for everything. Your future students already search for answers to their questions and it makes sense that they’d want to expand their skills on the web too.

This is a huge opportunity for “knowledgepreneurs” and the best way to tap into this is by creating and selling an online course.

The question is, how do you create an online course that delivers value to your students and at the same time, drives revenue for your business?

This is what we’ll cover in this guide.

1) Commit to Creating Your Online Course

First, you need to go into this course creation journey with the right attitude. It’s easy to assume that building an online course is as simple as recording a few videos and putting a few quizzes together, but it’s a bit more structured than that. 

The best courses require careful planning and execution and you must be committed throughout the entire process.

The people best-suited to this avenue may include:

  • Bloggers or vloggers with an existing audience
  • Freelancers or consultants who want to move on from 1:1 work
  • Established business owners that want another revenue stream
  • Educators teaching in-person workshops and courses

Once you decide that the online course model is right for you, think about how you’re going to create a course, and start visualizing what that course is going to look like.

Ask yourself questions like: Which industry will I be focused on? What kind of audience do I want to reach? 

Creating an online course isn’t a quick way to make some extra cash, rather creating a successful one requires time, money, and energy, so it’s important that you commit upfront.

2) Figure Out Your Course Idea

Now that you’re committed to creating and selling your online course, it’s time to think about what you’ll teach. Profitable ideas for online courses are everywhere, you just need to know where to look. 

First, start by creating a list of topics that you’re interested in and educated enough to deliver content on.

Next, validate these course ideas by looking into the kinds of things your potential students would be willing to pay for. 

For instance, if you’re a freelance content marketer, you might want to teach your students about SEO. You can go online to check out what courses exist in this area to help you gauge what works for your niche.

Think about whether you can focus on specific aspects of SEO, like link-building, or local search, which can help you create an SEO course with a diverse table of contents or a multi-course series. 

Checking online forums like Reddit and Quora for questions related to your topic idea will show you what your customers want to know. Facebook Groups and LinkedIn are great for this too.

Be as specific as possible, and once you have an idea, determine its popularity. Tools like Ubersuggest will allow you to track the search volume for your topic. You can also look for high-performing videos on YouTube or trending courses on Udemy.

3) Create Your Course Content

Now it’s time to start putting your course together.

Before you begin recording videos or making graphics, outline the main points of your course. A course curriculum will help you figure out how you’re going to share your information with your students, and how each lesson ties together.

Use other course outlines to see how previous educators have designed a good flow for their topic. Remember, researching courses in your industry is a great place to start.

With your plan in place, you can decide on a format for your lessons. Video is one of the most popular choices here and ideally, your videos should be between 2 and 10 minutes long as it’s best for engagement.

Thanks to today’s technology, creating videos is simple. You can use services like Screencast-O-Matic to record video and screencasts at the same time. Alternatively, grab your webcam and produce a talking-head video.

Remember, if you’re recording yourself, you’ll need to ensure that both the picture and the audio are clear. Check the quality of your recordings before you use them by doing a test run.

Aside from video, you can add quizzes and assignments to your course and include support PDF resources to make your course more engaging.

4) Build Your Email List

Don’t wait until you’ve published your course to build an audience. By the time your course is ready, you should have excited students waiting to purchase it. 

So as soon as you finalize your course topic, and you have an idea of what you’re going to teach, you should start building an email list.

The best way to grow your email list is by offering a free item or service – also known as a lead magnet – on your website and your blog posts. There are so many different lead magnet ideas but the key here is to keep them relevant to your course topic.

Another good option is to create a landing page for your online course where people can sign up for the course waitlist. Or, you can even go to social media to build a self-promotion platform – even on your personal account – to promote your course and encourage early registration.

Finally, you’ll need an email marketing tool to store your subscribers’ information and send them useful content and updates via email.

5) Find the Right Online Course Platform

Once you have your course ready, you’ll need to get it online and for that, you’ll need online course software. A course platform helps you to host your course content, deliver it to your students, and engage them properly.

The good news is that there are a lot of platforms to choose from. There are platforms like Udemy, where you can host your course without having to build a website. 

However, these options aren’t great for educators looking to develop a brand. They’re also not the best choice from a revenue point of view, as your income is split 50/50 with the platform.

A different option is to use a hosted online course software like Kajabi or Teachable. These platforms give you everything you need to get your course online and start selling it. 

Look for a platform that’s both feature-rich and easy to use. The platform should offer tools for creating certificates, quizzes, and hosting videos. However, everything needs to feel intuitive.

6) Set a Price for Your Online Course

Before you can launch your course and sell it to your audience, you need to decide on your pricing strategy. Ideally, you need a price that’s going to attract your audience and also offer you an income – even if it’s modest to begin with.

It’s worth remembering that a low price might not attract the most students. Most customers believe that they get what they pay for when it comes to online courses. That means they’ll expect to pay a decent amount for the right course.

Start by researching other courses similar to yours to find out how much they’re selling for. Remember to consider the depth and the positioning of your course when making comparisons. 

If you’re pre-selling your course, then you might decide to add a discount for early buyers. However, don’t sell your course for less than it’s worth.

7) Launch Your Online Course

You’ve put a lot of hard work into developing an amazing course so far. Now it’s time to launch and get customers to buy it.

You can either sell your online course using a closed-cart or evergreen approach.

A closed-cart strategy means that the course is open for a few days, and then it closes after a pre-set number of enrollments. This is an excellent way to make your students feel special and generate FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

The evergreen approach means that the doors to your course remain open all the time. This is an excellent way to keep earning students for the long-term. However, you need to make sure that your course content remains relevant.

An evergreen course also requires a lot of continuous marketing so you can keep pulling in new students. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. Choose the plan that works best for your course and your business strategy.

Summary

Now is a great time to develop and sell an online course. There are plenty of tools out there to help you bring your ideas to life. Plus, students everywhere are becoming more comfortable with the idea of learning online.

The key to success is making sure that you know how to plan and launch your course correctly. Figure out a good idea for what you’re going to sell, validate it, and begin planning a curriculum. 

Once you have your curriculum chalked out, build an email list of interested students, and find your course platform. When you’re ready to launch, make sure you sell your course at the right price.

There are no shortcuts to creating a profitable online course. However, if you’re willing to put the work in, you’re setting yourself up to get great results.

About the author

Baidhurya Mani

Baidhurya is the founder of SellCoursesOnline.com, a popular blog in the course creation space where he shares tips, tools, and tutorials to help entrepreneurs create and sell online courses.

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