KNOWLEDGE

Course Building

How To Actually Build A Successfull Online Course [Blueprint]

How To Actually Build A Successfull Online Course [Blueprint]
Updated:
June 15, 2023
By
Liam Langers

Quick Read

Here's a quick golden nugget if you're short on time: After spending countless hours, endless cups of coffee, buckets of popcorn, and quite a few late nights creating all kinds of online courses, I've come to realize that the magic ingredient is a mix of authenticity and value.

Don't just mimic what's already been said. Infuse your course with your unique insights and personal experiences.

People crave more than just facts - they want stories they can connect with, real-life examples, and content that speaks to them.

So be genuine, be uniquely you, and always prioritize delivering real value.

That's the secret recipe for a successful online course.

Quick Read

Here's a quick golden nugget if you're short on time: After spending countless hours, endless cups of coffee, buckets of popcorn, and quite a few late nights creating all kinds of online courses, I've come to realize that the magic ingredient is a mix of authenticity and value.

Don't just mimic what's already been said. Infuse your course with your unique insights and personal experiences.

People crave more than just facts - they want stories they can connect with, real-life examples, and content that speaks to them.

So be genuine, be uniquely you, and always prioritize delivering real value.

That's the secret recipe for a successful online course.

As the digital world continues to expand, so does the demand for online education.

From the comfort of their homes, people can now learn about practically anything they desire. That's where you come in.

Maybe you've been contemplating creating an online course but are unsure of where to start, or perhaps you've already taken some steps but aren't quite satisfied with the results.

Well, you're in luck! Today, we'll delve into the step-by-step process of creating a successful online course that not only provides significant value but also resonates with your audience.

So, make a bowl of fresh popcorn, settle in, and let's get started.

1. Identifying Your Course Topic

Find a Topic You're Passionate About

Passion is the driving force behind every successful online course.

It fuels your creativity, motivates you during challenging times, and helps you connect with your audience on a deeper level.

If you're enthusiastic about your subject, it will shine through in your content, making the learning process more enjoyable for your students.

For example, if you're a coding enthusiast, creating an online course on Python, JavaScript, or any programming language that you love would be a great start.

Tips to Discover Your Passion:

  • Reflect on your hobbies and interests.
  • Consider your professional skills and expertise.
  • Take note of topics you naturally enjoy researching or discussing.

Ensure There's a Market Demand

While your passion is crucial, the success of your online course also hinges on its market demand.

After all, you want to make sure there's an audience interested in your topic.

There are several ways to validate your course idea and evaluate the market demand.

Methods to Validate Your Course Idea:

  • Conduct keyword research to assess online interest in your topic.
  • Survey your existing audience (if you have one).
  • Look at similar courses and check their popularity.
  • Utilize online forums and social media to understand what people are keen to learn about.
Read this review about Xperiencify (Course Platform)
Read this review about Xperiencify (Course Platform)

2. Defining Your Target Audience

Knowing your audience is like having a roadmap. It guides your content creation process, marketing strategies, and even course pricing.

But, how do you define your target audience?

Who is Your Ideal Student?

An ideal student is someone who is most likely to enroll in your course and gain substantial value from it.

If you're creating a course on advanced calculus, your ideal student might be a college student majoring in a math-related field or a professional who requires advanced math knowledge for their work.

Understand Their Pain Points

Pain points are problems your potential students are actively looking to solve.

By understanding these, you can position your course as the solution, making it more appealing.

For instance, if your target audience is busy professionals, one of their pain points might be not having enough time to learn.

You could address this by offering bite-sized lessons that they can go through during their breaks.

Strategies to Identify Your Target Audience's Pain Points:

  • Directly ask them through surveys or one-on-one conversations.
  • Monitor discussions on online forums, social media groups, or Q&A platforms.
  • Check out course reviews on similar topics to see what people felt was lacking.

3. Designing Your Course Outline

Creating a course outline helps you organize your thoughts, ensures you cover all necessary subtopics, and gives you a structure to work with while creating your content.

Plan Your Course Content

Start by brainstorming the key concepts or skills that your students need to understand by the end of your course.

From there, break down each key concept into individual lessons or modules.

Each lesson should cover a specific subtopic and should contribute towards understanding the overall concept.

Things to Keep in Mind When Planning Your Course Content:

  • Ensure logical progression: Each lesson should build on the previous ones.
  • Avoid overwhelming students with too much information at once: Break complex concepts down into manageable chunks.
  • Include knowledge checks: Quizzes or exercises can help reinforce learning and keep students engaged.

Break It Down Into Manageable Modules

Courses are usually divided into modules or sections, each covering a specific aspect of the topic.

This structure makes it easier for students to follow along and manage their learning.

For instance, if you're creating a course on digital marketing, you could divide it into several modules such as SEO, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, and Email Marketing.

Read this review about LearnWorlds (Course Platform)
Read this review about LearnWorlds (Course Platform)

4. Creating Engaging Content

One of the keys to a successful online course is engaging content.

It keeps students interested, enhances their learning, and reduces course dropouts.

Use Varied Content Formats

Humans have varied learning styles. Some are visual learners, others are auditory, and some prefer reading.

Cater to these different styles by mixing up your content formats. This variety can also help keep your course engaging.

Examples of Content Formats:

  • Video lectures or tutorials: These are great for explaining complex concepts or demonstrating processes.
  • Text-based lessons: These are excellent for providing detailed explanations and can be easily referred back to.
  • Audio recordings: These can be used for content that doesn't require visual aids, and students can listen to them on the go.
  • Interactive content (quizzes, exercises, simulations): These can help reinforce learning and make your course more engaging.
  • Downloadable resources (PDFs, checklists, templates): These can provide additional value to your students.

Tips for Making Content Engaging:

  • Use storytelling: Stories are engaging and memorable. You could share personal experiences, case studies, or hypothetical scenarios to illustrate your points.
  • Use visuals: Images, infographics, and diagrams can make complex information easier to understand.
  • Involve students: Encourage students to participate by asking questions, encouraging discussions, or assigning tasks.
  • Keep it clear and concise: Respect your students' time by avoiding unnecessary fluff. Aim to be as clear and concise as possible.

5. Investing in High-Quality Production

Your content might be top-notch, but if it's presented poorly, your students may lose interest.

High-quality production enhances the learning experience and reflects your professionalism.

Importance of Good Audio and Video

Imagine trying to learn from a video with poor audio quality or a blurry picture. Frustrating, right?

Good audio and video quality are non-negotiable when it comes to online courses.

They enable clear communication and show that you care about your students' experience.

Quick Tips for High-Quality Audio and Video:

  • Invest in a good microphone: Audio clarity is crucial, so it's worth investing in a good microphone.
  • Ensure good lighting: If your videos are dimly lit or have harsh shadows, they can be difficult to watch. Natural light is the best, but if that's not available, consider investing in some softbox lights.
  • Use a quality camera: A clear, sharp video image is essential. You don't necessarily need a high-end professional camera; many smartphones nowadays can shoot in high definition.
  • Consider your backdrop: Choose a neutral, clutter-free background for your videos. It should be professional and not distracting.

Recommendations for Equipment

The market is flooded with different kinds of microphones, cameras, and lighting equipment.

Here are a few tried and tested options to consider:

Microphones:

  • Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB: A versatile microphone that provides excellent sound quality.
  • Blue Yeti USB Mic: Known for its exceptional sound clarity and multiple pattern selection.

Cameras:

  • Canon EOS M50 Mark II: A great option for recording high-quality videos.
  • Logitech C922x Pro Stream Webcam: An affordable webcam that delivers sharp video.

Lighting:

  • Neewer 700W Professional Softbox Lighting Kit: Provides diffused lighting, reducing shadows and softening the overall image.
  • MOUNTDOG Softbox Lighting Kit: An affordable kit that offers adjustable light intensity.
Read this review about LearnDash (Course Platform)
Read this review about LearnDash (Course Platform)

6. Pricing Your Online Course

Determining the price of your course can be tricky.

You don't want to undervalue your content, but you also don't want to price it so high that it deters potential students.

Factors to Consider When Pricing Your Course:

  • Value Provided: Consider the knowledge, skills, and resources you're providing. How can they benefit your students in terms of their careers or personal development?
  • Target Audience: Consider your target audience's willingness and ability to pay. Students might be more price-sensitive than working professionals.
  • Market Rate: Look at similar courses in your niche to get a feel for the market rate.

Pricing Strategies:

  • Tiered Pricing: Offer different packages at different price points. For example, a basic package could include just the course, a premium package could include the course and some extra resources, and a VIP package could include the course, extra resources, and one-on-one consultations.
  • Discounts and Offers: Temporary discounts can create urgency and drive sales. You could also offer early-bird prices, loyalty discounts, or bundle deals.
  • Free Content: Consider offering some content for free to attract students and give them a taste of what to expect.
Read this review about Thinkific (Course Platform)
Read this review about Thinkific (Course Platform)

7. Creating a Marketing Plan

Your course won't be successful if people don't know about it. Therefore, a solid marketing plan is crucial.

It helps you reach your target audience and convinces them of the value your course offers.

Strategies for Marketing Your Online Course:

  • Email Marketing: This is a powerful tool for promoting your course. You can send out launch emails, drip campaigns, or newsletters to your subscribers.
  • Social Media Promotion: Utilize platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to spread the word about your course. You can share snippets of your course, student testimonials, or valuable tips related to your course topic.
  • Content Marketing: This involves creating and sharing valuable content related to your course topic. This can attract potential students and establish you as an authority in your field.
  • Partnerships and Affiliates: Partner with influencers or other relevant businesses in your niche. They can promote your course to their audience, expanding your reach.

Case Study: Successful Online Course Marketing

Let's take the example of "Sophia's Baking School". Sophia wanted to promote her online course on baking fundamentals.

She started by offering a free mini-course on '5 Essential Baking Techniques Every Baker Should Know'.

This helped her attract baking enthusiasts and collect email addresses.

She then used email marketing to nurture these leads by regularly sending them baking tips, recipes, and exclusive discounts on her course.

She also ran a social media campaign where she shared student testimonials, sneak peeks into her course, and hosted live baking sessions.

Sophia collaborated with a popular food blogger, who promoted her course in exchange for a commission on every sale made through his referral.

This affiliate partnership helped her reach a wider audience and increased her course enrollments.

Read this review about Teachable (Course Platform)
Read this review about Teachable (Course Platform)

8. Providing Ongoing Support

Once a student enrolls in your course, your relationship with them shouldn't end there.

Continued support can help them overcome any challenges they encounter during the course, enhancing their overall learning experience.

Support Options You Can Offer:

  • Discussion Forums: A place where students can interact with each other and discuss course content.
  • Email Support: Students can email you their questions or concerns.
  • Live Q&A Sessions: These can provide immediate answers to students' questions and make them feel more connected.

Wrapping Up

Creating a successful online course involves a lot more than just sharing what you know.

It requires careful planning, understanding your audience, creating engaging and high-quality content, and maintaining ongoing support.

It may seem like a lot, but the rewards of providing value to others and creating a sustainable income source make it worthwhile.

With this blueprint in hand, you're well-equipped to create an online course that is not just successful but truly transformative for your students.

Remember, every successful course creator started where you are right now. Keep learning, keep improving, and keep creating.

Your journey to success starts here. Good luck!

Discover the 7 Best Online Course Platforms

FAQs

I'm not sure who would be interested in my course?

Great question! Figuring out who your course is for, or your "target audience", is a key first step. Consider who might benefit from your knowledge.

Are they young or old, novices or professionals, hobbyists or full-timers?

Once you've got a rough idea, you can refine it by surveying your potential audience, asking them about their challenges, interests, and goals.

There are so many platforms out there. Any advice?

Choosing the right platform can feel a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. But don't worry, you're not alone in this.

Consider what you value most: Is it user-friendliness? Room for customization? Support for student engagement? The cost factor?

Popular choices include Teachable, Thinkific, and Kajabi, but the best choice depends on your specific needs.

You can check out our favorites as well, since we've done the testing for you.

How long should my online course be?

Ah, the golden question! The truth is, there's no "one-size-fits-all" answer.

The length depends on the topic you're teaching and how in-depth you want to go.

Remember, the value you're providing is what truly matters, not the length of the course.

What kind of content should I include?

Variety is the spice of online courses! Mix things up with different types of content.

Videos, texts, quizzes, assignments, discussion forums – they all have a role to play.

Diverse content keeps things interesting and caters to different learning styles.

What gear do I need to start creating my course?

You don't need a Hollywood studio to create a course. At a minimum, you'll need a good quality microphone and camera.

If you're feeling fancy, lighting equipment can give your videos a professional touch.

I'm lost when it comes to pricing my course. Help!

Pricing can be tricky, can't it? You'll want to think about the value your course offers, how much your target audience can afford, and what similar courses are priced at.

Experimenting with different strategies, like offering tiers of pricing, can also be useful.

How do I get the word out about my course?

Oh, the possibilities! From email marketing and social media promotion to content marketing and collaborations, there are countless ways to drum up interest.

Giving away a sneak peek of your course can also lure in potential students.

How can I support my students once the course has started?

It's great that you're thinking about this! You can offer support in several ways, like through discussion forums, email, or live Q&A sessions.

You'll be surprised how much students appreciate a little help along the way.

Do I need to be an expert to create an online course?

Not at all! While you need to know your stuff, you don't have to be the world's foremost authority.

Your unique perspective and approach can be just as valuable, if not more so.

How much money can I make from my online course?

The sky's the limit, but the reality is, it varies.

Factors like the course price, the number of students you attract, and how often you sell your course all play a role.

How often should I update my course?

Keeping your course fresh and relevant is important.

Make updates when there are significant changes in your field, when you have new insights to share, or when you receive useful feedback from students.

I don't have a large following. Can I still create a course?

Absolutely, yes! Having a large following can be a plus, but it's not a must.

You can start small, grow your audience slowly, and celebrate every new student who joins your course.

Consistency and value always win the race!