The learning curve blog

Helpful advice for online course creators, businesses, and entrepreneurs

From Idea to Income: How to Create Online Courses in 10 Steps

by | Nov 15, 2023 | eLearning Tools

Selling an online course can be a great way to make some extra income, whether you want to teach businesses how to do SEO or mentor individuals on pursuing their creative passions. Creating an online course, however, does require a significant time investment, and there are a number of things you need to know before you can get started, from undertaking important market research to ensuring the right conditions for filming.

So, let’s take a look at 10 essential steps to create an online training course that will make the process a whole lot simpler.

Pick Your Subject

The first thing you need to do is pick the subject that you’d like to teach. Ideally, you’ll want to aim for an umbrella subject that leaves you with plenty of room to create additional courses in the future to supplement your students’ learning. For example, if your speciality is marketing, you could create an “Introduction to Marketing” course for beginners, and then go on to create new courses that go into depth about marketing principles and methods, whether it be SEO, PPC, or social media marketing.

The important thing is that you’re good at the subject you want to teach; potential students are looking to learn from those who’ve been able to apply their knowledge and transform it into real-world success, so it’s best to sell courses online in a subject that you’re both passionate about and successful in.

Research Market Demand

Next up, you need to research market demand and make sure that there are actually students looking for courses that you want to create. You can conduct market research by doing keyword research on Google, or simply looking up other popular courses on learning platforms like Udemy. After all, knowing how to create an online course is just half the job – you’ll also want to ensure it sells and makes money, and this depends on whether or not people are looking for this type of knowledge.

Create Engaging Content Material

Your next step is turning your knowledge into engaging, attention-grabbing content material: this means using visual aids like graphs, photos, case studies and videos, and ensuring that your own presenting style is engaging and easy-to-follow. Depending on the LMS platform you use, you’ll likely have access to content-creation tools that will naturally make the process of selling online courses easier; at DigitalChalk, our course-creation tools include, among others, an interactive test and assessment creator, a survey creator, assignment creators, and video playback with closed captions and speed options.

It’s important to understand that knowing how to create online training course material means also knowing how to employ the right teaching methods for the subject at hand: in short, how to create a stimulating learning environment for your students.

Structure Your Course Plan

Structuring your modules and lesson plans is another important step when you want to create an online course. After all, not all of your students are going to have the same educational background nor experience in the subject at hand, so you want to make sure you’re not overloading students with too much jargon, and that key concepts are introduced and explained fully before moving onto the next elements in the course. Structure can be just as important as the actual content material itself; you want to ensure you tackle important topics and concepts progressively, so any beginner students don’t fall behind.

Work on Your Teaching Delivery Methods

While content and structure is important, your teaching delivery method is perhaps one of the most important elements of creating an online course. In fact, it’s perhaps even more important for online teaching than in-person teaching. Given that your course is going to be pre-recorded and digital – meaning the space for on-the-spot questions and student-teacher interaction is limited – you need to ensure that your teaching delivery methods are fully engaging, so that students don’t feel they need to rewatch your class 3 times for the knowledge to sink in.

Practise filming your online course on your phone or practise teaching in front of a mirror; this will give you an idea of how open your body language is, how well you explain tricky concepts and how engaging your content materials are. Listening back to video clips will also give you an idea of whether or not your voice is engaging and commanding enough to hold a student’s attention for up to an hour. If you’re not satisfied when listening and watching back practise runs, keep practising.

Don’t forget that some platforms – like DigitalChalk – offer built-in Zoom integration, as well as GoToMeeting and WebEx, which can expand your teaching possibilities, allowing you to speak with students one-on-one or teach a live class.

Film, Record, and Edit

Once you’re satisfied with your content material and teaching style, it’s time to film and record your first class! Be prepared to end up re-filming a number of takes, especially if it’s your first ever online course – just make sure you’ve put aside enough time in the day for bloopers and errors.

And when it comes to picking a location to film, it all depends on what you’re teaching; if you’re teaching cooking, naturally it’s a good idea to film your course start to finish in the kitchen. For more administrative courses or business courses, your office (or any office for that matter) is a good option. You’ll also want to make sure you have adequate lighting, a professional microphone, and a professional camera. Some online learning platforms may even reject poor-quality videos, so make sure yours ticks all the necessary boxes when it comes to visual and audio quality.
Don’t forget the editing process; you don’t want your video to be overly long, so make sure to either edit the full video yourself or hire a freelancer to edit it professionally.

Consider Pricing

Once your course is filmed, edited, and ready for upload, you’ll want to think about fair but competitive pricing. Always do some market research before settling on a price: if there’s already a lot of competition in your niche, you might want to start at a lower price to reel in your first few students, but if there’s a lot of demand for your course subject but little competition, you might be able to settle on a higher price.

Don’t forget to consider your pricing plan in relation to how you intend to develop your online school in the future; many online teachers create alluring course bundles at a reduced price, so if you have more than one video in the same niche (or you’re planning to create more) take this into consideration when pricing individual courses. And don’t forget to add in any profit share that your chosen learning platform takes, and factor this into your overall target profit margin.

Market Your Course

Creating and uploading your course is just half the job when it comes to actually generating an income from selling online courses, especially if you’re competing in a popular niche. Many creators find that producing free content on social media – such as YouTube, YouTube Shorts, Instagram and TikTok – can be a great way to find leads and cultivate a personal brand. For example, you could create short videos with interesting information about your chosen subject, and encourage those interested to check out your full-length courses.

Don’t forget that what’s important to social media viewers is content value: don’t just upload adverts for your course on your social media pages; instead offer free, valuable advice that helps you build trust and authority amongst your audience.

Build a Community

Finally, cultivating an online learning community is perhaps one of the best ways for both you and your students to make the best out of your online courses. Whether you do livestream Q+As, Twitter threads or engage with other popular creators within your niche, building an online community helps promote integrated and immersive learning for your students, and helps you build a brand for yourself and your business.

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