Online courses are a huge market and it’s not stopping anytime soon.
According to Forbes, back in 2015 online learning was expected to reach 107 billion. It’s grown far beyond that with growth over $200 billion in 2017.
I’d say it’s a pretty good market to jump into if you want to grab a share of the growing online course market.
In this post you’ll learn 5 things you need to know before you create your first online course and the top 3 platforms to sell your training.
5 Essential Tips for Planning an Online Course
Online courses are perfect if you are knowledgeable about a topic and want to help others learn it too. That’s exactly how I got started as a professional technical trainer many years ago.
I happened to be an expert at a couple of difficult software programs and people were always coming to me asking questions. In a short amount of time, I was able to develop in-person training courses for large companies.
These days, the Internet helps connect anyone in the world to your expertise! People are busy and for those that want to acquire knowledge, learning at home on their time is the perfect solution.
If you ever thought about creating an online course, now’s the time! Before you get started, here are 5 things you should consider before jumping in.
1. Do you Have Teaching Skills?
What type of experience do you have training others? Your skills and abilities to communicate information in an understandable way are your first consideration.
When I started teaching in-person classes, I didn’t just jump in. I took a few public speaking and train the trainer courses so I could learn how to be effective at communicating the information to my students.
Boy, did I have a lot to learn!
If you don’t have experience, try taking at least a public speaking class. There is nothing worse than a completing boring instructor who says “umm” a lot. Learn to be upbeat and energetic, and speak with confidence.
There is nothing worse than people falling asleep or worse, turning off your online training due to boredom!
Being a good online trainer is not just about speaking well in front of others, it also includes being able to organize your knowledge into sequential lessons that build upon each other.
Another key element in preparation for creating your online course is making sure that each lesson is actionable and shows real-life examples.
If, for example, your students cannot take action on the lesson you taught online, then it won’t be effective.
Be honest in evaluating whether you have what it takes to teach an online course. If you don’t, these are skills you can easily learn.
2. Can Your Course Material be Taught Online?
Can any subject be taught online? Before getting too excited about creating your course, make sure it can be successfully taught online.
For example, some subjects do not lend themselves well to an online teaching setting. A few that I can think of are public speaking, safety regulations, nursing and dental hygiene.
Carefully consider your topics and how those can be properly presented in an online setting to give your students the best learning experience.
3. Who is the Target Market for your Online Course?
Many times, I see people creating courses just because they have a certain expertise. That’s not enough for success.
You need to identify a target market that will be interested in taking your course. Understanding your target market will help you create a course that is congruent with what people want to learn.
For example, you may have expertise in blogging. BUT, there are so many pieces and parts to it. How would you know what to teach?
If your target market were beginners who need to learn how to set up a website and create content, then you would create a course around that.
Maybe your target market are more advanced users who want to focus on the SEO piece.
Know your market so you understand exactly who you are creating the training for.
You’ll also get a better idea of how your audience wants to consume your content. I took a course last year and the content was dripped out each week over a 9-week period. That drove me crazy!
By understanding your audience, you’ll also get a good idea of if they can afford your course. As an example, if you create an online course for beginner bloggers, many of them do not have the money to pay for a course. So who would you sell it to?
4. What’s Special about your Course?
Why should people buy your course? Look around the Internet. There are so many resources and information out there that cost nothing!
What can you offer that is unique, appealing, and would compel a person to pay you to teach them? I’ve seen so much reguratated junk out on the Internet. Don’t be that person!
Here’s a secret. Most people create courses that cover way too many topics. It’s overwhelming and the majority won’t take action.
The key is to narrow down your topic to something your students can focus in on and take action.
If you have personal experience, that’s even better. Teach from a real-life point of view and show real examples.
Tell stories (keep them short) that get people excited to keep moving forward.
What great thing have you done that propelled you forward in some way that you can convey to others and actually teach them to do?
Another thing that people consider before purchasing an online course is how it’s delivered. That’s a personal preference.
I know of a popular affiliate marketing course that is delivered as text with too many pages. I would probably go crazy trying to get through it.
For me, video with real examples is the best way I learn. What about you? What about your audience?
Find a training format that is suitable for the majority of your audience to consume as effectively as possible.
5. Do you Love the Topic you want to Teach?
I know, this one is obvious. You should love what you are planning to teach online!
Still, some people do it for the money. While that is important, if you don’t have a passion for your topic as well as passion for teaching others, it doesn’t work so well.
If you love your topic but not so in love with teaching, consider partnering up with someone who has the same expertise. Maybe they can teach and you can create the materials.
There is usually more to an online course than just the training course. Most people expect a private Facebook group where they can ask questions.
Are you ready to manage such a group and be responsive to queries?
It’s all about helping people. Take a look at your resources and availability to make sure you can reasonably fit it all in while enjoying it at the same time!
Best Platforms to Sell your Online Course
Online courses take hard work but here the good news:
You create it one time and sell it any many people that area willing to buy it. That’s the secret to real profits.
You can see that there is great potential with online course creation.
Once you get it all organized, you need to deliver and host it via an online course platform.
Here are 2 top platforms where you can host your training courses.
Here’s what attracted me to Thinkific. Their mission is to make is simple for you to create and teach online courses.
Over 35,000 online instructors use the teaching platform. The numbers speak for themselves. The Thinkific platform combines a course builder, email marketing, and great customer support.
You can start for free and then upgrade to a subscription once you need the additional features.
I started with the free plan. It’s a great way to test the waters and see if it’s a good fit for you. With this plan, Thinkific will change 10% of the transaction fees.
The next plan is Essentials, which gives you additional tools like coupons, promotions, and course bundles, to name just a few.
On the Thinkific Essentials plan, they charge a 5% transaction fee.
The next two plans are Business and Advanced. There are no transaction fees on these plans. You’ll get some incredible features too!
If you are new to creating courses, Thinkific is a great way to start! It’s easy to use and you can start for free.
Focused on branding and stunning course sites, Teachable has an easy to use interface. You can easily add video, image, text, audio, and PDF files.
You can also import from a few different sources like Google Drive.
They have multi-language support and an integrated blog. With quizzes and forums, you’ll be able to interact with your students and get a good idea of how your course material is being received.
They offer a number of solutions and you can start for free.
You can also create an affiliate program for your course, one of the best ways to market!
After many years of creating courses and teaching, both online and off, I can tell you it’s extremely rewarding. Yes, both financially and being able to help others learn!
I recommend that you review the tips for planning your course before diving in head first! Then check out the aforementioned online training solutions to see which one is the best fit for you.
If you have questions, reach out or leave a comment.
Marriah Tarango says
Such great advice, thank you so much for sharing! I’d love to eventually get into courses, but I am so very terrible at speaking due to my anxiety. Taking some courses on speaking is a great idea, I’ll definitely have to look into it. Thanks again!
Designer + Photographer
Lisa Jahred says
Hi Marriah! I know how you feel! Taking training on how to speak in front of others made all the difference for me and charted a new career path. If you can’t find a training, locate a Toastmasters group in your area. At the very least, practice making videos of yourself speaking and then critique or have a friend do it.
Have fun with it!