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As people are practicing social distancing and staying home, they are trying to find productive ways to pass the time. This has resulted in them taking to the internet to learn new skills, vis a vis online courses. For business owners, this is a great opportunity to expand your product line or service offerings. Creating an online course for the first time can be a daunting task, but worry not, as we are here to walk you through the process.

1. Develop Your Idea

Take some time and think of a few ideas that would be relevant to what your business already offers. Write down all of your ideas, even if they are partial ideas or seem too out-of-the-box. You can modify and develop them more later.  Consider the following questions while you brainstorm:

  • What are people looking to learn? (i.e. what is the demand?)
  • What do I hope for people to gain after taking my course?
  • What am I an expert at that I could teach someone about?

Answer these questions, then use your answers to develop a list of potential course topics. Once you have your list of ideas, it is time to decide which one is going to be made a reality. Of course, you want people to actually watch and buy your course, so make it something that is in-demand. You can do this through polls, online research, or by looking at competitors. Look to see if people are searching for it, who is providing it, etc. From that research, you’ll be able to determine what course idea to pursue.

Protip: Choose something that will be fun for you to do. Online courses take a lot of time and energy. If you’re highly knowledgeable in a topic, but don’t like talking about it, it might not be the best option for you.

2. Plan Out Your Course

Write Learning Objectives

After picking an idea, the first thing you need to do is determine what learning objectives you want your course to have. Think back to when you were in school. Every class had specific learning objectives or goals that you were supposed to achieve by the end of the semester. Your class is no different. Everyone signing up will attend with certain learning goals in mind, and this is the time for you to figure out what they will learn. What exactly do you want your audience to take away from the class? Clearly defining these objectives will help you create the course content and it will help you market it once finished.

Outline Your Course

From there, you can start outlining your course using those objectives to guide you. An outline or course curriculum is a great way to organize your thoughts and expertise. Chances are you know a lot about this topic, but for it to be beneficial to attendees, you need to present the information in an organized way. Before designing and writing the course in full, outline the classes and its main topics. Make sure that the information flows in a logical way and that the course is organized in an appropriate manner.

The content you use should lead the user to the objectives while answering any questions they have. Focus on the critical information that they need to know to reach the learning objectives. Be thorough in the information you present, as long as it is in aim to reach your learning objectives. Don’t present content just for the sake of presenting it; if the content doesn’t directly relate or fill any gaps, then chances are it doesn’t need to be included.

3. Determine Content Type & Delivery

Type of Content

The content you decide to use can be varied and include videos, reading material, activities, quizzes, and audio content. Delivery should correspond to the type of material your customer is learning. Additionally, consider that there are various learning styles. You’ll want to present the information in a way that works for most learning types, and present the information in different ways.

For example, some people learn best by doing. The course is online, so maybe you can’t utilize in-course discussion as much, but you can offer a discussion board or Facebook group for people to talk through the content afterward. Or, you can offer activities that allow the attendees to practice applying the information they’ve learned.

Difficulty Level

Consider difficulty level. Are you teaching people who have never used a website how to code? If so, overviewing the content isn’t going to be enough for your students to achieve the learning objectives. Try to get an idea of your target audience’s base level of information, then plan accordingly. Keeping this in mind can help determine the method of delivery for your content.

Putting it Together

Once you’ve spent time making these considerations, it’s time to put it all together. You’ve already outlined the course, so this part should be easy. Gather the videos, photos, and external resources, then record the videos and create the powerpoints for your course. Of course, not everyone’s online course is going to include every type of material, so just decide what’s best for your audience and go with that.

4. Choose a Platform

After all the planning and development, it is time to decide how you want to publish your course. There are a lot of websites that allow you to build and sell your course using their platform. Each platform will have different benefits and pricing so choose one that best suits your business. Here are some of the popular ones:

  • LearnDash: Easy to use, good for complicated and complex courses. A comprehensive platform to build and sell your course.
  • Teachable: Simple and easy option. Good for new teachers looking to test out a course.
  • Thinkific: Free plan available, but need a monthly/annual premium for growth. Can scale. Good customization and site design tools. User-friendly.
  • Udemy: Allows you to list and sell your courses on the Udemy platform. Online marketplace. Good to instantly get courses online.

There are certainly more than four platforms, and each has a little bit of a different offering. When choosing a platform, consider what exactly you want it to do. For example, if you want a comprehensive option where you can build an in-depth, personalized course and sell it – go with LearnDash. If you don’t want to invest too much and just want to taste test your new course with the public, Teachable might be a better choice from you.

Take the time to research all of your options. You don’t want to end up spending a ton of money on a platform that doesn’t do what you need it to, nor do you want to end up super confused and overwhelmed with a complicated platform. If choosing a platform and building the course out is beyond your expertise, consider hiring someone who can do it for you (like us!).

5. Pricing Your Course

Establishing a price isn’t an easy task. Your course’s price will be up to your discretion but it should be based on the value the course offers and other relative factors.

Here are some considerations:

  • Think about what you are offering. How much would someone have to pay to get that information elsewhere?
  • Does the same type of course already exist? If so, use their pricing scheme as a relative price point for yours. You do not have to make it cost the same. If your course gives double the value, make it twice as expensive! Your price can reflect your value.
  • You can always run promotions or sales on the course that will allow people to access it as a discount.
  • Consider offering some information (i.e. one class, one piece of content) for free or at a discounted price. Then, people can get a sneak peek into your course before buying the full package. This is also a great marketing tool.

6. Promote Your Course

All your hard work is done, and now it is time to tell everybody about your new online course. Marketing your course well is essential to its success. If nobody knows about your course, they can’t enroll in it.

Here are some ways you can promote your course:

  • Utilize your social media presence to share this exciting new offering with your followers.
  • Offer a free trial for people to experience your course for themselves.
  • Run sales and promotions on your course.
  • Secure relevant partnerships (i.e. if your course is on coding, you could reach out to a university to send it to their IT students)

As always, we don’t recommend you cut costs on your marketing efforts. You just spent so long designing and creating a course; don’t you want people to take it? Marketing isn’t just posting about your course on Instagram. It’s about crafting a message that will speak to your audience in a way they can relate to. It helps them understand who you are and how you and your course can help them. If you’re unsure of how to do that, we’re happy to jump in and lead the way.

We know developing an online course can be intimidating. Follow these steps, take your time, and ask for help where needed, and you’ll be sure to create an amazing online course. Feeling inspired? Let us know what kind of online course you’re going to be creating in the comments below.

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