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10 simple steps to create a successful online course

This article is contributed by Kathy Alameda of PinLearn, who develops educational technology plans and online learning strategies for schools, businesses, and universities in the US and other countries. She is also an author and researcher on effective eLearning programs.

What makes an online course successful? The number of signups? The 5-star reviews? Nope! It’s the value that your audience gets when they reach the end of your course! And when you manage to deliver value, signups and reviews come along automatically.

With the adoption of a growth mindset, there has been a mass movement towards online learning and self-directed learning in the post-pandemic world.

We are now in a phase where once can find thousands of online courses for a specific topic. And if you’re expecting a breakthrough and you want your online course to make it to the top, you’ve got to make sure it’s unique, delivers value, and …. let’s just say “the best”!

So, yes! That’s what this post is going to be about — how you can create an online course (that’ll turn out to be successful) by following easy to execute steps. 

Steps to Create a Successful Online Course

Creating an online course is serious business. You’d have to take into consideration a vast number of factors before you make decisions. Make one mistake, and you’ll be no different from the thousand-plus existing courses. So, let’s get started with the first step that’ll help you create a successful online course: 

1. Pick a Genre You’re an Expert In

Make sure you start right when you create an online course. Every potential skill is in demand now — it doesn’t matter whether it’s copywriting or programming, or culinary skills. 

If you’re an expert at something and you love what you do, simply go for it! Don’t think twice about it. There’s a proverb that says, “Go for the Kill

2. Check Out Market Demand

Though pursuing what you love as an online course is a great idea, you should also check whether it’s feasible. Feasible here means knowing whether there is a demand for your online course idea and whether you have a significant audience base who’d be willing to sign up and purchase your course. 

Asking yourself these questions can help you come to a conclusion: 

  • Are there frequent searches conducted for your online course?
  • Do competitors already have courses on what you’re about to create?
  • Is there any important stuff your competitors have missed out on, and you could fill-in? 

This might help you decide whether or not your online course is going to survive out there or not! 

3. Set Clear, Compelling Learning Outcomes

What’s the point of going through all the pain to create an online course when the student doesn’t know what he/she will be getting at the end of the course? 

These days, it’s essential that you come up with clear learning outcomes for your course. Because when an individual knows what he/she is going to pay for, it’s going to be an easy call for them — no fuss or switching to alternatives! 

Before you upload your online course on some online tutoring platform/software, make sure that the course learning outcomes are mentioned as clearly as possible. 

4. Scrutinize Your Online Course Content

You’re probably an expert in the field you’re about to teach. This means you have extensive knowledge, and when trying to convert it as an online course, the chances are high that your course content may get a bit too deep. 

Make sure to include only what’s needed for the particular course you’re going to create, and leave out unnecessary material.

If you have a lot of information to share, you can create multiple courses. Multiple courses mean multiple streams of revenue.

5. Structure Your Course Content Clearly 

It’s understandable that when creating an online course, there will be several modules and information to share. But you’ve got to make sure that they are appropriately arranged sequentially. Also, decide whether you will create a one-time purchase course or an academic model where the user has to pay monthly to get access.

If not structured properly, your content can simply go haywire! For example, you cannot tell your audience how to write ad copy at the beginning and tell them what copywriting is at the end of the module.

So, put in some effort, spend time to make sure that things are in the right place to support student understanding and learning outcomes.

6. Choose Course Delivery Methods

Now that you’re all set with your online course structure, it’s time to decide how to deliver the content. 

Some sections of the course might expect you to give a video lecture. A presentation slide would suffice for others.

But, it’s totally up to you. FYI, courses that are of video lecture formats are known to have high purchase numbers these days. 

You can also use voice-overs if you’re not comfortable speaking in front of a camera.

Your course should give your customer the best learning experience. So, make sure you act and plan accordingly.

7. Create Your Online Course

The production phase is where you transfer your knowledge into digital content.

You don’t have to hire a technical crew or buy software to do this. Everything you need is already available online for free. 

For example, if you need to edit your videos, you can use Camtasia (change green screen videos to a vibrant background in no time).

Or, if you want to create illustrations or graphics for your online course, use Canva. Similarly, there is free online software for everything you need to do — you just have to find the one that does the job! 

8. Setting Up Your Online Learning Platform

This is probably the most critical part of this guide. Knowing where to put your online course decides whether it’s going to scale or just be a bunch of videos parked on a platform. 

Though platforms like Udemy give you an easy way in, down the lane, you’ll have no control over your business. It’s better to create your e-learning platform. By doing it this way, you can create a brand for yourself and control the revenue and other marketing activities! 

If you’re looking for a solution to start with, you should try this online tutoring software.

9. Set Pricing for Your Online Course

You’re almost set for business. All that’s remaining now is to set a price for your course. While researching your competitors, you might have come across different pricing tiers. 

While setting a price for your course, consider that and also other factors like, 

  • Course content and duration
  • Course quality, time spent, and extra information over your competitors
  • One-time purchase course or more like an academy model

The above factors can help you decide a price for your online course. Now you’re done – you’re all set to go live with your online course! 

10. Knowing How to Market Your Online Course

Marketing is critical if you want your online course to take off. A good marketing strategy can never fail to back up the product.

Here’s creative marketing by McDonald’s: 

Credit: TBWA Switzerland

You don’t have to go to this extreme. For example, you can: 

  • Create short snippets about your online course and release them on YouTube along with links. 
  • Draft blog posts that explain parts of your course and redirect them back to your course page. 
  • Post course details and excerpts on multiple social platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and more. 
  • Create podcasts to market your online course or even submit guest posts regarding the same. 

The key here is to create hype and make your audiences feel, “Gosh! This course is going to help me a lot!” And once when your people who come across your course feel this, it’s going to be a hit.

The Bottom Line

So, yes, That’s how you create an online course and make sure it is successful as well.

Even though the competition is heavy out there, a course that’s of good quality and follows best in the industry marketing practices will make it to the top — for sure. 

LEARNTech Asia Contributor
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