So you want to know how to create an online training course! More and more we are finding online courses for tons of new skills that we can learn from home. The need for actual classes for many creative and technical skills are waning with the advent of greater ability to find them online.
Do you have skills you want to share? You think you can find that profitable idea and turn it into an online course? By choosing to create an online course, you are bringing your experience, knowledge and expertise in a very impactful way to your audience. You don’t have to have qualifications in something to be an expert. You can upload your course/training programme and turn that experience into a professional money-making online course. You might think that you have only just learned the skill yourself and who are you to be teaching others, but you will remember what you found tough, the pain points in the learning experience that you can help them with.
Choose A Profitable Idea
So first find your profitable idea..
This should be something you have experience in, something you know what you are talking about, not an expert…. A few questions to help you find your profitable idea for your course – What do you already do? What do you already buy? What skills do you have? and what do your friends say you are good at? What do you do on a Saturday morning?
Your skill does not need to be university level, they could be skills that you have only thought of as a hobby up until now but it is something that will answer a question/solve a problem for your audience.
If you aren’t sure about what you want to use for your profitable idea, I can suggest a few areas to research to help.
- Check out online forums – Check out what people are talking about, what they are complaining about, see what falls in your area of expertise. Try Reddit, Quora, Instagram, Facebook and any other forums you know about in your niche.
- Amazon – Go check out books on your topic, see what the reviews say about the books, what the problems are, what they like and don’t like. For example, just from a fleeting look, there are books on fly fishing/trout fishing with various very mediocre comments, something to investigate.
- Look at the various online courses already offered within your idea guideline. This will be super helpful to find a gap in the market that you can fill or one that you can see you can do so much better at.
- Whilst competition is not always welcome, the market is huge so look at what your competitors offer.
Im sure you have tons of ideas that go along with your skills and passions, but if you are still having a bit of trouble thinking about what you might want to do…. It might be that you have a lot of ideas… go for the one that you are most enthusiastic about to start with, once you get on a roll, you can have many courses in your ‘academy’.
Think about TRAVEL – do you love travelling? have you been to places that you know others won’t find? or you have knowledge that would be so useful to others? you can offer courses on backpack travelling or combine it with a hobby you have.
WRITING – Self help? COPING WITH TEENS/ MULTIPLES/DISABLED CHILD MICROFARMING FLY FISHING MAKING WHOLEFOODS FOR DOGS COPING WITH STRESS MANAGING IN CRITICAL SITUATIONS PHOTOGRAPHY
Who Are Your Audience?
For your online course to be successful, you need to have an audience in mind. If you understand who would want to buy your online course, it will be more straightforward when you come to solve the problems they have. It will help define the course, what will be included, what won’t. It will also help you decide how you will present your course to them.
Do Your Research!
There must be market demand for what the course you are considering offering. As said before, just because your course might be offered elsewhere, is not a reason to forget the idea. It doesn’t mean that your course will not sell, it shows there is a demand and worth further research. Understanding mind of your audience, you will know that when they do their research for something – a course/a product – they don’t go for the first site that might have it, but look around, see what other courses/product are around, what they offer, how they differ. They will engage with one rather than another…. we have all done it, I have. I might look for a particular product on amazon to start with then go onto other sites to see what they have to say.
Once you have had a general ferret around the internet to see whats going on, start your Market Research –
- Check your competitors in detail – what are they blogging about? what keywords do they use? what structure do they have for their courses? what online platform do they use for uploading their courses? what prices do they charge? how much does your profitable idea differ from the courses they are offering? Check out places like Udemy, Lynda.com ( LinkedIn), specialist courses for your idea.
- Do keyword research looking at the low hanging fruit, words/phrases you can use for your marketing that will bring in your audience without having to spend money on advertising. If you aren’t sure about keyword research, check out my blog. You can also check out which keywords your competitors are using.
- Check out social media. Asking questions on pages for your target audience will help in decision making. I use Facebook to check out what EMT/Paramedics/Nurses/Physios are talking about, what questions they have that need answering, what skills they want to learn to enhance their job or leisure time or even in looking for more lucrative work.
- Go onto Quora or Reddit and see what’s being asked. Tap into the threads that are your target audience, chat, answer questions (Quora) and generally get a feel for the topics of issue. Follow subreddits that are within your idea. Both these forums have thousands of followers, so an ideal opportunity to really get down and deep. You may find you end up with material to use for various online courses.
- Test out your idea with the Facebook forums, or Reddit and Quora, and ask your audience their opinion on your proposed course/s.
SALES FUNNEL – Buyer Journey
Your audience is fluid, you will get people coming who are at the start of their search, others in the middle and some at the end…. they are the ones that will buy so they are the ones you are attracting. Each group of people are looking for different things. Its the connection that you create at the right point in your audience search. Thats not to say that those arriving when they are only starting out their search will not come back later on in the process to you, remembering your blog on ‘Sea Kayaking – The Joys of the Wind and The Waves’ way back when they first found your site. If you think about the way you look out things, your audience is exactly the same.
Understanding your sales funnel goes a long way to appreciating where your audience comes from, why they don’t buy straight away and what you need to do to attract those that are going to buy.
This sales funnel demonstrates the various areas you need to address when you are marketing your online courses, what strategies you need to adopt to attract your audience at the right time in their search.
Bear in mind that those that bite are only 2-3% of the total that will check out your site. So you need to make your course compelling. You need to set out exactly what they can expect from the course, how you will approach the material being taught, what skills they will learn, what they will achieve by the end of the course and what this will enable them to do moving forward. So as the example in the sales funnel above… Clearly if they follow my course they will be able to Sea Kayak in 30 Days!
You need to be encouraging the right audience at this stage, those that have some experience in kayaking in the first place, this is not going to be a course for a complete beginner. You may have a course for them already. Your goal with the course is to offer and deliver on that offer – so they compete the course and are satisfied with it, potentially coming back for more of your courses in the future.
Create Course Outline
To reduce the risk of procrastination, start by outlining the sections of the course. This will enable you to not get bogged down with the information you are wanting to get down and have a clear mind how you see the course progressing.
Within the outline, you need to highlight what is included in the course and what is not included. So for example, if you were going to do an online course to teach Adobe Illustrator, you would need to ensure that your student knew they need to get a version of the illustrator software, that this is not included with the course.
During the process of writing the outline, determine the level you will be pitching it… beginner/ intermediate / advanced…. You can decide, regardless of your knowledge, who you want to aim it at. It may be that you decide to do beginner level with a separate course on a similar topic for advanced students. You can create course bundles rather than try to do everything in one course.
Whilst progressing through setting out the outline, remember the questions you are answering, the problems you are solving for your audience. You don’t have to be all things to all people, its tempting to try to appeal to everyone, but thats not the point of the course.
You have identified your audience, you know what the questions/problems are that they have, you answer those. For example – Sea Kayaking, your audience wants to know the issues/pitfalls/pros and cons with sea kayaking, not white water kayaking or river kayaking. So that’s the topic you stick to, you may have other courses online for river kayaking or whitewater kayaking.
Problem – New to Sea Kayaking
Ideal Course – Learn Sea Kayaking in 30 Days
Bad Course – Kayaks and Paddles – Equipment 101
Structure the outline into sections with similar themes within each section to create organisation of your thoughts and a consistent level for your audience. If you have this sorted out at this stage, the writing of the content will be straightforward. You might find it helpful to work backwards – decide what you want your students to achieve, and work back from there.
So your course outline might look something like this….
Create Course Content
Following your course outline, you now expand each module, into lessons – bitesize pieces to ensure that you don’t overwhelm the student, but also making it easier to digest.
Bear in mind when choosing how to deliver your content that students learn in different ways. So consider preparing your content for all learning styles. You might choose to use screen casting – present your content by recording your computer screen. Or you may choose to use Talking Head where your head is in view talking to your audience.
You can talk, write, use visuals, video demonstrating… I prefer to watch whilst taking notes, this is the best way for me to learn so try to offer different deliveries – maybe videos with written transcripts for those who prefer to read. If you decided to use visuals, how are young going to engage your audience? How will you come across? Do you talk in an engaging way or rather monotone? Balance your deliveries to appeal to your audience. Practice… whilst you might not be flowing at first, you will get it!
You don’t need fancy equipment to create your course, you can use your computer/laptop, use easily downloadable recording and editing software app and for a camera, if you need one, your phone will be perfectly fine in the outset.
The final decision to make at this stage is how you are going to brand yourself. What recurring features will you use, props, colours, style… This is very important to enable you to build your brand going forward. Using the same format, the same presentation enables your students to gain confidence in your courses, that they are consistent, quality courses giving the feeling of security and wellbeing to your audience that you are an authority with attention to detail.
Production Of Your Course
Prepare your lesson plans. Create your videos, powerpoint, blogs, podcasts. Prepare assignments, exercises, quizzes if the learning aspect of your course includes testing. Include any supplemental material such as tips and ideas that will help your students along the way.
You need a website. This is straightforward to accomplish. The easiest website to create within a few minutes is a wordpress website, which with the thousands of themes, can be prepared ready for your online courses with ease.
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LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
A learning management system is a software app that will deliver educational courses/ training programmes. There are tons to choose from – moodle/elidemy/teachable are just a few.
They assist with the learning process, giving you a platform to deliver your content, helping with the registration onto your courses, offering admin support. They provide space where materials can be stored, and organised. Assessments can be arranged and assist with the use of blogs to interact with your students.
This system then is attached to your website, so you can use the website to promote your online course business.
Choosing and LMS
Decide what you want from your learning management system – what features and requirements you have, and what they offer. They will cost to use, so ensure you aren’t paying for something you won’t be using in the near future, you can always upgrade when you have need of enhanced features. Take time to explore the LMS market, check out prices, ask for demos…. Will it grow with you ?
Set A Price
Not an easy process. There are many factors to consider when pricing your online course. You don’t want to charge too much and price yourself out of the market or too low and attract the wrong students. It takes equal effort to sell a high priced course as a low one but the price will have an impact on your online teaching business going forward. Don’t charge by the length of your courses. Do research with your competitors, see what they are charging for similar courses, and price yours accordingly. If you are overrun with customers you can ratchet up your prices as you become a more experienced online course designer.
Find Students For The Course
So you need to attract your audience now. How are you going to do this with very little funds for advertising? Plan your marketing strategy. You have various options to get your course out there.. the first is to get it advertised on your website. Get your website ranking with Google, writing blogs about your business.
Offer a free chapter to whet the appetites and show you are a genuine and valued website that understand the issues of your audience. They have their hard earned money, how do they know that you are value for money.. so give them a taster, maybe not a chapter of your course, but a small, carefully prepared chunk that you have written exactly for this purpose, so as not to give away too much but enough to entice them to sign up. Use social media – free platforms should be exploited until you have a fund for advertising.
Find any affiliate programmes that are within your profitable idea scope – for example, the sea kayaking course, I could add in some blogs about kayaks with affiliate links to purchasing equipment, this will bring other readers to the site and in turn view the online courses.
Writing an online course is multi faceted, will take time and research to approach it successfully but to attract your niche audience, it does require a high level of quality content. Approach the online course with enthusiasm and determination, your hard work will be rewarded.