To learn how to create an online course, you must first figure out what topic to teach. From there, you’ll create a course outline and pre-sell your course through a beta test before doing a full launch of your course to the public. You can even get started for free with various course platforms.
With TalentLMS, you can have up to 10 courses with its free account. No matter which plan you choose, you’ll get many useful features such as unlimited email support, white labeling, a native mobile app, and webinar integrations. Get started for free today.
The five steps on how to create your online course are:
1. Choose a Course Topic
When deciding what to create your course about, one of the best places to start is within your own network. Pay attention to the questions you’re asked on a daily basis that require your expertise. If you’re in any Facebook groups related to your niche, look at which questions are asked repeatedly by group members. Think about who you want to serve with this course.
You don’t necessarily have to be an expert in a topic to teach it—you just have to know more than your intended audience. You can master a specific subset of your topic and teach that. For example, you might not know everything there is to know about photography, but you can still teach an introductory course on how to use a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera if you’ve learned it yourself. To your potential student who doesn’t even know how to turn on a DSLR camera, you are an expert.
Use some of these online course suggestions to brainstorm your own course topic:
- How to sell your product through a webinar
- How to create your first sales funnel
- 10 strategies for finding your first 30 clients
- Working with influencers as a brick-and-mortar business
- Real estate
- How to buy your first investment property with bad credit and no money
- Real estate license prep
- How to flip a house in 30 days
- How to get more real estate leads
- Arts and crafts
- 10 different ways to use your Cricut
- How to use calligraphy to make your wedding invitations
- A beginner’s guide to mixed media art
- How to sell your crafts on Etsy
- Health and fitness
- Six ways to recover from a cheat day
- Earn your black belt in 12 months
- How to master the splits
- 10 steps to better gut health
- How to work out when morbidly obese
- How to self-publish your book in less than 30 days
- Start your blog in a weekend
- How to become a freelance writer
- Pitching the media
- How to get your freelance article accepted on your first try
- Personal development
- Learn how to meditate in just six days
- Tackle your entire bucket list in a year
- Become a better public speaker in 30 days
- Find your life’s purpose
- Master the power of persuasion
When you’re doing research on what topic to create your course on, don’t worry if someone has already created a course on the same topic. The reason for this is because no one can teach it like you can—you can bring something radically different to the table. It’s just like someone who experienced a traumatic event—their retelling of what happened might be different than yours because of their own background, training, and values.
2. Select an Online Course Platform
There are many different online course platforms with different benefits and features. Some course providers are just a WordPress plugin, such as LearnDash. Other platforms are cloud-based, which means there’s no software for you to download. These providers include Thinkific, Teachable, and TalentLMS.
If you’re a brand-new course creator on a budget, Thinkific is a great place to create your online course. It offers not only a free trial, but there’s also a free plan that lets you have an unlimited number of students in up to three courses. Premium plans start at $49 per month and go up to $499 per month.
Thinkific also has an easy drag-and-drop course builder, so there’s almost no learning curve right from the start. Every plan also provides email and phone support, discussion forums within courses, and the opportunity to upsell your students. Another major benefit of using Thinkific is that you’ll get instant access to funds earned through course sales.
Within Teachable, course creators are known as teachers, and their courses are considered schools. If you’re looking to provide mobile access to your school, Teachable has a native iOS app. The Free plan allows teachers to enroll up to 10 students in unlimited courses. Premium plans start at $29 per month and go up to $499 per month for enterprise creators.
TalentLMS is an online course platform that provides its course creators unlimited email support, a dedicated success manager, and an easy-to-use course editing dashboard. Many users like TalentLMS because they can train employees, partners, and customers through its platform. Plus, it’s easy to evaluate the performance of trainees with the click of a button. TalentLMS has a free plan, and the premium plans start at $59 per month and go up to $529 per month.
3. Create a Course Outline
A course outline will make it easy for you to create your sales page. The outline shows what a student will learn when they take your course—it’s like a promise to the student about what to expect. One of the best ways to create a course outline is to get a stack of index cards.
At the top of the first index card, you’ll write the topic. Then you’ll set a timer for ten minutes and on the following index cards, write anything and everything you could possibly talk about in the course. It’s important to take the entire ten minutes to do this because oftentimes, you’ll feel inspired with just 30 seconds left and write 20 or 30 cards worth of ideas. The idea is to think of everything you can talk about—even if it seems silly.
After the 10 minutes are up, order your index cards by what a student needs to learn first. You’ll find that as you’re going through this stack of index cards, some subjects are unnecessary, and others are really advanced. You can cull any of the unnecessary topics but keep the advanced index cards. You’ll use those advanced index cards for another course—your first one might be only for beginners, and then the next course is for advanced students.
Now that you have your consolidated stack of index cards in order, you can use these to create the sections for your online course. Some of the index cards will naturally work as a new section, whereas others fit more naturally as an individual lesson within a section. You’ll order the sections just like you ordered your index cards—based on what someone needs to learn first.
4. Presell Your Online Course & Produce Content
When you’ve got your course outline finished, you’ll input it into your online course platform. You don’t have to write all of the content itself, just the headers. The course curriculum within your online course platform serves as your sales page. Some business owners choose to create all of the content and skip a beta testing phase, but that’s typically someone who’s tested a topic before.
Many solopreneurs choose to presell their online courses so that they don’t spend months creating content for a course that no one ends up buying. Instead, they offer a beta course to their audience at a free or reduced rate. Most brand-new course creators offer the course for free so they get more beta testers. Once there are a few beta testers, the teacher will create the content for the course over a series of several weeks and will then release the content on a weekly basis.
There are many different ways to create your course content. These ways include shooting video, using PDFs, and making audio files. Most course creators use a combination of each method within every single unit or module.
Get Feedback From Course Takers
Beta testers should take a survey after each module or unit within the course to give their constructive feedback on the content. Course questions include what their thoughts are on that unit, what could use improvement, and what went well.
After they’ve finished the entire course, the final survey should ask for specific results gained from the material plus permission to use a photo and the beta tester’s name in promoting the course. Another great question is how much the beta tester would pay for the course based on the content they consumed. Most online course providers make it easy to include a survey or quiz right from the platform after a module is completed. Otherwise, you can use a survey program such as SurveyMonkey.
If you feel that reading constructive criticism might cause you to stop creating the course altogether, enlist a trusted friend, family member, or business partner to compile the feedback for you. This way, you’re simply looking at the data rather than allowing emotions to control your business decisions.
5. Polish Your Content for a Full Launch
By getting feedback from your beta testers, you can work to improve and polish the course. Not only that, they’re providing a testimonial that you can use in the promotion of the course when you fully launch it.
It’s important to note that your goal isn’t to be all things to all people. You might have a beta tester who really doesn’t like the course and will give many suggestions on what you need to change. If all of your beta testers say the same thing, it’s probably a good idea to give a second glance at the content. However, if it’s just one beta tester, you don’t necessarily want to change the content for just one person who doesn’t like the way you’ve presented a topic.
Over time, you’ll continue to update and refine the course as you learn and grow personally and professionally. Most course creators choose to give lifetime access to the course, and along with it, any updates to the content. However, there are also many course creators who decide to release newer versions of a course, and anyone with the old version still has access to the old course but will need to purchase the new one if they want updated content.
How to Price Your Online Course
If you price your course too high for your desired audience, they might not buy it. Similarly, if you price your course too low, they might not see the value in the course and won’t buy it because they feel it’s cheap. People are more likely to pay a premium for a course they perceive to have a higher value, particularly if it’s delivered in a way that’s convenient.
Students can probably find what you teach for free anywhere online, but if you package the course in a way that’s easier to understand, that’s a huge benefit to them. Even if they purchase a similar course from popular low-cost, high-volume course providers, such as Udemy or Skillshare, it doesn’t mean they’ll finish the course. Generally speaking, when a student has to pay more for a course, they’re more likely to complete it.
When you price your online course, you must price it high enough to cover your advertising costs. You’ll also have to factor in how much you desire to make from your course, the size of your email list, and the fact that only about 2% of your email list is likely to buy your course.
Sample Course Revenue Based on Email List Size
Email List Size
% of Your List That Will Buy
Price of Your Course
If you want to charge a higher price for your course to earn more revenue, but don’t necessarily have a large email list, you’ll need to increase the value of your course. There are many ways you can increase the value of your course, including offering a weekly live question and answer (Q&A) call for students, one-on-one consulting, or even a workbook or cheat sheet. Keep in mind though, it takes just as much effort on your part to sell a high-priced course as it does a low-cost course.
How to Market Your Online Course
After creating an online course and offered it for sale to your email list, there’s still work to do. It isn’t likely you’ll have a huge onslaught of customers asking to buy your course—you’re going to have to ask them to buy. This will require you to market your course.
People purchase products and services from someone they know, like, and trust, so you need to establish yourself as an authority in the subject you’re teaching. If you don’t have a big email list, the easiest way to gain authority is to borrow someone else’s. You’ll do this through having affiliates, who will promote the course to their own audience for a portion of the sale. For an online course, the commission is typically 25% to 70% of the sale.
Other ways to market your online course include:
- Ads: For as little as $5 per day, you can run ads on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Each platform offers free training on how to do this.
- Webinars: A webinar is an online seminar where you’ll teach your audience something, and in the end you’ll offer your online course. What you teach should relate to your course. Popular webinar providers include WebinarJam and GoToWebinar.
- Sales funnels: A sales funnel typically starts with you offering a checklist or cheat sheet, followed by a tripwire, which is a low-cost product or service. From there, you can offer an online course. You can create a sales funnel using ClickFunnels or even WordPress.
- Blogging: Learning how to start a blog is easy, and it’s a great way to build your authority and email list.
- Social media: Creating a following on social media can take time, but it’s a great way to share your talent with like-minded people.
- Podcasting: You don’t necessarily have to start your own podcast. You can be a guest on someone else’s podcast and pitch your course.
No matter how you decide to market your online course, know that many people use a combination of all of these. Your particular audience may prefer a different marketing method over another, but the only way to figure that out is to get started.
Creating an Online Course Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This section includes the most frequently asked questions about how to create an online course.
How much does it cost to create a course?
There are many online course platforms that allow you to create courses for free. These platforms include Thinkific, Teachable, and TalentLMS. It could potentially cost nothing, although many course creators decide to move to a paid plan once they start to profit from their online courses. Most course platforms are well under $500 per month if you choose a paid plan.
How long does it take to sell an online course?
It depends on the individual. Although you could potentially sell your online course in a day, many people don’t have the time, talent, or resources to do that. If you use affiliates to help promote your course, it can potentially sell faster. You can also run marketing campaigns such as ads and influencer marketing to help sell your course.
How much do course creators make?
There’s a good chance you won’t make anything creating a course. However, with the right talent, time, and resources, you can make a full-time income as an online course creator. Your dedication to the craft and getting better over time will improve your chances of being successful at creating and selling courses. A study done by Teachable shows that 39.4% of its top course creators made between $25,000 and $50,000 per year.
Why should I create an online course?
One of the best reasons to create a course is to give your potential clients an opportunity to learn from you without the expense of hiring you one-on-one. It also gives students a chance to see your teaching style in action. As a course creator, you can also potentially create recurring revenue without needing to constantly create content.
Bottom Line: How to Create an Online Course
When you create an online course, it gives you an opportunity to showcase your expertise to others. To get started, you can use an online course platform that’s free, so it doesn’t cost you anything out of pocket. Over time, you can refine your courses as you learn and grow your personal and professional skills, and transition to a plan that offers more features for a premium.
When you choose an online course platform, you want one that’s reliable and easy to use. Our recommendation is TalentLMS because you get unlimited email support, a native mobile app, unlimited storage, and webinar integrations. It also lets you white label your course, which allows you to brand the course without any indication that it’s hosted on TalentLMS. Get started for free today.