With the online learning industry consistently growing year after year, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are many opportunities out there.
Based on recent market research, the industry is set to grow to a value of more than $240 billion in just two years.
So, by now, you may be wondering about how to create an online course?
I’m a fan of educating people, so when it comes to helping those same people learn, I thought it would be a great idea to help you find the best ways to create online training websites.
This is an opportunity for thinkers and teachers. Still, with solutions like Udemy, Teachable, and Learnable out there, it can be unclear how to get into the industry.
This piece will show you how to get started teaching people out on the internet.
Is it a Good Idea for You to Create Online Courses?
Before I get into telling you how to create an online course, I think it’s best to question whether or not YOU should create one of these courses.
Remember, this is a very competitive market, and most likely, new websites are being made about your particular niche just about every day.
Effectively, whatever you do, you’ll need to create online courses that will stand out from the crowd and deliver quality content for your audience.
This will help you succeed, so if you’re unwilling to put in the research and time to make your course unique, it may not be a good idea to create content like this.
You’re shooting for quality content that will stand out, and creating this isn’t easy without the right level of prep.
This guide will show you how to do due diligence, so feel free to use it to create powerful content that will deliver value to your students.
Just remember, the guide won’t do ALL the work for you; you’ll need to put in work to succeed.
Based on this guide, you’ll see that anyone can create one of these courses. It isn’t terribly complex, but don’t mistake this process as a means of getting rich quick.
While you can, and should, cut corners, it’s going to take time and effort, but you should be able to use one of the best online course platforms to be successful over time.
How Lucrative are Online Learning Platforms and What’s the Cost?
Once you understand how long this process should take, you’ll want to know how much this type of endeavor can make. First, it’s important to know that this can deliver a good income stream if you do it right.
That said, there are also horror stories of online teachers making mere hundreds of dollars over the entire history of their online coursework.
Still, many modern online course platforms report that teachers can easily expect an income of several thousand dollars a month, with the outliers making upwards of five digits during that same period.
There’s no exact number, but the potential is clearly there, so consider that when you’re determining if this is for you.
Cost-wise, this is also highly dependent on what you put into the course and what platform you’ll be using. There are free-to-use services such as Udemy free courses and the services offered on Skillshare.
On the other hand, there are also online learning platforms that cost a nominal monthly fee and have one-time initial charges that may cost you hundreds.
Also, for some courses, you may need to invest in video and set equipment, and as you go, you may want to invest in even more equipment that can improve your online students’ overall course experience.
At the start, the cost may be very inexpensive, and as you go, you can gauge how far you want to take the experience from a financial point of view.
How Long Will it Take and How Hard is it?
This depends on several factors, so I find it very hard to give a concrete estimate based on any arbitrary average.
If you’re starting with a simple process that you’re trying to teach that doesn’t take a lot of extra work for you as the teacher, you can create a lesson or course within a few hours or days.
Still, if you’re going to go deep, definitely understand that creating an in-depth course could take you months or even years.
If you’re looking to test the waters, you can also “validate” your work by releasing content at a steady pace.
This is different from going all in and works as a good way to determine if there’s a market while you go about your normal pace.
Fortunately, this isn’t an overly hard process if you go about it correctly, as you’ll see in this guide.
Just understand that more content will take you more time and effort, but fortunately, once it’s done, your content will be available on the internet for people to use without almost any need to upkeep.
10 Step Guide on How to Develop Online Training Websites
Step One: Select a Topic Your Students Want to Learn About
The first thing you should consider is profitability. While you may not be doing this to get rich, it will be almost pointless to create an online course that only piques the interest of four or five students.
Select a course that you’re interested in and know well. It’s also a good idea to consult Google to determine if people are searching for the topic you’re teaching.
Gauge your experience level. Do you have enough experience to teach about the subject matter?
Is there enough of an audience to make the whole project worthwhile?
What are your potential students struggling with? Why do they need your particular course to learn?
Are you providing them with a useful solution?
What makes your course unique and well-suited to the needs of your potential students?
You should also consider a topic that will remain viable for the longest period. Ideally, you’ll want students coming to your course for answers and education years after you’ve created it.
Remember, when creating a topic, look for one that not only serves your students but serves you as well.
With this kind of synchronicity, you’ll have a topic that is bound to bring in students.
Steps to Take:
- Find a topic that deeply interests you
- Determine if you have educated people about the topic before
- Identify pain points for potential students who are looking to learn
- Determine how your class can provide a solution
Step Two: Research Your Topic Thoroughly
While you may understand your chosen topic, you’ll still need to do research to truly be an expert that has the capacity to teach.
While you may feel like you have adequate knowledge, you’ll be surprised at how many online teachers enter the world of online courses without up-to-date knowledge.
Is there enough demand for you to create a course? What kind of issue are you trying to solve? What types of people are looking for education about your selected topic?
All of these are important questions to ask, and each will require thorough research.
Tools like Facebook, Google, Youtube, Quora, and even other online learning platforms are good tools to identify specific course-related needs.
This will also help you determine how the audience typically consumes content like yours and what demographic typically is looking for the type, of course, you’re creating.
Once again, identifying specific customer pain points is absolutely critical! Find out where your students are struggling and incorporate a potential solution into your course.
Steps to Take:
- Identify the demand level for your topic
- Determine who your customers are
- Complete research on the topic to shore up any weaknesses
- Clearly identify what problem your coursework will solve
Step Three: Establish Firm Goals
Once you’ve established your audience and any pain points, now’s the time to create a series of goals that you’ll need to adhere to.
What precisely are you aiming for? What are you trying to achieve with this course? When developing a new course, it’s a good idea to think of it as a business.
You need to set a series of revenue goals, what audience segments you’ll be trying to reach, and plans for educating that audience.
The first goal is simple; any venture depends on revenue, so figure how much you’ll need to make with this course. To start, think about your yearly income from the course and recurring monthly income.
This will help you figure out a price for your online courses.
When it comes to reach, you’ll want to come up with goals that are based on traffic, active subs, your course’s followers, heat mapping, and how well you are converting.
The first question you should ask yourself is, “How many people will I ideally reach?”
Can you realistically expect to reach 1,000 students or higher? How are you planning on drawing these customers to your course?
There are several tools that you can use.
For example, you may opt to use an email list or a social media following.
You can even try contests and free course giveaways to drum up buzz, which can lead to new students.
The last goal you’ll need to take into account is educating your students. These can be considered customer goals, and they are critical for anyone looking to teach.
What will your learning outcomes look like? How will you create a follow-up for the course? How will you measure your student’s success?
These are all important factors to take into account.
Steps to Take:
- Establish firm revenue goals
- Establish goals insofar as how many students you’ll be actively reaching
- Establish goals that clearly state what you’ll be endeavoring to teach each student
- Establish goals to create follow-up materials for future learning opportunities
Step Four: Create a Lesson Plan
The structure is critical because students in a haphazard course will either cancel or won’t follow up for additional courses.
You don’t have to go into great detail at this stage and create the lessons themselves, but you should get a firm idea about what the course will look like.
This way, when it does come time to record, you’ll already have a plan.
Compose a list of all your ideas and consider how long you’ll need to implement them.
Is a three-week course period going to be enough? How long will each lesson take? Which lessons will be presented in each part of the course?
You can use mindmap software or a simple notebook to try and develop a general lesson plan for your online course.
As a rule, establish the whys, hows, and whats so that you have a clear understanding of what needs to be done each lesson. As I mentioned, this is fairly generalized, but it’s a critical step that can take days to complete.
Steps to Take:
- Establish topics covered in the beginning, middle, and end of the course
- Ask yourself how many lessons the course needs
- Establish a flow so that students are educated but aren’t bored by the process
- Establish if you’ll need supplementary information
- Establish learning outcomes for each lesson
Step Five: Decide What Success Looks Like
This goes hand-in-hand with the research phase. At this point, you should be ready to make content, but before you go all-in, it’s a great idea to test the waters so that you avoid spending a lot of time on a course that no one will buy.
Craft a sales page that outlines the course’s features and see how well it performs with potential customers.
It’s a good idea to explain to the customer why they need your course and your unique teaching method.
Next, using marketing techniques like email marketing or social media to drive your ideal customer to your page and attempt to get them to preorder or sign up for a waiting list.
Ideally, you’ll want them to make some kind of purchase or at least leave information that you can use for future marketing.
Finally, collect and analyze any data so that you can gauge interest and see what success might look like if you go all in.
Steps to Take:
- Establish what a successful course will look like
- Find out how much money will you need for marketing
- Establish the number of people that will need to commit before you go all-in
Step Six: Select the Right Format for Your Audience
There are several formats that you can use to teach students using the best online course platforms. Here are a few to consider:
Master Class: This is closest to a traditional lecture. In a master class, you simply provide students with info that they may review on their own time.
Corporate Training: This format is for professionals, and it focuses on delivering key information for a team of employees.
Mini Online Course: Some online teachers craft bite-sized lessons that may take mere hours to complete. This format is useful for testing the waters or for someone that has a wider-reaching knowledge level.
Face to Face: This is a more direct style of online course where you directly interact with your students using video conferencing.
Flipped: This starts with you primarily giving lectures in the first quarter. The remaining portion of the course, you’ll be interacting with students directly to cover the more difficult parts of the coursework.
MOOC: This is a massive open online course. In a MOOC, learning is fostered in a peer-to-peer environment with a much larger class size than most other formats. This is most similar to a university classroom.
Step Seven: Find the Right Online Teaching Platforms
There are a plethora of online course platforms to choose from, so this step will require extensive due diligence.
So, how long should this step take? It depends on whether you find a platform that fits your teaching style quickly or after extensive testing.
My suggestion is to spend at least 10 minutes on each platform so that you can quickly ascertain its strengths and weaknesses.
If a platform interests you, spend more time getting to know it.
Step Eight: It’s Time to Make the Content!
Now is the time to use your experience/research, but before you start, establish the type of content you’re going to create.
Some online courses are entirely made up of slides, while others use video or audio conferencing to teach.
Each type requires content creation, but before you start creating, audit your materials to better understand what will go where when the course begins.
Audits often help you get your thoughts organized so that it’s easy to create content based on your notes alone.
Establish the type of content you’ll be using, the theme covered in each class, and any supplementary notes you’ll be using.
It doesn’t have to be complex; you just need to create a clear plan for each piece of content you’ll use for your course.
Here’s a look at each type that you may be using:
Video Conferencing: These days, video conferencing is common. Online teaching platforms usually have video software that will allow your students to see you lecturing in front of the camera. You can also use this to show students how to perform course-related activities.
Audio Conferencing: Some teachers merely use audio conferencing to guide their students. This is also useful for guided meditations and audio transcriptions.
Quizzes and Surveys: These are important for creating a classroom-like experience. Several third-party software solutions allow for quizzes and surveys, and many platforms like Udemy free courses have software for this built-in.
Slides: Also known as decks, slides provide visual information for your students. These slides also can have text on them to help guild learning.
Workbooks or PDFs: Creating one of these will help provide students with text to follow as they work through your course.
Step Nine: Upload and Set a Price
Each of the online learning platforms has a relatively easy process for uploading content. Here are a few links for the major platforms:
Once uploaded, you’ll need to set a price for your classes. Fortunately, this price is variable and allows you to set up deals for students if you want.
Remember, never undersell your expertise; you’re a teacher with a lot to offer, so price appropriately! That being said, also make sure that your price isn’t too high that it will drive away early students.
Remember, early testimonials are critical for gaining new students down the line, so this step may be something of a balancing act.
Step Ten: Test, Launch, and Market Your Content
Before uploading, test your course with beta testers. These testers can serve as the litmus test that will help you establish how much success to expect.
The testers will also give feedback so that you’re 100 percent sure that you’re delivering on the course’s stated goals.
These initial students also can provide the all-important testimonials that will help your classes grow.
After the test, it’s time to launch, which is a fairly simple process.
Once the launch is complete, market your classes on social media, email, Google, or any platform that will bring in more students.
Don’t be afraid to use testimonials so that future students know what to expect from your course.
Steps to Take:
- Establish a test class and determine a preset sizing for this class
- Use the test class to develop better classes
- Use the testers to establish better pricing
- Launch the class
- Market it for future students
Did you enjoy this tutorial on how to create an online course? This is a very important guide for me since I am very interested in the world of online learning, especially in the days of the pandemic.
Please feel free to comment below and share this article with friends that are looking to create their own online classes!