New online courses are popping up on the top online platforms every day, so how can you make this work for you?
I am a big proponent of online learning; as you may have noticed from my previous articles, I am fascinated by the opportunities these courses can provide for everyday people who have something to teach.

Before you start your course, it’s a great idea to validate it first.

This will help you discover if the course is viable enough in a competitive market, and it will also help you determine what topics to cover in your courses.

Learning how to validate an idea for an online course is simply the most critical part of the process, which is why I opted to create this step-by-step guide so that you understand precisely where to begin.

7 Step Guide on How to Validate Your Online Course

Step One: Develop a Niche that Your Students Will Love

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No matter how much of an expert you are about a topic, it should still be developed into a niche that’s easily digestible by your students. As a rule, there are a few distinct niches that most online courses fall into:

  • Fashion
  • Relationships
  • Spirituality
  • Education
  • Lifestyle
  • Health
  • Wealth

Similarly to how you need a niche to create a powerful and successful website, you need one for your online courses as well.

When trying to sell online courses from your website, pick a topic that you love but understand that this is just the first, most simple step.

The topic of your courses should be something that is needed by the world at large, that you understand deeply, and that you can monetize.

Steps to Take:

  • Establish a nice that you understand
  • Determine your level of knowledge about your niche
  • Evaluate how much the niche is needed by the world

Step Two: Determine Your Level of Expertise

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We all like to think we’re the authority on a topic, but it’s a good idea to think about your level of expertise before creating an online course.

If you’re an expert, it will always be a good idea to teach others about your topic, but if you’re not fully at the expert level, this doesn’t preclude you from being a teacher.

Does the high school history teacher have to have a doctorate in history? Of course not, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do the appropriate research when you want to teach.

As an expert, you probably already have an audience that you can leverage.

This is a great advantage because you can use your daily readers as your first wave of students.

You can even use your blog content as the basis for a course where you really get into the nitty-gritty of your favorite topic.

If this is the case, prepare a list of topics that you’ll cover in your coursework.

If you’re not an expert, this just means that you’ll have to work a little harder to provide course content.

Before you create an online training course, simply establish the knowledge level of the average person looking for a class like yours and attempt to teach them more.

For example, if your course is about content writing, ask yourself, “What are techniques that the average writer is having issues with?” When you research this, you can easily build a curriculum that neophyte writers can use.

Steps to Take:

  • Take a deep look at your niche topic
  • Are you an expert? Figure what knowledge you have to offer students
  • If not an expert, determine student needs and create a class that helps bring users to the next level

Step Three: Develop Course Ideas that Others Need

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Your course HAS to fulfill a deep need in order to be successful. You need to establish what needs your course fulfills before even settling on a topic. A good way to do this is to ask your audience ahead of time. How do you do this?

First, if you have an existing audience base that visits your blog or social media groups, use those channels to establish a need.

Email marketing is also a great way to reach out and ask your audience.

Additionally, spending money on Facebook or Google Ads is a great way to determine what your potential students are looking for.

What articles are your daily visitors reading the most? Use heat mapping data to create topics that you can visit in your online courses.

Additionally, online course platforms, like Teachable online courses, frequently publish info about their most popular classes.

If these intersect with your niche, use that data to create a finer-tuned class for your students.

Google is also a great resource for determining the demand level of potential students.

Several online tools will help you determine precisely what people are Googling, which are determined using the company’s API.

Keywords with good search volume indicate a clear and present need.

Finally, for this step, use Google Trends. Google Trends will tell you how relevant your course topic will be.

For example, some topics are more popular during certain times of the year. Sometimes, things we think are more popular are showing signs of decline.

Google Trends analyzes this and provides graphs that can help you determine your course’s viability.

Steps to Take:

  • Use existing customers to research what classes people are looking for
  • Gather data to help fine-tune your knowledge about market demand
  • Perform keyword research and use Google Trends to identify a demand for things to create and sell
  • Browse internet forums to identify pain points around your topic
  • Take a look at trends around the topic

Step Four: Find a Compelling Angle and Compete

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Where does your course shine, and how will it make your students better writers?

It’s a good idea to fine-tune your topic for a specific audience.

This way, it’ll be more compelling. Instead of generic content creation, make your topic about content creation for a specific niche.

This will draw more specialized students to your course.

Try your best to provide something unavailable from similar courses.

If there are a wide variety of courses in a single niche, this isn’t a reason to get depressed; it simply means that there’s a market.

Take a look at the competition. What are they offering? What opportunities are they missing? Where can you shore up some of the vulnerabilities in your course? What’s the average quality level of similar courses?

In my opinion, it’s a good idea to take the courses of your competitors; this way, you have in-depth knowledge of what they missed in their courses.

You can then market the missing information in your course.

Also, you can find out what reviewers who took the course say was missing.

Steps to Take:

  • Fine-tune your topic so that it’s more compelling for students
  • Find out what the competition is missing in their course material

Step Five: Find Your Market

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As part of the validation process, it’s a good idea to determine if people are spending their own hard-earned money on courses like yours.

How well are courses like your proposed courses selling?

How many methods are out there for students to learn outside of teachable online courses?

Are there consultants who specialize in the niche? How expensive are these for the average consumer?

Are there other tools that a consumer might use to become educated about a topic, such as a mobile application?

All of these will tell you if people are willing to pay cash to learn about a topic.

You can also do things like perform surveys of your existing audience to determine if they would be interested in a full-blown class about your niche.

Additionally, create a diagram of your ideal customer. What sites (outside of yours) are they visiting? How can a course like yours help them? What might they expect from a course? What formats work best for them?

Steps to Take:

  • Ask yourself where people are spending their money
  • Seek demographic information about your ideal student

Step Six: Find Your MVP

No, I’m not talking about your most valuable player; I’m talking about the minimum viable product for your course.

This is the base-level product that will sell to your ideal audience. You can consider this a sort of mini-course that will let you test the waters before you dive in.

Forget the bells and whistles of a traditional course; your MVP can be a simplified course that provides some sort of needed information.

How viable was it? Was there a keen interest? What are the reviews saying?

Once you’ve gathered this data, it’ll help you establish the factors and features you’ll need in your main course.

Even if it fails, you’ll have some detailed data to use later on.

Perhaps most valuable, you will not have put a major investment into the MVP, which means that you can prevent a major loss.

Step Seven: Establish a Firm End to the Course

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Finally, create an endgame. Creating the course isn’t the end; you have to understand that you’ll need to effectively market your course.

Key points of information will be established.

What online course platform you’ll be using? How are you going to upsell? Where are you going to market the class?

Final Thoughts

Did you enjoy this tutorial on how to validate your online course? This step is critical since I understand how easy it is to create online course material that doesn’t reach its ideal audience numbers.

Please comment below and share the article with friends who are looking to learn how to validate an idea for an online course of their own!

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