If you’ve been on the fence about monetizing your expertise and ready to pull the trigger on it the next question becomes how to create an online course?.
You are at the right place. The E-Learning industry is expanding drastically, and the pandemic has added further to the growth of the industry since the past year. It is estimated the self-paced e-learning industry in North America alone generated around 21.61 billion U.S dollars in the year 2018.
Now, this is a huge number truly advocating the soaring growth of the e-learning industry across the globe. As the industry is growing, so is the number of course creators, and today in this article, you’ll learn how to create an online course. Keep reading.
Apart from this, you’ll learn about the types of online courses, mistakes to avoid, and how to create an online course outline. So, without further delay, let’s get started and get to know all the necessary information needed to create online courses, accompanied by a step-by-step guide on how to create an online course.
Creating online courses and selling them effectively is a serious business. Before you start working on an online course, you should consider looking at the types of online courses which are mentioned below as this is going to help you understand your options better and which type of online course will suit you and your audience’s requirements and preferences.
Assessment Courses evaluate the students’ ability and caliber through assessment activities like quizzes, polls, questionnaires, exercises, and self-analytic questions. These types of courses focus on testing skills of current and potential students, which can be appealing for new students as they’re getting a chance for self-evaluation and building up a better understanding of their knowledge and skills.
Asynchronous Courses are the type of online courses offering the flexibility of learning from different places and at different time zones without any live interactions between the course provider and the students. This type of online course is appealing to the students as they can take these courses from the ease of their houses at any place in the world and at any time.
Presell courses generate cash flow from potential students while you’re in the process of developing the course. The sale of such courses can be started anytime before the official launch of the course. Effective marketing strategy can bring a significant amount of customers before the launch and help you generate sufficient funds needed for the development of the course.
Adaptive Courses are a new and ingenious type of online learning courses as these courses make it possible to redesign and adapt the online course according to the subjective requirements of each individual taking that course.
This type of online learning takes a lot of factors into consideration, such as student goals, performance, skills, and characteristics. Thus, making these types of online courses more student-centered.
Mini-Courses are basically like teasers for detailed courses. Such types of courses include an overall summary of the finished course offered by the instructor. Mini-Courses are created to provide an overview and persuade people to enroll in the full course.
These have a short duration and provide potential students with the credibility of the quality of the course and also allows them to assess if the course is best suited to their needs before investing in the full course.
These types of online courses are prevalent in the online course market. The word fixed is self-explanatory and highlights the characteristics of such courses, which means the content in these courses remains the same, and a uniform set of information is delivered to each person taking the course. Hence, it’s the opposite of adaptive learning and more like generalized learning.
This type of learning has been utilized in the conventional teaching system for decades now, and it is also the most commonly available as well as the affordable type of online learning courses present across the internet. However, adaptive learning courses lead to a better learning curve and goal achievement than fixed courses.
These types of online courses depend on real-time scheduled live sessions in which the enrolled students are taught via live sessions, and you can’t download the videos and watch them at a later time. Moreover, these types of courses involve live interaction and answering queries of the students in real-time during the live session.
The live sessions can also include some activities like quizzes, questionnaires, and discussions. Some people offer downloadable material like presentations with such courses.
Interactive courses incorporate the concept of two-way communication throughout the course, which means there is not only information reaching out to the students by the teacher but, the teacher is also receiving relevant feedback and queries from the students that help the teacher solve problems and clear concepts of students.
In interactive courses, students have the opportunity to make changes to their courses according to their skills and learning objectives by collaborating with the teacher.
This is the reason why such types of online courses are more popular because people get to learn in an interactive environment, which enhances and improves their skillset as the communication between the teacher and student doesn’t have any barriers.
Expert or more commonly known as professional training courses, are the types of online courses which provide knowledge and proper training to enhance the skill set of people taking the courses and giving them a competitive edge in a particular field. These courses are more technical and hold comprehensive information about the subject so that students have a better insight and understanding of what they’re learning which consequently, leads to their expertise in the subject or field.
These types of online courses also teach individuals how to set relevant goals and achieve them using their knowledge and skills attained throughout the course. Therefore, you can refer to such courses as comprehensive professional skill development and training courses.
Collaborative learning courses have more of a contemporary approach to online learning. These types of online courses let the students work together in a group to achieve their learning objectives.
These types of courses focus on learning from each other and also teaching the students; how to work in a team and utilize the strengths of members to achieve goals and objectives. Along with strengthening teamwork and abilities, the collaborative courses also improve the communication and people evaluation skills of the students.
However, this type of online learning approach is still relatively new to E-learning; hence, you won’t see many courses available online, but this approach is the future of online learning.
Niche courses focus on a specific topic in one course, and everything being taught and all of the information is related to that particular topic or niche. Course creators also sell multiple niche courses in bundles for better sales.
Niche courses don’t teach students multiple skills; instead, they prioritize one particular skill related to a specific field. Such courses are designed for people; who are sure about the skill they want to learn as well as the field. However, it isn’t for someone looking to learn a diverse set of skills in different fields.
Other types of online courses may or may not include a complimentary certificate, but certification courses are specially designed to provide a formal certificate of learning and possessing certain skills by the end of the course. Students take these courses to provide evidence and credibility of their skills to an employer or any organization they wish to work for.
Drip feed courses are those courses that involve a predetermined date and timing to drop the next section or part of the course. This means the content related to the course will be made available one after another within a certain time frame; for example, you create a five-week course, and you want it to go on for five weeks straight instead of giving access to all of the information at once.
So you’ll drop the course content slowly and gradually on predetermined dates. These types of courses create a decorum and slow learning process for the students so that they can gradually grasp all of the information and knowledge provided in the course.
Hybrid Courses are a type of online course that also includes a couple or more on-site classes making it a hybrid learning environment where students utilize both conventional teaching methods and modern online learning too.
Conceptual change courses have a different yet unique approach to teaching. These types of courses use storytelling as a way to convey information related to the topic. Furthermore, such courses don’t focus on teaching or polishing a skill but on changing and improving the thinking of the students enrolled in the course.
Moving on, conceptual courses don’t have a standard pattern or predetermined value of the content to be included in the courses. The quantity of the content is random in such courses; for example, there can be a couple of eBooks, some videos, and exercises inside the course.
Because these courses focus less on the quantity of content and more on the quality and how thought-provoking the content of the course is, thus, these courses can be recognized as intellectual and mentality-changing courses.
Workshop and Demonstration based online courses include several videos in which the teacher demonstrates the skills to students.
You can think of these types of courses as more practical and easy to understand because you can see how it is done rather than just verbally getting to know about the subject or topic you’re taking the course for.
Workshop and Demonstration based courses are usually prepared for the art field as it becomes easier for students to interpret the skills and tricks through observation of the demonstration by the teacher.
Traditional Academic courses taught in colleges and universities have a set pattern and standard outline to the course that includes an introduction followed by a series of chapters explaining different topics and aspects of the subject.
A similar approach is used in the online courses created using this method. Plus, like the conventional academic courses, these online courses also have several small tests and quizzes along with a discussion about the objectives that have to be achieved at the end of each section.
The invited talk courses are similar to podcasts as these types of courses not only include the learning content by the teacher but, guests are invited to talk about different subjects and aspects of skill being taught.
These are usually the people with experience and expertise relevant to the course. A detailed insight is provided to the students about the field, subject, or skill by these guests, which ultimately helps them to learn and implement better.
Day challenge courses are prepared to challenge the ability and test the knowledge of students throughout the course. The teacher sets some targets and assigns some tasks to the students on alternate days during the course, which are later added as the achievements for the participating students.
The idea of such courses is to boost confidence, allow students to take challenges, test their knowledge, and become good at achieving objectives, and judge their overall performance.
Orientation courses are more like an overview of the number of total courses offered by an instructor. These courses direct potential students towards the academy or website, where you have a bunch of different courses on distinct subjects and skills.
Orientation courses are best for increasing student engagement and directing them to the already published courses, and it becomes a good way to boost sales.
Bonus Courses are complementary courses that come with regular courses offered by the instructor.
Usually, these bonus courses are short courses offering additional content and resources to the primary course. Mostly, these courses have exclusive interviews or other exclusive content in the form of a downloadable pdf.
Earning through teaching a skill online is a good option, but some instructors go out of the way and design such courses that lead to the sales of any other digital good or service they’re offering. Furthermore, such types of courses can also be used to provide access to certain digital goods offered by the creator.
There are many different ways to create online courses, but if you’re looking for a step-by-step guide for creating an online course then, I have curated a detailed guide with all the steps and instructions to make it easy and efficient for you to prepare an online course.
Okay, first things first, it’s essential to brainstorm and choose the right topic tocreate an online course. Along with this, you have to do some market research and see if there is enough demand for the topic you chose.
Well, it might be possible that the topic you chose does not have significant demand. So for the safe side, choose around 3-5 potential topics for your course and select the one with greater demand from all of the others.
Apart from this, when you’re considering a topic for the online course, make sure it’s giving out quality information and solving the problems of the students. If not that, the course must be teaching a skill to the students.
Now, by this, I don’t mean that you start teaching a topic that you don’t enjoy teaching because this is just going to decrease the quality of the overall product and won’t be effective and impactful for the students at all. Hence, choose a topic that others want to learn and which you also enjoy teaching.
After you’ve chosen a profitable and quality topic, the next step is to carry out extensive and thorough research about it. Learn about the topic, fill in the gaps of your knowledge about the topic, and understand it fully so that when you’re teaching or recording for your online course, you’ll be sure about the authenticity and relevance of the information.
Moreover, research helps to stay up to date with your information as people aren’t looking for obsolete content. Lastly, this research also contributes towards answering the questions of the students with more context.
If you’re up for taking advice then, I suggest you jot down all the important things in a journal which includes the ideas to include in the course, the relevant information to include, what developments have been made about the topic in recent years, what are the possible subtopics, and the list goes on till you feel the research is complete and you’ve all the necessary information and data to required for the course.
Some of the best-selling courses have been created fast. The experienced trainers or educators created them from scratch by repurposing old content.
The easiest way to come up with course content is to use what you already know. Think if a method, process or technique that you already use with your in-person students, your workshops, your clients or within your business.
Something that is already valuable will be the quickest win.
You’re looking for something that transforms (takes a person from point A to point B)
Point A: I don’t know this or have this skill
Point B: I now grasped it and can use it immediately
Here’s a list of ideas that might save you tons of time
- Videos or Audio files (Screencasts, past workshops, webinars, podcasts or training)
- Ebooks, PDFs or blog posts
- Presentations, powerpoints or Slides
- Quizzes or surveys
- HTML5 or SCORM
To create an online course, the next step is to create a draft of your course’s curriculum. Take a paper and pen and start writing the course lessons one by one in the right order. This outline will include the number of overall lectures in the course, sections, subtopics, and what will be discussed in each lecture.
Plus, you can write about any additional resources you’d like to add to the course. Make sure you create an outline that makes sense to the people taking the course, and also, the flow of information should be from the basics to the advanced level. Don’t deliver the information in an unorganized and unnatural manner. For further clarity, there is an example outline of an online course below:
- Introduction of the instructor and qualification
- Objectives and Learning Outcomes
- Introduction to the topic
- MODULE #1: SEO and keyword research
- Objective: Learning What is SEO and keyword research and how it works
- What are SEO and its background
- What are keyword research and its background
- Importance of SEO and keyword research
- The process of SEO and keyword research
- Activities and exercises
- Tests and assessments for module #1
This is just an example for one lecture or module; you can add more depending on the number of subtopics and overall content for the course.
The fifth and most important step is to start creating the content. This means you need to start gathering the necessary equipment for the video content. To help you out, I’ve listed what equipment is required and how to create an online course video below:
Before discussing the process of creating an online course video, let’s look at the equipment required for the process.
You will need a decent camera. This could be a webcam, professional DSLR camera or the one on your phone. As long as it produces good quality video that is enough.
For those that will be using a camera or a phone. You want a good angle and a stable surface.
These days any of these are powerful enough to film or edit. Don’t overthink it.
One of the key quality components of a course is the audio. Students need to be able to hear you loud and clear. I’ve noticed that a course with bad video and good audio do fine when marketing them but ones with bad audio always fail.
- Blue Yeti USB Microphone
- Lapel Microphone
- Samson Q2U Handheld
Think in terms of a green screen or an accent wall. Depending on where you’re going to film the wall behind you might not be the best fit for your course.
The most important factor when it comes to video quality. A ring light might be enough for a phone but you can get fairly professional lighting kits cheap now on the web.
You will need video recording, image creation and presentation software, like Camtasia, Photoshop, Screencast-O-Matic, Audacity, Filmora, Adobe Premiere.
Our favorite tools can be found here.
After gathering all of the required equipment for video recording, the next step is to move to the process of creating the videos.
Content creation is faster when you follow a plan. Most of overwhelm occurs because we choose to take on too much instead of breaking things down into separate parts.
- Pre-production (1 week)
- Writing (2-6 weeks)
- Recording (2 weeks to 2 months)
- Post-production (1 week)
It’s important to first plan the content and then script the video so you know what to talk about and how, as this will maintain an organized and clear thought process so that there is a proper flow of content and continuity in the video lessons.
The next step is to set up the equipment and start filming the video. Make sure the camera is mounted tightly on the tripod and the mic is placed at an adequate distance. Moreover, do check if the lighting of the space is good or not, as lighting plays a vital role in a video’s quality.
To create good quality videos, you need to have confidence when talking to the camera, and presentation skills are highly important. It’s okay if the first few takes are not good and you seem uncomfortable in front of the camera because, at first, no one is comfortable in front of the camera. So, it’ll take a few takes to get a hold of it.
The last step of creating an online course video is editing. Because even if you’re super confident and have excellent presentation skills, you might take a pause somewhere while filming the video or stutter, so you need to edit out those parts. Plus, you can add additional video effects like animations, voice-overs, and other things to scale up the quality and engagement rate of the video.
Lastly, make sure to create assessments and tests for the students enrolling in the course and compile them in pdf files so that it is easy for you to upload, as well as more accessible and quick for the students to download the material.
This area of creating an online course is all about selling the digital product you developed. So, it’s essential to look for a good platform that has a considerable amount of audience, which will be interested in your course.
After that, sign up with the platform, and pay the platform fee or commission and publish the course. If you don’t want to go this way then, you can create or pay someone to make a website for you, and you can sell this and future courses on the website.
Here are the 17 best online course platforms and marketplaces as handpicked by us. We update these every quarter.
If you choose a platform to upload your course then, you won’t have to worry about the sales and promotion that much, just a small amount of marketing will do the job, and you’ll earn through the platform as there are already potential students present on such platforms to purchase the courses.
However, you’ll have to give a proportion of sales to the platform as commission. On the other hand, if you host an individual website then, you can either directly sell through it or rent the course for a set duration.
Nonetheless, marketing and promotion for a private website will be more work, and you’ll have to go out of the way to promote your course like marketing on social media apps, one on one sales conversations, promotional presell emails, offering free coaching for some time, and utilizing services like google ads, Facebook or Instagram.
To become a successful course seller, you’ve to do more than just selling one-time courses. Nurturing a whole community of learners will create a healthy network for your future courses and build up a remarkable brand image and credibility for you as an instructor + seller.
When it comes to the amount of money earned through selling online courses, you have to consider a lot of factors such as the level of demand for the topic you’re teaching, the effectiveness of your overall marketing strategy to make maximum sales, and the quality of content provided in the course.
Still, if you want to know a rough estimate then, you can expect around $1000-$5000/per month. Nevertheless, there are such people as well who earn $50,000+ from their online courses each month.
Click here to see what a typical year of course sales looks like.
The rule of thumb here is that your course should be 10% of the value of the transformation. This is very easy to do for ones that help make money or get clients.
Example: I help you get an additional 10k per year in your business. Course price – $1000
You’re also looking at where this falls in your business.
Is it an entry level product: $10-200
Is it a mid-tier product: $200-900
Is it a high end product: $900+
Pre-Enrollment – While the course is being built
Coming Soon – Gives a sneak peek to your potential students. You might even give away the first module or have that on sale.
Free – Often used as a lead magnet.
Paid – Students can now buy it
Feedback is extremely important for any online course creator to succeed not only from the initial testers of the course but also after the final product has been published and exposed to a larger audience. This feedback by the students and people purchasing the course is a valuable asset that helps you understand your weak points for improvements and understand the strong points to keep hold off.
Price is a huge factor in determining the success of any product, whether digital or physical. If you’ve overpriced your online course and you expect the sales to soar then, I’m sorry you’ll be disappointed.
Whereas, if you underprice it, you might earn high revenue, but the profit will be low. Now, this overpricing and underpricing take place because of inadequate research on the pricing of the online course.
Hence, a better approach to avoid this mistake is to research competitor prices, evaluating the overall content quality of the course because if the information is scarce and a quality insight provided then, it’s understandable to charge a little high but not more than the market competitors.
The attention spans are low nowadays, and students tend to zone out quite quickly, so expecting someone to watch 1 hour or even 30 minutes long video is a grave mistake. Thus, you need to focus on creating videos of a maximum duration of 20 minutes and focus on including important information only. These videos can be broken down into different video formats, for example:
- 0-5 minutes: brief information and introductions
- 5-10 minutes: explaining a part or section of an entire subtopic
- 10-20 minutes: detailed, comprehensive videos discussing entire sub-topics
Before wrapping up this article, “how to create an online course“, let’s address two important factors contributing to the success of a prosperous online course selling business. Firstly, you have to stay motivated at all costs, and you must have faith in the efforts you put into the creation of the course as motivation is the driving force without that, you won’t be able to effectively promote or market your course.
Plus, an unmotivated person cannot create a valuable digital product such as an online course. Secondly, make sure you do extensive research, use tons of resources, talk to experts and mentors so that the course is a quality product for people and they find it interesting and helpful.
However, if you create a course with outdated information and add broken sources to the data then, it’ll be hard for students to find it worth purchasing as it won’t provide value and resolve their problems.
How to Create a Course that is Engaging and Interactive
Most of us have been used to mentally separating games and learning since childhood. Education is often thought of as an impossible-to-enjoy chore. This notion is reinforced by obsolete high school and college curricula, as well as lecturers who believe that loving your studies is virtually illegal. It isn’t significant enough if it isn’t dull.
Nevertheless, this position is being contested, particularly via the notion of gamification, which is incorporating game features (obstacles, competitiveness, scoreboards, and prizes, to mention a few) into the learning process. This method assures high levels of engagement, engagement, and engagement; information perception rates are said to have increased by 9%. Not to mention the fact that schooling that is both enjoyable and beneficial is considerably more appealing.
All of this implies that gamification is the way to go if you want to create a really adaptable online course, and we’ll show you how to do it in this post.
The principle of progress monitoring is straightforward. Even though the accomplishments in the issue are tiny, most individuals feel motivated when they are recognized for them. Students in traditional learning contexts, on the other hand, do not just live in solitude; they also do not realize the extent to which they have grasped the content until tests. You can help your students monitor their progress and observe how they’re getting closer to their objective by including a simple progress-tracking module in your course.
Most video games are designed to have a steady increase in difficulty and a smooth learning curve. This implies that progressing is always a little difficult, but not to the point of becoming disillusioned or frustrated. You may use the same idea by beginning your course with a basic subject and a quiz to cover it, which the vast majority of students will be able to handle very easily.
This will enhance the morale of all course participants, allowing them to believe in their potential to master more challenging subjects in the future. Later portions of the course should be built around the new skills your students have mastered.
Achieving a goal is energizing. The notion of social sharing states that sharing your accomplishments with others is much more motivating. Allowing everyone to see the outcomes they’ve previously accomplished instills confidence in learners and, more importantly, builds anticipation in both themselves and others who’ve read their posts.
If they begin a course, they are expected to complete it; otherwise, they will no longer be able to feel as happy. Existing social shares effectively prod them forward, encouraging them to keep going and work more. The extra advantage for you as the course designer is that each sharing generates more word-of-mouth promotion for your course.
You should take notice of the fact that most video games employ the concept of earning a progression of ever-increasing prizes and leveling up in some way. You may give your students points for completing certain modules, tasks, and mini-courses. They might be merely ornamental or totally useful.
You might, for example, allow them to swap them for access to more advanced content or stages of the course. You may include a scoreboard highlighting your most active and successful learners to add a competitive element to the whole affair, inspiring runner-ups to strive harder.
One of the fundamental issues that each online content developer has is deciding whether to drip-feed his information over time (i.e., one module per week) or to give learners complete access to the complete course all at once. The third option that is too gamify your course to make it even more engaging.
You may provide access to more advanced portions of the course depending on how well each student completes the course’s components. Someone who is more attentive or has more spare time will be able to complete all of the courses quickly, but most will be likely to access time and continue at their speed.
When students are compensated either theoretically or empirically, they adhere to suitable actions.
Students will exhibit increased interest in and engagement in the duties, duties, and learning that occur in the classroom daily.
Students are motivated to be more successful by rewards because they give them a sense of pride and accomplishment. It makes you glad to be accomplished.
Each success story inspires pupils to be more self-assured. They are both proud and motivated to accomplish another great outcome.
According to the National Association of School Psychologists, incentive schemes may help pupils finish their assignments. Surprisingly, kids don’t finish it if there aren’t any incentives.
Students are encouraged and supported when they are rewarded for their efforts in school. They result in better student results.
Also courses with certifications of completions tend to sell better.
Students tend to benefit from constructive online quizzes in terms of engaging with course content and providing feedback on their grasp of a subject. They may assist pupils in organizing their study time by offering suggestions on areas where they are having trouble.
You can boldly evaluate and enhance the functioning of your e-learning programs when you gain genuine feedback from students on online courses. You’ll need the right kind of feedback, though. Feedback tools can elicit meaningless data because they ask incorrect questions.
Good feedback provides you with the information you need to enhance your courses and build a case for engaging experienced instructional designers to create them. You may also assess if your current teachers and learning technologies are enough. You also have a better understanding of your students’ issues, preferences, and requirements.
You showcase your learner-centric purpose by consistently asking for their input: to provide training that makes a change in the student’s life that helps them accomplish their professional objectives.
In the end, I’ll like to say that every business is hard, whether selling an online course, owning a supermarket, or a huge company. In the same way, every business needs investment both of time and money, but the most important thing is to have faith and not give up on your goals.
Marketing trouble often boils down to the wrong strategy and not enough experienced. It’s simply one too many hats to wear for a course creator. Apart from teaching, support, tech work and everything else required… this skill requires someone’s full attention to get right.
If the marketing strategy doesn’t work then, try some other form of promotional strategy and you can always hire someone like us to market your online course for you.; if you don’t have adequate equipment to record then, look for rentals. No matter what, look for options but don’t give up.
It’s realistic to expect a bit low sales at the start because you’re just starting; however, with time, higher sales and profit will start to pump in as people will realize the worth of your online course and its contribution to solving their problems or teaching them a valuable skill.
Social proof, case studies and testimonials go a long way.
I hope this guide was helpful for you, and that it gave you a quick breakdown and saved you some time in your course creation.