The Ultimate Guide To Creating Your Online Course

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This is exactly what I was looking for! She covers it all. This is a must read for anyone considering creating an online course. Plus, her Teachable tutorial was super helpful.

Have you taken an online course?
 
I am what you may call an online course junkie. I seriously love taking online courses and it turns out that I love creating them too!
 
Online courses have changed the way people take in information and learn new things. People are looking for a straight path to solve their problems and an online course is a neat little package that can help them reach their goals fast. 
 
You have your own unique experiences and visions that can be shared with people and monetized at the same time. An online course is also a reusable asset since it is an e-product that you can sell over and over again. Once you’ve created it is a resource that can continue to bring in revenue, even when you aren’t working. 
 
The good news is you don’t even have to be an expert at coding, building websites or even on the course topic. You only need to be one step ahead or know 10% more than the next guy!

Plus, due to new tools that have come out in the last few years creating your online course is seriously a breeze.

If you want to check out my full walkthrough of my favorite online course platform check it out here. Plus, click here to get a month of Teachable for free! 

If you are new to creating online courses it can seem overwhelming, but I’ve broken it down into nine simple steps to help you create and launch your online course.

Step 1: Decide on what topic you would like to teach in your online course

When figuring out what kind of online course you want to teach, it is best to choose a topic that you feel comfortable with, something that you can use your knowledge and experience in order to create the best e-course possible. 
 
Ask yourself questions like, 

  • “What topic is exciting to me that others would want to learn?” 
  • “What topic is helpful for others?” or 
  • “Is there a demand for this product?” 

It is important that you ask these questions in order to determine if the project is worth the time and effort you will spend on creating it. 
 
Validating your course topic is super important too. Try surveying your audience to see what they are most interested in learning. 

  • Let them choose between a few different course ideas (or if you aren’t ready to announce the course, let them choose between potential opt-ins)
     
  • Presell the course. This is the best way to validate your course idea because you know that your audience is willing to put their money where their mouth is. As you see the pre-sale sales come in, it will keep your motivated and it makes the course creation process so much more enjoyable because you can create with those specific students in mind. 

When it comes to coming up with a topic, the more specific it is, the better. This is to help you stand out amongst others and also create a bond with your audience. 

Step 2: Outlining the content for your online course

This process is where you will brainstorm your course outline. At first, this can be a collection of bulleted lists, questions your audience has asked about the topic, or simply the transformation you want your student to experience. Once you have gotten your ideas out, you can then sort them out to have a clear outline of the order of your content. 
 
Then group your notes into, 

  • Modules 
  • Lessons
  • Bonuses
  • Worksheets
  • Etc.

Make sure you cover everything you need to and that it is clear and easy for people to understand. 

Step 3: Selecting a medium for your online course

This step is all about how you want to deliver your course to your students. This can be done through audio, video, or written content. Depending on your preference and goals, you can pick the right kind of medium for you. 
 
In my courses, I usually do a mix of video and text lessons. I have found this has been the most helpful to my students, but ultimately the choice is yours. It is YOUR course! 

VIDEO

Video is a great way you can teach your course since it combines both visual and written content. You can also have the option to teach on-screen or off-screen. If you are teaching on-screen, you can engage and form that personal connection with your audience. 
 
If you choose to be on screen for your videos try to choose a place with a clean background and natural lighting. 

Creating video content for your course can actually be relatively inexpensive depending on your goals. 

If you are off screen here are the tools I recommend, 

  • Screencast-o-matic - This ultra cheap tool only costs $15 a year and allows you to record your screen. It is a lifesaver for recording “over the shoulder” type video tutorials or slideshow presentations. 
     
  • A Microphone - This isn’t mandatory but it will significantly improve your sound quality. I personally use the Blue Yeti Microphone and love it. If you can’t afford it yet try using iPhone speakers with the built in mic. That will pick up the sound better than your computer's built-in mic.  

If you are on screen there are a few additional resources you may want to purchase, 

  • A higher resolution camera or webcam - To increase your video quality and resolution pick up a camera or a webcam. If you need a higher end camera for other aspects of your business, check out a DSLR like this one, or for a more budget-friendly option, check out this super effective webcam
     
  • A lighting kit - If you don’t have access to an area with natural (window) light (or you have to film at night after the kids are asleep), you may want to invest in a lighting kit or a ring light. These kits will give you just the right lighting balance.

TEXT

Text is the easiest type of content to create, but generally, is perceived as lower value and impersonal, so I don’t recommend that your entire course is text-based. However, this is the easiest option and has no additional expenses.

You can write up your lessons in Microsoft Word, Pages or in a Google Doc and when the lesson is completed you can paste it into your course-hosting platform, easy peasy. 

AUDIO

Using audio as your medium is another option you have. These are like podcasts that you can use to not only educate your audience but also get your personality across.

Good sound equipment like a quality microphone is an asset to have since it can really make a difference and improve your final product. Like I mentioned above, the Blue Yeti Mic is an inexpensive yet good quality option that is a popular one among podcasters. 
 
This a good option if your students have little free time or long commutes since you can make these audio lessons downloadable so they can listen to them anywhere. 

Step 4: Creating Your Online Course

Using programs like Keynote, PowerPoint, or Google Slides, you can create slides out of your content. Create bullet points to guide your students on the important things to remember and you can explain the bulk of it through your audio. 
 
You can come up with a script for when you record your video, or you can just use your bullet points to naturally guide your lesson and to make it feel as authentic as possible. 
 
Depending on how you would like to come across, you can edit your videos as much as you would like. You can do the same with audio files. Screencast-o-matic and many of the other screen recording software have easy edit functions built in.
 
For written content like emails, you can start writing them down on Google Doc and then upload it to your course-hosting platform on when converting it to a PDF. The most important thing to remember is to pick a medium that will be the most beneficial to your students. 

Step 5: Styling your online course

In order to get a professional feel to your course, you need to determine design elements that can work for you and that will truly represent your course or product. 
 
Stick to branding that is similar to what you already have on your site. You can branch out to some extent, but make sure the colors and the design are complementary to the branding that you have on your blog. 

To create your PDF’s you can design them in Word, Canva, Adobe Indesign or even PowerPoint. 
 
For free stock photos, you can use sites like, 

Or for premium stock photos, I like to use Deposit Photo

Step 6: Delivering your online course

When it comes to video and audio files, they need to be hosted somewhere online.

Some options include: 

YouTube

When uploading videos, you can make them “unlisted” which means only the people with the link to the video will know about it. You can use a platform that will allow you to embed the videos so that you will be able to host the video content for free. 
 
Wistia
 
This is another video host that allows you to customize your player and have custom thumbnail images which can give a more modern and high-quality look to your content. Since this is a paid service, you would need to set aside a budget for this. 
 
SoundCloud is great for audio files and it even allows you to customize button colors. 
 
Teachable

 
It is simple to navigate but at the same time, you can do advanced things you can implement.
 
I love the built in affiliate program, co-authors, and user-friendly interface. 
 
Related: Why I chose Teachable to host my online course
 
If you want to take a sneak peak at the back end of Teachable, I’ve put together ten video lessons to walk you through how to get set up. PLUS, click here and you can sign up to get your first month from Teachable for free!  


ConvertKit
 
An ultra important and beneficial feature of ConvertKit is it allows your email subscribers to opt-out of a product launch without totally unsubscribing from your list.  This will help you retain your subscribers that are interested in your other content, but aren't ready to purchase.

They can just click on a link that will allow them to not receive the emails in case that product will not be applicable to them.  
 
ConvertKit can also automatically connect with Teachable so when someone enrolls in your course they can be added to a list. This is a great way to send a follow-up sequence to your new students. 

Related: The Beginners Guide To ConvertKit

Step 7: Creating Bonuses for your online course

In order to improve your online course and make it more appealing, you can put in additional resources like worksheets, PDF downloads, and a course community in order to support the learning experience of your students. 
 
Worksheets or study guides can help them understand each stage of the course and put what they’ve learned into action.

Chat apps like Slack or a course community like a Facebook group can help them get in touch with other people who are also taking the course and share their knowledge and experiences. 
 
Bonuses can be a huge selling item for your course, so try to come up with a few additional resources that will complement your course content. 

Step 8: Marketing your online course

When getting your online course out there, it is important to have a good grasp of who your target audience is. 
 
You can ask questions like, 

  • Who will benefit the most from this course? 
  • What problems will this course solve for them? 
  • Where does your ideal student hangout online?
  • What are their possible hesitations when it comes to buying your course? 

Based on this, you will know where to market your online course. It is important to really focus in on your demographic because a potential customer is much more likely to buy if they feel like this course was created just for them than if it is a broad, blanketed course topic. 
 
If you do not have a marketing budget that is totally okay! You can begin by promoting your course to

  • Your email list
  • On Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Or guest posting on other sites.

 
You also can reach out to other influencers in your niche and invite them to be an affiliate for your program.
That way you can leverage their audience and they will earn a commission when someone buys through their affiliate link. 
 
If you have a bit of a marketing budget or as you begin to see revenue coming in from your course you can invest in,

  • Facebook Ads
  • Promoted Pins
  • Or sponsorships on other blogs or podcasts etc. 

Step 9: Pricing your online course

Pricing your online course can be a bit tricky, but it is good to do some analyzing and consider the following factors. 
 
Determine your target audience’s financial condition and how much are they willing to spend for your online courses. 

A course targeted at college students is going to need to be a smaller price point than a program targeted at B2B sales executives.
 
You also can compare what similar products are selling for. I recommend starting on the lower end of the price range and then you can increase your prices as you add more content and test the demand for your course. 

Step 10: Launching your online course

A sales page is where your audience will be sent to in order to purchase your course. Make sure you design it in a way that would give them a clear idea of what they can get out of the course and how you can provide them a solution to a current problem or issue they have. 
 
Before officially launching go through your checkout process to ensure there are no errors and that you have a smooth flow for people to pay for your product. There always seem to be tech issues on launch day so try to double check as much as you can ahead of time!
 
Evergreen or Open Close?
 
It is important to also figure out how long you want your course to be available for. There are a lot of opinions about if you should have an evergreen (always available) course or an open and close launch. I personally think it is up to you to try it and see what your audience is receptive to! 
 
If your course is always on sale, people will not feel urgency to purchase your product right away. On the other hand, when someone who needs the course will land on your sales page, they would be able to order now instead of waiting until your next launch.

With an evergreen course, I recommend setting up a sales funnel so you will also be able to earn consistently throughout the year. 
 
Limiting your launch window will make people purchase your product on the spot and creates urgency because they know they won't be able to purchase it again until the next time you open the cart for your course. You can test out these different options and see which ones drive the most sales from your audience.
 
You have something the world needs to learn! You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to be one step ahead of someone. 
 
You’ve got this! Grab your free month of Teachable and get started