How to Create an Online Course? Step by Step Guide for Beginners!

The world is in the midst of a digital learning revolution! With online learning on the rise, learners around the world now have the ability to gain valuable skills and knowledge from the comfort of their own homes. Be it building a new hobby, starting a side hustle or simply learning an additional skill, learners everywhere are looking for quality course content. As an educator/creator, creating online courses is a golden opportunity in the blooming marketspace with the potential to monetize knowledge and expertise built up over years of experience working in your industry or field of study. 

The unprecedented access to learning opportunities has fueled the rise of the global digital learning economy. Online courses have become big business, with the e-learning industry estimated to be worth over $100 billion worldwide! In other words, there has never been a better moment to share your unique insights and teach new skills to students through online course creation. As an educator, online courses can help you reach massive audiences at relatively low cost by bringing your lessons online. With the right approach, teaching an online course can become a profitable revenue stream that leaves a lasting impact.

If you have a great idea for creating an online course, but are not sure about the steps to get started, we have you covered. Go through this step-by-step guide on how to create an online course and take the first step to boost your business with terrific online courses!

What is an Online Course?

An online course is a digital learning program that is delivered via the Internet. It allows students to learn remotely through pre-recorded videos, video conferencing, reading material, quizzes and more. Online courses, unlike traditional programs, are skill specific. Students can learn everything from makeup artistry and fashion design to cooking, digital marketing and product management. Online courses offer flexibility of learning, affordability compared to traditional colleges, and the ability to reach a global audience for course creators. Online courses are generally self-paced, but some may have timelines and deadlines for assessments. As an educator, creating your own personalized online course is a great way to boost business sales, as well as engage your learners through a uniquely curated learning experience.

How to Create an Online Course that Sells? 

With a plethora of digital tools available online, it can become intimidating to create an online course as a beginner. Right from zeroing in on a course topic to deciding where to host your online course, the journey can be simply overwhelming. We have curated a step by step guide to take you through the online course development process seamlessly. 

Here is a step by step guide to create online courses as a beginner –

1. Choose a Subject and Audience.

While choosing a topic for your online course, it is essential to think from the point of view of industry insight, expertise, credibility and interest! Figure out what niché you are deeply knowledgeable about and your audience might be interested in learning from you. This could be a skill, creative arts, topic or industry that you have first-hand professional experience in. Ideally, your online course should fall at the intersection of what you want to teach, what others want to learn and your unique approach or expert edge to providing this learning material. While planning the topic/subject of your online course, ask yourself the following questions –

  • Is there demand for this topic based on search volumes, social media trends and questions asked online?
  • What similar courses already exist and how does your proposed course differ or provide extra value?
  • Which specific skills or qualifications within the broad topic do you excel in teaching?
  • Is the career outlook and market potential strong for the skills being taught?

Secondly, who do you want to sell your online course is equally important. Define your target audience using the questions below –

  • What background or experience should students ideally have before taking the course?
  • Where are your potential students located – certain cities/states or globally?
  • How much time are students willing to dedicate to the course?
  • At what career level do you want to pitch the course – beginners, intermediates or experts?
  • Should the course cater to a certain industry or profession type?

2. Analyze the Market + Demand

Before finalizing the genre of your online course, validate the market demand for the topic or skill you are pitching to teach. Ensure keeping up to date with your industry trends, and actively research existing markets for your genre. Follow few simple steps given below to do so –

  • Conduct keyword research on tools like Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, SemRush, etc. 
  • Analyze search volumes and compare keywords to see which topics have higher interest. For example, a Digital Marketing Course may have higher search volumes as compared to more specific topics such as SEO Marketing Course.
  • Look at what competitors are offering and identify gaps your course can fill. Identify your unique selling point and pitch those while creating an online course.
  • You can also create a sample module or webinar to directly gauge response.

3. Define the Format of Your Course

Once you have done this research work, it’s time to get into the specifics of course creation. Decide on the appropriate format based on your topic, target audience, and available time. Typical online course formats include multi-session online courses, mini/masterclass, self-paced courses. The format of your online course should depend on the scope of content you intend to provide in the course and how much your targeted learners are willing to spend on it – in terms of time, money and effort. Decide on the following parameters to define the format and structure of your online course –

  • Length of the course
  • Delivery Format – is your online course an email series? study material? video course? live sessions? assessment based course? or self-paced recorded course?
  • Learning objectives
  • Course Content

Consider your topic and audience needs when selecting format/s to use interactive elements that enhance engagement and skill-building like case studies, hands-on projects etc.

4. Create Learning Materials!

Develop high-quality, engaging course content around the chosen topic based on the defined course structure and format. The learning materials could consist of video lectures, presentations, assignments, audio tutorials, infographics, mind-maps and more. Divide your course content into neatly categorized modules and lessons in a logical fashion. You can repurpose existing content from blogs, videos, or documents and reformat it for the online course. Make sure you research each topic and subtopic thoroughly so that at the end of each lesson or module, your learners have clear steps, information or assessments to take away. Keep everything succinct, engaging and informative..

5. Select the Course Delivery Platform

Next, pick the right platform for delivering your course. There are different types of platforms each of which come with their own advantages and limitations. 

  • Standalone platforms provide more control over content and data but require separate tools for marketing. 
  • All-in-one solutions integrate marketing, website building and delivery in one place but are more on the expensive side. 
  • Marketplaces have a built-in audience but less pricing and data control. 

It is important to evaluate these various options to select the platform that best suits the specific needs, taking into account factors like features required, level of technical expertise, and budget. However, please note that the course content itself is more vital than the hosting platform.

You can now create online courses seamlessly with the Classplus App. While you simply have to look after the quality of course content, Classplus will figure out the technicalities for you to sell and market your online courses effectively. With Classplus, educators get their own customized mobile application and website to create online courses. Instructors can design and structure their courses with options to add lessons, assignments, quizzes and multimedia content. In fact, they can also conduct Live classes through the app with interactive tools and even track student engagement and performance using Analytics. The platform handles payments and provides educators ample tools to promote their online courses.

6. Decide Course Pricing.

The price of your online course should be based on factors like content quality, popularity of topic, target segment and competitors’ pricing. It is crucial to test different price points to gauge demand and purchase behavior. Course creators should conduct thorough research of online courses offered by competitors. The point is to neither sell yourself short, nor daunt your potential course buyers with higher prices. Factor in the below parameters to decide course pricing –

  • Competitor Prices – Consider prices of competitor’s courses and compare to average course price on your topic to set the right price point.
  • Course Quality & Value – Assess the value and benefits learners will get from applying knowledge in the course. The higher the perceived value, the higher would be the price.
  • Marketing Effort – How much are you planning to spend on promoting your course? Make sure that this cost reflects in your course pricing.
  • Authority of the Creator – Learners are more likely to buy online courses from a course creator who is a renowned industry expert. Evaluate your standing in the marketplace before pricing your course.

Testing course ideas by pre-selling at various introductory prices can help creators to validate demand and zero in on an optimal pricing.

Pro Tip!
Best practices show the more expensive courses are seen as worthwhile by potential students who are then more engaged learners. However, as a beginner who is yet to mark his field, offering free courses or tiered pricing options is one of the best ways to draw in more learners!

7. Make Your Course Live!

Creating an online course is a job 50% accomplished. The other 50% is when you finally launch your course. It is essential to manage, market and track your online course performance consistently after making it live. Use the following checklist to do so –

  • Ensure your course website and payment system are fully functional. 
  • Promote your launch across different channels including email, social media and influencer marketing. 
  • Offer an introductory discount to attract early signups. 
  • Go live on the scheduled date and share the course URL widely. 
  • Engage students by going live for the first class to address any issues and answer questions. 
  • Monitor analytics and feedback to identify areas for improvement. 
  • Maintain communication with students to ensure they have a positive experience. 

Once you have created an online course, also check effective ways to Sell Online Courses to generate profits from your online course content!

Why Should You Create an Online Course as an Edupreneur?

As a creator and educator, creating an online course is one of the best ways to share knowledge and expertise with an interested audience, and at the same time, expand your business online and generate an additional stream of passive income – all while doing what you love! The following are some of the reasons why creating an online course might be beneficial for you –

  1. Online courses are highly scalable. Edupreneurs can create educational content once and share it with students around the world.
  2. Online courses offer flexibility. An online course does not require a physical classroom or fixed schedule. Learners can access the content as per their convenience.
  3. Generate ongoing revenue. Once created, online courses can continue earning sales for years with little additional effort required from educators.
  4. Reach a global audience. The Internet allows educators to market their courses internationally and sell to students across the world.
  5. Get high profit margins. Online courses have significantly lower delivery and distribution costs compared to offline modes. This allows the majority of revenue to be retained as profits.
  6. Online courses have a vast market. Digital learning is on the rise and as a creator, if there is a skill that you have mastered, there are high chances that an audience might want to learn it from you.

How to Make Online Courses More Engaging?

Making your online course engaging and learner-oriented is supremely important if you want to retain them on your course. For creators, an online course narrows down to how effectively it makes learners derive value and make the process of learning fun and engaging. Go through some quick tips provided below to make your online course engaging –

  1. Gather and organize content effectively. Avoid overload, prioritize essential materials, sequence from simple to complex, define terms and provide day-to-day examples.
  2. Step into the shoes of your learner and acquire their expectations. 
  3. Use illustrative elements simply and strategically. For example, include visual guides for skills and worksheets for comprehension in fitness or language courses.
  4. Keep materials straightforward. Balance lectures with interactive elements like puzzles, activities and assessments to sustain motivation.
  5. Ensure high audio quality. Record in a soundproof room with noise control using wall panels. Test audio quality before finalizing content.
  6. Present a structured course outline. Show estimated time frames to set expectations and guide progress check-ins.
  7. Encourage collaboration through discussions and group assignments. This applies concepts and fulfills the social aspect of learning.
  8. Evaluate feedback continuously. Gather impressions through surveys and enhance content based on learner insights for maximum engagement.

Are you a Creator looking to expand your online business with curated online courses? Create your personalized business App with Classplus now and build courses using a suite of tools and features!