11 Simple Steps to Create and Sell Profitable Online Courses

11 Simple Steps to Create and Sell Profitable Online Courses

Do you have the knowledge and skills and are looking forward to turning it into a money-generating, competitive and successful online course? This article is for you!

Creating online courses requires lots of energy and time. However, success and opportunities will enter your life if you love what you do.        

This article will review each aspect of the course-creation process, from choosing the niche to marketing your online courses.    

Why should you enter the online course race?

  • You build your brand and become an authority in your market

Online Courses can be beneficial for you in multiple ways. When you are a full-time creator, this can become your primary source of income. As well you will be able to gain global audiences’ trust and generate limitless profits.       

  • You own your freedom

Being an online course creator is like freelancing; you are your boss, and you own your time and freedom. You can work from wherever you want and sell the same course for as long as you want. 

  • You become part of an on-demand industry

The E-learning industry is on the verge of popularity and is currently BOOMING! It will only increase in popularity because it offers multiple benefits, such as time flexibility. Students also prefer e-learning over traditional learning due to its cost-effectiveness. Thus, you will most definitely be able to succeed in this industry by offering high-quality courses if you are committed to what you do.

  • You do what you love

This industry provides you the freedom to do what you love.  While you do not have to be an authority to offer an online course on the topic, it is still important to have the necessary level of mastery of your industry.   In the video below, we have covered all the details and tricks on this topic. 

  • Reach a Global Audience 

And last but not least, you will be able to reach global audiences, level up your skills, alongside provide learners with valuable insights into the specific industries and topics you teach about. 

Reach a Global Audience

Simple steps for your successful online course

Since we got crystal clear on why you want to enter this industry, let’s now identify some steps you must take to become successful right from the start. 

#1 Narrow down your niche

Having trouble deciding your niche in the online learning industry is quite an understandable issue. Many first-time creators, even experienced ones, face it. 

Your goal at this stage: Stand out from the competition by aiming to attract a more targeted and engaged audience right from the beginning. 

While niche is already a particular segment of a larger market, you will still need to get as specific as possible. Let’s suppose you specialize in creating online courses in Content Writing. The specific niche you can choose for this segment includes

  • Content Writing for Beginners 
  • Technical Article Writing 
  • Business Writing & Copywriting, etc. 

But why do I need to get into details? Isn’t Content Writing specific itself? 

Well, choosing a specific branch to the niche will help you find your target audience easier. Thus, you will be able to meet your students’ expectations better and later develop a marketing strategy that is most appealing to them.  

How to Identify Your niche? 

Step 1 - What course are you going to create?

The important thing to understand is what type of online courses you want to create for your students. Here are several types, so you can choose the one you plan to create and move to the next step.

  • Introductory course 
  • Transformation/signature course
  • Certification Course 
  • Membership course 
  • Employee training course

Step 2 - Who am I?

In order to identify your niche, you also will have to understand:

  • Your level of expertise, such as a beginner, a professional, etc
  • What are my passions, what topics are you most interested in?
  • Your USP (unique selling point) is what differentiates you and your courses from competitors. It is the reason why the students should choose your course over the others.  

For example, if you create online courses on photography, you can have your USP as providing personalized feedback on the student’s work by other professional photographers other than you. 

Step 3 - You get your niche 

After choosing what type of courses you will create and identifying who you are and your areas of expertise, it is time to pick a niche. Narrow down and choose one that most interests you and is profitable. Because let's be realistic, not everything will bring you enough income for financial freedom. 

The most profitable markets in which you can create multiple niche-specific online courses include: 

  • IT, Computers, and Technology - if you choose this area, you can create niche-specific courses such as programming languages, app creation, data science, web development, game development, AI, and machine learning. You can even take a step further and talk about the YOLO object detection algorithm in machine learning, share additional trends, and keep your audience engaged as much as possible. 
  • Business & Entrepreneurship - some topics on which you can offer courses in this area are accounting, marketing, digital marketing, SMM, eCommerceAffiliate marketing, and business administration. 
  • Arts - in this area, you can offer niche-specific courses such as photography, digital art, animation, painting, and game design. 
  • Education - an area where you can teach how to teach or offer courses such as psychology, effective communications, introduction to scriptwriting, etc.

Check the top 10 online course topic ideas in trending niches.

How to Identify your niche?

#2 Validate your online course idea 

The second major step in your journey to becoming the best Online Course Creator is to validate your course idea 

Your goal at this stage: Ensure that there is a competitive market for your online course and that students are actually willing to pay for it. 

This way, you will have more confidence to move forward. Besides, you get a clear vision of whether the course will likely be successful and profitable. 

How do you validate your course idea? 

Searching the internet 

The easiest way to validate your online course idea is by searching the net. You can do a general search on Google, Udemy, Coursera, YouTube, and other relatable platforms. This will help you to check out the competition and overall demand. 

You can use tools such as Google Keywords Planner or Google Trends. 

  • Enter relevant keywords related to your niche, for example, “digital marketing for small business, small business online marketing,” etc. 
  • Get insights into the number of monthly searches, the competition, and the search trend.  

Another way is a simple SERP analysis. 

  • Are there paid ads for similar courses or services? This indicates that businesses are willing to invest in advertising for such online courses.
  • Check the number of search results. Many results might indicate a competitive niche, but it could also mean high demand. 

You can also check the popularity on YouTube. 

  • Are there many videos on this topic with a substantial number of views, likes, and comments? High engagement is a sign of demand.
  • Check if there are popular channels or influencers in your niche. They have already created similar content, which means the audience is interested in the topic.

Exploring forums

While researching, you have no idea how valuable forums can be. First, they will provide direct insights into the customer's needs and expectations. Secondly, you will check the overall demand for your idea and tendencies. Some forums we recommend checking out are Quora and Reddit. 

Asking your customers directly 

Direct interviews and surveys with your students are another validation method. The most effective technique is finding a focus group, contacting each individual, and collecting direct feedback on the overall idea and further improvements that can be made. 

Using Lead Magnets 

With this technique, you can gather some real evidence about your course idea being on demand. Basically, all you need is to create free pieces of content and check out your audience's reaction to it. 

For example, write a "How to/tutorial" article before launching a course, and check how your audience reacts to it. You can even turn on paid promotions to see the reactions of potential clients and overall engagement rates. 

Read 7 easy ways to validate your online course idea. 

Validate your idea

#3 Develop excellent learning outcomes for your online course

To motivate students to learn and stay attentive throughout the session and course, they have to know what they are studying. 

Your goals at this stage: clarify what knowledge, skills, or competencies the students should gain from your online course, ensuring a focused and measurable educational experience.

The learning outcome is what describes how your online course changes their thinking process and how they will be able to apply it to real-life situations. 

There are a few types of learning outcomes.  

  • Intellectual Skills. This learning outcome describes the amount and quality of knowledge the student will acquire during the course. It is more measurable. For example: demonstrate the ability to critically assess and analyze the composition of photographs, identifying elements such as framing, perspective, balance, and visual storytelling techniques. 
  • Cognitive Strategies. Cognitive strategies are about thinking in a certain way to solve problems.   For example, engage in self-reflection and critique of one’s own work throughout the course. 
  • Verbal Information. Can the student replicate the facts that they learned during the course? That is the main question that verbal information outcome is concerned with.
  • Motor Skills: Motor skills refer to the ability to perform something physically and perfect those skills through practice.  For example,  integrate conceptual and theoretical knowledge gained throughout the course into the photographic practice.
  • Attitude: How did the course influence the student's worldview? This is about the internal change in the student  For example, use critical thinking to effectively communicate ideas, perspectives, and stories through photography.

How can you develop learning outcomes for online courses? 

There are a few rules that you can follow to be as effective as possible.  

  • Show the potential students the relevancy of your online courses. This will help them better understand what your course is about. 
  • Use the verbs in Bloom's Taxonomy.  The taxonomy contains six types of educational objectives – knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Each of the above-mentioned has its own verbs to be described. This will help you with coming up with ideas for your learning outcomes.
  • Use action verbs.  A learning outcome should start with an action verb, such as recognize, review, manage, plan, paraphrase, synthesize, etc. This saves time for you and your students. 
  • Write the statement. After the verb comes to a specific statement explaining the skills, the learner will develop after your course. Don't overestimate or underestimate the result of your teaching, be as honest as possible. 

After the learning outcomes are ready, do not forget to display them on your teaching website, on your online course page. 

Read our article “Teacher with Students Relationship, Engagement, and Better Teaching Environment”. 

Teaching Strategies

#4  Identify the teaching methods you use during online course delivery

There are various methods of teaching and a wide variety of strategies to imply being a good online course creator. Here are some simple teaching methods you would like to use.   

Your goal at this stage: select the most effective and appropriate approaches to facilitate student learning and achieve the desired online educational outcomes. 

Teaching Methods 

  • Presentations. Most of us are visual learners, and that is a fact. So, employ some visual elements throughout the course to make it more interactive and memorable.  
  • Live Training sessions. This is one of the most popular teaching methods in the e-learning industry. With live sessions, you deliver real-time training, enhancing the student's learning experience. Besides, when the students have any confusion related to the material, you can clarify everything right during the live session.  
  • Pre-recorded courses. While live sessions are one of the most popular formats, pre-recorded classes are one of the most efficient online learning formats. The whole point of this format is to provide students with pre-recorded lectures and ready automated tests and quizzes. This way, you can create a course and sell it multiple times to as many students as possible.  
  • Game-based teaching: This teaching technique is quite popular because it warms up the students and makes the process more interactive and enjoyable.  
  • Class blog. The  class blog is pretty innovative. The point of this concept is to contribute to students' motivation to learn by working on enhancing their self-learning skills. In the blog, students can share their knowledge, discuss the material with one another, and engage in interactive debates. 

Teaching Strategies

  • Set clear expectations. In order for the student not to be confused or demotivated, you will need to set clear expectations right from the start. It includes grading, participation, and classroom rules policies.  
  • Develop a community for learners and make sure everyone is comfortable. Students wait for you to set the tone, whether it is friendly or professional. Therefore, organize group projects, encourage in-class respectful discussions, and value everyone's opinion. 
  • Encourage in-class discussions. If you want your class to be more interactive and students more engaged, you have to encourage in-class discussions. That will help students better comprehend the material and gain the most out of your course.  
  • Give feedback. Providing students with constructive criticism on their work, suggesting further improvements.

Read how to develop great learning outcomes with 5 steps.

How can you develop learning outcomes?

#5 Write an attractive course outline

Course Outline is often underestimated in importance. However, it remains one of the most powerful elements of the course. 

Your goal at this stage: establish a clear roadmap and an organized overview of the course content, structure, and expectations so your students get a cohesive learning experience. 

The online course outline is your syllabus,  which includes 

  • the aims & outcomes of the course, 
  • requirements, 
  • textbooks, 
  • additional materials, 
  • readings, exam & test dates,
  • general policies (absence, grading, certification requirements, etc.)       

When learners are provided with the online course outline, they will know what to expect from it. It helps you and your students to better plan and manage time. 

How to write an effective course outline?

Here are some tips for writing a successful and efficient online course outline:

  • Be aware of the main elements that should be included. Those elements are - the introduction/description, general policies, readings, textbook materials, assignment descriptions, and deadlines. 
  • Make sure to avoid niche-specific professional terminology. Most likely, many students won't be familiar with it and will not get the main point of the course.
  • Set learning objectives. One of the most efficient strategies is to set learning objectives for the course so that students will know the main reason for studying. 
  • Write the course description. The introduction of your course should have 5-6 sentences maximum. And the only meaning you have to convey through those is - a description of the overall course. It is a summary of learning outcomes, expectations, and objectives.
  • Include quizzes. They are great tools to check students' knowledge and motivate them to learn. 
  • Offer certification. More students are likely to purchase the course if they know they get the certificate upon completion. 

Read 8 tips to create a complete course outline.

How to write an effective course outline?

#6 Create valuable course content

We have already chosen the specific area of expertise, outlined the main outcomes, created the online course outline, and picked the necessary teaching strategies. As we are done with the research and planning, let’s move to the most crucial element - the content.  

Your goal at this stage: Come up with the online course materials and content itself, that is engaging, relevant and clear. 

There are five key rules for creating good content.

  • Relevancy. As an online course creator you should aim at finding and including the content that best aligns with the learning outcomes you set. You can check for open educational resources, online communities  and reputable websites related to your niche to find relevant content for your online course.  
  • Clearance. Remember that you will explain a concept to somebody who probably doesn't know anything about it. Use easy-to-understand vocabulary, and avoid too many terms. Follow Orwellian advice: "Never use a long word where a short one will do." 
  • Truthfulness. Do not forget to check, if the information you included in your online course is credible and true. 
  • Cohesiveness. Create a continuum of information and separate it into different categories. However, ensure that everything follows each other in a cohesive order. Don't jump from one idea to the next. Instead, build a bridge between the two concepts. So your students would have time to understand, digest, and reflect on the information. 
  • Quality. While recording/filming the course content, make sure your camera quality is good, the lenses are clean, and the light is appropriate. Visual components are quite important nowadays, as those speak about the course's overall quality as well. When a potential student decides to purchase your course, they pay attention to every little detail.  
  • Presentations.  To make your course material better understandable and easier to acquire, make some high-quality presentations. There are lots of tools that will help you; one of the best ones is Canva.  

Read more about using Canva for Education.

Read our  checklist of 7x5 best tools and platforms for online course creation.

Create valuable course content

#7 Design your course

Course design is an essential part of developing your online tutoring course. It helps you stay cohesive and clear, understand the structure of your online course, and ensure that your students will have good outcomes. 

Your goal at this stage: make your online course content is well-structured and engaging, meeting the needs of your target audience. 

Let's have a look at the main elements that you need to prepare before launching your course.           

Time and Schedule

Concerning time, there are a few things to consider. 

  • How much time do you have to prepare for your course? 
  • How much time your course will last, e.g., 8 hours, 30 hours, etc. 
  • What is the schedule like? 

Let’s say, you have three months to prepare for your online course that will last half a year. Regarding the frequency and schedule you can have one lesson a week.

Resources

This relates to the availability of your materials like technical things or textbooks, or other kinds of intellectual sources. 

Target Audience

  • What is the age category of your future students? 
  • What do they do for a living? 
  • What are their interests?
  • What would they like to pay for?

Check our article “Course Design: All you need to know before launching course”.

Challenges

Identify the weaknesses of your students. They can be about time or technical restraints. Think of how you can solve some problems or play around with them to make your course more effective. 

Syllabus

Create a syllabus which includes the following:

  • learning objectives, 
  • outcomes, 
  • calendar, 
  • assignments, 
  • evaluation methods,
  • ethical rules. 

This will help you avoid awkward situations and time-wasting but straightforward questions. 

Check our article “Course Design: All you need to know before launching course”.

Main Elements of course design

#8 Start pre-selling

Pre-selling of the course is when you start selling the product without having the final product ready.

Your goal at this stage: generate interest from potential students, secure initial sales, and gauge demand. 

Pre-selling your online course will show how your existing and potential audiences react to it. That will give you a clear vision of your future actions. Besides, you will better understand what aspects of the product need further improvement. 

And how can you start pre-selling online courses?

  • Offer limited or special products. Play on the fear of missing out. When you offer a discounted price for the first 100 students, more people will purchase your course and share it with their friends and colleagues.  
  • Launch a landing page for the course. A  landing page is a decisive move in attracting more students. It will contain the main elements that generate leads due to "being short and to the point."  
  • Use Networking. When you pre-launch a course and start pre-sells, use your connections to spread the idea across the network. 

Read How To Make Money Before The Launch: Pre-Sell Your Online Course.

How to start pre-selling?

#9 Launch on the right platform

What is the right platform? It depends on a few things, like the medium of your content or your personal preferences. 

Your goal at this stage: maximize the reach and impact of your online course by selecting the most suitable and effective platform to connect with your target audience and achieve your business objectives. 

  • First, you need your main platform

It is the one where you're going to post your lectures or the one you will use to call up your students. So, for example, if you prefer to pre-record your lectures, you can use Skillshare or Uteach. If you are a synchronized type of person who prefers to do "lives," Zoom or Google Classroom will suit you.          

  • You may need a few more platforms alongside the main one. 

Usually, those are social media platforms you would use to advertise your course. But you can also employ them as a secondary knowledge-sharing platform.           

For example: Instagram Stories or TikTok are really good for sharing quick tips. YouTube can be used to discuss your online course syllabus, learning objectives, and other technical stuff.  

Pinterest can also be a secondary platform, as it is basically a visual search engine. It has many benefits for advertising your course and sharing your content with your followers.           

Read more about choosing the right e-teaching platform

Launch on the right platform

#10 Price your online course

Your goal at this stage: set a price that reflects your online course's quality, aligns with the target audience's willingness to pay, and generates revenue, while also positioning the course competitively in the market.

There are a few things that may influence the price of your course.

  • Experience. More experienced online course creators get paid more.
  • Change. How will you impact your students? It can be an introductory course to understand the subject, or it can be a full preparation course that will help your students get a job. Depending on the volume of the impact, the price will differ.
  • Content. How valuable is your content, and how unique is it? If the knowledge you communicate is exclusive, your course should be a bit more pricey. 

So, you need to evaluate your course content and its impact. Remember not to underestimate yourself.      

Tips on how to price your online course

We have already separated course content into a few categories that should be priced differently. 

You can sell different courses simultaneously or even in a pack.  

Introductory online courses can cost around 5-50$ per lesson,  and mid-sized courses up to 150$. 

Here is which payment methods you can implement. 

  • One at a time. This one is fairly simple. The student pays for a lesson after attending it. Learners can decide if the course suits them. It also comes in the form of a monthly subscription for big courses, with a few trial days/lessons with no payment.
  • Buy all the lessons! The student buys all the lessons in the course at one time.  If you have twelve lessons, they will pay for a dozen. But, the price is set in a way that one lesson costs less when bought in the full batch rather than being bought separately. 
  • They come in a pack. You can also sell "packs." For example, you have a podcast that costs 10 dollars for the full recording, and you have an ebook that costs 30$. The two can be sold in the same pack. 

Check more tips to price your online course. 

Tips on how to price your course

#11 Start marketing your teaching business

If you have no experience in online course creation, you should focus a lot on marketing your courses. 

Your goal at this stage: raise awareness, attract potential students, and effectively communicate the value and benefits of your online courses, leading to increased enrollment and revenue.

Set up a website focused on SEO

Social Media

Social media is a nice place to spread awareness about your business since its algorithms are quite precise. They use hashtags and cookies, so people would get recommended the content they need. 

Collect Testimonials

  • put a comment section on your website
  • put links on your social media to collect your may-be students' testimonials
  • send them sales emails with information about your course or discount codes
Collect Testimonials

Best platforms for the course launch

As seen above, the choice of a platform is essential to the success of your business. But, if you are indecisive about it or don't know which platform will work best for you, here are some multifunctional suggestions.

Uteach

Uteach allows you to create your own website in a few clicks. You can upload video lectures, create posts and podcasts, share documents, etc.     

The design opportunities are also very flexible, so you will end up with a beautiful and useful product. Our live lesson automation will help you to save 60% of your time. Our platform provides search engine optimization, so it will not be as tricky to advertise your course as it would be in any other situation.   

Creating courses with Uteach

Udemy

Udemy is a beautiful and minimalistic platform for sharing courses and learning. It provides flexible teaching opportunities and has a large audience of over 40 million people. 

It is also available in 65+ languages, so you should check it out. Creating a course on Udemy is extremely easy and doesn't take much effort, so you can concentrate more on developing the content of your course.  

Udemy

FAQ 

Let’s also discuss the most frequently asked questions when it comes to creating online courses. 

How do you create and sell an online course? 

In order to get started with creating an online course, you will need to: 

  • Identify your niche and make it as specific as possible
  • Check if your idea enjoys high demand and see if the students are willing to pay for it
  • Set the learning outcomes your students will reach by the end of the course
  • Write a course outline which attracts students
  • Make your course content well-structured and engaging
  • Start implementing pre-selling strategies
  • Set the pricing for your online course
  • Launch it on the right platform and start marketing

What are the main factors to consider when creating an online course? 

There are different factors to consider when you are developing your course. Those are your audience — its age, location, occupation, etc. — logistics, time, topic, and other things. 

You need to know that it consists of the content that we elaborated on above, environment — your teaching methods and the medium your students are in — and collaboration (preplan the group projects and other collaborative elements for your students). 

How to make an online course more engaging? 

To make your online course more engaging, you can incorporate a variety of multimedia elements such as video lectures, interactive quizzes, discussion forums, and real-world examples. You should also aim to foster student interaction and collaboration and provide them with timely feedback. 

With all these in mind, ensure the content is relevant and up-to-date and offer opportunities for self-paced learning, all of which can enhance the overall learning experience.

How much does it cost to create an online course? 

On average, creating a basic online course may cost from $0 to three thousand dollars. The main investments include essential equipment, software, and hosting. 

More elaborate courses with professional video production, interactive content, and marketing efforts can cost $4000 to tens of thousands of dollars. Costs may include video recording equipment, editing software, website or platform fees, graphic design, marketing, and content creation (if you decide to hire a content creator for your online course). 

That is why It's important to budget according to your specific requirements and resources. 

How long does it take to create a 1-hour online course? 

Essentially, much depends, of course, on your expertise in the subject matter. 

Generally, it takes anywhere from 40 to 200 hours of work to create a high-quality 1-hour online course. This includes steps like content development, scripting, recording, editing, creating assessments, and setting up the course platform. 

However, it's still normal if you dedicate several weeks or even months to launch your course. 

Is it worth creating an online course? 

Creating an online course is not just worth it. It's a fantastic opportunity for personal growth, knowledge sharing, and financial gain. By sharing your expertise, you actually inspire and educate people worldwide, make a positive impact, and potentially earn a sustainable income. 

Start your teaching race right now!

Start your teaching race right away, without wasting any more time with an incredible platform, Uteach. With this platform, you will be able to create a cost-effective, full-featured website in a matter of minutes. 

  • Choose a plan 
  • Register on the platform
  • Start your teaching business

With Uteach, you also will be able to have a blog on your website, which will help you generate leads, especially if correctly SEO-optimized. Publish all the courses you have right away, spending a few minutes on the creation of titles and selling descriptions. 

We all start somewhere, and this is your sign to start.

Book Your Demo

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Published 12 Apr 2022
Updated at 01 Mar 2024
26 min read
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Article by Nelli Gevorgyan

Content writer

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