Whether you’re trying to make money from home, monetize your skill set, or just make some extra dough, online courses are an excellent way to build up a passive income stream.
When I first got started with online marketing, I did everything under the sun to generate revenue. This included:
- Affiliate marketing
- And much more.
Of all of the strategies that I’ve used to monetize the audience that I’ve built up online, I’ve found online courses to be the #1 way to grow my sales while also serving my community.
In fact, I just recently did a course launch that raked in more than $4,000! I could barely believe it myself…
There are a lot of reasons that I prefer online courses over the above mentioned revenue generation strategies.
- They command a high-ticket price. This is very different from a $10 ebook.
- They’re scalable. You don’t have to be there for the transaction to happen. You can be doing other things, like taking care of your kids or chilling on a beach in a foreign country.
- You can track progress. You can track the progress of your students when you use one of these course creation software tools.
Overall, I also love it when my students get results. I only have so much control over the learning process when they’re passively reading a book. With a course, I can have more say over their results!
So… let’s talk a little bit about how to create your very first online course!
1. Brainstorm Your Course Topic
Online courses are very different from college courses.
With a college course, you can teach something as obscure as Klingon or medieval literature and get paid for it. Pretty weird, huh?
I had many friends who absolutely hated taking some of these types of courses, because they weren’t practical and weren’t related to their degree.
That’s very important when you’re shelling out $50k a year to go to school!
What you’ll notice about online courses is that students want to have a clear understanding of the tangible results they’ll see after they go through the course.
- Will they now be able to speak Spanish?
- Will they grow an email list that will enable them to make money?
- Will they grow their business revenue by 10x?
You must pinpoint what you want to be the “result” or “transformation” when a student goes through your course.
You may want to teach some obscure topic, like how to collect noteworthy beanie babies, but if no one care about that topic and no one has the burning desire to own many beanie babies, then you’re not going to see many course sales.
Typically, I would recommend teaching a subject that you yourself have mastery over. It will also help if you’ve personally gotten results in this field or industry.
However, that doesn’t mean that you need to be a black belt level expert in the subject. You just need to be one step beyond them.
Often times, top performers actually have trouble teaching basic topics because it’s been so long that they’ve encountered them.
To think about this another way, the best swimmer isn’t always the best swimming teacher for beginners.
2. Outline Your Course Modules and Materials
Next, I’d recommend creating a simple outline in word that breaks down all of the various modules and lessons that will be included in your course.
Along with putting together an outline of the various sub-course topics, I would list out the ways that you will convey these lessons. Some common teaching strategies include:
- Powerpoint slides with voice over
- Screen capture videos
- Talking to the camera to convey concepts
- Checklists or worksheets
- Quizzes to cement the material
- Templates or examples to illustrate concepts
- Homework, in the field assignments, etc.
If you’re afraid of being on camera, no worries! Many of the courses out there do simple presentations via powerpoint and screen capture videos to convey concepts.
Personally, I include on-camera footage with my course, but you don’t have to. I include this type of footage because I’m comfortable being on camera, having produced many YouTube videos, and I want to deepen the relationship that I have with my students.
Finally, I also want the course to be easy-to-consume. I find it harder to maintain a student’s attention when they are looking at a slide show presentation for 40 minutes. That’s why I work hard to create bite-sized lessons and bring my energy to the videos.
3. Choose Your Technology and Course Hosting
Arguably, this is the easiest part of the course creation process. Funny, huh?
Years ago, this would be a pain. It would cost a ton of money to hire programmers to create a website that enables membership registration and payment processing.
Now a days, there are many software solutions out there that will do just this. You can either go with a platform that hosts all your course content, or you can use WordPress and host your own online course.
It really comes down to the amount of money that you want to spend and how technically proficient you are.
If you know what you’re doing on the tech side, I’d say that it’s very easy to look into how to host your own course using WordPress.
Whatever you do, don’t just go with Udemy. You’ll be charging pennies on the dollar for the course, which won’t help your bottom line. Unfortunately, whenever you’re a part of a marketplace like Udemy or Amazon, there will always be downward pricing pressure.
When I first got started, I used Gumroad to host the course content and sell it. I also recommend looking at Wistia, which is a professional video embed player. This is a good solution if you’re hosting the videos on your own website.
4. Plan for Your Course Launch
This is by far the HARDEST part of the equation.
When you think about it, courses are a commodity. They are very similar to books.
There are SO MANY people out there teaching various topics online. Why would anyone choose to learn from you?
This is where marketing comes in!
Personally, I’ve seen many great teachers who quite simply don’t know how to get the word out. They don’t know how to effectively present their course to potential students.
This is why although they make great content, they hardly get any sales.
You need to have a proven marketing plan for getting course students. I’ve put together a YouTube video to outline a few different ways to go about this.
If I had to sum it up, take these points into account:
- Getting potential students: There are only two ways to reach out to potential students. You can do organic or paid marketing. Organic marketing is mainly through social media, content marketing (blogs/podcasts), online groups, etc. Paid marketing is traditionally Facebook ads or ads on other platforms. You can create a landing page using Leadpages to drive signups.
- Managing potential students: It’s best to get interested students on an email list. You can use a simple service like Mailchimp, ConvertKit, or Aweber to manage this list. This software will easily let you see who’s opening your emails and who’s clicking the various links.
- Converting potentials into buyers: Thus far, the most effective way that I’ve seen to convert potential students into enrolled students is to tease the content you’ll be teaching. You can do this with things like an email auto-responder or a webinar.
5. Get Your Students To Take Action
So you’ve had a bunch of students enroll in your online course… this is NOT the end of the process.
Next, your goal should be to limit buyer’s remorse and make sure that they actually take action on the content that you’ve put together.
A dismal number of people who start online courses actually finish them. If they don’t finish the course and act on the new knowledge they’ve accumulated, they’re not going to get results!
By fostering a positive relationships with your students, you’ll not only ensure that they buy from you in the future, but you’ll also be able to capture some great testimonials that will persuade more students to enroll in your course.
Remember… the most likely person to buy from you in the future is someone who’s bought from you in the past. They know what to expect and they know the quality of content that you deliver.