How to Create an Online Course: Beginner’s Guide (2021)

Online courses can bring in a hefty passive income if done right. Here’s how I’d approach creating an online course.

In this blog post, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know to create your very own online course and drive tons of sales.

Creating an online course could be a very daunting task, especially when one is ignorant of the know-how. You might have all the passion, knowledge, and expertise on a particular subject matter, but going about sharing that knowledge in a manner that would be efficient and comprehensive could prove to be challenging.

Fortunately, this write-up is here to save you all the stress. You don’t have to continue to whirl in your ignorance anymore. Just follow the simple step-by-step process that I’ve briefly outlined in this article.

By doing this, you’ll go from being just a repository of knowledge to a distributor of impactful content. You’ll effectively communicate your content to a larger audience across borders and equally generate income from doing what you love.

Want to learn about the simple steps to creating an online course?

Then this blog post is for you.

Short introduction

E-learning is fast becoming a global trend. The internet has made almost everything easier. For just a little or no cost at all, you can access loads of information online.

Online courses are just another means of making sure that knowledge is accessible at the fingertips of many. Spreading knowledge has now gone beyond the four walls of a classroom or lecture hall, and that is simply amazing!

The world has evolved.

For instance, if you’re searching for information on how to begin computer programming, there is a wide gamut of learning courses available online to satisfy your quest for knowledge. The same goes for basic things such as learning how to hula hoop.

Now that you understand what an online course entails, let’s proceed to the crux of this post – which is to teach you how to create an online course.

5 steps to create an online course

1. Determine the subject matter

So, you’ve decided to join the league of growing authors who make waves online by providing useful content. But what is it you’re willing to share?

You sure don’t want to be an empty vessel making the loudest noise. Always remember that people will only put their money where they can get value.

That being said, the first and most crucial step you have to take is choosing the right topic to create a course for.

I’ve written a blog post on my favorite blogging niches which might help you find the online course niche you’re looking for.

I can guess the bubbling question on your mind is, “but how do I go about choosing the ‘right’ topic?”. Well, here are a few tips to help you with that:

Choose a topic you’re passionate about

This is important because it gives you the right energy to go about creating your content. Not just that, being passionate about a subject suggests that you have considerable knowledge in that area, and you’re willing to impart that knowledge to others.

It should be a topic that you’re delighted to speak about at any given time. This way, the whole process of creating an outline to gathering information on the subject matter would be relatively enjoyable. It should be a walk in the park.

Consider your audience’s needs

Another way to overcome the challenge of getting the right content idea is by examining the need of your target audience. Remember, the course’s whole purpose in the first place is to teach people to know what they want to know. This means that you have to create content that aligns with their needs. Or else, you might not receive the patronage that you desire. And that would not be very pleasant.

If you already have an audience to yourself, then this will be much easier. Perhaps, you have a thriving YouTube channel with many subscribers; all you need to do is create a course that addresses the very topic that your channel covers.

It does not necessarily have to be a YouTube channel. Other mediums like podcasts, blogs, and newsletters can provide you with insight into brilliant ideas for an online course that matches the audience’s interests.

Alternatively, you could go as far as surveying to determine what might be the area of interest of a specific audience.

2. Research your topic

This stage requires you to conduct further research on the subject matter. You must have sufficient knowledge of the topic to deliver value, so this step is crucial.

You don’t want to come off as a novice or an author who hasn’t researched well. That is a big no-no. So, do your part and be rest assured that your audience would have enough to scoop from your well of knowledge.

When you have done this, you’re ready to progress to the next step. You’re a step closer to completely knowing how to create an online course.

That being said, you should proceed to create a well-detailed outline for your course.

3. Create your course outline

Every good presentation or report begins with an outline.

You might not be able to thoroughly address all that there is to be about the subject matter you have chosen. Thus, it is essential to mark your territory by outlining what specific areas you choose to cover.

Your outline should reveal the entire structure of your online course. This entails the course objectives and learning techniques.

Also, your outline must be coherent and follow a particular order. It should include a step-by-step process that would make your audience easily comprehend the information you’re throwing at them. You can create an excellent outline for your course by structuring it into modules and chapters.

Here is an example of a good outline for an online course (This is an outline for an Indoor Plant Care Class):

Lesson #1: How to water plants

Lesson objective: Students will learn how much and how often to water their plants.

Topics covered:

  • The importance of watering;
  • The dangers of overwatering;
  • Different types of plants and the watering they require;
  • Soil as a signifier of dehydration or overhydration.

Lesson #2: Plants and natural light

Lesson objective: Students will understand the importance of natural light and will be able to pick the optimal lighting for their plants.

Topics covered:

  • Light and its role in plant photosynthesis;
  • Different types of plants and the amount of sunlight they need;
  • How and when to use fluorescent lighting for indoor plants.

Source: How to Create an Online Course and Share Your Expertise

You can follow the above outline as a template for structuring your online course.

Once you’ve completed this step, I can boldly say that you’ve achieved a milestone already in your journey to creating the perfect online course for your audience.

I say this because when you have your outline set, it’s easier to conclude the rest of the course. Setting out what areas you would be covering makes it less stressful to create the course content.

You can also share the course outline with your target audience. This would serve as a preview of what to expect from your course. This will be an effective strategy to stir up interest. It’s like giving your audience a little piece of the cake to make them want more. Share your proposed outline on the different media mediums that are at your disposal. Ask for feedback and comments. Then modify the outline to make it impeccable.

Once you have concluded this vital step, you could take a tea break or see a movie. Now is the time to reward yourself for the excellent job you’ve done so far. But don’t lose focus; you’re on your way to victory! Without further ado, we move on to the next step on how to create an online course – create your course content!

4. Create your course content

If you’ve been following the previous steps closely, I bet you shouldn’t have any problem creating the course’s actual content. Your course content can come in different forms. You can make use of video, text, and screen-casting. And, of course, you’re free to employ all three formats. Useful online courses explore all three forms in delivering their content.

The video technique is you explaining before a camera, or your laptop, the topic which you’re teaching. This will be pre-recorded and subsequently incorporated into your course. Using the video format is a more audience-friendly option as it tends to engage the audience better. You can begin to create videos for your online course by exploring different course video creators online.

The screen-casting method is a lot similar to the video technique. It’s a video, but without you in it. You simply record your computer screen while you explain the concepts in your presentation. Easy peasy, right?

Whichever video method you choose, always ensure that your video and audio qualities are top-notch. You don’t want your audience straining their ears or squinting their eyes to consume your content. That is another big no-no!

Don’t know how to screen-cast? Screenflow provides you with the requisite resources. Thank me later! *Winks*

To make learning more engaging and useful for your audience, you might also consider incorporating quizzes and short tests into your course structure. The majority of online courses today embrace this to help learners assess and evaluate their understanding of the course content. It has proven to be pretty effective.

Suppose you’ve completed this step – congratulations! You’ve reached another milestone on this beautiful sojourn. But it is not all over yet. The next thing to consider is how to get your course to your audience and generate sales – develop a marketing strategy.

5. Develop a marketing strategy

Now that you have your course ready, how do you get it online? Your course would not have any impact just sitting comfortably on your computer. It would be best if you explored various avenues to reach your target audience. Depending on whether you want to offer your course for free or for a fee, you can utilize several online platforms to share your knowledge.

If you already have a blog, YouTube channel, or newsletter, then this is the first option to explore. Add your course to your blog or channel and sprinkle links and ads to your course where you can. Ensure your audience is made aware of your newest creation. If you intend to sell your course, then don’t forget to include a payment method on each of these mediums.

You can also move on to advertising your course on your personal social media pages. Your Instagram or Facebook shouldn’t be for posting pictures about vacations and trips alone. Sell yourself at every means available at your disposal. Good marketing precedes good sales!

Moving beyond your personal space, there are other means available to you to push your course online. Some of my favorite online course platforms that you can use to promote your course include:

These platforms are some of the most trusted sites to get your course online for a broader audience base.


Were you waiting for step 6?

Sorry, but this is the final lap.

So, take a deep breath and relax. However, keep marketing your course as often as you can. Are you hosting a webinar or speaking at an event? Refer your audience to your online course. You’ve worked hard to create something valuable. Don’t hesitate to tell the world about it.

Thanks to this guide you now have all you need to get started in one place. You don’t need to bother yourself with all the stress of searching the internet for hours.

As you saw in this guide, without these steps, creating an online course would be like setting yourself up for failure. So, pay close attention to all these steps. It’s not only about knowing them in your head, but also practicing them.

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