Figuring out how to create an online course can still be an overwhelming task, especially if you are doing it for the first time and don't have the proper guidance.
But with the emergence of user-friendly course creation platforms and affordable video-recording equipment, creating online courses is now easier than ever.
But the question is, how do you start?
I am a course creator like you and I know how mind-boggling it can be when you are just getting started. Years back, I quit my job as a software developer and focused fully on creating an online course business from scratch.
I will be sharing with you all the tips and tricks that worked for me, and all the concrete actionable steps for you to take, so that don't you don't have to fall into all the same pitfalls as I did.
Even though there is no replacement for direct course creation experience, I bet that I can save you anywhere from weeks to months of experimentation and trial and error.
You don't have to learn how to create online courses the hard way! Read this detailed guide and ask me any questions you have in the comments.
So, how do you create an online course?
Follow these 10 super-concrete and easy-to-implement steps to create your online course:
- Choose the right course topic
- Choose your main value proposition
- Validate your course idea
- Create your course outline
- Brand your online school
- Record and edit your videos
- Pick the perfect online course hosting platform
- Craft a high-converting sales page
- Price your course the right way
- Launch and promote your course
We are going to dive in detail into each and every one of these steps. So, without much ado, let's dive right in!
You can also check out all the free guides that you have available here at the Course Creator Academy by clicking on the Academy link on the top menu bar.
Step 1: Choose the Right Course Topic
You don't want to skip this step, this is maybe the most important one. Because if you choose the wrong topic, it won't work and nothing can compensate for that.
You are going to spend weeks or even months recording your online course. So, it's important to choose a topic that is not only profitable but also that you are passionate about.
This isn't to say that creating an online course is a passion project. It just means that you should be interested in the topic enough to dedicate your full time and all your resources to create it, and you want to do it for months or years.
But don't make the mistake of choosing a topic just because you think it will sell well. Because if you are not passionate enough about a topic, your teaching won't be effective, and it will impact your course engagement.
The best way to choose the right course topic is to find a balance between what you love and are good at, with the topics that people are looking to pay to learn.
Chances are, there are only a couple of topics that you are good enough at, to the point that people would be willing to pay to learn from you. So if you should have already a pretty good idea of what you will be teaching!
How To Choose The Right Topic
But if you are hesitant on which topic to choose, grab a pen and paper and write down the following:
- Any formal education, course, or workshop you have had in the past
- Your passion and hobbies
- Your past experiences
- Jobs you have been paid to do.
Next, rate them on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is, "I don't love it and I'm not good at it" and 5 is, "I love it and I'm good at it".
Chances are, there will be one or two topics with a 5 out of 5. Those are the topics to focus on. Remember, you don't have to be a world-class performer on your topic to teach it.
You just need to know it way better than most people that are still trying to learn the topic, and it typically took you months if not years of trial and error for you to learn the topic the hard way.
So now you are in a unique position to help other people through that same journey that you know so well.
Now that you have your interested topic locked down, you should check if the topic is commercially viable.
So, how can you find a profitable online course topic?
Here are 3 practical ways to gauge the market demand for your course topic:
- rely on Google search results
- use keyword research tools
- get insights from online forums or communities.
Let's go through them one by one.
How to find online course topics with Google Search Results
Google search results reveal topics that people expect to see covered in a course.
To figure out how to get the information people are looking to learn, simply put yourself in the shoes of someone who wants to learn more about your topic.
For example, assuming that your topic of interest is, "Software Development" and you want to know what people are searching for regarding the topic. First, instead of using your normal browsing window, switch your browser to "Incognito" mode.
This will hide all your information from Google and ensure that the search engine doesn't serve personalized results based on your previous search history.
A quick search on Google will reveal this:
From these search results, you will know which topic and keyword to focus on. Another way to get relevant and popular keywords is to check the "People Also Asked" section. From my search these are some of the questions people are asking about software development:
You can also scroll down to the "Related Searches" section for more insights on what people are searching for.
So go ahead and type 10 searches in the Google incognito window with common questions that you are audience has about your topic.
Check the results you get, check the "people also ask" section and the related searches section.
Those results that you see are all based on what people are clicking through the most. So the results will tell you exactly what people are looking for.
Finding Online Course Topics with Keyword Research Tools
Another strategy for finding online course topics in high demand is to search with keyword research tools.
I recommend prioritizing tools that give you real, exact data, coming straight from Google. This means Google Trends, and the Google Keyword Planner.
Google Trends is at the top of our list because it presents real-time search results from users worldwide. It shows you what people are searching for on Google.
Here is what a quick search on Google Trends reveals:
Google Keyword Planner and Ubbersuggest are other advanced tools that will help you find high-ranking keywords for your online course.
You can either search with keywords or search your competitor's website to find out the keywords that they are ranking for.
Finding Online Course Topics on Online Forums and Communities
Creating a successful online course is about finding a problem you are interested in and people are trying to solve, then giving them a solution.
One way to identify this is to join online forums and communities. Quora and Reddit, are ideal places to start.
Visit these forums and search for your proposed course topic to see the questions people are asking. Go ahead and read people's comments and answers. It will give you an idea of subtopics to cover in your course.
I believe that for this to be done right, this task should preferably be done over a period of weeks or months, at least.
You should be an active daily participant in these communities, ask questions and help people out. This will help you understand your audience a lot better, and tell you what they are looking for.
You can also join Facebook and LinkedIn groups related to your niche.
A great way to learn more about what people are looking for in those groups is to run surveys, but be careful because that might not be allowed in certain groups, so make sure to always read and follow the group rules.
Most of all, you want to be a genuine participant in the group, and gather from direct interaction with your target audience what they are looking to learn about.
You will then need to combine all the information that you gathered in order to pick your course topic:
- the topics that you are good at
- the data from Google searches tells you what people expect to find for that search query
- the data from keyword research tools
- the things you learned by interacting with existing communities
Based on all this information, I'm pretty sure you will be able to identify a valid course topic.
Here is a complete guide on how to do this research - How To Choose An Online Course Topic (That Sells).
But the question is: what will your message be about that topic, and how will you be able to stand out from the crowd and sell your course?
Step 2: Choose Your Main Value Proposition
This step is absolutely critical, don't overlook it. Now that you have figured out your online course topic, it's time to decide on your value proposition.
This simply means the value you are proposing to deliver to your students after they have completed your course, such as:
- what they will gain from taking the course
- what they will be able to do after completing the course
A value proposition could be something like:
- "I help overweight men over 40 to get back into shape"
Nobody purchases products or services when they don't know or understand the value they will be getting, and that includes you, right?
So, even though you know the value of your course, and have the big picture in your mind, it doesn't mean that your students will know. You should break it down for them, and tell them exactly what they will get from the course.
But why choose the value proposition before even recording the course?
Because knowing your main value proposition will help you plan out the course content, and help you to craft a marketing message around your course.
It's essential that you choose your value proposition first. Because you are going to build your whole course around it. 😉
It will help a lot to decide what to include and what to exclude from the course.
By putting down your value proposition, you are explaining to your prospective students what they can do, the knowledge they will acquire, and how they will feel at the end of your course. So, start by asking yourself these questions?
- What new skills or knowledge will my students get?
- How will my students feel after taking this course?
- What will my students be able to do by the end of my course?
- What will my students know by the end of my course?
When you have figured out your online course goals, you should then describe them with actionable words. Your value propositions must be specific. Don't use vague words.
You should be clear on how many, how long, and how much your students will achieve.
For example, "After completing this course, you will be able to build a website with Python".
From the above, it's clear what my students will learn at the end of my class and how they will implement it. Notice that I didn't use, "Learn" or "Understand"?
This is to ensure that the learning outcomes are measurable and can be assessed at the end of the day.
Pro Tip: Follow this formula when drafting your course's value propositions:
"After completing this course, you will be able to…" + Verb + What students will do + How they will do it".
Step 3: Validate Your Course Idea
This is another critical step that most course creators overlook. Spending months recording a course without first validating your idea is a huge mistake, that I did myself multiple times.
You wouldn't want to spend weeks and months creating an online course that people wouldn't buy in the end.
Even as you have done the necessary keyword research and followed trends on online forums, you need to be sure that your target students will buy your course.
This means validating not only the course content itself, but the value proposition and your whole marketing message around your course.
You can validate your idea simply by asking people in groups what they think about your course idea. But most people if they don't like the idea will be hesitant in bursting your bubble. 😉
One of the hardest things about selling courses online is that feedback is few and far between. And even more so if the product hasn't launched yet.
So surveys and forum questions are a good source of information and you should do them, but they are not as effective as this other technique that you have available.
The best way to validate your course is by far to pre-sell it to your target audience. This means selling your course before it's created. It's one of the best and most effective strategies for launching an online course.
Pre-selling your course doesn't only help you generate upfront revenue for your business, but you also receive instant feedback from your prospective students.
It also helps with your audience growth and ensures that you remain excited and accountable throughout your course creation journey.
So, how do you pre-sell an online course?
From your keyword research, surveys, and online forum monitoring, craft your online course title, including your value propositions, what the students should expect, the timeline of the course, and the price.
You should then define your goals. This could be the number of students you want to onboard or how much upfront revenue you are expecting before kicking off with the course.
Then, go ahead and design your pre-launch sell page. This page determines your conversion rate, so ensure it's top-notch.
To create high converting copy for your pre-launch page, employ the AIDA model when writing your titles, subtitles, and course description. It simply means:
So, always ask yourself:
- Does this capture attention? (Attention)
- Does this spark curiosity to learn more? (Interest)
- Does this trigger some kind of emotional response? (Desire)
- Does this entice your students to take some kind of next step? (Action)
Also, design an eye-catching and professional thumbnail for your launch page.
When all these are ready, you can then set up your pre-launch page on an online course hosting platform.
Here is a separate guide on how to create a pre-sell launch page: How To Create The Perfect Online Course Sales Page.
The bottom line here is to make it clear that it's a pre-sale. You can words like, "Coming soon", or "Early Launch" to drive home that message.
When the page is ready, it's then time to get the word out. If you have collected some emails during your surveys, they will come in handy here. You can also use tools like Mailchimp to send bulk emails.
Remember that with pre-selling, you are not looking to earn a significant revenue at this stage. The goal of pre-selling is to validate if people are actually willing to pay for your course, and to check if your value proposition and your marketing message resonates with them.
Depending on the size of your audience, just a handful of sales might already be a good enough sign that your idea is a good one and worth pursuing further.
Because even a small number of sales sends you the signal that yes your course idea is valid and people are interested in it, so you will be recording the right course, that your prospective students are looking for.
Step 4: Create your Course Outline
This is another super important step, that tends too often be overlooked by new course creators. Before jumping straight to creating your online course, it's important to take some time to organize your thoughts.
Get a paper or a notes application and write them down.
How do your students move from the point they currently are to where you want them to be?
The essence of creating a course outline is to get you clear on what content your course includes, ensuring that you don’t miss anything, or even worst add something unnecessary.
It is also at this phase that you determine the most effective course delivery methods. All these will help you speed up your course creation process.
So how do you create your online course outline?
There are two stages to creating an effective online course outline. They are:
- The Big Picture Outline
- The Individual Lesson Outline
The Big Picture outline is a summary of your end goal, that is, your main course objective. What skills or knowledge will your prospective students have at the end of your course?
Maybe you want them to know how to build applications, design websites, or perform Yoga exercises.
The Individual Lesson Outline is where you break down your overall end goal into smaller steps - Modules, Chapters, and Lessons.
To organize an effective course outline, you need to:
- Start with the Big Picture in mind: You need to know your final destination beforehand. Or else you'll be embarking on a journey without knowing where you're headed.
- Organize the modules in a logical order: Start from the easiest step and gradually build it up from Modules 1, 2, 3, and so on.
- Break down the modules into easily digestible lessons: The best way to do this is to figure out what your students already know about the topic, what they need to learn, the best way to deliver it, and what additional resources will be required.
- Flesh out your lessons: Here, take each lesson and divide it into three parts: Introduction (Explains the importance of the lesson), Content (Materials needed), and Conclusion (Summarizes the lesson's content).
- Include assessments: You should test your students on what they learned from each module, but you don't need to do it on a lesson per lesson basis. Create quizzes, assignments, and tasks. It makes your online course more interactive and engaging.
Don't forget to attach other learning resources that will be helpful to your students after completing each module successfully. It could be articles, videos, books, or podcasts.
You don't need any expensive or complicated tools for creating a course outline. Simple tools such as Google Docs or Excel sheets are great for that.
Once you have an outline of the main modules of your course, map out the overall course requirements.
For example, tools they should have beforehand, websites to subscribe to, the amount of time they should dedicate to each module, and so on.
The goal of the outline is to decide what are the exact steps that you are going to ask the students to take in order to bring them to their desired outcome - your value proposition.
Step 5: Brand your Online School
There are a lot of course creators and online schools out there, so, how do you make yours stand out?
Create a brand! Here is a complete guide on how to do it - Create a Powerful Brand for Your Online Courses (In 5 Steps).
A brand not only makes your courses easy to recognize, but it also adds more professionalism and personality to your online school.
Notice that this step is necessary before shooting and editing your course videos.
You will need to include your course's logo, banner, and domain in your videos, especially in your introduction and conclusion. You will also need it when designing your course website and for your marketing.
So, what's the best way to brand your online course?
Start by choosing your brand colors. These are prominent colors that will appear on your website. Your brand colors depend on the courses you are teaching.
If your course is about an existing tool or software like Adobe Premiere Pro, you would want to use colors that are similar to the tool. This helps to create an immediate visual association between your courses and the product that you are teaching.
In the case of Adobe Premiere Pro, you would want to choose dark and light purple as your brand colors.
However, if you're not creating courses for an existing product or brand, then you will have to choose your own brand colors from scratch,
Bear in mind that colors evoke different kinds of emotions and feelings from us. There is no right or wrong choice here. Just make sure that the colors you're choosing represent how you want your students to feel once they visit your website.
You would want to pick just two colors - Primary and Accent color. While the primary color will be the most prominent, the accent color will mainly highlight certain buttons or elements on the website.
For example, Blue and Pink are our brand colors. Blue represents trust and reliability while Pink represents upliftment. That's exactly how I want course creators to feel.
Also, you should create a well-designed banner and logo. This is the perfect opportunity to showcase your brand’s main color(s). Ensure that the image isn't too busy and that there isn't too much text. You can simply use your website name.
Simple is better so that you don't overwhelm your audience.
If you don't have design skills, it's best to delegate this to a professional designer using a website like Fiverr.
Alternatively, you can attempt to do the job yourself if you are working with a tight budget. Tools like Canva, Wix Logo Maker, and Looka will come in handy.
Here are a couple of detailed guides to help you in this step:
- How to Create an Online Course Thumbnail (to Boost Conversions)
- How To Create an Online Course Thumbnail with Canva (For Free)
The next step in building a brand is to choose a domain name. This is the name your students will type in a browser's search bar to visit your website if they are interested in your course.
Your domain name has to be simple, clear, and most of all easy to remember. To achieve this:
- Use the right extensions, like .com or .org.
- Make it short
- Ensure it's easy to pronounce and type
- Preferably don't use hyphens or numbers
- Use keywords popular in your industry
- Make it memorable
These platforms will help you pick the right domain name for your website and show you what domains are available.
Once you have your domain, course hosting platforms like onlinecoursehost.com have all the tools you need to create a fully branded custom website.
These specialized online course website builders have simple drag-and-drop tools. This makes it easy for you to customize your course website even if you don't have design or technical skills.
Step 6: Record and Edit your Videos
At last, the fun part! 😉 By now, you should have a well-detailed and concise course outline and plan. It will serve you as a guide when you're making your video.
There are different ways to record your online course videos. You can get in front of the camera, just like the traditional classroom teaching but the difference here is that you are pre-recording everything, so you can do as many takes as you need to get it right.
You can also opt-in for text lessons, animated videos, voice-over-screen recordings, or slides. However, your course delivery methods depend on the topic you are teaching.
For example, if you are taking a Yoga class or any other type of fitness class, you need to get on camera, to speak to your students and demonstrate some exercises.
The same goes if you have created a Fashion and design course or similar classes that require practical examples.
On the other hand, if your course involves step-by-step tutorials on topics like software development, graphic design, video editing, photography, or anything else done with a computer, then you might consider screencast recordings.
If you have a choice, the easiest and most efficient way of creating a course is by far via screencast recordings. It's easy, quick, and convenient.
But of course, your students often want to see the face behind the tutorials. In such a case, you can film yourself at the introductory and conclusion phases of your course. Or simply, at the beginning of each course outline or behind a green screen.
This helps your students to connect better with you, and still keeps the course easy to produce.
To help you record your first course, here are some detailed in-depth guides that you want to check out:
- How to Record and Edit Your First Online Course
- Green Screen Tutorial: Improve the Branding of Your Online Courses
Again, you don't need high-end or expensive equipment to pull that off. You can just use your phone or computer.
If you are screen-recording with your computer, screen recording apps like ScreenFlow or Camtasia will make your recordings look great.
There are even cloud-based tools that don't require any local installation, like Screencast-O-Matic.
For your audio needs, it's essential that you get a good microphone. It doesn't have to be expensive, but don't want to rely on the built-in microphone in your phone or computer.
This would be a huge mistake, as those are tiny microphones that just don't get the job done.
In general, your students will be very forgiving with your video quality. But if there is one thing that they don't tolerate is bad audio, because it just makes the course unwatchable.
If you are curious, check out all the equipment that I use for my courses here:
After recording your videos, you can then proceed to edit them. Video editing tools like Adobe Premiere Pro, Camtasia, Movavi, Final Cut, and DaVinci Resolve are worth checking out.
Personally I use ScreenFlow, and I'm so used to it that it wouldn't make sense to change. But if I was choosing a new tool now, I would probably go with a cloud-based editor like Screencast-O-Matic or even just Loom.
Alternatively, you can hire a video editor to handle the job for you, which is what I do. This is one of the first tasks that you should outsource.
I outsourced almost all my video editing after my first course, and it almost doubled my productivity, as I was taking as long to edit a video as I was taking to record it, more or less.
To know all the ins and outs on how to hire people to help you produce online courses, check out this detailed guide:
Once you have your videos ready, you now need to create an online course website.
Step 7: Pick the Perfect Online Course Hosting Platform
Finally, your course is READY and it's time to create your course website, and start making your first sales.
There are three ways to do this:
- Self Hosting: This involves building a website from scratch, especially with WordPress, and using the plugins to manage your courses. Here you have full control over your online school but at the same time you are shouldering a lot of responsibilities that could overwhelm you if you are not tech-savvy, like software upgrades, choosing and configuring plugins, fixing issues, etc.
- Publishing on online marketplaces: Here, you can take advantage of popular platforms like Skillshare and Udemy. It's quick and easy to publish your courses there. Also, they come with a pre-built audience and help you market your course. However, you will hardly earn your course's worth. Aside from sharing a large portion of your revenue with them and being unable to truly choose the course price, you have limited control over your branding, and don't get direct access to your student's emails.
- Use Online Course Hosting Platforms: This option is similar to self-hosting but the difference here is that you can find your way around even though you're not tech-savvy. The platforms remove all the technical headaches that come with setting up a website. All you need to do is to drag and drop some features and boom! Your website is ready. You also have full control of your online school from pricing to marketing and branding, and you can build your email list. More so, you are not splitting your earnings.
So, which hosting platform is best for publishing your online courses?
OnlineCourseHost.com is an easy-to-use platform that allows you to set up your online course school, brand, and market your online courses in just a few minutes.
The platform comes with everything that you need to create a course website, and it includes email marketing features such as bulk emails (newsletters).
You don't need to be tech-savvy, a developer or a designer to create and publish a beautiful online course website.
The drag-and-drop editor makes it flexible and simple to design a highly optimized course landing page and website for your school.
You also have access to features like quizzes, assignments, digital downloads, written lessons, student discussions, and a responsive course player to make your course more interactive and fun.
You can have as many students as you want and upload unlimited courses while at the same time staying in charge of your online course business.
This means that you have full control over your brand including your brand colors, banner, logo, and domain name.
Not just that, you also get to set your course price and choose a suitable business model whether it's discount coupons, subscriptions, enterprise, or lifetime pan.
Overall, the platform is much more affordable than anything else equivalent and it doesn't take a cut from your course revenue. You can access your funds and withdraw them at any time.
But should you restrict yourself to publishing your courses only in your own website?
Where is the best place to publish my online course?
You should first publish your online course on your website, and then in any marketplace that suits your course.
As a new course creator, you need to build a brand, and creating and publishing your course on your website will help you achieve that.
On the other hand, you need an audience. Without them, your online course business will take much more time to gather momentum, as the audience-building process is slow and it can't be rushed.
Aside from that, you also need a source of extra income when your business kicks off and becomes your full-time job. In that case, publishing your courses on marketplaces like Udemy and Skillshare makes a lot of sense.
These platforms already have millions of students audience that visit their websites daily looking for new courses. On top of that, they take a lot of the marketing responsibilities off your shoulders.
Sure they will make a larger percentage of your revenue and restrict your access to students' data, but the goal here is to validate your course, generate some income, build your brand and kick start your audience growth.
You can self-promote in your introduction and conclusion videos, and add your website link, social media handles, and YouTube, to your profile.
Ensure that you follow the platforms' rules regarding self-promotion, know what you can and can't do, and never cross that line.
Once you have uploaded your lessons to the platform of your choice, now is the moment to create an optimized course landing page.
Step 8: Craft a High-Converting Course Sales Page
After choosing the right course hosting platform, it's time to craft and design your sales page otherwise known as your course sales page, or course landing page.
This page describes your course, but it goes further to persuade your prospective students to purchase the course.
This page alone is the sole responsible for your conversion rate, meaning the percentage of page visitors that convert into paying students. So, you should make it count.
No matter how amazing your online course is, it won't sell without a great sales page.
To understand this, imagine creating the most awesome and well-produced YouTube video possible, and then giving it a bad title and thumbnail.
What will happen? No one will watch it, because the conversion rate is solely determined by the video and thumbnail, and not by the content.
So your sales page has to capture your student’s attention and compel them to purchase the course.
You might think that it's a good idea to hire a copywriter to write the content of the landing page for you, but where are you going to find a copywriter that understands your audience better than you?
It doesn't make sense, right? It's much better if you learn some very simple but effective copywriting techniques, and use them to write your landing page. This shouldn't take you more than half a day to one day of work.
How To Create a High-Converting Course Sales Page?
Designing an eye-catching thumbnail should be the first on your list. This is where you create your first impression. When someone visits your website, this is the first thing they see:
Whether you are sharing your courses on social media, emails or other students are sharing your course, this image is the first thing people see, and sometimes it's the only thing they remember.
So, you want to make sure it stands out.
It's best to delegate this task to an expert graphic designer so that the design will look more professional. You can get a professionally designed thumbnail for less than $10 on websites like Fiverr, so it's well worth it.
Or you can do it yourself with free tools like Canva. However, ensure that the image isn't too crowded and that you use your brand colors.
The next stage is to write a gripping title or headline. Make sure your headline captures, awareness, interest, desire, and action.
Here is an example:
There are a few simple techniques that you can use to come up with a great title. Check out this detailed guide to learn how to do it: How To Write a Killer Online Course Title
Then apply the same strategy in writing the subtitle and course description.
However, make sure that you highlight the worries and problems of your target audience. Show them that you understand their pain, then finally present your course as the solution.
Go further and list the core features and benefits of your online course. This isn't the same as your course's timetable. Rather it's a summary of the tangible ways your course will benefit your students and the results they will get at the end. You can have as many benefits as you want but it's best to keep it under 8.
Listing your course benefits helps to boost your students' desire to take your course. Here is a sample:
You should also attach all the positive reviews you've gotten in the past in the course description. This boosts your course's credibility and increases your conversion rate.
Even after going through the course title, description, and positive reviews, some students may still be indecisive about purchasing the course. Perhaps there are some reservations that were not addressed anywhere else on the sales page.
This is where the FAQ section comes in. This section merely answers questions that you feel your prospective students may have. You need to understand your target audience really well to nail this.
That means answering the following questions:
- What’s their current situation and what holds them back?
- What are they afraid of and what prevents them from taking the next step?
- What are they most concerned about or unsure of regarding your course?
- Why could they be skeptical about your course?
Answer these questions succinctly. You'll arrive at something like this:
Make sure you include your "Bio" at the end of your page. Your prospective students would want to know the person behind the course. It's also a great way to establish your authority and credibility as the course creator.
This section should contain details such as awards, qualifications, and links to articles or interviews. Generally, every detail proves that you are the right person to teach this course. For example:
To round it up, set your course price and add a call to action button that will direct your readers to purchase your online course. Ensure that it's bold and stands out. This should come after the course price and bonuses if applicable. Here is a sample:
I've provided here the major steps of what it takes to build a great course sales page, but you can find a much more detailed guide here - How To Create The Perfect Online Course Sales Page.
Next up, is another critical part of creating a best-selling online course: how to choose the price?
Step 9: Price Your Online Course
The choice of your price and your billing model plays a large part in deciding whether your course will be a success or failure.
You wouldn't want to sell yourself short but at the same time, you're careful not to overprice the course.
So, how do you strike a balance?
Before deciding on your course price, you should first conduct competitive research and find out what other course creators in your niche are charging for their courses.
You should pay attention to their pricing options and see what works for them. If you are unsure where to find creators in your niche, check out marketplaces like Udemy or Skillshare.
Alternatively, you can search for them on Google. Just type, "Your Niche + Online Course". Then record the prices you find and the links to the course pages in a spreadsheet.
Study your target audience again to know their financial capability and if they are very price-sensitive or willing to pay a bit more for the required course price.
In addition, you should consider your course type - Is it around a hobby or skill that will help them move forward in their career?
Don't forget to consider the time and effort you've put into creating this course, the marketing costs, and the value of additional course materials like handouts, books, and templates.
But before you decide on your course price before you put your foot down and say, "This is how much my course is worth", there are certain tricks that you can adopt to make sure that your students pay for your courses without thinking twice.
Pricing a course is a bit of an art. There are rules and principles that control it.
That's why you'll walk into a store and you will prefer to purchase an item for $1.99 instead of $2, when in reality both prices are almost the same.
So what are these pricing principles that you should follow?
Principles To Pay Attention To When Pricing Your Online Course
Here are a few important principles to bear in mind while pricing your course:
Choose a price with fewer syllables: Prices with fewer syllables are more catchy, and easier for the brain to process. Usually, rounded numbers like 1, 10, 20, and 30 are easier to pronounce and appear more appealing. This trick works even better if you combine it with the next trick.
Reduce the Left Digit By One: This means reducing 10 to $9.99, $19.99, $29.99, and so on. The reason is simple, our brain encodes prices before you finish reading the digits. That's why a one-cent difference between $5.99 and $6.00 can feel like a one-dollar difference.
Remove the Comma From Prices: Usually, prices seem cheaper without commas. For example, consider $1,499 - One-thousand four-hundred and ninety-nine (10 syllables) and $1499 - Fourteen ninety-nine (5 syllables). Both are the same price but customers will gravitate towards $1499 more because it has fewer syllables and can be easily pronounced.
Show your course first before the price: This will make customers focus more on the benefits and value they will get at the end of the day. But if you show the price first, they will be more concerned about what it will cost them and overlook the course value.
Give temporary reasons for your discounts: You can offer discounts for early registration but make this reason clear, and make sure that you make it clear that the discount is only temporary. For example, $100 -- $25 OFF Earlybird registration! sounds better than just $100 -- $25 OFF!
Follow the Rule of 100 in your discount: The rule states that if your price is under $100, it’s better to focus on the percentage, whereas if it’s over $100 it’s more effective to focus on the actual money saved.
Let's say your course is priced at $150. Should you give a 20% off or an equivalent which is $30? Offering a $30 discount sounds more persuasive than 20%.
But if the course is $100, 20% off is the same as $10 off but 20% sounds better and will be more effective.
In both cases above, a $30 discount for a $150 course and a 20% discount for a $100 course will capture your customer's attention more and yield better results because both numbers are higher numerals.
If you want to learn in detail about all these tricks and much more, check out this guide that I wrote: Online Course Pricing Guide (Top 7 Science-Based Tips).
Applying these tricks and finally arriving at a course price leaves you with one question, "How do I want to charge my students"?
Choose a Billing Model For Your Courses
In general, you have three viable pricing models to consider. They include:
- One-Time Price: Here your prospective students make a single purchase of your course. This model helps you to price some courses lower than others to increase your reach. But the downside here is that once you have started it, it might be difficult to switch to another model.
- Recurring Price: Here, your students will pay either monthly, quarterly or yearly. This model generates you recurring revenue, which is great, but it doesn't convert as well as one-time pricing, because there is the additional perceived risk of repeated payments. Students will be willing to pay you a subscription, but the monthly value will usually have to be lower.
- Bundle Pricing: If you have more than one course, you can decide to join all of them and offer all courses at one single one-time price. This is a very effective business model, because it combines the high conversion of a one-time price with the higher price point of a bundle.
But you don't have to commit to just one pricing model or option. Your course can have different pricing options, as different persons are interested in different types of deals.
Though my advice to new course creators is to sell as many one-time courses as possible. That way, you will generate more reviews and upfront revenue for your next course.
And no, you don't need to price your course high. Based on my personal experience, it may put people off considering that you're just starting.
So, it's better to start small and slowly raise your prices over time. And once you start building a nice course catalog of say 3 or more courses, you can start thinking about offering a subscription.
Also, if you are charging your students monthly, prices like $9.99 and$19.99 are very effective, while $89 and $99 work great for yearly subscriptions.
However, you can only experiment with different price models if you're hosting your course on your own website.
That's one of the many reasons why I think that having your own website is by far the greatest decision you can make for the future of your online course business.
If you are publishing your course on online marketplaces, you won't have this freedom. Aside from that, you can freely implement all the pricing tricks we've discussed above, and try out different pricing models, to see what works best for you.
Check out this detailed guide to learn about your options regarding the choice of your billing model - How to Sell Online Courses? The Ultimate Guide.
And when you finally lock down your course price, it's time to launch and promote it!
Step 10: Launch and Promote Your Course
Now that your course is ready! But bear in mind that things are just getting started. You now need to start making sales.
And the best way to achieve this is to have strategies in place to ensure a successful course launch and promotion.
First, you should set a launch date. It could be a month, or a few weeks after you have completed your course. Send an email newsletter to your contact list announcing this date.
This is also the point where you create social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
You can also design thumbnails with your course details including the price and launch date. This shouldn't be so complicated and you don't need to hire a professional for it. Canva, an easy-to-use design tool will come in handy here.
After designing these thumbnails, post them on your pages, including the groups you joined previously. Share with your friends as well and tell them to spread the word.
And don't forget to include countdown timers!
That is one of the most effective strategies for generating sales especially if you are just starting.
Countdown timers instill a sense of urgency and give your students reasons to purchase your course right now. People will act faster when they feel like they are missing out on something.
So, how do you implement a countdown timer?
Earlybird discounts work better if you are just launching your course. Encourage your prospective students to purchase your course before a certain date at a lower price and once the deadline is gone, they will buy at the full price.
You can also decide to open a launch window, that is, make your course available for a certain period. So, interested people should purchase it before you take it off the market. Ensure that the countdown timer is bold on your course page to show that time is ticking.
Mind you, your online course promotion isn't going to be a one-time thing. You'll need to keep up with it weeks, and months after you have launched your course. Aside from making sales, you're also building an audience at this stage.
There are two core ways of building an audience from scratch as a new course creator:
- Write high-quality content, in the form of a blog
- Upload instructional YouTube videos
Though, for any of these two methods to work, you have to combine them with Email marketing. It's okay to try both methods, but my personal preferred method is writing blog posts.
Creating and uploading videos on YouTube is great too, so both ways can work. But with YouTube, you will have to go through the extra step of bringing people to your website, which YouTube does not like because it ends the viewing session.
While with blog posts, people are already on your website. 😉
I personally think writing and publishing high-quality blog posts is the best way to promote your online course, but YouTube videos can work great too.
Once you've dedicated enough time to creating a blog post with an email marketing form to collect your students' emails, that post will consistently get you new students and potential customers over time, without you doing much again.
You can also add links to your courses in the body of the post and get direct sales. Another strategy is to answer relevant questions on Quora with your blog posts. The visitors you're drawing from the platform to your blog could turn into potential students.
The good thing about promoting your online course with high-quality blog posts is that the more you write in-depth articles, the better the blog will perform on Google as your authority builds up over time.
And once you have a good number of blog posts that cover the main topics that your students are looking for on search engines, you don't have to continuously create new articles.
You can go for months and even years without touching any of the blog posts, and the traffic will remain more or less constant.
Remember that this strategy goes well with Email marketing. So, as you are creating posts, and collecting your visitors' email, think of sending them newsletters at most twice a week, but not more.
Also, when writing your emails, don't just ask your readers to click a link to read a post. Make sure that the email contains valuable information that will make them want and open and read your next email.
The best strategy for writing a high-converting educational email is to ask a question in the email subject and then answer it briefly in the email body.
Then you can link to a free video directly on your website that further answers the question in more detail. This works great and it's what I do myself all the time.
You can read more about how I do my marketing and emails in the following detailed guides:
- How to Promote Your Online Course: Complete Guide
- What Is The Best Lead Magnet For Your Online Courses?
- Effective Email Marketing For Online Course Creators
Conclusions and Final Recommendations
As you can see, creating an online course requires a lot of work. Beyond just being an expert in your field, you also need to be a content creator and digital marketer.
It might seem like a lot but once you start, take it step-by-step, not rushing it or thinking about the end product, you'll be fine.
Suffice it to say, you will learn a lot on the job like I did, but with a lot less trial and error.
These steps worked for me and right now, online course creation is my job, together with running onlinecoursehost.com.
I hope the guide has cleared some of the questions and confusion you had before reading.
So, what's next?
Most successful course creators have one thing in common - They host their courses on online course platforms. That way, they have full control over their branding, pricing, and marketing.
However, the problem a lot of course creators especially if they are just starting out is that they don't have enough revenue to subscribe to some of these platforms, since they can be quite expensive.
So they go to the route of publishing only in marketplaces, which in my experience is a huge mistake as most of my revenue is done on my own website. You can check out here my latest revenue report, to give you an idea - My Revenue as an Online Course Creator (2021 Update).
So, how can you create your courses, brand your business, market, and make enough revenue without being crippled by large hosting expenses?
I understand this dilemma because I’ve been there too. I’m a course creator myself, and I understand what it’s like to have to create an online course and grow an audience from scratch with a limited budget.
It is for this reason that I created OnlineCourseHost.com, the easiest and most affordable course hosting platform you can find on the web.
The platform is super easy to use and has everything you need to create and sell your online course. You can create unlimited courses, have as many students as you want, integrate Facebook Ads, customize your homepage, give out discount coupons, send email newsletters, and much more.
Your students can pay in your local currency if you prefer and you don't have to give the platform a cut of your revenue, as there are no transaction fees.
You can read more about the platform features here.
But more than a platform, we want to give you all the information that you need to grow your online course business successfully.
That’s why we have created the Course Creator Academy where you can find everything you need to become a successful online course creator all in one place for free.
To get notified when new content is available here at the Academy, you can subscribe here to our weekly newsletter:
If you are looking to ask any questions on online course creation, you can reach me here on my Facebook group:
Ready to learn how to launch your first course on OnlineCourseHost.com? Here are the helpful guides for you to check out:
- Best Online Course Platforms (Ultimate Guide)
- How To Create An Online Course (In 15 Super-Practical Steps)
- How To Choose An Online Course Topic That Sells
- How To Record And Edit Your First Online Course
- Affordable Online Course Equipment - Complete Practical Guide
- How To Hire An Online Course Team
- The Ultimate Online Course Launch Checklist
- How To Create The Perfect Online Course Sales Page
- Create A Powerful Brand For Your Online Courses (In 5 Steps)
- How To Sell Online Courses? The Ultimate Guide
- How To Promote Your Online Course - Complete Guide
I hope you found this post helpful, let me know in the comments below what other topics you would like me to cover, or any questions that you have?
Thanks for reading… and enjoy the course creation process! 😉