So, you want to become an online course creator? That’s good to hear because this is one of the fastest-growing industries.
Set to grow to $325 billion over the next few years, making now the perfect time to get involved. 😉
However, creating an online course isn’t as easy as it looks, there’s a lot of moving pieces.
You will need to become a cross between a teacher, an educational content creator and an online marketer, in order to make it all work.
There’s also a lot of contrasting advice. It’s difficult to know who to listen to, and which process, system, and/or framework works for you.
But fear not, I’ve been there myself and gone through all this overwhelming info.
So how to become an online course creator?
Here are the multiple steps involved in starting a career as an online course creator:
- Step 1 - Market research
- Step 2 - Understand your student
- Step 3 - Create free content
- Step 4 - Understand SEO
- Step 5 - Create a sales funnel
- Step 6 - Build a brand
- Step 7 - Build a community
- Step 8 - Validate your course ideas
But now, let's get to the specifics. In this post I'm going to break down everything that you need to know to make this work for you as well. 👍
You can always find an up-to-date index with all the free content available in the Course Creator Academy by clicking on the Academy link on the top menu bar.
What is an Online Course Creator & Why Become One?
An online course creator is like an online teacher who creates courses to teach students.
Being an online course creator is great!!
- It allows you to teach what you’re good at and enjoy...
- It helps other people and has an impact on their life, career, and more…
- It can provide a great side income (and even become your main source of it!!)
It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. Being a course creator allows me to make a living teaching other people about a topic that I love (software development).
Besides the impact on others, the job satisfaction part, the monetary aspect, being a course creator improved a lot the quality of my life: less stress, more free time, freedom to go on holidays when I need, etc.
I won’t go into all that here as I’ve done so in a few other articles:
- How I Made $1.615.000 Selling Online Courses (So Far)
- How to be Successful on Udemy (How I Made $436.335 on Udemy)
- My Revenue as an Online Course Creator (Full 2020 Report)
- How I Started My Online Course Business
If you’re new around here and want to learn more about my story, I encourage you to start with those articles above.
Whereas if you want to learn how you can become an online course creator (and a successful one at that), keep reading...
12 Tips on How To Become an Online Course Creator
These are some of the biggest tips I’ve learned in recent years, since I started teaching online in 2016. These are the tips I wish I had access to when I first began.
If I’d known what I’m about to share with you, I would have saved a lot of time and money.
So if you want to become an online course creator, this is what you need 👇 👇
1: Know Your Topic
First of all, before starting to create an online course on something, I think you need to have some significant level of expertise in that topic.
You don't have to be a world-class expert or anything close to that, but you will have to know much more about the topic than most people that you will be teaching.
So if you are a Yoga teacher, you should have been practicing it for a long time yourself, and you must know how to practice it a lot better than your students.
If you are teaching woodworking, you should have been doing it for a long time and have a ton of experience with it, etc.
Even if the topic is new, which happens often for example in tech, you should have similar experience in other closely related topics, and you should have jumped in the topic as soon as it was possible, months or years ahead of other people.
In general, you should have relevant experience on the topic or something closely related to it, and one way or the other, you should know a lot more about it than most other people that are also interested on the topic.
And that is why I say that that is the most difficult part, because it will typically take years to get to that point. 😉
Compared to that, figuring how to create online courses and sell them should be relatively easy.
2: Know Your Student
Knowing your topic and what you bring to the table is one thing. But it means little unless you know who your student is.
This is what it’s all about.
Creating a course is easy.
But one that sells and changes lives… that’s a whole other level.
In the beginning, I focussed on what I *thought* my students needed. Some of my assumptions were right. Many of them weren’t.
Save yourself time and get to know your audience better than you know yourself.
- Create a customer avatar
- Research their pain and/or problems
- Appreciate how they consume content and how they best learn
From here, you can create the courses they really need.
Not just a course that helps, but one that transforms!
I have another guide that helps you achieve this: How to Create a Compelling Online Course That Your Students Will Love.
One of the best investments you can make is to understand your audience on a deep level.
Once you know what you bring to the table and what they’re lacking on theirs… you can build a bridge (ie: your course).
3: Be More Than a Teacher
I hate to break it to you… but when you become an online course creator you do not become just a teacher. Being a course creator is not at all like working in a school.
To become a course creator, you will have to become a cross between a teacher and a digital marketer. 😉
To be successful, you need to embrace this fact; embrace the reality that you’ll spend as much time marketing your courses as you will creating them.
After all, your goal isn’t to create a course… right?
It’s to create one that gets purchased and watched by your students, and that helps them in some way. But you need to be able to sell it in order to make it all sustainable.
This doesn’t just happen. You’re up against many other course creators, let alone authors, bloggers, podcasters, et al. You need to create a great course and then go out there and sell it.
Simply put, being just a teacher isn’t enough.
The sooner you not only accept this but embrace it, the better, because marketing online can be a lot of fun.
It doesn’t have to be as hard or scary as you might imagine. I’m here to help, so check out:
- How To Sell Online Courses? A Complete Marketing Strategy
- Ethical Email Marketing For Online Course Creators
- How To Promote Your Online Course - Complete Guide
4: Content, Content, Content
Remember that as a course creator, you are essentially a special type of content creator.
Everything that you do online, be it publish something on your website, send an email, create a course, create a slide deck, do a social media post, all of that is some form of content.
So you need to level up your content creation skills, so that everything that you do looks neat, professional and trustworthy.
You need to learn how to:
- Effectively create and communicate content across different mediums (audio, video, text, slide decks, copy, etc…)
- Repurpose content into shorter formats so you can teach different people in different locations (social media, for instance, and the various types of platforms out there)
- Create and edit your content in different formats (from video recording and editing to sales copy)
- Identify the tools and equipment you need (and learn HOW to use them!!)
To help guide you, here are a few other tutorials I've wrote:
- How To Record And Edit Your First Online Course
- What Is The Perfect Lead Magnet For Your Online Courses?
- How To Sell Online Courses With A Facebook Group (Top 3 Tips)
- How To Create The Perfect Online Course Sales Page
5: Understand (and VALUE) SEO
One of the most underrated skills many course creators overlook is SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.
If you take one thing from this guide, I hope it’s this: SEO matters, and a lot.
SEO is a set of skills that will help you find traffic and leads to your online course website.
The true value of SEO isn’t just that it helps you rank high in Google, but also empowers you to:
- Effectively research your topic and industry…
- Monitor and evaluate who your competition is…
- Better understand your audiences’ pain and problems…
- Validate your ideas before you commit any resources to them…
- as well as the obvious benefit of driving traffic to your website!
Understanding SEO is like gaining a superpower.
It’s something a lot of course creators don’t value, which is a huge opportunity for you. You don’t need to have a deep understanding of all the technical aspects.
You don’t need to become an SEO guru!
You simply need to understand the basics, and learn how to do some simple SEO research to validate course topics, find course ideas, write content that brings traffic to your website in an effective way, etc.
Once you do, you have what you need to identify gaps in the market where you can insert your content and your course.
6: Create a Sales Funnel
This is something else most course creators overlook (making it another huge opportunity for you).
As a course creator, you’re building a business and brand, whether you realize it or not.
Your course plays a large part in this. Yet it’s just one piece in a much bigger machine.
The sooner you appreciate this “bigger picture”, the better. And one of the best ways to wrap your head around this “big picture” is to consider the journey your audience takes once they start interacting with your content.
Enter, your sales funnel!
I won’t go into this in great detail as I recently wrote an in-depth guide on this: How To Sell Online Courses: Complete Sales Funnel.
I encourage you to read this in full as it breaks down what to do, when to do it, and why!!
To summarize the importance of your sales funnel:
- It ensures your audience take a pre-determined and relevant journey
- It helps you build an effective email sequence and other types of content that “speaks” to your students
- It makes sure you communicate on the right platforms (social media, etc…)
- It shows you where to reserve your resources (time, money, team members, et al)
You don’t need an elaborate sales funnel in the beginning. It can and will grow over time. The point is to focus on this early so it can evolve as you do. It helps you treat your course(s) as a business, which allows you to build a lasting brand.
7: Build a Brand
This is another tip I won’t go into great detail because I wrote a separate guide: Create a Powerful Brand for Your Online Courses (In 5 Steps).
What I will say is that as a course creator, you are a business owner. You have a brand.
The question is, how much control do you choose to have over the creation of all this?
Whether you do something or nothing, you will create a brand.
Your audience will develop certain perceptions around you. You’ll form certain styles, a voice, and an overall “tone” around your content.
This happens whether you like it or not.
So the sooner you take control, the better (now and in the future).
To learn how to, read THIS Guide!
It shows you what to do and how. It breaks down, not only the importance of having a brand, but the impact it will have on you and those you serve.
8: Build a Community
There are literally dozens of other forms of content your students can choose instead of your course.
From other courses to books, videos, guides, programs, and more… you might face stiff competition, depending on your niche.
It’s only getting harder, too.
This new online course industry attracts new creators each day!
You need to stand out, not only with superior content but by building immense trust. People make emotionally-based decisions most of the time.
Too often, logic takes a backseat. Your students buy based on how they feel at a given moment, and how they feel about you plays an important role.
Building a relevant, engaged, and loyal community goes a long way to ensure these feelings are positive. It gives your audience, not only access to you but other people like them; people that share the same kind of pains and problems, and who are searching for the same solution.
So, how do you build this community?
- YouTube Channel…
- Slack Channel or Discord Group (or some other form of forum)...
- Facebook Group
Personally, my community of choice takes place on Facebook.
Creating our Course Creators Academy Facebook Group is one of the best decisions I made.
(feel free to join us, by the way… just click 👆👆that link above)
A Facebook Group is a great place to bring your people together. It’s also a great way to share relevant content in the forms of videos, articles, questions, polls, and much more.
Is a Facebook Group what you and your students need? Maybe. Maybe not.
The point is, you need to build a community for you and your people, there is just so much value in it.
Without one, you’ll always struggle to stand out from the crowd as a content creator.
9: Learn How To “Effectively” Engage Your Audience
Before we move on from “community”, let’s take a second to focus on one of the most important aspects of it: engagement!
It isn’t enough to have a Facebook Group.
It is also isn’t enough to grow it into the hundreds or thousands.
What matters is how engaged those people inside are.
- Do they read what you write?
- Do they reply to your questions?
- Do they ask you and their fellow students questions?
One of your most important roles as a course creator is to learn how to effectively engage your audience.
Inside your course/program. Outside of it, with your marketing. At all times, you need to think about how engaged your people are.
If they are, you’ll succeed.
If they’re not, you will struggle.
In my experience, video is one of the best ways to engage your audience. Both inside your course and away from it, videos are the easiest way to get you and your message in front of those that need it.
10: Validate Everything You Build
This tip is a big one, and it’s something many course creators overlook.
It’s understandable. In the beginning, I struggled with this one.
After all, you have an idea… you’re excited about it… you want to dive in!!
Yet doing so is a big mistake.
Why? Because creating a course takes time.
Even a small course requires a lot of your energy. So before you commit to it, make sure it’s the course your students need. This is why validating everything you build is important. Doing so saves you time and money, but also gives your audience the most value.
How do you validate your course?
- ASK: run surveys and focus groups and one-on-one calls with your existing students. This is one of the major reasons for creating a community, it helps you validate your ideas.
- OBSERVE: take an interest in the questions people ask and the struggles they struggle with
- SELL: before you create it, sell it—test your idea with a beta group
There are many ways to validate your idea. Each situation requires a different approach. What matters is that you think about this before you commit to anything. The more time you spend validating, the more time you’ll save.
Most important of all, validating your ideas ensures you give your students what they need.
11: Become a Boss!
I’ve mentioned this a few times throughout this guide… as a course creator, you’re a business owner.
In the beginning, it may just be you.
At the start, your business may be very small.
Yet the more courses you create and the more students you work with, the bigger your business becomes. Before long, you’ll hire a few team members. This team will grow. Your simple business adds one new layer after another, and you are the boss. 😉
This is something many course creators struggle with. They get so used to doing everything themselves that they find it hard to outsource, delegate, and hand over responsibilities. Yet if you wish to build a successful career out of your courses, you need to let go.
And now is the time to do it!!
A huge turning point for me was when I began to outsource certain tasks. Little ones at first. A banner design or two. A little help with video editing. It saved me a little time, which was nice. But, more importantly, it changed my perspective.
It helped me work “on” my business instead of being stuck inside it!
My hope is you reach this point sooner than I did. Doing so changes how you play the game. And although it may seem scary and hard, I assure you it isn’t. I have a few other guides to help you:
- How I Started My Online Course Business
- How To Hire An Online Course Team
- How Much Does It Really Cost To Create An Online Course?
- How Long Does It Really Take To Create An Online Course?
- Affordable Online Course Equipment - Complete Practical Guide
Read these. Bookmark them for later. Before you feel ready to build your team, build it! 😉
Taking the leap will change your life just as did mine.
This final tip may be the most important of all… START!
There is no perfect time. There is no point where you’ll feel ready. Having a plan is great, and coming up with a detailed timeline can help.
But at some point, you just need to start, and figure out. You will have to wing a few things along the way, that's alright! 😉
Conclusions: How to Become an Online Course Creator?
As you can see, becoming an online course creator means that you will have to learn a series of skills, besides the core topic that you are teaching.
You will become a cross between a teacher, an educational content creator and an online marketer, in order to make it work.
But I know that doesn't scare you, and it sounds like a ton of fun!
Helping you get started as an online course creator is actually the reason why I built OnlineCourseHost.com, to make this whole process much easier for you.
To give you access to a course-building platform (for free) that gives you the tools you need.
To give you access to a full academy of free tutorials, guides, and lessons that show you how to plan, create, sell, and promote your course.
I know how overwhelming this process can be.
How there’s so much information out there that it’s hard to know where to start.
I hope this guide helps you cut through the noise. More so, I hope it’s given you the confidence to… start.
And if you are looking to ask any question you need on online course creation, you can reach me here on my Facebook group:
If you would like to get notified when other guides and useful content on online course creation is available at the Academy, then you can join us here:
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! 😉
OnlineCourseHost.com Founder & Online Course Creator
You are welcome to ask me any questions in the comments below: 👇👇👇👇