how to build community in an online course

Did you know 90% of businesses die within their first five years of launch?

Why? Because they fail to give their audience what they want, or to even grow an audience in the first place.

Yes, there could be several reasons, but the most critical one is not achieving the product-market fit.

These businesses never launched a product that their audience needed in the first place because they never paid attention to building an audience and listening to their problems.  

As an online course creator, you are not just an online teacher or educational content creator, you're a business owner too.

And to succeed, you need to launch courses your audience really wants to take.

So, how do you figure this out? Easier said than done, right?

Well, creating an engaged online community is the easiest way to determine your audience's needs!

Having your own community is the best way to make sure that you create courses that people really want to take, and it's also the best way of always having an audience that trusts you that would be interested in purchasing your courses.

In this post, I will tell you all about how to create an online course community around your courses, and how to leverage it to help your course business succeed in the long run.

So, how to build an online course community?

Here are the steps you need to follow to start an online course community from scratch

  • Step #1: Specify a Niche and Target Audience
  • Step #2: Create Community Goals
  • Step #3: Set Community Rules
  • Step #4: Create a Content Calendar
  • Step #5: Create a Facebook Group
  • Step #6: Follow Your Calendar Consistently

Below I'll explain each step in detail and show you how to take action.

Table of contents

You can also check out all the free guides at the Course Creator Academy by clicking on the Academy link on the top menu bar.

If you are looking to learn how to sell online courses here is my most detailed guide on it: How to Sell Online Courses? The Ultimate Guide

So without further ado, let's dive right in!

Why Build Community for Online Courses?

As you already know, online course creators are business owners.

And, as a business owner looking to build a thriving online course business, the only thing you should do is launch valuable courses that solve people's problems.

The best way to discover your audience's problems is to listen to their conversations.

Of course, you can't physically hang out with each of your students, and you don't need to. All that's required is to gather your students in one place, where they come to hang out. That is, in an online community.

People may be hesitant to share their problems with you in person, but in a community of similar interests, they will be more open.

They share their problems or concerns to find someone struggling with the same. And as an intelligent business owner, you would keep an eye on these conversations and note these problems.

This will give you many ideas to launch new courses or improve old courses.  

Top 5 Benefits of Building Community in Online Courses

Interestingly, discovering your audience's problems is one of many benefits of having an online community. Here are the best ones:

#1: Receive Student Feedback

An engaging online community allows you to keep in touch with existing students. You can answer their questions and ask for feedback.

Receiving feedback is extremely crucial to build a highly valuable course because you're not going to create a perfect course on the first attempt.

But when you receive feedback and work on it, you improve your course and build a stronger relationship with your students, showing that you care about their opinion.

Speaking of building relationships, answering questions is a great way to get started.

But you might wonder, why do you need better relationships with your existing students?  

It is to…

#2: Increase ACV (Average Customer Value)

Treating your students well makes them more likely to stick around or spread the good word about you to others.

You can leverage word-of-mouth marketing to drive more conversions. Or you can upsell more advanced courses or higher ticket programs to these existing students.

An online community is perfect for building great relationships with your students. All you have to do is show you care about them.

#3: Attract New Students

You already know the one way this works best is word-of-mouth marketing.

Keep good relationships with your students, and they will bring in more new students!

And as your online community grows on an organic platform like Facebook, the algorithms work to show your community to new audiences.

You can let them join for free and keep nurturing them until they become paid students in the future.

#4: Get New Course Ideas

The best benefit of an online course community is access to many new online course ideas. That's a guarantee you need to run a long-term business.

You don't need to conduct market research that takes hours.

All you need to do is silently read their conversations. Or you can be bold enough to engage with members and straightaway ask what they're struggling with.

When used correctly, an online community is a goldmine for online course creators.

With that said, it's time for me to show you how you can build a thriving community for your online course business.

How to Build Community in an Online Course: 6 Steps

Building a community for online courses requires consistent work, but the overall process is simple. Follow these steps with me to get it right.

Step #1: Specify a Niche and Target Audience

The first step is to specify your niche and target audience.

Ideally, you'll be clear about them because you're already publishing courses that address a specific need. All you need to do now is revise them.

This is a crucial step. It allows you to add relevant new members who may become your future students.

But, why is having a niche important?

Let's understand it with what would happen if you don't have a niche.

If your group doesn't have a niche, anyone will join it. These include people who have no interest in the topics you teach. And, you know, there's no point targeting the wrong audience. You can't possibly sell a tech course to a sports lover.

But if you add tech lovers, you can pique their interest and turn them into paid students of your tech courses.

Let's say you have a niche, but how would you ensure the right members join?

By asking them questions!

If you're planning to create a Facebook group, you will get an excellent feature to ask membership questions and review each application before accepting.

For example, this group asks members for their blog links. The owner can accept only those that have a blog online.

facebook membership questiona

This way, you only take students you find a relevant fit for your group.

Similar to Facebook, other online community-creating platforms have the same feature.

But you will only be able to accept relevant students if you're clear about your niche and target audience. So, take some time to specify these two things.

Step #2: Create Community Goals

After specifying a niche and audience, you should create community goals. These goals will help you keep your group focused on one thing that you want to achieve with your group.

That brings us to an important question: what do you want to achieve with your group?

Of course, you want to convert members into students, but that's the ultimate goal.

For now, just figure out what you want to achieve in the next few months.

  • Do you want to add them to your email list?
  • Or send them to read your blog posts?
  • Do you want to get new course ideas?
  • Need more social traction?

You can have more than one goal. Just make sure they can all be achieved with similar efforts.

Setting goals will help you track your performance. You'll be able to analyze what's working and how much more effort is needed to achieve these goals.  

Step #3: Set Community Rules

After setting your goals, the next step is to ensure that you and your audience are on the same page.

You want to grow your community by adding relevant members. You want them to engage with each other. Overall, you want a friendly environment where people respect each other.

However, you will notice that not all of your group members will think the same way. Some of them will be there to spam your group. Some might try to destroy the environment.  

If this continues, your group will suffer, negatively impacting your business.

So, how do you ensure your group is on the right track?

By setting community rules!

Community rules will help you police your group. Set a few ground rules that community members must follow if they don't want to get kicked out.

For example, you can set community rules while creating a Facebook group.

facebook community rules

When new members request to join, these rules are displayed to them. Their request is accepted only if they check the box to abide by the rules.

You receive member requests and can review whether the member agrees to the rules. You can accept members who agree.

membership question about community rules

Similarly, for members already in the group, you can feature group rules so they have access to them all the time.

showing group rules on dashboard

But you'll soon realize that setting community rules isn't enough. Some members will still not follow them. That's why you need to keep an eye out for such activity. You must actively filter your group and remove members who do not add value.

Because by being a part of the group, these members are neutralizing your efforts. Facebook's algorithm is strict about spam. If spamming occurs in your group, it might affect its reach.  

Step #4: Create a Content Calendar

So far, so good. You've laid a solid foundation to grow your online community.

Now is the time to put work into the quickest way to grow any community. That quickest way is to create a content calendar and publish high-quality content consistently.

You might be wondering, why create content in a community?

The answer is to get engagement.

If you want members to start conversations, give them something to discuss. So, your content calendar should include ideas that initiate discussions. Some of these content types are:

  • Questions
  • Memes
  • Polls
  • Videos, etc.

For example, we publish content that generates new conversations in our free Facebook group for course creators, Online Course Creators Academy.  

online course host engagement posts facebook

In a new group, you need to make an extra effort to start conversations. You can even reach out to members personally and build relationships.

But once your group is established, you will notice an increase in members' participation. They'll start engaging on their own.

But to reach that stage, you must publish content consistently. And for that, create a content calendar that you can stick to.

If you can't publish every day, create a schedule to publish three days a week. You can customize your schedule based on your flexibility. Just remember to stay consistent.

You can plan content ideas up to three to six months in advance. Having ideas in place will help you keep the cycle going.

Step #5: Create a Facebook Group

I'm sure by now, you're all hyped up to start your online community. Well, it's time to do exactly that. This step is all about creating your online community.

I'm going to show you how to start a Facebook group because my online community is on Facebook, and I find the platform is a perfect place where my audience hangs out.

You can create a group on another platform if you have a favorite. But if you like Facebook, just like me, here are the steps you need to follow.

First, go to the "Groups" section on your Facebook account and click "Create New Group."

create a new group on facebook

Then, you'll be asked to name your group and choose privacy.

choosing group name Facebook

Most beginners will be tempted to create a public group as it'll allow more members to join, but it's a big mistake.  

Do you remember we discussed the importance of adding relevant members while choosing a niche?

If you start a public group, anyone will join, and all of your efforts so far will go in vain.

That's why you should keep your group private. That's how you'll be able to ask membership questions.

Congrats! You just created your new group. Now set up membership questions to ask each person who requests to join your group.

adding membership questions

Then complete these steps (on the right sidebar) to set up your group. You should also invite your existing students to this new group.

inviting new members to your group

Once you're done with setting up your Facebook group, it's time to publish your first post!

Step #6: Follow Your Calendar Consistently

This step is all about keeping you motivated. It's simple advice to stick to your content calendar.

I've made it a separate step because I don't want you to fail like thousands of other beginners.

Most new groups fail within the first few months of their launch because the group admins abandon the group because they don't see any progress.

But, before you expect anything, I want you to put in consistent efforts for the first few months.

It is a slow but exponential growth. You'll see some results after the first few months, so don't give up before then, and keep publishing new content regularly.

Engage with group members and build relationships. Remember, there's a reason you're doing all of this.

Conclusion: How to Build Community in an Online Course?

So there you have it, I just laid out a simple process to build an online community for your students.

Whether you're just starting as an online course creator or already established in your niche, having an online community will only help you grow your business.

You'll get an opportunity to understand your audience better. That's where the success lies. You want to launch courses that solve your audience's problems. That's the only way to launch in-demand courses.

Another essential thing to run a successful online course business is a good course hosting platform.

One such platform is OnlineCourseHost.com.

It is the most affordable and beginner-friendly online course hosting platform with marketing features to drive new audiences, like email marketing and Facebook ads integration to help you grow your online community further.

But, more than just a platform, we wanted to provide you with the information you need to grow your online course business successfully.

That is why we 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 or want to be a part of a fantastic community of course creators, you can reach me here on my Facebook group:

Join the Course Creator Academy Facebook Group

Ready to learn how to launch your first course on OnlineCourseHost.com? Here are the helpful guides for you to check out:

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 you have.

Thanks for reading… and enjoy the course creation process! 😉


Vasco Cavalheiro

OnlineCourseHost.com Founder & Online Course Creator

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