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How To Create an Online Course: 10 Steps (Proven Blueprint)

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How To Create an Online Course: 10 Steps (Proven Blueprint)

Discover the step-by-step guide to creating an online course that stands out. This guide covers every aspect, from idea to launch.

Have you ever thought about creating an online course that's both popular and profitable?

Well, don't worry! This blog post will show you how to.

The online course industry is booming, with Udemy reporting a total revenue increase of 17% in the third quarter of 2023 financial performance.

And, according to a McKinsey report, the number of learners reached by massive open online courses (MOOCs) increased from 300,000 to a staggering 220 million between 2011 and 2021.

That's quite huge, and such numbers indicate the immense opportunities and benefits for course creators with the skills and expertise to create an awesome online course.

In addition to this, an online course comes with other benefits, such as:

  • Uplifting your brand by positioning yourself as an authority in your niche
  • Positions you to negotiate for paid speaking engagements & webinars
  • Influencer marketing endorsements on products and services

So, how do I create an online course?

Here are 10 steps on how to create an online course:

  • Step 1: Identify Your Ideal Online Course Niche And Target Audience
  • Step 2: Validate Demand for Your Online Course
  • Step 3: Define Learning Outcomes For Your Online Course
  • Step 4: Identify Your Best Online Course Format
  • Step 5: Design Your Online Course Content Roadmap
  • Step 6: Choose Your Online Course Hosting Platform
  • Step 7: Choose Your Online Course Pricing Model
  • Step 8: Create an Online Course Landing Page
  • Step 9: Promote Your Online Course
  • Step 10:  Build Your Online Course Community

Don't worry, I explain each step in detail below👇.

Table of contents

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

Step 1: Identify Your Ideal Online Course Niche And Target Audience

Your choice of a course topic heavily determines the success of your course! 

I recommend that you focus on creating an online course on a niche instead of attempting to write on a broad course category. 

For example, Instead of creating an online course on a broad category such as ‘Digital marketing’, you could instead choose to focus on creating the online course based on one of its components, such as content marketing or email marketing, among others. 

Or even better, try to ride a new trend like "How to best leverage Chat GPT in your digital marketing efforts".

This is important because it enables you to stand out among your competitors, helping you to build a stronger brand identity.

First, let’s define what a niche is. 

A niche is a specialized segment of the market for a particular product or service. 

Using the example above, a niche in the broader digital marketing industry can be content marketing, email marketing, or SEO, to mention a few.

How to choose the right niche?

This brings us to the next question: how do you identify the ideal course niche and target audience?

First, pinpoint a gap in the market you're interested in entering. Then, conduct thorough market research and explore various ideas within that niche.

You should also select a category that aligns with both your expertise and passion. The inevitable challenges will be easier to overcome when you are genuinely passionate about the subject, providing the motivation needed to succeed.

After identifying your preferred course category and confirming your ability to create a course in it, proceed to list potential course niches. This step helps you focus your efforts and pinpoint specific topics for exploration.

Next, you'll have to undertake keyword research using tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Answer the Public to identify the keywords and phrases potential students use to search for your potential course niche.

Then analyze the search intent behind these keywords to identify the most ideal online course topics.

You'll also need to define your target audience for the course niche based on factors such as age, study habits, and buying power because understanding your audience is crucial for developing online course content that resonates with their needs and preferences.

You can leverage software tools and platforms like Google Trends, Coursera, Udemy, Skillshare, and SimilarWeb to streamline your niche research. These tools can provide valuable insights to help you make informed decisions about your online course niche.

Learn more about choosing the right niche and course topic here👇

How To Choose An Online Course Topic (That Sells)

Next, I will show you how to validate your online course.

Step 2: Validate Demand for Your Online Course

The last thing you want to do is create an online course, launch it, and promote it, only to find that no one is interested in buying it.

To avoid this mistake, you must undertake a comprehensive market validation for your online course.

To do this, you must find out if other people are searching for similar courses online. Specifically, your target audience needs to be searching for training in what you want to create an online course on.

Here’s the thing: If there is a visible search volume of your online course, it means that there is a demand for such a course, and if there isn’t, you’ll need to re-consider the choice of your course niche.

It’s also good to note that an online course that reflects a high demand isn’t necessarily profitable if the market is too saturated.

What you can do is use course marketplaces such as Udemy, Skillshare, and Amazon to determine the demand and profitability of your online course niche.

For Example, if I were to create an online course that teaches course creators how to create an online course, I would start with searching, using the seed keyword phrase ‘how to create an online course’ on a course marketplace such as Udemy, as shown below.

Over 10,000 courses on 'how to create an online course' are available on the platform, with the top-selling course having 8,000 enrolled students. Refer to the image for details.

So, what does this tell us? Not only is there a huge demand for similar courses, as reflected by the number of existing courses, but learners are willing to purchase such a course.

At this stage, ask yourself the question - "Are people willing to pre-order my online course before it's even created?"

The truth is, if no one is willing to pre-order your online course, people won't buy your online course when it comes out.

But, what if your online course has potential, how could you go about pre-selling it?

  • Create a sales landing page for your online course
  • Show the modules your potential learners will learn on your course landing page. 
  • Then, drive web traffic to your landing page by sharing it across your social media channels and relevant community forums to gauge your target audience's response to your online course.

You can learn more about validating and pre-selling your online course by reading these posts👇.

9 Effective Strategies for Validating Your Online Course Idea

How To Pre-Sell Your Online Course (3 Effective Options)

Once you're done validating your course, you'll need to create learning outcomes.

Step 3: Define Learning Outcomes For Your Online Course

Your students should be able to know what a course will teach them and the problem the course would solve, even before enrolling for it. That’s the idea behind creating learning outcomes. 

A learning outcome is what a student is expected to learn and show after completing an online course. It can also be called learning goals, objectives, or session outcomes.

To identify effective learning outcomes for your online course, consider the following key questions:

  • What key concepts do you want your students to remember long-term? 
  • What crucial ideas and skills should they grasp from your online course? 
  • What core abilities should they be able to show after completing the course?

As you embark on designing your course, the first crucial step is deciding the format you want to use.

Step 4: Identify Your Best Online Course Format

If your online course format is boring to your target audience, they will leave and never come back. That said, to win over your target audience of learners, your online course content needs to be exciting and engaging. 

Keep in mind that everyone learns in their way and absorbs information differently.

While some prefer watching videos, others lean towards reading content, and yet others favor listening to audio clips when it comes to learning.

This shows that repurposing your online courses into multiple content formats allows you to cater to larger audiences with multiple preferences. 

So, consider these various online course formats for your learners:

  • video lessons
  • e-books/guides
  • infographics
  • live webinars
  • recorded videos
  • podcasts
  • gamification
  • and quizzes.

Among the top online course formats, video lessons excel in capturing and maintaining learners' attention. While ideal for creators comfortable on camera, hiring a professional presenter is an alternative.

To create high-quality videos for your online course, you need a professional camera, audio recording equipment, good lighting, and a suitable environment. Having a written video script is also helpful.

Check out this guide on affordable online course equipment

Also, read how to create an engaging online course.

E-books are great for those who like reading, allowing revisiting of material. While Gamification, gaining popularity, integrates game elements to make learning enjoyable and increase interaction.

Moving forward, let's delve into how to design your online course roadmap.

Step 5: Design Your Online Course Roadmap

Now that you have your course idea and learning materials in your chosen format, it's time to plan how to organize your content. You have two main options: create a storyboard or an online course outline.

A storyboard is a detailed document or slide deck outlining the structure of an online course, and providing more depth than a course outline. It typically includes the following main items:

  • The course’s name, section title, and section unit appear at the top
  • Type of online course format. i.e. eBook, Quiz
  • Multimedia files. i.e., Images, animations, audio
  • Information about the text that will be included 
  • Interactions required. i.e., All things your learners should perform on-screen
  • Special Instructions for learners. i.e., Click here
  • Navigation between units (free, sequential, prerequisites)
  • Video script, if any 
  • Section for writing review comments

The main component of an online course-based storyboard is thumbnails.
These are blank squares that you use to illustrate the images representing your online course story. Here is an example below👇,

And, the best tools to create storyboards are; BoordsStoryboard that, and Captivate

As mentioned earlier, an alternative way to plan your online course is by using an online course outline, which helps maintain organization by offering a structured format for creating your course.

The online course outline divides your content into modules, lessons, sections, and sub-topics, including milestones and learning objectives for your learners.

You can start by gathering all your course materials, then organize them into modules, and lessons, and further into sections and sub-sections.

Example 1: The digital marketing course is broken down into 3 modules

Now, you need to break down your modules into lessons that focus on a specific subject matter, as demonstrated in Example 2 below

Example 2: Modules Broken Down into Lessons

Here are examples of tools for making your online course content.

Read this to create an online course outline:👇

How To Create an Online Course Outline (Free Template)

Now that you've created your online course, it is time to determine the type of platform to host it.

Step 6: Choose Your Online Course Hosting Platform

Once you've created your online course, the next task is finding a trustworthy hosting platform. An online course hosting platform is a collection of tools that aid course creators and entrepreneurs in creating, handling, and delivering online courses to the public.

Various types of hosting platforms cater to different needs. Some demand technical know-how, while others only need basic computer skills.

Despite their differences, their shared goal is to simplify the process of hosting and marketing your online course.

There are various online course hosting platforms:

  • standalone platforms
  • all-in-one platforms
  • online course marketplaces
  • WordPress plugins

Standalone platforms enable you to create, host, and market online courses, with integration capabilities from third-party tools.

All-in-one platforms are comprehensive tools for complete digital education setups. These platforms not only help with course creation and hosting but also offer marketing tools.

There are also online course marketplaces, which are aimed at course creators with minimal resources, these platforms allow you to build and host courses for free in a revenue-sharing model.

Learning Management Systems (LMS) are designed for large-scale educational institutions like colleges, universities, etc.

Some prefer WordPress LMS Plugins and course creation plugins for WordPress, suitable for creators and organizations with websites and established audiences.

You have plenty of choices, maybe even too many. Try to go for a solution that fits well with your business and gives you good value for what you are spending.

A good choice is OnlineCourseHost.com, which is with a user-friendly course platform powered by AI.

OnlineCourseHost.com provides you with all the necessary features, including marketing tools such as email marketing, Facebook Ad integration, and the ability to run your affiliate program.

How To Choose an Online Course Platform (Complete Guide), is a post that delves deep into the types of course hosting platforms and making your choice. It would help if you read it.

After choosing a platform, the next step is to determine the price of your course.

Step 7: Choose Your Ideal Online Course Pricing Model

The pricing of your online course is crucial for its success. If it's too high, you may lose potential customers; if it's too low, you might not recover your returns.

When deciding your online course pricing, you have to consider the value perception by comparing your course's quality and information depth to similar ones to set a suitable price.

Another is the total cost, which includes expenses, including tool subscriptions, research time, and course creation.

Also, consider the interest of your audience and the level of competition in your field. You could charge a higher price if there's high demand and little competition.

Once you're done considering the factors that may influence your online course pricing, then you need to pick the model that best fits your course and audience.

You may consider:

  • A one-time fee, where learners pay a single fee for course access—recommended for self-paced courses without a set completion time.
  • A subscription model, which involves a fixed, recurring monthly fee. Suitable for regularly updated courses or those with a set completion deadline.
  • A tiered pricing model, which offers different course segments at varied price points. Basic-level access may include course materials, while premium-level access may provide additional features like 24-hour chat support.
  • A Dynamic pricing model where you adjust your course prices automatically based on factors like location, time, or course demand, aiming to set the ideal price contextually for each learner.

It may be a Pay-What-You-Want (PWYW) Model that allows learners to set their course price within a suggested range, based on the idea that some students may pay more when they have control over the price.

Or the Group Pricing Model, which offers discounts for learners who enroll as a team. It is geared towards organizations willing to pay for employee courses, providing an incentive for group purchases.

Read "How to Price an Online Course (7 Science-Based Tips)" to learn practical insights on choosing the best price and boosting your sales.

Once you decide on your pricing model, it needs to be displayed on your course landing page.

Step 8: Create an Online Course Sales (or Landing Page)

Your online course sales page serves as the first point of contact for potential learners.

This is the moment they decide whether to purchase your course and to make a persuasive case, ensure the following:

  • it delivers a clear message
  • showcases quality with testimonials from past students
  • and includes essential details such as the course title, description, learning outcomes, instructor expectations, pricing, and payment options.

Check out this guide on How To Create The Perfect Online Course Sales Page to create a great-looking and most of all high-converting course sales page using a free and easy-to-use page editor, that does not require any design or technical skills.

Step 9: Promote Your Online Course

After putting your online course on your preferred hosting platform, you're ready for learners. But, there's an issue – people don't know about it.

Just uploading it isn't sufficient; you have to use digital marketing strategies to promote your course and reach potential learners.

Promoting your online course is crucial, and digital marketing strategies are vital for success.

It would help if you read these for more ideas to promote your course

Step 10:  Build Your Online Course Community

When people buy your course, engagement shouldn't stop there. Consider creating an online course community where learners can interact with each other, fostering ongoing engagement.

Building an online community has several advantages:

  • Students learn from diverse perspectives, shaped by varied life experiences and opinions.
  • Learners can give and receive support, finding motivation and inspiration from each other.
  • Connecting in the community allows you to build a professional network.
  • Learners can identify peers with similar interests, fostering collaboration on purpose-driven initiatives.  

The image below shows 5 strategies for building an online course community:

Following the above strategies will set you on a path toward building an engaging and vibrant online course community.

Now, you have the checklist - 10 steps to creating your online course.

And, with the right tools, and processes in place, creating and marketing your online course isn’t that difficult.

For more ideas on building your course community, reading these would be beneficial👇

How to Build an Online Course Community


To thrive in your online course business, you need to master these 10 essential steps as explained in this post.

And, as you start creating your online course, be flexible and make sure to keep up with new trends and technologies for ongoing success.

As aforementioned, after creating your course, you'll still need a reliable hosting platform with marketing features to make selling your courses easy.

That's where OnlineCourseHost.com comes in. With Onlinecoursehost.com, you have everything you need to create and sell your online course.

The platform is integrated with an AI assistant and comes with powerful marketing features like email marketing and Facebook Ad integration.

You can also collect emails on autopilot directly on your course website and send bulk newsletters to your students.

Overall, the platform is user-friendly both to course creators and students.

I hope you find this post helpful, and 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:

Join the Course Creator Academy Facebook Group

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

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! 😉

Course Creators Academy, a community by OnlineCourseHost.com

Founded by Vasco Cavalheiro

Online Course Creator

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