Creating an online course could be an amazing asset to your business. The fact of the matter is you can use an online training course again and again and again. If you love what you do, but want to scale, creating a course is where you turn. In reality, you’ve already been creating course content in short form: e-books, your coaching videos, or maybe the audio downloads that you’ve provided your audience for free.
The beautiful thing about building an online course is that you can have a whole library of them. If your field of expertise is in personal productivity, for example, you could start off by producing a course on productivity strategies for business owners then a course on productivity strategies for authors and marketers and so on. Online courses are gold. They are a monetization strategy that can help move the needle up for you and help you continue to build your influence as well.
I sat down with my friend Amy Porterfield to talk all about creating and marketing your first online course. Now, this is what puts you on the map, but for someone who’s never put an online course together, it can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re going over the essentials, step by step, to creating and selling your first online course.
1. Validate Your Course Idea
Where you start with online course creation is validation. You can do this with a fun little thing called a validation blitz. Create a blog post, send a survey out to your email list, and run some Facebook ads to make sure you have an audience that wants what you have. Consider running a dry test where you create a landing page that has all of the features and benefits of the course you are planning to produce, including a buy now button that adds people to a waitlist, and track how many button clicks you get. You’ll quickly know whether it’s worthwhile for you to produce your course.
You absolutely must validate to ensure people will buy your first online course. You can’t make any money without listening to your audience’s needs – you can’t sell your course if nobody is willing to buy it.You absolutely must validate your course idea. You can’t make any money without listening to your audience’s needs - you can’t sell your course if nobody is willing to buy it. Click To Tweet
2. Organize Your Content
If you know you have what your audience wants, it’s on to creating the content. Don’t rush through the course creation process! It’s a good idea to start by creating an outline of your content from start to finish with a learning management system to put your content in. Remember, systems sell.
To break your online course into modules, you’re going to want to go through these four steps: First, brainstorm. For two days, you’re going to be brain dumping your entire course – what do you want the course to cover? Next, you need to organize it into modules, lessons, cheat sheets. Then, you systematize your material and make sure everything flows. You’ve got to get your audience to their results and ensure they enjoy the learning experience! Lastly, it’s time to enhance. To ensure you provide an amazing course add in your blueprints, a case study, swipe files, and all those extra bonuses your audience will love to enhance their online learning experience.
3. Design Your Offer
Once you have the content of your course mapped out, you’ve got to put your offer together. This consists of what you’re promising, what the content is, your bonuses, your guarantee, and how you’re going to support your students. Promoting your course properly is key!
Deciding how much you’ll support your students is where I see a lot of people get stuck. I’ll admit, the idea of a lifetime course scares the bejeezus out of me. What does lifetime even mean? One way to look at this is that as long as your program is being sold, your audience gets access. If you can offer some 1-1, the value of your online course goes up instantly.
You also want to make sure you have some bonuses. One of my favorite ways to do this is to have a bonus that helps students take the next step after they finish your course, something that helps them take their online education to the next level. Coincidentally, this is where a lot of course creators fail. They tell people what to do, but not how to execute it. You want to lock in results for your students here.
4. Make Them Work For the Refund
What are you going to do about refunds? While many of us do 30-day refunds for everyone, things are changing. When you come out with a big dollar course, you’ll only want to attract people who are interested in getting results. Instead of letting anybody out at 30 days, what you can do is offer a 60-day refund for anybody who can prove they went through all the steps in your system. Give them their money back if they’ve done all the work and they’re still not happy. Get their slide decks and screen grabs to prove that they’ve tried and then give them the refund. A fair, user-friendly process is what you want to aim for.
5. Price After Your Offer
Before you even get to pricing, you need to have your offer down. You won’t know what to charge until you’ve got your offer together. Then, you can move onto pricing. Get clear about what you’re selling and then look at the competition. In fact, this competition is a good thing. It’s validation on steroids! Find out what your competition is offering and check social media and peer reviews to see what their students are saying . Then you’ll know what you need to change to offer something even better.
If you can get to premium pricing, it’s a whole new game. You attract go-getters who have skin in the game AND complain less. Payment plans can make a dramatic difference in your sales here. If you’re charging over $1,000 and don’t have a payment plan, you’re leaving money on the table. But don’t offer a few different payment plans. People get so confused by this. The fewer options the better. A simple landing page that outlines the course and payment options is a great idea.
6. Set Up Your Membership Site
You’ve got to have somewhere to house your learning courses. RainMaker, Zippy Courses, and WishList are a few options to consider. The whole thing with membership sites is that you need to research it, find what’s right for you, and not get stuck in the technology. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect membership site – it’s a constant work in progress. Don’t go down that entrepreneurial rabbit hole where most people get stuck. Once you build a membership site, you’re building a product that sits online, and people pay to have access to it. This is a medium to long-term strategy. You can make money as soon as you launch the course and you can make money by continuing to promote it for years to come.
Chris founded Youpreneur® in 2015. He is a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling books “Virtual Freedom” and “Rise of the Youpreneur”. He hosts our weekly podcast, Youpreneur.FM, as well as our annual conference, the Youpreneur Summit. Chris is based in Cambridge, UK.