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How to

Create An Online Course

The Ultimate Guide for 2021

Ready to discover how to create an amazing online course? Then let’s dive right in!

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After months of dreaming about it, you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and build your own online course. There’s just one problem - you aren’t really sure how to create an online course.

You’re in luck, because we’ve created this complete guide explaining exactly how to create an online course.

This guide will provide you with a step-by-step overview of what’s involved in developing an online course, as well as useful resources to help you explore each of these steps in greater detail.

After reading this guide, you’ll have a clear sense of what’s involved in creating an online course, the different steps you’ll need to take, and how to get started.

Ready to discover how to create an amazing online course? Then let’s dive right in!

Why Create an Online Course?

These days, it seems like everyone is creating online courses, and there’s no question that online courses are hugely popular.

Back in 2018, market research predicted that the eLearning Industry will be worth approximately $325 Billion in 2025. Since then, COVID-19 brought online courses even more into the mainstream, resulting in additional opportunities for course creators.

There are a number of compelling reasons for developing an online course. For one thing, online courses are a great opportunity to create another income stream. You can earn a considerable amount of extra money from a successful online course, and from there you can launch an entire online course business.

Second, online courses are a way to share your expertise with as many people as possible. Compared to traditional in-person courses and training, an online course gives you the opportunity to reach many more people and to share your knowledge with them.

Finally, online courses allow you to have a tremendous impact on those you serve. The best online courses are ones that give people the tools they need to change their lives for the better. This goes to show that online courses are an incredibly powerful way to make a positive impact on others.

How to Create an Online Course: A Step-By-Step Guide

Just how do you create a successful, highly impactful online course that stands out from all the rest?

Here at Mirasee, we’ve helped thousands of course creators from many different industries plan, build, and sell profitable courses.

And over the years, we’ve honed the following step-by-step process for building highly impactful online courses.

impactful online courses

Choose Your Profitable Course Topic

A successful online course begins with choosing the right topic. It’s crucial to pick a topic that benefits both you and your audience. This means the topic needs to be in a profitable niche, it needs to be in demand, and it also has to address your audience’s specific needs and pain points.

It’s important to remember that although choosing a profitable topic is important, for your course to be truly successful, it has to make a positive impact on your students.

So how do you find a topic that benefits both you and your students? A good starting point is to ask yourself these questions:

  • What topics am I passionate about?
  • How have I previously helped people in the biggest way?
  • Who is my ideal customer, and what is their biggest problem right now?
  • What causes them pain?
  • What is the solution they need?
  • How can I provide this solution?

Once you’ve honed in on your profitable topic (or several topics), you can move onto the research phase.

Research Your Course Idea and Target Audience

After you have your topic, it’s crucial to research your course idea and uncover who your ideal customers are. There are three main questions to consider when researching your online course idea.

1. Is there a demand for your course?

Is your course something people actually want? You can find the answer by conducting research to see whether people are already talking about your topic. You can do much of this research online, by doing Google searches, scouting out Facebook Groups and online forums, and seeing if courses on this topic already exist. It’s also a good idea to interview a few people who are part of your target audience to gauge their interest in your topic.

2. Who is your ideal customer?

The next step is to uncover exactly who your ideal customer is. This will help you understand their interests, hopes, dreams, and desires and also helps you to speak to them in a way that resonates with them. To learn more about your ideal customer, an extremely useful exercise is to craft a customer profile. We’ve written a separate guide that walks you through the process of creating your customer profile.

3. What problem will you solve?

Finally, you need to be totally clear on what problem your course will solve. One thing that great courses have in common is they go deep into solving one big problem your audience has. Before you create your course, you need to clearly understand what this problem is. This is another reason why creating a customer profile is important - you need to know who they are to uncover what their biggest problem is.

Clarify Your Course Goals and Objectives

The next step is to define your goals and objectives, which will help you to measure your success along the way. Here are the three main types of goals you should set.

1. Revenue Goals

Revenue goals refer to how much income you want your course to generate. To set these goals, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much money do you want to make from your course each year?
  • How much recurring monthly revenue would you like to generate?

2. Reach Goals

Reach goals take into account traffic, subscribers, followers, and conversion rates. When setting your reach goals, consider these questions:

Do you need to grow your email list and/or social media following?

  • How many people do you want to reach with your course in the first year?
  • How many people can you realistically reach with your course?

3. Customer Goals

By customer goals, we’re really talking about how to measure your students' success. Here are some important questions to ask yourself when figuring out customer goals:

  • What does student success look like for you?
  • What impact would you like to have on your students?
  • How can you measure this on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can go ahead and write down your course goals and objectives. You’ll continue to refer to these as you begin planning out your course.

Validate Your Course Idea

Before you continue investing more time and money into your course, you need to make sure people will actually buy it.

To gain this knowledge, you’ll need to validate your course idea. One way to do this is by building a sales page for your course explaining who it’s for, why they need it, and what they’ll learn. Then you drive your ideal customers to this page and encourage them to pre-order, leave a deposit, or sign up for a waiting list.

When validating your idea, it’s crucial that you track and analyze your data. Some of the metrics you’ll want to track include the number of visits to your sales page, your conversion rate, number of email opens, and number of link clicks.

You’ll also want to consider the following questions: when validating your idea:

  • What does success look like?
  • How much money do I need to make to validate my course idea?
  • How many people do I want to commit to this course before I do?

Once you’ve completed the validation process and answered these questions, you should have a clear sense of whether the course idea is a viable one. If so, you can move on to the next step.

On the other hand, if your course idea generates little interest, you’ll want to go back to the research stage and brainstorm some different ideas.

Plan and Outline Your Course

In this step, you begin to structure your course, figure out the topic of each lesson, and create a high-level outline of your course.

A good place to start is by brainstorming as many topic ideas as you and jotting them down. Once you have a list of ideas, start thinking about how long your course will be, and which lessons should come at the beginning, middle, and end. From there, fill in any gaps on your list of ideas to create a framework for your course.

After you have a basic framework for your course, write a few learning objectives for each lesson. A learning objective clearly explains what the student will be able to do, know, and feel by the end of your lesson.

Before moving on to the next step, make sure you have a clear high-level overview of your course, and know what each lesson will cover.

Choose Your Winning Course Format

By this point, you’re almost ready to create your course content! But before you start, you need to be clear on what kind of online course you want to create. Here are a few common types of courses:

  • MASTERCLASSES: This is the most common type of online course, in which a subject matter expert records lessons that students review in their own time.
  • COACHING: In addition to recorded material, you provide your students with practical help along the way.
  • MOOC (Massive Open Online Course): These include features of Masterclasses and Coaching Courses, but focus more on community engagement and include greater peer-to-peer support.
  • CORPORATE TRAINING: This involves delivering a course to a specific business or team of employees.
  • MINI COURSE: A short course that only takes a few hours to complete.
  • ACADEMY & SOFTWARE ONBOARDING: These kinds of courses are often used by businesses to onboard a new customer or client.

Your online course may fit neatly into one of these categories, or might combine two or more of these formats. This is perfectly fine, as long as you are totally clear on what you’re building.

So you’ll want to spend a good deal of time thinking about the kind of course you’re creating. Above all, make sure you know which format you’re committed to.

It will save you time and money later, and lead to fewer mistakes.

Pick Your Perfect Course Platform

Perfect Course Platform

The final step before you create your content is to choose the best online course platform for your course. This is what you’ll use to build, host, and publish your course.

There are countless course platforms and learning management systems (LMS) you can choose from, and it might seem challenging to know where to start. Luckily, we’ve compiled various lists of online course platforms you can consult. Here are some of our best resources on course platforms:

We recommend you review these resources and make a list of the 3 platforms that seem like the best fit for your specific needs.

Remember, you don’t need to commit to a platform just yet. But you’ll want to at least have an idea of the sort of platform you’ll use before you create your content.

Create Your Course Content

After all that preparation, it’s finally time to create your content! Before you start writing your scripts and recording your videos, you need to clarify a couple of things.

  • What type of content you’ll create (video, audio, slide decks, etc…)
  • Where you’ll get your material from (past experience, stories, third-party research…)
  • What your production schedule will be

There’s probably a good chance you already have some material based on work you’ve previously done. If so, we recommend you do an audit of all your existing articles, videos, workshops, processes, copy, and anything else you can repurpose into course content.

Doing this should make it far easier to decide on the type of content you would like to create. After you’re clear on the content you’ll be developing, you can go ahead and start scripting it.

Once your script is completed, you can move on to writing the other elements of your course:

  • Homework assignments for your students.
  • A descriptive tagline of your course.
  • A description of your course, including the transformation you promise.
  • Module titles, lesson names, and a 2- to 3-line description of each lesson.
  • A script for an intro video summarizing your course. This gives a quick preview for what your course is about. You’ll also use it to promote your course, so keep it between 30 and 90 seconds long.
  • The slides for your course.

After all this is done, you’re ready to start recording, editing, and producing your course content!

Upload Your Content

By the time you reach this step, you’re all ready to publish your content!

This involves creating the course in your LMS or platform of choice and uploading the course videos, homework, quizzes, and other elements.

The good news is uploading your content is usually a simple process. Each online course platform or LMS has their own specific instructions on how to navigate the uploading process.

Here are some helpful resources that show you how to upload your course content on some popular course building platforms.

If you get stuck at any point on this stage, most online course platforms do offer some degree of tech support. If you’re not particularly tech-savvy, you might want to consider choosing a platform that offers good customer support just in case you need some extra help.

Price Your Course

Before you can sell your course, you’ll need to figure out how to price it. The trick is to come up with a price that doesn’t undersell your course but also doesn’t turn early users away.

The way that you price your course depends on a number of factors, including:

  • How in-depth your course is
  • Who your audience is
  • Which platform you use
  • The problem you solve
  • Your level of expertise

A good way to begin is to think about the pricing bracket your course needs to be in. You can get a sense of this by looking at similar courses in the marketplace and asking yourself the following questions:

  • What type of course do I want to build (premium or budget)?
  • Who is my customer avatar, and how much available money do they have?
  • What’s my level of experience?
  • What are my revenue goals? What do I need to make per student?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you should have a much better idea of what you should charge for your course.

Release Your Course Pilot

Release Course Pilot

Once your course is ready, you’ll need to test it with an initial batch of students that get a unique experience. These students will serve as your beta testers, and will provide you with valuable feedback on your course.

Beta testing your courses is crucial for several different reasons. For one thing, the feedback you receive from your beta testers helps you validate your idea and turn your good course into a great one. In addition, running a beta course also provides you with case studies, testimonials, and success stories for your main launch.

Here are some things to consider before you launch your course pilot.

  • How big should my first class of beta students be?
  • Who do I know that would get high value from my course?
  • How can I provide a greater experience to these initial students?
  • What price can I offer to them so they get a huge return on their investment?

After running your pilot, you can then take the feedback you receive from your students into account and use it to make your course even better.

If you want a more in-depth look at this process, you can check out our article on beta testing courses.

Launch Your Full Online Course

At last, you’re ready to launch your completed online course to the world!

When it comes to launching your course, there are two main phases, the Education and Selling phases.

The Education phase comes first, and is when you focus on warming up your audience. You can accomplish this using a variety of methods, such as email marketing, content marketing, guides and tutorials, or online ads. No matter what methods you use, what’s crucial is that you provide value to your audience while also educating them about the big problem they’re currently facing and what types of solutions are available.

You’ll also need to earn their trust, which you can do by sharing your personal story, providing credibility and proof, or highlighting work you’ve done in the past and the success you’ve had.

After you’ve warmed up your audience, you can then move into the Selling phase, where you invite them to take your course. This often centers around an email sequence that:

  • Details what the course is about and who it is for
  • Provides social proof, testimonials, and case studies
  • Explains the value of the course and the impact it has
  • Paints a clear picture of what the transformation is for the student
  • Offers bonuses for those who purchase the course at this stage

Another important aspect of this Selling Phase is your Sales Page. You already started this page during Step 4 (while validating your idea). Now it’s time to update this page and create a high converting, long-form piece of copy.

Keep Marketing and Promoting Your Online Course

So you’ve followed these steps and your launch was a big success! This is a great accomplishment, and one well worth celebrating!

Even so, remember that no matter how good your launch period is, your launch isn’t where your journey ends. In fact, your journey has only just begun.

It’s crucial that all online course creators develop a strategy for marketing and promoting their online courses that they can rely on long after the launch period ends.

There are a large number of marketing strategies you can implement, including:

  • Content marketing
  • SEO Optimization
  • Email marketing
  • Running webinars
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Joint venture partnerships
  • Cultivating online communities

To learn more about these and other marketing strategies, we recommend you review this post on how to promote your online course.

Gather Feedback and Improve Your Course Over Time

No matter how successful your online course is, the truth is that no course is perfect and every course can be improved over time.

That’s why it’s crucial that you continue to track and measure your goals, gather student feedback as often as you can, and note the most common student questions and issues. From here, zero in on the different areas that could use improvement and brainstorm ways that you can address these challenges and create an even better student experience in later versions of your course.

We see too many course creators launch their course and assume that’s it. But you need to remember that online course creation is an iterative process.

In other words, if you want to create a course that has the greatest possible impact on your students, you need to try new ideas and to continue to improve your course over time.

Summing it All Up: How to Create An Online Course

We’ve covered a lot of ground, and hopefully you’ve decided if creating an online course is the right option for you.

If you’re bound and determined to move ahead and create an online course, it’s important to remember that this guide is a high-level overview designed to familiarize you with the process.

So if you’re hooked on the idea of creating an online course and would like some more in-depth information, we recommend that you check out our ultimate guide to online course creation.

And if you’re ready to take action and start creating your course right away, you might want to consider enrolling in the Course Builders Bootcamp. In this free Bootcamp, we break down many of the steps in this post and show you how to put them in action to develop a framework for your own winning online course.

By following this proven process, you’ll be well on your way to joining the ranks of the successful course creators who are impacting countless lives through their courses.