Creating an online course is a great way to share your knowledge, help others, and create an amazing revenue stream for your business. But knowing how to create an online course isn’t always easy!
There are a few steps you’ll need to follow in order to create a successful online course. With the right tools and strategies on your side, creating an online course doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Choosing An Online Course Model
Before we dive into the mechanics of how to create an online course, let’s figure out your options for the type of course.
There’s a ton of work that goes into creating any online course. But one of the first steps you’ll need to take is deciding what model your course will follow!
There are usually four types of online course models you can choose from:
- Self-Paced (prerecorded)
- Group Coaching and Mentorship
- Monthly Memberships
Live programs and group coaching is more work for you—instead of recording sessions once and updating as needed, most of the work is done fresh each time around. But because of that, those two models usually bring in much more revenue with a higher price tag!
On the other hand, self-paced courses are all ready to go at a moment’s notice. This is a great option for creating predictable, evergreen revenue streams. Plus, they’re a lower-priced item, so they can be helpful to offer in tandem with those higher-priced live or mentorship models!
Finally, membership sites have a combination of live and pre-recorded content. You can decide what works best for you and your audience, but typically, people pay a monthly fee for content, resources, templates, and a community.
How To Create An Online Course
No matter what type of online course you’re going to create, there are certain things you will need to accomplish to hit the ground running! Here’s how to create an online course successfully.
Choose Your Website Hosting Platform
First, you need to create a digital home for your online course! That’s what website hosting is for.
If you already have a website for your business, you may be able to house your new website on the same platform. Most website hosting platforms let you house multiple websites all under one account. From there, you’ll need web design and copy like any other website, which you can DIY or hire out for.
Set Up Membership Websites
Setting up a membership website is one of the most important steps. This is what’s going to house all of the technical back-end stuff for your new online course, like sign-up forms, securing your content, and taking payments.
There are two main options for setting up a membership website.
You can choose a plugin that integrates with your WordPress website, or you can go with a third-party platform. There are benefits to each, depending on your needs.
WordPress Membership Plugins
My favorite WordPress membership plugin is MemberVault! Using a WordPress plugin is a great way to keep your course sales and content completely under one roof.
MemberVault has tons of functionality and can support you in growing your list, engaging your audience, and creating low-pressure buying experiences.
It’s also pretty affordable — they have a free plan to start with and their paid options start at just $19/mo.
Third-Party Membership Platforms
Using a third-party platform can be a good idea because if you’re not super technical or prefer a more user-friendly option. Instead of DIY-ing your tech, you can build your online course and grow your business without extra stress.
There are three tools I recommend for building your online course:
Kajabi is an amazing option that has everything you need to grow in one place. You can access your website, products, marketing, community (and more!) from a single dashboard. And since everything is built together, it all works together seamlessly.
Teachable is another really popular course creation tool that’s super simple to use. It’s super customizable and takes the stress out of your course—especially when it comes to taking payments.
I also recommend FG Funnels, which is a super comprehensive, women-owned platform with LOTS of amazing features. It’s an all-in-one software for marketing, funnels, courses, and more.
Related: How Small Businesses Can Choose the Best Financial Tools
Focus On Building Your Email List
Your email list is one of the most important things in building out your online course. That’s why you need to select a great email marketing provider, build your list, and strategize creative, enticing emails!
When you choose your membership plugin or third-party from the options above, make sure to see what email providers integrate. This will save you lots of time and unnecessary extra work!
ActiveCampaign and Convertkit are both great options.
Set Up Video Hosting For Your Course Content
When you’re thinking about how to create an online course, you’ll need to decide what format your course content will be!
Some of the options you have are:
- Written course lessons
- PDFs for every module
- Audio podcast-style lessons
- Video lessons
- Discussion forums
- Any combination you like
Just remember: if you go with video, you may need a video hosting service like Vimeo or Wistia.
It’s also a good idea to create your content in multiple formats, to support how different students prefer to learn!
Consider Developing An Affiliate Program
Although this isn’t required when building your course, developing an affiliate program can be a great step to take at the beginning! You’re going to put in a ton of work to develop an amazing online course.
An affiliate program helps you land more memberships by rewarding others for sharing your course!
Typically, you’ll give affiliates for an online course 20-50% of referred sign-up fees. This might seem high, but an affiliate program can bring your course TONS more sign-ups than you would’ve had on your own.
This is especially true if you’re not planning to budget for paid advertising for your course! Most people wait until they’ve had a course up for a while to create an affiliate program. That means it’s an untapped opportunity to leverage your network and build your course right from the start.
Important Things To Note When Building An Online Course
Now that you know some of the basics of how to create an online course, here are some tips to make sure your efforts are successful.
Start off by outlining and writing all of your content. This is important because your course has to offer value! No matter how beautiful your website is or how nice your videos are, there has to be genuine value in what you teach in order to succeed.
Another great thing to consider is starting with a fully written course. Later, once you’ve generated some revenue, you can upgrade the course content to have videos. Video is more expensive, so if you’re just getting started, written content is a good option.
Remember, depending on the course model you go with, this could be kind of a one-time setup process that continually generates revenue for your business.
It’s worth the time and investment—but only if you have something valuable to share.
Metrics Make A World Of Difference
When you’re reviewing how to create an online course, know this: metrics are one of the most important pieces of the puzzle!
Use Google Analytics to track website traffic to your course sales page. Create specific goals inside Google Analytics to track your sales conversions. This is so important because it helps you identify strengths and weaknesses in your marketing and your sales page.
After all, a high-converting sales page is the most important part of building an online course that actually sells and generates the income you’re looking for!
Related: What Are The Benefits of Google Analytics For Service-Based Businesses?
Knowing how to create an online course isn’t always natural. Hopefully, this post helps you avoid overwhelm and approach the process step-by-step!