Over the past few years, online courses have witnessed a major increase in popularity and acceptance by masses. The e-learning industry is expected to grow to $325 billion by 2025, according to Research and Markets.
From my perspective, there has never been a better opportunity to join the growing industry of e-learning. No matter who you are, you have something to teach the world. But to create a sustainable business out of it, you need an effective strategy to launch and promote your course online. Below are my tips on how to create, sell and profit from an online course:
1. Pick an online course topic.
Now that you are committed to creating and selling online courses, it is time to decide what you will want to teach your students. Picking the right topic is an essential step that will help you avoid creating an online course nobody wants.
The main idea behind creating a unique and valuable course is finding a topic that you are passionate about, one that you are knowledgeable in and one that is profitable enough to become a business. Here is some simple advice you can follow to find a topic that’s a good fit for you:
• Figure out your target market. Create a list of people who could benefit from your course. This could include groups you have a particular interest in (such as people looking to start exercising more, etc.) or groups you already have a connection to (such as affiliates and customers).
• Determine the problem your target market is facing. After establishing your target audience, identify what problems they are facing and the solutions you can offer. This will help you shape your online course topic to address this pain point. Focus on writing down specific things that the people in your audience need, want and crave, and write down as many ideas as you can. If possible, consider doing short interviews with a few of them, as this will help you understand if your ideas are right for them.
• Choose your course topic. Now that you have a list of struggles and problems your target market has, you can easily choose a topic for your online course. Make sure you choose a topic you have experience with and can educate others on. Think about if anyone else has ever taught on a similar topic. If someone has, that can be a good indicator that you’ve chosen a strong topic and that there is a genuine interest in it.
2. Presell your online course.
Preselling your online course is critical to your success as an online course creator. You certainly do not want to waste your time creating a course no one wants or is willing to pay for. This approach allows you to essentially sell the idea of your online course to a small portion of your audience before you have created all your content. It is a sales strategy that combines urgency and standard marketing practices to increase conversion rates. I’ve observed there are two pre-selling strategies often used:
• Host a webinar. One of the best ways to pre-sell your online course is hosting a webinar. You can offer your target market a free webinar that teases your offering and then “push” them toward a private pre-sale. Make sure that the webinar is appealing, fun and includes an irresistible offer.
• Create a beta group. A beta group is an ideal option if you have a loyal following. Offer your online course at a discounted price, and then bring everyone willing to pay for it into a private group. Make sure you are transparent about the fact that you are doing this because the product is in its development stage. In my experience, though consumers know they are taking part in an experiment, they are typically willing to pay for it because they want access to your course early. Create an email list or a Facebook group, and offer content to them as you create it. Once you have completed the entire course, gather their feedback, revise your offering and launch it publicly.
3. Create your course content.
The key to creating valuable content for your online course is planning. It is a good idea to plan ahead. Decide how many sections and lessons your course will have. Decide what pieces of content will be included in each section or lesson and how they will be delivered (e.g., text, animations, audio, video) as well as any assignments or quizzes you will have for those lessons. Try to limit each lesson to one or two key concepts. More importantly, break up longer video recordings into smaller segments.
4. Deliver your online course.
Now that you’ve completed creating your content, you might be wondering how to deliver your online course and how your target audience will access it. The truth is that you do not need a complicated online portal, especially if it is your first online course. There are many easy ways you can deliver your online course that won’t require redesigning or restructuring your entire site. For instance, you can create a simple membership site that hosts all your video and resource lessons.
5. Market your online course.
You have laid the groundwork. Your course is engaging and helpful, but that’s not the end. You need to think about how you are going to market and sell it. Having a marketing strategy for your online course is essential to your success. Some proven marketing strategies you might want to consider include strategy or coaching calls, personal branding, podcasting and webinars.
E-learning can be an effective alternative to the traditional learning environment. The predicted growth in this industry has created a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs to start creating their own online courses. With these five tips in mind, you can start creating and selling your own e-learning courses successfully.