How to Create an Online Course: The Full Step-by-step Guide

How to Create an Online Course: The Full Step-by-step Guide

by CreativeMindClass • 8 min read

Step 1. Choose the Online Course Topic

Creating Online Courses: Choose the right topic
Creating Online Courses: Choose the right topic

Defining a course topic should be a difficult task. Look at your everyday life. Most likely people already ask you for advice on certain topics or consider you an expert in some area.

What did you master recently?

Focus on your recent aha moments, your fresh skills, and your discoveries. Don't worry now about theories, details, and principles if you don't feel excited about them now, even if everyone else includes them in their classes.

Define things you enjoy doing

If you hate doing something don't choose it for a course topic.

Ask yourself what makes you most excited right now about your work.

It seems to be obvious but you won't believe how often people do something they don't like just because they did not acknowledge that fact in advance.

Calculate a Profit Potential

When you calculate the profit potential look at the problem you are solving. Your online course profit potential is high if you solve a problem people would pay for.

Are people already spending the money on things you are solving? That's a promising sign for your online course success.

Think about what's unique about you

Ask yourself what you bring to the party that is unique to you.

Try to forget about what you think people expect from you. There are so many influences that say you should do this, you should do that. Where you want to be is to hear your own natural voice, and connect to your own natural energy source. You have to locate it, and you locate it through stillness.‌             ‌

Step 2. Research your topic

Research and planning are an important part of online course creation. Well-conducted research will help you get ideas for your online course subtopics.

Creating Online Courses: Plan your topic
Creating Online Courses: Plan your topic

Use the power of Google

A good thing to do after defining your online course topic is to cross-check with the actual demand. You can start by typing your topic in Google and check what pops up. That's what people search online and ask Google regarding your course topic.

You might have noticed that on Google there is a section "people also ask" with questions people commonly search on Google. It's quite insightful and it might direct your further steps. There are free online tools to group those questions together based on a keyword like AnswerThePublic.

Keep things organized

Anyone who offers a paid course wants to organize the information well.

Use your creativity to imagine what you would like to learn in a perfect lesson and write your plan on a piece of paper or in your favorite app. Internally we like to plan things in Craft, Evernote or when we need a tool for mind mapping we use Milanote. But your mobile notes will also do.

Study your competitors

The fastest way of learning your area and to come ideas with subtopics for your online course is to check on your competitors. Remember to use it only as a base for your research and you can add your expertise, creativity, and ideas on top of it. We highly disadvise blind copying someone's online course. It's simply not classy or as  Jim from "The Office" says "It's De classé."

By studying your competitors you can update your ideas and brainstorm the subtopics you might want to include in your online course. What is more, by looking at the market, you can start getting an idea of how to price your online course and what other creators charge for online courses.

Whenever using someone's resources, add external links to your posts. Backlinking is a common practice online so reaching out to the article author and getting backlinked would be also beneficial for your online course SEO.

Keep your information up to date

Being an expert in your topic will make your feel confident about your online course. You might be already an expert in your subject and maybe even have some information collected or prepared assets for your students.

Check if there is some new information available out there. So you can update your knowledge with new, add more relevant examples and most recent discoveries and such.

Step 3. Plan your Online Course Structure

Creating Online Courses: Plan your course description
Creating Online Courses: Plan your course description

After researching you will have many ideas for your online course subtopics. Your topic together with subtopics creates an online course outline/structure.

At CreativeMindClass we offer an easy-to-follow template for an online course structure. All you need to do is fill it in with your content.

Step 4. Set Your Goals

To create a great course it's good to define what you want your students to learn.

Defining the learning milestones will help you communicate to your students about what they can achieve with your online course. It's a part of the planning phase, and it can be done on a high level. Write it down in your notes.

Creating Online Courses: Set your goals
Creating Online Courses: Set your goals
  • List your goals on your sells page. You can use it in your online course marketing and repeat it like a mantra to your audience.
In this course I want to focus on: 1. ... , 2. ... , 3. ... .
  • Communicate your goals in the course description and mention them in the  video introduction.
In this course you will learn:  1. ... , 2. ... , 3. ... .

‌             ‌

Step 5. Create your content

Creating Online Courses: Create course content
Creating Online Courses: Create course content

How long does it take to create an online course?

The process of your course creation will go smoothly if you divide it into smaller chunks and plan it in your calendar.

The time you'll spend on an online course creation depends on the value you want to provide to your audience.

If you want to create a full-length course here is a rough time estimation:

  1. Pre-production (1-2 weeks)
  2. Content writing (2-4 weeks)
  3. Video recording (2-4 weeks)
  4. Post-production (1-2 weeks)

If you are a busy creator you might want to start with something less time-consuming. You can launch a mini course. A mini course can be described as a short, online video course that you can sell for an attractive price. Usually, the time duration is from 30 to 90 minutes and it does not include printables therefore you can create it much faster than a full-length course.

You can create and launch a mini course on CreativeMindClass.

  • Include small wins in your online course: They give the audience a sense of accomplishment and keep students excited to learn more.
  • Build your content on concepts your audience knows: This way the new knowledge will blend with what they already know.
  • Add active learning: Your audience needs to do something to learn. Add some homework or hands-on exercises on top of the video of yourself talking to a camera your screen recordings.
  • Include printables: People get excited about things they can print out. It can be downloadable files with a planner, a calendar, a table to fill in, and some theoretical information grouped together (like a list of useful terms or a wheel of colors in the art world).
Including printables in your online course  adds a personal touch and alows you to cross the "digital non-digital bridge" as in a way you'll be present in your student house or a working space.
  • Build a community: Initiating a dialog is another way of keeping your audience active. You can increase your students' engagement by building an online community around your course.

‌‌Create a Course that Sells

How to Sell Online Courses: 5 Strategies to Boost Online Course Sales
How to Boost Online Course Sales:1. Increase your responsiveness2. Listen to feedback3. Reward your customers4. Provide extra value5. Communicate effectively

Set the Price

When creating an online course, sooner or later, every creator needs to answer the question: how much should I charge for my online course.

Related article:

How to price your online course - The CreativeMindClass Blog
Online course prices generally go from $10 for a mini course to a premium price of $350. But how to know what price is best for you? We lay it all out.

‌             ‌

Start with a mini course

If you're just at the beginning of the online course business, a mini course might be the way to go.

If you want to start with your online course today, without much risk, it's the best method to test the waters.

Also, it's the fastest way to create a successful course if you don't have much time and want to expand your online course business in the future.

Related article:

Mini course: the Best Way to Start with Online Courses
A mini course is a good way to start with online school and grow your business. It’s fast to create and it’s shorter than a traditional course.

‌‌Production: The Gear to record an online course video

Before you start selling your online courses you need to prepare the course content. To prepare that content you need the course outline, the written version of your course which later helps you in recording some videos. When that's covered you might want to look into some video recording gear.

We are all pretty handy with recording fun videos on our phones. But how to record a professional video for your online course?

Your mobile phone is more than enough to start but if you want to improve the quality of your video you can assemble some basic gear.

Here is a list of useful gear that can use for the online course video recording:

  1. Camera
  2. Tripod
  3. Lightning
  4. Microphone
  5. Backdrop

Post-production

An online course post-production process includes video editing.

Here is the list of The 20 Best Video Editing Apps according to HubSpot.

  1. Magisto
  2. Hyperlapse
  3. Wondershare Filmora
  4. InShot
  5. WeVideo
  6. Splice
  7. Adobe Premiere Rush
  8. PicPlayPost
  9. Blender
  10. Lightworks
  11. Shotcut
  12. VSDC Free Video Editor
  13. Machete Video Editor Lite
  14. Avidemux
  15. HitFilm
  16. VideoShow
  17. PowerDirector
  18. Quik
  19. KineMaster
  20. VivaVideo

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