Marketing

How to create an online course in 2021 (step by step guide)

create an online course

If you want to create an online course in 2021, it might be easier than you think. No, that’s not hyperbole. Thanks to the advent of user-friendly education technologies, you can launch a brand-new online course with ease. 

In this detailed guide, I will walk you through the step-by-step process of how you can create an online course, set things up, and leverage helpful tools to accelerate your course to success.

Create an online course in 2021

1. Identify the Opportunity

Launching your online course is just like venturing into a startup. In order to find the right opportunity, you need to discover and define the problem.

A wildly successful online course is the one that identifies exactly what problem your audience is trying to solve and what outcome they are looking for.

Do they want to learn Java and C++ to become a computer teacher, or do they want to know the latest content marketing techniques to drive more organic traffic to their landing pages?

Before you create an online course, you should be clear on these terms. The ultimate goal of your online course should be to guide them through the transformation process they need to reach their goals.

Finding the core problem your audience needs to solve might require some work. You need to dedicate some time here by doing a bit of research.

If you want to launch your online course, here are a few ways to spot problem statements and opportunities:

  • Conduct a survey: If you have an email list, (however small they may seem), send a survey to your subscribers. Keep it simple and straight to the point. Ask them what they’re struggling with and what they’d like to learn. You can use Google Forms or Survey Monkey to conduct such a survey.
  • Use your social media: Make use of different platform features like a poll or questions to put up a survey on your social media channels.
  • Make use of community forums: Use online community forums like Quora, Reddit, and Stack Overflow to dive deep into what your target audience is talking about. 

While doing this process, look for the questions that are getting a lot of attention, Make a note of any themes or trends around those questions. If there are any specific questions that people are asking, that’s your cue, to begin with.

2. Validate Your Course Idea

Do you have your grand course idea?

That’s amazing!

It’s time to validate it. If you are thinking of skipping to the next step, don’t. Having a great idea doesn’t mean it’ll translate into a great course. Investing your hours and money on creating something that might not sell isn’t a great spot to be on. 

Let’s not forget that we are looking for paying customers here. We are surrounded by a pile of unread books sitting on people’s desks and gym memberships that don’t get used. These aren’t the customers you want validating your idea.

That’s where a smoke test comes in. Here we validate the course idea from people who would be genuinely interested to buy your courses and learn from you.

Bring Out the Smoke Test

A smoke test is like doing a pre-launch where you start to sell your course before it’s even completed. 

  • Set up a course landing page. 
  • Run an email sequence explaining your courses.
  • Comment on forums and post your landing page URL on your social media handles.
  • Drive traffic to see if anyone actually clicks on the “buy now” button.

The whole process will take you a few days at most. 

Using Graphy, you can set up a visually appealing landing page for free. Once you are done doing all the steps for a week, go ahead and check the stats.

What you should be checking is this – number of people who clicked on the “Buy Now” button. 

Before doing this experiment, set a target number for your click-through rate. Don’t make it huge. Keep a realistic and decent number. If this little experiment meets or exceeds the target rate, then go ahead. 

This step ensures that you’ve successfully validated your idea. 

3. Outline Your Course

Creating your outline is definitely the most important and also the trickiest part of launching an online course. Here, you create a rough outline of what your course will contain (and not contain).

This process might feel overwhelming as there is just too much information on the internet on all the topics possible. Unless, of course, you’re teaching something exceptionally revolutionary. 

It’s possible to fall into the content overlap or want to include it all.

If that happens to you, remember that your learners will not pay just for the information, but to be transformed.

Your course’s value should be able to take your audience from where they are to where they want to be!

Here is the easiest way to set up a course outline without feeling lost:

  • Repurpose your pre-existing content. Creating entirely new content from scratch will be a waste of time. 
  • Gather all the information that you have. Remove the repetitive content.
  • Look at your existing content pieces as well. 
  • Take your best-performing content and convert it into small digestible chunks in an online course format.
  • Break down the information that you have into sections and sub-sections.
  • Every module or section should aim to teach a new skill or aspect of your topic.

Remember, your course should be crisp and doesn’t have information overload. Create a course structure that will help participants achieve natural progression. 

4. Build Your Online Course

You have done all the groundwork. Congratulations!

In this step, you will be doing the actual work of creating the course. Decide on the course format. The best way is to keep a combination.

You can choose a hybrid format that includes pre-recorded videos, online live sessions, PDFs, cheat sheets, and assignments. 

Craft the first content draft. Over time, try to gather feedback and improvise on your delivery. In order to keep your students engaged, create an interactive engagement group. You can create one with Graphy itself. 

Don’t launch just yet. First, test it out with a few people whom you trust. This is to ensure that it’s heading in the right direction. 

5. Beta Launch To A Small Audience

Your first batch of participants will help you to mold your course and finetune it.

Hence, get the first batch of students as early as possible. Don’t wait for perfection. If you aren’t confident, offer early bird discounts. This beta group will provide you with candid feedback. It will help you discover what works and doesn’t work with your course. 

Evaluate your course on the basis of the invaluable feedback received. 

Improvise it before onboarding new batch of students. At this spot, you can confidently sell at the price point you deserve. 

Include case studies, success stories, and a lot of cheatsheets to increase the credibility of your course. 

  • Give the course out at a huge discount to your first-time students.
  • Do one-on-one interaction with them and document everything. 
  •  Release lessons and then host an interactive live session to figure out pain points.

Related: Top Engagement Tips For Online Learning

6. Launch Your Online Course

The time for the official launch has finally arrived. But before that, go ahead and do all the required checks to set the stage for success.

If you have put in so much hard work in developing a great course, you must put in the same amount of work to market it as well. 

A wildly successful course needs a strong marketing plan.

In order to create a solid marketing plan, include the following assets for course promotions

  • Blog post announcement
  • Launch an email campaign
  • Social media posts and stories
  • FB ads
  • Guest appearance in Podcast interviews
  • Influencer marketing
  • Affiliate programs

You can tweak the above as per your plan. But, don’t get stuck here. Begin with any 2 and launch your online course. 

Getting this step right will set your course up for long-term success.

Related: Top productivity tips for Creators

7. Build Your Community

In order to truly transform your students’ lives, you need to be invested in it. You can achieve great output by developing an online community for all your participants. This will help you mentor them through the journey.

Create a community within your website and Graphy app, host live Q&As, respond to assignments, answer emails, and engage with your students. In order to create the best course possible, keep revisiting your course material periodically and update with new concepts and lessons. Make sure your course is relevant and updated. 

Related: The Best Community Building Platform

Make Your Online Course a Reality

And that’s all there is to it. This might feel huge and overwhelming at the moment, but we know it’s worth it.

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