How to Create and Sell Your Online Course
It’s no secret that the Internet has made it easier than ever for people to share ideas and learn new information. Perhaps this is best manifested in the rise of massive open online courses (otherwise known as MOOCs) across the globe. These days, there’s a serious demand for online courses, and some people have even made a healthy living off creating these courses. Do you have an area of expertise about which you’d like to spread knowledge? If so, then you might be considering the option to create and sell your online course. Before you get started, however, there are some important factors you’ll want to take into consideration.
Selecting Your Course
First of all, understand that your passion or specific area of expertise might not be your best topic for an online course. In a perfect world, it would be, but perhaps one of the biggest keys to success in any online course is teaching material that’s in high demand to a niche audience. In fact, the best online courses tend to be those that focus on solving a specific problem for a small group of people. Ask yourself, then, if your perceived course will help to solve a known problem. If the answer is no, you probably need to choose another topic.
Believe it or not, one sign that you’ve chosen a great course topic is the existence of similar courses. This helps to confirm that people do, in fact, care about the topic. Yes, it also means you’ll have competition, but that’s where the rest of these tips can help you get a leg-up over those other courses.
Naming Your Course
One of the worst things you can do when developing your online course is spend too much time stressing over the name. While it’s true that the name of your course is important to an extent, it’s far from the most vital aspect of success. Instead of hitting a roadblock in trying to name your course in the early stages of its development, consider waiting until later in the process. Once you’ve had some time to develop the specific goals and outcomes of your course, a name will come more easily to you.
There are a couple of guidelines to remember when naming your course. For starters, ensure the name reflects not only the topic of the course, but the level of expertise as well. This will help to frame your students’ expectations. For example, “Internet Marketing 101” is going to be a much different course than “Advanced Internet Marketing.” Also, make sure that whatever name you end up choosing is also available as a .com URL (for example, www.internetmarketing101.com). This way, you can launch an easy-to-find website for your course.
Deciding on a Price
OK, so you’ve spent countless hours developing content and lessons for your online course. Now how are you supposed to figure out how much to charge? Obviously, you don’t want to stifle enrollment by overcharging, but you also don’t want to be underpaid for your expertise and talent. Generally, it’s a good idea to start by researching your competition’s prices. Find courses similar to yours, see what they have to offer, and make note of how much they’re charging. Of course, you want your pricing to be competitive with theirs, but this doesn’t necessarily mean offering yours for a cheaper price. You could be well justified in charging more if your course has more to offer.
One great pricing tip to keep in mind, which could help with sign-ups and enrollment, is the idea of providing a perceived discount to those thinking about signing up. For example, if you’d like to sell your course for $100, consider pricing it at $150 and advertising a “markdown” of $50. Your audience will be more likely to spend their money on something if they feel like they’re getting a bargain or deal.
Another option to consider when pricing your course is giving your buyers different enrollment options—especially, if research of your audience has found that they may have a limited budget. For example, rather than charging $100 for your full course, you might offer three different tiers to choose from: a $35 option that provides buyers with limited content, a $70 option, and the full $100 version.
Choosing Suitable Content
When deciding on what type of content would be most suitable for your online course, there’s no uniform answer; instead, you’ll need to carefully consider your target audience. What are their needs? How do they tend to use the web? For example, if you’re launching an online course designed to teach seniors how to use their computers, your content is probably going to be more simple and streamlined than if you were teaching an advanced course on computer coding and programming.
Either way, you’ll want to do your best to select content that’s engaging and useful for your students. In other words, your course should be multimodal to the extent appropriate for your audience. If your target audience are Millennials, then you’ll probably want to make use not only of text and images in your course platform, but videos, social media, and even real-time chats. The possibilities for content mediums online these days are essentially endless, but your course should be a fair mix of video lectures, demonstrations, Q&As, and exercises.
Launching Your Course
Perhaps one of the most stressful aspects of preparing your online course will be the days and weeks leading up to the launch. Ideally, you’ll want to prepare for launch day by having your course website up several weeks, or even months in advance. This way, you can use this platform to generate hype for your course’s official launch date. In the meantime, keep your site updated with fresh content regularly, such as blog posts. You should also set up a mailing list and encourage people on your home page to sign up for it; this way, they can receive sneak peeks about your course (and perhaps even special discounts, depending on your pricing plan). The benefit for you is that you can use this list to get an idea of how many people might be interested in signing up for your course when it launches.
Of course, you should use social media platforms to hype your course during this time as well.
On the day of your course’s launch, consider sending out an e-mail blast to those on your list, providing them with an exclusive, 24-hour discount. A lot of times, people who are on the fence about paying for something can be convinced when they’re provided with a special discount that’s only good for a small period of time.
Marketing Your Course
Once your course is launched, all your hard work is done, right? Not so fast. If you want to maximize your success with any online course, now is the time to put all your energy into marketing it. One excellent way of marketing an online course is to take advantage of other social, educational platforms. For example, where do most people go when they’re looking for a tutorial on how to do something? YouTube, probably. By creating a short, sneak-peek video related to your course (and what your target audience is probably searching for) and uploading it YouTube, you can market your course and increase engagement. Just be sure to include a plug in your video and a link to your course website in the video description.
Another possible outlet for marketing your online course (aside from obvious options, such as using social media and paid ad marketing) is to find affiliates who may be willing to write about their experience in taking your course in exchange for free access or some other perk. Once users begin completing your course, follow up with them and see if any would be willing to write a testimonial; when written genuinely and honestly, these can be a great selling point.
Of course, if you can market measurable results (for example, “95 percent of people who complete this Internet marketing course have been able to increase traffic to their own websites,”) this is always recommended. And don’t rule out the possibility of marketing a money-back guarantee. Of course, this means you must be extremely confident in your course and its outcomes (for some, it may be better to forego this option if it’s your first time launching the course).
Last but not least, don’t overlook the option to create a custom logo for your particular course. After all, your course is a product, and the most successful products both online and offline have memorable logos. Ideally, your course logo should reflect the topic of the class and be easily identifiable. Your logo should then be included on your course website, all course materials, and even on your course social media pages as a form of branding. If graphic design isn’t your area of expertise, you may consider hiring a freelance graphic designer to come up with a fitting logo for your course.
As you can see, there’s a lot to keep in mind if you’re looking to create online courses. At the end of the day, you don’t necessarily need to have any formal teaching experience to be successful in this growing industry. All it takes is a passion for problem-solving, dedication of your time, and tactful marketing to make a profit from an online course while spreading valuable knowledge to those in need.