So you want to create an online course.
They are a great way to reach more of your ideal clients and deliver and share your expertise and knowledge. With an online course you can leverage more of your time and create a consistent, repeatable income. You can create a standalone course your students can access at anytime or use them as a hub of materials for a programme or mastermind.
But where do you start when creating one?
How do you decide where to host your course?
What are the best platforms and systems to host an online course?
Here I’ll take you through the 5 steps you need to consider when creating your very first course.
Step 1; Think about your audience, what they need from you and how you can deliver that.
This step is all about planning and putting your ideas into order. Have a clear outcome, what will your audience be able to do by the end of the course. Then map out how you will get them there.
Start with a simple explanation of what your online course is about and map out your modules and lessons with titles first, before adding the details. You don’t need fancy software, you can brain dump into a document and add in more specific knowledge as you go.
Don’t worry about what it looks like at this stage either, focus on ensuring that the content is targeted at the right audience and is exactly the type of information your ideal clients need from you.
Step 2; Choose your platform.
There are hundreds if not thousands of platforms out there that you can host your online course on, here are a few of my favourite easy to use platforms to help you make a decision, but you can easily research others.
WordPress plugins – if you have a WordPress website then the easiest thing to do to ensure you continue to drive traffic to your website is to use a plugin such as Memberpress or LearnDash. Both come with an annual fee starting from approx. $159 per year. Drag and drop builders will help you create a specific area for your members to access their training.
Podia – An all singing and dancing platform where you can build a website, host your courses, send email marketing, sell ebooks and downloads and sell coaching packages. Fom just $33 a month for their Mover plan, or upgrade to the Shaker plan from $75 a month to include affiliate programmes and webinars. Great for if you are spending lots of money on different bits of tech and want everything in one place.
Thinkific – This platform allows you to add 3 courses for free, there are then price plans starting from $39 per month with additional features such as the ability to email students from the platform, coupon codes, custom domain and an affiliate programme. Thinkific allows you to upload your videos to be stored directly within your account and has easy-to-build courses with drag-and-drop elements.
Teachable – The free version allows unlimited courses and students, course design templates and integrates with third-party tech such as payment processors and email marketing. The paid plans start at $29 per month, but it is important to note that Teachable also takes a fee per transaction on the free and basic plans between 5% and 10%.
All In One Systems – There are so many of these on the market now, Kajabi and Kartra are the big two which have everything you need to run your online business. New contenders include Easy Peasy Funnels, FEA Create and FG Funnels. These are all built using the same white label system Go High Level and have pretty much the same functionality. Then more budget-friendly options are New Zenler and Systeme.io. They all act as funnel software where you can host your lead magnets and online courses as well as build websites and link to other offerings. They include email marketing built in as well so you don’t need to use a separate system. They are great choices for expanding or established businesses.
And so many more! Check out this great article which explores 19 of the best online course platforms available here
Step 3; Prepare your materials
Think about how you want your students or members to be supported. You can create workbooks, slides and quizzes to enhance user experience.
Videos are also a popular choice rather than just adding text for people to read.
Ensure whatever you are creating is fully branded so that it is instantly recognisable as your own.
Think carefully about creating a course people want to do. Make it engaging and fun if you can. Regular support calls or a separate community for people to ask questions is always an added bonus.
Step 4; Adding in the tech
You’ll likely need to add in a payment processor, Stripe and Paypal are the most used. The platforms should have an easy-to-follow tutorial on adding your payment processor directly.
Ensure you have an email marketing system that again integrates with your course platform (if not an all in one), that way you can send a welcome email to your students or members and keep them informed of their progress or let them know of any other products that could be of interest.
Also think about how you want your content to be delivered, most platforms will allow you to either drip your content to your users or it can be released all at once.
Step 5; Test, test, test!
Once you’ve added everything onto your course, you need to make sure that it is working well, and delivering everything you want it to. Create a dummy account and carefully check that everything is working as it should, images are the correct dimensions and that your course is as user-friendly as possible.
Bonus Step – stop procrastinating and start getting it done.
By working through each step above you should now have created a course that will help your audience. You can also tweak it as you go, but try to make the finished product as good as it can be. Once you’ve released it don’t be afraid to ask for feedback to enhance user experience as well, this will lead to more sales through recommendations as well.
If steps 2 to 5 feel a little daunting and out of your comfort zone, then why not consider my online course creation package? You map out your content and record any videos, and I will take care of the rest. From helping you choose the platform to creating the materials that will wow your buyers and adding in all the tech elements, you’ll have a course that you will feel proud of and confident in selling to your audience.
The price is £995 with a 50% deposit payable on booking your slot.
*Article updated July 2023