Recently updated on August 5th, 2023 at 05:48 pm
Do you feel like you have the expertise to share, but you don’t want to spend your precious time teaching in a traditional classroom for a limited audience?
If so, creating an online course or teaching program can be a great way to convey your knowledge to unlimited amounts of students.
The real beauty of online courses is that you only have to create them once in order to sell them hundreds or thousands of times.
Whereas, if you are coaching students on a one-on-one basis, you will have to spend time repeating yourself all over again with very limited scalability of your profits.
Online courses can help you to establish yourself or your brand as an expert in the field.
They are also great for building trust and relationships with your audience, but most importantly – online courses can be a good source for generating passive income.
Course creation takes time, and you can hardly create a high-quality course for free. But in this article, we are going to mention the best ways and strategies how to quickly create an effective course on the budget.
We are also going to cover the best places to sell your courses, as well as the best ways to market and sell them effectively.
How Much Can You Make Selling Online Courses?
Before we get to talk about course creation, let’s answer a very common question – how much money you can make while selling online courses?
According to the statistics, the online learning industry has already surpassed $250 billion, and it is expected to grow by 21% in the next 5 years – that means more and more people are willing to spend money to educate themselves online.
So, if you are thinking that online courses are dead, and there’s no more space for you to enter this industry, you are surely wrong.
Creating and selling courses is a type of online business, which has no limits on how much money you can make.
There are successful entrepreneurs who make a seven-figure monthly income from selling courses alone, while there are also people who can’t make a single dollar.
For example, take a look at this instructor on Udemy having 2.7 million students enrolled in his courses – that is definitely more students than you could fit into any classroom.
Although, the pricing for each of his courses ranges only from about $10 to $20, imagine how much money he has made selling nearly 3 million access spots for his courses.
The ironic part is that the ones who solely focus on making money by selling courses, most of the time end up making nothing at all.
In order to truly succeed in the online course industry, you should focus on the quality of the course, and making money should not be your first priority.
Overall, the profitability of your course depends on many factors, and those can be:
- Effectiveness of your course
- Size of your audience
- The selling platform
Therefore, you should closely pay attention to all of these aspects in order to deliver a course which is both helpful and profitable.
How To Plan Your Course?
Like any project, course creation requires planning. This is essentially the most important stage that sets the right direction towards your goals.
Without appropriate planning, you may end up wasting time with financial investments and that can be very frustrating.
That’s why we are going to dedicate a lot of information to this bit, which hopefully will help you to gain clarity in the course creation process, and prevent you from making painful mistakes.
So let’s discuss a couple of important steps that are important in the course planning stage:
Choosing Your Niche:
Choosing the right niche for your course plays a vital role in the effectiveness and profitability of your coaching.
If you already have an established audience, it would make sense to create a course on the same topic that serves your audience’s interests.
If you don’t have an audience built yet, the best advice would be to go after something that you are genuinely interested in or have expertise in.
If there’s a topic that you are passionate about, and you could talk about it for hours without getting paid – it should be your course topic.
Now niche is not the same as the topic, and you will have to narrow the topic down to come up with the niche.
This will not only help to better address the pain points of your students but also to convey precise expertise and overcome the competition. In other words – the more specific topic of your course will be, the more effective your course will be.
For example, instead of creating a course on coding, come up with a Python coding for beginners or advanced course – that would be more targeted, and your course will more likely to accomplish its objectives.
With 4.88 billion people using the internet today, you can definitely find the audience interested in your expertise, so don’t be afraid to go after even the smallest niches.
Outlining Your Course:
Outlining your video course is another important process that you cannot miss.
Outlining consists of organizing and grouping your course ideas into different modules, and lessons that solve specific problems. This step is essential for gaining clarity in the course creation process, and you can do it on a piece of paper.
Course modules are like the chapters in the book, and lessons are for explaining every chapter. Just like the whole course, modules should have clear goals and objectives, that are evident for you and your students.
At this stage, decide what goals and objectives each module and lesson will have, and find the ways how you are going to accomplish them.
For example, let’s say you want to create a course on how to create a digital product membership site. Then your modules and lessons within those modules might look like:
MODULE #1: Choosing The Profitable Niche
- LESSON#1: Market Research
- LESSON#2: Competition Analysis
- LESSON#3: Finding Trends
- and so on…
MODULE #2: Creating The Product
- LESSON#1: Product Research
- LESSON#2: Product Creation Tools
- LESSON#3: Creating Video Product
- and so on…
MODULE #3: Promoting Your Membership Site
- LESSON#1: Creating Facebook Group
- LESSON#2: Running Facebook and Instagram Ads
- LESSON#3: Blogging
- and so on…
Depending on the topic, you can sort the modules in your course in a chronological, or difficulty order, or you may have no order at all.
In terms of delivering your modules, you can have them delivered in a step-by-step manner meaning when a student finishes one module he could jump to another right away.
Or, you can organize your course in a timely manner meaning that the next module will only unlock when a certain period of time passes by.
How many modules and lessons you should have also depends on your topic, but each module ideally should be 3-20 minutes long.
It’s because, according to the data, online students typically have shorter attention spans, so it is best to try sticking with shorter-length lessons and precise takeaways.
How To Create Online Courses To Sell?
Once you have a clear list of the modules and lessons of your course, it’s time to think about course production.
Before we get into the details, it’s important to know that the production of your course does not have to be perfect, meaning that you don’t necessarily have to record impeccable quality videos in a fancy studio.
In fact, simple courses recorded from a laptop and Quicktime can be also very profitable as they are for many online coaches.
It is more about what you are presenting rather than how, and you should not overwhelm yourself by trying to achieve perfection, especially in the early stages.
While video courses contribute to a better connection and engagement of your students, they are not always necessary. If you feel that you are not comfortable speaking in front of the camera, you can successfully sell written informational courses too.
The most important thing is to just start and deliver high-quality knowledge regardless of your course format.
But if you feel that you could go the extra mile and shoot a video course for each module or lesson – that’s even better.
Whether or not, you should invest more into the video production of your course also depends on the type of your course.
For example, if you are planning to create yoga, fitness, or a dancing course it would make sense to invest in proper video production equipment.
But, if your course is about marketing, data, design or any other topic, which could be conveyed through the computer screen, then investing in fancy video equipment is not really necessary.
Whichever way you choose to go, you will need to start with the written course materials, and that will be the foundation of your course. Later, you can decide to turn these written materials into video lessons or add them as extra learning resources, upsells, or bonuses.
Creating Written Content:
One of the best and proven ways to present your coaching to students is through the presentation slides.
You can either create presentation slides with the well-known Powerpoint or with the Canva – a free and easy-to-use design app.
While presentation slides are not perfect for presenting large amounts of information, they can be great for highlighting key points of the topic.
After creating slides, you may want to think about creating more coaching materials that provide deeper insight into the topic.
Coursebooks can be great assets that could explain the topic better, especially if you are solely focusing on developing written courses.
You can also create and add a PDF coursebook along with your video tutorials. For example, with each module, you could add a coursebook that summarizes all video lessons.
The more value you add to your course, the higher price you can set for it, and the more money you can make in the long run.
Apart from presentation slides and course books, there are more student materials that you could create and incorporate into your course. Those materials may not only educate your students, but also let them practice, and track the learning progress.
Here’s what you can also add to your course to increase its value:
- Action Guides
- Spreadsheets & Worksheets
- Module Quizzes
- Graphics & Infographics
- and many more…
It may look like a lot of work to create all or at least part of these materials, but the hard work now can result in profits later, so it might be worth delivering the best you can.
Using Done-For-You Coaching Resources:
In case you value your time or feel that you are not capable to craft all coaching materials by yourself, we have some good news for you – you can use done-for-you coaching content.
Today we have sources where you can buy high-quality done-for-you courses or various coaching materials, which you can legally rebrand and use as your own.
These sources may save you an enormous amount of time and headache, as everything there is created for you. You can use products from these websites for the whole foundation of your course as well as for lead generation, bonuses, or extra learning resources.
By recommending these sources we do not encourage you to just copy and paste whatever is in there, but instead, try to leverage between using what is already created for you and adding your unique touch.
So the best way to use these materials is by turning them into unique products, and you can do this by adding your brand and rewriting some bits of information.
Now without further ado, let’s take a look where you can find high-quality done-for-you courses and separate coaching materials:
Content Sparks is one of a few reputable sources that provide complete done-for-you courses, which you can modify, and resell as your own.
The platform also allows you to use its separate coaching materials for the content on social media and blog posts as well as for free giveaways to grow your email list.
Content Sparks currently has over 210 white-label products covering business, personal development, sales, and marketing topics. So, if you are planning to create a course in any of these niches, this platform can be your saver.
The courses come with different modules and lessons, and each brandable course provides you with enough student, instructor, and lead generation materials.
With each course, you can expect to receive brandable resources, like – course books, presentation slides, action guides, cheat sheets, graphics, follow-up emails, sales pages, blog posts, and many other files.
The courses also come with speaker notes, which will help you to easily record a video course if needed.
In general, courses from Content Sparks are well-researched, well-written, and provide value, and the pricing for them ranges from $147 to $297 for each course.
There’s also a 7-day money-back guarantee in place to ensure that the best quality is delivered.
PLR.me is another reputable source for finding high-quality done-for-you coaching resources on topics like – health, fitness, self-care, success, wealth, relationships, and many others.
The products of PLR.me are created by real expert writers, and they all can be modified, resold, or giveaway for free.
While PLR.me has 10 complete brandable courses, the platform mostly specializes in providing separate coaching materials. Here you can find over 16,000 done-for-you coaching resources consisting of:
- Action Guides
- Lead Magnets
- Affirmation Reflections
- Articles & Blog Posts
- Fables & Short Stories
- Reports & EBooks
- Slide Deck Presentations
PLR.me can be a perfect solution for enriching your course with additional student materials, and you can also use its brandable products to accelerate the marketing efforts of your course.
Creating Course Content with AI
If you’re looking to take your course creation to the next level, consider harnessing the power of AI to expedite the process and enhance the quality of your content.
AI course creators, such as Heights AI, Learning Studio AI, and Pictory AI, offer remarkable tools that can revolutionize how you build your courses quickly and efficiently.
Heights AI provides an all-in-one course creation platform, offering everything you need to launch an exceptional online course. With the help of their AI chat and AI coach, you can receive recommendations on course topics, generate lesson outlines, and craft compelling course descriptions with ease.
Learning Studio AI is a top-notch AI-powered course creator that transforms written blogs, webinars, and whitepapers into engaging video clips. Their AI engine converts your content into video presentations and even offers AI-generated stories and dialogs to make your courses captivating and interactive.
Learning Studio AI
Learning Studio AI empowers you to create custom and captivating training courses using the power of AI. Their AI assistant helps you design the course structure, generates the title, description, and objectives, and provides a guided flow for seamless course creation.
By leveraging AI course creators like these, you can streamline your course creation process, save valuable time, and deliver high-quality courses to your audience.
The AI technology can assist you in generating course content, enhancing engagement, and creating unique and tailored learning experiences, ultimately making your online courses stand out in the competitive market.
Creating Video Content:
As being said, creating video courses is not always necessary, especially if you are just starting out.
However, the video content drives better engagement and it can make the learning process for your student more effective. So if you are willing to take the extra mile and turn your written information into a video course, then this section is for you.
Here we will cover all the essential steps of video production, and that includes – lighting, a microphone. camera, teleprompting, screen recording, and video editing.
For the professional recording, it is advised that you set up 2-3 lights.
The first two lights are placed at 45-degree angles in front of the speaker to sufficiently light up the object without creating shadows. And the third one should be located behind the object to separate it from the background.
Here’s how the professional 3 point lighting should look like:
However, depending on the type of your course, you don’t necessarily need professional lighting and often, the natural light coming through the window can be more than enough.
Audio quality is the most important aspect of the video course.
There’s nothing worse than not hearing the instructor clearly inside the paid course. If you are shooting a video in an isolated and quiet environment, then a built-in microphone from your computer or smartphone could be enough.
Otherwise, it is always a good idea to purchase a professional microphone that clearly records your words and isolates any distracting sounds from the environment.
Before deciding on video filming equipment, think about what you are going to demonstrate in your course.
For example, If you are planning to teach crafts, DIY projects, painting, filming, or any other topic that involves demonstration of yourself as well as surrounding physical objects, then it might be a good idea to invest it in high-quality video production.
On the other hand, if your course is about programming, graphic design, music production, or anything else that involves a lot of demonstrations on the computer screen, then you can surely get away with just your smartphone or the laptop’s camera (if it’s good enough).
Either way, if you are creating your first course, try dipping your toes in the water without spending money on the expensive cameras as the iPhone and its holder can actually do wonders for your video production.
If you don’t have a lot of experience in speaking in front of the camera, or if you lack expertise in the course topic, then you might want to consider reading from a video script while using a Teleprompter.
A teleprompter is a screen device that prompts and automatically scrolls the video script to the speaker as he speaks in front of the camera.
While you can invest in the extensive teleprompter systems that are used in the news media, you can also effectively use a simple teleprompter app from your smartphone.
One of the best apps suitable for iOS, Mac, and Android is Teleprompter App. The app easily allows you to import and display your video scripts, as well as customize your desired scrolling speed.
Put your device with the teleprompter app on into the phone holder arm and adjust it to the nearest possible place towards the camera lens.
Placing the teleprompter as near as possible to the camera ensures that the viewer will not be able to see that you are reading from the script.
If your course involves showing something from your computer screen to your students, then you should consider getting a screen recorder software.
Such software will allow you to record the activities from your computer screen, while also enabling you to connect your external camera and microphone.
You can find plenty of great free screen recorders online that have enough capabilities for high-quality recording.
Video Editing Software:
Once you have everything filmed it’s time to put things together in the video editing software.
There you will cut out all unsuccessful recordings, blend in the recorded sound, and finally polish each video lesson before it gets uploaded into the course platform.
For video course creation, you definitely won’t need a premium video editor with flashy effects. Instead, choose something fast, easy to use, and free.
Where To Sell Your Course?
Once you have finished creating your informational or video course, and you have all modules and lessons ready, it’s time to find a home for your course.
Choosing the right hosting and selling platform plays a critical role in the success and profitability of your course, therefore, it is important that you take the right decision in this step.
One of the most common ways to sell your knowledge is on the online course marketplace called Udemy.
Another popular method to sell courses is from all-in-one e-commerce platforms. Let’s discuss both of these selling options in detail.
Selling Courses On Udemy:
By joining Udemy as an instructor, you agree not to sell your courses elsewhere outside the platform, so it’s important that you carefully consider this choice.
Udemy is an amazing source for students to find effective and affordable courses on any topic. But for the course creators, it can be a real challenge to effectively sell products on this marketplace.
One of the reasons why it’s hard to sell courses on Udemy is that it became an over-saturated platform with enormous ongoing competition.
While it’s completely free to list your products on Udemy, and the platform regularly receives high volumes of daily traffic, the biggest attention gets the most purchased and top-rated courses, and it is still significantly hard for new instructors to enter the market.
Just imagine yourself dedicating days or weeks for course creation, and then getting little to no exposure to it…
Since you are hosting courses on someone else’s platform you will also be required to pay the revenue share when someone buys your course.
Udemy can charge up to 63% of your revenue, whereas other course selling platforms leave you with 100% of the profits.
What is more, you don’t have direct access to anyone who signs up for your course on Udemy, so you can’t grow your customer list and build long-term relationships with your students.
The email list is the most profitable asset for many course creators, so it’s painful not to have the opportunity to collect the leads.
Overall, as a new creator, you are likely to have a hard time selling courses on this platform, so you may want to consider other options for that.
Selling Courses on All-In-One Platforms:
If you want to keep 100% of your revenue, build a customer list, and have full control of your courses, then you should consider all-in-one course selling platforms, such as Podia, Teachable, or Kajabi.
These easy-to-use solutions can help you to deliver courses in the way you like as well as provide enough tools for the marketing and sales processes.
Using all-in-one platforms for selling courses can save you enormous amounts of time, as they are very easy to use and provide everything you need in one place.
These e-commerce solutions allow you to create a custom branded website, or you can integrate them into your current site. Then you can easily design beautiful course storefronts by using drag-and-drop builders with pre-designed templates.
With these platforms, you can also choose to pay an affordable fixed monthly fee, instead of being charged on every transaction, like on Udemy. That will let you keep significantly more profits over the long run.
Besides all these benefits, the all-in-one platforms also allow you to:
- Accept payments without extra transaction fees
- Create recurring memberships or sell courses individually
- Drip the content of your course in a specific manner
- Build beautiful sales and landing pages
- Collect and send unlimited emails to the customers
- Analyze and track your selling performance
- Host webinar and livestream events
- Host course assessments, like surveys or quizzes
- Offer discounts, coupons, and bonuses
- Issue custom certificates
- Pre-launch and pre-sell courses
So if you are new to course selling business, and you want to have full control of your course materials as well as your customers, then all-in-one platforms are the best way to go.
How To Market Your Course?
The most important element to your course selling success is marketing.
You may have the most fantastic course in the world, but if you won’t put enough effort into marketing, you are not going to sell it.
The marketing process involves communicating the value that your course or membership program has to offer. There’s no proven-to-work marketing strategy and you will have to figure out what works best for you and your specific audience.
Here we will cover the best marketing strategies, and how you can apply them to your course:
Meanwhile, other stats indicate that 4 out of 5 marketers would rather give up social media marketing than email marketing.
People check and trust emails, and every clever marketer will take the opportunity to advertise their products on email. Whether you choose to market your courses on Facebook, or on your blog, your main priority should be growing your email list.
Email is a great place to build close relationships with your potential customers and sell your offers, and the best thing about it – it can be fully automated.
Another great advantage of this strategy is that once you build your email list, it becomes a long-lasting asset, which you have full control over.
In order to start building your email list, you will need two things – email marketing software, and a landing page with the opt-in form.
The all-in-one course selling platforms, like Podia and others, provide everything you need to effectively build the email list.
You can use any of the marketing channels to generate and send traffic to the landing page with an opt-in form, which will help you to collect leads (subscribers).
To maximize the subscription chances, it’s advised to offer something for free for an exchange to the user’s email address.
Digital products like ebooks, reports, cheat sheets, or anything else can work as a perfect incentive for a customer to leave his contact details, and you can find plenty of such lead generation products on sites like PLR.me.
Meanwhile, at the back end of your email marketing software, you can prepare a sequence of emails, which you will automatically send to your customers in your desired time frames.
Email marketing works best when you are not trying to sell anything right away before building a sufficient relationship with the customer.
Instead, try to provide as much value as possible first without being too pitchy or spammy.
Blogging is a free yet very efficient marketing strategy applied by many successful course sellers.
The best thing about blogging is that you only have to publish content once for it to potentially generate regular visitors and passive income.
Video marketing is the best strategy to build the closest connection with your audience, so the best place for course creators to blog is YouTube.
YouTube’s content can work as a minicourse or a teaser of your paid course, and, it costs nothing to publish content on this platform.
If you don’t feel confident in front of the camera, then writing a blog is another great idea.
Write and publish as much content as possible about the topic you are teaching while optimizing blog posts for search engines.
Once your articles begin ranking on Google, you will start getting targeted automated, and most importantly – free traffic to your site, and later to your course.
Both YouTube channel and website blog allow you to build your subscriber list by collecting email addresses, and that can further accelerate your marketing and sales results.
While blogging should be your core marketing strategy, building followers and engagement on social media platforms is also important.
Whether it is LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or Twitter, knowing where your students spend most of their time is essential.
If your course is targeting women interested in arts, then being active on Pinterest may be a good idea. If you are creating a business course, then looking at LinkedIn might be worthwhile.
Also, think about which platform will bring the most satisfaction for you in the marketing process.
Perhaps you more enjoy creating short videos or nice images rather than posting long written posts, or sharing links, so choose Instagram or TikTok over Facebook or Twitter.
One of the best social media strategies is Facebook groups. You could create a Facebook group where you share a lot of knowledge with your current and potential students, at the same time letting them know about your course and what it has to offer.
Remember that, being passively active on all social media channels is not likely to be very effective. Instead, try to focus on one or two social platforms, and publish the content consistently.
Paid advertising can be a profitable way to skyrocket your course sales, but it can be also risky, especially if you don’t have prior experience.
Therefore, it’s recommended that you build organic and free traffic sources first or have some spare budget to spend before you start running ads on any platform.
While you can run sponsored ads on almost all social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram ads are the most popular and effective among course creators.
For the ads to bring returns on investment, you definitely want to create a complete sales funnel, where you strategically deliver all relevant course information as well as precisely coordinated sales offers to the customer.
The most important thing about paid advertising of your course is that you don’t want to sell your course to someone who hasn’t heard about you.
Instead, run ads to build your email list first, where you will start building relationships with the students and warm them up before pitching the offer.
Once you have people joining your email list, and they get to know more about you and what you have to offer, you can effectively run the sales ads to them in order to finally close the deal.
How To Sell Your Course?
Once you have the marketing plan for your course, it’s time for selling it. The most important element of selling your course is your sales page.
The sales page is a place where you will have to finally convince buyers that your course can deliver what they want.
An effective sales page consists of many components, such as persuasive marketing copy with a clear value proposition, in-depth course description with a sneak peek of the modules and lessons, clear and catchy headlines, call-to-action-buttons, reviews, and testimonials, as well as other elements.
To make your sales page more appealing, you can also create and add a short sales video where you better engage potential buyers and encourage them to take action.
Besides that, adding images and nicely designing your sales page will also boost the chances of conversion.
To further improve your conversions, adding scarcity elements, like a countdown timer, or limited seats information can be also very effective.
While this all may seem to be hard and overwhelming work, our already mentioned all-in-one course selling platforms allow you to easily build and design sales pages by using drag and drop builders and predesigned templates.
Besides the importance of the sales page, there are other important components and strategies of successful selling your course. Here are a few:
- Setting up a reasonable price
- Selling through webinars, Q&As, and live streams
- Pre-selling your course by offering a free mini-course
- Offering free trial for your course
- Offering money-back guarantee
- Sending abandoned cart emails
- Running abandoned cart ads
- Offering promotional codes & discounts
- Selling courses in a bundle
- Selling courses on a membership basis
- Offering free bonuses or upsells
Ideally, you should try to implement all of these strategies in the sales process over the long term.
What for some people could work, wouldn’t work for others, and it all comes down to testing to find out which sales strategies exactly work best for you.
Creating online courses and programs is far the most effective and profitable way of sharing your expertise with students.
The processes of course creation, marketing, and sales aren’t easy, and it takes time. But remember, you only have to create it once to sell it numerous times to unlimited amounts of people.
The course creation starts with a precise plan, which includes finding the right niche and outlining the course.
Once you have the action plan in place, it’s time to create the course content. You can choose to create everything from scratch, or you can take a shortcut and use done-for-you coaching materials, from sites like PLR.me or Content Sparks.
Whether or not you should turn your course materials into videos, depends on the type of your course as well as on how dedicated you are towards creating a high-quality informational product.
While the video courses are beneficial for the higher engagement of your students, they are not always necessary, especially if you are creating your very first course.
After you created all course modules and lessons, it’s time to host them somewhere, and all-in-one course selling platforms is the way to go.
Last but not least, communicating the value of your course in the right place, at the right time, and to the right people, will play a huge role in your marketing success.
Doing the market research of your targeted audience, analyzing where it spends the most time, and creating lots of relevant content, are the key components for finding the perfect marketing strategy for your course.
Paul Lian is a researcher, writer, and founder of WayToChanges.com. With over eight years of experience in blogging, digital marketing, copywriting, and digital products, he has built multiple six-figure income streams. Through his blog, Paul shares his best expertise, strategies, and tools to help readers achieve financial freedom and success in their own digital ventures.