The 8 Steps to Creating an Online Course That Makes You Money

Table of Contents

Step 1 of Creating an Online Course.

How an online course can make you money.

You can make money with an online course with a commitment of time, a little knowledge, and a small investment of some money. Online course creation has become technologically easier in the last few years while the market has grown.

Online Learning – A Thriving Industry

It might be surprising, but E-learning through online courses is here in a big way. In fact, it’s a remarkably fast-growing industry! Last year it was reported to have done over $165 billion and it is estimated (by Global Industry Analysts) to reach $325 billion by 2025… The next question is, do you want a share of the pie?

If you answered “yes“, you probably already know a big piece of that pie is going directly to the online course creators, and you want to be counted as one. Especially since creating an online course is now easier than ever.

How much do online course creators make?

An online course instructor can make as much money as they are willing to work for.

Yes, there are many, many success stories about instructors making five-figure incomes a month. While that is exciting, it probably sounds so far out of reach that it doesn’t begin to impress you. Good, because it will probably take you several years of dedicated effort to reach success like that.

Can you make money from online courses?

Let’s stay real for a minute, would an additional $500 a month make a difference for you? In fact, let’s take it down another notch. If you were able to make an additional $50 a month that took you an investment of 40 hours would you be interested?

Are you still saying yes? Good, it looks like you can read between the lines! The investment was a one-time investment, and the $50 additional income was residual every month from now on. Online courses will, of course, vary in the income, initial investment, and ongoing instructor involvement, but if you are interested in “nearly passive” residual income then online courses are an excellent place to find it.

You may have fears and doubts, and that’s okay but keep reading, this is an easy to follow step by step process to get started and we are going to be with you the entire way.

Also, read this Article on Intuitive Life Coaching

Creating an online course

How do I start creating my online course content?

You start creating your course with a commitment to yourself and your potential students. It is the first step in the journey to successful course creation. on

You may be saying to yourself one of the two following statements:

“I’m committed to creating an online course, am an expert in ________ (fill in the blank) and I can imagine that somebody would want to buy my course.”

If this is what you find yourself saying, then great! You probably have some specialized knowledge and/or experience that will be beneficial to others who need some assistance you can provide.

-or-

“I’m committed to creating an online course, but I’m not an expert in anything. Why would anyone want to buy my course?”

No problem! When it comes to creating valuable online instruction, you can use one of the two approaches below as a guide to give you an initial direction.

Approach 1

Showcase: your expertise.

Use your knowledge and experience to teach others in your area of skill and competence.

For instance, if you are a savvy real estate investor, you may want to share your knowledge on how to choose the right kind of money-making deals.

Or you may be an accomplished baker who has tips and secrets for baking bread.

Whatever your skills, use them to help others solve dilemmas they are struggling with.

Approach 2

Showcase: what you learn.

Use your curiosity and ability to learn to become knowledgeable about a subject you are interested in.

Buy and read books on the topic, research the topic online, talk to people in the industry, become knowledgeable and you can then teach what you learned. By simply doing this it will mean you will know more than 99% of all the students who will take your course.

The advantage of being new, and using approach 2

One of the major advantages of being an instructor and using approach 2 is when teaching beginner courses.

Have you ever spoken with an expert on a subject you knew very little about? You probably got lost very quickly because an expert often takes knowledge for granted. They may assume you know more than you do and gloss over important terms and concepts.

As an instructor who is teaching topics almost as soon as you learn them, you can walk in the footprints of a beginner right along with your students. Creating an online course becomes fun and attainable by almost everyone.

You don’t need to be an expert in any subject you teach but remember, students like to learn from real people, so be honest about who you are and don’t try to falsify your experience or credentials.

Also, read this Article on Top 5 Coaching Models

course creation

Step 2 of Creating an Online Course.

How to make money with an online course.

Making money with an online course is not exactly easy but is far simpler than you think. It will take a commitment of time, knowledge, and money. We will discuss the steps you can use as well as a few shortcuts to start making money as an online course instructor.

Choosing your course topic

How to determine if your course idea will be profitable.

You have probably already read Step 1, (if not you may want to take a quick second to do so), and as such you are committed to creating an online course.

You may already have an idea for your first course. You may opt to use Approach 1 (expert) or Approach 2 (learn as you teach) when deciding on your course. But the most important question is simple: “Will this course be profitable?”

Because online courses have been so popular, and the internet reach is so large there is an easy test to help you determine if there is a market for your course idea.

“Are there any courses that already exist for the subject I want to teach?” If the answer is “no” then you should probably think of another topic. I know what you’re thinking. Why would you want to do a course that has already been done, rather than one that has not? The answer is simple. If there was an existing market for the subject matter you want to teach, someone would have surely tapped into it already?

Because markets are pre-tapped, it becomes easy to see what the competition is and how they do it. Take what you believe to be the best parts and replace what you don’t like about how they taught it.

Is this strategy making sense? Ask yourself have you ever looked up a specific topic on YouTube to find only five or six videos on what you were looking for but you couldn’t stand any of the personalities of the people on there so you gave up on watching any of the videos?

Not everyone will like your teaching style, voice, look, and mannerisms, but enough will, and if you make content/courses for them they will thank you for it.

Keeping that in mind, people buy courses to solve a problem they are having or struggling with, as well as their ability to listen and learn from the instructor.

Take the next ten minutes to download and fill out the New Course Topic Worksheet, to get your free copy, simply sign up for our newsletter and receive an email with download buttons for this and other valuable assets.

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Also, read this Article on Self-Esteem

online course

Step 3 of Creating an Online Course.

Making money with an online course yet?

To start making money as an online course instructor it will take an investment of your resources such as money, time, and knowledge. While it is not an easy task, creating an online course is far simpler than you might think.

Test your new course idea with one of two approaches

If you used the New Course Topic Worksheet you probably already have a profitable idea. But let’s test it out a little more to be sure. It is safer to lose a small investment with a preliminary market viability test on an idea than to waste your valuable resources to build out an entire untested course. 

There are two easy approaches to test the market for your new idea. We will take a look at each one so you can decide which makes the most sense for you, your audience, and your topic.

Approach 1

Pre-sell Your Course

There are a few ways to use this approach. You can, of course, use either one or even both at the same time.

The first is using your landing page to set a future (projected) date for the course to launch along with placing an “early bird” button. This will allow interested students to sign up to receive a notification when the course goes live. Keep in mind, this can easily be used as a social media post or ad campaign as well. 

The second is a slightly different variation of that idea and it is to place a dummy “buy now” button on your sales page or a targeted email with a click counter so you can tally how many clicks you get from potential students to estimate interest. Try not to use this method too often however, you don’t want to frustrate your possible customer base by having them attempt to buy material that is not actually available.

Approach 2

Free Mini-Course

Create and offer a smaller or introductory version of your online course and deliver it as an inclusive condensed email. Be sure to give away value in the course and share your excitement about the remaining portion yet to come.

The best practice for deciding who should be a recipient of the mini class is to use a targeted funnel. This can be done with an existing audience or to attract new people interested in your topic.

People love free things. Plus, if you are hoping people will complete your course and stick around for more, a free sample is a great place to test the water. In addition to building an email list of potential students for future courses, you are giving them a real look at the type and quality of instruction you are offering.

Quick take away

Now that you have tested your idea, and can see it’s potential, it’s now time to begin creating an online course (put together your instructional offering). The easiest way to stay organized is to create and use an outline. You can make your own or download a short course outline template.

Read this Article on Creating an Online Course on a Budget

course making

Step 4 of Creating an Online Course.

Make money with an online course.

An online Course instructor can earn money with an investment of a few resources such as their knowledge, their time, and a little of their money. It’s an existing industry that is not easy but fairly simple. Let me explain, by following the step by step guide and having a resource to ask questions and advice, just about anyone can do it.

Create an Outline and Content

Not sure where to start? You may want to try using the Course Outline Template. With an easy fill-in-the-blank structure you can focus on the topic without getting sidetracked by the details while creating an online course.

Take a second if you have not yet done it to sign up for our newsletter and receive free downloadable content in our welcoming email. Get our free Course Outline here:

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K.I.S.S.

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but a good idea is best showcased if you KISS it (keep it simple stupid).

A pro-tip is to keep all your lessons around the 5-10-minute mark. That allows enough time for you to get your point across without the risk of having your students tune out. Short concise lessons are key to maintaining student involvement.

Keep in mind not to overload each lesson with unnecessary details or commentary. Your students will appreciate you sticking to the important facts without over embellishment. Another tip is to be sure not to repeat yourself because if students need the information more than once they can always replay that video.

Course Media

Something to consider when formatting your lessons is what type of media you will be using.

Video

There are several types of video media you may decide to utilize. It will depend upon the course topic you are teaching. Talking head, screencast, slideshow, or demonstration videos can be used individually or jointly as needed. Remember there are no hard set rules for content when it comes to creating an online course, just give people what they want.

For instance, here are a couple of examples:

  • if you are teaching a gardening class you may want to use a pruning demonstration video
  • or perhaps you are going over the latest features of a software program you may want to use screen casting
  • discussing relaxation and breathing techniques for a public speaking course you may decide to use a talking head video
  • you may choose to use a slideshow to illustrate the visual differences with photography examples

The type of camera or video equipment you use is less important than the audio, which we will discuss in the next section. Most smartphones have a camera that is good enough for most applications. Screen casting can be done on your computer with one of many different programs, such as Camtasia, or Screencast-O-Matic.

Slideshows can be made and recorded easily with PowerPoint or even Google Slides, (if you’re not sure how to do this follow the link to a course to learn how now).

ADDITIONAL COURSE LINKS

Audio

The quality of your audio is vastly more important than the quality of your video. Let me give you an example; you may still watch a grainy or poorly lit video on a subject you are interested in if the sound is crystal clear, but you’ll cease watching a clear video if the sound is too bad. If you are going to invest in any equipment, make sure your first purchase a microphone over a camera.

Focus

Don’t get too wrapped up trying to produce a high-end polished video production rather your primary focus should be on delivering valuable information along with easy to follow instructions on practical and useful information. This is really the only reason people will decide to become a student of yours anyway.

Also, read this Article on Motivation

video for courses

Step 5 of Creating an Online Course.

Create money-making online courses.

Number 5 in the simple steps you need to take when creating an online course that can make you money. Creating an online course can be a simple way to earn side money. Creating online courses is probably easier than you think.

Once You Have Your Course, How and Where do You Sell it?

There are several options you need to consider and a simple question you should ask yourself before deciding where to place your course or courses online.

Let’s look at the question first:

“Do I have a large existing audience to market my course to already?”

If you answered “Yes” then you can choose either option, but you may be able to get more for your courses with a self-hosted course offering on your own website. There are several options for course plug-ins to assist you with that.

If you answered “No” then trying to build, host, and sell courses yourself will probably be setting yourself up for a slow and frustrating start. Without an audience to market to, the easiest way to get your name and course sold is to sell it on an open Marketplace.

Self-Hosted and Self-Selling

Self-hosting your courses on your own website allows you much more control over the price and availability of your offered courses. There are drawbacks as well however, such as limited exposure, only people who you send to your site or found by a search engine.

Additional overhead such as site hosting, plug-ins, billing, accounting, sales, and customer service issues, to just name a few. For some course creators, this is still the very best option especially if the course is a very in-depth offering at a higher price point.

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Learn How to Create a Course in a Weekly Master Class by David Vidales

Outside Hosting and Selling on Marketplaces

Many course creators have found great success posting their courses to existing platform/marketplaces that host and advertise for you. If you have no existing audience to speak of then posting your courses on hosting platforms with a marketplace can be a great way to build an audience of students to whom you can later market your future courses.

The drawbacks to utilizing an outside platform and marketplace are you have little or no pricing control, no direct access to your student list outside of the platform, and you must share the money earned through sales of your course based on their current commission split.

But, you can just focus on what you enjoy like creating an online course, rather than on all of the many aspects of running a business like marketing, advertising, billing, IT, and employees etc…

Here is an Incomplete List of a Few of the Larger Platforms with Marketplaces to Consider:

Udemy

Skillshare

Simplilearn

Udacity

learning.linkedin

One quick word of advice here too is if you are going to use outside Marketplaces be sure not to put all your eggs in one basket. You should consider using multiple or all the available platforms and marketplaces so the hard-earned business you build will not be at mercy of just one outlet. You want to build something you can grow and nurture without having to rely solely on another business or website.

Also, read this Article on Life Coaching Books

shooting video for online course

Step 6 of Creating an Online Course.

A step by step for money making online courses.

Course creation can be a simple way to share what you know and put some money in your bank. Of course, simple is not always easy, but by following a few steps you can have your course made in a short time.

How to Set the Price for Your Course

The very first thing you need to decide before you price your course is your desired outcome. That means what are you hoping to accomplish from the distribution of your course?

This answer can be multi-faceted. Meaning you may be trying to simply assert yourself into the marketplace as an expert in the field, using your first or first few courses to show your knowledge on the subject. In that case, you may or may not want to even charge money for your course. But let’s assume you want to charge money for your first course.

Setting the price for your course is a simple task but can often be scary. You don’t want to overprice it and run off students or underprice it and run off students or leave money on the table. Let’s take a quick look at the pitfalls of pricing too high or too low.

Overpricing Pitfalls

Believe it or not, this is the one most people are afraid of and the least injurious of their potential pitfalls. Why you might ask? If the price is too high, people may think that they can’t afford it, that is not, however, a bad thing necessarily. They may decide to save up or contact you to attempt to make alternative payment arrangements if it looks to truly answer an issue they are having.

Not to mention, if you put it on sale or lower/discount the price they then think they are getting a higher value product for less money. So, if you are going to make an error, err on the side of setting the price point a touch higher than you are hoping to get.

Under Pricing Pitfalls

Here is where too many people fall into problems. Undervaluing your course or information initially is a big problem because you cannot easily reprice it, at least in an upward direction without being sure you convince the market that you have added value to it in order to justify the increase in price. Be sure you place a justifiably high price on all your courses or information if you can’t justify a high price then either rework your course or offer it for free.

Under Utilizing Offering Free Courses

Counterintuitively, you are not removing a course’s value by offering it for free. If you know you are giving something away, you can put an initial price of anything you want, (setting expectation) then offer it free.

“Free?” How are you supposed to make money with courses if you offer them for free you ask? Good question, and to answer it we need to look at the psychological law of reciprocity. Simply put we feel indebted to others who help us or give us something for free.

Have you ever received a miniature cloth rose when entering a grocery store only to feel like you owe them something for the kindness as you exit the store? They used the law of reciprocity to get more donations to their cause.

You can take advantage of this law by giving away most if not all your best information for free in order to build a relationship with others who will want to help/or pay you back for your kindness.

Easy Online Course Pricing Checklist

If you are still not sure what to price your course, use this addition list to make it easy.

What type of issue are you solving for your students?

  • A simple issue                                                                                  (plus 1)
  • A standard issue                                                                              (plus 2)
  • A complicated issue                                                                         (plus 3)

How are you solving the issue?

  • Giving them the information to solve the issue                          (plus 1)
  • Showing them how to solve the issue                                          (plus 2)
  • Walking them through the issue with personal contact          (plus 3)

Simply add up your total and then use the guide below*

                                    Points                                     Price              

                                    2                                              Free – $50

                                    3                                              $50 – $200

                                    4                                              $150 – $400

                                    5                                              $300 – $900

                                    6                                              $500 – $2000

*This is only a guide to give you a starting point when it comes to pricing your courses. Many factors are involved in the best practices guide to pricing courses including the topic and desired outcome.

Austerity Health Online Course Pricing Tool

Deciding on the Advertised Price

We’ve all heard that Walmart prices their items with $0.97 at the end because it inspires confidence that that’s the lowest price possible. They are not greedy and trying to get the $0.99 that everyone else is asking. Well, it’s for good reason. If you charge $99 or $97 for your course rather than $100 it will sell more often. That also means $19 is easier to spend than is $20.

You get the idea. Price your course with an attractive offer but only after giving it a high perceived value. Believe it or not, pricing a course at $19 is not as effective as pricing a course at $99 and discounting it to $19 for the first 100 customers. It uses multiple psychological laws to entice the students to purchase if they were in the market.

Once you have decided on a price for your course it’s time to locate and market to your potential students.

Also, read this Article on Empowerment Coaching

editing video for course

Step 7 of Creating an Online Course.

A how-to for making money with online courses.

By simply following these simple steps you can put your knowledge to good use and by creating an online course that can help many people who need it. Making money with online courses has never been so accessible.

How to Find and Market to Your Potential Students?

There are many ways of answering this question. I’ll share my favorite three with you.

  1. Create content for people who are actively searching for answers to problems.
  2. Build an audience around yourself and your unique personality, talents, interests, passion and knowledge.
  3. This one piggybacks off the second one, build an audience, and simply give away everything.

The first option takes time, effort, and patience. You need to find and or create spaces for people who have shared interests to meet and talk. If you have an existing audience from a business, website, social media presence, or the like you can use them to get started. Nurture those who have an interest in you or something you are doing. Give away as much value as you can to them, and they will become ardent supporters.

The second is option is fast, which takes focused effort and some money. This option can be done easily for those who have not yet created an audience. It uses AdWords to find potential customers who are actively searching for the exact topic you are offering a course on. It takes money to do this option and you should probably get help designing your ad campaign if you want to quicken the learning curve. But selling your course can be profitable if done correctly, especially if you do not have anyone to offer it to.

The last option may sound strange, but we find that many of the best creators don’t try to sell you anything, in fact, they give away almost everything. Because they become so valuable to you, without asking for anything in return, you feel an almost uncontrollable urge to support them in their quest or mission of helping. This is an explanation for why patreon.com is so popular.

It is a simple way people can support you with a monthly subscription and receive access to you, your content, and your community. With this option, you spend your time creating an online course to help others solve things they need assistance with, but do not actually sell the courses, rather you share them with everyone, and it will grow your community.

A word of caution, there are many unqualified people who will be happy to charge you for their expertise, (even if they do not have any). Course creation and marketing is an industry that is quite unique, I would say it is one of the few industries where you do not always get what you pay for. There are many, if not most situations where the best advice you get is free.

The free advice I’d give you is “focus less on trying to make something you can sell and more on making something that helps someone” you will benefit much more. It goes back to the adage “you reap what you sow” meaning focus on giving and those around you will do the same if you focus on taking so will the others around you. But that being said: don’t forget to ask for emails. If you can build a large email list, you can easily reach out to your audience to share other things with them.

If you decide that creating an online course is something you want to do, you may want to join a community of others who enjoy creating an online course as much as you and who have done it already. They can share with you secrets and pointers that can help you avoid pitfalls and setbacks.

Also, read this Article on The 10 Best Coaching Tips

studio for online course

Step 8 of Creating an Online Course.

Discovering the Joy of Online Course Creation.

Make money with online courses the simple way. Follow the steps to success. 8 steps to making money with an online course a simple approach anyone can follow.

How to launch your online course

After you have finished creating an online course, you need to launch it. The ways to launch an online course are as varied as the number of courses available online. Here are a few things to consider before you turn the key and press the button.

Depending on if you have decided to self-host or place your course on a hosting platform with an existing marketplace, it’s time to upload your course and prepare to let it fly.

Self-Host

If you chose to self-host, you have a few options here for launch.

Evergreen

You can release it as an evergreen course where it is available to anyone at any time. This is a good idea if you have a course that answers an issue that is immediate. If they need to know how to use a program, or properly prune tomatoes, this format is probably the best, because they get the info when they need it.

Structured/Timed

If the issue you are solving with your course is not immediate, such as how to become more organized, or how to become more productive, that is to say if the issue is self-help or personal development in nature then a more controlled launch is more appropriate. This type of course may also include some instructor/student interaction. Therefore, a structured or timed launch with a drip release may be more in line with the expectations of the students.

You need a Pitch

This can be specifically targeted to your audience and how you reach them. So if you have an audience that knows you from video such as YouTube, you can make a video pitch, if you have a website or social media following, you can create a landing page, post, pin or article. But the format should be the same. It is universally important to pitch in three steps.

You may be saying I’m not sure I need these steps. But take a second to remember those late-night infomercials, they followed these three steps with every product. Often people who didn’t even know they had a problem purchased the product to solve the imagined issue.

1 Identify the Issue

State the problem, issue, or trouble your course is created to address. This reminds potential students of the frustration they experience about not having an answer to the problem or issue they have. It doesn’t take much just a reminder and explanation of all the issues surrounding the problem.

2 Build Desire

Here is where you have them imagine what it would be like if they had the answer to their problem. Take the time to describe what it would be like to have the answers, processes, and knowledge. Describe the feelings of pride, pleasure, and satisfaction of knowing how to accomplish what they wish they could.

This is the time to paint a beautiful picture for them of what it will be like for them after taking your course without ever mentioning your course.

3 Offer Your Solution

Now simply tell them about what your course covers and how it will help them. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so try to show them the benefits of taking your course.

Give them a sample offering of one of the key points or ideas you will share with them.

Illustrate the value of knowing the information the course offers, try and use before and after examples if possible.

This leaves them with a clear understanding of the value of the course being offered and a clear reason for purchasing it.

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Final Thoughts and Takeaway:

By tackling each step one at a time, creating an online course should not just seem attainable, but pleasurable as well. Good Luck! Let us know how we can be of further help in our Facebook Group.

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