Ready to build a successful online course?
There is a lot that goes into it, from the initial idea all the way through to marketing and sales.
In order to build an effective course, you will need valuable content for your students, clear learning outcomes, and happy customers who keep coming back for more!
Build An Online Course
In order to build the foundations of your online course, you will need helpful tools such as:
- a course outline
- learning objectives
- learning outcomes
- modules, sections, or lessons
A Course Outline
Profitable courses start with a valid course topic, course idea, and online course outline.
The course outline will include the course curriculum, number of modules, activities within each module, and how each module contributes to the overall course outcome.
Your course outline will also help you determine the length of your course.
As your build your course outline, you’ll be able to gauge how long it will take students to complete each section of your online course.
One of the most important pieces of your course outline is the learning objective.
The learning objective states what a student will be able to do upon completing your online course.
A learning objective is a statement that identifies what students are expected to learn as a result of taking your online course.
It should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
It’s important that this statement is measurable, so you’ll be able to track and assess a student’s progress.
Learning objectives can also help in an online class format to keep students moving through the course at the same time.
If you have an online community for your online course, students can share their learning objectives together.
Learning outcomes are specific measurable statements that describe what the learners will be able to do as a result of taking your online course.
They are usually one or two sentences long, and they build upon each other throughout the course.
Learning outcome examples
For example, you might have an overall learning outcome for the online course. You can also define learning outcomes for individual modules, lessons, or sections of the online course.
Each learning outcome should build upon the previous one, and be a higher level of achievement.
You can also have a final learning outcome that summarises what the learners will gain from completing your online course – this is particularly helpful if you plan to use an assessment at the end of your course, as it provides the focus for all other activities.
Modules and Lessons
The modules and lessons should be short enough that they can be completed within a reasonable time frame (e.g., an hour at most).
This will help students stay on track, and build momentum as they work through your online course.
Each module or lesson should have a learning outcome that is measurable – for example, “By the end of this module/lesson, learners will be able to . . .”
Again, these outcomes should build upon one another in order to create a cohesive learning experience within your online courses.
You should always conduct customer research before you create the content for your online course.
This will allow you to understand what your customers want and need from your course.
Once you have a firm understanding of who your target audience is and what they are looking for, it’s time to start creating the content for your online course.
This should be broken down into modules, sections, or lessons that are easy for your course participants to digest.
Make sure that each module provides tangible takeaways that your students can use to improve their lives or businesses.
Your content should also be aligned with your learning objectives and outcomes.
Online Course Creation Process
The process of creating your online content should always be customer research-based.
If you’re brand new to creating online courses, then you want to validate your idea before you create all of your course material.
If you have already validated your idea, then the next step is customer research to figure out what content and delivery methods will work best for your students.
A few ways to create an online course
If this is your first course, I suggest creating the content as you go. Some course creators are uncomfortable with this idea, but it’s the best way to create relevant content for your course.
It also saves you time and money from having to create content for the same course twice.
All of this is part of the process to build profitable online courses.
Create the course before you sell it
If you’re a seasoned pro at creating courses, and you’ve already validated your idea, you may want to create all of the online course content before you sell it.
As long as you’re basing your course materials and course topic on research (not assumptions) you should be in good shape.
A successful online course is always based on customer search.
Create your course outlines
If you’re not a seasoned pro, and this will be the first online course creation, then we recommend creating all of your ideas for each lesson or section before starting to build your online course outline.
This way if customers come back and say “I don’t like this,” or “can I add something here.”
Incorporating customer feedback will make for a successful online course. If you’re planning to run an online course business, the earlier you listen and solicit feedback, the more successful course you’ll have.
Tools for Learning Outcomes
When creating an online course, it’s important to remember what the learning outcome should be.
For example, if you’re teaching people how to build websites, your learning outcome would not be “create a website.” It would be something more specific, such as “understand the basics of HTML and CSS”.
Online Courses Pitfalls
Here are some of the biggest mistakes we’ve seen in creating an online course:
- Not conducting customer research for your online course
- Building the online course content before you’ve validated the idea
- Adding too much content to the online course
- Making modules too long within the online course
Creating Online Courses Successfully
Conduct customer research for your online course. Create a course outline to help build your content.
Be sure you have a clear learning outcome for each module in the online course.
Keep Modules Short And Effective
Do not make them too long or it will be difficult for students to retain what they’ve learned from the material you’re providing them with.
Keep your online course content concise, and deliver on what you promised in your marketing materials.
Again, validate your online course idea before you build it.
It’s important to make sure there is a market for the type of online course you’re planning on creating.
You don’t want to spend all the time and effort building something that no one wants to take! Use customer research to validate your ideas, and only add content once you know people will resonate with your online course content.
Which delivery methods you build into your online course is entirely up to the type of content it has.
For example, an online course about marketing can be delivered using video or audio files for examples and exercises because that material lends itself well to those types of materials.
Compare Delivery Methods
There are countless delivery methods for online courses. The platform or plugin you choose to deliver your course really depends on how your online courses fit into your business. There are heaps of research on the best online course platforms.
Are Your Online Courses The Hub Of Your Business?
If online courses are the primary source of income for your business, you’ll want a powerful system to run your online courses.
This will allow you to build the courses quickly and manage your entire online course business.
Many first-time course creators wonder how to choose the right online platform.
WordPress Plugins To Power Your Online Course
In most cases, a powerful WordPress plugin like AccessAlly is an excellent option for businesses like this.
A powerful WordPress plugin gives you power for selling online courses, helps with online course creation, allows you to run an online school, and more.
Learning Management Systems
A learning management system (LMS) is a powerful tool that allows you to build online courses with a wide variety of features.
They offer a wide range of features that can help you create course pages quickly and easily.
WordPress Plugins + LMS
AccessAlly is a powerful WordPress plugin with robust learning management system features as well.
Using an LMS makes teaching online more effective for both you and your students.
It creates an ideal online learning environment for your student.
LMS features include progress tracking, video bookmarking, quizzes, tests, assignments, and group or personalized communication within modules, among other features.
Profitable Course Features
Online education continues to grow in popularity. When students enroll in online learning courses, they expect these LMS features to be part of their course.
Plug and Play Platform To Build Your Online Course
Platforms such as Kajabi and Podia are plug-and-play platforms.
Research Done For You
We’ve researched some of the most popular platforms and plugins for you:
They make it easy for a course creator to get up and running quickly.
Plug-and-play platforms generally require less technical skills.
You can build your online course on one of these platforms.
They provide you with the tools needed to build a profitable online course fast and without any coding knowledge required.
Course Building Tools For Your Online Content, Learning Outcomes & Courses
Tools for creating an online course are plentiful today. There are many platforms that allow you to build a course in minutes.
Kajabi and Podia have been mentioned already. There are others such as Teachable, Thinkific, LifterLMS, etc.
These all offer you the ability to build your own platform for hosting courses with ease.
The downside of using platforms like this is that you are somewhat limited in terms of design and branding.
However, these platforms do provide a lot of features that make creating and selling your courses easy.
Your Long Term Goals
If you want more creative control over your course and website then you might want to consider using a platform like WordPress with a plugin like AccessAlly.
With this combination, you can sell online courses, support the community, create course pages, host an online school, and more.
If courses are the hub of your online business, a WordPress plugin will meet your long-term needs.
Online Course Creation
With today’s standards, almost any platform or plugin will give you tools to build your course easily.
For example, AccessAlly has the Offerings Wizard to make course creation a breeze.
You can easily and quickly create the structure for your online course, even if you don’t have all the content yet.
However, there is a difference in how you build your course and its long-term success.
To build a course that will sell well, consider these tips:
Your Content Matters More Than You Think!
Content has always been important to the success of courses or any type of information product for that matter.
Your content needs to be good. Really good. There are no second chances with online courses – if your content is poor, you’ll lose customers fast.
This means spending time on creating valuable and engaging material for your students.
It also means that the structure of your course matters a great deal. You can’t just put up a few videos and call it good.
Your Course Structure Matters, Too
Just like with the content, your course structure is important for keeping students engaged and ensuring that they learn what you’re teaching.
You need to have a logical progression in your course – introduction, body, conclusion.
This will help keep students on track and make sure they get the most out of their online learning.
When you’re planning the structure of your course, consider the natural learning progression, length of the course, number of modules, and how the content will be laid out within each module.
You should also consider what tools you’ll be using to build the course (that’s why I’m showing how to build a course with WordPress).
If You’re A First Time Course Creator
If this is your first course, then you may need to spend extra time researching the needs of your target audience.
Market research tests may be helpful in your research process. The market testing phase can be time-consuming and take several months, but it will help you develop your niche.
Consider different ways to connect to your target audience.
The initial research phase may help you build a course marketplace later on in your business.
Map The Learning Journey
When marketing your courses, you’ll want to start by mapping the learning journey.
This will help potential students understand how your course works and what they can expect from it.
Your marketing materials should show the overall structure of your course, as well as highlight specific modules or lessons that are of interest.
Marketing Online Courses
Now that you understand how the course creation process works, it’s time to start marketing it.
One of the best ways to do this is by creating a landing page on your website.
Your landing page should include a brief description of your course, as well as some testimonials from happy students.
Social Media Marketing
You can also use social media marketing to proactively reach out to potential students.
Twitter is a great platform for this, as it allows you to share short snippets of your course content.
You can also use Facebook ads to target specific demographics.
When creating your online course, it’s important to remember that the quality of your content is key.
If you have an established reputation consider running an affiliate program to boost sales.
Affiliate marketing is a great strategy for ongoing marketing for pre-selling, launches, and evergreen courses.
Your affiliates will have unique links to your sales pages to promote your offerings.
Remember to Gather Feedback
Once your course is complete, be sure to gather feedback from students.
This feedback can help you improve the quality of your course for future students.
Creating an online course can be a great way to make money while helping others learn new skills.
By following these tips, you can create a successful and profitable online course.
Consider Factors That Set You Apart
When creating your course, it’s important to consider the factors that set you apart from other instructors.
This can help you attract students who are interested in what you have to offer.
Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking:
- offering a free course
- having a full course marketplace
- having multiple online instructors
- hosting your courses on your own website (rather than a platform)
- interactive elements within your courses
- offering an online store
- having multiple free resources
- your unique teaching style
- a great sales page
- your particular subject
One of the best things about course creation is that they can continue to generate income long after you’ve created them.
In fact, many instructors make the majority of their course revenue from just a handful of sales months or even years after the course was first published!
Once you’ve worked through the whole process of creating a successful online course, it’s really just a matter of letting it run on autopilot.
So how can you make sure your courses continue to bring in passive income long after they’re published?
How To Earn Income After You’ve Published
Make sure your courses are hosted on your own website.
This way, you’ll keep all the content and control over your courses (and the income they generate).
Make sure your courses are easy to find on search engines.
In order for students to find your courses, they need to be easily accessible online.
Use keywords and phrases related to your course topic in titles, descriptions, and tags.
You Might Change Your Mind About What Features You Want, so You Need a Platform That’s Flexible.
Get your own free demo sandbox account so you can experience the flexibility AccessAlly has to offer.
Submit your courses to online course marketplaces
There are a number of different platforms that allow you to sell your courses, such as Udemy and Teachable.
This can help increase exposure and sales.
Keep your courses updated and relevant.
If you want people to keep enrolling in your courses, make sure the sales page is live, up to date, and accepting enrollments.
Sell New Courses To Existing Customers
If you’re creating new courses, build course material that is relevant and current.
This will ensure students are getting the most out of your products.
Keep track of what content people like, don’t like, or find challenging by including surveys in your courses.
Use this information to create better products for future course creations.
Use Email Marketing
You can use email marketing to build a relationship with your customers and build trust.
As you build an email list, send out relevant content or product recommendations as updates so people know what’s new.
You can also use your course material as blog posts for future reference.
Engage in a Facebook group or another platform to get even more exposure to your course page.
Link to your landing page and use testimonials from
You can also run ads to your landing page.
Twitter and LinkedIn
Make sure you are active on Twitter and LinkedIn, sharing valuable content with your audience.
This will help build trust over time and could lead people back to your course page.
Use Pinterest as a way to drive traffic to your website or blog where potential your existing audience.
Before you build your course, be sure to conduct market research to ensure your idea will land with your target audience.
Build your entire course around this proven idea.
Choose a delivery method that supports your course now, and in the future as you change your ideas and grow.
Think about how you can build your course on a platform or plugin, and how much design flexibility you’ll want.
Always ask for feedback and be willing to incorporate new ideas to best support your target audience.