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8 Essential Steps to Create a Successful Online Course in 2022

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Being able to create an online course is quite possibly the perfect business model for the digital age. A successful online course is a kind of financial everlasting gobstopper that can be sold and resold indefinitely, at no extra cost, with the ceiling of what you can earn set only by the quality of your course, and how well you’ve marketed it.

And what’s more, if you’ve been thinking about launching an online course there’s never been a better time to do it.

The global e-learning market is tipped to reach a whopping $325B by 2025, and looking at some of the factors surrounding online courses, it’s easy to see why.

For learners who want to upskill in a rapidly changing world, going the formal education route is often more time-consuming, costly, inflexible, and in many cases unable to keep up with the increasingly niche sets of skills the modern workplace requires.

Online courses, on the other hand,  allow learners to go at their own pace, pick and choose what they need to know and skip what they don’t, and are usually much cheaper, are increasingly becoming a more attractive option.

If you love to share your knowledge, help other people grow and meet their goals, and potentially make an incredible passive income stream while you’re at it, creating an online course is the best thing you could possibly do. 

What’s so awesome about creating an online course?

A zero marginal cost product, (which is a fancy way of describing a product that doesn’t cost the owner anything to reproduce and sell each new unit), has long been considered as a kind of economic holy grail. Before people realized that the internet was an amazing tool for building zero marginal cost products, such a product could only be dreamed of, let alone created by just about anyone. If you have some basic recording tools, expertise that you want to share, and some spare time, then you are in the position to build yourself a modern-day miracle of economics, an online course.

If you build a great course, find your niche and market it effectively, an online course can sit in the background and continually earn you money on autopilot, while you sip Piña Coladas and work on your tan…

So, what’s the catch?

If this sounds a little too rosy, you got us. There is a pretty size-able catch.

Designing, building, and successfully marketing an online course is very challenging.

We may be starry-eyed and distracted by all the gleaming success stories of the course creators who have managed to retire at 32 and sail around the Caribbean in their yachts, but the reality is that many online courses will end up sitting in a mirky corner of the internet gathering digital dust, or never even get finished.

One of the many challenges with creating an online course is, as you can see in the chart below, that the rewards often come very late, and the initial effort involved is enormous.

Many will not make it past the creation phase, or their launch phase will be met with the chirping of crickets instead of sales.

With the right tools and know-how, you can build and market a course that successfully converts all that effort into an easy, passive income stream that will pay dividends for years to come. If you approach your course haphazardly, you may end up putting a whole heap of effort in that never results in any substantial reward.

If you want your online course to launch successfully and reach the passive income phase, stick with us because we will be covering everything you need to know to launch a successful online course! 

1: Decide what you want to teach

Firstly, and most importantly, you will want to decide what it is that you want to teach. Of course, it will be something in your field and something that you know a lot about, but it pays to get specific.  Which particular aspect of your field or area of expertise are you most passionate about? What are the most valuable, unique insights you can share with your students?

Building an online course is a long game. While it doesn’t always need to be a large financial investment, you are investing a lot of your time, and it will be a while before you see any rewards. If you aren’t seriously passionate about the subject matter, you’re going to have a hard time maintaining the motivation, and the quality of your course will suffer. Though if you’re really into what you’re teaching, you’ll be on a mission to get the word out. You’ll be able to brave through the hard yards, and your passion will shine through.

2: Choose your target audience

Now that you have decided what you want to teach, it’s time to think about who might be interested in learning from you. During this step, it will pay to deeply consider who your people are. Forming a clear image of your target audience are will simplify a lot of the decisions you will have to make later on. We recommend the technique of building a customer avatar; in other words, a kind of caricature of your ideal client who you see as being most likely to buy your course.

When creating a customer avatar, you will want to determine

  1. Their goals and/or values
  2. Pain points & Challenges
  3. Demographics (ie. gender, age, career status, wealth bracket)

Once you have a clear customer avatar, you will be able to cut out a lot of guesswork and simplify many of the decisions you have ahead of you. Instead of umm-ing and arr-ing about all the little details, you can refer back to your customer avatar as a guide for who your course should appeal to, and what problems it will solve.

3: Choose a platform

Now that you have a good idea of what you want your course to be and who your ideal customer is, it’s time to decide where you want to host your course. In many cases, course creators will take this step after they’ve created the course but this isn’t always the best approach. If you get a clear idea of where you want to host your course, you will be better able to tailor the course to the platform. Using your customer avatar and your chosen topic as a guide, you will be able to choose a platform that will suit your course the best.

Here are some popular platforms to get you started:

4: Competitor analysis

Now that you have your platform, you will want to check out the competition. Don’t be intimidated if you find others teaching similar topics to you. If anything, it should be a relief that some people are doing what you’re doing, because that will tell you that potential students come to this platform for this kind of information. But of course, you don’t want to enter into an oversaturated market or offer exactly the same thing as everybody else.

What you want is to be able to differentiate yourself from the competition as much as possible so that you’re not really competing with anyone, and your course can exist in its own lane.

5: Revise

This is the point where you may want to tweak certain aspects of the previous 4 steps before you begin creating your course. For example, if the topic you originally wanted to do is overly saturated on your platform, you may want to change the topic, the platform, or the audience you want to appeal to until you’re confident that your course won’t get lost among all the others.

Of course, some amount of competition will always be there and this is going to be unavoidable, but you want to be able to differentiate yourself as much as you can so that this can be minimized.

6: Outline your course

Armed with all the information that you need, it’s time to make a brief outline of your course. At this stage, all you need is a fairly loose and rough outline of what you want the course to be. As soon as you start creating the course content, you will find that ideas jump out at you, things that you wrote down on paper don’t seem as good, or you realize you could improve upon a lot.

So don’t agonize over this step too much.

It’s much better to treat this as a guide to help you get started rather than a rigid plan you feel the need to stick to.

7: Create your course

If your idea of fun is agonizing over the minutiae of every detail, constantly thinking “does my voice really sound like that?! ” and working really hard for no pay, then here comes the fun part.

Jokes aside, creating an online course is rewarding and can actually be a lot of fun, but the process of creating one is often stressful. It’s hard to know how good is good enough, what makes for an acceptable imperfection, and what is actually hurting the quality of your course. But since you’ve laid out the good foundations before taking this step, and you have a clear idea of what you want your course to be, you will have significantly cut down on a lot of indecision and your job will be much easier.

If you’re really struggling to know what will work and what won’t, then you can take a significant amount of pressure off of yourself and first launch your course as a beta version, and make some refinements based on the feedback you get from your beta group.

Creating a course can be very hard, but as long as you can create a lot of value, and get the next step right, it will all be worthwhile.

8: Market your course

If you build it, they will come, right?

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

A lot of your marketing will depend on your budget, your existing audience and whether or not people already know, like and trust you. Depending on your situation, there are millions of different ways that you can market your course, and this is where many course creators can get lost. If you aren’t a marketing professional, making heads or tails of social media, content marketing, ads, landing pages, email sequences, PPC campaigns can be dizzying.

Though if you are planning on DIYing your marketing, it often pays to find a platform that you enjoy and stick with it. If you love video content, use Tik Tok. Twitter fiend? Use Twitter. Love to write? Promote your course with a blog.

Stretching yourself over too many platforms, especially platforms that you don’t actually enjoy, rarely translates into marketing success.  It’s often much better to drill one deep hole than lots of small ones, so make sure that you find something that you’re happy to do for the long term.


Now that you know what it takes, you’ll be on your way to build and launch a blockbuster online course that will result in an awesome passive income source for years to come . Though if you’re now scratching your head and wondering how you’re going to build a great course AND tackle the marketing, you may be onto something.

A successful online course really is the sum of great course content, and great marketing. If you’re trying to do it all, at least one of those things is going to suffer, so why not stick to doing what you do best?

Whatever the stage you’re at, by outsourcing your marketing to a team of experts in marketing online courses, you can focus solely on making an amazing course, and we can handle the rest.

Book a free discovery call with us today to find out how!

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