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Tips for Creating an Online Course in 2021

If you’re looking for a way to make a recurring income online, one of the best ways to do it right now is to develop and sell an online course.

There are so many tools that make it easier to actually offer a course to an audience and manage payments than ever before, like WishList Member. WishList Member is a membership plugin for WordPress, allowing you to accept payments, add new members and automate your entire process of selling digital products.

However, even with the best tools, you still, at the core, need a great course that people are willing to pay for.

The following are some of the key things to know about creating an online course right now when the competition level is so high.

Understand the Benefits

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If you’re still on the fence about creating an online course to get yourself motivated, think about some of the many potential benefits.

First, it can be relatively easy if you have a good plan.

You don’t need any qualifications either. Most people like the fact that they’re learning from someone just like them.

You can make a course with little to no upfront investment beyond your own time, and of course, for many people, it’s a great way to make money.

Creating a course is a source of recurring income, which may be one of the things that appeals most to a lot of people about this business model. You create the course once, and while you might have to market and do customer service, you can make money over time from the same product, over and over again.

So how do you get started?

Identify a Problem

You may have a lot of ideas for potential courses floating around in your mind, but the best way to streamline these and come up with a selling course subject is to frame them around a topic that a lot of people have questions about.

Identify the demographic you’d be ideally speaking to, and think about how you can help solve a problem for them.

Your course is something you should view as the solution to a demographic’s needs.
When you’re starting out and narrowing down your topics, you want to think about how your audience is going to use their course to improve their own lives.

Study Other Courses

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If you’re completely new to making online courses, once you’ve identified a problem you’d like to solve, a good way to then get started from there is to look at what other courses are doing and what they offer.

It’s market research of your competitors.

Look at courses that are close to your topic and are already popular with audiences.

See how they do things well, but also areas where they don’t do them as well. These can be gaps you identify where you’re then able to start filling in and standing out from your competition.

If you go to sites where people who buy courses can leave reviews, this is a great research tool for you.

As you’re doing your research, you also need to vet your general topic and idea.

For example, is the market really saturated with courses that are the same as your idea? If so, you might not necessarily have to switch gears altogether, but maybe you refine it and drill down to something more specific.

Is there seemingly no one interested in your topic? If so, it might be too obscure.

Develop an Outline

Once you’ve done your research and you have a better understanding of what other course instructors are doing and not doing, you can then start to build the foundation for your own course.

The best thing to do is start with an outline that’s a broad overview of what your objectives are. This is going to highlight what you want your students to take away from your course.

As a side note here, it’s a good idea when you’re starting out to go small.
Microcontent is a relevant term if you’re new to creating online courses.

What this means is that you identify the smallest possible course you could possibly sell and start there.

It’s good in a couple of ways. First, micro-content lets you get a feel for course creation. Your students are also going to be more likely to take a shorter, more manageable course and then if that goes well they might come back to you for more in-depth and expensive courses.

Plus, with microcontent, you can start gathering data so you can refine your future approach.
As you’re creating an outline, break it down into a few general objectives. Consider the skills you want your audience to learn, the knowledge they potentially gain, and the feelings they have as they complete the course.

You want people to not just learn but to feel satisfied and happy with your course.

Creating the Content

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As you’re creating your content, you have to stay organized. The biggest thing that’s likely to get you off-track is feeling overwhelmed because maybe you have so many ideas or concepts in your head.
Start grouping modules together and try to create a course that flows logically.

If it works for you, you might want to do an initial “dump.” Don’t think about the organization at all. Just start writing or recording everything you can think of.

Then, once you have all the actual content, you can go back later and organize it progressively and logically.

You are going to have to decide at some time around this point whether you want videos, audio recordings, activities, just reading and slides, and how you want to integrate visuals. These might be decisions you might after your dump of information because you can more easily see what types of content will fit best.

Overall, creating an online course is a big endeavor, but it can also be a profitable one. Your first course doesn’t have to be perfect. Do your best, and then learn from your first course moving forward.

Written by Philip Goguen

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