So you’re ready.

You’ve been working with clients one on one for a while now and you’ve helped them get some pretty good results.

And now you’re ready to start creating an online course.

Well, welcome! I’m glad you’re here!

My passion is helping online business owners take the best of what they do one on one with their clients and package it into a wildly successful online course. 

After working with hundreds of students and clients to help them create and launch their online courses, I know that inevitably the best way to create your online course is with support, with someone in your corner cheering you on.

I can be that someone in your corner! 🥊 💁🏻‍♀️ And to help you on your course creation journey, I’ve created this comprehensive guide to help you get started.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through an overview of the 10 steps to creating a successful online course that have worked for my students time and time again.

Before we get started, let’s make sure your business is ready for an online course. Take the quiz!

Step 1: Creating an Online Course? Start with Market Research.

Having a course topic is not the first step to creating an online course. 🙂

Many of the details you’ll need as you go about creating an online course will be found within your audience. 

In fact, in order to even choose your most impactful & profitable course topic, you’ve got to ask your audience.

How? With market research.

Your market research will play a role in almost every step of the online course creation process by answering two very important questions:

1- What is my audience’s most pressing challenge right now? What is the problem they’re actually trying to solve?

AND

2- Where do they want to be? What’s the transformation they’re actually looking for?

From this, you’ll get very important insight for:

  • Choosing the most profitable & impactful course topic
  • Creating a clear course outline
  • Successfully marketing & selling your course.

How do I conduct market research that actually helps me with creating an online course?

Although most people would have you asking questions in polls on Instagram and Facebook, I think this could potentially lead you down the wrong path.

Unless your followers (at least your most engaged ones!) are the exact target audience you want to serve, then their responses won’t be the ones you’re looking for.

(No offense, mom!)

So Instagram  and Facebook polls can definitely be one way, but not the only way. You can also:

  • Check out Amazon reviews for books related to your industry/subject area
  • Do some research within FB groups in your industry/subject area
  • Create an actual survey and send it to folks in your target audience (& offer them an incentive!)
  • Read this post for more ideas!

And once you get your responses, you’ll be able to pick that profitable course topic that’s just right for you, your audience, and your business: The Course Topic Sweet Spot

Want more guidance to ask the right questions in the right order (it matters!) to your target audience? In the Presell + Profit Method™, I give you everything you need to get clarity on what your audience actually wants, ask the right questions, and master your market research. Check it out!

Step 2: Choose Your Online Course Topic

After conducting your market research, you’re ready to choose your course topic.

You’ll be choosing this topic from a place of service, because at this point you’ll have all of the information that your audience gave you to choose a course topic that answers their most pressing concerns.

That solves their most pressing problem.

As you comb through the responses, check for answers to the following questions:

  • Their biggest struggle related to your expertise and the work you do
  • The steps they’ve taken to try to solve the problem on their own
  • What would be the solution to their problem
  • What’s been blocking them from achieving the results their seeking

The answers to these questions will start to guide you towards your most impactful and profitable course topic

Step 3: Choose Your Course Type

“Wait, what’s a course type? Aren’t all courses the same?”

Determining the type of course you want to offer before creating any of it will bring you tons of clarity while you’re in the nitty gritty work of creating an online course.

Choosing a course type will allow you to know

There are four online course types:

  • The Intro Course: This course is designed to lay the foundation for your buyers, both to your work and how you facilitate results. Typically, an Intro Course will cover one of the first areas you work with your current one on one clients with. If you are finding that your market research is showing people really need to get foundations in place first, an Intro Course is a great option to start the journey, allowing them to upgrade as they go. 
    • For example, Presell + Profit Method™ is an Intro Course as it focuses on the initial topic, structuring and pre-selling of an online course. It is the very first stage in getting a course out into the world.
  • The Deep-Dive Course: The deep-dive course goes in-depth on just ONE topic and one specific result for your audience. While the Intro Course tends to cover topics that are in the earlier stages of the work you do, the Deep-Dive Course can range much wider.
    • For example, 90 Days to Influential is a Deep-Dive Course that focuses on one topic (visibility) and one result (how to achieve it organically). This course is relevant for those who are selling ANYTHING online and covers everything you could ever need to know about one topic, visibility.
  • The Signature Course: The all-inclusive resort of courses. This course provides the A-Z of the core work you do. While there is one key result at the end (like a Deep-Dive Course offers), there are multiple topics covered (unlike a Deep-Dive Course) because the key result is big enough to need multiple areas covered.
    • For example, my signature course, Clients to Courses®, takes my students from idea to a highly profitable online course that can scale to six-figures+, so I go over multiple areas as the entire business needs to be addressed to achieve that goal.
  • The Next-Level Course: This course is exclusively for students that have already gone through your Signature course. Nothing foundational happens in this course. In fact, they would be lost without having this as the foundation.
    • For example, in the past, I have done this with a course on evergreen funnels, called Passive Income Blueprint. While that course is now retired, it once was the Next-Level Course that people would go to once they had an offer that was converting live.

Now that you’ve got your market research, your topic, and the type of course you’ll be creating, it’s (finally!) time to create your online course outline.

Step 4: Outline Your Online Course

The BIGGEST thing you need to know to create your outline is: 

What is my ideal audience’s Point A and Point B?

This information can be found (you guessed it!) in your market research.

As you go through your market research, you’ll see that your audience responded to questions that indicated to you where they are right now, what their specific problem is, and what their actual needs are. 

That’s the Point A of your course.

Your audience also provided responses telling you what their ideal resolution was like, what would be THE solution to their problem, and how they wanted to feel afterwards.

Where they want to be, the transformation that they want… that’s the Point B of your course.

So now you fill the gap. Give them the in-between.

Remember: the goal isn’t to try and replicate everything you do in a customized, one to one,  setting. The goal is to provide what is needed for the promised result.

So, as you’re creating your online course outline, be discerning about what actually needs to be in your course and what doesn’t, based on the course type you chose and the actual lessons needed to achieve the promised result.

For a more in-depth look at how to outline your course, check out these 5 steps that will walk you through creating your course outline

Step 5: Square Away the Details: Naming & Pricing Your Online Course 

In my experience, I’ve seen that my students generally land in one of two camps:

You’re either already pretty sure what you’ll be naming your course because it’s been brewing inside your mind for a while…

…or you literally have ZERO IDEA what to name it and feel like creating an online course is 1000 times easier than naming it.

Wherever you are, I want to give you the 3 tips I give my own students as they’re naming their course.

First, make sure it’s something that can easily be spelled. If it’s hard to spell, it’s likely that people will mess it up when they’re searching for it and typing it out. Plus, it’s easier on yourself to promote it!

Make sure it’s easy to pronounce! Same deal. It makes it easier for you to promote and it makes it easily shareable if it’s something that can be pronounced.

And lastly, make it easy to remember. The longer it is, the less likely it is that they’ll remember. The deal is, you want people to easily recall what your course is and can access it.

Another tip: I always like to name my courses after creating the outline. It helps me brainstorm better, and I end up coming up with powerful and clear wording that accurately describes my courses and helps them convert.

So how do I name my course?

Let’s start with your Points A and B. 

What are the 3 biggest benefits of the results your course promises? (Happy relationships, grow your followers, healthy weight, etc.)

What does your audience think is getting in the way of those results? (They won’t just settle, not having a large audience, cravings, etc.)

Using those answers (which you find in your market research!), you can choose to name your course in 4 different ways:

  • Name by Result: Use the results that your audience wants to achieve in the name of your course (ex: $1k in 1 Day by Nicole Walters)
  • Name by Journey: using your audience’s journey from Point A to Point B (ex: going from 1:1 clients to selling courses in Clients to Courses® by yours truly!)
  • Name by the System: using the name of your proprietary system or what you want to be known for (ex: The Presell + Profit Method™ by Jessica Rodriguez (yep, me again!))
  • Name with Fun & Sass: focused on your personality and how you want your audience to feel (ex: Rebellious Success by Erika Tebbens)

And how do I price my course?

There are 6 factors that I use to help my students reach a price that aligns with their business, their audience, and their course:

  • Your course type (back in Step 3)
  • Your business model
  • The transformation your course promises
  • What your audience has done to try to solve their problem on their own
  • Your competition
  • The “extras” you’ve included with your course

Luckily (or rather, diligently and intelligently), we’ve already done the work to help us determine how to price your course.

Your market research (Step 1) and the course type you chose (Step 3) hold the answers.

And in this post, I go over those six factors that will help you price your course accordingly. 

Step 6: Presell Your Course

Pre-selling your online course could be the difference between launching to crickets and launching successfully.

I strongly suggest that you have a beta launch for your course before moving on to the next steps. 

Why?

Well, imagine going through Steps 1-5, and then skipping over this step. 

You don’t pre-launch and instead skip ahead to Step 7-10. 

But what ends up happening is that you pay for the tools, you go through the long process of creating your lessons and modules, you set up all the backend “funnels” and other things you’ve heard you need, and then when you finally launch…

Crickets. 

And maybe one person buys at the last minute before doors close.

I say this from experience.

My First Course

When I launched my very first course, I did exactly this. 🙈

I created my course based on what I “knew” my audience needed (without the market research, of course).

I bought all the tech and all the tools. I set up everything and spent well over $3k in ads on top of it to “make it all happen.”

And when I launched… nothing happened

(Well, that’s not true, one person bought it when I tried to launch it a SECOND time. Which would have been exciting if there wasn’t a GROUP setting involved. 😬)

I was devastated. It all felt so defeating and overwhelming. I wanted to flip a table, ditch it all, and forget about it.

And this is the same story that my students have told me before. It happens to all of us.

We spend all of our time and energy on a course that wasn’t validated prior to launching, and we’re left with a fleshed-out course, debt from the tech, and no sales. 

Maybe that’s where you are right now. Maybe you came onto this blog post from a search on Google wondering “what the heck went wrong?”

What could you tweak to your course or your messaging to sell your course how you expected to?

Do I Have to Start All Over Again if My Launch Flopped?

Well, my answer to this is always 3 things: 

Now, by this point you know how I feel about market research. It’s an absolute MUST prior to creating an online course.

Otherwise, do not pass go, do not collect $200. 

If you don’t have your market research done, even though you already created your course, you can always go back and do it. There is no rule that you now can’t do it just because you already created your course or are on Step 6!

In fact, we get many students in our Clients to Courses® program that aren’t new to course creation!

Many of my students come in already having built a course but are overwhelmed from a launch flop. 

They want direction that doesn’t require them to toss it all and start from scratch.

And that’s the kind of support I offer in Clients to Courses®

Benefits of doing a Beta Launch for Your Course

Once you have the correct market research and you’re able to move through the first 5 steps, THAT’S when it’s time to pre-sell your course.

Validating the idea using the insight from your market research to market your course for a beta launch at a lower cost is like market research 2.0.

You’re getting sales, and as you launch your course you’re getting live feedback from the actual students going through the course.

So you can tweak as you create, modify where necessary, and get some much valuable insight from the actual students in the course!

Had trouble with naming your course? Try it on for size during your beta launch. If it still feels wonky, you can absolutely change it for your full launch later!

Did the price land well with your audience? You can test pricing during the beta launch as well.

And of course, start gathering testimonials for when you do a full launch in the future (MAJOR WIN!)

If you haven’t launched your course yet and you want more in-depth support for pre-selling your course, I invite you to check out the Presell + Profit Method™. In this program, I walk you through the market research to help you get crystal clear on your audience, what they want, what they actually need, and then give you the steps to pre-launching your course (without needing to create a single thing just yet!). 

Step 7: Choose a Course Platform

Now it’s time for the nitty gritty tech stuff: choosing an online course platform for your online course. 

This is one of the most common questions I receive from students, and I always squirm a bit because I know I’m about to give an answer they’re going to hate:

It depends.

But the thing is… it does!

It depends on the type of course you are putting on the platform, the features that will best serve your buyers of that course, if the monthly/annual fee for that platform fits in your budget, how tech savvy you are, etc. 

Some online course platforms are great for those who are tech-savvy.⁠⁠

Others are great for those who want an all-in-one approach.⁠⁠

And a few will make both you and your buyers want to throw laptops into next year.⁠⁠ 💻

To avoid the throwing of laptops (and wasting your time!) I wrote a blog post going over the top five online course platforms to host and sell your course based on what I know about each platform and the insights I’ve gathered over the years from personal use and from my clients:

  • Thinkific
  • Teachable
  • Podia
  • Kajabi
  • MemberVault

I’ve included the nitty gritty pros and cons of each, so that you can choose what’s best for YOUR business!

(As for our own business (I know you’re curious!), we’ve chosen MemberVault!)

Step 8: Create the Course Materials

After choosing the online course platform that is the best fit for your business, it’s time to teach what you know!

Let’s do this without the overwhelm, shall we?

First, schedule out how you want to create your content.

If you have a lifestyle that allows you certain days/times to create your content, then be sure to schedule it accordingly.

Maybe batch creating your content would be best for you. 

(We have a whole bunch of bonus resources & trainings around batch creating your content in Clients to Courses®!)

Batch creating your course content is perfect if you know you can only work certain hours of the day or certain days of the week. 

You can fit a whole chunk of lessons into a certain block of time.

Or maybe this fits your personality best. Either way, I highly recommend batching if it’s the best choice for you.

But if you have the time to create one module per week, then you can do that as well.

Now remember, for your beta round, you don’t need to have all of your content ready for your beta adopters by the time they come into the platform. 

You can absolutely drip your content every week so that your students have one entire module to complete in a week. 

That reduces the pressure to create it all, but still gives you accountability to record them since there’s a deadline (and people waiting for it!). 

Quick Note on Module vs Lessons: A module is the bigger, overarching theme of a set of lessons. The lessons live within a module.)

Creating your online course materials using audio or video

Everybody is different, and we all learn or prefer to consume information in different ways. 

Your audience may prefer reading or may need accommodations for accessibility, so be sure to include a transcript of your audio/video recordings. 

There are many inexpensive transcription services out there, but I prefer to use Rev. They provide transcriptions, closed captions, and even live captioning for any workshops you offer!

You could even decide to provide both audio AND video options to your students (although I suggest not trying to do it all during your first course launch).

For example, both our Presell + Profit Method™ and Clients to Courses® programs, I created the courses using video and provided transcripts. 

But now, we also have them both available on Hello Audio for ease of consumption! They can be heard on-the-go, while you work, or audio only for those people who simply prefer audio over video!

And lastly, remember that people have short attention spans. Don’t create super long videos, audio, or text! Keep your students engaged and offer more bite-sized pieces of information to ensure that they actually move through the course. 

Step 9: LAUNCH!

YESSSS!!! Now that you’ve done everything and gotten all your ducks in a row, it’s time to launch your online course!

(And we’ll do it confidently, because you killed it in the market research, you beta launched and pre-sold your course, you recorded your course materials, and you’ve got all your testimonials & bonuses ready to go!)

Picking Your Launch Sales Driver

So you can launch your course using a variety of methods. This is the content that you’ll be putting out that ends with a pitch into your paid offer. 

You create this strategic content piece to drive sales. 

During a live launch, the 3 most common launch sales drivers are:

  • Challenge: this can be a live challenge within a FB group, using Instagram stories (or even close friends), or a challenge you run with your email list
    • Ongoing engagement between you and your audience
    • Bite-sized information & action steps
    • Live, daily commitment on your behalf
  • Live Webinar: a recorded video for 60-90 minutes with people that sign up for the webinar. 
    • One time engagement live
    • Could be recorded so that you can re-use in the future
    • Instant engagement with live q&a
  • Video Series
    • Not live so you can deliver it whenever
    • Could be delivered via email or even on social media
    • Can repurpose the videos in the future

Choose the one sales driver that is best for you, your audience, and your industry. 

Then from the sales driver you chose, you’ll pitch to your audience. 

Doing this can be difficult. In Clients to Courses®, I walk you through each one so that whichever you choose, you have all of the support that you need to create your launch sales driver successfully. 

Create a course launch timeline

Then, you’ll set your timeline from pre-launch to cart close!

Identify your dates so that you can set that time into your calendar and make sure that it fits with holidays or any important dates coming up whether in your country or in your life (birthday, etc). 

Remember to give yourself ample time to prep your audience (whether with social media content, emails, etc) before presenting your sales driver.

I recommend having 4-6 weeks of “pre-launch” content going out to your audience to prepare them for your sales driver.

It may seem like a long time, but this could be the period that your beta adopters are going through your course!

Finally, create an ongoing marketing strategy

How will you amplify your course and make it visible? 

What one traffic source will you focus on?  

One of the biggest mistakes that I see my students make is focusing exclusively on marketing launches and launching the course they just created, but then they stop marketing after the launch is over. 

Big mistake.

People need to constantly see and interact with you (social media, emails, etc) even while you’re not in launch mode.

I always suggest focusing on one traffic source at a time because as a small business owner that is likely running the show, juggling too many marketing avenues is difficult.

So, if you want to focus on growing your list after you launch, focus there.

If you want to focus on growing your social media reach, focus there.

But remember that the end goal is to build either platform with your ideal audience that would be a great fit for your course. 

So that as you continue to market your business, what you do, and what problem you solve, those people continue to resonate with your content and are ready to see what you offer when the time comes to launch again. 

Step 10: Get Support

Yes, the last step is to get support.

Like I said, you are likely one of one or two people on your team, doing all the things… which is probably why you’re here.

You’re on your way to creating your course, or probably already have but want to know the “now what??”

Creating an online course is no walk in the park. It’s a lot of work, but it can be FUN if you have the right tools, roadmap, trainings, and support.

Clients To Courses® is the most in-depth, comprehensive, step-by-step program we offer, helping you create your online course & providing all of the tools (and advice!) you’ll need to go from “course idea” to “wildly successful course launch!”

And it is my personal commitment to help you do it in a way that doesn’t compromise your vision of personal freedom- because I know that’s why you started your business.

Not to be tied down to a chair in front of your laptop for a ton of hours, but to achieve your definition of freedom and success.

If this is you, if you want to get started and have me in your corner along with a community of other business owners that are going through this with you, then I invite you to check out my Clients to Courses® program. 

See you soon!

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