There’s quite a bit to think about when it comes to creating a profitable online course.
What’s the most important of all?
The course outline.
What’s in your course outline makes the difference between providing your audience a result and simply providing information to consume.
And, we’re here to create results, right?
I thought so!
If you’re getting ready to work on your own online course outline, I don’t want you to get caught up in the questions that will flood your mind the moment you open that blank page to start writing.
How do I know what to cover? How much is too much?
Do I put it all in one course or multiple courses?
Do I include everything I take people through in my 1:1 services?
What if what I do 1:1 can’t be replicated in a course? It’s so personal!
Inside my programs, I help our students answer these exact questions and, in this week’s blog post, I’ll take you through a bit of how you can create an online course outline.
1. Creating your online course outline starts with your market research.
That goes for creating your course outline, too. 😉
Your market research will provide invaluable insight, showing you the exact course topic your audience wants AND the transformation they’re looking for.
If you’re doing market research the way we teach in Clients to Courses® , you’ll not only understand where your audience is struggling, but you’ll also see the deeper way this impacts their day to day life.
Since you’re an expert in what you do already, this will have your mind naturally firing off ideas on how to eliminate their struggle.
And those ideas? They’re going to start becoming lessons and exercises in your course outline!
Course Outline Market Research Example
Let’s say you’re an Instagram marketing service provider. You’ve got the experience working one-on-one with your clients and you’re ready to create your course.
After conducting market research, your audience shared with you that:
- They don’t know what to post (or when!)
- They want to figure out how to create IG reels
- They’re confused about the Instagram algorithm
- They want to grow their following but don’t know how
- They’re tired of posting and getting crickets
They also shared that they want Instagram to do one main thing, build an audience to sell their services more easily.
Now, using that feedback, it’s time to identify the Point A’s and Point B’s.
Before we continue with our Instagram course example, are you following me on IG yet? 😉 If not, let’s fix that here!
2. Identify your students’ Point A and Point B.
You know what will hold your ideal client back from buying your course?
If you don’t give your audience a clear start and end point, a clear transformation, then they’ll scroll on by and won’t buy.
The good news is that within your market research, your audience has already told you the start and end points they want.
They’ve expressed exactly where they are currently (the Point A of your course outline) and where they want to be (the Point B of your course outline), making it so there is no guesswork on your part.
So how can you clearly identify those points?
Point A: those pain points your audience expressed to you in your market research, what they’re struggling with, what they’d like to no longer do/feel/spend a ton of time on
Point B: where your audience told you they wanted to be/go, the goals they expressed, how they wanted to feel
Using our Instagram course example above, we can identify the audience’s Point A:
They want to grow their Instagram but they aren’t sure what to post, what content to create, or when to post it. Right now, what they’re doing isn’t working, and all they hear are crickets.
The market research also gave us the Point B:
They will grow their Instagram by 500 new followers that are their ideal audience, not just random people, so that they can begin to sell their offers with more ease.
As you can see, identifying your Points A and B before creating your online course outline will do wonders for your marketing and copy.
It will give you the power to tell your audience “this is where you are” and “this is where you want to be/where you’ll be” after completing this course.
Having that kind of insight in your copy? It calls in your ideal people.
It gives your potential students the clarity they need to determine if that point B is where they want to be and if your course is the right choice for them.
An important note about discernment and Point B’s
As you go over your market research to find those “Point B’s,” be sure to cross out the ones that do NOT align with what you want to teach.
For example, when I have done market research, one of the things my audience tells me is that they want to learn how to run ads.
But because Clients to Courses® is based on organic sales, that topic is one that I choose not to cover.
If I tried to take on ads too, it would become a different course entirely on a topic I have no desire to teach.
I also don’t believe most people are ready to learn about or run ads until after Clients to Courses®.
And at that point, they can go to one of my recommended resources to learn from, after they’ve created, launched, and profited from a fully validated course.
So be sure that you know which Point B’s you will not be covering inside your course!
3. Bridge the gap!
Now we bridge the gap between Point A and Point B.
How? With a good ol’ brainstorming session.
During your brainstorm, you’re going to list out onto (virtual) paper absolutely everything that you can think of that your ideal buyer would need to know in order to effectively get from Point A to Point B.
In our original Instagram example, the course is meant to help people grow their audience by 500 followers, organically.
A brainstorm session should be filled with ideas about how to get them there from where they are now- hearing crickets and not knowing what to post.
Ideas could include: what kind of content to create, having a strategy, hashtag research, photos and graphics, times to post, bio optimization, recording IGTV, leveraging stories, creating reels, etc.
See, the fun part about brainstorming sessions is that they get to be fun and messy!
So don’t worry about getting things in order, what comes first or last, or making it final just yet – you’re simply looking to get everything out in one place for now.
How do I know what to include and what to leave out from my online course?
Many of my students wonder if they should include everything there is to know within their course.
And after their brainstorming sesh, they always ask: Will everything make the cut?
My (usual) answer: Probably not.
The answer truly depends on 3 things:
- the type of course that you’re creating
- your Points A & B, and
- what you actually want to cover
For example, if you’re creating an Instagram intro course vs a deep-dive course, then it is likely that you won’t be including everything from your brainstorm session.
If it’s a deep-dive course but it focuses only on organic Instagram growth, then you’ll likely exclude any topics related to IG ads (since ads = not organic!).
It’s also important to keep your Points A and B as your course threshold. Is there anything that should happen before Point A?
Don’t include that in this course.
After Point B?
Don’t include it either.
And hey, maybe those ideas could help you build your product suite and become new courses or offerings in the future!
Haven’t identified your course type? Wondering what the different course types are? Check them out!
4. Identify Your Topics & Themes
Of everything you’ve just listed during your brainstorm, it’s time to start grouping the topics that go together.
Those common topics are your core themes.
Don’t worry about the specific order of each grouping below – this exercise is designed to allow you to start finding your course modules and lessons.
Just go through everything you wrote down, find the similarities in topics, and group them together.
As you go through this exercise, be aware of any fluff topics vs necessary content to facilitate an easy path to results.
I always ask myself: “Is this idea or topic absolutely necessary in order to achieve the desired result for this module?”
If not, I remove it.
This exercise is best done visually. I personally like doing this in one of two ways:
- using post-it notes and grouping ideas together into themes
- using an online tool, like a Trello or ClickUp board.
In fact, inside Clients to Courses®, you will find that we have options to brainstorm and finalize your course outline on worksheets, sticky notes, Trello and ClickUp!
5. Bring it all Together: It’s Time to Outline Your Online Course!
Now is when we put those core themes in order 🙂 And putting these themes and topics in order IS YOUR ACTUAL OUTLINE!
If you’re following our Presell + Profit Method™, did you know that you can actually sell your course using only your outline, before creating any of the actual modules?
What will your students learn and be able to do by the end of the course?
What does your audience need to know first?
Build from these start and end points, assigning the core themes you found in the previous exercise as “modules” and the ideas within each theme as “lessons.”
Some questions I always ask myself and my clients is:
“Why is this theme before this one? Is there a reason it’s that way? Why do they need module 1 before module 2?”
These questions help me and my students see if things need to be moved around, removed, or expanded upon.
Creating the outline this way helps you see if your students would benefit from any additional resources that can be included as a workbook, worksheets, or bonuses.
You may also see which topics are necessary, which aren’t, and which could be created as separate courses/offers altogether!
If you’d like additional support with creating your online course outline, check out Clients to Courses®.
You’ll have access to the complete training library (including video and a private audio feed!), the entire Clients to Courses® Toolbox (including worksheets to help you brainstorm along with Trello and ClickUp boards to help you plan your course!), a private member community, plus a monthly Q & A to make sure you have all the knowledge and support you need to create, outline, and sell your course.
Come check it out! I’d love to have you.