Creating an online course completely changed my business. It meant I could reach a completely different market – people who wanted to DIY their marketing, rather than pay someone to do it for them. I’ve now created two big, 8-week courses, and I’ve loved creating both of them. So, how did I do it? How did I create an online course from scratch? Here's how to create an online course.
Trust me, it’s really not that hard! It just requires little bits of work, consistently.
How to create an online course in 6 simple steps
Creating an online course will help you stop trading time for money in your business, and this means that you can scale your business like CRAZY. When you're trading time for money, your income is constrained by the number of hours you can work – and this usually just leaves us trying to work more and more hours, so that we can earn more.
If you're thinking about creating your first online course, I highly suggest downloading this EPIC free course creation starter kit to set you off on the right foot:
Amy Porterfield has been a massive influence in my business and I credit so much of my online course success to her podcast and her courses. (Amy, if you're reading this – I couldn't have done it without ya, girlfriend!)
Anyway, without further ado… Here are the steps in how to create an online course.
Step 1: Who is your student?
As tempting as it is to make your course for everyone out there, you’ll find it far easier to market your course if it applies to a super-specific group of people.
For example, my courses are for small business owners. But, I really struggled when writing my sales page copy, because half of them have product-based businesses and the other half have service-based businesses.
So while the courses can get both groups of people results (i.e. More customers or clients), it meant that the way I worded it wasn’t as convincing, because there was still that element of doubt. They were still left thinking: “Is this course right for me?”
Step 2: What’s the transformation?
This is THE biggest thing when you’re creating an online course, and it’s something I only figured out last year. It would’ve made marketing my first course, Facebook Ads That Flourish, SO much easier if I’d grasped this concept before I launched.
Basically, your customer doesn’t want more learning material – they already have so much content, they don’t need more content. They need an outcome; a transformation.
Think of it like a before and after. Right now, they’re at the before stage. The after is where they want to be; their dream state. Your course is the way to get them from the before to the after. But, instead of selling the course, you’re selling the after. You're selling the transformation.
It’s your job to get them from before to after as quickly and as easily as possible.
Step 3: How are you going to get them there?
I followed Amy Porterfield’s method when creating both of my big courses – Facebook Ads That Flourish and InstaBAM. She teaches you how to create an online course in such an effortless, simple manner.
The first step is to do a massive brain dump of every single thing you could teach someone inside your online course. Write EVERYTHING down – don’t self filter or think too hard about it, just write what comes to mind. I did this on a big roll of butcher’s paper at first before typing it up, because I find it much easier to brainstorm on paper. But, you do you – do whatever works best for you.
Then, I arranged it into a framework, so that I had a rough structure of how the course would look.
After that, I went through asked myself for every single idea I'd written down: “Does my student NEED to know this in order to get from before to after? Is this absolutely essential?”
Anything that wasn’t absolutely essential for the transformation either got deleted completely or saved for later as a course bonus. Bonuses are great for the “nice-to-haves” that aren’t essential to their success, but that can help your student. For example, one of the bonuses I offered with InstaBAM is a training on influencer marketing.
My students don’t NEED to do influencer marketing to see success from Instagram, but if they wish to learn this, they can follow the training. It’s a “nice-to-have”.
Once you’ve done all this, you can refine your course structure, move things around and come up with a clear module outline. Don't forget to map out any bonuses, worksheets, cheat sheets and/or template that you’re going to offer as well.
Step 4: It’s time to start creating your online course content
The thought of creating an entire course can be overwhelming, but it’s easiest to approach it one step at a time. One lesson at a time. One module at a time.
I start by outlining each lesson in a Google Doc before I even think about putting them into slides.
When I was creating my last course, I set aside 1 hour every morning purely for course content creation – before I’d checked my emails, before I’d started on my to-do list, before I’d done anything except drink coffee. These small efforts add up, and then one day you’ll look up from your screen and realise that you’ve created all the content for a course!
Step 5: Recording your online course content
For both of my courses, I launched before I’d recorded the content. For me, recording is the most exhausting part, so I didn’t want to spend the time recording the content if nobody wanted to actually buy my course.
Launching my course before I’d recorded it was my way of validating the idea. Most people get stuck on whether they’ll record direct-to-camera video (that is, them talking directly to the camera), just voice-over slides, or a combination of both.
I’ve found recording slides with a voice over has been the easiest and most effective option. But, again, you do you!
(I use Screenflow to record my slides and narration, and I highly recommend it!)
Step 6: Hosting your online course
Once you’ve finished creating an online course, you need to host it somewhere.
It can be tempting to host your online course on your website because that’s the free (or cheap) option, but I recommend steering clear of this.
If you’re hosting video on your website and lots of people are watching it, it’s going to slow down the rest of your website BIG TIME. You might think this isn’t an issue in the early days if you’ve only got 10 people doing your course, but the whole idea of creating an online course is that it’s a product you can sell at scale. So, right from the beginning you want to set it up for success. You want to prepare to scale.
I use (and highly recommend) Kajabi to host my online course because it’s reliable, easy to use and is designed purely for course creators.
No, it’s not the cheapest option out there but they don't take a cut of your sales, whereas a lot of other platforms will take a % of your revenue as a fee on top of your monthly fee – so they actually end up being more expensive.
Course creation resources
- The Ultimate Course Creation Starter Kit
- ScreenFlow (for recording your content)
- Review of Digital Course Academy by Amy Porterfield
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