How to Create an Online Course Students Will Love

Masooma Memon

Written by:
Masooma Memon

how to create an online course - header

Have you been putting off creating your online course for so long you can’t even remember when you first had the idea of creating one?

The question – how to create an online course – can leave you in a tizzy. And is probably also the reason why you’ve been intentionally and unintentionally putting off the work.

After all, it’s a course that you’re attempting to create, not a hot mug of steaming coffee. 

But we’re here to make creating a course easy for you. So without further ado, let’s walk you through the steps you need to take to create an online course. Along the way, we’ll also share Visme resources that’ll make course creation simpler for you.

But first, let’s refresh why you need an online course in the first place.

 

Why You Should Create an Online Course

First things first, if you’ve got a talent for something or you’re a subject matter expert, then it makes sense to create a course on it. Not only does it benefit learners, but an online course also gives you a creative outlet to share your knowledge. 

Top that up with the fact that an online course builds a recurring income stream for you and there seems to be no reason not to make one.

 

How to Create an Online Course

Ready to package your knowledge into a bestseller course? 

Let’s get to work.

Step 1: Research a Winning Idea

Choosing what your course will cover might seem like a simple thing to do. But there’s more to it than you think.

A chart-topping course is one that pairs the creator’s passion/expertise with market demand. If you like to talk about cottage cheese, but your potential buyers are obsessed with cheddar cheese, you’re likely to only sell your course to one or two people.

So the smart move is to validate your idea by pairing your expertise with what your audience is looking for. Here’s your game plan. 

Find out or confirm what you’re best at by asking yourself:

  1. Have you solved a problem others are still struggling with? Or, have you hacked a software that others are working on understanding?
  2. Does your audience (friends, colleagues, online community members) recognize you as an expert in something?

Learn about the market demand by:

  1. Asking your audience if there’s something specific they’re struggling with. Take to social or send out surveys via email to learn more from your audience.
  2. If you run a blog, check your Google analytics to find which blog posts have been performing the best. This proves your post has hit a nerve and people are more likely to welcome a course on the same topic.
  3. Conversely, write blog posts on select topics that you’re interested in creating a course around and see how well they do.
  4. Lastly, study content under specific hashtags on social. This will help you understand if and what your audience is talking about the topic you’re targeting. Listen to your audience’s conversations on Quora, Reddit and Facebook groups too.

Once done, you’ll have a few topics of interest. 

Now, put all your findings in a visual format like a mind map such as the one below by Visme to finalize a smash hit topic for your online course:

how to create an online course - concept map template
Customize this concept map template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 2: Ideation

Your first step here is to decide what your online course will cover. You’re basically going to brainstorm ideas for two things here – your course and its promotion plan.

For the former, find the answers to the following two questions:

  1. Who is your student (your target audience)?
  2. What is your course’s unique selling point (USP) or what will differentiate it from the rest?

The more the details here, the better.

Knowing your students helps you plan your course according to their needs, education levels, and so on. On the flip side, having a USP makes it easy for you to sell your course.

Again, put all the details into a mind map. Then, distill them down to a syllabus using a template such as this one:

how to create an online course - syllabus template
Customize this syllabus template and make it your own!Edit and Download

As for your promotion strategy, it’s best you work on it in the early stages. This way you can grow your audience as you work on your course. 

For instance, decide if you’d like to focus on mobile ads and social media. At the same time, ready social proof to attract students. Perhaps, create some enticing videos too, which you can share on social.

Don’t forget to speed your promotion activities as you near the launch. Pair with influences or appear as a guest on relevant podcasts and webinars. Don’t forget to decide if you’d like to run an early bird discount.

Step 3: Set Your Goals

You’d have lots of raw material on your desk by now. Thankfully, summarizing the info into templates will give you a complete picture at a glance.

So what’s next? Make three different goals:

Course Goals

What do you want your students to leave with? These learning outcomes help you create an actionable course.

More importantly, your audience understands what they’ll get from the course, so they’re likely to call the shots in your favor.

Don’t forget to decide where your course would go once it launches. Would it be on your site or a learning management system like LearnWorlds, Udemy or Coursera?

Financial Goals

How much do you want to make from this course? Is there a specific number of students you’d like to target within a set time from the launch date? Decide how much you should charge to meet your goals without over or underpricing your course and put it in writing.

Course Creation Goals

Here’s where you’ll do the rest of the groundwork. When will you complete this course? When will you be launching it? Enlist all the work that you need to do. Preferably write it down. Your brain can only remember so much:

how to create an online course - course creation process template
Customize this infographic template and make it your own!Edit and Download

You can also give each step a duration to work on.

This Visme template can help you visualize the entire creation process so you’d get an accurate picture rather than unclear estimates:

how to create an online course - project timeline template
Customize this timeline template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Okay so you now have a timeframe and a course creation plan. You know the work that’ll go into it all. Overwhelmed? Don’t be.

Dividing your work into tasks, and sub-dividing them into to-do lists will make things more conquerable.

So, here’s your motto from now on: create your online course one step at a time. 

Before we move on, let’s show you some templates for planners, which you can use here to ease your workflow and beat the overwhelm. 

Depending on your preference, Visme offers you the whole enchilada of planners – daily, weekly, project-based, calendar-like and more!

We recommend you start off with a project planner:

how to create an online course - project planner template
Customize this planner template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Then, go on to divide tasks by the week or on a daily basis – this’ll help you stay productive. For a weekly version, stick with this helpful template from Visme’s library: 

how to create an online course - project planner template
Customize this planner template and make it your own!Edit and Download

For a daily one, use this one:

how to create an online course - daily planner template
Customize this planner template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Alternatively, if you prefer a calendar view over a listicle, you’ll find this template a rock star for your course planning:

how to create an online course - monthly planner template
Customize this planner template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Each of these templates is editable. So you can easily change the colors or add or delete sections. 

Step 4: Get to Work

If you’d like you can go on to write all your thoughts on the topic and deliver them in a file to your course buyers.

But do you know what would happen if you did so? You’ll lead your reader straight into a den of words – a messy den of words that they’d hardly understand let alone learn from. 

So what can you do to make your online course both appealing and digestible, so that it’s easy to learn? Not a tough question – use visuals as part of your delivery format. 

Find out some of the most reliable ways to dress your course info below: 

Presentations

Presentations deliver information in slides with an audio in the background, explaining things in detail. Fortunately, you can create powerful presentations using Visme.

The best part is – you don’t even have to start from scratch. Using templates (or even animated ones) from Visme’s library gives you a head start and makes creating presentations super easy too.

It’s always best you start off strong by reading through tips to create killer presentations. First, be sure that you create clutter-free slides so they’re easy to understand and recall.

Use data visualizations. For example, deliver numbers in bar charts, circle graphs or any other chart types like this presentation does:

how to create an online course - presentations
Customize this presentation template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Design a process diagram to break down complex or long processes into an eye-catching diagram. Here’s what I mean:

how to create an online course - presentations
Customize this presentations template and make it your own!Edit and Download

You can also include other visuals in your slides. Pick from step diagrams, circle diagrams, cluster diagrams and cycle diagrams.   

Bonus: Don’t just make boring presentations. Animate them or add music to their background. The best is to add your voice recording to explain things – either way Visme can help. Simply head to Media on your dashboard left and Add Audio from there.

Flowcharts

Flowcharts make it easy for your students to understand a process. These also provide a solid roadmap in decision making. For example, if you’re teaching your reader whether they need a website overhaul or not, you can best communicate the steps using a flowchart.

Here’s an example: 

how to create an online course - flowcharts
Customize this flowchart template and make it your own!Edit and Download

For this format, I’ll leave you with a quick video guide on how to make flowcharts in minutes: 

Checklists

Checklists are pros at making revision a piece of cake – one look at the pointers in a list and everything comes back to mind.

In fact, you should add a checklist at the end of each chapter. This won’t be hard if you’re using a template, which you can edit for each chapter.

Infographics

Did you know that people are 30 times more likely to read infographics more than a text-filled page? That says a lot about how powerful infographics are. And, that you should use them in your online course.

You can always pick from a variety of infographic types depending on your requirement. It could be a map-based infographic, timeline, comparison  or summary-style infographic.

Visme gives you a pool of options so you can DIY your infographic.   

Supportive Visuals

You can also add other visuals in your online course to break text and further learning. For instance, create digital learning cards or sketch differences in concepts using comparison charts. For data, try out line charts and circle graphs. And, for keeping things on a lighter note – design GIFs.

On a side note, learn how to design a chart in 5 simple steps here.

Once you’ve picked the ideal visual aids, get to work. Start with outlining each chapter and then adding a lesson plan to set clear expectations for those who take your course. 

A simple template like this one can help:

how to create an online course - lesson plan template
Customize this lesson plan template and make it your own!Edit and Download

You can get creative here as well. Pair your lesson plan (or syllabus that you created above) with a short, explainer video of what’s included and how the chapters/course is planned.

Bonus tip: Keep all your designs consistent. Put simply, use a uniform color scheme, fonts and design elements throughout your course. 

Step 5: Add Value

You want to make your course too good to refuse. This also gives you the opportunity to raise your course’s price. Try out any of the following ideas: 

  • Create a workbook that students can fill out at the end of the course to gauge their understanding
  • Grow a study community over at Facebook or Slack
  • Add quizzes to prompt learning
  • Give a free, supplementary guide on top of the course

Step 6: Gather Feedback

In this final step, look for beta-students to get feedback on your course. Ask them if they find the course easy to understand.

Request them to write their top takeaways from your course and tally those with your learning objectives. Doing so will help you understand how well your hard work is delivering the goals you set.

 

Create an Online Course Students Will Love

With all this info on how to create an online course under your belt, you’re only an execution away from creating a course that sells like hot cakes. So what are you waiting for? Sign up for Visme and work away!

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About the Author

Masooma Memon is a pizza-loving freelance writer by day and a novel nerd by night. She crafts research-backed, actionable blog posts for SaaS and marketing brands who aim to employ quality content to educate and engage with their audience.

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