Creating Content for Online Course

Creating Content for Online Course is going to help you streamline the process of translation, so that you can spend less time doing it! This course doesn’t assume that you know anything about creating content, and takes you step-by-step through each story, breaking down every step as we go. Whether you are looking to create a new course, or are working on updating your current one, this course has the tools to save you time and frustration.

Students will learn to create high quality content in multiple forms for online courses. This course is designed for individuals who are seeking credits toward their degree and/ or teachers seeking additional credit for current certifications. Instructors will teach students the process of creating course content as well as consider genre and audience appropriate writing strategies.

Pick the Perfect Course Topic

Your course topic must be something that you LOVE.  If you are not passionate about your topic, it will be obvious if you don’t love your topic and will make your training about as engaging as a cardboard sandwich.

Think about the skills, talents, and life experiences that you have been through. Don’t feel like you have to teach a university-level profession to make money selling courses. The list of possible course topics is endless, here’s a couple of online course examples from our successful customers:

  1. Microsoft excel
  2.  Guitar
  3. Yoga
  4. Photography
  5. Sewing
  6. Roller skating (yup, even interests can be thriving knowledge commerce businesses)

In short, if you love your topic, you are good at your topic and you have experience (formal or life) in it, and fulfills a need for someone – then you have a topic and expertise you can monetize.

A formula for success with online courses

A simple exercise to help you zero in on a course topic: 

On a piece of paper, write down as many things that come to mind that reflect your Passions, Skills, and Experience. Once you’ve done this, identify the top 2-3 topics where your passions/interests, your skills, and your experience/achievements intersect.

An exercise to help you come up with an online course to create

Someone won’t purchase your course simply because they like you or what they sell. People take online courses because they’re looking for a transformation from their current reality to their desired future. 

It’s important to pick a topic that has an audience that is motivated enough to pay money to learn about, which is what we’ll cover in the next section.

 Ensure Your Course Idea has High Market Demand

Hands up who wants to spend weeks of their life creating an online course, for absolutely nobody to buy it? Nope. Didn’t think so.

Once you have picked your online course topic, the next step is to conduct a number of market research tests to see if it has a market demand or not.  Many course creators make the mistake of thinking that if there is a lot of competition in their topic area, then their course idea won’t fly.  But actually, this shows that there is a high chance of there being a strong market demand for that course idea and is therefore well worth investigating further.

A few things you want to be checking for are:

  1. Are people searching for it and asking questions?
  2. Is there a gap in what the competition is offering?
  3. Will someone pay money to solve the problem your course solves?

If your answer to the above three questions is ‘yes’ and your idea is similar but different to what is already out there, then you have a course idea that has a chance of being a best-seller.

If you’re just getting started, here are a few tips to help you validate demand for your online course:

Are people searching for it and asking questions?

Here are a few ways to gauge interest in your course topic:

Search your topic in Google Trends 

Google Trends will tell you how popular a topic is. It’s the quickest way to check if there’s anyone searching google, and how popular the topic is over time. 

For example “Online Yoga Classes” became more popular when the pandemic started– and it’s still more popular than it was before!

A graph showing the popularity for an example online course search term

Check search volume for your course topic

Search volume is a great way to validate demand for an online course topic. You can use the google keyword planner for free through google ads. (And no, you don’t need to be buying ads to use this tool.)

You can enter your keywords and get insights into how many people are searching for your online course idea. It will also give you suggestions for other keywords that people might use to find your course.

Online course keyword research idea

As you can see, the topic is fairly popular, and it’s also competitive.  But you’ll notice that “Free yoga classes online” is less competitive – this might make a great lead magnet to fill your funnel (more on that later).

What are people asking about your topic?

Here are a few qualitative approaches to understand how to cover your online course idea:

  • Try searching your potential topic on Reddit or Quora or to see what comes up, and how often
  • Answer The Public is a helpful way to find out what people are asking about a topic
  • If you’re in any Facebook groups, or better yet, you run one – scroll through and use the search function to gain some insight into the challenges your potential audience has. (AKA social listening)

Is there a gap in online courses that the competition is offering?

It’s important to differentiate your offer from what’s out there. So do some research to figure out who competitors are, and what they’re offering. There’s a slim chance you’re the first person to think of your idea. But there is a good chance you can cover a topic differently, for a different audience.

Here are a few approaches with examples of how course creators have created differentiated online course offerings:

Can you cover a popular topic differently?

Despite the stiff competition for Microsoft Excel courses, Miss Excel carved a niche for herself in a very crowded space by using TikTok, and she infused a little fun into an otherwise boring topic. 

By combining practical Excel tips with creativity, fun, and enthusiasm, Norton posted a new video once a day. To her surprise, one of her videos hit 100,000 views by the fourth day. After her first video went viral, the rest was history! She was able to quit her job, and now makes over $20,000 per month selling online courses.

Can you position your topic to appeal to a different audience? 

Thinkific membership site creator, Tiffany Aliche from The Budgetnista found that there was no shortage of financial advice out there, but few that catered specifically to women, and particularly black women who have felt left out of the conversation. 

By catering her offering to an under-served audience, Tiffany carved out a niche for herself and created a 7-figure business.

I want to help women, especially black women, live richer lives. Because we have been left out of the financial conversation for so long.TIFFANY ALICHE, THINKIFIC COURSE CREATOR AND MEMBERSHIP SITE OWNER

Will someone pay money to solve the problem your course solves?

There are a few ways to ensure there’s market potential for your online course:

  • Preselling your course – A great way to avoid the unfortunate situation of creating a course that no one buys – is to pre-sell it! People buy courses before they’re created all the time. It’s one of the best approaches to launching an online course. (We’ll offer a few tips pre-selling your course at the end of this blog)
  • Competition – If you discover competitors selling a similar online course, that isn’t a bad thing! It means there’s a revenue stream that you can tap into. Online course marketplaces are a good place to quickly check what’s out there, and can be a good marketing tool to compliment your core online course site.
  • Talking to your audience – If you’re not engaging your audience, you’re missing out on a lot of insights. Ask them about their challenges, and whether or not they’d pay for a course to overcome them.
  • Keyword Research –  By using google’s keyword planner, you can see how many people are searching for courses like yours on Google. Pay attention to the “bid cost” –  more profitable products tend to have a higher cost per click.

Based on the example below, you can see that Yoga Teacher Training might be a little more profitable than selling directly to customers. 

An example of using keyword research to understand how profitable an online course topic is

Think Positive and Avoid Mental Blocks

Lot’s of negative thoughts are spinning around your head when you think about creating an online course:

“I don’t have enough money to start online courses.”

“I am not a subject matter expert.”

“What if this doesn’t work?”

“I don’t have the technical skills required.”

But your course, and ultimately the business that you want to create, is somewhere outside of this circle.

If you are waiting to get your mindset in order before you start building your course, you’ll never get started. Procrastination is a mental block holding you back.

Specify the negative thoughts you are having. Stuffing it away isn’t the best strategy.

And don’t think of yourself as a person trying to start your own business. Think of yourself as a business owner already.

Own it. Like it’s already ingrained into who you are as a person.

 Presell your course to see the trends

I guess you don’t want to spend weeks creating an online course, for absolutely nobody to buy it.

Pre-selling your course proves that there is demand and helps you build up a list of potential customers who would then buy at launch.

Make sure to use a one-page description to ask people if they’d be interested in signing up for the course and their reasons why or why not.

By testing your course, you can also see people’s preferences and suggestions on the pain points of your course.

Conduct several market research tests to see if it has a market demand or not and see what people might want to learn from you.

Understand your Audience

Learning involves a change in competence, ability, understanding, attitude, belief of people.

To achieve that, you must know your target market very well to help your potential students go from point A to point B.

That means you need to know your target audience, what people may already know about your subject, and their motivation for learning.

Are people experienced with online education?

What are people asking for?

Are they experienced in your field?

Are they beginners?

Have they taken a similar course before?


We’ve added an online course that walks the learner through all of the steps we go through when creating content for one of our online courses! This is a great opportunity to see behind the curtain and to get some real insight into what goes into creating our content as well as getting to see some of the tools that we use.

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