How to Create and SELL Your First Online Course

The journey to creating your first online course can be a thrilling venture into the world of digital products. Online courses offer a unique opportunity to generate income by sharing your knowledge or skills with eager learners. 

For many, the allure lies in the ability to create something once and then benefit from it repeatedly, a quintessential form of passive income. This model not only monetizes expertise but also significantly impacts others by facilitating learning and growth.

Creating a digital course requires a blend of creativity, strategic planning, and technical know-how, but the rewards, both financially and personally, can be immense. Generating passive income while contributing to others’ success stories is a compelling proposition for anyone with valuable insights to share.

Key Takeaways:

  • Online course creation transforms expertise into a profitable digital product.
  • Passive income is a major benefit, offering continuous earnings from a single effort.
  • Impact and value lie at the heart of successful online courses, enriching the learning experience for others.

Logo for Passive Income Academy. Passive Income Academy is in pink with a teal background and a dark teal glitter border

PIA is an in-depth coaching membership designed to teach you how to make money beyond your day job WITHOUT having to constantly promote or spend 24/7 on social media.

Step 1: Sell Your Course

You have an idea that you’re ready to shape into a fountain of knowledge, a digital product poised for success. You’re ready to dive into creating a course outline, filming modules, creating workbooks….STOP RIGHT THERE!

Diving into content creation, investing hours and resources into a digital product, without knowing if there’s a market for your offering sounds risky, doesn’t it? 

That’s where the concept of selling before creating fully unfolds its strategic brilliance. By pitching your online course idea to potential customers first, you validate the demand right out of the gate. You’re not just guessing; you’re gathering evidence that your audience is willing and eager to pay for the knowledge you’re poised to deliver. This approach not only secures a paying audience before you’ve expended significant effort but also injects initial capital into your project. It’s a win-win. You save time, reduce risks, and ensure your course has its audience even before its materialization.

Choosing the Right Platform

Now that you’ve sold your course, its time to choose a hosting platform.. Teachable and Kajabi stand out for their user-friendly interfaces and comprehensive features. They both offer robust marketing tools to help you sell online courses effectively. However, their pricing can be a hurdle for beginners. For those on a budget, Facebook groups, Google Drive, and unlisted YouTube videos provide alternative course delivery options. While these platforms reduce upfront costs, they demand more effort in managing access and ensuring content security. 

Online Teaching Platforms

Teachable shines for its user-friendly interface and comprehensive analytics, making it ideal for beginners and seasoned course creators alike. This platform lets you seamlessly integrate payment options, which simplifies the sales process. However, high-quality comes with costs; pricing tiers start low but increase with additional features.

Kajabi is a powerhouse for managing your entire online education business. Its integrated tools for email marketing, website building, and course creation set it apart. Kajabi might be on the pricier side, but for a one-stop solution, it delivers value that’s hard to beat. Both platforms cater to a dynamic range of needs, from selling courses to building a brand. Ultimately, your choice depends on the degree of integration and automation you desire for your online teaching ventures.

Alternative Course Delivery Options

Teachable and Kajabi are the two course delivery platforms I recommend (I personally use Teachable at the time of writing this article). Still, both of these platforms involve investing up front, but there are other delivery options you could start with.  

Facebook groups have emerged as intimate communities where creators engage with students, offering personalized feedback and fostering discussions. You could choose to deliver your course directly inside a Facebook group.  The downside to this option is that Facebook could shut down your account at anytime for virtually any reason.  While a number of people choose Facebook as their primary platform, I recommend going in a different direction.

Google Drive is an option that stands out for its simplicity, enabling you to organize materials in folders for easy access, ideal for sharing course workbooks and assignments.  The only downside is that your course takes up valuable storage space (especially if it is video heavy).  This means you will need to pay monthly for extra storage. 

Then there’s the power of unlisted YouTube videos. This approach allows you to share visual content without broadcasting it to the whole world.  The downside here is that you will not be able to share PDFs, Workbooks, etc. So you would need a separate way to deliver these materials. 

 Each of these platforms offers its unique advantages and disadvantages when it comes to delivering your course to its audience in the most effective way possible.

Structuring Your Course Content

You have all these great ideas about what you want your course to be about, but organizing the content might seem daunting. Start by breaking down complex topics into smaller, easily understood segments. Create an outline with smaller topics nested under broader topics.  This makes your teachings both digestible and engaging for your students. Consider incorporating various types of content, such as video lessons, readings, and quizzes, to hit on all the different learning styles. 

Utilizing platforms like Teachable and Kajabi makes it easy to structure your content and can help deliver your course in a user-friendly interface. 

Remember, engagement is key. Assignments through Google Drive or discussions in Facebook groups can further break down barriers, making learning interactive and communal. Your initial online education venture might begin with leveraging these tools, ensuring your teachings are accessible and impactful. By selling to a small beta group first, you gather invaluable feedback that can transform your course into an evergreen content source.

Engaging Your Beta Group

Selling your digital course can be both exhilarating and daunting, but one effective strategy is offering it at a lower price to a select beta group. This initial offering serves multiple purposes. It not only brings in early revenue but also tests the water. A live run with this group offers invaluable insights.

Feedback from your beta group of clients will help you refine your material. Their constructive critiques ensure each video, every quiz, and all supporting documents meet your audience’s needs. But even more important are the testimonials they provide. Positive reviews from this circle become powerful marketing tools. They serve as social proof for your course’s effectiveness, encouraging others to enroll. Through this process, you’re not just selling a product; you’re building a foundation for an evergreen passive income stream that will grow with each iteration.

Creating Evergreen Course Content

After your initial launch with your beta group, it’s time to consider the long-term sustainability of your online course. This is an opportunity to re-record your content, dividing it into concise, focused modules. This approach ensures your course is available for on-demand access, a format beneficial for learners with varying schedules and time zones.

While your course may have initially been delivered through platforms like Google Drive and unlisted YouTube videos, this reorganization should be structured in a platform like Teachable or Kajabi that allows you to transform your course into a source of passive income. In this form, it can continually generate revenue without requiring your constant presence or input. Importantly, this adaptability extends the appeal of your course beyond its initial launch, ensuring it remains a valuable resource for future students who wish to learn at their own pace.

Pricing Your Course

Deciding on a price for your online course often feels like walking a tightrope. You’ve invested time understanding online course creation, invested in a delivery platform, and run your beta round.  Now, it’s about getting the value right. Setting a lower price for a small beta group can offer you invaluable insights, but you don’t want to keep your course at that low ticket price.

After running your course live and collecting insights and testimonials from your beta round, you’re ready to set the actual price. 

When it comes to pricing your course, there are a few things you need to consider. Take a close look at the course content’s quality, its length, and importantly, who will be enrolling. An evergreen course, with video content broken down into short, actionable sections for on-demand access, warrants a premium, but you also need to keep in mind your target audience.

Your audience’s demographic will determine how much they will be able to pay.  If your course is marketed toward newly graduated college students, it will need to be significantly lower in price than a course marketed to parents trying to get their child into an Ivy League school of to CEOs trying to grow their sales to 7 figures.  

Marketing and Promotion

To successfully market your online course, it’s important to utilize a variety of channels to reach potential students. 

Start by promoting your course on social media platforms such as Facebook groups, where you can engage with potential learners and create a sense of community around your course topic. Share engaging content that highlights the benefits of your course, and incorporate testimonials from past students to build credibility.

Email marketing is another powerful tool. By building a list of individuals interested in your subject matter, you can send personalized emails directly to their inboxes. This not only creates a more tailored experience but also builds anticipation for your course launch. Consider offering exclusive previews or discounts to incentivize those who are on the fence.

Remember, successful marketing involves a combination of strategic promotion and genuine connection. By emphasizing the tangible benefits of your course and fostering direct relationships through thoughtful engagement, you create a solid foundation for a thriving online course.

Leveraging Social Proof

After the successful completion of your initial live course, it’s time to gather feedback and testimonials from your beta group. Testimonials play a pivotal role in the marketing of your digital product, serving as powerful social proof that significantly bolsters the credibility of your online course.

Potential students who are considering enrolling often find reassurance in positive reviews. These accounts of the course’s impact showcase its value and the transformative experience it offers. By incorporating these testimonials into your marketing materials, you not only enhance the reputation of your course but also foster trust among your target audience.

In the online course market, trust is paramount. The positive experiences shared by previous students can be your most effective marketing tool, reassuring potential learners that your course is a worthwhile investment. By embracing this strategy, you can transform your online course into a flourishing and sustainable source of passive income.

The Importance of Community Building

Building a community around your course topic isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s essential for the sustained success of your digital products. By creating a space, like a Facebook group or online forum, where students can connect, share their experiences, and offer support, you significantly enhance the value of your course. This fosters an ongoing dialogue that extends far beyond the final lesson.

Imagine the impact of students feeling they belong to a larger community, a network of learners with shared goals, all facilitated by your course. This deepens engagement with your material and elevates the overall learning experience. It also increases the likelihood that your students will enthusiastically recommend your course to others.

When you have an active and engaged community, your marketing efforts, such as using testimonials for social proof, become even more effective. The collective voice of your community acts as a powerful endorsement, showcasing the genuine value of your course.

Remember, creating evergreen content isn’t solely about delivering information; it’s about nurturing a vibrant community around your course. This is what will keep your course relevant and engaging for years to come.

Technical Considerations

As you dive into creating your online course, you’ll soon face some key tech decisions. Choosing the right gear is important – your students won’t stick around if they can’t hear or see you clearly.

First up, the microphone. Crisp, clear audio is a must-have, so invest in a good one. Your students need to be able to hear you clearly to stay engaged and actually learn from your course.

Logitech for Creators Blue Yeti USB Microphone for Gaming, Streaming, Podcasting, Twitch, YouTube, Discord, Recording for PC and Mac, 4 Polar Patterns, Studio Quality Sound, Plug & Play-Blackout
  • Custom three-capsule array: This professional USB mic produces clear, powerful, broadcast-quality sound for YouTube videos, Twitch game streaming, podcasting, Zoom meetings, music recording and more

Next, think about your camera. High-definition video looks professional and makes your content visually appealing.

And don’t forget about video editing software! Even the most amazing footage can fall flat without good editing. Thankfully, there are user-friendly options out there like Davinci Resolve or Final Cut Pro that can help you turn your raw videos into polished, professional-looking lessons.

Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera for Content Creators, Vlogging and YouTube with Flip Screen, Built-in Microphone, 4K HDR Video, Touchscreen Display, Live Video Streaming, Webcam
  • 20.1MP stacked back illuminated 1” Exmor RS CMOS sensor w/ DRAM. Large aperture 24-70mm1 F1.8-2.8 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens.Bluetooth : Yes (Bluetooth Standard Ver. 4.1 (2.4 GHz band)). Operating Temperature : 0 degrees C. – +40 degrees C. / 32 degrees F. – 104 degrees F.

Remember, your course is a reflection of the effort you put into it. High-quality audio, clear visuals, and seamless editing all contribute to creating a fantastic learning experience for your students. So, take the time to get the technical aspects right, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a course that people will love and recommend to others.

Legal and Copyright Matters

Creating an online course opens up a world of possibilities, but it’s important to be mindful of legal considerations throughout the process. Understanding copyright law and obtaining necessary licenses for any external materials you use will protect both you and your course from potential legal issues. This step is not only about compliance; it’s also about respecting the intellectual property of others.

As you develop your course content, carefully consider whether you have the right to use any images, videos, or text sourced from other creators. Each piece of content is protected by copyright, which means you need explicit permission to include it in your course.

While obtaining licenses might seem like a complex process, it’s crucial for ensuring your course is legally sound. There are various resources available, such as Creative Commons licenses, that allow you to incorporate copyrighted materials legally.

Remember, your actions in this regard extend beyond mere legality. You’re contributing to a culture of respect and ethical practices within the online education community. By taking the necessary steps to comply with copyright laws and licensing agreements, you’re building a strong foundation for your course, one that is both reputable and legally sound.

Scaling Your Online Course Business

Now that you’ve completed your first online course,a it’s time to expand your digital reach and empower even more learners. As you start to build your course portfolio, you’ll discover exciting opportunities for growth.

Diversification is a natural next step. Each new course you create not only reaches a new audience, but it also helps you cross-promote your other courses. This can reignite interest in older courses and boost overall sales.

Keep your existing content fresh and up-to-date. Trends change, and information evolves, so revisiting your courses ensures they stay relevant and valuable. You might even uncover new topics to explore in future courses.

Finally, think about expanding your revenue streams beyond just course sales. Explore options like merchandise, consulting services, or even creating a membership site. This not only strengthens your brand but also creates a loyal community around your content, securing your place in the ever-changing landscape of online education.