The thought has crossed your mind a time or two. You know your subject matter inside and out and its time to start capitalizing on that knowledge. You’ve decided to take the plunge and develop your first online course. Congratulations!


But do you know where to go from here? In today’s post, we provide you with some guidance and tips to help make your first online course a success.


online course


How to Create an Online Course

To be a success, an online course should not be developed overnight and released the next day by a topic novice. Thought should be put into the course offerings and time should be spent on making it user friendly. Here are some tips to help you get started.



Market Research

Winning online courses start by offering content people want to learn. This sounds like a simple concept, but it sometimes gets forgotten. Just because you have a lot of interest in a topic doesn’t necessarily mean that a lot of other people share that passion. Courses that operate in the black are ones that appeal to a large audience, not just a handful of people.


Winning online courses start by offering content people want to learn. Share on X


Before a course syllabus is developed, you need to do some market research. Look to see if there are other courses offered in your subject area. If it’s a popular topic, this means that there is market demand. If you can’t find any courses in your subject area, be careful. There is a chance that you have stumbled upon a topic that’s needed but not thought of yet. However, the more likely scenario is that there is no demand for this type of information.




Another consideration is the amount of time required to create this new online course. Mark Schaefer points out that it takes, on average, 20 hours of preparation to make one hour of original presentation content. This means that if you make 10 one-hour long modules, it will take 200 hours of work to just develop the content. That doesn’t take into consideration all the other steps involved in launching the online course.


Considering the size of your target market and your course pricing strategy, will you break-even? If so, how long will it take for you to get there? If you forecast breaking-even in three years after launch, then is the work involved in creating this course worth it? This is an important consideration that all course developers should think about.



Plan Your Take-Aways

Once you’ve decided to go-ahead with the project, its time to think about the students. What skills or knowledge will your students lack at the beginning of the course, and what skills and/or knowledge will they gain by taking your course?


Thinking about the take-aways now helps to provide a clear path to follow when developing the course content. If you are subject matter expert, its easy to get caught up in sharing an abundance of information with no real end of discussion determined.


When the end of the course take-aways are thought about first, it helps shape the course narrative and gives a point to each discussion. You know where you want to end up, so you can develop course content that will lead you to that outcome.



Delivery Methods

Now that you know your topic and the skills and/or knowledge that you want your students to gain, it’s time to think about how to present the content.


Based on your market research, you should have some insight into your target audience. You should also have a feel for the subject matter. Based on these two things, what is the best way to deliver the course information? Would a video-style lecture work? How about reading content? Will students learn the concepts just by listening, or will you add in some hands-on activities? Understanding that people learn differently and being able to accommodate different style options into your course will give it wider appeal.



Hosting Your Online Course

When it comes time to go public with your online course, you need to consider which platform you will use. There are three main ways used to sell online courses:

• Online course marketplaces;
• Learning management systems; and
• Your own website.


Each of these methods have their own pros and cons. Online course marketplaces, for example, offer access to large audiences but you must share your revenue and may not have total control over your course.



Final Thoughts

These are some of the things you need to take into consideration when creating an online course. The more effort that’s put into the creation, the better the final product will be. Good luck!




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