9 Things To Do Before Creating Your First Or Next Online Course

by Marya Jan last updated on

Are you thinking about creating an online course? Curious as to how the whole process looks like? It is possible that you ARE interested but also overwhelmed, confused, scared by technology and a tad scared. You are not sure if you have the time, or the money to actually do this.

Here’s another scenario for you. Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You spent months creating this fantastic online program. You invested countless hours creating the content, shooting the videos and getting them transcribed, and creating worksheets and handouts.

You think people will be signing up in droves. You think there is going to be stampede in a rush to purchase this ecourse. Sadly, none of this is happening. You create your course and you put it up for sale and the results are far from what you were hoping for. They are heart breaking. They are soul crushing.

Or maybe none of that has happened to you but you have heard similar stories from a number of new entrepreneurs and frankly it scares you. Sure you want to create your course, or update it, but you don’t want to take a chance unless there is some guarantee that this will work.

Don’t fret. I am here to help!

1. Validate your course topic

This is how most people start: They make a list of topics they are expert on and pick one that they are most interested in right now as the topic for their course.

There is one thing majorly wrong with this scenario – they don’t know if people are actually interested in course like that and would they buy it. In order to troubleshoot this scenario, you need to start not by choosing the topic for your course but by interviewing people.

That’s right. You need to validate your idea first before you even sit down to brainstorm content ideas. The easiest way to validate your idea is to interview people (if you have an email list, do a survey or email your most loyal readers, ask for help in Facebook groups or reach out to your past clients).

Talk to at least 5 people, one on one. Discover their problems, frustrations and the biggest pain points. Pay attention to what they tell you. Ask open ended questions. Your job is to determine what kinds of products these folks are looking to buy.

Once you know what people are actually interested in, then you look at what is available in the market already. What is selling well? Go to Amazon and look for reviews for popular books. What do people like? What do they don’t like?

Now armed with this newly discovered information, you are ready to select your course topic.

2. Nail your ideal customer

If you are an established business owner, or if you have some experience working with clients, you should know your ideal customer already. However, if you are new to the course creation game, and you haven’t had much experience working with private clients, you need to pay even more attention while doing interviews.

After talking to a bunch of people and listening closely, you will be able to confidently create an ideal customer avatar. You will know exactly who you want enrolling in your course.

You’ll be able to figure out if you are going to help beginners, intermediate learners or advanced ones. You’ll know if your students will need self-study or lots of interactions and hand holding from you.

Just by talking to people one on one, you’ll be able to create your course with confidence. Also, take notes of what they say and the actual words they use when you talk to them. These are very useful for putting words on your marketing material and sales copy.

When a potential buyer reads your sales page, they’ll feel like you are talking to them and would be more likely to buy.


3. Stop obsessing about the name

People are always stressed when it comes to choosing the perfect name for their course. They want it to be memorable and they want it to be unique. They are scared that an ill-chosen name will turn their course launch into a disaster.

This is hardly true. People wont make a decision based solely on the basis of whats it called. There are a ton of other things that go into making a buying a decision.

My best advice would be to choose a very simple, clear name that spells the core benefit of your course. Make it short (you are not writing a headline for a sales page) and to the point. It should tell people what they are going to get at first glance.

Be clear and not necessarily clever. If you are stuck, there is no harm in getting some help from a copywriter. But don’t make it a big deal for no reason.

4. Don’t obsess about your pricing

One of the things that stop people from moving forward is that they can’t decide how much to charge for their course. Seems silly, right? but it is so true.

Firstly, pricing is just a marketing tool. Your prices have got nothing to do with your worth. As a human being, you are priceless. So your pricing should never be tied to your inner worth.

Secondly, your pricing needs to reflect the value of your course. Is it a high touch program or mostly self- study? High level of support means you can charge more.

Also, the branding and positioning makes a big difference in how much you can charge for something. When you provide a out-of-this word customer experience with all the bells and whistles, you can charge 10 times more.

Lastly, what big problem are you solving for people? Courses that save people money or time, improve their relationships and health, or make money can carry a much higher price tag.

5. Get over your fear of technology

Many business owners and service professionals get super excited about creating their first course but they are forever delaying the actual creation phase because they don’t know how they will deliver their course.

I actually don’t blame them. There are tons of platform choices available. You have third-party platforms where you pay a monthly fee or a percentage of sales, or you can use plugins to create membership area to host your course materials on your own website. However, there is one more option that is super easy, create the course content and use a password to protect it.

My advice is simple. First, do your own research of the most popular options. Now decide on if you want to password protect your content, host your course or use a third party platform.

If you want to password protect your content, great, you are off to the races. If not, you may need to hire someone to set up the backend for you, and yes, it will cost you money.

Don’t forget to factor in how your students would like to consume this content and your comfort level. Do you want to offer a course that is text-based or do you want to create videos? Do you want to deliver it live or pre-record everything? Do you want home study or some involvement from you?

The format and delivery of your course will help you make your final choice.

6. Know your numbers

You need to work out your numbers before you create your online course. This is the only way to stay confident and in the zone. If you just create your course and hope that buyers will come, you are going to add a lot of stress to your life that you don’t need.

So, the numbers look something like that. You are looking at 2-3% conversion rates if everything goes like it should.

If you need 40 people to buy your course, you need to be have about 1000 people on your list. If you have a list size big enough to support your launch, fantastic, move on. If you don’t have that many people on your list, you need to start growing your email list while you create the pre-launch content. Don’t leave it till launch time.

Some of my favourite ways to build your list are guest blogging, Facebook ads and webinars. You can also contact other list owners to see if they will promote you or network in Facebook groups and online forums.

Case study: Learn how Ravenol, a producer of high-quality automotive lubricants, moved online and started using webinars to reach their yearly email-list growth target in just three weeks.

7. Do an internal launch

You don’t require a complex, lengthy launch plan. In fact for your very first course, I suggest that you do a very simple launch to your list.

The beauty of launching to your list only is that it takes the pressure off you to turn your launch into a spectacle. You don’t need tons of bells and whistles because, one, it is not public, two, you are launching to a group of people who are loyal to you.

These are the people who have been opening your emails regularly and generally like you or else they won’t be on your list. You are likely going to get a higher conversion rate on the sales page.

If you are launching to your list only, you don’t need a fancy launch with three-part video series or tons of webinars. You can easily do a series of blog posts/emails or video.


Stop looking at others for direction. You don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes. You don’t know if they have a budget five times the size of yours to support that launch of yours. Instead, play up to your strengths and choose the route where you and your content shines. 

8. Offer an introductory round

Say the word ‘beta’ and people think you are offering something for free. Sure, you will get tons of interest but sadly these are the people who would put their hand up for anything free.

When you attract people like that, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Trust me on this, I am telling you this from experience. People will sign up but a very small percentage will follow through and actually complete the course.

And then it’s not only about finishing the course but putting things they learnt into action and without any skin in the game they are less likely to do that. That means you don’t great useful feedback on the course and hardly any testimonials you can use.

Instead, do an introductory pricing. Give people a big discount when they sign up. Now there are no guarantees you’ll attract the best students but you’ll repel freebie seekers for sure. Some of these people have a high likelihood of taking action and giving you the feedback so you can improve the course and make it even better. People that give you testimonials will become future advocates for you.

9. Let go of perfection

This is sooo important that I have to include it here. You have to get out of the research mode. You know enough. And you also have to stop procrastinating. If this is your first course, it doesn’t need three thousand-dollar branding and professionally shot videos.

These decisions will keep you stuck forever. Let it go. Always remember, done is better than perfect.

What do you think?

Now you know what you need to do. Refer back to this post when you are thinking of creating your next course and make sure you check off every single item on this list. Only then you should proceed forward and create a course, but this time, with complete confidence.

I know you can do this. Let us know how it went in the comments below and good luck!

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