Creating an online course is one of the many ways you can earn money from home and share your knowledge of a subject.
With the power of the internet, you can reach virtually anyone across the world with the content you create, giving you unlimited potential for earning and building your influence.
According to an article on Forbes, Global Industry Analysts projects e-learning to grow from $107 billion in 2005 to $325 billion by 2025.
But creating online courses is far from a get-rich-quick scheme. Just like any business, you need to put in smart effort in order to maximize your potential for reaching people and earning money along the way.
How Do I Start an Online Course Business?
In starting an online business teaching courses, you first need to choose between being self-hosted and using an online learning platform.
This means that you will sell your online courses on your own website or blog, as opposed to an online learning platform at an existing site that already offers courses.
One advantage of self-hosting is that you control everything on your site, and you may be able to charge higher for your course. However, it also means you must drive traffic to your site for people to find your course.
Online Learning Platforms
These websites will either charge you a fee or take a percentage of the profits you make from your course. But one big advantage is that you already have an audience and traffic, so people can find your courses more easily.
What Is the Best Online Course Platform?
Some of the best online course platforms include:
- Thinkific: This platform boasts of user-friendly features, tools for email marketing, and 24/7 customer service. You can sign up for a 1-month free trial, or sign up for a membership starting at $49/month.
- Udemy: Using Udemy allows you to market your class inside the website, which has a reach of more than 24 million students. Plus, it’s FREE to use, and you only pay a percentage share for every purchased course.
- Teachable: Teachable has about 22,000 instructors, and you can sign up for free and only pay transaction fees, or choose a plan starting at $29/month.
- Skillshare: Skillshare is a great option for online courses, which focuses on more interactive content. Skillshare is FREE for teachers.
- Learnworlds: Its custom landing and sales pages can go a long way in making you stand out. Try it for 30 days for free. After the free trial, plans go for between $24/month to $699/month.
- Kajabi: This high-powered course builder is great for sharing in-depth lessons. Plans start at $119/month.
How Can I Create an Online Course for Free?
In this definitive guide, we will share with you some of the best practices needed for creating online courses that add value for others and give you additional income, too.
1. Research your market.
We cannot overemphasize this point. Many people rush into creating online courses for something they are passionate about—which is well and good—without checking if anyone is actually interested in learning about that topic.
If you do this, it means you will have a collection of courses available, possibly excellently-executed, too, but nobody is actually signing up for your courses. And if nobody signs up for your courses, you would have wasted all your time and energy with nothing to show for it.
So how do you research your market? Here are several ways:
- Keyword research: One of the most important skills that you need to master for your web-based business is keyword research. Checking which keywords people type into the search box will show you what they are looking for.
- Check the competition: Another way of learning what people are looking for in online courses is scoping out the competition. If you want to make an online course on crochet, for example, check out what other courses are available. If you can find reviews, that will add to your ideas of what the audience likes and doesn’t like.
2. Decide on your niche.
From the research you do on the market, you can now decide which niche you want to focus on.
When you create online courses, you want to establish yourself as an authority on the subject, so it would be best to find a niche you can really excel in and stick to it.
From your keyword research, you might find several options that you can work with. Choose what you are most passionate about and have the most strength in: it will affect the way you deliver your courses and how you even promote them.
3. Plan your course outline.
The people who earn the most from online courses typically offer more than one course. Plan ahead and brainstorm the different topics that you can cover. Then, arrange them in a logical way so as to provide the biggest benefit to your learners.
If you are self-hosting your course, this will include planning which courses you can offer for free as “bait” for people to sign up for your paid courses.
4. Decide on your video format.
Online courses come in many forms, the most common of which are:
- Live action videos: For a live action video, make sure you pick a nice background.
- Screen recording videos: Screen recording videos are great for showing steps while using a particular app or website. Make sure you are familiar with the steps and can go through them in the right order.
- Presentation videos: Some online courses feature a Powerpoint Presentation instead of your face, so you might also consider this option. Experts recommend doing a combination, of showing your face only when it makes sense, and focusing on the presentation the rest of the time.
- Animation videos: If you know how to make animations, this is a great tool to use for online courses. If not, consider using online tools like Powtoon or hiring someone to make your animations for you.
5. Write your script.
While you may want to just wing it, the best online courses are those that are well thought-out and organized. Students pay for courses to teach them topics in a logical, step-by-step order, so pay careful attention to this step.
Write out your script and read it out loud. Cross out any unnecessary words, and make sure you give your lesson in a clear, authoritative, and practical way. If you are doing a screen recording or presentation video, make sure you try reading your script out loud while going through the corresponding motions.
For a live action video, practice your script until you can memorize or deliver it spontaneously.
6. Record your video and audio.
Next, start recording your video. You can use free video recording software, such as Zoom, or you can buy a video recording software.
If you are creating a presentation or animation video, you normally record your video first and then add your voice-over later. For a screen recording video, you may choose to record both audio and video at the same time, but doing a voice-over usually produces a better result.
7. Edit your video and audio.
Now that you have recorded your content, find a good video editing software and learn how to edit. When editing, make sure you fade out before an error and fade back in, in as natural a way as possible. This works best when you edit in between sentences.
Try not to edit in and out too frequently as it may become distracting for your viewer. If you find a scene where you just need to edit too much, consider re-shooting that scene.
8. Upload your course.
When you are satisfied with your output, go ahead and upload your course. Some online learning platforms have a template that you can use for uploading your course.
9. Consider adding worksheets and quizzes.
One way to engage your students in your online course is to add interactive content, which might come in the form of worksheets or quizzes.
You can make PDFs of quizzes on Canva and add them as a downloadable file, or, depending on the online course platform you’re using, you can also upload them as part of the lesson itself.
10. Promote your course.
After you have uploaded your course, your work is not yet done. At this point, be sure to promote your course on your social media accounts and your blog.
Remember: You are building your authority on the subject, and the more people who become familiar with you, the greater the chances are that they will sign up for your course.
11. Respond to comments.
If your online course has an avenue for learners to leave comments, make sure you respond to them.
This helps you build a relationship with your students, as well as find things you need to improve on when you create more online courses.
12. Organize live Q&A’s or Facebook discussions.
Another way of interacting with your learners is to organize live Q&A’s. This gives your students a chance to interact with one another as well, improving course engagement.
Also consider starting up a Facebook group and facilitating discussions. The online learning community helps the students to cement the things they learn as they share them with their fellow learners.
13. Create more courses!
After you have created your first online course, you may want to create the second and third course while waiting for people to sign up for it.
A series may have more appeal than a stand-alone course, and it gives you the opportunity for repeat purchases.
How Much Does It Cost to Create an Online Course?
The good news is that creating an online course usually will not cost you anything. However, experts usually invest in the best-quality equipment, such as the following:
1. Quality Webcam
When you are just starting out, you may be able to use the built-in webcam on your laptop computer.
But since laptops usually have their monitors tilted at an angle, you’ll want to elevate your laptop so that the webcam takes a frontal view instead of a “stilted” view.
If possible, invest in a separate webcam, which usually takes higher-quality videos.
Here are a few great options from Amazon:
The quality of your audio is just as important as your video, perhaps even more so. Noise-cancelling headphones do well, but you may not look as presentable in your video. Consider investing in a USB microphone instead.
3. A Conducive Venue for Recording
Two important things you need to consider in choosing your venue are:
- Adequate lighting: Make sure that you have light coming onto your face so that you look clear in your video. One easy way to do this is to turn yourself facing the windows during the day. If you are recording in the evening, make sure you have enough lighting.
- Minimal, or zero, outside noise: Find a room with a door that you can close to reduce outside noise.
4. Video Recording and Editing Software
Another investment that you may have to make is in video recording and editing software. Alternatively, you may want to use free software first to test the waters, and invest later on.
Teach Online Courses
Although it takes time and effort to create online courses, once you have set them up and promoted them well, they can help you to earn money years down the road.
Check out some of the best online courses and get inspired to teach your own!
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!
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Yen Cabag is the Blog Writer of TCK Publishing. She is also a homeschooling mom, family coach, and speaker for the Charlotte Mason method, an educational philosophy that places great emphasis on classic literature and the masterpieces in art and music. She has also written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her passion is to see the next generation of children become lovers of reading and learning in the midst of short attention spans.