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How to Create an Online Course in 2020

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The importance of online course creation cannot be overstated. More than ever before, small business owners are looking for ways to skip traditional learning and find location independent options. Without the requirement of having to take time off of paying work, adult learners have the convenience of working on courses at their own pace in any location. Even established universities cannot ignore the growing desire for adult learners to have access to quality online tutorials. According to Forbes, the eLearning industry is expected to grow to over $325 billion by 2025. Needless to say, the monetary incentive to make and sell an online course continues to grow.

How Much Can You Make With An Online Course?

Successful online course creators like Sunny Lenarduzzi, Pat Flynn, Amy Porterfield, Marie Forleo, and Jenna Kutcher are proof that online course creation is profitable and scalable for business owners. According to Foundr, Pat Flynn made over $167k in passive income with over $40k made from course sales in 2017 in under one month. Jenna Kutcher reported over $330k after her successful course launch. It just goes to show that these online marketing gurus make their message clear. An online course is the result of a full-scale online marketing strategy. Successful courses take time, effort, and persistence.

How to Choose a Profitable Course Topic

A profitable course idea can make the difference between selling out and selling zilch. Before you even begin to make and sell an online course, evaluate topics that have the highest interest with your audience. Just because you THINK someone is interested in a topic, does not always mean that a course topic will be lucrative. Consider what a specific audience is willing to pay for by creating market research surveys, polls, and asking questions in online groups. Research competitors that might offer similar services or digital products that are being offered. It may not be a bad thing that you have competitors.

Identifying Your Course Avatar

successful online course

Who is your course designed for? I find that the deeper you understand your audience, the more likely you’ll be able to provide a real solution. People need reassurance that you’re not only knowledgeable, but you are also trustworthy and likable. Whenever I meet a person face-to-face, I try to understand more about them by asking them to share more about their hobbies and favorite foods. The same thing applies to understanding your audience. While it’s much harder to do online, it is very possible to develop real and meaningful relationships through their network and digital marketing.  

Understanding the problem

profitable online course

If you’re a small business owner, content creator, or freelancer you probably receive similar questions. Start with these commonly asked questions, then use the answers to create your online course curriculum. Related questions can then turn into a module organized by a single topic. What keeps your client or customer up at night? Think about how your service or product can solve those problems. Will you help your client or customer save valuable time, money, or make more money? Based on your market research, you can then continue to develop your course outline on these powerful foundations.

Creating Your Unique Solution

unique selling proposition

Everyone has a unique advantage, but not everyone is aware of how to use it. Your personal story or experience can help someone see the benefits of working with you or purchasing your products. For example, at one time, I made and sold artisanal soaps! I enjoyed creating crafts so much that I sold several lotions and soaps to my friends and family. Each time I shared a product image on my website, I told people about the story of how I made each product by hand. It became so popular; I didn’t have enough time to keep up! My friends and family could have chosen to purchase soap for much cheaper at a local store, but what made the difference was my relationship with them. Find out what your advantage is in your course creation journey and then use your story to help others achieve their goals.

Your unique selling proposition is comprised of what you are good at, what people will pay for, and what competitors are not offering. Understanding how to create an online course isn’t all that difficult, but why you created your course matters. Secondly, it’s your process or method that will help people chart their success.


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How to Create a Course Outline

But how do you create an online course curriculum? You could pull together a string of ideas on a word document, but that will only give you a limited idea of how to bring it all together. A successful course requires quality content. Start by employing these strategies to make and sell your online course. Think about the key takeaways that you want your students to learn. This is often known as backward design. Using this approach, develop the key lessons for each series of learning topics also known as modules.

What is a learning objective?

Learning objectives are the basic building blocks from which a great course curriculum is developed. A Learning objective is a statement that is specific and measurable. A learning objective helps you and your students realize how much of the content they have mastered and what they are still struggling with. Learning objectives can be dissected into smaller components or conditions. Each learning objective typically includes a specific audience, behavior, condition, and degree.

For example, “In this video, you’ll learn how to publish a blog post using WordPress including properly formatted H1 and H2 headings.”

Audience = the viewer or “you”

= publish a blog post 

= in WordPress

= using properly formatted H1 and H2 headings

What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

learning online curriculum

Learning objectives are tied together using different verbs. These verbs are organized in categories by comprehension level. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a learning taxonomy used for developing curriculum. It’s based on the idea that comprehension comes at different stages or levels. By using verbs that align with higher levels of understanding, you strengthen your student’s knowledge and skills.

What is a learning goal?

A learning goal is a statement that reflects the knowledge, skills, or abilities that the student will learn. Think of a learning goal is a target and a learning objective as the bull’s eye. Learning goals are different from learning objectives because they are based on a larger educational purpose. So if your course is based on Instagram Marketing, a learning goal could provide students with the fundamental awareness of how to use Instagram for marketing their business. If your target audience is more advanced, your learning goal would be targeted to support a deep understanding of online marketing.

How to Make Your Course Interactive

Interactive courses are growing in number. From my experience as an Instructional Designer at publicly traded companies, interactivity is a must for adult learners. But what is an interactive course? As technology advances with virtual reality and gamification, online learning must follow suit or get left behind. Interactive courses can be made through the use of applications like H5P which provides students with the ability to drag and drop objects, use interactive flashcards, and even create lessons in a complex 3D environment. Another great way to create interactivity is to develop templates, worksheets, or live video conferences. Online challenges such as a “5-day email challenge” or a “30 day SEO challenge” are popular incentives for both online course students and potential customers.

Selecting Your Course Platform

Course platforms are abundant, yet many lack the necessary tools that online course creator’s need to launch a successful course. One issue I find that small business owners need is assignment review. Instead of creating assignments without any accountability from your students, you need to create a way in which students can easily upload their documents for you or your virtual assistant’s review. One solution is to use Dropbox’s “file request” feature. This method allows you to create a link in which files can be received. Teachable does not offer an assignment review option, however, Thinkific’s paid plan does offer this as a solution.

online course curriculum

how to create an online course pdf

course curriculum

How to Record and Edit Your Course Video

Videos are often used as the primary means of instruction. While videos have their place in online courses, they aren’t the only way to provide information. Use text, video, audio, workbooks, and worksheets to help students achieve their learning goals. You can record and edit your videos with many different screen recording options including Camtasia, Screencastify, or Screen-cast-o-matic. Quick tutorials can also be recorded including a talking head with a screen with programs like Loom.

Recording Audio

how to record video audio

It goes without saying that recording quality audio is an
absolute must. One major issue I find with online courses is a lack of quality audio which can be perceived as unprofessional. In fact, background noises can distract students from the lessons you are sharing ultimately leading to poor student results. I recommend using the ATR USB Microphone which is easy to set up and doesn’t require a degree in audio engineering to record quality audio.

How to record great audio

Here is some step by step tips on recording great audio to make and sell your online course.

Find a quiet room with lots of padded space such

  • as a bedroom, office, or closet.

Close your windows and make sure any pets are

  • not within a close distance.

Setup your microphone at a close distance from

  • your mouth.  

Use a pop filter to help catch any “plosives”

  • that can make a spike in your audio. Plosives are constants that make hard
  • sounds in your microphone such as “p’s” “k’s” or “s’s.”

Recording Your Screen

If your online course will incorporate any software-based tutorials, you’ll need to record your screen. Mac-based users might immediately choose Quicktime as one option, however, I find that the processing time for these types of videos is long and tedious. My personal preference is to use a low-cost and affordable application called “Screen-cast-o-matic.” This web-based application allows you to record both audio, screen, and your personal webcam. The paid upgrade is well worth it and is less than most advanced video editors with features that include captioning, zooming, basic editing, and even markups. Videos are quickly processed and saved directly to your hard-drive instead of being saved on any cloud-based servers. It’s one of the easiest ways to record and edit videos without taking hours of time.


Online course creation is one of the best ways to make passive income. Learning the step by step strategy to make and sell an online course requires the right team. Don’t forget to stay tuned for more weekly tips and plans to help you prepare to launch your digital course. If you’re not sure how to get started, make sure to set up a free 1:1 consultation!

Step by step online course creation