create and sell online course for dummies

How to create and sell online courses for dummies

The online course industry is a fast-growing industry. People are more prompt to use the internet to learn something new and are willing to pay for it. From “How to train my dog to use a potty” to “How to design a robot”. As of 2015, the eLearning industry is worth a whopping $105 billion in 2017, and it is projected to surge to $325 billion by 2025. This shows that more and more people are seeing the benefit of creating an online course.

People are gradually from the traditional form of learning in the classroom to online courses. Most Fortune 500 companies are also seeing the cost-benefit of shifting to online learning platform for their staff upskills. These have led to the rise of many online course marketplace and Learning management system platform that provides a space for course creator to launch their course.
The market for online courses is growing day by day. Hence I will be sharing with you everything you need to create an online course from scratch.

What Should I teach?

The question most people usually ask is: “what should I TEACH”.
I believe a good way to start to create an online course is by starting from the area of your expertise. Have you been doing something repeatedly for a long time? As a result, gained a certain level of expertise. That is a good way to start.

For example, Daniel Feldroy was an ex-IT consultant with NASA. Currently, he has numerous courses on python programming on his platform and has author books on the topic. On the contrary, did you just learned something new that solves a problem many people are facing? If yes. Then you can also create an online course around it. Like the way the popular American poet, Mark Van Doren puts it: “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery”. You can assist people to make a discovery and make money out of it.

Put your idea to test

Before you devote your time to create an online course, you must test your idea before going mainstream. If you ask some course creator that ignore this step, they will tell you how they waste time creating a course, only to find out that there is no much demand for it. Here are three strategies you can use to test your course idea

Create a Mini-Course

Before you start putting in work to create videos and provide additional resources for your course, you can start first with a mini-course and deliver by email. The best part of this: you can start compiling an email list you can market to when your course goes live.

Pre-sell your course

To pre-sell your course is to check the sales conversion of your course. You do this by creating a sales page and check how page visitors convert to sales. Or you create a dummy sales button, and with the event tracking feature in google analytics, you can ascertain how many people click the buy now button. By doing this, you can know the conversion rate of your course, and how to budget for advertisement.

How do I pick my online course title?

The main aim of creating an online course is to solve a problem. Unlike university classes, that have the sole aim of getting you accredited in a certain field. Online courses are not necessarily geared toward getting certified. Many online courses that bring huge financial revenue focus on solving a problem.

Pick a specific course title

The people buying your course will want a value that is measurable at the end of the course. As such a broad course title would not convert like a specific course title. For example, a student interested in increasing blog traffic would be more willing to pay for a course with a title like “Learn how I get 50,000 monthly subscribers using Facebook Ad”. Compared to a course title like “How to increase your blog traffic exponentially”. This is because the former topic is specific and quantifiable. It solves a problem with a timeline.

Do I need a good sub-title for my online course?

Sub-title is very good for SEO for LMS (Learning Management System) platforms that allows you to use it. You can easily insert keywords into your sub-titles that might not be possible to insert in your course title. In most online course marketplace, where organic search is the best way to make sales. Sub-titles are invaluable.

Create an online course from scratch: A step by step guide

Step 1: Pick a course

As I discussed earlier, a good course should focus on solving a problem or helps the student to learn something new. So, to get started, pick a course and choose a course title as I’ve discussed earlier.

Step 2: Define the course goal

A well-defined course goal aims at defining what you want the student to achieve at the end of the course. It is a very important part of creating a successful course because it determines the kind of content you should include in your course. Also, it can help you choose the right course delivery method and the kind of evaluation method to use to check your student progress.

Step 3: Create an online course outline

A well-structured course outline will determine if a student will complete your course or not. So, one thing to keep in mind when creating a course outline is student engagement. It is good practice to create a process-oriented course outline. Since you have a well-defined course goal, your job is now to take your student through the process of attaining the goal. Take note that you don’t need to force everything you know into a course outline. In other words, it is not how robust your course outline is that determines the overall success of your course. Your focus should be to take the student from point A to point B in a very simple manner.

A good course outline can be structured with modules, where each module contains a different lesson of short videos of about 5-7 minutes long. As such, after the end of a module, a student can learn a new thing that brings him closer to achieving the course goal.

Step 4: Create your course content

Creating course content should be seamless once you have structured your course outline. At these moments, your goal is to gather everything you need to create an online course. This should include materials for evaluation such as quizzes, assignments, etc. Don’t be tempted into trying to fit in everything you know into a course. Sometimes, it can be counter-productive. Your sole aim is to create enough content to achieve the course goal.

Step 5: Decide the delivery method

Your choice of course delivery method should be aimed at your audience. You want to choose the most effective method to best communicate with your student. Over the years, the video format has proven to be a popular and effective method for course delivery. There are different types of course video type to choose from:

  • Screen Casting
  • Green screen talking head video
  • Direct camera shot

Screen Casting

In this type of video, using on-screen recording software, you can record your screen while teaching a course. This is also known as voice-over-slides. It is very effective when teaching courses that require practical steps on the computer. Such as teaching graphics design or programming that requires students to see the process involve in getting a result.

Direct Camera Shot

With the direct camera shot, it is quite straight forward. You record directly in the front of the camera. It is very effective when teaching practical steps in real-time. Like teaching how to bake a cake or repair a watch.

Green Screen Background

The green screen background method allows you to change the background of your video to anything you like. During the editing stage, you can change your background to an image, or video, or slides of your course. While your image is still showing at the same time. With this method, you can easily switch the background screen very easily. It makes communication with video very effective.

Step 6: Decide on Pricing

The decision on pricing depends on you. However, you don’t want to either overprice or underprice your course. That’s why it’s good to check how a similar course in your niche is selling to better set the price for your course. Another method to use is the ALTERNATE VALUATION METHOD. With the Alternate valuation method, you check how much it cost to get the desired result of your course if an alternative method is used.

For instance, if your course guarantees weight loss in a few days. You can check how much it will cost if the student decides to hire a gym instructor for the same duration. Knowing this can give you an insight on how to better price your course. Note, your price should always be commensurate with the value of the course you are creating.

Step 7: Upload your Online Course

  • At this stage, you need to decide on how you intend to host your video course. There are various methods to choose from, this include:
  • Learning management system
  • Online Course Marketplace

Learning Management System

A learning management system provides a platform that allows you to operate an online school. Besides doing all the marketing effort and some technical stuff to get your online school running, you have total control over your website. In addition, you can also, build an email list to talk to about other courses
There are two types of LMS you can choose from:

Cloud Base LMS

This is a type of LMS that operates a SAAS model. All you need to do is to purchase a subscription and start creating your course instantly. You are at liberty to do anything in your online school. What you can do is limited on what is allowed on such platform. However, all the resource you need to keep your online school running is readily available. Popular cloud-based LMS include Thinkific, Teachable, Podia, etc.

Open-source LMS

These are open-source application that allows you to create and manage your own LMS platform. All you need to do is to install it on your web hosting service and start using it. Because it is open-source, you have the liberty to do whatever you need with it without any form of restriction. Also, they are free and you do not need to pay any subscription fee to use them. However, you still need to install and manage applications to use them effectively.

Online Course Marketplace

A course marketplace functions like a MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) that helps you sell online courses. As a course marketplace, what you need to do is to upload your course. Then, your course gets added to a pool of courses on their platform and showcase them. For every student that buys your course, a certain percentage goes to the platform. With the online course platform, you don’t need to worry much about marketing your course. However, you don’t have total control over the student.

Step 8: Promotion

Now that you have created your course, the next milestone is promoting your course. The most successful online course in a niche is not necessarily the course with the best content. But definitely, the best promoted. In addition, you need to understand this is an on-going process. Not a one-time thing. Here are some methods you can use to promote your course.

Have a website

Firstly, to promote your course the right way, you need a website. This can be a domain on an LMS platform where you are selling your course or your own website. This will serve as a landing page for all your marketing effort.

Upload Course to Online Course Marketplace

To sell your online course on popular marketplace helps to promote your course. Although, you don’t have total control over pricing on most of these platforms. Nevertheless, you don’t need to spend much effort into marketing on these platforms.

Upload to YouTube

YouTube is an opportunity to put your course content to millions of viewers. Thereby increasing your course publicity. It can even serve as an opportunity to test a new course idea before completing the course and build a loyal audience.

Online Advertisement

Oftentimes, you will need to run a paid advert after you’ve create an online course. So as to give it the course enough traction. Most especially when you are not using an online marketplace. There are various marketing channels you can use. Facebook ads are a good way to start.

Build an Email List

Irrespective of the avenue you are using to promote your course. Always build an email list. Ensure the traffic you get from online advertisements channels such as YouTube channels, Facebook ads, etc. Are channeled to your sales page where they can opt-in into your email list. This will serve as an asset to you for future courses you will be creating. You won’t need to spend a lot on advertisements every time you create a course when you have a robust list.

What equipment do I need for recording my online course videos?

To record a good course video, many types of equipment are involved in the process. Some can be expensive and some are not. As a beginner, your attention should not be attached to get the most expensive equipment. But to develop valuable content without compromise on the technical aspect of creating the video. The essential equipment you need to create a good course video include the following:


One thing you want to avoid during course video production is using your laptop microphone like some people. Because of the background noise and that annoying humming sound in the background. Most students are not only interested in what you say. They are also interested in how you say it. Therefore, using a PC microphone is a turn-off for viewers. As the popular saying goes: “First impression matters”. A bad sound tells people you are unprofessional before they listen to what you have to say.
For Microphone, I would recommend the Blue Yeti Microphone.


You do not need to show your face in a course video. Although it’s generally accepted that showing your face sparks a connection with your student. If you want to show your face, then a webcam is very important. You need to bring an appearance that looks professional.

On-Screen Casting Software

This is very important when teaching a course that has to do with working on the PC. Where you need to show the student practical steps to get the job done. There is numerous good on-screen casting software available online you can choose from. I will suggest Camtasia. It is a good software I’ve used in the past and very user-friendly

Video Editing

After recording your course video, the next phase is to edit your video before you upload them online. The process can be outsourced to professionals but if you want to do it yourself. You can use software like Adobe Premiere, iMovie, etc.


The best time to start is now, you don’t need to have everything figured out before you can create an online course. All you have to do is to start. As you get started you will learn something better and improve on some other part. Best of luck…….

5 thoughts on “How to create and sell online courses for dummies”

  1. Thanks for sharing this insightful information. I think I just have a the information to kick start my online course.

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