The online course marketplace is incredibly competitive, no matter what your expertise is and what you want to be teaching. Udemy alone has more than 100,000 video courses listed on their platform, with more than 10,000 business courses currently available.
Online courses can be difficult to sell. When you can sell them, however, there’s room for enormous profitability, and often in the form of passive income. While the competition is a big obstacle to overcome, there are certain steps you can take in order to create a course that’s superior to what’s already out there and that will be almost guaranteed to sell well.
In this post, we’re going to take a close look at how to create an online course that’s highly sellable and the steps you should be taking to market it accordingly.
Why Create Online Courses?
Online courses are an outstanding option when it comes to passive income. All you need to do is invest the time and energy into creating the course once, put some effort into marketing, and you can create something great that keeps drawing people in to purchase your content over a long period of time.
Since it may only take you five hours to create a course that nets $15,000 over a three year period or you can make $1000 on 5 hours of $200 per hour coaching calls, it’s easy to see why passive income would be so appealing.
Online courses can be particularly valuable for passive income because people are often willing to spend more on “courses” than they are on an ebook or webinar, even if the latter contain the exact same information as the former. This all comes down to mindset and what people perceive as being more valuable.
Courses are also good for brand awareness, whether you’re trying to promote yourself as an expert or help your brand become more well-known. People automatically assume that if you’re releasing courses that you’re an expert, and unfortunately so many online courses are so poor quality that the bar is set so low that it’s much easier to set yourself apart than you think.
Focus on a Niche Need
It’s important to start strong with your online course, and your best bet here will be to create a course that’s unlike anything else that’s really been made. To do this, try addressing a niche need and getting specific with your course.
Instead of “The Comprehensive Class to Freelancing,” for example, this course niched down all the way to “How to Dominate Freelancing on Upwork.” This is hyper-focused, which means that it will really resonate with those who may be interested in it. There will also be less competition in this direct space, and the fact that it’s so specific can help users know that there will be a lot more actionable information covered here that they couldn’t find with a quick Google search.
As a bonus, breaking down a single topic into multiple niche courses can give you the opportunity to create multiple courses, digging deep into each individual facet of a subject. This means you can give your audience more valuable information, making the course more valuable and letting you charge more.
Go for Video
Video courses are a solid choice. They’re engaging, and right now, they’re the most popular delivery method that users are looking for. If you can match the current demand, you’ll have a much easier time selling your course.
Video doesn’t mean that you have to be on camera, either. You can opt to show up as a talking head, going over the course materials in front of a green screen. There is also the option, however, to use screen and voice recording technology like Camtasia to create video of you scrolling through a slideshow or even showing a desktop, on-screen tutorial depending on what the course material is.
A course on Facebook Ads, for example, would likely benefit from the teacher talking us through an on-screen tutorial as they move through the ad process, while a course on content marketing would benefit more from slideshows like the example from Hubspot above.
Consider different formats, including combining different types of video options, when deciding what style you’d like to go with.
Include Video Transcripts
Video courses are the hottest and best-selling course format right now (and likely will be for quite some time). That doesn’t mean, however, that simply watching a video is enough.
So many users will benefit from a combination of closed captions and video transcripts that are included for every video you upload for the course. Both captions (which appear as text overlay in videos for users who enable them) and transcripts (which can be placed underneath the video) in full or in a downloadable format such as a PDF.
Captions and transcriptions will make the content more accessible to more students. This includes those that have hearing disabilities, and also learners who may need to read information fully to process it instead of hearing or seeing it. Some users need to read or write out the course in its entirety and not simply view bullet points on a slideshow to be able to fully comprehend and remember it. It’s also more convenient for users who are fast readers and in a rush, or those who like to print out transcripts and highlight important passages they want to remember.
Transcripts can take an enormous amount of time to do, especially when you’re ready to release your course, so consider using high-quality, high-accuracy transcription services. Agencies like ours will ensure that the transcripts are accurate and that they’re formatted exactly how you’d like, so all you need to do is upload them to your site for students to access when needed.
Break Up Your Online Course Into Chapters
Course organization will be important. It helps users navigate the information at their own pace, and it also ensures that you’re covering everything you need to while simultaneously making it easier to market the course.
For best results, make sure that you’ve got a full list of the chapter titles and possibly a sentence or two about what they cover on your course’s landing page. This will show potential students exactly what your course can offer, making it much more appealing.
A course like “how to throw a great dinner party” might sound interesting. It starts to sound valuable, however, when you list chapter titles like “How to account for guests with allergies” or “10 recipes that are guaranteed crowd pleasers.”
When you’re marketing the course, you can also use some of the chapter titles in bullet points to quickly summarize exactly what students can learn in a way that’s appealing to them.
Offer The First Round For Free
Sometimes the hardest part of getting the word out about a new course is actually getting the word out. You can counteract this by jumpstarting your marketing campaign by offering the course for free to the first round of students.
I know, that doesn’t sound like a great way to start making passive income. Hear me out, though. When you reach out to a few people you know– especially, ideally, if they include people engaged in communities you want to connect with– you can find enthusiastic students to get started. When you offer them the group for free, simply ask for their feedback and a review.
Use the feedback to improve the course before it truly goes live, making it the best that it can be. Then publish the reviews when you start running the finalized version of the course. This will help you attract new students, and you can always ask your first round of users to spread the word, too.
Start Marketing Your Online Course
You need to market your campaign if you want people to buy it, because if you don’t, they’ll likely never even find out about it. If they don’t know about it, they can’t purchase it.
You can use the following strategies to promote your course and attract your target audience:
- Use keywords on the course page and any landing pages. Describe the course accurately while adding in search-friendly terms you think your audience will use, like “baking for beginners” or “business law online classes.”
- Consider both social PPC campaigns and Google Ads. Google Ads will allow you to show your ad to users who are searching for courses like yours, while social ads like Facebook and Instagram will make it possible to show your course to relevant users and hopefully create demand.
- Share the course online. Send out info to your email list. Announce the course online on your social media channels and your site, taking particular care with the announcement on LinkedIn. Continue to do so regularly, especially if you’re ever offering any specials.
- Get as many reviews as possible. Reviews will help your course stand out on any platform its on, and will entice users to be much more likely to purchase moving forward. Social proof is exceptionally valuable.
Offer Access to An Exclusive Facebook Group
When in doubt, create an exclusive, private Facebook group for students who join your course. This is an enormous value offer, allowing students to interact with you on a somewhat long-term basis and have the opportunity to ask questions to the expert they look up to. It will involve more work on your part, though some basic engagement management in exchange for higher course purchase prices or more sign-ups is often well worth it.
Facebook groups can also bring about repeat business, especially once you build a loyal following. Whether you’re trying to sell more of your services, one-on-one coaching, or are planning on releasing more courses later down the line. They’ll help you nurture relationships with current and past students so they’ll be interested in everything else you have to offer, too.
To maximize the success of your online course, make sure that you’re including the Facebook group information in your marketing and on the course landing page. This can be what pushes people over the edge and encourages them to sign-up, so you need it to be visible.
After you create your online course it has the potential to be a passive income goldmine, even with the current competitiveness in the field. Too many courses, after all, are either created by people who don’t really know what they’re doing or aren’t structured well enough to actually be helpful to their target audience. When you follow the steps outlined in this post, you’ll be able to create strong courses in your area of expertise that will be useful for your target audience, keeping new students signing up for a long time to come.
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