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How to start an online course as a creator

How to start an online course as a creator

Ali Abdaal made over $2.7 million dollars in 2022 using a combination of cohort-based courses, self-hosted courses, and courses on Skillshare.

It’s become his biggest revenue stream and for good reason. Selling an online course is one of the best ways to monetize your knowledge.

But just because you can, it doesn't mean you should. At least, not right away.

In this article, we'll cover:

  • Signs you’re ready to create a online course
  • How to start an online course as a creator
  • The type of online course you should create create

Let's dive in.

Signs you’re ready to create a online course

Just because you’re an educational content creator, it doesn’t mean you should dive into a creating a course. Online courses take a lot of time and effort. If you don’t carefully plan it, your launch might not go as you planned. Here are 3 signs which show you might be ready to start your course.

You have the demand

Your online course will sell if people are already asking for it.

If you showcase your digital art on YouTube and your comment section is filled with people asking you for your process, that’s a good signal that there’s the demand for it.

You’re the go-to person for a specific topic

If you've built an audience around a specific topic, you’re likely to succeed with a course that hones in on that topic.

Vanessa Lau is a go-to person for social media tips on YouTube. After one of her YouTube videos about Instagram went viral, she launched an online course called Bossgram Academy.

Her course was successful because she built authority and credibility on this topic.

You've built an MVP for your topic

Before creating an online course, build a minimum viable product. This could be a live workshop or a webinar. You want to use this opportunity to test your ideas and your capabilities as a teacher. If you help people go from point A to point B on a smaller scale, then great job! You’ve just validated your course idea.

How to start an online course as a creator

If you’ve decided an online course is right for you, it’s time to get started.

Step 1: Pick a topic you're extremely familiar with

Ideally, it should be a topic that’s tried and tested.

Johnny Harris is a YouTube creator with 3.4M subscribers. His Visual Storytelling course teaches the fundamentals of storytelling with videography, which is demonstrated in his own content.

Step 2: Narrow down your target customer

Your target audience is the person that would benefit from your online course and you should get as specific as possible here.

If you want to teach people how to use Procreate, will you targeting beginner, intermediate or advanced users? The language, content, and pace needed for a beginner will be different to that needed for an advanced user.

You need to know exactly who you’re teaching to help them get the best out of your course.

Step 3: Create your topics with the end in mind

As Andrew Barry mentioned on Creators On Air, your online course needs to have a transformation.

"Know where people are starting from and map out that journey. You've got point A, where they're coming in from, and point B is that transformation. You've got to fill in as much detail without falling into the trap of expert curse.”

Dickie Bush and Nicolas Cole have helped over 5000 people who want to write online with their course, Ship 30 for 30. They’ve mapped out the entire journey, from building a consistent writing habit to publishing online.

Step 4: Make your online course interactive

You can do this by using different types of teaching materials to support your content like:

  • Live videos
  • Self-paced videos
  • Homework sheets
  • Notion templates
  • A community

You don't have to do everything, but try to give your students actionable tools to help them with the process.

Step 5: Choose a platform that works for you

Skillshare, Teachable, Kajabi, Notion, and Google Drive are just a few of the platforms that make creating online courses easy.

Where you host doesn't matter.

What matters is the transformation you deliver your students.

Step 6: Launch and sell your course

You’ve already got an audience to sell to. Launch your course by taking advantage of your social media reach or existing email list.

Aprilynne Alter launched her YouTube online course on Twitter. Within 19 days of launching, she made over $3000.

You don’t have to be a salesman here. You’ve already built trust, credibility, and demand.

What type of online course should you create?

There’s 2 main types of online courses you can choose from: a self-paced or a live course.

Your choice will depend on how much time and energy you want to invest invest and how much you want to charge.

Self-paced courses are generally more affordable and less time-cosnuming because you can record your all of your lessons at once. With a live online course, you'll have to teach live. This might take you more time but you’ll be able to build a deeper connection with your students and charge more for it.

Final Thoughts

Creating an online course is a hugely rewarding. You’ll be able to take the value you give to your audience and use it to teach.

If you do it well, it can also be a very profitable business.

If you want to learn more about launching an online course, listen to Akta's conversation with Andrew Barry, an expert in online learning.