Why Create an Online Course?

Creating and selling online courses, tutorials, and webinars is a great way to share your knowledge and make money off of it. You don’t even have to be a teacher to create them. Just follow this step by step guide and you’ll create a successful online course in no time. 

Pick the Perfect Course Topic

Anything you have a lot of knowledge about that other people want to learn can be an online course. Here are a few course topic ideas to get you started:  

  • Sewing
  • Yoga and meditation classes
  • Music lessons
  • Dance classes
  • Juggling
  • Resumes and Job search
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Professional development
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Photography
  • Copywriting
  • Graphic Design

Once you’ve chosen a topic, narrow it down to a specific aspect of it. Then, see if there’s a market for your course idea. 

  • Are people searching for it and asking questions?
  • Is there a gap in online courses that the competition is offering?
    • Can you cover a topic differently?
    • Can you appeal to a different audience
  • Will someone pay money to solve the problem your course solves?

Looking up your topic on Google Trends and doing keyword research can help you answer these questions

HobbiesCreate Compelling Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes are what students will get out of your course. If you want people to pay money to listen to you, they’ll want to know how your new course will help them. You could say that your learning outcomes are how your online course will transform your learners’ lives from their current reality to a future they want. Frame your learning outcomes in terms of these questions: 

  • What new skills will they be able to demonstrate?
  • What new knowledge will they have?
  • What feelings will they move towards or away from?

Learning Outcomes

Gather Your Course Materials

Now it’s time to decide what you’re going to include in your course. This includes readings, videos, examples, exercises, assignments, quizzes, et cetera. Make sure your course content specifically aligns with each learning outcome. 

If you already have content and an audience from a blog, youtube channel, or other social media, take your most popular relevant content and repackage it for a clearer learning experience. Stack of books

Structure Your Modules and Course Plan

Start grouping your course content together by similar themes to make modules. Then order the lectures within those modules into a flow of lessons that makes sense. Using an e-learning storyboard can help you visualize how each lesson fits into the course as a whole. 


Consider How Your Course Will Fit With Potential Future Courses

Online course creators typically don’t stop at just one. If people liked your first course, they should have more available so they can learn more about the subject. Think about this future while you’re planning your first online course. 


Create a course outline

A course outline is like the roadmap of how your online course will bring your students from A to B. It will help you deliver content to your students in a structured, ordered way, layering skill upon skill until they finish your course feeling like an expert.

Calendars (1)

Plan individual lessons

When it comes to creating a lesson plan, it’s helpful to start with a few questions to determine the goal of your lesson.

  • What do your students already know?
  • What do they need to learn?
  • What’s the best way to lock it in place?

Here’s an example of a lesson plan, including learning objectives and topics covered.Lesson PlansDetermine How You’ll Structure Your Course

Now it’s time to decide on the best way to deliver your content. Some of your structure options include: 

  • Assessment Courses
  • Presell Courses
  • Orientation Courses
  • Mini-Courses
  • Live courses
  • Demonstrations/Workshops
  • Professional training courses
  • The X days challenge courses
  • Certification courses
  • Spotlight/Niche Topic Courses
  • Traditional Academic Courses
  • Drip feed courses
  • Conceptual Change Courses
  • Hybrid courses
  • Series of invited talks Courses
  • Selling digital goods or extra services
  • Bonus Courses
  • Complimentary to Physical Products Courses

Many of these options have templates available online. Structure

Design Engaging Course Content

Your online learning experience doesn’t have to directly imitate traditional classroom learning. It just needs to be more engaging now that students can simply close their browser to stop participating. Here are a few ways to make your online course more engaging:

  • Use storytelling in your teaching
  • Host live lessons
  • Use a combination of real-time and self-paced learning
  • Gamify what you can to give students a sense of milestones and rewards

HeadsetsHow Long Should Your Online Course Be?

The best online courses take the shortest path from A to B. The sweet spot is 10-25 hours total, but the right length for your course depends on the complexity of the subject matter and required course lengths for continuing education credits, if applicable. 

ClocksConsider Social Elements

Online learning can still have a social element. Building an online community for your students is a great way to encourage students to connect with one another and to the instructors and course material. Learning communities enable students to help each other with material and collaborate on projects. 


Cohort-based online courses have been growing rapidly in popularity since 2020. They can be a little more work to manage than self-paced courses that you create and sell for passive income, but the learning experience can also benefit your reputation as a course creator. The community could take place as a message board on your website or even a Facebook group. 

ConversationsProduce Your Online Course

Now it’s time to record and edit your course. Most online courses include some form of video content  This could be talking head style video lessons, recording your computer screen, or a little of both. You could also record a voice-over to play over a presentation or PowerPoint slides. Once you’ve done the recordings, there are plenty of affordable editing tools you can use.Video CamerasSet Up Your Online School

There are three major ways to sell online courses: 

  • online course platforms and marketplaces
  • learning management systems
  • plugins or software on your website

Marketplaces don’t give you much control over branding and UX. They can still be useful, but not as the only place you sell your course. A learning management system is your own Academy that you can link to your website and fully brand as your own platform. It makes online course creation simple and easy to sell your learning products. 

SchoolSet Your Course Price

Determine How it Fits With Your Business Model

Most online courses don’t exist on their own, so it’s important to plan out how your course will fit into your overall business model. 

  • Is it going to just be a free lead magnet into your primary product and service?
  • Is it going to be an income stream in its own right?
  • Or, is it going to be your primary income stream?
  • Are you selling memberships or access to a community?

The answers to these questions will determine the design, marketing, and pricing of your course. 

Line of Dollar Signs

Research Your Competitors

Though it shouldn’t be the main factor of how you price your cost, seeing how much other people charge for similar content and the differences between their offerings and yours can give you an idea of your course’s market value. 

Magnifying glasses (2)

Quantify the Outcomes for Students

If you’re going to help your students save money, tell them how much. If you’re going to help them save time, tell them how much. By quantifying the value of the outcome you help them achieve, you position the price of your course as a no-brainer. If taking your course is going to help someone earn a promotion at work or get a specific job, for example, that is an outcome that can definitely be quantified.


Test Different Price Points

If you’re going to test different price points, you should probably start with a low (but not too low) price and then gradually increase it from there. Keep increasing your price until your sales numbers start to show resistance. All else being equal, when that happens you’ll know that you’re approaching the ceiling of what your target market is willing to pay for your course.

The optimal price for your course will depend on your specific business objectives, but the goal is to find that sweet spot of revenue generated and the number of students enrolled at each price point.

Don’t Lowball Yourself

Sure, offering low prices will make any product appealing to more customers, but there’s a point where it does more harm than good to your business. If your margins are too thin, you won’t be able to afford to market your course, your target audience could see it as low-value, and competing could just become a race to the bottom. Besides, you want to have more to offer to your audience than low prices alone. However, there are some circumstances when a free course or a discounted course are warranted. 


When to sell your online course for a low price

  • During pre-launch testing
  • When you have a deadline before a price increase
  • As a last resort to acquire a B2B customer

When to give an online course away for free

  • When the goal is lead generation
  • For onboarding new B2B customers
  • As a bonus included with another purchase

Launch and Market Your Course

Once you’ve finished making your course, it’s time to come up with a digital marketing strategy to promote it. Here are a few places to get started:

  • Promote it on social media
  • Send an email to your newsletter subscribers about it
  • Run Google ads
  • Use it as a lead magnet to get new subscribers to your email list
  • Partner with influencers
  • Run an affiliate program
  • Use SEO
  • Create a landing page or sales page
  • Launch it as a webinar
  • Bundle it with other digital products
    How Sav Can Help

No matter why you’re creating your own online course, it’s all part of a wider plan to make your business succeed online. From buying your domain name to building your website and beyond, we’re here to make that easy and affordable. Start your free trial today to learn more!

Luca Harsh

Luca Harsh

Luca Harsh is an in-house content writer for Sav. They live in Chicago with their cat, Polly. Yes, Harsh is their real last name.