12 step-by-step points for writing your first online course (part I) - WHSR (2023)

As a book author and website content editor, I started offering online writing courses through chat rooms to a handful of college students in 1996. Although virtual learning and advanced internet technology have changed a lot today, nowadays creating an online course and teaching it has not changed. quite.

This guide consists of two parts. The first part of this guide covers everything you need to know to start writing your first course, from idea to production and delivery to your students.

Issecond part of this articleHe will deepen what other people who have created courses have to say and how you can turn the online workshop into an additional source of income for your website. Learn from your mistakes and successes.

1. Choose a topic

Your first step in creating an online course is to choose a lesson topic. Ideally this should be:

1. A subject you understand well

If you want to teach other people, you need to understand the subject inside and out. Imagine you are standing in front of a room full of people and you are being asked questions about this topic. Could you easily answer these questions or would you feel lost?

It's okay if there are other people who understand the topic as well or even better than you. The most important thing at this point is that you understand well.

1 B. Better than other courses on the same subject

Once you have decided on a topic, check what other courses on the same topic are already available.

  • What does the whole course include?
  • Does it come with videos or bonus material?

Thoroughly study the other courses out there. Now try to find holes in these courses.

  • Are there any topics that are not fully explained or left out?
  • Would adding a video improve the course?
  • What extras can you offer?

If you don't have anything special to add, try to think of a unique way to package the course.

For example, you can associate the topic with a popular TV show or movie. We've done this many times with articles like "How to Blog Like One of the Shark Tank Sharks" and "What The Vampire Diaries Can Teach You About Keeping Readers Committed."

By presenting the topic in a unique way, you can help students understand it better.

1 C. A topic you are passionate about

While it's important to choose a popular topic, don't decide to teach a class on how to change a tire if you think it's the stupidest thing anyone can do and you would never change your own tire . You may know a lot about the subject, but if you don't have a passion for it and don't teach others, the course will fail.

(Video) How to Create an Online Course Step by Step

Have you ever sat in a class where you realized the teacher didn't want to be there either? It wasn't much fun, was it? Now think about the teachers you had who were passionate about sharing their knowledge with you. Chances are you got a lot out of these classes.

1d. Something people care about

It goes without saying that you should choose a topic that interests many people to learn more about it. If you choose an extremely unique topic, you may have narrowed your niche too narrowly to attract an audience. For example, you could offer a cooking class on turning eels into appetizers.

You can be sure a lot of people don't want to eat eel and you've only narrowed your audience.

On the other hand, if you offer a course about making unique appetizers and have eel as one of them, but also offer some standard options, you will appeal to a wider audience.

You can browse topicsGoogle keyword,cue tooMich, Offever SEMto get an idea of ​​what people want to know more about the most.

2. Select a delivery platform

There are many different platforms you can use – some are free and some are paid.

Own websites or third-party platforms

You can choose one that has a built-in audience, some of the most popular ones are among themUdemy,trainable, OfWizIQ. Forbes reports that the average Udemy teacherearns around $7,000 per course, but the range is wide. Some can make $60 a year and others in the six figures.

In general, those with a large following on social media who can get their own audience to buy can make six figures a year from their courses,” writes Dorie Clark, author of How to Create an Online Course to Make Money.

Or you can use free software such as B. Create an online course from scratchMoodlejHost it on your own website.

email and chat

Alternatively, if you don't want to mess with a software platform, you can offer your course through a mailing list where a new lesson is sent to the user every few days.

Another option is the old-fashioned online chat room, where you meet students online at a set day and time and introduce your class. The students then ask questions that still need to be answered.

While it's impossible to list every option, I've explored some of the most popular ones belowPart 2 of this guide. Be sure to check these out once your course is complete.

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3. Write your course

Once you have decided on a platform, writing your course becomes easier since you know what format you need to create the course in.

For example, if you want to offer a video course, you need to write a script to follow the lessons and practice recording.

Content quality and depth

Some things to keep in mind when writing the course

  • The person taking the course doesn't know what you know. He or she is a beginner so start over.
  • Create a glossary of terms and define them. Be sure to define these in the course the first time you mention them.
  • Write content that is easy to skim and absorb. Whenever possible, use headings, bullet points, and break up the content.
  • Have someone read your work to help you identify and correct typos.
  • Recruit a beta group to review your course and let them know if there are any information gaps that need to be filled.

Writing the course and possibly recording it is one of the most time-consuming parts of selling courses online.

However, remember that you are creating something that you can always sell in the future. Although you try hard now, you will be profitable for a long time.

4. Edit for readability

By now you've probably designed a pretty good course. This is where you should put your project aside for about a week. Then go back and look at it with new eyes and make sure everything is easy to read.

Read the entire course aloud or have a reading program read it to you. This will help you hear problems with the text and spot strange phrases or awkward typos.

Even if your prose isgrammatically correct, it is important to complete this step. Your course may be read in a way that makes it difficult for the student to understand what is going on.

5. Add extras

Now it's time to add some additional elements to your course.

Remember, you want your course to stand out from the crowd. If you've chosen a topic that others want to learn more about, chances are there are already other courses on your topic.

What will make your unique?

Why should people sign up for your course rather than others?

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Consider adding the following:

  • worksheets
  • video clips
  • Interviews with other experts.
  • Additional material on a related topic
  • List of questions and answers from past courses or workshops
  • Links to additional resources such as books or websites that the user will find useful.

However, be careful when linking elsewhere in your course. You don't want the user to start reading another website and never come back to yours.

Be very selective and only share what your material truly values. If it's something you can write yourself and offer to readers, you're better off creating the content yourself and keeping the traffic at bay.

6. Market your course

You can create the best course that no one has ever written, but if nobody writes the course, it won't be of much use. Marketing your course online is absolutely essential.

Ways to market your online course

  • create a websiteexplains what your course offers potential students.
  • Start a blogand publish blog posts that relate to your course but do not disclose course content.
  • Share/promote your content on social mediaand build connections with your target audience.
  • List your course in directories such asCourseIndex.com.
  • Build an email list andCollect email address.

They also want to think outside the box.

For example, can you offer a guest post on a site that doesn't compete with yours but has a similar audience? Another idea is to attend conferences where you can interact with potential students.

7. Interact with students

After you've sold your first students a course, you want to give them the best experience they've ever had with an online course. This will encourage them to tell their family and friends about your course. Plus, you'll have a captivating audience when you write another course in the future.

  • Set up autoresponders so that when the student registers for the course, they receive information about when it will start and how to access it.
  • Set reminders along the way so the student doesn't get distracted and forget to complete the course.
  • Unless you have thousands of students you probably won't start with, get to a personal level and make sure the student enjoys the course. It's a good idea to check back in after completing the first part of the course, midway through, and at the end of the course to request an assessment.
  • Encourage students to sign up for your email list so you can keep in touch after the course is complete. This can also give you the opportunity for future additional sales. For example, if you offer a business start-up course, you can add personal training as a supplement. We'll talk more about adding additional services to increase your sales below.

Remember to be polite, professional, and outgoing to make a lasting impression on your students.

8. Find new topics in questions

You can also develop shorter courses that complement your original topic. One of the best ways to find these topics is to look at the questions your students are asking and answer them in detail.

For example, if your class is about painting a room and your students keep asking what's the best way to paint the ceiling, you might want to add a separate follow-up class on painting ceilings.

Sometimes a question leads to something so profound that you can add an entire course and have a second course for your students. In most cases, however, the questions result in short additions to your initial course. These bonus materials can keep you going with monies you might not have received otherwise.

9. The power of residual income

You've probably heardresidual incomeBefore. This is basically when you get the job done once but keep making money. If you for examplewrite a book, list it for sale and receive royalties on this book if you list it for sale.

Online courses are somewhat similar. Once you create the course, it will continue to make money over time.

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Remember, residual income requires you to keep marketing your website and products. Otherwise, potential customers will have a hard time finding you and your sales will stagnate over time.

Passive income is vital to the strength of your business. You can only write courses so quickly, but since a course makes money long after you've finished writing it, you can increase your income exponentially by writing a second course while the first is being offered, and then a third course and a fourth and successive.

Over time, you should be able to generate a steady stream of income without having to do much extra work.

10. Other ways to monetize your courses

You should also look for other ways to monetize your courses. I mentioned earlier that you can offer plugins and derivative courses. You can also offer personal advice. This would allow private training for students to help them really understand a concept.

For example, it used to offer writing and English classes to homeschooled students. I offer online and face-to-face courses. At first I just taught the courses, but then I started offering some additional ancillary services such as tutoring, assisting with college admissions essays, and mentoring students in writing novels.

Think about how you can add value to your courses. Coaching is the most obvious choice, but think outside the box and see what else you can think of.

11. Ask for feedback

If you want your online course to really shine, you need to ask for feedback. Send a survey to your students once they complete the course. If you let them take the survey anonymously, you'll usually get more honest feedback.

Really pay attention to complaints. You can easily troubleshoot issues in your course by addressing any issues raised by students. Maybe there's too much work outside of the classroom, the video lectures aren't loading quickly, or parts of the course are cluttered. Whatever the problem, feedback from your students is invaluable.

Ideally, you'll write your course, but keep refining it until you think it's perfect. This is the best way to ensure your content is better than everyone else's.

12. Ask for help

Promoting your course online will not be easy or quick. It's a good idea to ask for help. Word of mouth is one of the best and cheapest forms of advertising.

  • Ask family and friends to tell others about your classes.
  • Post on social media and ask your followers to share information about your course.
  • Create a street team to help you promote your course. Offer them a free class when they speak.
  • Exchange ideas with other instructors (not competitors) and talk about their courses while they're talking about yours.
  • Ask social media influencers if they would try your course and recommend it if they like it (make sure you build a relationship with them first).

You'd be surprised how many people are willing to help you if you just ask for help.

Impact on online courses

Writing an online course is not difficult, but writing an online course that resonates with people is a challenge. By paying attention to all the elements that make a great lesson, you can build a reputation as a good instructor. Not only will your students love you, they will recommend you to others.

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As you build your reputation, you'll sell more and more courses, creating the residual income we talked about earlier. In the second part of this article, we look at some tips from others who have created successful online courses. You will learn as much from your mistakes as you do from your successes.

Read part 2 of this guide:Monetize and deliver your course.


How do I start writing an online course? ›

How to create an online course
  1. Choose the right subject matter.
  2. Test your idea.
  3. Research the topic extensively.
  4. Write a course outline.
  5. Create the course content.
  6. Bring your course online.
  7. Sell your online course.
  8. Market your content.
Jun 23, 2021

What should you do first to prepare for taking an online course? ›

How to Prepare for Online Classes
  1. Ensure the Internet is Reliable. ...
  2. Get familiar with the online learning tools. ...
  3. Find the ideal spot. ...
  4. Record the screen of your class. ...
  5. Keep Your Study Materials Organized. ...
  6. Keep all distractions away. ...
  7. Prepare a list of questions. ...
  8. Inform your household members.

What are the 5 tips to be successful in online learning? ›

Tips for Taking Online Courses
  • Develop a Schedule. Commit to making your online coursework part of your weekly routine. ...
  • Set Specific Goals. Create daily goals and set reminders for yourself to complete tasks within specific windows of time.
  • Get Connected. ...
  • Create a Designated Study Space. ...
  • Stay healthy.

How do I create an e learning course in 12 steps? ›

Create an eLearning Course in 12 Steps Infographic
  1. Start with Why: Do a Need Analysis. Conducting a needs analysis. ...
  2. Know your Audience. ...
  3. Content Analysis: Get the Right Content for the Right Audience. ...
  4. Set Learning Objectives. ...
  5. Define Your Instructional Design Plan. ...
  6. Storyboard your Content. ...
  7. Choose your Technology. ...
  8. Prototyping.
Jan 23, 2017

How do I organize my online course? ›

These organizational tips for online learning will help make sure you stay on top of everything and successfully balance your work, family and online classes.
  1. Find a Quiet Space for Attending Class. ...
  2. Create an Effective Work Space for Studying. ...
  3. Make sure your space is comfortable. ...
  4. Organize Your Files. ...
  5. Schedule Your Time.

What are the five steps to online writing? ›

  1. Many different processes for writing. If you have already searched the term writing process on the web, you may have come across several different types of it. ...
  2. Step 1: Prewriting. Many tend to overlook this step completely. ...
  3. Step 2: Drafting. ...
  4. Step 3: Revising. ...
  5. Step 4: Editing. ...
  6. Step 5: Publishing. ...
  7. Any Tips or Advice?
Jan 5, 2023

How do you write content for a course? ›

The following are tips for writing a course description:
  1. The course description should be no longer than 100 words.
  2. Write from a student-centered perspective.
  3. Use present tense and active voice.
  4. Use clear and simple sentence structure and language.
  5. Use gender neutral language.

How do you write a course outline? ›

How to Create a Course Outline Step by Step
  1. Explore the topic. ...
  2. Decide on training modules and lessons. ...
  3. Write learning goals and descriptions for each lesson. ...
  4. Define the content types. ...
  5. Show your outline to stakeholders.
Sep 30, 2022

What should online courses include? ›

A high-quality online course should consist of more than just previously recorded lectures. Interactivity and student engagement are also important components of the learning process. A more interactive learning experience may include mini-quizzes or problem sets after each reading or video.

How do I prepare for a new course? ›

Follow these tips for starting a new course to get the most out of your studies.
  1. Get a head start. ...
  2. Organize your schedule. ...
  3. Keep track of every assignment. ...
  4. Familiarize yourself with the resources available. ...
  5. Create meaningful connections. ...
  6. Find the study habits that work best for you. ...
  7. Train your brain.

What kind of things do you expect from an online course? ›

You can expect the same variety of work online as you would face-to-face. Online courses deliver a mix of quizzes, essays, assignments and group discussions. Depending on the course, you may work together with other students in groups, participate in peer review, or debate a variety of topics on the discussion boards.

What are the 4 steps in developing effective online learning? ›

We all know that a good online training program is vital to a company's long-term success.
Here's what you need to do to create an effective online training program
  • Gather Your Info. ...
  • Create Your Presentation. ...
  • Arrange Practice Runs. ...
  • Implement Your Online Training Program.
Aug 7, 2014

What are the keys to successful online learning? ›

  • Create a schedule and manage your time wisely. Keep a semester and a weekly calendar. ...
  • Stay organized and be thorough. Have a designated study space that is free of distractions so you can focus on your work. ...
  • Remain engaged throughout the whole course. ...
  • Take care of yourself. ...
  • Know where to turn for help.
Aug 5, 2022

What three things are necessary to be a successful online learner? ›

The online environment should be open and friendly.
  • Written Communication. Be able to communicate through writing. ...
  • Support Yourself. Be self-motivated and self-disciplined. ...
  • Speak Up. Be willing to “speak up” if problems arise. ...
  • Commit Time. ...
  • Meet Requirements. ...
  • Accept Crucial Skills. ...
  • Think Through Ideas. ...
  • Embrace Online Learning.

What are the 7 essential steps for writing? ›

The 7 stages of the EEF's writing process: Planning, Drafting, Sharing, Evaluating, Revising, Editing and Publishing.

What are the 7 steps to better writing? ›

7 Steps to Better Writing Will Help You
  1. Avoid wasted effort.
  2. Think more clearly.
  3. Develop convincing arguments.
  4. Overcome writer's block.
  5. Compose quickly.
  6. Edit more effectively.
  7. Proofread rapidly and thoroughly.
  8. Use technology to simplify the writing process.

How do you start a content writing example? ›

Start out with your project title and follow up with a screenshot. It doesn't have to show the whole piece, just that it exists and it's out there. People often simply link to the blogs and websites where their writing was published, but they forget one thing.

Where do I start learning content writing? ›

How to Become a Content Writer?
  1. Step 1: Create a Portfolio. ...
  2. Step 2: Begin Generating Social Proof. ...
  3. Step 3: Establish Authority by Blogging. ...
  4. Step 4: Develop a Pitch. ...
  5. Step 5: Start on Websites for Freelancers. ...
  6. Step 6: Create Your Linkedin Profile. ...
  7. Step 7: Apply to Firms That Have Openings.
Mar 31, 2023

What makes a good course description? ›

Your course description should be: Enticing and interesting. Factually complete and accurate. Provides solid course information.

What is course format? ›

A course format refers to the layout of a course. The course format can be selected in Administration > Course administration > Edit settings. An administrator can enable, disable or delete course formats for courses in Administration > Site administration > Plugins > Course formats > Manage course formats.

What is a course template? ›

Course templates allow you to configure, store and reuse components of a course, such as quizzes, assignments, surveys, images, and so on, and then use the components in individual course offerings.

What is the structure of the course paper? ›

The basic structure of a typical research paper includes Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Each section addresses a different objective. what they think the results mean in Discussion.

How do I create a free online course? ›

Follow these steps for creating your online course:
  1. Create a free account in an easy-to-use online course platform.
  2. Get a custom domain, or set up a free URL.
  3. Choose the brand colors for your online course website.
  4. Setup your course website home page.
  5. Create your first online course using a course builder tool.
Apr 7, 2023

What does it cost to create an online course? ›

It can cost anywhere from $200 to $10,000 to create an online course. The main source of expenses is the labor involved, followed by the equipment and software. If you are creating the online course yourself and not paying someone else to do it, this means that other than your time there are very few expenses involved.

How many hours does it take to create an online course? ›

Many aspiring creators ask themselves this very question when they are looking to start a new online course. The time you will need to put a course together really depends on your specific case, however it generally takes anywhere between 25 to 500 hours to craft an online course.

Is creating an online course profitable? ›

Are Online Courses Profitable? Yes, they are. You can make money selling online courses if you're methodical and make a serious effort. Online courses offer one of the best business models to digital entrepreneurs.

How do you create a course content? ›

Four Steps to Create Course Content that Flows
  1. Consider your goals in teaching this course. Decide what you would like your students to accomplish from taking this course. ...
  2. Develop topics and subtopics, then narrow down further. ...
  3. Structure the course with what you have finalized. ...
  4. Plan your content types.
Jul 5, 2019

How many modules should an online course have? ›

For a shorter course, you probably only want 3 to 5 main steps or modules that will comprise the bulk of your course. Every module contains several lessons that teach the actual course.

How do I create a mini course? ›

7 steps to create a best-selling mini course
  1. Choose a topic that's super actionable.
  2. Hone in on a specific audience.
  3. Make bite-sized course content.
  4. Don't spend too long on the creative process.
  5. Price your mini course for impulse buyers.
  6. Market your mini course with momentum.
  7. Iterate, experiment, and pivot.
Jun 7, 2022

How long does it take to create 1 hour of eLearning? ›

How long does it take to develop 1 hour of eLearning? A average 1-hour interactive elearning course will take 197 hours to develop. But development of a 1-hour elearning course can range between 49 hours for the low end of the range of a “basic” course to 716 hours for the high end of the range of an “advanced” course.

Do online courses really save money? ›

The Cost of Online College

Not only does tuition tend to be lower, but many additional expenses, such as transportation costs and course materials, are eliminated in an online program. However, it's important to note that the average cost of online college is still a significant investment.

Why are online courses so expensive? ›

The three main reasons for higher online tuition were, in order, “Added costs of online instruction and support services,” the “Added cost of online course and program development,” and “Added costs of online program marketing.” And they're not wrong.

How long should an online course last? ›

While based on our data, 10–25 hours is a good goal, it isn't the be-all and end-all of course lengths. What matters more than your course length, is the value and transformation you're providing through your course. Here are some factors to consider in deciding on course length.

How many weeks should an online course be? ›

Thus, many online courses run the same length as their on-campus counterparts. This means that a semester-based schedule will include approximately 15 weeks of work for 9 hours per week or 135 hours total for the semester for each 3-credit course.

What is the best duration for online classes? ›

The Optimal Online Course Length

Knowledge retention is a tricky thing. You are supposed to bring home to your students a complete, integral vision of a subject, yet the material is always better digested in small bits. Most experts confirm that a good length for a web-based course is somewhere between 15-30 minutes.

What make a good online course? ›

These standards share the following seven core components for creating an effective environment and facilitating the learning process.
  • Learning Objectives. ...
  • Assessments. ...
  • Course Materials and Activities. ...
  • Faculty and Student Interaction. ...
  • Online Student Support. ...
  • Technology Requirements. ...
  • Evaluation and Improvement.

How much does the average course creator make? ›

Online Course Creator Salary
Annual SalaryMonthly Pay
Top Earners$117,000$9,750
75th Percentile$78,000$6,500
25th Percentile$30,000$2,500

Are online courses passive income? ›

Today, many people in different fields generate passive income by teaching online courses or classes. Whether they're already professionals in their chosen subject or amateur enthusiasts, delivering online study programs offers a great way of topping up their other income.


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