Pin now and check out these 7 Tips for Creating Online Courses that Make Money. If you’re going to invest your time and money in the tools needed to create and sell online courses, you want to make money off them. It’s a no brainer.
No one wants to create an online course expecting profit and make zero dollars. So, I am going to share 7 tips that can help you create online courses that make money.
First, let me tell me what I won’t cover in this post and why. I’m not going to cover all the phases of content design or what you should do in each phase. I have covered that information in a previous post about instructional design. You can review the post here or download the 5-step instructional design blueprint below for step-by-step directions on how to design great content for your online course.
Now, let me tell you about the 7 tips I believe can help you create online courses that make money.
Tip 1: Define Your Value Proposition
Before you sit down to write any content, you should to take a little time to consider what your Value Proposition for your course is. Your Value Proposition should answer these three questions.
What problem will you solve for your ideal client?
If a prospective client finds your course, they likely have a problem they want to solve and were searching for answers. Example problems could be things like:
- How to create an online course that makes money
- How to grow traffic with Pinterest
- How to potty train a toddler
In order for your course to be valuable to your prospective client, it must solve a problem for them. So, define what problem you solve, how you solve it and share it with prospective clients.
What benefits will your clients get from buying and taking your course?
This is what we often refer to as, “WIIFM”, which stands for, “What’s in it for me?” Every prospective client who clicks on your course should be able to immediately tell what’s in it for them if they buy your course. For example, the WIIFM for my online course, From Ideation to Evaluation, is that my students will have built a complete training by the time they finish the course.
Why should they buy from you and not someone else?
Your prospective clients most likely have options to choose from when searching for the best online course to take to solve their problems. So, why should your course be the course that they buy? Is your price better than others? Do you offer an expertise that others don’t? Do they get more content or more resources if they buy your course? These are just a few examples to consider when you try to differentiate your online course from your competition.
Tip 2: Begin with the End in Mind
At the start of building your course, you should consider what the learner will be able to do or take away from the training. Many online courses fall short in this area and ramble on about a topic. They often talk about the ‘what’ but not the ‘how’ of a particular subject.
To ensure that your online course covers both the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, think about what your learners should be able to do after completing the training. Then, write your learning objectives to match those actions.
Here are some example learning objectives which cover the ‘what’ and the ‘how’:
- Create an engaging online course using the 5-Step Training Checklist.
- Increase Pinterest traffic using Tailwind Tribes.
- Potty train your toddler in 5 days with the Potty Training Sticker Chart.
If there is something tangible your clients can take away from your online course, that increases the value of your course. Tangible take aways can include printable resources or items your learner creates during your course that are usable post course, like the complete training course my clients will have when they finish The Instructional Design Lab course.
Tip 3: Write Killer Content
You don’t need to be an amazing writer to write killer content. You just need to know a few key principles to ensure your content is meaningful and valuable.
When outlining, mind mapping, or storyboarding your content, focus on the content that your learners must know in order to fulfill your Value Proposition and the learning objectives.
You will want to avoid filling up your content with information that is interesting but not relevant to what your learner should be able to do. Sharon Bowman, author of Training from the Back of the Room, calls this ‘Need to Know’ versus ‘Nice to Know’.
My advice to everyone creating online courses for sale, or not, is to focus on the Need to Know content and add in a few Nice to Know concepts here and there.
Another strategy for writing killer content is to chunk your content into 10-minute or less time boxes and to put the most important learning at the front of that time box.
Human brains remember what they hear first and last the most and begin to lose focus after about 10 minutes. Now, people often get confused here and think that a training can only be 10 minutes long. This is far from the truth.
What this actually means is that you can talk for about 10 minutes before you toss in a changeup. A changeup can be an activity, a change of topic, a change of speaker, an activity, or etc.
The point is that human brains find change interesting during learning experiences. For more information about this, type ‘primacy recency’ into your search engine.
Tip 4: Build a Shitty First Draft
This is my absolute favorite tip because I can be a bit of a perfectionist and hold off on doing something until I have it perfect in my mind. I tend to get stuck in paralysis analysis or thinking I don’t have enough information to start.
With the Shitty First Draft, the goal is to get your ideas out of your head and on to paper, in a PowerPoint, into a video, or some other tool.
Your Shitty First Draft is a starting point. It’s not perfection. It’s not done. What it is is your start to something great.
Give yourself permission to produce a shitty first draft of your online course. Once you have a draft, you can tweak it until it is sales ready or ready to launch.
Check out this article by Jason Lengstorf for more information on the Shitty First Draft.
Tip 5: Be a Content Evangelist
The first thing that came to your mind when you read the title of this tip was probably religious related. That isn’t what I am talking about here.
I am referring to how your content is delivered and how you edify your content. If anyone has ever pitched you on a direct sales or network marketing business, you have experienced what I am referring to.
They most likely provided you with a little education about your need, inspiration with stories of success from people just like you, and painted a vision of a better future for you and your family if you launched your own business.
When you deliver your content, I want you to be a Content Evangelist for your online course. I want you to educate your clients with the need to know information that solves their problems. I want you to share success stories from other clients who have completed your online course already.
You most likely won’t have any success stories at the launch of your course, unless you opened the course to a test group prior to your launch. If you don’t have success stories right now, that’s okay. Just add them in when you get some.
I also want you to paint a vision of a brighter, better future for your clients with the content they are learning in your course. Tell them throughout the course how specific tips and information may make life better for them, professionally and/or personally.
Tip 6: Be the Face of Your Online Course
Whether you are creating an online course with PowerPoint slides with audio narration or video, make sure your face is in the course often.
Humans need connections. They need to connect to the information you are sharing and they need to connect to you as their expert trainer, teacher, and guide.
Your face, more specifically your eyes, are a great way to help them connect with you. The best way to do this is with a video where you make them feel like you are speaking directly to them.
The second best way to do this is to add pictures of yourself throughout the training so that you are seen.
If you can’t or aren’t ready to do a full video training, maybe you can add a video at the beginning of your training where you speak to your learner and then use photos of you throughout the course to keep your connection with your learners.
Other things you can do to maintain your connection with your learner is to make learning easy for them.
Provide onscreen visuals or text to support key messages. Avoid sliduments, which Garr Reynolds describes as a slide meets document. Basically, don’t dump a bunch of text on a slide and read it to your learner. Doing this will bore your learner and you may lose your connection with them.
Tip 7: Create a Bias for Action
In most cases, learners do not want to be passive learners during an online course. Instead, they would rather experience the learning firsthand with activities and application.
Where possible, build in opportunities for your learner to ponder principles and practice using what you are teaching through application exercises, homework, and prework.
If you are chunking your courses into the 10-minute times boxes like I suggested earlier, build in a practice opportunity or an activity at the end of each time box. If you are setting your course up to be a six-week long course, you could create homework assignments or prework assignments to be completed before starting the content for the next week.
This is also a great tool for ensuring your learners completed the course work if you are offering a money back guarantee.
You could also provide form fillable PDFs or print outs for note taking.
The idea is to give your learners the opportunity to interact with the content often so that they can apply what they are learning to their current situation. The more relevant the content is to their immediate need, the more they will value your online course.
Interacting with the content also helps your clients remember what you taught them, which increases the value to them. When they start looking for more content on the topic, they will most likely look to see if you are offering more learning opportunities on the topic.
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Until we meet again, take care!