Online courses have absolutely exploded in popularity in recent years, and savvy developers are cashing in big time. Some developers have made millions with simple online courses, and this trend is only likely to grow as time passes.
With the cost of going to college spiraling out of control, and more people turning to alternative methods of gaining an education, there’s never been a better time to be a provider of online learning and training.
In fact, according to Forbes, the online learning market has exceeded 100 billion dollars! That’s a lot of money circulating in the industry, and you can grab your own slice of it even if you think you have nothing of value to contribute. Trust me, you don’t have to have any special knowledge to create online courses!
In this guide, you’re going to learn how you can profit with your own online course(s), and how you can create a great, profitable course even if you don’t have any special knowledge.
So, let’s get started!
Choosing a Topic
The first thing you need to do is figure out what you’d like to create a course about. If you have some kind of special skill or knowledge, that would be the most obvious choice, but if you don’t, there’s nothing to worry about. You can simply choose a topic, research it carefully, and create your course from there.
If you’d like to get an idea of the types of courses that are popular, you can go to Udemy (http://www.udemy.com) and start browsing. If you drill down into specific categories, you can see the bestsellers for each one. This will give you an idea of some of the topics that are popular so you can create something similar.
Here are a few ideas of the types of courses you might create:
- Art and graphics design
- Beauty and fashion
- Website design
- Video production
- Business and finance
- Diet and fitness
- Household management
- Job and career development
- Word processing
- App creation
There will be a lot of competition in most of these areas, so it’s important to do something to differentiate yourself. You can set yourself apart from the competition by offering a different viewpoint, or some special angle on the topic that most people aren’t doing. For example, instead of showing Excel for account purposes, you might show how to use it to keep track of data such as Blu-Ray movies you own, or collectible items. Or you could specialize in vegan cooking videos rather than just standard cooking.
It’s also a good idea to choose a topic you’re at least interested in, because I will be a lot more fun to create your course if you enjoy researching and developing it!
Naming Your Course
Once you choose your general topic, it’s important to think of a good name for your course. This should be an interesting name but should also contain the major keywords one might use when searching for a course like yours.
For example, if you want to teach a course on the basics of vegan cooking, you could name it something like:
- An Introduction to Vegan Cooking
If you wanted to create a course on current SEO, you might name it:
- SEO Basics for 2017 and Beyond
The most popular course format these days is video, and that is what I suggest you use. The main reason for this is that the biggest online course websites, where you can sell your courses, all use the video format. You can often create supplementary materials such as PDFs to go along with your video content, but video should be the main format for your course.
If you feel self-conscious appearing on camera, you don’t have to show yourself or even use your voice! Even if you hate your voice or have a thick accent, you can still create your videos in a number of different ways.
Here are some different types of videos you can create:
- Top-down instructional videos like Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos
- Screen recordings
- Videos with a paid voiceover actor
- Videos with a digital voice added
- Videos with subtitles only
- Videos with music
You don’t have to create videos that feature a live actor or even voice to be successful, although it can help. Using these types of video formats will let you accomplish the same thing if you don’t want to appear on camera.
If you want to get a good idea of the types of videos that are popular, you can always watch samples of some of the more popular courses. You’ll notice that most of them do feature live individuals, but this isn’t always true. Sometimes they feature voice only, and sometimes they don’t include voices at all. Videos with all of the text on the screen can be just as effective, and they have the added bonus of being accessible to those who are hearing impaired.
In the next section, you’ll learn about a few tools that will make it easier for you to create your video courses, so let’s move on.
Many people get really anxious when they think of creating videos, because they think it’s too technical or that they need some special knowledge to do it, but it’s actually a lot easier than you might think! In fact, if you can navigate the internet and send email, you can probably learn to create videos.
There are many different ways to create videos. The method you’ll use will depend on the type of course you want to create and the method you’re most comfortable using.
Let’s take a look at a few different video creation methods, and which types of courses each method is best for. If you’d like to learn more about each method, and the details of how to make videos, there are plenty of online courses and YouTube videos you can use to learn! (In fact, watching them may give you ideas for making your own courses!)
Your typical course looks a bit like a classroom or news show or uses standard video to demonstrate things. You’ll see the course presenter (usually the creator, but sometimes a paid actor or partner) in front of the camera, and they present the material as though they were teaching a class in a school.
Example uses of this type of video include:
- Cooking demonstrations
- Craft how-to’s
- Language lessons
This type of video may be the easiest to create overall, because you simply need to record it. Many people use a quality phone camera, such as an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy camera to record their videos, but sound and video quality may not be as good as it would be if more professional equipment were used. However, it certainly can be done this way.
Many people do not post-process their videos, simply uploading the videos directly from their phone or camera, but it’s more professional if you add things like subtitles or enhancements.
If you want to process your videos, you can use tools such as iMovie (Mac), Adobe Premier Pro (PC or Mac), or Final Cut Pro (Mac).
If you’re doing courses that are more technical, such as design, programming, or other computer-based skills, you might want to use a screen recorder.
Screen recording software will allow you to record whatever you see on your computer screen—either the entire screen, or just a chosen section of it. You can demonstrate techniques while speaking, or just add text instructions to your video later. (Most people will probably prefer voice, but if you aren’t comfortable using your own voice, you can either just use text on the screen, use a voice actor, or add a digital voice.)
Some popular screen recording programs include:
Screen recording videos are most appropriate for lessons that specifically focus on lessons that involve using computers or mobile devices.
If you’re doing courses that don’t require live video or screen recording, you can use slides. If you’ve ever taken college classes, or worked in a business-oriented environment, you are probably familiar with PowerPoint presentations. You can turn such presentations into videos and use them for your courses.
You can use a voiceover for these types of videos, or just put all of the information in text format in the slides themselves. If you don’t use voice, you could optionally include music, but keep in mind that not everyone has the same taste in music.
There are several good options for creating slide presentations:
Number of Lessons/Modules
Ideally, your course should contain no more than 12 modules, especially if it is on some technical subject that people may have some fear of. If your course is too long, people may feel daunted and say, “I can’t do this!”
There are exceptions to this, of course. For example, some courses may require more modules, because there’s no way for people to learn enough about the subject in just 12 lessons. Creating an app, for example, would probably require a lot more information than you could fit in 12 lessons.
Always keep your target audience in mind and try to create just enough modules to deliver the necessary information without being long-winded or making your users fearful that they won’t be able to grasp the information.
Once you have a course created, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you get the most sales possible.
When it comes to setting a price for your course, price high.
I know this seems counterproductive. After all, wouldn’t you want to get the highest possible number of students?
Well, yes and no.
You see, pricing high accomplishes several major things:
- It gives the perception of quality. A $5 course will make people think it was just slapped together, whereas a $100 course will make people believe a lot of effort was put into its creation.
- It motivates buyers to actually complete the course and take action, because they’ve made a significant investment.
- It allows you to offer heavy discounts to capture those who can’t or won’t purchase at your higher price point. (Udemy is one place that offers heavy discounts to users on a regular basis.) Plus, when you discount, it will look like a lot better deal than if you discounted a cheaper course.
- It makes you a lot more money because you have to attract a lot fewer buyers. You’re putting forth the same amount of effort to create and promote your course whether you charge a low price or a high price, so why not get paid the most you can?
Now, this strategy only works if you are offering truly valuable information and your course is very high quality. If you create a simple course that offers information readily available all over the place, you might want to charge very little or even make your course free in order to promote something else you offer.
In fact, that’s a strategy for promotion, it itself. You can make one simple course free, and then use it to promote your paid course which goes much further in depth into the subject.
Quality is the biggest way you can stand out with your course. Make sure you check out any competitors who have similar courses and see what they’re doing right, and what they’re doing wrong, so you can make sure your course is competitive.
You should also try to think of a different angle than the competition. For example, if you see a lot of people with vegan cooking videos, but not many feature desserts, you could create your specifically based on desserts in order to differentiate.
If you post your course on a site that allows coupons, you can create a coupon and then post it to all of the coupon websites that allow submissions. This will help you get a large number of initial students and reviews, which will help you boost your income.
Here’s instructions for creating a coupon on Udemy:
Once you have a coupon code generated, you can submit it to many of the free coupon websites in order to gain a lot of initial users and (hopefully) a lot of positive reviews.
Creating an online course is a lot easier than you probably think, and it’s a great way to make passive income. Even if you think you don’t have a lot of skills you can teach people about, you can still research a topic and create a course.
It’s actually quite easy to create a video course. You can probably learn how to create basic videos in a weekend, and a few days later, you could have your course online and making money.
You can even use free software to create your course!
If you’ve been looking for a way to make mostly passive income, creating courses is a great way to do it.
Sure, you’ll still need to promote your courses and respond to help requests and such, but this will take up very little of your time, and you have the potential to make a lot of money doing so.
The online education market is worth billions, and it’s time for you to grab your share! So, get out there and make it happen!