Raring to go? Excellent! Just remember to keep your target audience in mind every step of the way. These are the people who will pay for your course content. Every decision you make from now on needs to be focused on them.
With that in mind, here’s the step-by-step guide on creating your very own e-learning course.
Step #1: Pick your course topic 💡
If you haven’t already decided on a topic, think about the audience, and answer these questions:
What expertise do you hold in your niche? (Write a list of your competencies)
What problems within your niche do people need help fixing? What are their struggles?
What is the best approach to alleviate these challenges?
If you still aren’t sure, you could even survey your email subscribers and ask them what kind of online course they would sign up for.
Step #2: Validate your course idea 🤔
Once you’ve identified your course topic, it’s time to get feedback! Ask your audience what they think about your idea to see if it really is marketable. Here are some strategies you could use to validate your course topic idea:
Present your idea in a newsletter: Then include an embedded survey in your email to get people’s opinions.
Hold a quick poll on social media: For example, on LinkedIn, you could present your course idea and ask people to react with a ‘❤️’ if they would sign up straight away, a ‘💡’ if they aren’t sure, or a ‘🤔’ if they wouldn’t.
Run a pre-course pilot program: This is a free or low-cost bite-size version of your course. You can then run a survey after, to see what people thought of it (and they might even be a source of testimonials and reviews in the future)!
Step #3: Plan your course content 👀
Once you’ve validated your course idea and you know it will be marketable, it’s time to focus on the content. Think about how you’ll structure it by asking yourself questions like:
Learning objectives: What will your audience be able to achieve, once they’ve completed the course?
Structure: How many sections/modules will there be?
Timing: How long should each class be? What total amount of time will the course take?
Format: How will you present the information? How can you appeal to different types of learners? (According to the VARK model, there are four types: visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and read/write learners.)
Script: How can you explain each topic in the clearest, simplest way?
Step #4: Get some audio/ video equipment 🎬
Now for the fun part—you get to record your content! People will be paying for it, so you need to make it look ultra-professional. This means having the right equipment and being prepared to hire an expert if needed.
Here’s a shopping list of the things you’ll need for your course creation. Some of these are a “must-have”, while others are a “nice-to-have” to add an extra flourish to your content.
Camera: To record high-quality video content, you need to avoid your computer camera and invest in something nicer. Some smartphone cameras have excellent filming quality, but to be on the safe side, you may prefer to invest in a reasonably-priced camcorder or webcam.
Microphone: Quality audio is also a priority. Even if your camera has a microphone, it’s usually best to buy a separate one to plug in as well. Lavalier microphones (or “lav mics”) are also good, as they are small and unobtrusive, and can be clipped onto your clothing.
Editing software: Once you’ve got all your footage ready, you’ll need a reliable, easy-to-use video editing software. If you’re looking for a free but professional option, we recommend DaVinci Resolve 17. You can also check out this 2021 comparison to weigh up the different options out there.
✨ Nice-to-have ✨
Tripod: Shaky videos are a big no-no, so get yourself a tripod to stabilize the camera, and get the setup just right.
Lighting: The difference between an “ok-ish-video” and a “wow-that’s-amazing-video” is the lighting. An LED video light kit isn’t expensive, and it’ll make your video content look top-notch.
Green screen backdrop: A green board will allow you to add background images and text during the editing stage.
Expert: If editing isn’t your thing, then hire a professional to do it for you. They could also help with creating intro music and so on. You can find freelancers on professional sites like Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer.
Step #5: Host your online course 🤝
Great! Your course is finished and ready to go out into the world. Now, you need to decide how to share it.
Option 1—Self-host on your own website: This allows you the most control and freedom, but you’ll need to be confident building and running your own site, or hire someone who can help you.
Option 2—Create an automated email series: With MailerLite, you can set up an automation workflow of a series of emails on your course content. No need to set up a whole site: you can simply share the course directly in your audience’s inboxes (this works best for text-based courses).
Option 3—Use an online course platform: Although you have less autonomy, using a pre-made platform is a straightforward way to get your online course out there, without needing as much technical knowledge compared to if you build your own website. For MailerLite Academy, we chose Thinkific for its straightforward, easily customizable interface and advanced features.
Option 4—Upload to an online course marketplace: There are open marketplaces like Udemy and Skillshare where you can upload and feature your online course. This allows you to get featured alongside other courses in your category, and to reach a wider audience through the marketplace. Just note that they may take a cut of the revenue, but it could be worth it.
Step #6: Decide on your pricing 🤑
Your price point depends on multiple factors, including the length of your course, how much you invested in it, the competition, and the outcome value for your audience. The most common pricing methods are:
Free: Creating free courses can work well as a lead magnet, and it will gather potential customers that you can upsell to. They could also be a source of testimonials.
One-time payment: Your customers will pay for everything upfront, and then have lifetime access to your online course.
Recurring payment/ subscription: People can pay monthly or annually to complete the course. For this model, you need to constantly create new content to keep people coming back.
Premium: People could pay extra to access a premium version of the course, for example where they receive a certificate of completion at the end.
If you are not sure how to price your course, take a look at similar courses. Do an analysis of the average prices and then experiment. If sign-ups are slow, consider offering it at a discount for the first 100 people to gain feedback and testimonials.