Updated: Dec 4, 2021
Professional book editor in the UK explains how to create an online course that sells on repeat so YOU can do the same!
So, you want to create a profitable online course to earn big from your knowledge and expertise? An amazing idea! Launching an online course in your niche is an excellent way to receive an extra income while teaching a wide number of people!
BUT...before you go ahead and get started on your new course, there are 5 things you need to know if you want your course to be a success!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you decide to make a purchase through the products and services I recommend. I only recommend things that I truly love and use, so I hope I can recommend something to you that you can love too! :)
1. Choose an Idea that Fits with Your Niche
Picking a course idea that fits with your niche may sound stupidly obvious, but it's super important to choose a relevant idea, otherwise you'll end up wasting your time.
My editing business - Stand Corrected Editing - targets writers who want to query literary agents or self-publish their novels, so my online course, The Ultimate Novel Writing Masterclass, teaches them how to write a book from scratch.
I pursued an idea that fits really well with my niche, so I'm able to properly promote it to the correct audience, but if I'd created a course about book cover design or formatting, for example, it would have flopped like a b*tch!
So, make sure your course idea matches your niche so you can effectively speak to the right audience.
2. Make Sure Your Target Audience ACTUALLY Need Your Course Idea
There's absolutely no point in creating an online course if no one would enrol, so you need to be sure that your target audience actually need the course you're thinking about creating.
So, how do you do that?
Well, there are several different ways to conduct marker research for your course.
Here are 3 of the best:
Observe and record what your audience struggles with the most: You can do this by seeking them out on social media and reading their posts, which will give you an insight into their hardships. Make sure you record your findings on a spreadsheet!
If you're an Instagram user and connect with your audience through the platform, making the most of your stories is a great way to discover what they need. I did this before I created and launched The Ultimate Novel Writing Masterclass and I received brilliant results.
If you're feeling brave enough to actually reach out to people, you could comment on people's posts or direct message them to learn their struggles. For example, if someone within your target audience posts a picture of their cat next to their writing desk, you could comment saying something like:
Aw, your kitty's so cute! Maybe you should get him/her to write the book for you, haha! What is it you're working on? Struggling with anything in particular? :)
By commenting with something like that, you're acknowledging the picture they've posted, but you're also asking questions, which will prompt them to respond with the answers you need for your market research.
You can also message people using the same structure as the example above, which will also help to personalise your conversation with the other person.
3. Brain Dump Your Ideas
Once you've discovered whether your audience need your course idea (hopefully they do), it's time to dump all of your course ideas down and ask yourself a few questions.
Here are some of the questions I asked myself:
What topics will I specifically cover?
What problem will I solve with this course?
What type of course will it be? (E.g., a mini-course, a standard-length course, a masterclass, an accredited course?)
How many modules will it have?
How do I want to deliver the content in the course? (E.g., videos, audio, text.)
Do I want to create any extras for the course? (E.g., worksheets, PDFs, infographics.)
Do I want to provide additional services for people who enrol? (E.g., VIP FB group access, 1:1 phone consultation, special discounts across all services.)
I wrote my answers to these questions with my course ideas, which allowed me to easily move them all around and put them into an order that flowed well. I then had a rough outline for my course.
Once I had done this, I quickly realised that my course would be a masterclass, because I ended up with 8 modules and 39 lessons in total, but the type of course you create will become clearer once you've moved your ideas and topics into different modules.
My modules for The Ultimate Novel Writing Masterclass are:
Structure and Outline
POV and Narrative
Character Creation and Development
Fiction Writing Essentials
Show vs Tell
Creative Writing Necessities
Finishing Your Novel
If you find that you're unsatisfied with the length of your course when you've created a rough outline, you can easily add or cut ideas to get to your ideal course length.
However, do bear in mind that you can charge more for a longer course or masterclass!
4. Choose Your Course Hosting Platform
When you've written, spoken or videoed the content for your course, you'll need to choose a hosting platform to use for it.
Personally, I love Thinkific - it's affordable and incredibly easy to use with all the tools & support I need to attract new customers to my masterclass. Seriously, this article is SUPER useful for course marketing ideas, especially when you're just getting started.
Another great hosting platform for your course is Teachable - I haven't actually used this site myself, but it has amazing reviews and its users get a lot out of it.
The only downside with hosting platforms like Thinkific and Teachable is that using them comes with a monthly fee, but if you're able to get enough sales, you can easily break even and make a profit, so using one of these is definitely worth it!
5. Pricing Your Course
Once you have everything in place and you're finally ready to launch your course to the world, you'll need to decide how much you'll charge each customer.
I had NO idea what to price my masterclass when I launched The Ultimate Novel Writing Masterclass, but Thinkific's Complete Guide to Course Pricing and Teachable's article about course prices made it much easier for me, so feel free to take a look and use them for yourself.
It's also worth comparing your course with your competition as well to see how much they're charging their customers.
If you're offering more content and value, I would definitely recommend pricing your course higher - unless you want you unique selling point to be that you offer more for less, which could make more people enrol on your course.
However, if you've purposely created a mini-course that could easily be converted to an eBook, you'll want to make it budget-friendly to reel people in. You don't want to overprice, otherwise you'll put potential customers off.
For The Ultimate Novel Writing Masterclass, I ended up charging £127.99, which is the same as my competition.
However, I am considering increasing the price because I offer more content, information, additional freebies and resources, but starting small has worked so far and people are loving the masterclass.
Also keep in mind that you'll be able to offer different payment plans for your customers, so they won't necessarily have to pay for the course in one go if it's on the more expensive side.
I currently offer a few payment plans, which allows people to pay over the course of 2 - 6 months if they want to - the 6 month payment plan meaning that they would only pay just over £13 a month.
A smaller amount like this is much more realistic for a lot of people, so consider adding different payment plans to your course no matter the price tag.
Once you've decided on a starting price - you can always change it later - you can hit publish and launch your brand new online course!
- Chelsea x
Hey! I'm Chelsea and I'm the book editor at Stand Corrected Editing, my editorial business in the UK. If you would like to have your manuscript thoroughly edited by myself, please get in touch!
With my book editing and proofreading services, I hope to spread my knowledge and expertise on how to make your novel a success, and be a mentor to others who desperately want to pursue a fruitful career as an author!