Online courses are a great way to monetize your blog or website. In today’s blog post, I outline the steps on how to create an ecourse that’s informative, profitable, and life-changing.
Everyone has something to teach.
Whatever your educational background or experiences you’ve had, it’s highly likely that you have something you’re good at and could share with other people.
One of the quickest, most effective ways to monetize your blog is to share your knowledge through an ecourse. A truly good ecourse enables you to generate leads, earn income, and change lives.
In today’s article, we’ll go through the steps on how create an ecourse that you can sell on your website.
Of course, the first thing you should think about is what you’re going to teach in your ecourse. Below are some of the considerations that you need to make.
The components of the perfect ecourse topic is the intersection of your knowledge, your passion, and your audience’s problem.
Not to state the obvious, but you need to be well-versed in the topic you’re going to teach your audience. This is especially important if you plan to hold your classes live and then have a question and answer session after every lesson; if your knowledge is lacking, it’s going to be evident.
Also, you need to be passionate, or at least enthusiastic about the topic you choose to teach. When your audience senses that you’re not really into what you’re teaching (and believe me, they will), they’ll be less receptive to the information, no matter how nifty your slides or eye-catching your videos are.
Lastly, it has to be something that your target audience wants to learn to be able to reach a particular goal or set of skills so a problem that’s important to them gets solved.
1. What subjects do you have much experience about or extensive knowledge about that you’re comfortable or even excited about teaching?
You probably have more than one topic in mind, so list all of them down and try to visualize yourself talking about these topics to other people. Perhaps even try actually talking to your friends or family about them. Does one of them stand out in terms of how easily the words flow out or how enthusiastic you look?
2. Are there existing ecourses covering that topic?
Scope out the competition and look for any gaps in the information they’re providing so you can possibly fill in those gaps. Also consider if you’re able to provide your audience something unique from all the other ecourses covering that topic, something that sets your course apart.
3. Are people talking about it?
Comb through social media, forums, and blogs in your niche to find what your target audience is talking about and if the topic you had in mind is one of them. Then, assess how often it’s mentioned and how important it seems to them.
4. Will your target audience find your ecourse valuable?
If it’s not going to solve a problem, teach them new skills, or help them in any way, you’ll want to reconsider your planned topic.
A good way to find this out is to actually ask them for feedback. If you already have an email list, consider asking them some survey questions. For instance, you can ask them if you would make an ecourse about such-and-such topic, will they sign up? Why or why not?
You can also ask them on social media instead of passively reading comments and mini-conversations.
You’re probably going “Learning what?”
I had the same reaction when I first encountered this term.
Learning outcomes are statements that describe what students should know and be able to do at the end of a course.
Creating clear-cut learning outcomes is critical in that those who’ve signed up for your ecourse should be able to know exactly what they stand to learn and gain from it. Otherwise, they’ll lose interest even before they sign up for your ecourse.
Here are some questions to guide you on writing your learning objectives:
Aside from having well-defined learning outcomes, you also need to decide how to assess if your students have indeed achieved the desired learning outcomes. This will vary depending on your topic, how long your ecourse is, and the demographics of your students.
You can do this by having your students take online quizzes or answer questions related to the lesson that are emailed to them after every lesson.
For the flow of your ecourse to go smoothly, it’s highly recommended that you organize your content in a logical manner.
Start with a simple bullet list for your subtopics. Then, flesh out these subtopics by writing down points and questions that belong under those subtopics that you want to discuss.
You don’t want to think about this too much in the beginning; just continue writing down bullet points and sub-bullet points until everything you want to discuss is written down.
At this point, you can now rearrange, add, or trim the subtopics you really want to discuss. Keep in mind the learning outcomes you want, how long you want your ecourse to run, and how difficult your chosen topic is to learn.
When you’ve divided your ecourse into units, you can then create learning outcomes for each unit and make sure they’re aligned with the learning outcomes you wrote. Based on these learning outcomes, you can then plan the type of content, learning activities or worksheets you’re going to provide, and method of assessing your students’ knowledge per unit.
Also, by this time, you should be able to plan how much time per lesson, and how much time your entire ecourse will take. Based on this information, you can start to draft a weekly and monthly schedule, if applicable.
Organizing your content in this way should be enough for you to draft a one- to two-paragraph course overview, where you list down what your students can expect to learn and what content and information then can expect to find in your ecourse.
This course overview should help you when promoting your ecourse on your blog, to your email list, social media, or any other means. When audiences read the course overview, they should be able to know right away if the particular ecourse is right for them or not, saving your time and freeing that time for developing and improving your ecourse.
There are three main delivery media for your ecourse lessons, namely video, audio, and written/textual content. Let’s take a closer look at each one so you can decide which one(s) are right for you and your ecourse.
Watching you on screen is the closest your students will come to an actual live instructor teaching them. It can actually be an improvement because being on video allows you to intersperse visual elements, such as images and written content, with your presence and personality.
With video, you can experiment with being on-screen or off-screen. Being on-screen allows your students to connect and engage with you. They can see your facial expressions, your quirks and mannerisms, and instinctively gauge how much you care and how much you know about your topic.
However, video can be a bit demanding in terms of how difficult it is to produce. You’ll have to have a script to follow so that the flow of information goes smoothly. Some of your speech fillers (such as “ums,” “ahs,” “like,” “you know”) and facial mannerisms (such as constantly twitching your nose to adjust your glasses, turning up the corner of your mouth) could be distracting for your students, and you’ll need to work on those.
You’ll also have to learn how to intersperse the video feed of you speaking and a video feed of your slides. Some instructors compromise by showing themselves on a corner of the screen while their visual aids take up the majority of the screen. But this requires some technical knowledge in setting up a green (or blue screen) and showing both feeds at the same time.
Speaking of technical challenges. For your videos to look professional and polished, you’ll need to use high-quality equipment to record yourself. These don’t need to be that expensive, but you will need to spend some money if you want video equipment with excellent quality.
Also, showing too much of yourself can probably be daunting if you’re not a very public person. If you want to be visual while not getting too up close and personal with your students, you have the option of creating slides on PowerPoint, Prezi, or Keynote and then doing a voiceover. This way, your students can actively engage with you on a level that you yourself are comfortable with.
You’ll also want to consider whether to broadcast the video live or pre-record it.
Broadcasting live presents technical challenges, with the added excitement (or drama) of not being able to edit out any glitches that happen. However, being able to interact real-time with your students may be worth the trouble.
You can also pre-record your training video and show that during a pre-scheduled time. Pre-recording avoids the issue of technical mishaps because you can correct them and edit them out before you upload the video.
Also, making pre-recorded video means it’s easier for your audience to access your training because they don’t have to be logged in at a certain time to benefit from your training. However, pre-recording takes away real-time interaction with your audience.
Some instructors do live videos and record them at the same time so they get a compromise. Broadcasting it live allows them to interact with students while being able to edit out mishaps or huge silent gaps before making the pre-recorded version available to students who weren’t able to attend the live session.
If the topic you’re teaching doesn’t have to have visual aids and can be delivered through a podcast-style series of audio files, audio training sessions may be a good option for you.
Using audio allows your personality come through without being too technically challenging; all you need is a high-quality microphone and you’re good to go. Plus, audio also gives you the flexibility to choose between doing it live and pre-recording your sessions.
Being recorded on video or audio isn’t a great experience for everyone. If you find yourself uncomfortable in front of a camera or even on a microphone, a written-only course might be the way to go.
You can create an email series sent periodically, or upload PDF files or slide presentations on scheduled dates for your students to access and download.
The training might feel a little impersonal because you can only inject so much of your personality in your writing. Plus, written content (obviously) doesn’t lend itself well to live sessions.
But if you’re really not comfortable with video or audio sessions, or if you’re only starting out and have less than adequate technical skills and a limited budget for equipment, written-only training might be the way to go.
Mix of Different Media
Presenting your ecourse content in various media is yet another option. Having a mix of different media allows you to introduce some variety in your course content to keep your students interested in what you have in store for them.
If you’re going to pull this off, you’ll have to have a good sense of what medium is appropriate for each individual session. It can be challenging to do a mix of delivery media, depending on what you’re teaching.
For example, if you’re teaching a topic related to graphic design, it’s going to be challenging to incorporate a podcast-style lesson, except maybe if you’re interviewing a prominent designer in the field.
Aside from considering your lesson topic, you have to be clear about announcing what format your students should expect per lesson and how to access the correct pre-recorded files.
You’ve planned your content from the objectives to how you’re going to delivery. Now, it’s time for you to actually start creating the content.
The first step, no matter which delivery medium you choose, is to write everything down.
If you’re using video, you’re going to need a script, plus you’re probably going to need slides. If you’re using audio, you’re still going to need a script. Obviously, for an entirely written course, you’ll have to have written content. Plus, you’ll need to write the additional materials you’re going to provide your students anyway.
It’s going to seem like a monumental task, and it can be, depending on the scope of your ecourse. But the good thing is that even at the creation stage, you can still edit out content that you think is unnecessary or doesn’t fulfill the learning outcomes you previously outlined.
An added bonus is that having everything written down makes it easier for you to repurpose your ecourse as a book, if you ever want an additional income stream in the future.
Of course, if you still find writing everything down too tedious and too restrictive, especially for video, you can just write out bullet points instead of having everything in paragraph form.
When you have everything down, then you can start creating your content if you’re pre-recording everything. On the other hand, if you’re going to do live sessions, then you can go straight to the next phase.
All through the creation phase, keep adding, subtracting, and fine-tuning content until you’ve achieved your ultimate goal: an ecourse that will fulfill your promises to your students.
Given the learning outcomes you’ve set and the delivery medium you’ve chosen, think about how to give your students the best possible experience they can have. That means considering how your students will best learn your lessons as well as how best to keep their attention.
Additional learning materials
You don’t really need to provide your students with additional materials, but doing so enriches their learning experience so that they continue learning between your lessons and even after your ecourse is done.
Plan and create handouts with important slides and other helpful visual information, such as infographics, charts, and graphs, if applicable.
Also, plan to give homework to your students after every lesson. It doesn’t have to be a complicated assignment; just a small task for you to gauge how well your students grasped the concepts you teach per lesson as well as for them to be able to practically apply these concepts and see them in action.
Aside from the valuable information that you’re providing, your students are more likely to stick with your ecourse if they feel like they belong to an active community.
One way you can instill this sense of community is to put up a chatbox if you decide to hold live video sessions. Students can see their fellow students logged on and active and ready to learn, and when you infuse the chatbox and the training with your own positive energy, this combination can be greatly inspiring.
Enthusiastic learners are happy learners, and happy learners get the most out of your ecourse. Plus, they tend to share their good experiences with other people, and there’s nothing more convincing than testimonials of actual students who’ve gone through your ecourse.
Another way to beef up engagement is to set up discussion forums with you and other students as members. This way, everyone has the opportunity to ask questions and learn from the answers. And yes, this includes you. You can ask questions from your students and learn from their answers.
Once you’ve put together your content, you can set up your ecourse on your preferred platform.
There are three main ways to house your ecourse:
Online course marketplaces are websites that sell online courses, much like how Amazon sells products. Users can shop around for different courses that they want to sign up for and then they take the lessons on the specified schedules.
These marketplaces are already established brands that have plenty of users, plus they normally take care of payments and promoting your course to their users. However, this literally comes at a price: they’ll take a large cut of the money you’ll earn from your ecourse.
Also, you need to adhere to their rules to continue selling your ecourse with them. Plus, since these online marketplaces are generally huge, there’s also potentially plenty of competition.
Another thing is that your students’ information aren’t for you to access, so it’s hard building an email list of your students in case you want to inform them of future ecourses that they may be interested in.
Third-party hosted platforms are platforms that allow you to create, manage, and market your ecourses in a single place on a site that’s hosted outside of your website. They also usually host a messaging platform for your students to message you, the ability to provide homework and give quizzes, and have discussion forums per lesson.
They also take care of the payments, give you everything you need to get started through comprehensive resources, and provide technical support. You can also access your students’ information so you can include them in your email list.
You’ll have greater control over the content you publish, as they have less restrictions. Plus, these platforms generally have decent customer support, so if you do have problems when creating or selling your ecourse, you can talk to someone about it.
However, there’s still some considerable cost to consider, because they normally operate under subscription plans.
Self-hosting your ecourse on your own website requires you to have WordPress as your content management system for your website, and a plugin or an LMS to be able to upload all the necessary files.
Self-hosting allows you complete control over your ecourse, from storing your files, to your students’ access to those files. Also, when you host the files in your own website, as well as your sales page, you’ll have access to your students’ emails (which, of course, you need to be careful with and disclose to your students).
However, using WordPress plugins or LMS requires technical knowledge that you may not immediately have. There’s plenty of support and resources available, but if you lack the time or inclination, you may not be able to successfully self-host your ecourse.
Also, working with multiple plugins are usually required to be able to have multiple functions with your ecourses. The problem with this is that you might find yourself at the mercy of malfunctioning plugins or plugins that won’t play nice with other plugins.
The price of your ecourse impacts how well you’re going to sell the ecourse, the type of audience it will attract, the amount of instruction and quality of support you can give your students, and the amount of profit you can earn from it.
Determining the right price for your ecourse takes some experimenting and tweaking to get right.
Undercharging or charging too little undermines the value of your ecourse and limits your marketing efforts to the bare minimum, not to mention it will also bring down your potential profit.
Admittedly, it’s tempting to start off by selling your ecourse at a low price. You might be thinking that it’s your first ecourse and people don’t know if you’re any good and so you have no right charging people hundreds of dollars for your course.
Or maybe you’re thinking that there are plenty of free information that anyone can access. Yes, some people have all the time in the world to go through all the free information and organize them and teach themselves.
But the fact is, most people don’t have that amount of time and organization skills, as well as the patience to put it all together. They’d prefer to pay for a complete course that’s been already organized for them.
Or maybe the reason why you don’t want to charge that much is that you want more people to learn what you’re trying to teach, so you’ll want to make it affordable.
There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. After all, the point of creating an ecourse is to teach as many people and to change as many lives as possible. However, charging too low for your course attracts the wrong type of audience.
A too-low price tends to attract people who are attracted to your ecourse because of the low price and not because they actually want to learn about your topic. These are the people who tend to buy various low-priced ecourses but never actually complete them.
You want the right audience to buy your ecourse. These are the people who are glad to pay for a well-organized, high-quality ecourse on a topic that they are sincerely interested in. These people are willing to do the assignments and apply their hard-earned knowledge long after they’re done with your ecourse.
On the other hand, overcharging severely limits the number of students who can afford your ecourse. You want to be discerning, but you don’t want to eliminate everyone from your target audience.
Also, you don’t want people who do buy your ecourse to feel shortchanged in any way. No matter how helpful your ecourse was, if your students feel they paid too much, it’s still a negative user experience, which is the last thing you want.
Having to change the price later on, whether it’s raising your price from an undercharged price or lowering the price from a way overcharged price, will always have a negative impact on some of your audience.
Raising the price puts your ecourse out of reach of some of your potential students, but then it also raises the perceived value of your ecourse; that is, people assume you’ve made changes to the ecourse that makes it more valuable.
By contrast, lowering the price or offering it at a greatly discounted price attracts attention to the fact that you overcharged in the first place. People who’ve paid the original price might demand partial or full refunds of what they’ve spent on your ecourse.
This is why you need to get the price more or less spot on from the get-go. Here are some tips for pricing your ecourse.
1. Price your course based on value, not the length.
You might be thinking that for you to be justified in charging a premium price, you need to create a long course, which is absolutely untrue.
If you can teach someone to get their desired results in five hours, you don’t need to create a ten-hour ecourse. Filler content is worthless content and wastes your students’ time, ironically making your ecourse less valuable.
On the other hand, your audience (rightfully) expects a certain length to your content. Charging $1000 for a one-hour video training, for example, will never work.
Use your best judgment as a consumer as well as careful market research to determine how valuable your ecourse is.
2. Check out your competition to learn if there’s enough demand for your ecourse and adjust your prices accordingly.
A mistake that instructors sometimes make is pricing their ecourses based on their competitors. What they do is check out the competition, take stock of the prices, and then either undercut their prices, average out the prices and charge that amount, or charge more than the most expensive ecourse.
Basing the price of your ecourse on other ecourses is a useless exercise because the price of your ecourse should remain the same, no matter how many competitors you have or how much they charge; that is, the price of your ecourse should be dependent on the value of what you’re providing.
3. Calculate the value of the results your ecourse can provide.
How long would it take for your students to gather and vet the information on their own? How much money are they likely to spend to do this? By providing them a comprehensive ecourse, they save time and money.
Quantifying the time and money they save can help you gain a more concrete idea of how much you should be charging for your ecourse.
This is the moment of truth: Launch Day!
I’ve already discussed everything you need for a successful launch on this site in much detail, but this is a generalized version that covers all digital products you ever want to launch.
To sum it up, you’ll need to carefully plan your launch, create your sales page, and test your checkout flow even before you even start your marketing campaign for your ecourse.
The purpose of prelaunch marketing is to target potential students and introduce yourself, your blog, and your ecourse. You’re aiming to build trust and to get potential students hooked even before you launch your ecourse.
The most effective way to do this is to first create buzz with your existing audience and mailing list, if you already have one. Then, encourage them to help you spread the word outward, mainly on social media. You can also do blogger outreach and promote your ecourse by creating guest posts on other blogs in your niche.
Ideally, you’ll want to start your prelaunch marketing as early as 3 months before but no later than 1 month before your desired launch date. This window gives your target audience enough time to decide whether the ecourse is for them, but it’s not too far off your launch date that they forget about it.
Here’s how the timeline should ideally go:
Day Before Launch Day
Test your checkout flow using a variety of payment methods and different scenarios to make sure everything goes smoothly on the actual launch. Then, send reminder emails to your email list and status updates on social media that your ecourse is available in less than 24 hours.
More importantly: relax. Be physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for the hectic final stretch. Condition yourself that whatever happens, whether your ecourse is a success or a failure, you have to be ready for the next steps.
First thing you should do: Take the sales page live!
Get crazy with the promotion: email your list, email the bloggers you worked with (if any), and post it on your social media as well as your blog. Today is the day to let the world know about your ecourse.
Days 1 to 7 after Launch Day
You can relax with the self-promotion now, but remain on standby for any issues your students may encounter: problems with promo codes not working or their payment method failing altogether.
During this period, students will probably ask some questions and make suggestions about your launch process. It’s good practice to compile these into an FAQ and post this on your blog and email to your subscribers.
This is also a great time to ask your students, especially first-timers, for their first impressions by sending a short feedback form to everyone who successfully enrolled. Use the positive feedback as testimonials and the not-so-positive feedback as guidelines for improvement.
The weeks and months after you’ve launched your ecourse should consist of holding the live sessions if that’s part of your ecourse.
Aside from the ecourse-related activities you should of course be doing, you need to be providing the value you promised to your students, nurturing your relationship with them, and attracting new students and convincing them to enroll in your ecourse.
I honestly believe that all of us, every single one of us, has something to teach someone else.
Providing valuable information or skills to others is a great way to earn a steady income. You don’t know how much your knowledge, no matter how significant or trivial it may seem, can change someone else’s life.
If there’s a certain subject matter that you’re an expert on or are very interested in, consider creating an ecourse on it and selling it.
Here’s a recap of the steps to build an ecourse.
Plus, here are some more tips and reminders when you’re making an ecourse.
The thing about ecourses is that you don’t have an actual classroom where your students can interact with you and with each other.
You’ll need to recreate this environment with the help of some tools, such as social media, discussion boards through your website or Facebook groups, or through messaging apps like Slack, Whatsapp, or Facebook Messenger, or even video messaging apps like Skype.
Establish times when you’re going to be logged on to answer emails and messages, as well as check in on your discussion boards, answering questions as well as encouraging and supporting everyone.
You want to be able to track your students’ progress (and you want them to know, too) and whether they’re taking your lessons to heart and actually learning from them.
When you formulate your ecourse, you need to be clear to your students on how they’re going to be evaluated throughout the course. If you’re going to give assignments, projects, or quizzes and tests, set their expectations early on.
It’s tempting to start with a bang, so to speak, and go all out on your very first ecourse. After all, this is an ecourse that will change people’s lives, right?
That’s not how you should think about your first ecourse.
Remember, creating an ecourse is hard work. That work triples when you combine it with the pressure of getting it right the first time. Planning a big ecourse will only make it even harder on you.
Also, since this is your first time, you need some room for error. I’m not saying your first ecourse will always be a failure, but it’s not going to be your best, either.
Approach this as a couch potato would approach their first marathon; they need to first conquer the first 5 km, then their first 10 km, then their first 21 km, before they can go the whole marathon.
Same goes for your ecourse. Start with a small course, 1 to 3 hours long, costing $200 or less. Improve the course over time as you offer it. When you’re comfortable that you’ve made that ecourse the best it can be, then you can create a slightly more complicated ecourse, say 4 to 6 hours long, costing $500 or less.
This way, when you do create your flagship ecourse, you’ve learned from your experiences, both good and bad, in creating your smaller ecourses.
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.