As of 2021, more than 100 million students worldwide have enrolled in eLearning — it’s no surprise that online education is the place to be.
Our guide will help you to confidently grow in this market by:
- Teaching you the steps to create and market your first online course
- Battling any insecurities you might have
- Showing you how to use systeme.io to build your course from scratch and make a profit off of it
Without further ado, let’s begin!
1. How to create an online course in 8 steps
1.1. The beginning
1.1.1. Step 1 — Come up with a course idea
One of the most important parts of online course creation is deciding on your topic or picking your niche.
You need to know who you’re connecting with and how you can help them solve their
Choose a niche that you’ll enjoy doing in your free time, even if it’s for the next 5 years.
To figure out your ideal niche, ask yourself the following questions:
- “What am I passionate about?”
- “Is there a market that aligns with my passion?”
- “Does this market have a large enough audience?”
- “Can I offer a unique stance that’ll help me stand out?”
- “Will I be able to connect with the audience in an authentic way?”
This will help you narrow down your search, but there’s one last difficult question you need to tackle:
- “What’ll make the most money?”
Although it’s good to create something on a topic you’re passionate about, you need to be realistic.
Take a look at the 5 elements your ideal niche should consist of:
If your course subject isn’t popular for your niche market, it won’t make money, and it’ll remain just a hobby when it could be a thriving business.
For example, if you see someone who makes money selling courses on how to start a dog walking business, then that niche has potential.
Competition is necessary for digital marketing.
Think about why you always see more than one gas station next to each other or why there are always two pharmacies in close proximity to one another.
Providing consumers with alternatives in a market with demand is the smart choice.
The key is to choose something that isn’t too saturated and full of highly influential course creators.
Some of the top niches to date, include:
- Computers and Technology
- Business and Entrepreneurship
- Arts and Crafts
- Writing and Content Creation
If you’d like to find more niche examples, click here.
1.1.2. Step 2 — Ask the audience
Audience outreach and response
If you have a customer list, run a survey and analyze the answers.
We recommend using Google Forms, SoGoSurvey, or Typeform to help you.
Here are 4 questions that you could ask:
1. “What’s the biggest pain or frustration you feel when it comes to [YOUR TOPIC]?”
2. “What are the consequences of this situation and how does it make you feel?”
3. “What are the goals you’d like to achieve using [YOUR TOPIC]?”
4. “What are the risks that could prevent you from achieving these goals?”
These questions help the customer to become aware of their problem and also visualize how beneficial your solution can be.
Customers who write more in their survey are those suffering the most, which means they’re the most likely buyers because they’re desperate for a solution.
Write down emotional words and expressions used by your audience — you can use these in your course copy.
- For example: “I don’t feel confident speaking English.”
- Course name: “Learn to speak English with CONFIDENCE!”
The problems mentioned most by your audience are where the best opportunities for course content lie.
If you don’t have an email list, research what products already exist:
You’re looking for products or topics that bring in a lot of traffic.
Use item descriptions and customer reviews to your advantage to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Also, consider your competitors:
- Who are the leaders within your niche market?
- What do they do well?
- What could they be doing better?
- Is there something that they’re all missing?
If you know your enemy, you can learn from them. When you can learn, you can profit.
1.1.3. Step 3 — Locate a gap in the market
Locating the gap in the market is very similar to the previous section, but the motive is different.
You want to find ample questions that need answers. Those that are answered might be perfect topics for your course content.
A good place to start is Reddit.
The reason this platform is so effective is that you might come across a question where there’s little to no substantial information or very outdated information.
A great example is the question: “What would be in a second-aid kit?”
It’s such a simple question that most people have never thought to ask themselves.
The result of searching this online either gives you articles on first-aid kits or outdated articles from 2014.
If you have your own website, you could ideally update this information and even include options to purchase physical second-aid kits.
There’s no doubt that it could be important to build a client base in the medical (and even psychological) niches.
You could also use other tools to help you find public questions online for your course idea (these can also be used for keyword research):
If you don’t already have a website — keep reading, we have the solution.
1.1.4. Step 4 — Pre-sell your course
Now let’s look at something most people never consider doing — pre-selling their online course.
Pre-selling your online course is a brilliant way to ensure that your audience knows what you’re doing before you’ve even started.
Most people wait until they’ve created the course from front to back before they sell it. This wastes unnecessary time.
Because if you complete your online course, and no one chooses to buy it, you need to start from scratch.
Time is money, after all.
Pre-selling is your last chance to determine if you have a strong audience of interested people or not.
With 35% of startups going under due to lack of a market, this is absolutely pivotal to achieving a successful online business.
In order to pre-sell your online courses, you need to:
1. Outline your product
- What topics will your course cover?
- Which problems will you solve?
- What goals will you help your customers meet?
2. Identify your course’s unique benefits
- Create a detailed list of the benefits you provide
- Identify benefits unique to your expertise or teaching style
- How does your online course differentiate you from the competition?
3. Create a presale page(we’ll show you how to do this later in the article)
4. Launch an email campaign using systeme.io
5. Write a blog post
- A post about your presale can convert people who haven’t signed up to join your email list
- You can expand your offer in a way that you can’t on your sales page or in a short email
- Describe the benefits of the course, and include a big call-to-action at the end
6. Share your course on social media
- This is the easiest way to spread the word about your course and allows you to reach a larger market quicker
7. Close your offer
- If your presale is available for a limited time, it creates a sense of urgency that encourages consumers to make a purchase
Leading up to your official launch, complete your Table of Contents and finish your first module.
Complete the rest once your students enroll.
1.1.5. Step 5 — Determine your teaching style
While in the course creation process, it’s important to know what type of teaching style you’d want to deploy for your course content.
You have a few options:
- Text — The student reads your writing
- PowerPoint — The student follows along while you speak off-screen
- Talking head — You talk “on camera” in the corner of the screen with the content behind you
- On camera — You talk to the camera with little to no information on the screen
- Whiteboard — You pan in and out while writing on a whiteboard
There are other options, of course, but these are the most popular.
Some topics, like DIY courses, would benefit more from video styles compared to normal text.
Whereas, topics with difficult information, like finances, might be better suited for PowerPoint or Whiteboard structures.
Text may be good for tutorials that need a lot of screenshots (for example photo editing with Photoshop).
If you decide to record your screen instead of yourself on camera, our editor also allows you to upload that screen recording to your course lecture.
Regardless of which style you choose, think about how your audience would benefit most from your course material.
If you’re uncertain of which structures will suit your topic, go back to your niche research and look for the structures that seem most profitable for your course topic.
1.2. The build-up
Deciding on a pre-launch is an integral part of your marketing strategy because it’ll allow you to gather feedback on improving your course before it’s done.
Let’s look at what you can do to get your course out to the public.
1.2.1. Step 6 — Determine your marketing methods
If you’ve been actively pre-selling your online courses, you should already have a target audience who wants to buy from you.
This audience should be your focal point.
A few ways to make your course more attractive for the pre-launch could be to:
The larger your audience is when you release the course, the better your chances of having a successful launch.
Beyond email, utelizing Facebook groups is a great idea to drum up interested candidates for your courses.
Finding large groups of people who are passionate about the same thing gives you the perfect marketing platform to promote your online courses.
However, be careful about joining random groups and promoting your course straight off the bat.
Not only is this typically frowned upon, but it could also chase away potential students/customers.
Instead, take the time to create your own Facebook group and send invites to people who might be interested.
It doesn’t take a lot of people to create a snowball effect when it comes to online courses.
Before you know it, you could be imparting knowledge to an online class or a whole online school!
1.3. The execution
By now we’ve shown you a few ways to:
- Find your course topic
- Research your target audience
- Market your online course
In order to generate a successful course, you’ll need to turn your attention to sales pages.
1.3.1. Step 7 — Write a high converting sales page
Before we start, let’s look at a few sales page examples:
Dinnerly and Stop Fighting Food (SFF) both use color to make their subject matter clear to their respective audiences.
Dinnerly has a page that stands out, and SFF uses snippets of red to indicate important information.
SomniFix uses copywriting to stop you in your tracks and make you think about how their products could improve your sleep quality.
As you can see, color and clever copywriting play an important role in grabbing readers’ attention.
Expert image quality in these examples also supports a visual description of each products’ value.
If you’re inexperienced with copywriting, be sure to check out existing courses on Udemy to help you write the best copy.
Your sales page is an important step in the selling process because people will land here when they finally commit to seeing what you have to offer.
When a customer considers buying anything, they consider the risks involved.
You want to ensure that your copy keeps your customers feeling comfortable — you could do this by adding one of the following guarantees:
- 30-day guarantee
- Lifetime guarantee
- Result guarantee (“If you use our product and don’t get the results, we will refund you”)
This shows your existing audience that you’re confident enough to pay them back if the courses you’re offering don’t provide a solution to them.
To ease the mind of your customers in terms of risk, include plenty of:
This gets potential customers to trust your product or service.
They also increase the number of conversions, especially when selling high-priced products.
If you don’t have testimonials yet, lower your price or make a deal saying you’ll give your course for free in exchange for a testimonial.
If someone is dissatisfied by the time they reach the end of your first course, follow up with them and ask where they think you can improve.
Not only will this improve your customer relationships by showing your customers that they’re important to you, but it’s also a good way to keep in touch with customers for future content.
1.3.2. Step 8 — Finishing touches
The biggest issue we have with course creation and online business, in general, is perfectionism.
We want everything to be spotless, but if you want to be a successful course creator, you’ll have to drop that belief. Done is better than perfect.
Because you’re working with people, you can’t ever have the perfect course — people will always have different opinions, and you won’t be able to help everyone.
However, if you keep sitting there worrying about whether or not you can help someone, you’ll end up helping no one.
Take the leap of faith. Dive in with both feet.
2. What to do when you’re having doubts
As of 2020, it’s believed that 98% of corporate learning will take place online.
The same percentage of US universities have moved to online classes.
But what does this mean for you?
It means that there’s a market out there that could learn from your expertise. Where there’s a market, there’s money to be made.
The brilliance of the eLearning industry is that you don’t need to be a certified teacher to get your foot in the door.
With eLearning, what you can teach people is limitless.
You’ll always be able to find someone interested in your technical skills on a particular subject.
This could be anything from gardening to painting to meditation.
You can sell a course teaching anything as long as you find the right audience.
Creating an online course allows you to display your expertise while making a ton of money if you play your cards right.
With a market size estimated to reach $374.3 billion by 2026, this is the best time to get into eLearning!
Right now, you might have one or more of these thoughts running through your head:
- I don’t have anything to teach
- I wouldn’t consider myself an expert
- What if no one buys my course?
These are all perfectly normal thoughts, and we’d be concerned if you didn’t have them.
Let’s address each of them individually and see if we can’t clear the air.
2.1. I have nothing to teach
As long as you’re breathing, you have something to teach.
What do we mean by this?
You can take anything that’s happened to you and find a way to create information that’s beneficial to someone else.
For example, someone growing up in a difficult childhood might want to create a course on parenting troubled children because they start to see other children struggling with the same issues.
This person can relate to the parent’s struggle of dealing with a child who might have a unique condition or who’s mingling in the wrong crowd.
By identifying the problem or pain point, you can create a solution.
Look at your hobbies and things you enjoy. If you play an instrument or like to cook, you could create an awesome online course teaching new skills to anyone who’s interested.
2.2. I’m not an expert so who would listen to me?
Imposter syndrome is a real thing. We’ve all been there.
We feel like we’re not good enough for people to be interested in purchasing a course from us. We’re not experts, so why would it matter?
We can tell you firsthand that this mental barrier doesn’t have to be your crux.
You don’t need to be an expert to create an online course. You only need to be one step ahead of your target audience.
If they’re on level four and you’re on level five, you have something to offer.
Think about it for a second. If you want to create course content that teaches people how to become a freelancer, you’d only require one credential:
That you’re a freelancer.
It doesn’t mean you have to make $100k a year to teach people how to accomplish something.
You only need to have accomplished the goal yourself.
Take what you’ve learned and show people how to reach your level.
It’s as simple as that.
2.3. What if no one buys my course?
A huge fear you might have is spending an enormous amount of time creating comprehensive course material and then no one buys it.
A lot of people think this way, and the reason for this is because they don’t pre-sell their first course or have a launch date set.
If you follow all of the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll have no problem selling your course, no matter what topic it’s on.
3. systeme.io: The perfect solution to create, launch, and market your online course
In this guide, we’ve told you what to do to find your course topic, approach your target audience, and sell online courses (amongst other things).
Now it’s time to focus on how to do this.
Let’s see how systeme.io can help you create a successful online course from scratch and market it online!
3.1. What is systeme.io?
systeme.io is an all-in-one course creation platform that can help you get your eLearning business off the ground running.
With other online course creation tools on the market, such as Thinkific and LearnDash, you might ask, “What makes systeme.io better?”
Our features are what help us stand above the rest:
- Build courses and membership sites
- Create a website with our drag-and-drop builder (no coding experience needed)
- Create sales funnels based on proven templates, convert new customers, and increase the value of your existing customers
- Automate your entire business
- Create evergreen webinars packed with timeless resources for your online class
- Use our affiliate program to promote your courses and generate a passive income
- Blog as much as you want
- Market and sell your online courses with our email marketing tools and marketplace
From blogging tutorials to web design and an affiliate program, systeme.io offers everything you need to create and market a successful online course.
Let’s see how systeme.io can help you set up and distribute your online course and sales funnel!
4. Creating online courses with systeme.io
Creating your course structure and course pages have never been simpler.
With systeme.io’s simple course builder you’ll be able to create a profitable course in minutes!
But how does it work?
4.1. Course builder
4.1.1. Accessing the course builder
Once you’ve opted-in to our Freemium plan, head to the menu and select “Courses” under the “Products/Sales” option.
How to navigate to the courses tab
From there, click “Create” in the center of the screen and fill in your information on the next page.
systeme.io’s editor doesn’t implement automatic saving so remember to save often when creating your course!
4.1.2. Create the modules
When outlining your content, make sure each module’s name is clear and concise.
Let’s say you are creating a course on fishing. Your first module’s name might be, “Purchasing Beginner Gear.”
To add another module, click on “Add Module”:
Adding a module
Keep your audience in mind when outlining your content as well.
If you’re catering to a beginner audience, make sure the content starts with the idea that they know nothing about the subject.
If you’re appealing to a more experienced audience, update accordingly.
Once you’ve outlined all your modules, shift to your lectures.
Don’t worry about uploading content yet; just focus on the course outline at the moment.
Your dashboard will start to look something like this:
Let’s see how the lesson structures work.
4.1.3. Create each lesson
What makes the course editor so effective is your ability to modify your lecture structure — we have both video and image templates available.
Lecture content can also be delayed (or dripped) by selecting the number of delayed days you want in the lecture settings.
This forces students to progress at a set pace and prevents information bombardment. If your course includes assignments, this is an absolute must.
Make sure as you’re outlining your content, that you’re taking the student through a calculated journey.
Every module should have a natural progression.
The main reason for drip content is to offer your course at a lower price.
This makes your course more attractive and helps struggling students pay a smaller monthly fee that’s more affordable to them.
This then allows you to enjoy a monthly income from that course. A win-win in our books!
For an in-depth tutorial on how to create your course, click here.
4.2. sales funnel builder
Head back to your dashboard and select the “Funnels” option.
After selecting “Create,” you’ll get this popup:
Select any of the 4 options (evergreen webinars aren’t available on the Freemium plan) and move on to our templates.
You can create a sales page from scratch or customize your pages to your heart’s content with our easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor.
Once you’ve selected a template you like, you’ll notice the default settings of these templates include an Order Form and a Thank You page.
The order form acts as a payment page where clients enter their banking details once they’re ready to purchase. The ‘Thank You’ page improves the buyer’s journey.
To create a Sales Page, click “Create step” underneath the default settings and select it from the drop-down list:
How to add a sales page
Finding the sales page in the drop-down list
You want to link your sales page to your order form so that your customers are directed to your sales page when they click on your call-to-action (CTA) buttons.
To do this, select the editor option on your sales page (magic wand) on the right-hand side:
Selecting the editor to link your pages
Scroll to where you see a CTA, click it, and select “Next step URL.”
Do this for all your CTAs. Remember to save regularly.
The next step in your funnel should then link to wherever you want your customers to go.
To test your pages, select the eye icon and click on your CTA buttons.
For further guides on adding more features to your pages, such as upsells and downsells, check out our Youtube video.
4.3. systeme.io’s pricing
Our core features are available with our 4 pricing plans (30% discount with annual pricing):
- free — $0 per month (2,000 contacts)
- Startup — $27 per month (5,000 contacts)
- Webinar — $47 per month (10,000 contacts)
- Unlimited — $97 per month (Unlimited contacts)
Our free plan is free forever, and it requires no credit card details when you sign up.
Once your business starts growing and you’re ready for the big leagues, you may want to opt for one of our highly affordable paid plans.
Our Unlimited plan is naturally the best choice.
It offers unlimited everything, and we’ll migrate your entire business for free!
By now, you should understand how to create an online course from beginning to end.
You should have all the tools you need to make an awesome and profitable online course displaying your expertise in whatever you love to do.
We have a few last words of advice:
- Don’t let mental barriers keep you from reaching your dreams
- Failure is good — It means you’re one step closer to success
- Understand that you won’t be able to help everyone
- Make sure you know your audience — Cater to them at every second
If you’re serious about creating a course and using a platform that makes the whole process much easier, then check out systeme.io.
We have everything you need to create, market, and sell a course all in the same place. Good luck!
Other posts about course creation tools:
– A 2022 LearnDash Review: Is it the Perfect Solution?
– The Teachable Review: Does it Pass With Flying Colours?
– 8 Best Kajabi Alternatives: Get Everything in One Place