The first step in selling online courses from your own website is to figure out what you will teach your students.
Basically, you need to find a profitable idea for your online course. A profitable course topic should be:
- something that you’re interested in and can teach,
- something that potential students are willing to pay for.
So, let me show how you can come up with ideas for your online course and then validate them.
Brainstorm potential topics for your online course
When I was planning to create my first course, I had close to 4 years of experience in the supply chain industry and I knew it was something I was good at. So, coming up with topics for my online course was really straightforward for me.
What if you don’t have such a skill or professional experience?
It doesn’t matter! Bcoz you might have a passion or a hobby that other people are interested in learning about. Or, you might have overcome a personal challenge that many people struggle with.
So, you can teach an online course based on:
- Your skills/expertise
- Something that people ask your advice on
- Your personal transformation
- A hobby/passion
Under each of these brackets, list down the potential topics that you can teach others about. You can use this ideation worksheet to list all your ideas.
You should come up with a minimum of 5-10 ideas for your online course. At this point, just think about the topics that you can teach and don’t worry about things like market demand, competition etc.
However, the key is to be as specific as possible.Let’s say you’re passionate about baking, so here is how you can get more specific about it:
- How to Bake (very broad)
- How to Bake Bread (still broad)
- How to Bake Sourdough Bread (specific)
- How to Bake San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread (more specific)
Specific courses are easier to sell than broader courses and so, I recommend that you start with a specific idea that promises specific results to a specific audience and as you move along in your journey as a course creator, you can consider creating broader courses.
Validate your course idea
Most new course creators completely skip this part. They will come up with some ideas for their online course but then they pick one randomly without validating whether their potential students would want to learn a course on that topic or not.
This ultimately turns out to be a big mistake and they end up spending a lot of time and money creating a course which just doesn’t sell.
So, you need to validate your course idea and make sure that there is a demand for it before you start work on content creation or marketing.
#1: Get Google search volume
The easiest way to validate interest in your course topic is by checking the search volumes for related keywords on Google.
The tool that I recommend you use for this purpose is Ubersuggest. It is free to use and doesn’t require you to create an account.
=> Go to Ubersuggest website and do a search with your keyword. Now analyze the results.
You should then check the search volume for your main keyword as well as the related keywords. A high search volume for your keywords would mean that people are interested in your niche.
This keyword research also gives you insight into what related topics people are interested in and so, you can use this information to fine-tune your ideas.
#2: Search on Youtube
Youtube is the largest video platform as well as the second largest search engine in the world. On Youtube, you can find videos on almost any topic and in any possible niche.
Plus, Youtube has a huge audience for tutorial-type and how-to videos that give you a strong indication of interest in your course topic.
=> Go to www.youtube.com and search for your course topic. Analyze the search results and the video views.
You can also read comments on these videos as that will give you a sense of your students’ pain points and what they want to learn.
#3: Search on Udemy
Udemy is the largest online course marketplace and it has millions of students who take courses in virtually any niche.
While I don’t recommend you use Udemy as the main platform for teaching online, it can provide you a lot of information that will help you validate the demand for your course.
=> Go to www.udemy.com and do a search for your course topic and related keywords. Now check the courses that come up in search results.
=> Select a particular course and check the number of students enrolled in the course.
=> Go back to the search results and repeat the previous step by selecting a different course.
If you find a few courses related to your topic and a few thousand students enrolled in these courses, that’s great news because this shows that there is a significant number of students who are willing to pay for your course topic.
#4: Search in Facebook groups and niche forums
This is one of my favorite ways to validate an idea because with this method, you don’t just look at numbers but you actually listen to your potential customers.
So, you first need to identify Facebook groups, niche forums or any other online communities (e.g. Quora) where your potential students hang out.
Once you’re part of the community, search for your course topics and follow the conversations. See what people are asking about and if you want, you can always start a new conversation around your course topic to see what sort of interest it generates.
#5: Survey your audience
One of the most effective ways of testing your product idea is by collecting direct feedback from students and a survey is a great tool for doing that.
When I was planning to create my signature course Network Guru, I sent out a brief survey to my students asking them what they think about the course idea and whether they would be interested in enrolling in the course when it launches.
If you have an audience of your own, this method is really straightforward to execute. You can create a short survey in Google Forms or any other forms solution and send this survey to your audience.
If you don’t have an audience of your own, you can still send the survey to your friends and colleagues as well as share the survey in various online communities and groups.
#6: Pre-sell your course
If you need an even stronger validation for your topic, you can sell online course even before you create it.
To pre-sell your course, you can set up a blank course on CreateOnlineAcademy and create a sales page that explains what the course will be about.
If you can successfully pre-sell your online course, there is no better way to validate your course idea and you can be 100% confident about investing time and money into turning this idea into reality.
However, pre-selling only works if you already have an engaged audience whom you can pitch your idea to. Selling your course idea to a cold audience will not work in most cases.
If you followed all the steps in this article, you should have an idea for your online course by now. Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know what your idea is.
Now, it’s time for you to start working on creating online course content.