The Guide on How to Create and Sell Online Courses from Your Own Website

Looking to establish your own branded online teaching platform? In this post, you’ll learn all about how to create and sell online courses from your own website in just 10 easy steps.

There are several ways you can make money online, but none are as profitable, scalable and as personally rewarding as teaching people your expertise by means of an online course.

Online courses give you the opportunity to sell and serve your audience at the same time. It is simply selling what you know.

Seeing that you’ve already spent a great deal of time and money building on your skill, that lots people are interested in, why not teach what you know by creating and selling an online course?

Best part, you don’t even need to be an expert at a topic in order to teach it to others. You only need to know more than most people would. That’s really all it takes.

If you’ve been considering knowing how to create and sell online courses from your own website, this is a great place to start.

Why You Should Create and Sell Online Courses From Your Own Website

Online courses are great, and they have the potential of making you lots of money, but they aren’t for everyone.

So, who should create an online course?

Ideally, the best people to create and sell online courses are those who offer professional services such as coaching, advising or consulting.

Their goal is obviously making money but also they are doing it with the aim of generating new leads for their core business.

Here are other reasons why you may decide to sell online courses:

  1.      Online courses give your audience an opportunity to get to know you. This builds trust an invaluable asset that will help you sell your services.
  2.      You prove your worth by helping your audience solve their problems and achieve successful results, even before they buy your course. This increases the chances of a sale.
  3.      It is 60%-70% easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to a new prospect. Online courses help you bridge the gap.

Further, there’s a lot you’ll need to think about before creating your first online course…

  •        Are online courses the best fit for my online business?
  •        How will I profit from the ideas for my course?
  •        How should I set up my first course?
  •        How will I select and gather content?
  •        What about marketing and sales? How will I ensure that people buy my online course?

We have created this awesome 10 step guide on how to create and sell online courses from your own website to answer all these questions and more.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Come Up with a Profitable Idea for Your Online Course

Before you get to work on building your course, you’ll need to choose an idea.

These ideas will be judged based on two major factors:

  •        Profit potential: Is your online course going to be solving a problem that people would pay for?
  •        Passion: How excited are you to work on this online course?

Here are two common and effective methods you could use to help pick out ideas for your online course:

Find the Gap in the Market

The key to finding the gap in the market is to first and foremost think of a broad topic e.g. “photography”.

Next, you’ll need to equip yourself with a few online research techniques to enable you to discover what people are searching for online.

Reddit.com and Quora.com are a great place to start.

They are massive online communities that contain discussions on nearly every topic.

For example, if “photography” will be your broad topic idea, filter discussions specific to photography challenges that people have.

Ensure you’re using relevant “search terms” as well. Such as How do I, please help, I’, having trouble etc.

reddit-research

Make a list of all these problems and zero in on as many as you can.

This kind of research will give you some inspiration for which idea to pick bringing you closer to create and sell online courses from your own website.

Survey Your Audience

Another approach would be to survey your existing “audience”.

Here I’m making the assumption that you already have a blog with an email list or a handful of social media followers.

If not you can still approach your friends, family or colleagues at work.

Come up with a list of questions that will uncover the reality of whether people are willing to pay you to help them solve that specific problem.

So let’s take “photography” as an example of a broad topic once again. You might ask the following series of questions:

  •        Tell me about your experiences with photography?
  •        What’s your biggest challenge with photography?
  •        How do you deal with these challenges?
  •        What photography communities are you a part of online?

Remember, these are just surface level questions, they won’t really tell you much about the topic.

Therefore it’s important to dig deeper into the responses in order to understand people’s real challenges.

As you’re doing this you’ll start to discover some real insights leading you to your “Aha” moment.

Finally, after picking out your ideas it’s time to hone in on the best ones:

And, there is no criterion on how to achieve this.

Simply pick out the idea that you’re the most excited about and one that you’ll most likely be able to sell.

Competitive Research

Establishing an edge against your competitors is a great way of validating your online course idea.

Start by identifying your top ten competitors, whether they are local, national or international.

Once you have identified them you can dig deeper and get a better understanding of the kind of online courses they’re offering.

Go further and analyze their content and ask yourself, can I outperform them?

This also includes understanding which keywords your competitors are ranking for which include but not limited to:

  • The page title
  • The URL structure
  • Heading tags
  • Internal links

Now that you have a better understanding of what they are doing find areas for improvement in regards to content creation, search engine optimization and social media.

This will give you clarity on which ideas you can narrow down to and focus your energy and attention on.

Step 2: Plan Your Course Content

There a famous saying that goes, if you don’t plan, you’ll be planning to fail.

Couldn’t agree more.

The best place to start is by thinking of what your “students” would like to achieve at the end of taking your online course.

This activity will help you map out your course modules.

Next, you’ll need to choose which media format you would like to deliver your content.

Video is currently the “gold standard” used to create and sell online courses from your own website, and it converts really well too.

For this reason, we highly recommend you deliver your content primarily through video.

Other media formats include text, pdf, and audio.

The easiest to produce would obviously be text because it wouldn’t require any additional equipment. The downside would be it’s the least engaging and interesting than the other types of content.

In your planning always include the formats you will use to deliver your content.

Here’s an example of a content plan for how to improve your photoshop skills under the broad topic “photography” we picked out earlier:

Course Topic: How To Improve Your Photography Skills
Module NumberTopics To CoverContent Format for Each Topic
1How To Use PhotoshopVideo
Recommended CamerasText
How To Use InDesignVideo + PDF

Step 3: Build Awesome Course Content

Now that you’ve created a content plan, the next step will be to build out your course content.

As mentioned earlier we recommend you use video as your primary format for delivering your course content.

Currently, there are two main ways you could achieve this, screen recordings and talking head videos.

Screen recordings are probably the easiest to start with. Free and simple tools such as Screenflow (Mac) or Camtasia (Mac/Windows) will enable you to start churning out content in no time.

These recordings are great for “how to” tutorial-style explainer videos that walk you through how to do something.

Talking head videos can be a little bit more intimidating for beginners especially if you’re a nervous wreck in front of a camera.

The benefits, however, are your students get to see you and this helps build up the trust by getting to know you more.

Keep in mind, lighting plays a key role, so invest in some good lighting equipment such as a ring light.

When it comes to filming, don’t invest in an expensive camera right out the gate, you can start by using your camera phone.

Step 4: Price and Package Your Content

At this point, you’re almost ready to sell online courses from your own website.

Just one more crucial step remaining: naming, pricing and packaging your online course for your ideal audience.

Now you probably don’t need me to tell you this but I’ll do it anyway. Your name has the potential to break your course sales.

I cannot stress enough how important your name will be. It will be the first thing that people will see when they encounter your course. So take your time, and pick out a good one.

When it comes to pricing, we recommend you use the goal-based model.

This means clearly outlining your sales goals into awareness, revenue, or sales.

In awareness, your goal would be to reach as many people as possible using your online course as a way to generate leads. In order to achieve this, you may need to offer the course for free.

When it comes to revenue, it’s all about earning the most money from your online course. Here’s where you charge high prices whilst delivering a ton of value to your students.

For the sales model, the goal is to get the highest number of sales by getting as many people as possible to buy your online course. That means pricing your course low enough for people to opt-in e.g. $30.

Lastly, there is no one size fits all when it comes to pricing. The only way to know what works for you is by testing and trying each model to see which one works best for you.

Step 5: Set Up a High-Converting Sales Page To Acquire Leads

Great job!

You’re halfway done and edging closer to sell online courses from your own website.

But not quite 🙂

The “sales page” is the page on your website you will link to when promoting your online course. It’s the first place people will learn more about your course.

It is therefore important to tailor the message of your sales to suit your ideal audience.

The copywriting for this page should not only show off your product to the world but it should also clearly outline the problems and intended solutions your course promises to offer.

Finally, at the end of the sales page convince the readers on why they should act on your offer now.

Step 6: Drive Traffic To Your Sales Page

Driving traffic to your sales page is often the most intimidating and challenging step for most course creators.

I assure you there is no such thing as, You Build It, They Will Come people will not just magically stumble on your online course and then purchase it. Nope, it doesn’t work like that.

The key to successfully driving consistent traffic to your sales page is creating a traffic strategy.

Sounds complicated but it’s actually pretty simple, it’s setting up a system that will effectively target the right people who are most likely visit your sales page and make the purchase.

Diversifying your traffic sources is a great way of ensuring you’re not reliant on one main source of traffic.

Here are three approaches you could incorporate to your traffic strategy that are great traffic drivers for online courses:

Blogging

Blogging is a guaranteed way of driving traffic to your sales page consistently over time.

If you don’t already have a blog on your website you should consider starting one. Not only will it help you acquire traffic but it will also boost your authority online.

YouTube

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world with over 3 billion searches a month and a 100 hours of video uploaded every minute.

Seeing that majority of your content would be in video format it’s probably a good idea to upload and optimize your content for YouTube.

This will not only help you boost traffic to your online course but you have the potential of growing your subscribers and monetizing through the platform.

Let’s be honest, not too many organic traffic strategies these days yield any significant results.

If you want to see any kind of traction, in the beginning, you may need to invest in paid ads. Doesn’t have to be in hundreds of dollars, just set aside a reasonable budget e.g. $5 a day.

As a start, I recommend Facebook Ads and LinkedIn Ads.

Step 7: Create an Email Marketing Funnel for Your Online Course

Great, you’ve driven traffic to your sales page and people have opted in. Now what?

To successfully sell online courses from your own website you need an email list it is your most valuable asset.

All the work you’ve done to this point has led you to this, building your email list.

Your goal is to now convert your email subscribers into your online course students. The best way to achieve this is to create an email marketing funnel.

An “email marketing funnel” is simply a series of emails you will create that will walk your potential students through all the stages of a buyer’s journey. That is awareness, consideration, and decision.

Here an example of how you could structure your email series:

  •        Email 1: Introduce and invite them to engage with your online course.
  •        Email 2: Share some valuable insights regarding your online course
  •        Email 3: Outline what your course promises to deliver and why it’s a perfect solution for them.
  •        Email 4: Send out your final pitch.

Don’t get too hung up on crafting the perfect email when you’re getting started. As time goes by you will keep improving your email sequence as you get to understand your audience more.

Step 8: Generate an Automated Sales Funnel

Similar to an email marketing funnel, a sales funnel is a series of steps which turn warm interested people into paying customers.

I briefly outlined them in step seven above they are:

  •        Awareness: This is the top of the funnel, potential customers start here. It means being simply aware of your course
  •        Consideration: The middle part of your funnel. Your potential customers at this point will be considering if your online course will solve their problems
  •        Decision: Your funnels narrows here where you will only be left with customers who are actually interested in buying your online course.

The goal of a sales funnel is to clearly determine what you people to do once they have gone through your sales funnel.

A creative way to get people into your sales funnel is through a lead magnet such as an eBook.

Step 9: Regularly Keep Your Course Information Up-to-date

You have invested all your time and energy into putting up the course the last thing you’d want is your students leaving you bad reviews.

That’s why it’s important you regularly update your content every few weeks to ensure it remains relevant.

That includes fixing broken links to valuable resources you have linked to.

Step 10: Finally, Add an Additional Course – Rinse and Repeat.

Yippee!

You’re all set up.

At this point, you can comfortably admit to knowing how to create and sell online courses from your own website.

But why stop at just one?

There are no limits to how many courses you can sell, in fact, the more you have the higher the profits.

Rinse and repeat all the steps we’ve mentioned above and create as many courses as you’re able to handle.

If you do this we see no reason why you can’t be the next best online instructor on the internet today and make millions while you’re at it. 🙂

Take Home,

We are living in a world today where there is probably a video tutorial on YouTube for every single problem known to man.

I’m not kidding.

People are going online every single day to not only find information but to also to learn new things.

Online courses offer a great opportunity for you to get paid for your knowledge and skills. They are simply a great way to sell what you know.

With this simple 10 step guide, you can create and sell online courses from your own website even if you don’t have an audience yet.

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