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How to create, sell, and profit from an online course in 2021

This guide is everything you need to know about creating, launching and selling a course this year.

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This guide will teach you how to create an online course. If you already have an ecourse, learn more about Podia's software to sell online courses and launch your free trial today.

No matter who you are, you have something to teach the world.

Maybe it’s a long-time passion of yours -- something you’ve always loved to teach and answer questions about -- or maybe it’s something you’ve only considered creating content for in your most far-flung dreams.

Either way, you know if you could just find a way to bottle up that spark of passion in you and deliver it to the world, to customers, you’d be unstoppable.

But it’s always easier said than done, right?

Not anymore. Now, creators everywhere are translating their passion for teaching into revenue-driving online courses, jam-packing their knowledge into content that changes the lives of their customers.

And that’s the ultimate power of creating online courses: it’s not just that they drive six-figure businesses (they do) or that they help creators share their spark with the world while earning passive income -- it’s that they change lives.

You probably know that already, though.

That’s not what’s stopping you.

What’s stopping you is the sheer volume of information to get through, like:

  • How do you know if your online course will make any money?
  • How do you narrow in on your niche and find your target audience?
  • Are there any special tools you need for online course creation or marketing?
  • How do you answer customers’ questions in bite-sized video lessons?
  • How do you define the learning objectives for your online course?
  • How do you plan an online course launch with a small list of social media followers and/or email subscribers?

And that’s just the tip of the question-filled iceberg.

Take heart: No matter what subject matter or topic you want to teach, how much experience you have in creating video and lessons, or whether you’ve ever put together a marketing campaign in your life, creating an online course can be accomplished in a few simple, easy steps.

Which is what we’re doing in this epic 12,000-word guide today. We’ve broken down the process into eight simple steps to build an online course:

  1. Decide if creating an online course is right for you
  2. Find your first online course idea
  3. Create a plan and outline for your online course content
  4. Build your online course content
  5. Settle on the price for your online course
  6. Choose a launch model for your online course
  7. Sell your online course through email marketing
  8. Write sales pages that convert customers

Sound good? Then let’s get started.

We hope you enjoy our guide, and we wish you the best of luck with your online course!

Table of Contents

  1. Chapter 1

    Who should create an online course and what are the benefits?

    Is creating an online course right for you? In this chapter, we’ll look at who can benefit from producing an online course and what the perks of online education are for entrepreneurs and their customers. We’ll also take a look at the most common mental barriers that creators face when they get started and the best way to overcome them.

    Jump to chapter 1
  2. Chapter 2

    How to come up with ideas for your online course

    Coming up with a profitable idea frustrates a lot of people, but it doesn’t have to stop you. The second chapter of this guide will take you from inspiration to conceptualization with a proven step-by-step process to help you identify the best market for your business, the products that market will respond to, and how to marry your passion with product development.

    Jump to chapter 2
  3. Chapter 3

    Starting with success: How to plan your course content

    After you’ve settled on an idea for your online course, you need to start thinking about the best content types -- videos, workbooks, PDFs, and et cetera -- for reaching your audience. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of different content formats and discuss the best uses of each as well as address accessibility concerns for your audience.

    Jump to chapter 3
  4. Chapter 4

    How to build awesome online course content (with examples)

    Now that you’re equipped with inspiration, an idea, and a firm grasp of the best content types to build your online course, the fourth chapter of this guide takes you from concept to development with detailed how-to instructions for creating your materials. We’ll cover the ins-and-outs of how to produce screen recordings, talking head videos, audio files, and text-based supplements.

    Jump to chapter 4
  5. Chapter 5

    The pitch: Pricing and packaging

    After you build your product and flesh out your content, it’s time to get down to the three P’s of marketing: your pricing, packaging, and pitching. How you price your online course and present it to your audience is just as important as the content of the course itself. After this chapter, you’ll have a keen understanding of the naming and pricing conventions as well as best practices for offering -- or not offering -- guarantees.

    Jump to chapter 5
  6. Chapter 6

    Product launches vs. Evergreen sales

    How and when you sell your course matters -- a lot. Should you sell with launches or allow your customers to buy anytime? Think of it as the difference between a big launch party or a regular weekly meeting: there are pros and cons to both approaches, and deciding which one is best for your product depends on the audience and the creator behind it.

    Jump to chapter 6
  7. Chapter 7

    Email marketing for online courses

    Most marketing trends come and go with the seasons -- all except one. Email marketing is the most reliable marketing channel to create your digital tribe and build your business, but the key word there is ‘build’. In this chapter, we’ll talk about the benefits of email marketing, as well as the pivotal steps required for growing your email list and nurturing your leads.

    Jump to chapter 7
  8. Chapter 8

    Writing an online course sales page that converts

    Sales writing is as much an art as it is a science, and in this chapter, we’ll teach you both. Make no mistake: the stakes are high when it comes to word choice. What you say, or don’t say, on your sales page can be the difference between earning a lifelong customer or losing a lead at first pass. By the end of this chapter, you’ll have a proven formula used by legions of professional writers to produce, proof, and polish your sales page writing to perfection.

    Jump to chapter 8

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