online course

How Entrepreneurs Can Create a Successful Online Course or Program

It’s no secret that online learning is ridiculously popular. Even before COVID-19 forced many businesses and industries to pivot online (or shut their doors completely), the e-learning industry was booming. In 2019, the e-learning market hit a whopping $200 billion in revenue, and experts are projecting the online course industry to surpass $325 billion by 2025.

As traditional education methods continue to lose relevance in this technology-driven world, it’s obvious that online learning offers a huge opportunity for many business owners and entrepreneurs. Not only do online courses and programs create additional streams of revenue that are largely passive, they also offer targeted solutions to customers who are desperate for content that solves their problems. After all, who wants to spend two years doing theoretical work in an MBA program when you can learn a targeted skill from an expert in six weeks for a fraction of the cost?

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If you’re someone who wants to capitalize on this opportunity and create your own online course or program—and actually make it successful—here are three tips to make it happen.

Start by solving a problem you know how to solve

This one sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who create courses about topics they think they should create courses about rather than sticking to what they know. Sure, you might identify a market for a course about accounting for small businesses, but if you don’t actually know anything about accounting for small businesses, that probably isn’t the topic for you.

People buy from businesses and entrepreneurs they trust, and the easiest way to create that trust is by establishing authority. If you’re an expert on a topic, it’s a heck of a lot easier to create—and sell—a course on that topic than it is if you’re throwing a course together just because you can.

Related: 7 Steps to Validate Your Idea for a Profitable Online Course

The more you niche down, the better

Anyone can create a course about how to start a business, but general topics are ridiculously hard to sell—especially since you’re going to be up against powerhouse course creators and learning platforms like Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning and more.

Instead, make sure you’re creating a tangible, results-driven course. If you want your course to sell, people can’t wonder, “What problem is this trying to solve?” It needs to be obvious. Problem, action, solution kind of obvious.

And remember, it can’t be obvious just to you. Sure, you might recognize the value in your course topic as someone who invented the course, but if it isn’t immediately obvious to your target market within seconds, no one is going to buy.

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Sell it before you build it

Here’s the thing. When it comes to building—and selling—a profitable online course or program, the last thing you want to do is spend six months building the thing only to hear crickets when your sales page goes live. Sure, there are still lessons to be learned throughout that process, but if you want to be successful, then you need to be willing to try and fail as fast as humanly possible.

That means you need to sell your course idea before you’ve even built it. Create a sales page that demonstrates a clear value and start putting it out there. Invest a couple hundred bucks into ads that drive traffic to the page and see if the idea is actually converting. If it does, cool. You’ve just validated your course idea and you now have a handful of customers ready and waiting to take your course—what better motivation is there to start (and nail) the course creation process than customers waiting in the queue?

If no one buys, however, then all you’ve done is lost a few hundred bucks and a couple of weeks of your time. That might not sound great to you, but I’d rather lose that time—and move onto the next idea—than lose six, eight, or even twelve months building a course that only lands a single sale.

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