online course

7 Steps to Validate Your Idea for a Profitable Online Course

Online courses are gaining immense popularity among aspiring entrepreneurs, students and professionals alike.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further driven the growth of the global e-learning industry: since surpassing $200 billion in 2019, the online learning industry is now expected to grow at 8 percent CAGR between 2020 and 2026.

Thus, launching an online course is a perfect business idea for anyone who has knowledge and expertise in a particular niche or subject. However, before you plan to launch an online course, you should validate whether or not the idea is profitable.

But, how do you do that?

Let’s find out.

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Step 1: Brainstorm topic ideas for your online course

First things first, you should brainstorm topic ideas for your online course.

Some of the top-trending online course topic ideas include:

  • Language learning
  • Creative arts, such as music, photography, etc.
  • Professional online courses on e-commerce, marketing, accounting, programming, etc.
  • Heath and fitness-focused learning programs such as yoga, dance, home workouts, etc.
  • Self-improvement courses on relationship building, personality development, etc.

While these are evergreen topics that always sell (and they’re practically recession-proof), to find a value-packed topic for your online course, you should choose subjects that:

  • You are knowledgeable in
  • You are passionate about
  • You can teach others
  • People are looking for

Your course topic comes down to: what you’re skilled at + what you love doing + what your audience needs

Step 2: Determine market demand for your chosen topic

Once you have a list of potential topic ideas, it’s time to determine their market demand.

You need to determine:

  • What is the search volume of your topic idea?
  • Do people need a course on similar subjects?
  • If they need a course, are they willing to pay to learn more about it?

You can utilize Google searches, question and answer forums, and Reddit results to determine your preferred topics’ search volume. Type out the keywords that your audience might use to discover your course and check out their corresponding search volume. Then, cross off the topic ideas that are not in demand.

Conducting keyword searches will also help you identify profitable keywords for your online course.

Related: WJR Business Beat with Jeff Sloan: Online Education and Training

Step 3: Conduct competitive research

When launching an online course, you must conduct market research and competitive analysis.

You should conduct competitive research to identify:

  • What type of online courses are others offering on your topic?
  • How popular is your chosen topic?
  • What do other courses include in terms of subtopics, resources and assignments?
  • Do your competitors offer certification?
  • How are your competitors pricing the course?

To find this data, search for online courses related to your chosen topic on platforms like Udemy and Skillshare. If somebody else’s course sold thousands of copies on one of these platforms, there is clearly a strong demand for this topic.

Step 4: Conduct surveys to identify problems

Create a survey using Google Forms to find out what problems or challenges your target audience is facing.

If you’re thinking of launching a course on “how to become an influencer,” for example, some good questions to ask your target audience include:

  • What are their goals as a budding influencer?
  • Are they passionate about multiple niches and finding it difficult to select one?
  • Do they already have a decent fan base on social media?
  • What problems do they face in growing their follower count?
  • What’s the most challenging part of becoming an influencer?
  • What do they need help with?
  • Do they need tips to scale content creation efforts or to find brand collaboration opportunities?

Asking these questions will help you learn the kind of information and solutions that your target audience is looking for. You can analyze the results and take notes to create a value-packed online course that generates sales.

Step 5: Search Kindle for books on your chosen topic

Kindle has a number of e-books on various topics written by niche experts. You should look for e-books on your chosen topics to get an idea about its demand, popularity and the content covered. You can also take inspiration from the sub-topics covered in these e-books while creating your online course.

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Step 6: Start blogging about your niche topic

Before launching an online course, you should consider blogging on your niche topic. This will not only help you attract readers, but will also help you build credibility.

Why should people pay for your content or course? How can they trust you without seeing your capabilities?

To build trust, you should start a blog and publish valuable content on niche-specific topics. If people find your blog posts insightful, they are likely to show interest in your online course on a similar topic.

Furthermore, you can make your blog a top marketing tool for your online course.

Step 7: Test the selling potential of your online course

Before you create a full-fledged course and launch it, you need to test the waters. One of the most effective ways to test the selling potential of your online course is to create a concise e-book of your own on the topic.

Your e-book should cover the basics of your chosen topic, and you should then:

  • Build a landing page to sell your e-book at a reasonable price
  • Promote the e-book to your target audience through email marketing and social media marketing
  • Determine whether or not people are willing to pay for this content

While marketing your e-book, you can also create a landing page to pre-sell your online course at discounted rates. This will help you validate the profitability of your idea.

Are you ready to launch your online course?

Creating an online course isn’t hard. What’s challenging is finding a topic idea that has the potential to convert into a profitable online course. You need to find a topic that people want to learn about and are willing to pay for. You should research the competition to understand what others are offering and at what prices. This will help you find gaps to provide more value to your target audience.

Launching an in-demand online course can become a great source of passive income.

Do you have other questions about validating your topic idea or launching an online course? Feel free to ask them in the comments below.

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