Quick Guide to Getting Started —

How to Create a Profitable Online Course

Creating online courses are one of the best ways to monetize your expertise and help your audience.

This guide will help you get started with planning your course idea, creating your curriculum, and building the sales funnel to generate income.

Let's get started:

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Why Online Courses are Awesome...

I developed this free guide to help you create a profitable online course...

...which I personally believe are one of the BEST products any entrepreneur or content creator can develop as a way to monetize their expertise.

You may be saying "why are they so great?".

Here's why:

Low Start-Up & Manufacturing Cost

Compared to physical products, online courses don't require materials and packaging. So your expenses are low making it accessible for any entrepreneur to develop with only $100. Plus you don't need to worry about shipping, returns and so on...

Create Once, Sell Repeatably

With online courses, you record the lessons once and then can sell it an infinite amount of times. This makes your product highly scalable. In addition, it's not uncommon for courses to be priced $100+, making your profit margins one of the highest for products.

A Great Passive-Income Source

The best part about online courses is that they generate passive income (more on this below). Your course can be sold while you sleep and automation systems will handle the backend for you. There's no need to show up for lessons or ship your product.

I'm Here to Share my Experiments & Experience...

As you can see...

...Online courses are a great product to develop.

You don't need a degree, or crazy specific qualifications to make an online course either — anyone can do it.

Seriously, anyone.

All that's required is:

  1. A common problem to solve (something your audience struggles with)
  2. A step-by-step solution to that problem (your course idea)
  3. A tool to host your course and manage the backend payment process

I started creating courses over 2+ years ago.

And luckily I now earn passive-income such as this:

Example of earnings Aaron Ward makes from online courses

Firstly, what is passive income?

I'm not going to lie:

Online courses require hard up-front work and time to build.

Like anything in life, the more work and determination you put in...

...the greater the result.

Once everything is set up and you have automation systems in place, you will be generating passive income!

Pat Flynn explains passive income perfectly:

"Build online businesses that take advantage of systems of automation that allow transactions, cash flow, and growth to happen without requiring a real-time presence."

What this means is that you work hard in the beginning to set up your online course.

And then you'll make sales while you do other things with your time.

For example:

A physical shop needs someone to be in the shop to exchange their products for money.

This is known as trading time for money, and is typically applicable to all 9-5 jobs. 👎

Whereas if you sell a pre-recorded online courses with an automated backend system that markets the course through emails, and handles transactions for you. You don't actually need to trade your time to make sales.

And that's the aim:

To have a business that doesn't require your time to make money.

This gives you a lot more freedom and also scalability, as you only have so much time per day (this is why 9-5 jobs suck because your limited on how many hours a day you can make money).

Where as your not limited on how many courses you can sell because you could make a sale:

  • While you sleep
  • While you spend time with friends and family
  • Heck, even while pooping you can generate a sale

So hopefully you're onboard.

Here's how you can get started:

Step 1 — Discovering Your Profitable Course Idea

Planning your course idea doesn't need to be hard.

In fact:

The simpler your course, and the more simple the outcome the better it will sell.

The best course ideas solve a problem in a structured step-by-step process.

Let's see how you can discover a course idea and problem to solve:

1. Ask Your Community What They Want...

The best online course ideas come from your community (the audience and following you've built).

These people have problems and WANT SOLUTIONS.

Your online course = the solution.

You want to ask your community:

  1. What their #1 problem or greatest struggles are
  2. And what online course they would love to see you create

The best question to ask is 'The 1 question':

"What do you want to know more about [BLANK]?"

You just replace "BLANK" with the topic you want your audience to tell you about.

And that's it. Nothing else.

This one question isn't overwhelming and most people can easily answer it.

Yes... not everyone is going to answer you...

...but the replies you do get are amazing because they will help you understand the problems your audience are having, which you can use as information to build a course around.

Great tools to help you ask your audience questions are:

Google Forms

Google forms are free, and easy to use.

Make sure to keep your questions simple, and to the point.

The less questions you ask, the more likely you'll get responses and not overwhelm your followers.

Visit Google Forms
Google forms example

Typeform

Typeform is just like Google forms but has a little more of a modern design to it.

You'll be able to do the same thing as Google forms, but get better data and analytics about how users interact with your form.

In addition, they're built with user experience in mind — so you an get more completions.

Visit Typeform
Typeform example

Step 2 — Building Your Online Course

Once you've got a course idea...

...and figured out a problem that your audience has and how you can best help them solve that problem:

It's time to build your online course curriculum!

Here's how:

1. Keep it Stupid Simple...

Simple online courses are profitable online courses.

People want answers and solutions fast.

Think about it — would you rather:

  1. Watch 10 hours of lessons
  2. Or watch 1 hour of lessons...

...and still get the same result.

Online courses that target ONE problem and provide ONE step-by-step solution are the courses that sell.

You don't want to try and solve multiple problems. It's going to make it very hard for you to market the course and find the right audience who wants to buy it.

For example:

Bad — An online course teaching you how to go fishing is too broad.

Good — Whereas a course that teaches you how to catch a bass fish in a kayak is LAZER-FOCUSED and is a clear outcome.

Another example would be:

Bad — A course on how to make money on Instagram.

Good — A course on how to land your first $1,000 Instagram brand promotion through influencing.

The more specific the outcome, the better the course idea/sales and so on will be.

Always keep this in mind and ask yourself the question:

"What is the transformation my student has after taking this course?"

And:

"What problem do they start with, and what is the outcome after completing the course?"

If you can answer those 2 questions in a simple way...

...You've nailed it on the head :)

2. Pre-Sell Before you Create Your Online Course...

Something you can do before you dedicate time towards recording your lessons (coming up next below) is to pre-sell your course.

This means you let your audience know about the course, build a sales page, and have them purchase it before you actually make anything.

This can be great as it gives you reassurance that people want the course...

...and will save you from wasting your time building something no one wants.

To do this, I recommend using Teachable (I'll be talking about this more later) to create a sales page to pre-sell your course.

Use Teachable to create and sell your online course

Teachable is the #1 tool for selling and hosting online courses and it's what I use to host my courses.

You'll be able to create a sales page and build out your curriculum so that people can purchase your course before you go create it.

Plus you can start for free using this link.

Just make sure to mention it is a pre-sale so no one is upset when they find out there's no lessons inside!

3. Record Your Lessons...

Next up you'll need to record your lessons.

Personally I love keeping it dead simple by using a slides and recording my screen.

This may seem too simple, but once again keeping it stupid simple is the best way to go.

In the design world the phrase "less is more" is used a lot...

...And it also applies to product creation.

The way you record your lessons is up to you.

Want to go full-production with lights, different camera angles and so on? Awesome go for it!

Want to keep it simple by using slides and a screen recorder? Great your students will still love your course.

The most important thing is your content and audio quality.

People want the lessons to be informative and the audio to be clear.

Everything else such as your lighting, videography skills, extra animation and so forth isn't necessary, but is a nice bonus. Student's won't be upset though if it's not hollywood quality.

I always recommend for your first time recording to keep it simple, because it's most likely that you'll receive course feedback from students and all the lessons will change.

It's just how it works...ask any course creator and they'll say their lessons changed after getting feedback.

Here's some resources to help you record your lessons:

Open Broadcast Software

OBS is an awesome FREE screen recording tool that let's you place different elements on your screen to be recorded.

You may have seen on my videos and courses that I have my screen and talking-head video at the bottom right.

I achieve this through OBS recording my screen and webcam at the same time.

Visit OBS
Use OBS to record your screen and webcam

Google Slides

Simple and effective. So many entrepreneurs use Google Slides to create their course lessons in.

A word of advise: keep the slides short and sweet otherwise people can get bored.

I personally like to mix slides and live demonstration lessons together. However other course creators will only use slides with examples inside those slides.

Visit Google slides
Use Google Slides to create your course lessons

Recording Equipment

There's lot's of equipment you can purchase and use for making courses. It's really down to personal preference.

Everyone's different but here's what I use.

I recommend investing in a good microphone as audio is very important.

Microphone: AudioTechnica ATR2100 USB

Webcam: Logitech C90

Camera: Canon 80D (18-55mm Lens)

Camera Mic: Rode VideoMic Pro Plus

Purchase your course recording equipment off Amazon

Teachable

Teachable is the #1 platform for hosting and selling online courses.

You can build a sales page for your course and have a whole back-end to manage, create and sell your course.

This is the platform myself and many other successful entrepreneurs such as Pat Flynn and Melyssa Griffin use to host and sell their online courses.

You can also create a free account to get started:

Visit Teachable
Use Teachable to host and sell your online course

Proof App

Proof is an awesome and optional third party tool that helps you increase your sign ups.

It does this through saying who recently joined or purchased your course by displaying a notification on your sales page.

It will show a live visitor count, recent conversions and hot streaks.

Social proof is critical to helping you boost sales as visitors will trust your product more if they can see others purchasing it.

I personally use and love this tool so I wanted to recommend it for you to also use.

Visit ProofApp
Use ProofApp to increase your online course conversions

Step 3 — Selling Your Online Course

Everything is in place!

Congratulations on creating your course.

It's now time to create an evergreen sales funnel.

This means your course will be sold using a system that automates your marketing and promotion so you can generate sales.

Let's jump in:

1. Host and Sell Your Course

It's time to start making passive-income.

The first step is to set up hosting for your course.

If you haven't already, join Teachable and create a free account.

With Teachable you'll be able to to drag-and-drop build your course and sales page.

In addition, Teachable will manage the transactions and delivery of the course to any customers.

Once you've done this you'll then be able to promote your course to your audience.

Here's a sweet template:

For your sales page you will want to follow this proven formula to creating a high-converting sales page (thanks to ConvertKit).

Online course sales page template

2. Build an Evergreen Sales Funnel Using Email Automation

To kickstart your evergreen sales funnel you will want to focus on building your email list.

Specifically adding prospects who are interested in the topic you are teaching.

The reason you want to build an email list is because it's all automated:

  1. You offer someone a lead magnet (freebie) in return for their email address
  2. They get added to a pre-written email sequence
  3. You email them information about your paid course (promote)
  4. You generate sales!

There are various ways to build an email list, but here's my recommendation from experience and testing:

I recommend you create a free mini course (your lead magnet) that is related to your main product.

Firstly, people LOVE free online courses and will want to join in a heart beat.

Secondly, this free online courses will be relevant to your paid product, so it will naturally attract students who will be more likely to purchase your main paid course.

To make this free course, I recommend taking a section out of your paid course as an 'introduction' to the topic.

Or alternatively you could create a course for beginners in your niche.

For example:

I created an Instagram Crash Course for beginners just getting started on the platform.

It has lessons such as how to optimize your profile, what to post, and an introduction to using Instagram marketing automation tools.

These students get added to my email list, where I then promote my main course Instagram Masterminds to them.

Secret: You can join the free course to see the exact emails and marketing I do.

Once you have a lead magnet...

...You want to promote it everywhere:

  • Your website — navigation bar, blog posts, hero section, footer, and anywhere else which is relevant
  • Content you create — for example in a YouTube video, or blog post mention people can join your course for free
  • Ads — if you've got the budget, create ads to generate sign ups on Facebook for example

The best part is:

The more content you make promoting your free course = the more email list subscribers you get.

Which in return means more people will discover your paid course...

...Which means more sales!

Here's my resource recommendation for building your email list:

Convertkit

Convertkit is my go-to resource for building my email list and automating email sequences.

It makes it super simple to build forms to collect subscriber information, and it's easy to set up sequences to send out pre-written emails.

Plus, it easily integrates with Teachable! So when someone joins a course (e.g. your free one) it will add them to an email sequence that will send out emails promoting your paid course.

Visit Convertkit
Use Convertkit to grow your email list

3. Promote Your Course & Optimize

Finally you will want to spend time fine tuning your sales page copy, gathering feedback from students to improve the course, and work on other promotional methods such as Facebook ads.

Because there are lot's of things you can do:

I'd recommend that you focus on one area, master it, and then introduce a new tool or platform.

Before we close off...

...I want to leave you with some recommendations:

Set Up and Use Google Analytics

Use Google Analytics to gather data about your website visitors

Google Analytics is going to give you helpful information about your sales page visitors.

It will also help you track your conversion rate when you set up Goals so you can see what is working, where your traffic is coming from, your audiences interests and so much more key information.

Learn About and Use Google Tags

Add Google Tags to your website to manage your code snippets

Google Tags let's you add multiple code snippets (such as Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel and so on...) to your website through only using one code snippet.

So Instead of including copy for 3 different services in your <head> tag, you just include the Google Tag code.

In addition, you can set up Tags to track user interactions such as if they click the checkout button — which you could send to your Facebook pixel.

Learn About and Use Google Optimize

Personalize your site with Google Optimize

Google Optimize is a neat tool that let's you split A/B test features on your sales page without coding anything.

For example, you can do a 50/50 test where Google optimize will show a sales page using Headline A 50% of the time and Headline B 50% of the time.

It links then to your Google Analytics account so you can see what features (such as your headline, copy, button colors, images, and so on...) perform

Keep Testing and Learning

To finish up:

The best way you can improve sales is to keep on thinking, testing ideas and through listening to your students.

Through listening to your students and looking at the words and phrases they use...

...you'll discover exactly what resonates with them. Use these phrases and words in your headlines, sales videos and copy.

Because it will relate with others.

If you want to continue learning about creating online courses I have two resources:

My Blog Great for go-to guides that will help you optimize your business.

My YouTube I love making videos and tutorials to help you build and grow your business.

My Courses I do what I preach ;) Feel free to join a free or paid online course I've made

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You'll learn exactly how to find a profitable course idea, build your curriculum, and create an online school to host & sell your course.

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