How to Create an Online Course for Free

 

If you want to create an online course but you’re not sure where to start, this is the guide for you.

 

This article is going to walk you through everything you need to know about creating, launching, and selling your own online course. And doing it on a small budget too.

 

So grab a cold one, kick up your feet, and let’s get to it.

 

 

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WHY CREATE AN ONLINE COURSE

 

Let’s start there. 

 

Why the heck would anyone ever want to create an online course, anyway?

 

Here are the big three.

 

1. SHARING YOUR KNOWLEDGE

 

You (yes, I’m looking at YOU) have something valuable to share. Everybody does.

 

If you could package up that knowledge, that value, and share it with more people in the most effective way possible, wouldn’t you want to do that?

 

If you could earn extra income sharing what you know with people through your own training course, wouldn’t you want to do that?

 

Most people probably would!

 

Some popular course topics that are crazy successful:

 

Beekeeping for Beginners

Baking Sourdough Bread at Home

Knitting Basics

Mixed Martial Arts Techniques

Homeschooling

Roller Blading

Potty Training

Home Organization

Investing in the Stock Market

Making Money from Home

 

You can see that there is a wide variety of educational content out there that is making money and helping people at the same time.

 

Another great reason to create an online course…

 

2. EARNING PASSIVE INCOME

 

Once you create and launch your online course, it can continue to bring in money on a regular basis, with very little maintenance work on your part.

 

Who doesn’t want to open up their bank app and see a couple extra bucks in there each day, without having to get dressed and go to work? How about an extra hundred bucks, or thousand bucks?

 

I know I sure do!

 

And it’s 100% possible. Course creators do the creation work one time. Then set their price, promote their product, and that’s that.

 

My very FIRST course-sales paycheck…

 

It takes some time and strategic effort (this is NOT a get-rich-quick deal) but it’s well worth the work. 

 

3. BUILDING AUTHORITY

 

Once you have created your own online course, your expertise on that topic shines through in the published work you created. 

 

As people begin to buy, share, and implement the training/education you’ve created, your authority in that space grows… and this opens so many incredible opportunities for you as an entrepreneur. 

 

We’ll talk more about this later in the article, but at this point, let’s just acknowledge that creating an online course comes with income and authority that’s worth working for.

 

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO CREATE AN ONLINE COURSE?

 

The truth is: creating an online course takes some time and effort, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

 

In fact, you can get the ball rolling entirely for FREE.

 

Of course, all profitable businesses come with some costs and investments at some point, but you can validate your idea, launch your course, and start earning from it, with very little money invested.

 

We’re talking between the range of $0 to $120 max. I only know this because it’s exactly what I did.

 

Let me walk you through the process.

 

BEFORE SETTING UP YOUR ONLINE COURSE

 

There are a few things that you need to have in place before creating your course.

 

This will save you money (instead of wasting time paying for course hosting that you aren’t using yet), and it will help you validate your idea to make sure it’s profitable.

 

We’re going to break down the top 5 things you need to do before actually setting up your online course.

 

THING ONE: DEFINE YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

 

Before you do anything else, make sure you know WHO you’re creating this course for.

 

Plumbers don’t start a business without knowing their target audience FIRST, grocery store owners don’t start a business without knowing their audience FIRST. Tattoo artists don’t start a business without knowing their audience first.

 

Since your audience (your potential buyers) will need to be willing to hand over their credit card to purchase what you’re offering, you need to make sure that you have them figured out and you can fill a need for them.

 

Who are your potential course students? 

 

Are they:

 

– New moms that need to potty train their toddlers? 

– Electricians that need to prep for their Journeyman license?

– Entrepreneurs that want to set up a business? 

– Ministers that want to establish a non-profit organization?

– New home owners that want to learn proper homesteading?

 

No need to agonize over this question, it’s just something to brainstorm about before you start to create an online course.

 

THING TWO: CHOOSE YOUR TOPIC

 

Once you know who your target audience is and what their pain points are, you can start brainstorming an actual course topic.

 

Your course topic should solve a very specific problem for your target audience.

 

Most of the time, a very niche-focused course is going to be more helpful and more profitable than a broad-based course. Because people are looking for very specific solutions to very specific problems.

 

Instead of teaching someone how to build a house, teach them how to install the carpet or paint properly. Instead of teaching someone how to raise happy kids, teach moms of toddlers how to help them manage big emotions.

 

These are just examples of course. But the point is that solving smaller, more specific problems is usually the best way to go when it comes to building your first online course. 

 

Think of your own strengths and expertise. What topic could you write about that would be helpful to your target audience?

 

THING THREE: DO MARKET RESEARCH

 

Once you have a course idea in mind, you should do some market research to make sure this is a topic that people are actually interested in.

 

THIS STEP IS SO IMPORTANT!

 

When doing your market research, you’ll want to gather two sets of data: primary data and secondary data.

 

Your primary research is the information that comes directly from PEOPLE: your potential buyers. And your secondary research is the information that comes from secondary sources: statistics, data reports, etc. 

 

Some places that you can do primary market research:

 

Facebook groups.

 

Join Facebook groups in your target niche and get feedback from the people that could potentially benefit from your idea. Polls are an easy way to get a basic understanding of people’s wants and needs. 

 

Here are a few Facebook groups where you can do general market research:

 

Becoming a Blogger

Blogging Babes Collective

Boss Moms

 

The comment section.

 

Read the comments on your own blog daily. Read the comments on other blogs in your niche, in Facebook groups, on social media. 

 

What are people asking about over and over again?

 

Survey your email list.

 

If you have your own email list or social following, ask your people what they need.

 

As secondary research, you can do keyword research to see what terms people search for often. You can check Google Trends to see if your course topic is of interest to people (an uptrend over time is always a good sign)!

 

 

You can also browse through Answer the Public for recent search topic data.

 

Gather as much data and feedback as you possibly can to validate your idea and make sure that your course topic feels a real need for people.

 

THING FOUR: STRUCTURE YOUR COURSE

 

Once you have a topic nailed down and you have done your market research, you’re ready to start building your course.

 

But most course creation platforms offer a very short trial period, so I always recommend structuring your course before setting up any kind of course hosting.

 

Most course platforms will allow you organize your course into sections and modules, and you can usually add text, video, or downloadable files. We’ll cover this in detail below when we actually set up your online course, but for now, having an outline or some kind of structure is ideal!

 

Start with something like this:

 

The course student needs help accomplishing X (your solution goes here). This course will include a 10-step strategy to help them accomplish their goal. So, it might be structured like so:

 

INTRODUCTION

       WELCOME VIDEO

       PRINTABLE WORKSHEET

FIRST MODULE

       1a. TEXT

       1b. VIDEO

       1c. DOWNLOADABLE PDF

SECOND MODULE

       2a. TEXT

       2b. VIDEO

       2c. DOWNLOADABLE PDF

THIRD MODULE

       3a. TEXT

       3b. VIDEO

       3c. DOWNLOADABLE PDF

…. etc etc etc.

CONCLUSION

 

Fill in as much of the course content as you can before purchasing the hosting platform for your course.

 

You might include: 

 

Videos

Audio

Text

PDFs

Homework

Worksheets

Slideshow presentations

 

Whatever format you choose for your online course, make sure that it’s easy to consume for your students. 

 

THING FIVE: CHOOSE YOUR PRICE POINT

 

What will you charge for this knowledge that you’re sharing?

 

At this point, you’ve done the market research and validated your course idea: you know that people will pay for a valuable educational course like the one you’re creating.

 

The price point you choose depends on two major things:

 

1. Your income goals.

2. The value you’re providing.

 

Let’s say that your goal is to earn $1,000 a month from your course.

 

If you sell it for $25, you’re going to have to sell at least 40 courses a month to hit your goal. But if you sell your course for $100, you’ll only need to sell 10. 

 

That’s the kinda math >> THIS GIRL << likes to do!

 

Start with identifying your income goal, the size of your audience, and how many courses you’ll need to sell each month to hit your goal.

 

Then consider the value you’re providing.

 

People are happy to pay for solutions to their problems. If you can make my life or job easier or better, I’m gonna say ‘shut up and take my money!’

 

If you’re providing something simple and helpful, like a single module guide with a few short videos, you might be comfortable selling that for 20 or 30 bucks. And if you’re selling something extremely detailed, strategic, and comprehensive, you might price the course a bit higher.

 

Course prices range from $0 to over $2,000… it just depends on your goals and the value your audience sees in the product.

 

Remember, that you can always change your prices later!

 

And now that you have your course structure and pricing are pretty much set, you can move on to setting up your online school.

 

SETTING UP YOUR ONLINE SCHOOL

 

To set up your first online course, you’ll need to choose a platform to host that course.

 

I use Teachable for all of my online courses.

 

They make it easy to create, design, and sell your online course. And they also make it easy to invite affiliates to join and promote your course for you (making your job soooo much easier).

 

 

You can sign up for a FREE Teachable trial right here.

 

Just name your school, answer a few questions, and then start creating your first course. It’s seriously that simple.

After setting up your online school, you have a free 14-day trial to get familiar with the platform.

 

 

As of the publishing date of this article, after your FREE trial, the monthly cost for their basic plan is $39. If you pay annually, it’s $29/month.

 

Although investing in your business can be a little scary, just think: if you sell your course for $39, you would only need to sell ONE COURSE a month to cover the cost of course hosting. If you sell two courses a month, you have a profitable course!

 

Sell a premium course for a hundred bucks or more, and you’ve got a LOT more wiggle room.

 

We’re gonna get you there, so hang in with me!

 

CREATING YOUR COURSE

 

Hopefully you plan to follow our prep steps above and create some kind of outline or course structure ahead of time.

 

This will ensure that you maximize your free trial and have time to start promoting your course before your trial ends. 

 

When you’re ready to login to Teachable and start creating your course on the platform, you’ll follow these steps.

 

Login to Teachable here.

 

In your admin dashboard, you’ll see a list of options on the left side of your screen. Click on ‘Courses’ and then ‘Create a New Course’. 

 

Looks something like this:

 

 

You’ll click that button and then you’ll be prompted to name your course. 

 

You can always change the name later, but I highly recommend focusing on the SOLUTION that you provide in your course title.

 

 

As soon as you create your title and subtitle, you can create your curriculum.

 

Teachable courses are organized by SECTIONS (modules) and LECTURES (content in each module). You can have as many lectures as you want in each section. And your lectures can include anything from text, to video, to quizzes and more.

 

 

After adding all of your content into your course modules, you can set the price and hit PUBLISH!

 

PROMOTING YOUR COURSE

 

Before you start promoting your course, you’ll need to design the sales page and the ‘Thank You’ page that buyers see after making their purchase. 

 

You’ll do this from your admin dashboard where it says ‘Pages’. 

 

Looks something like this:

 

 

You can design your sales page, checkout page, and thank you page from right here. 

 

After setting up (and saving) the sales page, just grab the page URL and start sharing that baby with your audience!

 

 

Remember to focus on the solutions you’re providing for them.

 

We’re not begging for sales, we’re offering solutions through our course training programs.

 

WHERE TO PROMOTE YOUR ONLINE COURSE

 

Your ultimate goal should be to get that course sales page in front of your target audience wherever they are spending time (without being spammy).

 

You have a few options and these are the main ones:

 

1. Create great content that leads people to your courses naturally.

 

This involves creating helpful blog posts, social media posts, emails, and pin images that lead people back to your content and your solutions. 

 

Highly optimized blog posts will bring in targeted blog readers that are actively searching for the solutions you provide, so be sure to create some blog posts around your course topic and optimize the heck out of them!

 

This free SEO Masterclass will teach you everything you need to know about creating highly optimized content for your readers. 

 

2. Actively seek out your potential buyers and present your solutions to them.

 

People are social online. They’re looking for help, asking questions, offering solutions, recommending products and services.

 

Go where your people are and engage with them.

 

Offer advice, offer solutions, start a conversation.

 

Remember, we aren’t begging for course sales, we’re opening up doors and nurturing relationships with people that need what we offer.

 

Other options:

 

– Send emails to your subscribers.

– Share the news of your course launch on social media.

– Ask affiliates to spread the word about your course.

– Share in Facebook groups that allow promotions.

– Share in promo threads.

– Create eye-catching pins for Pinterest.

– Offer freebies that build up to your paid products.

 

ALTERNATIVE COURSE PLATFORMS

 

If Teachable just isn’t in your budget, you do have a few other options!

 

Although I use and love Teachable, I’m a firm believer in doing your homework and choosing the option that works best for you and your budget.

 

And the truth is: no course platform is perfect!

 

They all have perks and flaws. You just have to find what works for you.

 

PODIA

 

Podia surfaced a few years ago as the ‘hot new thing’ and a lot of course creators love them. 

 

Their monthly plan is also $39, but the perk of Podia is that they don’t charge any transaction fees for your sales, which means more money in your pocket.

 

You can start your free Podia trial right here

 

The only downside of their smallest plan: you can’t have affiliates until you upgrade to the pro-plan, which is the same 

 

THINKIFIC

 

Thinkific is another popular choice among course creators. 

 

If you buy their annual plan, you save 20% and unlike Teachable and Podia, you do get to take advantage of having affiliates on their smallest plan.

 

You can start your free Thinkific trial right here.

 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

 

The platform where you host your site is less important than the contents and value of your course, so spend your time and energy on that.

 

Do some market research to see if people are interested in your course topic, create the course structure, and then publish your content on the platform of your choice.

 

Don’t forget to put some effort into promotions, blog posts, and proactive communication and relationship-building among your potential students.

 

Once you start selling your course, you might need to make some adjustments after collecting feedback from your students: that is okay! Accept feedback and adapt as needed.

 

As course creators, we’ll keep learning, adjusting, and responding to the needs of our students. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

 

Don’t forget to grab your FREE Teachable trial right here!

 

 

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