10 Tips For How to Create Online Courses That Sell

How do you create online courses that sell? Here are tips from successful experts who have created a solid stream…

By Ivana Taylor

Published on November 24, 2022

In This Article

If you’re a freelancer, consultant, or coach, you can create an income stream by teaching people what comes naturally to you. But creating an online course isn’t enough, you have to create online courses that sells.

How do you do that? Well, I wanted to know what the most successful course-sellers did and share their tips with you.

Here they are.

Start With the End in Mind

I’m an online course creator, and my best process for creating a successful online course involves starting with the end in mind. 

I always think about what results or outcomes I want to achieve with my students, and then work backward from there. Once I have defined the outcome and aligned it with my goals, it’s much easier to create a course that will really resonate with my students and help them achieve the outcomes they are looking for. 

I also try to incorporate a variety of tools, resources, and activities into my course so that there is something for everyone.

Brian Meiggs, Founder, My Millennial Guide

Teach Topics You Are Passionate About

If you’re thinking about creating an online course, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to create a successful product. 

First, it’s important to choose a topic that you’re passionate about and that you have extensive knowledge of. This will not only make the process more enjoyable for you, but it will also allow you to create a more comprehensive and engaging course. 

It’s also important to know your audience and what they’re looking for in a course. What are their pain points? What solutions are they looking for? Answering these questions will help you structure your course in a way that provides value and meets the needs of your audience. 

Finally, it’s important to promote your course effectively. Creating interesting marketing material and leveraging social media can help you reach your target market and sell your course. 

By following these steps, you can create an online course that is both enjoyable to create and successful in terms of sales.

Jim Campbell, Founder, Wizve Digital Marketing

Answer Real Questions from Real People

Having created a couple of courses for my freelance coaching business, I found my courses add more value when they answer genuine questions. I use a combination of keyword research, Answer the Public, and Google to learn more about current conversations on my chosen topics so I can address them in my course.

I also share some questions the course will answer to resonate with the user’s needs. This helps them know exactly what they’re getting and whether the course is right for them.

Alli Hill, Founder & Director, Fleurish Freelance

Alli Hill - Fleurish Freelance - how to create online courses that sell

Beta-Test Your Online Course

Beta-test your online course before offering it to your market. When you do this, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t with your course. Establish your goals for your beta test before offering it. Knowing your goals determines the metrics to measure during your beta test. You’ll then be able to evaluate your online course’s success and improvements to make.

Invite your current audience, like your Facebook group, email list, or membership site, to enroll in your beta test. If you have no audience, invite family and friends who approximate your target market.

I advise against offering your beta test for free. Instead, offer it at a discount to add value to the experience. Clarify that the course is a work in progress; you’ll then know if people will pay for it, and remember to get feedback regularly from your beta testers.

Kevin Huang, Founder & CEO, Ambient Home US

Isolate a Specific Topic

During the early ideation phase of your course creation process, you’ll probably have lots of ideas about what to include. As a rule, however, it’s best to narrow your focus and choose just one topic at a time. 

If you’re covering several, it’s much harder to show a sense of passion or credibility. Bloated courses are also harder to follow along and engage with, undermining the material that you’ve worked so hard to provide.

To choose the right topic, you must be confident that you’re the best person to teach it. Perhaps you have more credibility than your competitors, greater industry insight, or a wider breadth of experience.

As a creator, this is your Write a Unique Selling Propositionunique selling point. By using these attributes to your advantage during the marketing phase, you can show how qualified you are to teach in your space. In an oversaturated market, this alone gives you the edge: it helps you stand out from other creators, gain market share, and makes your course an easier sell.

Andrew Gonzales, President, BusinessLoans.com

Choose Reasonable Pricing

If you’re just starting out, then be sure that no one will want to pay a fortune for a course that hasn’t been deemed valuable yet. 

To encourage people to test it out, it is best to set a cheap price that is affordable. This encourages users to “demo” your project. This, itself, is unique and engaging to share across your social media channels to help get people interested in your course.

Jenna Nye, CEO, On the Strip

Test the Market First

My best tip for creating an online course that actually sells is to test the marketing before actually investing the time and resources required to create a full course. 

To do this, you can invite your existing audience to buy a pre-sell version of the course for a discounted price. Make a basic overview of what’s included, the course benefits, and what they will learn as a student, then see if people are actually willing to pay for this information.

All you need is a handful of pre-sales to validate your idea. You can then either drip feed modules to your buyers as they’re created or let them know in advance they’ll get access in a month’s time—or however long you need. This is what I did for my email marketing course.

Ryan Turner, Founder, Ecommerce Intelligence

Make Content that Accommodates All Learners

The concept of incremental learning is crucial to your success as a course creator. If you’re interested in making an online course, it’s likely that you have extensive knowledge of your field of expertise. Certain concepts will come naturally to you, but there are plenty of people who know next to nothing about them.

If your course only accommodates those with prior knowledge, it will alienate and demotivate the uninitiated. This will harm your reach and inhibit your sales potential. Each of us must crawl before we walk and walk before we run. Your course is no different.

For this reason, you must make the content as accessible as possible. Dividing your course into segments based on difficulty level helps to minimize barriers to entry, as it ensures that people of any ability can learn from material that feels appropriately challenging. This allows them to stay engaged with your content, and explore progressively complex topics with you as their teacher.

Max Wesman, Chief Operating Officer, GoodHire

Max Wesan, Goodhire, how to create online courses that sell

Use Short Videos

A smart way to attract users to your online course is by creating a series of short videos, each with a specific skill to be taught. 

This will help users understand exactly what they’ll be getting out of the course, help them take it at their own pace, and instantly see the benefits without having to finish the entire course at once.

Denise Hemke, Chief Product Officer, Checkr

Lay the Foundations First, Then Build 

The best process for creating an online course that sells is to start by creating a course outline. The outline should include the topics that will be covered in the course and the order in which they will be presented. Once the outline is complete, you can start creating the content for the course.

Once the content is created, it’s important to test it out to see if it’s effective. You can do this by presenting it to a small group of people and getting their feedback. If the feedback is positive, you can then market the course.

One of the best ways to market a course is by creating a landing page for it. The landing page should include a course description, the benefits of taking it, and a pricing table. You can also use social media and email marketing to promote the course.Jamie Irwin, Director, Straight Up Search

Final Points for Online Courses That Sell

One thing all of these pointers have in common is that they keep the target customer or student at the center of their course planning. If you don’t address the primary challenge your ideal customer has, your course simply won’t sell.

But there’s so much more to selling online courses than that. In fact, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience a lot of failure along the way. Have patience with yourself and recognize that it’s an iterative process.