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The ultimate guide to creating an online course 

10 MINS
Web.com Team

Businesses are now using online courses for employee training and skill development, customer education, and even profit. For learners, online courses are a cost-effective way to learn. For businesses, the benefits go far beyond.  

Throughout this article, we’ll explore how SMBs can take advantage of online courses. We’ll discuss strategies for choosing the right topics and platforms, marketing their online courses, and measuring their results. Gain insights into how online courses can be a game-changer for SMBs in today’s fast-paced world. 

Why online courses matter for SMBs  

 creating an online course 

Online courses have become invaluable tools for SMBs, and it’s not just about developing your learners’ skills. Here’s why online courses truly matter for SMBs: 

  1. Brand building. SMBs can establish themselves as industry leaders by offering high-quality online courses. This builds trust and authority, which are essential for brand reputation. 
  2. Revenue generation. Online courses open up new revenue streams. SMBs can monetize their expertise and knowledge by offering paid subscriptions to their target audience. 
  3. Cost-efficient training. Traditional training methods can be expensive. Online courses offer cost-effective ways to upskill employees and expand their knowledge. 
  4. Global reach. SMBs can reach a global audience with their courses, which helps increase their market potential far beyond their local area. 
  5. Flexible learning. Online courses offer flexibility, allowing employees and customers to learn at their own pace, which can enhance the learning experience. 
  6. Data-driven insights. Online courses often come with analytics tools that provide valuable insights. This helps SMBs tailor their offerings to meet their audience’s needs. 
     

Step 1: Create interesting content  

Creating compelling content for your online course is the key to engaging your audience and ensuring the success of your online venture. Hook your learners with these steps: 

Identifying your niche. Identifying your niche allows you to focus your marketing efforts on a specific audience who is more likely to purchase your products or services. It allows you to showcase your expertise in that area, which eventually builds customer loyalty.  

Research and planning. Conduct thorough research within your chosen niche. Identify what topics or subtopics are in demand and align them with your expertise. Plan your course outline based on this research. 

Structuring course modules. Organize your course content into modules, each with a clear theme or topic. Then, organize modules into sections to give readers a glimpse of specific topics they’re going to learn in the course.  

Creating engaging multimedia content. Mix up your content to keep it engaging. Include videos, slideshows, quizzes, interactive assignments, and downloadable resources. Visuals and hands-on activities enhance learning and keep learners hooked. 

Ensuring educational value. The core of your course should provide real educational value. Ensure that your material is well-researched, up-to-date, and delivers on the promises made in your course description. 
 

Step 2: Choose a course platform to amplify the reach

The platform you choose to upload your courses can make or break your user experience, business growth, and revenue potential. Decide on the right course platform for your specific needs, starting with these popular contenders: 

  1. Udemy. Udemy is a well-known marketplace for online courses. It caters to a vast audience but has limited control over pricing and student data. Consider it if you want quick exposure. 
  2. Teachable. Teachable provides a comprehensive platform to create your own branded online knowledge hub. It’s user-friendly and customizable. Plus, it allows you to keep more of your revenue. 
  3. Thinkific. Thinkific is similar to Teachable and offers a wide range of customization options. It’s particularly useful for entrepreneurs who want a white-labeled experience, allowing them to personalize their course hub according to their brand. 
  4. Kajabi. Kajabi combines course creation, marketing, and sales all in one platform. It’s suitable for SMBs looking to make direct profit from their online courses. 
  5. LearnDash. If you run a WordPress site, LearnDash is a robust choice for creating and selling courses. Since it’s a plugin, you can seamlessly integrate it to your website. 
  6. Podia. Podia is an excellent choice for SMBs with features like courses, memberships, and digital downloads. It offers flexibility and no transaction fees. 
  7. Academy of Mine. This platform focuses on professional training and certification. It’s ideal if your courses require accreditation. 

Pro tip: Consider your budget, customization needs, niche, and marketing strategy when choosing your platform. 

Step 3: Plan to launch your online course on a custom website  

tips creating an online course 

Aside from choosing a course platform for your online course, here’s another option: publishing them on your website. The thought might be intimidating but you actually have more control over your content and branding, retaining full ownership of your content and student data. And you won’t have to abide by the revenue-sharing model of third-party learning platforms.  

But before you can publish on your website, ensure your web hosting can handle the demands of hosting a learning hub. Choose a reliable web hosting provider that ensures your website stays online and protected from cyberthreats.  

Web.com has scalable hosting plans for businesses of different sizes. These plans have specific features and server resources to help you create a website equipped to host a comprehensive online academy.  
 

Step 4: Build and launch your course  

It’s time to get to the nitty-gritty part: building and launching your online course. Remember these important points to get started:  

  1. Create a course outline. Start by outlining your course’s structure and content. Define your course goals, objectives, and target audience. Break down the material into modules or sections. A clear outline will guide learners in navigating the course. 
  2. Upload content. This can include videos, documents, quizzes, assignments, and more. Ensure your content is engaging, well-organized, and easy to understand. 
  3. Set pricing and access options. Determine how you want to price your course. You can offer it for a one-time fee, as a subscription, or with payment plans. Decide whether you want to provide lifetime access or set expiration dates. Make sure your pricing strategy aligns with your course’s value. 
  4. Do pre-launch testing and quality assurance. Before launching your course, enlist a few beta testers to go through the course and provide feedback. Check for any technical glitches or errors and ensure a smooth user experience for your enrollees. 
  5. Create an online community. Consider adding a forum, discussion board, or social group where people can interact, ask questions, and share insights. Building a community through your course platform enhances engagement and provides valuable networking opportunities. 
     

Step 5: Market your online course  

Marketing your online course means a wider audience and more profit for your business. Consider these strategies on marketing your online course: 

Email marketing. Create or build an email list of potential students or interested people and engage them with valuable content. Send out regular newsletters, course updates, and promotional emails. Use compelling subject lines and personalized messaging to encourage enrollment. 

Social media promotion. Leverage social media platforms to promote your learning hub. Share snippets of your course content, success stories from previous students, and engage with your audience through polls, Q&A sessions, and live videos. Use relevant hashtags to expand your reach. 

Content marketing. Create informative and engaging content related to your course topic. You may start a blog, host webinars, or offer free resources like ebooks or guides. Content marketing not only showcases your expertise but also drives sign-ups to your online course. 

Paid advertising. Consider running paid advertising campaigns on platforms like Google Ads or social media. Target your ads to specific demographics, interests, and behaviors to reach potential students who are more likely to enroll. 

Collaborations and partnerships. Partner with social influencers or complementary businesses in your niche who can promote your course to their followers or customers. You can also do joint webinars or co-created content to benefit you both.  

 creating an online course marketing influencers

How much does it cost to create an online course?   

Creating an online course can be a lucrative venture for SMBs, but it’s essential to understand the costs involved to ensure success and profit. Consider these possible costs to create an online course:  

  • Online course platform. Some platforms offer free plans with limited features, while others require a monthly or annual subscription. Consider factors like user-friendliness, customization options, and payment processing fees when selecting a platform. 
  • Content creation. Creating high-quality course content may require investments in equipment, software, and resources. This includes video recording equipment, microphones, editing software, graphic design tools, and course materials like eBooks or worksheets. 
  • Website hosting. If you decide to host your online course on your website, you’ll need a reliable hosting service. Hosting costs can vary depending on your hosting provider and the hosting plan you choose. 
  • Plugins and add-ons. Depending on your course platform, you might need plugins or add-ons to enhance your website’s functionality. Some of these may come at an additional cost. 
  • Marketing and promotion. Expenses may include email marketing software, social media advertising budgets, content creation costs, and fees for collaborations or partnerships. 
  • Payment processing fees. When you sell your courses, payment processing companies charge a percentage for each transaction. Be aware of these fees, as they can impact your overall profitability. 
  • Course creation software. Invest in eLearning authoring tools or course creation software to develop interactive and engaging course content. Prices vary based on the features and capabilities of the software. 

 Measure success and repeat 

To know if your online course is making huge ripples online, measure its performance to identify what’s working and what’s not. Track key performance indicators (KPIs) and implement strategies to continuously improve your courses based on relevant data and feedback. 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): 

  • Enrollment and completion rates. Monitor the number of people enrolling in your course and the percentage of those who complete it. Low completion rates may indicate issues with your course content or delivery. 
  • Student feedback and surveys. Collect feedback through surveys or course reviews. Pay attention to comments and ratings to understand what learners appreciate and where improvements are needed. 
  • Retention rate. Measure how many students continue on to the next course or renew their subscriptions. High retention rates indicate satisfied learners and a successful course. 
  • Revenue and profit. Keep an eye on your course’s financial performance. Track revenue, expenses, and profit margins to ensure your course is financially sustainable. 
  • User engagement. Analyze user engagement metrics like the time spent on course materials, interaction with quizzes or assignments, and discussion forum participation. 
     

Tips for course improvement 

Low KPIs don’t mean the end of the world. They simply mean you may need to tweak your course content or strategy to meet your audience’s needs. Give the following tips a try:

  • Content updates. Regularly review and update course materials to keep them current. Enhance engagement by adding interactive elements. 
  • Personalization. Use data to personalize the learning journey for each student. Tailor recommendations and content based on their progress and preferences. 
  • Customer support. Provide responsive customer support to address learner questions and concerns promptly. Satisfied students are more likely to complete the course. 
  • Marketing adjustments. If certain marketing channels or strategies aren’t delivering the expected results, consider reallocating your marketing budget and efforts. 
  • A/B testing. Experiment with different course layouts, content formats, or pricing models using A/B testing. Analyze which variations perform better and iterate accordingly. 
  • Learner surveys. Conduct periodic surveys to gather feedback directly from your audience. Use this valuable input to make informed course enhancements.  

Your online academy awaits! 

Creating online courses can be a daunting task, especially if you’re bombarded with uncertainty on what courses to teach, how to get them online, the list goes on. But imagine how your courses can benefit your business and potential students. You get to establish your brand as a thought leader while attracting sales and leads. On the other hand, individuals can learn from your expertise and save significant resources from hiring instructors.  

So, start your journey toward your online academy today. If you want to host a learning hub on your own website, we’re here to be your trusted hosting partner.  

  • Web.com Team

    Our goal is to be your go-to partner in today’s always-on digital world.

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