8-step process to launch your online course

Too often, we get excited about an idea for a new online course, and rush into creating all the videos and lessons, to finally realize that it’s a lot more complicated than we ever anticipated… and when trying to market it, we come to the conclusion that no one is interested in it (sad face, big time!).

The reason is simple: an online course is NOT a series of content put together, it is a LOT MORE than that and requires careful planning and execution.

Follow this 8-step process to avoid making the same mistakes as novice course creators and you will maximize your chances of success.

Topic brainstorming

Offer a real solution to an existing challenge

Topic validation

Is there a need for your course?

Buyer personas

Who are your ideal customers?

Technical environment

From LMS to web hosting to email marketing service provider, get it all set up

Pilot

Soft launch to validate that people are willing to pay for your course and start building your audience

Course outline

Break down your topic into chapters and lessons

Course production

Video recording, screencast, templates, and checklists, have fun producing them all!

Launch & Marketing

Retargeting your mailing list, social media promotion, etc. you’re ready to make a big buzz around your course!

1. Topic brainstorming

While thinking of what course to produce, you will come across many ideas. To bring some clarity to the process, make sure that the topic(s) you shortlist are:
very specific
something you have enough expertise to teach on
offering a real solution to an existing challenge
getting you excited!

2. Topic validation

Keep in mind that usually, people are not looking for “a course”. Instead, they look for a solution to a specific problem. With this in mind, your goal is to come up with a course that offers them a solution.
Use search engines such as Google to look for “how to [the_topic_of_your_course]“, and look at the results: what type of solutions are given? Is there anyone that has already produced any form of content/course? If yes, it’s a good sign!
Use a keyword research tool and enter “how to [the_topic_of_your_course]“. You want to see sufficient keywords and monthly search volume related to your course topic.
Check websites such as Udemy or Skillshare and look for your course topic. Is there any result? Again, if there are existing courses, it means that your course topic is valid.

3. Buyer personas

If you’ve reached this 3rd step of the process, it means that you’ve identified and validated a course topic. Well done! Now comes one of the most important phases: determining who are your ideal buyers. The goal here is to gather as much information as possible about who is most likely going to purchase your course. Here are some areas to look at in order to aid this process:
Check your contacts database: prospects, clients, partners, etc.
Talk to your sales teams/account managers
Survey/interview your customers
Run polls on social media
Compile all the data and start creating avatars, give them a name and a picture too, it will help you further down the process. You want to be as descriptive as possible:
Gender, age, job title
Professional traits, personality
Centers of interest
Social media accounts they are on
What, in particular, our course will help them with?

4. Technical environment

Here is a list of the tools you will need in order to give superpowers to your course and online school (with my favorite ones that I highly recommend you to use). At this stage, the goal is to have all your technical stack set up, configured, and integrated.

LMS

– THINKIFIC –

Email marketing

– ACTIVECAMPAIGN –

Automation

– ZAPIER –

Payment gateway

– STRIPE / PAYPAL –

Tax calculation

– QUADERNO / FASTSPRING –

Video recording

– SCREENCAST-O-MATIC –

5. Pilot

Don’t go all in yet! Instead, create a condensed version of your course, delivering great value, and offer this mini-course for FREE (or relatively low cost). The purpose of this phase is to validate that you can reach out to your target audience and engage them. It will also give you the confidence that your technical environment runs smoothly.

Another benefit is that you will start building an email list of people interested in the topic of your course!

Finally, you’ll be able to collect feedback and testimonials that will help you create a better course in the next step, and have social proof for your future marketing campaigns.

Goal = 500 people enrolling in your pilot

6. Course outline

At this stage, you should feel pretty confident that you’re set for a great launch. Now it is time to get all in!

Take into account the feedback and reviews from your existing students, and break down your course into chapters and lessons. Make sure that within each chapter there is a win for your learners and that the course flows logically. Change the format of your lessons between text, slide deck, video, and quiz, so that your students stay engaged throughout their learning journey.

For each chapter/lesson: give them a title, determine what format will be used, and which resources are needed. At the end of this step, you will have a master plan to start producing your content.

7. Course production

Remember these buyer personas you created in step 3? Well, it’s time to print them out and put them on display. While recording your videos, look at them and talk to them! You will sound a lot more engaging and will be motivated to keep producing all your lessons.

Keep in mind that people love stories and real-world examples, so don’t hesitate to make use of them. Also, add some live sessions to your training program if you can, this is a super powerful way of motivating your students so they keep learning and complete their course.

8. Launch & Marketing

Here is the big day you’ve been waiting for! You are finally ready to launch and promote your brand-new online course. Congratulations!

First thing: you should have at least 500 students on your mailing list, so it´s time to let them know that your full course is live. What about giving them an exclusive discount to incentivize them to enroll?

Then use all the channels that make sense for your business and brand: SEO, PPC, Social Media (both paid and organic), or even press releases.

Need someone to help you along the way?

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