For over a decade my husband and I have been able to earn 70% of our income passively by creating and selling online courses.
I would absolutely love to tell you that once we created our first online training course, enrollments rolled in, and everything from that point forward was roses and rainbows.
The truth is that it took us nearly 4 years to feel in complete control, and have confidence we’re on the right path.
The road to creating and selling online courses during those 4 years was a bumpy one; We hit many roadblocks, took a lot of detours, and plenty of U-turns. And, I can’t count the number of times we were both so fed up, frustrated, and ready to give up.
Does that sound familiar? If that’s where you are today, then this post is definitely for you.
What I’m about to share with you is pretty much our secret weapon! The main reason I can call myself an “online course creator coach” and have been able to help thousands of people create their online courses.
In my opinion, there are 3 main key ingredients that separate those who MAKE money from creating & selling online courses, and those who WISH they could make money from creating and selling online courses.
If you spend the time to nail these 3, you’ll have a much higher chance of creating the type of course (or any type of training offer for that matter) that people will want to buy, leave amazing reviews, and refer to others.
At a high level, these are the 3 main ingredients, but we’ll dive into each one shortly after:
- Research to identify a gap in your topic/industry/niche
- Figure out how you can fill that gap with YOUR own unique solution (AKA your online course content)
- Structure your course to ensure you’re delivering the RIGHT outcome.
If you’re ready, let’s dive into each one and take a closer look
Identifying a gap in your industry.
The mistake many passionate and talented people make is they let their passion or expertise & skills determine their course topic idea.
Here’s what I mean: If you’re like 95% of people I talk to (right before they join my Course Creation Academy), you’ve decided on creating an online course either based on your expertise & experience or based on a passion.
Chances are good that you’ve landed on a course topic idea using this approach:
- You either have expertise or experience in a particular field and like to turn that into a course
- You’re passionate about a specific subject and have gotten a great result from it; And, now you like to help others get the same result by teaching it inside an online course. After that, you might consider doing some research on that topic idea to see what others in that niche are selling and how they’re positioning their online courses.
And that’s how you land on a specific topic idea for your own online course.
Come to think of it, if you Google “how to create an online course“, you’ll see 1000s of articles and resources, encouraging you to take those exact same steps to come up with your online course topic.
The problem with this approach is that you’re running the risk of NOT solving the right problem for your target audience.
There is a better way to do this!
Leading with an idea > turning it into an online course> then putting it in front of everyone in your market to see who bites …
Focus on doing some research to find a SPECIFIC NEED in your target market that currently is NOT being met by anybody else.
Regardless of which industry or niche you’re in, there is a good chance some of your prospect’s specific needs are NOT being met by anybody else.
Your job is to find those specific needs (those gaps).
Here’s how you can do that.
At the end of the day, no matter what your topic is and who you’re planning to serve, your potential prospects just want to live a better life.
What that normally translates to is one of these things:
- Saving money or making money
- Saving time by doing something more efficiently
- Avoiding a certain pain or struggle
- Be the hero of their own stories — looking better, feeling better, landing a better job, finding a better mate, etc…
Essentially, these are the areas you need to investigate to find gaps in your industry.
One easy way to find these gaps is to simply ask your potential customers what they’re missing, or what’s keeping them stuck in their current situation.
You could also look through complaints or bad reviews many have left for your competitors. Those are great insights into what your competition is not doing right and show you the gaps.
Now comes the second key ingredient:
Fill that gap with your own unique solution.
Now that you’ve identified the gap in your industry, it’s time to fill it with your own unique solution.
One way to do this is by taking a closer look at your own story, or your own unique experiences, talents — as it relates to your course topic — and see how you can fill this gap. For example:
- What struggles have you overcome that you can help others do the same?
- What tips, tricks, or shortcuts do you use to get the desired outcome more efficiently, with better results, or perhaps with less money, …
- What’s your zone of genius that’s made you achieve the desired outcome that you can help others do the same
If you approach it from that perspective, not only you’re filling a gap, but you’re doing it using your own unique way — instead of sounding like everybody else and adding more noise to an already crowded marketplace.
Now, here’s the juicy tip: People are not after information; Information is free, and there is lots of it.
That’s a mistake many course creators make. Thinking that “you have all this information, and all you need to do is turn that into a course.”
As a course creator, the value you’re providing to your students is not in the information you’re giving them.
Your value comes from the fact that you’re the translator of that information.
Your value is in giving them YOUR unique way of solving that specific problem or providing that specific outcome in the best, easiest, most efficient way.
That’s what your students are looking for!
And if you approach it this way, you’ll be able to stand out from everyone else in your market.
And finally, we’re at the last key ingredient:
Deliver their desired outcome, using your own unique solution.
Finally, we’re at the last key ingredient: Once you have figured out your own unique way of filling an existing gap, deliver their desired outcome, using your own unique solution.
Again, when it comes to creating online courses, most people think they need to do a brain dump of everything they know on that topic.
This method will hurt you more than help you, and here’s why:
- You’ll paint yourself into a corner by not knowing exactly how much of that information you need to include inside your course. Using this approach is going to keep you second-guessing whether you’ve covered the right information. Or whether you’ve expanded on each topic enough.
- And, even if you land on how much information to include, you won’t have a reliable way of knowing whether you have covered the RIGHT information.
This is the most common pitfall many rookie course creators fall into. And it’s the very thing that’ll keep them stuck in course creation mode for months, sometimes years, and in some cases, their course never sees the light of day.
Let me show you an easier way to come up with the RIGHT type of content to cover inside your online course.
As we touched on this previously, people take your online course to get a certain result. They’re not there for the information. They are there to get to a certain goal or remove a struggle from their life.
The job of your course and you as a course creator is to give them that outcome in the most straightforward and easy-to-follow way. And here’s how you can do that:
Find the gap between where your audience is currently at, and where they’d like to be and fill that gap with your course content.
This approach ensures you’re not just throwing a bunch of information at them.
Rather you’re meeting them where they are in life — stuck and confronted with a certain situation — and you’re taking them by the hand (using your course content) and guiding them through easy-to-follow steps to get them to where they want to be (which is their desired outcome).
When you structure your course this way and lead them to their final desired destination, you’re increasing their chances of getting the result they’ve been dreaming of.
In reality, you’re helping them to become the hero of their own stories…
… you help them lose the weight they’ve been wanting to lose for the last 10 years, or get their financial situating under control, finally play the instrument they’ve been dreaming about since they were 5 years old,…
You get the point.. right?
By helping them achieve their desired outcome, becoming the hero of their own story, and setting them up for success, you have made it clear that you are the right person to teach on this topic. You’re the go-to expert.
They’ll be more likely to leave amazing reviews for you, praise you, and refer your course to others.
I don’t know about you, but as a course creator, that’s exactly how I’d like to position my courses and my brand as a go-to expert in my area of expertise.