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Create Online Courses to Productize Your Knowledge

Create Online Courses to Productize Your Knowledge into an Online Business

If you’re already an expert in a topic—either through your current job, freelance business, or coaching—you can package that knowledge into a high-value course and sell it for years to come.

And while building, launching, and marketing an online course does take a considerable amount of upfront effort, their earning potential is through the roof (especially compared to a lot of the other online ways to make money we’re talking about).

Courses and other knowledge products like e-books, are what’s called passive income. That simply means that once the upfront time and effort is put in, with just a bit of regular upkeep and marketing you’ll be able to continue to sell and make money from them for months and years.

So, how do you go about putting together your course? One of my favorite online course success stories comes from Bryan Harris of Videofruit, who built and launched an online course in just 10 days that made him $220,750!

Selling online courses are one of the most scalable ways to make money online

To hit this awesome goal, Bryan followed a four-stage process to discover, validate and launch his course:

Phase 1: Explore and discover the best topic for his course based on the most popular posts from his blog. This ensured he knew the content was already valuable to his audience.

Phase 2: Validate that people would actually pay for his course by surveying readers and securing pre-orders. (This is an important part that so many people forget. Never spend serious time building something unless you know there’s a paying audience for it).

Phase 3: Quickly write, record, and edit the course content. As he already knew there was demand, it made sense to create the content as quickly as possible. He could always go back and update or edit based on feedback from his initial students.

Phase 4: Launch the course to his email list. The success of your course comes down to getting it in front of the right people. And your own audience, no matter how small, is usually the best place to start. That said, you need to have a clear idea of your launch plan before you put it live.

Now, what if you don’t have a blog with popular posts? Or an email list to market to? Let’s look at how you can build your own online course with no previous experience:

  • Start by taking other courses you’re interested in: Not only is this important competitor and opportunity analysis, but it also gives you an idea of how a course could or should look and feel. What’s the pacing like? Is it via email, video, in-person chats? Once you understand how you want your course to look, it’s time to decide what it should include. Those same courses are a great starting place. How can you make your course better or more interesting? Do you have experience others don’t?
  • Choose your niche and check for demand: The golden course combination is when you can find an in-demand niche that aligns with your skills and unique experiences. A great way to do this is to use Google Trends, Google’s Keyword Planner and other key blogging tools to do keyword research and look for average monthly search volume for keywords related to your proposed course content. Are people actively looking for high-quality information about this subject? Of course, if you’re already creating content for a blog, coaching service, or a site like Medium, you can test demand this way for free just like Bryan did.
  • Find your niche partners, collaborators, and champions: As you’re creating your course, look for notable people who are also creating content in the space. Look at how their businesses operate and incorporate that into your own plan. You can also reach out to any influencers and make them affiliates for your own course. This way, they’ll be incentivized to share your content with their own audiences (which can be a major way to generate your first sales—it helps if you’re using one of the best CRMs for small business—and start building your own community!)
  • Create a killer course experience: With your course validated and in the works, you need to figure out how people will take it. Most course creators choose to host their courses (after going down the path of learning how to make a website) on their own blogs. This way, they get all the value of bringing customers back to their site on a regular basis. I host my own courses from a subdomain on my own site so I can easily add more. The course experience is incredibly important as well. And after trying most of the solutions, I highly recommend Teachable—an online platform designed specifically for courses.
  • Build your audience on a course community: If you’re just getting started building an audience for yourself and want to leverage communities already actively looking for content you can choose to host and sell your online course on a site like Skillshare or Udemy. These are easy, cost-effective ways to build an audience and test your niche to see if there’s demand for it.
  • Market your course: The beauty of using a course to make money online is that you can continue to sell it for as long as you’d like. Look for niche communities on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Reddit that might benefit from your content. Guest blogging on relevant sites. Look for anywhere you might be able to get in front of the right people. With just a few hours a month you can continue to generate sales.

At the end of the day, you’ll need to attract some sort of audience to sell your online course to—and if you can do that well, you’ll be on the path to building a very long-term sustainable online business for yourself.

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