So you’re thinking of building an online course and coaching program, and you’re not sure where to start or what to do to get started. And in some cases you might not even know if or why you want to create a online course and coaching program. If last year taught the world anything is that remote learning and working is no longer our future but our now. Or as they say the future of e-learning is now. The best place to start when talking about building an online course is the e-learning industry itself.
- The worldwide e-learning market is projected to be worth $325 Billion in 2025.
- In 2017, approximately 77% of US corporations used online learning, but 98% planned to incorporate it in their program by 2020.
- The US e-learning market could grow by $12.81 billion between 2020 and 2024.
- E-learning increases retention rates by 25% to 60%.
- The corporate e-learning market could increase by $38.09 billion between 2020 and 2024.
- E-learning has led to an increase in income for 42% of US organizations.
- A survey of 2,500 companies found that those with “comprehensive training programs” have 218% higher revenue per employee and 24% higher profit margins.
- IBM saved approximately $200 million after switching to e-learning.
My question is not if you should begin building an online course business, but when are you going to start, it is not too late to get in on the $325 billion dollar e-learning industry. You should be saying to yourself I want my piece of the $325 billion dollar pie.
There are many reason to start an online course and coaching business from building a secondary source of income, or even a primary source of income. Other might use these highly profitable programs to build awareness of the products they are already selling. This model really inverts the model and uses the online course as a way to build an audience who then go on to purchase other products. Other might use online courses to build authority and trust with their audience.
As stated in the statistics above many companies have started using online courses to reduce the cost of employee and customer training.
At this point your most likely asking yourself why does Paul keep referring to these programs as “online course and coaching programs” instead of just online courses. If you are asking yourself that then you are on the right track to creating your own profitable online course and coaching program.
Understanding the difference between online courses and hybrid coaching & course programs
- Online Course: is just that an online course. Most of the time the course is sold to the client, the client gets a login to the learning portal and that is it. At this point it is up to the student to go into the portal and take the classes. There is usually no help if you don’t understand a subject. And most of the time an online course by itself is usually what we call a “low ticket” item meaning it is a very low price usually less the $250.
- Coaching: is a form of development in which an experienced person, called a coach, supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance. In most cases coaching is a one-on-one training session that is live in person or via some online media such as zoom. With one-on-one coaching the coach runs out of time slots each day and caps their income potential. This is called trading time for money, just like any other job.
- Online course and coaching programs: I call these a hybrid training program because you are getting the best of both online courses and a coach. This is the method my company Digital Course Warriors uses to teach our students/clients, and this is also what we teach in “The Digital Course Warrior’s Blue Print”. If you have a hybrid online course and coaching program your clients will get:
- An online on-demand video course with supplemental materials in PDF format. Your students will go to your learning portal and take the course and learn your subject.
- Private Community for Clients only that will serve as your support location, any time anyone has a question while taking your online course, they can ask questions in the private online community. This will provide an answer for that client and all the rest of your clients that are in the private community. It also helps your clients learn by the clients answer the questions as they come into the private community. It also saves you time if your clients are answering your support tickets for you, but you want to answer as often as you can even if they question has been answered. Little secret once you get big enough you can hire a virtual assistant (VA) to answer your questions for you.
- One to many coaching sessions. If you remember above most coaches do one-to-one coaching which caps out their earning potential pretty quick, as well as build a job instead of a sustainable business. Building a one-to-many model uses your time more efficiently, giving you more time to create more content to sell.
- The other amazing part of doing a hybrid online course and coaching program is you can charge more for the program because you are giving massive value to your clients. Remember I said in most online courses they dump you in a learning portal after you pay, and you never hear from anyone again, this model give the student the hand holding they need, without overwhelming you while administering your online course and coaching business.
The next big question everyone asks is if their niche would be a good one or not. The other thing that creeps in here when someone is thinking about building an online course and coaching program is imposter syndrome. So in most cases any niche you come up with is going to be a great idea for a course, and don’t worry if there are 1000 other courses in your niche, you are going to put your own spin on it so there will always be an audience for your version of that content. The most important thing I can tell you about your niche is make sure you are passionate about your niche. If you just love your niche you are more likely to finish creating your program and continue to market it and grow the business. If you don’t love your niche you will run out of steam, and you will fail.
As for imposter syndrome most people about now say to themselves “why would anyone want to buy a program from me, I don’t know enough”. If you pick a niche you love and know inside and out then you are ready to go. Remember you are not going to sell your course to experts in your niche you are going to be selling to people that don’t know how to do your niche. What I always say if you are two steps ahead of your clients then you are the expert.
And the last question many people ask is what type of topics are good for online course and coaching programs? Here are just a few right off the top of my head.
- How to build and compete fighting robots
- Religious topics
- Any school topic Kindergarten to graduate degree level topics
- Network Engineering
- Crypto Currency Mining.
- Relationship Help
- Surviving Domestic Violence
- Any addition help topics
- Car repair
- Audio Engineering
- Jewelry Making
- How to fly fish.
- How to live a RV lifestyle.
- How to make fly fishing lurers.
- Any kind of cooking
- How to take care of any kind of animal
- Grooming Dogs
- And 1000000s more topics
- Any topic you’re passionate about.
10 steps to creating a profitable online course and coaching program in 2021
Well I think I have babbled on long enough, let’s get to the reason you came here how to create a profitable online course and coaching program. Just know this is not an exhaustive list of all the detailed steps it takes to create your online course and coaching program, but this list provides you with the broad overview of the major step needed so you know what to expect before you get started.
1. Find your passion
DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND LOVE WHAT YOU DO!!!!!!!!! And that is all I got to say about that. OK not really I have a lot more to say (LOL). If you don’t love what you do you will create a job for yourself, and you will fail simple as that. Also if you are not doing something your passionate about your clients and perspective clients will see it and that will not go well for the future of your business. Your best marketing is word of mouth from extremely happy customers. If you are excited about what you are doing your clients will see it and the perceived value of your product will go up.
Here is a quick story of one of my clients. In February of this year I was in a discovery call with a lady from across the pond and she was desperate, after being laid off from her job when CoVID hit. For the last year she has been out of work and trying to figure out how to create an online course in her profession of teaching school age kids. After just a few minutes of talking to here I could tell there was zero passion in her voice, or her body language for her niche she was trying to create a course on (did I mention she had been trying to figure out how to create this course for a whole year). She was trying to teach the subject she had been teaching for the last 30 years to the kids in her classroom.
About 10 minutes into the conversation I stopped her and said “what is it you like to do for fun, you know your hobby”? It only took her about 1/2 a second to change gears and scream ” I SEW, I LOVE SEWING MY OWN CLOTHS”, and for the next ten minutes she preceded to tell me all about it and show me all the different outfits she had made. She even slowed down enough to mention she had been teaching many of her friends to sew and many others had asked her if she would teach them.
I stopped her right there in her tracks and said “Why don’t you build a course on how to sew”? Her response was “I can do that”. So right there in the discovery meeting we started talking about her sewing course and while we talked and I asked lots of questions I was typing. 40 minutes later I shared my screen and said here is the outline for your course. It was an 8 module 30 lesson outline that was a full course on how to sew clothes. I even added sections where she would add sewing supplies from her affiliate account at amazon so she would make side money from her class with affiliate sales.
So as I said above do what you love and love what you do.
- Test your idea: At this point it is a good idea to take out a pen and paper or open word on your computer and write up your online course and coaching program. Getting your idea out of your head and on paper frees your mind up to think deeper on the subject. In this step you are going to find out if your idea has high market demand by asking your friends and family what they think of the idea. WARNING friends and family are the worst people to ask because they will mostly bring you down by saying things like “what makes you an expert in your space to teach a class”, or they will poo poo it and say that is a dumb idea that will never sell, and they know nothing about online courses or the market. But if you find some friends and family that are supportive, keep them in mind when you are tired and want to quit. You can go to them as a pick me up later on.
The best way to find out if your idea is good to spend a ton of time doing google searches and see what courses are already out there. Get to know your competition, and take note with how their program is made up, and how they are advertising. Go to your competitors Facebook group and sign up for the group and start participating in the conversation. As the Godfather said “keep your friends close and your enemy closer” Well replace the word enemy with competition and the saying is even better. Also find Facebook groups where your target audience is hanging out and join those groups. Join in the conversations daily and even start answering questions and become an authority in that group. You can then start to ask questions from people in the group about what they think about your future online course. One warning make sure you have these conversations about your course in direct messages and not in post as to not violate the group rules and get kicked out.
2. Come up with a few names and tag lines:
Now that you have your passionate idea all written down and you have started to talk to your target audience about your course, it is time to come up with a few names and a few tag lines for your course. I usually open up word or Google docs and start creating a bullet list of ideas. Once I have a few I sort them by the ones I list best to least. Also create a few tag lines to go with your names. Remember to keep the name short as possible, and to the point. Simplicity is the key here you don’t want some freakish nerd title that only the deepest of thinkers will understand or even be able to pronounce let alone spell the name. One name that comes to mind for me that is a terrible name is the LME software company called Kajabi. I love their product and I use it for all of my courses, and I teach Kajabi in my course, but I hate the name. I even had to go to their website just to make sure I spelt it correctly here for this blog. I always forget the 2nd A for some reason.
- Test those ideas: Once you have a few names create some polls in your Facebook groups that your target audience lives and get them to vote on the best one. Also encourage them to add their own names to the survey and also encourage them to comment on the survey post to get more feedback. Don’t be surprised if the name you liked the best turns out to be in last place.
3. Find your target audience:
You need to spend much time figuring out who your target audience is, if you don’t you will fail – PERIOD. Everyone over looks this part of the process. It is imperative that you take a lot of time to figure this out. You can’t just say anyone from 18 to 65 on planet earth, and if you do that and run ads you will go broke. I don’t think anyone should run ads till they hit like the $10K per month mark, otherwise you will not build an organic fan club and you really need to start off with a solid base.
- Figure out who your target audience is: There are many ways to do this but just starting with some google searches can be very beneficial. Just start looking at who your competitions audience are is the best way to start. There are many tools that will tell you who their audience is, and how to model their audience to run ads and do organic marketing. But for me I always start out in my competitions groups, and start talking to their people and finding out who they are and why they are there.
- Make a list of their pain points and road blocks they have for not getting done what you teach. While you are having these conversations with your competitions fans you can collect the pain points that make them not get done whatever your space is.
- Make a list of compelling learning outcomes. Make a list of reasons why they would want to take your online course and coaching program. How does your program help your clients, what value will they get out of it. Having a clear learning outcome ensures that only the right students are joining your program, and that means less refunds.
- What skills will they able to demonstrate mastery on?
- What knowledge will they learn?
- What beliefs will they have changed?
- What is the outcome of the course and coaching program?
4. Create your community’s
- Build a private/public Facebook group. This captures all your interested ideal clients in one location, or what we call our warm audience. In this room you will teach and provide massive FREE value, and get people engaging in conversations. And yes you can promote your program in here as well, but I would make it low key. Provide value in this group with just a little promotion and they will come to you when they are ready.
- Start inviting your target audience to your group. The time to create this group and inviting people to this group is the second you know the name of your course, so your course name matches your group name. It is never too early to start getting your fans in this group.
- Start posting and engaging on your niche NOW!!! Once the conversations start in this room you will get feedback on your course ideas and what you are teaching. You will also get ideas on new topics to add to your course that you never even thought of. The best part is if you start this room day one by the time you are ready to start selling you will have a warm audience to get the ball rolling.
- Create Inner circle private FB group to get ready for your customers. You will want a special place for your paying clients to go and get support from you and your other students. Everyone loves to feel like they are part of a special secret club, so this private community becomes part of what we call your offer stack.
5. Create a framework.
OK this is the most important part of your creation. If you don’t take this step very seriously and spend a ton of time here you will fail when making your online course and coaching program. Your framework is the outline of your course and the whole program. Kind of like the table of contents in a book. If you don’t do this step here is what will happen in most cases. You will start creating your course by creating the first lesson, but you have no idea what is going to be in future lessons so your lessons will have no structure to them and people will get lost in what you are teaching. The other thing that happens is you end up going in to what I call rabbit holes. If you are making a lesson and you are doing the research as you create you will add things in one lesson that belong in a later lesson, or you will forget to add something in this lesson that should have been there. And the research rabbit hole will keep you on that lesson for a long time. It has been my experience that people that don’t create their framework first usually take years to create a course or don’t’ even finish it because they run out of steam, or desire to do it.
If you watch many of my videos you will hear me often say Make a plan and work the plan – Which really means make a plan or the frame work of your program, and then work the plan. Working the plan means go down the list of your outline and just create all the lessons you need for your course. When you get to the end of the outline you are done. You don’t have to think about it while you are creating the lessons because you made the plan, just create what is on your list.
Check out this vblog called “A Goal Without A Plan Is Just A Dream“
6. Start selling your program to judge interest (yet another test).
You don’t have to do this step you can finish the rest of the steps and start selling once you get done creating your awesome program, but it is much better to test the market here and see what the market says about your product. You can take your outline, make a few marketing materials and a sales portal and start pre-selling your product. You can offer a discount to people that buy before it is ready for consumption.
If you remember earlier in the blog I told the story about one of my clients that had been out of work for a year and needed income badly. We created her outline for her sewing course, made a few marketing materials, setup a portal and went out to sell her course before she created it. She needed money bad and getting some income now would really help her stress level while she created her course. It would also prove her idea and see if there was a market for it. If you remember in the story she even said she had been teaching friends and family and had many people around town that wanted her to teach them how to sew. Well guess what she reached out to all her warm audience first, and in first night she sold 10 of her course at the discounted pre-sale rate of $99, and BAM a $1000 bucks in her pocket (-3% for the card servicing). Can you imagine how that felt after one year of no pay check? Also just think how much that did for her self-esteem. She went on to sell many many more over the next few weeks as she created her course.
7. Build your course and coaching program (working the plan).
I will not lie to you there are many moving parts to creating an online course and coaching program. It is not easy, and to be honest many of my clients never finish their programs. But the ones that do go on to finish their program did so very easily by following their plan. The best way to finish your course is to hire a mentor/coach like me that has all the knowledge it take to build a complete program, and let that person teach and coach you through the process. All the knowledge that is in “The Digital Course Warrior’s Blueprint” can be found on the internet in 100s of YouTube videos and 100s of blogs, as well as online courses and challenges, but once you get all the knowledge you still have to put all the parts together. So the best way to do it is to hire a coach/trainer that will hold your hand through the process. You can learn more about my program at “The Digital Course Warriors“.
These are some of the steps needed to build an online course and coaching program.
- Recording Videos: Most online courses are made up of modules and lessons. The lessons are usually videos with extra written material below the video. Each lesson might have supplemental information in a PDF. Recording can be very intimidating for many people, and can be the whole reason why someone does not create their own online course. There are also many different types of recording, such as selfie recording, screen capture recordings, interview recordings and many other types of recording methods. When you are planning your course you should also figure out what is going to be in each lesson and how you are going to present it. Video is usually the best. Check out this vblog I wrote called “14 Easy Steps To Creating Professional Looking Videos With Your Smartphone“.
- Edit: Once you have created your videos you will need to edit your videos to make them look professional. You could just put up the raw videos, but you might as well learn the extra step to make them go from beginner to pro. You can also hire someone on fiver for pretty cheap to edit all your videos. I would tell you to edit the first 5 or so videos yourself just to learn how and to know the process, but after that I would hire someone to do all your editing for you to save you time. You could be creating the next video while your video editor edits the previous video.
Check out the tool I use for editing called Canva
- Final videos. Once you are done filming your video and editing your video you will have the final product that will go up into your learning management system (LMS). That file will be called a MP4 file and you will notice that all your final videos have the file name of “filename.mp4”.
- Create PDFs and supplemental documents. (workbooks etc…): It is not hard to create supplemental material in word or Google docs and save them as PDF, and this gives you even more things to add to your offer stack and in-turn gives your prospective clients the feeling of a much deeper value of your product. The more you can give to go along with your course the higher the perceived value.
8. Upload your course to your LMS.
I use a tool as I mention above call Kajabi (weird name I know), as my Learning Management System (LMS). The reason I use Kajabi is it is easy to use, and has everything under one roof. It is a website builder, funnel builder, mail management system, email sequencer, and LMS just to name a few. You get all these tools from one company for one low price per month, and their tools are very easy to use. With most other LMS systems that is all they do is LMS and you have to pay extra for mail service and integrate the mail system into your LMS, and if you want funnels you have to buy from yet another vendor, and if you want a website yet another vendor and one and one. But with Kajabi it is one low monthly price for everything. And did I mention it is easy to use. I also teach Kajabi in “The Digital Course Warrior’s Blueprint“.
- Attach your merchant account: If you go with Kajabi or any other platform to host your online course and coaching program you will need a merchant account, and you will need to attach it to your LMS system. This is just one of the many things we teach you in “The Digital Course Warrior’s Blueprint“.
- Test purchases: One thing most people forget is to do a test purchase of your program. This will test all parts of your system, from your merchant account processing and connectivity, to what emails your clients get and how they login to your LMS. You also want to login as a client user to your learning portal and see what they see and make sure their experience is PERFECT, APPEALING, and EASY.
- Pricing: This is another place that imposter syndrome comes in. Most people just starting out are like OMG no one is going to buy from me, let me just put it down at $10 and see what happens when the course should be $500 or $1000 bucks. Remember you just spent the time to build this amazing program, which most people could never do so take pride in what you did. Know that you are an expert to your target audience. And you are providing MASSIVE VALUE if you follow my methods in “The Digital Course Warrior’s Blueprint”. One thing to note if you price it low your perspective clients will perceive it as of no value. You would be surprise how many people buy $100 courses and never even go login and look at what they just purchased. Most people do not perceive $100 as much money so again still low value. We will spend a lot of time in “The Digital Course Warrior’s Blueprint” talking about pricing so don’t worry you will know how much to charge by the time you get to this point (if you take our online course and coaching program).
Check out KAJABI and get a 14 day free trial.
9. Create Marketing Materials
- Funnels with lead magnets like ebooks and website: This is one whole topic that people get paid big bucks to create these items for other people. I have seen people charge 1000s of dollars just to create a funnel for their clients, so this is a big topic. You really need to at least have a good funnel just to present all the value of your program and why your clients should buy your program. Again if you onboard into our program “The Digital Course Warrior’s Blueprint” we will have you creating funnels in no time in Kajabi.
- Social Media Post and vBlogs: Learning to make appealing social post that will stop your target audience in their tracks is something you also need to learn to do, and you will need to do this often. Being consistent is the only way to win this battle, and there are many tricks of the trade that you will learn over time to help you become more efficient at being consistent. Other items you will need to think about is search engine optimization (SEO) to get love from Google and the other search engines (what other search engines? I did not know there were others LOL). I’m not trying to overwhelm you here just to make you aware that it is easy to become overwhelmed if you take on too much all at one time. If you just stick to organic marketing, social post, and vBlogs on one social platform to start you will not become overwhelmed. Just learn one platform and just a few marketing tactics and once you master those you can add another one on. Don’t forget you can always hire virtual assistants to do much of this work for you. But again I prefer you not do this till you understand organic marketing yourself and have done it for a long time before you hire someone to take that part over for you.
10. Launch and ongoing organic marketing:
Once your product is finished you should have a warm audience in your community to launch it to, and then you can start organic marketing your program. Again we teach organic marketing in our online course and coaching program “The Digital Course Warrior’s Blueprint“. Organic marketing is where you go out into the social stratosphere and become an authority in your space. You find your target audience where they hang out, and you join those groups and just answer as many questions as you can never selling your product. If every question out there has your name on it from your answer and comments, people will notice and they will reach out to you. At that point you want to invite them to your Facebook group, and get them in a direct message (DM) and show them how much value you bring to the table, and how it would be more painful to not take your program then it would to take it.
And that is it easy peezy lemon squeezy!!!! Ok I hate that saying from our childhood but it does fit. Building an online course and coaching program is easy peezy, if you know what you are doing or have built 400+ of them like I have. But if you are a beginner it can be overwhelming and daunting task. But if you have a great coach and teacher in your corner helping you ever step of the way it can be easy peezy.
Check out this vblog on Overwhelmed Immobility
I hope that you will join us at the Digital Course Warrior community and start joining in the conversation if you’re are not fully convinced you can create an online course and coaching program.
If you would like to take the next step lets have a chat in a 45 minute FREE NO PRESSURE Zoom Discovery Meeting. Don’t be freaked out by the thought of jumping in a zoom call, it really is no pressure, and you can ask all the questions you wish and get live answers on the spot. CLICK HERE to go to our calendar and grab a spot on our calendar that fits your schedule.
I look forward to chatting with you soon