The Complete Process For Creating A Successful Online Course (Updated for 2020)

 April 25, 2020

By  Course Minds Team

E-learning is an industry in a massive growth phase.

Due to unforeseen pandemics, the enormous expense for traditional educational institutions, and the convenience of learning new topics from the comfort of your own home, online education is more popular than ever.

As an instructor, educator, or coach, how do you begin to capitalize on this growing market and build a valuable online course?

How do you choose a topic with lots of demand, and how do you market it online?

Furthermore, how can you make it profitable for you and rewarding for the people you're training?

In this guide, we're going to provide answers to these questions and take you step by step through creating an online course that can make five, six, or even seven figures.

Here's the rundown.

Best Course Creation Program 

Digital Course Secrets is an A-Z training on how to create an online course. With hundreds of five, six, and seven figure students, this program is worth considering. You can get more info below by checking out the free training. 

You might already know a subject backward and forward that people would pay to learn about.

On the other hand, you might have light knowledge of many topics but not enough to brand yourself as an expert.

Don’t think that means you can't teach a class to others. You just need to find the right class to teach.

Take yourself out of the instructor role for a moment and think of any classes you’ve taken online.

Consider which ones you valued and why, as well as why you were drawn to the course in the first place.

Designing Your Course

If you’re looking for one rubric that tells you exactly how to design a class, you’re out of luck.

It’s easier if you know what topic you'll teach right away, but it still takes time to organize and develop the course.

We won’t be able to give you the exact answers, but we will be able to provide you with a general framework and understanding of making a course.

What's the ideal length?

The more thorough you aim to be, the more time it will take. When you’re preparing your class, you should spend a couple of hours a day setting it up.

The depth of your content will likely be the determining factor in how long the course should be. You can create a 45 video series course, or 15 videos.

Work on a steady basis until you’re ready to launch.

What should I charge?

We can’t give you anything close to an exact estimate, as it depends on how much your class entails, how thorough it is, and how good you are at sales. 

You could charge $49, $997, $1,997 and even upwards of $4,997. 

But here's the important point: You're creating a long term digital asset that does not require a lot of upfront investment. 

Sweat equity is the main cost you'll incur, and once you have your course created, most of the sales you make will be profit.

This low overhead, high-profit business model is why so many course creators legitimately make 6 and 7 figures.

Also, you can study some of the other course creators who are teaching the same topic and get a better idea of what the market value is. 

How do instructors and students interact?

A major misconception about online classes is that they’re impersonal by default.

While it can be slightly harder to develop a rapport with your students than it would be in a classroom, it can be easier than you imagine. 

Many course creators have email announcements, online events, webinars, Facebook groups, and many other mediums where you can develop meaningful relationships with your students.

How difficult is it developing the class training?

The first course you make is the hardest because of unforeseen issues and challenges you'll need to figure out.

However, it shouldn’t be difficult overall. You may have existing materials and videos you’ve created that can be refined for course purposes.

The main difficulty for many instructors comes after creating a class when they need to promote it.

How to make good money from your training?

People aren’t just going to pay for your class because you’re covering a popular topic.

You also need to know what they value, how to enhance their skills or advance them in their careers.

Making sales is about perceived value. Your selling points should be directly in line with what your students perceive as valuable.

Whenever you can solve problems for others and help them get what they want, you can make money.

Different Kinds of Online Classes

There are three sorts of classes you should know about.

1. Coaching

Coaching doesn’t have to involve athletics and a whistle. You can coach someone on a variety of topics.

The main point of coaching is to be able to mold someone’s mind to perform a task or understand a new concept through your training.

Fundamentals are an essential part of all coaching. When you’re starting with a new student, you need to review what fundamentals they have with your particular topic.

After ensuring they understood them as they should, you can start from the appropriate level.

Coaching can involve teaching tactical skills as well as changes in behavior. As a coach, you may have a general lesson plan that you need to adjust depending on the progress of your student.

One student’s struggles may make you realize you need to approach the material from an entirely new way.

Some excellent coaching topics:

  • Entrepreneur training
  • Career advancement
  • Love and relationships
  • Personal development
  • Success and life coaching

2. Masterclass

Masterclasses involve teaching by someone who is a valid expert on a subject. Many of these include physical skills, such as specialized artistic and athletic talents.

The students in these classes might have a general understanding of this topic but might need to learn directly from an established authority to reach their next level.

When you tell people you’re making a masterclass, you’re creating high expectations not only for them but also for yourself.

It’s very easy to see through someone who claims expertise when they don’t actually have any.

Faking your way through understanding a topic might work when if you have to deliver a five-minute speech.

It won’t work when you’re creating a long-term course in which you've positioned yourself as an expert.

Besides having a strong understanding of the material, the instructor must also know how to relate it to someone with far less experience.

They must be able to point out what the student is doing incorrectly and how they can improve.

The master needs to know how to communicate with different students depending on various circumstances and experience levels.

3. MOOC's

Standing for “Massive Open Online Course,” MOOCs have become very important in providing quality education to many people at once.

People around the world can learn together through these classes.

MOOCs provide students with learning materials and ways to encourage engagement, such as getting to communicate with their instructors and fellow students.

Because they can involve so many people at a time, a MOOC needs to be carefully designed so that students can learn without one-on-one instruction.

However, the instructor should be easy to reach in the case of a student having any difficulties.

There are lots of pros to MOOCs. They can help students with limited educational resources as well as specific learning disabilities.

They can also be accommodating for non-traditional students, such as working-class adults, who might not be able to attend class during typical daytime hours.

Many people sign up for MOOCs around the world, even after they’ve graduated. They might wish to gain a better understanding of something they’ve previously learned about.

Excellent MOOC subjects are:

  • Science
  • Humanities
  • Business
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics

A few key benefits of MOOC classes are:

  • Higher education is more accessible
  • Cost effective alternative to traditional education
  • Easy to develop skills and understand
  • Ability to collaborate with other students
  • Schedule flexibility

Earning Potential

Don’t see your online course only as a way to make money, because that will take you away from the passion that comes from teaching.

However, you’re right for wanting to earn some money through teaching.

You've spent years developing valuable skills, and people are willing to pay for that book of knowledge in your head.

During your research in designing your class, you should also see what other courses are offering in price.

Think about if these rates are justifiable considering the course materials and the instructor’s authority.

If you know that few people would have your expertise and ability to teach this subject, you can justify charging more.

Your online training might begin as a way to make some extra money on the side before becoming a full-fledged business.

You need to put many resources into building your community and audience so you can sell your courses. 

When you get a reputation going and have built a community of people, you can justify higher prices, create exclusive mastermind courses and higher-level bootcamps, and much more.

Many students who've received value from you in previous courses are likely to buy new courses from you.

Consider creating 3 different courses:

  • One at a lower price point for beginners and entry level students. 
  • One at a medium price point for intermediate level students.
  • One at a higher price point for advanced and mastery level students.

Importance of a Positive Mindset

Self-doubt can run amuck when thinking about starting an online class.

You might stop yourself because you think you don’t have enough knowledge on any one subject or on how to teach.

You might be waiting for the perfect moment, not knowing that it will never come.

People procrastinate because they’re afraid of failing. You can’t fail if you don’t try, but you also can’t succeed.

The more you wait, the more self-doubt is going to manifest.

Your reluctance will only grow, and you might have a much more difficult time regaining your confidence. It hopefully won’t be gone forever, but it can feel a lot harder to bring back.

Part of your trouble might be from overthinking about how you’ve never designed a class before. If every instructor listened to that insecurity, we wouldn’t have education.

Excuses like this or thinking that you need to make a totally state-of-the-art course to draw people are significant fallacies. There are no sure things in life, but success is a lot easier to reach than you might realize.

There might be some false starts. You might need to try a few times before you actually get the hang of what you need to do.

As long as you’re not spending yourself into bankruptcy with poorly though-out classes, you’ll be okay.

In fact, you can be even better off, because you can see failure for the teaching tool it is. You can see how you might’ve misled yourself initially and what you can do better from now on.

Remember, too, that a single failure doesn’t mean your entire effort is a failure. It just means you need to try some things differently.

It’s likely you’ll look back on initial decisions when making your classes and shake your head.

As with any other pursuit, the more you learn, the more you’ll realize how inexperienced you were at first.

Even the most revered teachers of certain subjects will acknowledge how much they still have to learn.

The Key Steps in Creating Online Courses

1. Choose the Topic

You might know so much about something that people have been urging you to teach for years.

They’re telling you this because they value your knowledge and your ability to help others understand.

This isn’t something that just anyone can learn on their own. Having someone like you as a mentor can make all the difference.

Your own interest matters as well. The complexities of the subject should be something that you embrace because they show how many layers it has.

It’s also a lot easier to interest people in a course if you’re able to exhibit the proper enthusiasm.

If you’re hoping to make a business out of this, you need to choose a topic that will be profitable. The primary way to cover this is by thinking of what people value and what they need help with.

There’s a reason why self-help is such a popular topic for books. People have things they need to work on in their personal lives, and they seek out experts.

You might want to teach on a completely different topic, but it still needs to be that people would be willing to pay for it.

Don’t let a crowded market on this subject keep you from making a course about it.

There might be many focused on it, but you might have a certain understanding that’s far better than what most are providing.

You might also have frustration over how much people don’t understand something that’s very important. This can be your chance to clear up misconceptions and let widespread intelligence prevail.

When you’ve first set up your class, use tracking methods to find out how many people have joined your class or have at least encountered it.

Consider too what sort of outreach you can do. You might make a list of emails to reach out to and social media groups to post in.

Design your messages so that the problem-solution design of your course is immediately recognizable.

2. Researching the Topic

Even if you a lot about a subject, you still have to research in order to create a well-organized class. Think about how you’ll design your course so that it has the most value possible.

A big issue with many online classes isn’t that they’re poorly taught. It’s that the information they provide can be found for free as well. The incentive to pay any money for them just isn’t there.

When preparing your course, you need to think of everything that should be in it. Make this a list and alter it as necessary.

Then, you need to refresh your knowledge. There might be crucial aspects to teaching this subject now that you didn’t plan on emphasizing.

You may even decide to take a class yourself so that you can make sure you’re you have the most up-to-date, cutting edge information.

Teachers need to love learning as much as teaching. It can help you to better emphasize with your students as well as re-engage yourself with the material.

3. Lesson Planning

Your class needs to be well-designed with specific lessons. You can start very general, but you need to become more precise over time.

It’s also essential to arrange the lessons in the right order. Every new lesson needs to build off of what came before it.

You won’t have to cover every bit of information about the course, but the critical subtopics should come up.

You don’t need to be married to a single outline. If you have to switch things up over time, it doesn’t need to derail your whole class organization.

4. Writing Course Objectives

You need to have intentions for what your students will learn in your class. Having goals helps to keep both you and them on track.

These are also important because they help you assess your own teaching effectiveness.

If your students aren’t able to grasp something that you’ve made a focal point of your teaching objectives, you need to recalibrate things.

Having goals gives your lessons a clear design. You can also make yourself accountable for your student’s success.

Much of this will fall in their hands, of course, but you still need to do everything you can to help them.

Their success equals your success. And they are more likely to buy future products or courses from you in the future. 

Reinforcing Content

Putting ideas from lessons into practice is the best way to show how much you know about them.

To help your students demonstrate understanding, you need to give them assignments that reflect what they’ve learned.

You might ask them to take part in a group discussion to discuss key ideas, write an essay, or complete a creative project involving different course material parts.

The responsibility also lies in you to offer the right response so that your students know if they understand the topics to your satisfaction.

How “hard” your course is depends on how much you want to challenge your students. You can make complicated subjects easy to understand without sacrificing their layers.

You should also care to know what your students think of your teaching and the class.

End-of-class assessments are so important because they bring to light problems that you might’ve not known were there. 

If enough people are raising similar concerns, you’ve got to make a change.

5. Creating Content

Once you know what your class should consist of and have your lessons and assignments mapped out, you need to make the course material.

Don’t just make your lesson nothing but PDF files and slideshows. Different lesson elements will be much better for engaging your audience.

In general, we advise doing mostly video content, with PDF, audio, and text versions available to download.

Finding Useful Material

If you’re an expert on something, you probably have stuff to teach from, even if it wasn’t originally made for that purpose.

Perhaps you’ve written papers on the subject or have made videos on it.

Gather all the materials you can that could be used for teaching. These may need to be reworked so they can be used for educational purposes, but that should be pretty easy.

Using different materials helps you show just how many ways you can present information.

This can also help your class appeal to different types of learners, such as those who learn best through lectures and those who learn best from reading.

6. Video Lessons

Once you know what your class should consist of and have your lessons and assignments mapped out, you need to make the course material.

Don’t just make your lesson nothing but PDF files and slideshows. Different lesson elements will be much better for engaging your audience.

In general, we advise doing mostly video content, with PDF, audio, and text versions available to download.

7. Building a Strong Community

Students in a class might be looking out for themselves, but it's valuable to create a community where people can help each other.

Being distanced through online learning can still allow for this. There are tools you can use for online discussions.

Interactions between students can help them to see how much they understand something.

It also allows successful students, not just the instructor, to provide valuable insight and answer questions.

8. Determining Pricing

You might not be teaching business, but you need to know something about it to price your classes. People can assess the value of something quickly, and you need to set the price in the right range.

The instinct to make your class as cheap as possible might strike. However, this can mean your class isn’t viewed as high-quality.

Furthermore, people who do buy can not care enough to finish the course, due to how little they paid for it.

If your course has the potential to change someone’s life and is designed in a way that you’re proud of, you shouldn’t be afraid of pricing it highly.

We see instructors charging a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for a well organized, high-quality content course.

9. Selecting The Right Learning Management System

It would be asking a lot for you to make your own platform for your class. Luckily, there are many excellent ones out there.

You need to consider the pros and cons of each type of system. Some give you more control, some that are easier to use, and some that increase your potential for profit potential because of 0% transaction fees.

Our top recommendations for hosts would be Kajabi, Teachable, and Thinkific. Go through each of these and decide how well they would work for you.

The Best Program To Invest In

You can spend thousands of hours learning how to do everything yourself by watching youtube videos plus trial and error. 

However, that may not be the best use of your limited time and other resources.

If you are already advanced and don't need an A-Z step by step guide on how to put together online training, then you likely don't need any help. 

But for beginners and intermediate level instructors who need some guidance, here's our recommendation of the best program. 

We've personally gone through this training and while there are some drawbacks, the benefits greatly outweigh them.

Digital Course Secrets 

by Kevin David


The overall value provided in this course relative to competitors.

Success Rate

The number of students who make money after going through this course.


Rating is based on the price to invest in this course relative to competitors. 

Kevin David is an online entrepreneur who burst onto the scene a few years ago when he made $10,000,000 in less than 18 months with his courses. 

Kevin then used his knowledge, real world experience, and desire to help others in creating his program Digital Course Secrets.

Digital Course Secrets is an extensive training on creating online courses, how to market those courses, how to make sales, and how to make the most successful students you possibly can.

This training is best suited for beginner and intermediate instructors who want an A-Z process that takes them through step by step.

One of the lesser talked about values is this course is the interactive Facebook community.

In this private FB group, you can not only interact with Kevin David himself, but you can also be connected to hundreds of other successful people. 

You're literally immersed in an online environment with hundreds of five, six, seven, and even eight figure course creators!

You almost can't put a price on this feature, since successful people are often times too busy to mentor others. 

Kevin has created a system where you're not only around other real life people who are crushing it, but people who are very generous, accessible, and contribute to the community. 


  • Course breaks down all aspects of creating courses
  • Based on real world results, not theory. All program info is used by Kevin David himself
  • Lots of value for the cost of the program
  • Private Facebook group where you can interact with Kevin David other successful students
  • Multi-payment option 
  • Hundreds of success stories and testimonials from real people


  • Not ideal for advanced course creators
  • Can be outside of some people's budget


Promotional Methods

Next, you’ll need to figure out how you can reach your audience. There are dozens of ways to get the word out about your training program.

However, some methods are more time consuming and costly then others. These are some of the tried and true ways you can use for marketing your course.

1. Email

Don’t just email everyone you can think to. Look for people who would benefit from your classes based on their careers and interests.

You can setup a website and use a lead magnet to capture emails organically.

Building your list of prospects may take some time, but it's free and worth it.

2. Direct Selling

Instead of keeping yourself at a distance from your potential students, you can try talking to them individually to sell them on the course.

You need to work on a good pitch and not get discouraged by rejection.

3. Complimentary Consultation

When people seem like they’d be a good fit for your class, you can invite them to join you on a call in which you can discuss matters further.

4. Facebook Groups

Since there are literally billions of people on Facebook, it’s a resource you need to use.

You can make a group that would appeal to a lot of people and give them a taste of what your course provides.

When you’ve gained their trust, they may buy the full course from you.

You might use one, some, or all of these tactics. There could also be other methods that you come up with.

As long as you’re drawing people to your class, you’re doing things right.

What Not To Do

You’re going to mess up some things with your first class. This isn’t meant as a discouragement but just as an acknowledgment of what happens with anyone who tries a new pursuit.

There are some issues that are easy to avoid if you can look out for them. These are things you shouldn’t do if you want your class to be a real hit.

Videos Too Long

Expecting people to focus on hour-long video lectures is asking for a lot. You might have a lot of information to deliver, but you need to do so in compact amounts of time.

Short videos should be five minutes and under. Medium-length videos shouldn't exceed 10 minutes. Long videos should be no longer than 20 minutes.

Doubt Yourself

There’s going to be a lot of issues with your course. There will be topics you don’t explain as well as you could and lessons that won’t have as much relevance as they once did.

However, these issues and others can only be worked over so many times before you realize you just need to get your class going.

Having an “oh well” attitude, when things go wrong, will help you to be kinder to yourself as a new course creator.

Great classes you’ve taken have been run by instructors who have nitpicked themselves like crazy without anyone else seeing any issues.

Not Doing Trial Runs

Your class is a new product, and new products need to be tested.

Waiting until the first day of class for anyone to try it out means you could have massive mistakes lying in wait.

These are ones that could really hurt your reputation if you aren’t careful.

Having a second or third set of eyes on your material can also help raise points that you might’ve not realized on your own.

We all benefit from the value of others’ perspectives.

Final Thoughts

You’re probably breathing a big sigh of relief as you approach this article’s conclusion.

We hope that it’s been worth your trouble, as we want to give all our readers information that can help them take essential actions.

With making a course, you need to be involved in every aspect as deeply as possible, even the pre-class elements.

It all matters, and we’ve given you a lot of reasons to help you understand why. Lots of this is stuff we didn’t learn until we made our own courses.

We’ve also told you about how to market classes, which should be done even if you’re not trying to reach out to a particularly large sector or if you don’t have a huge amount of money at your disposal.

Additionally, we’ve told you about how to reflect upon testing your class and what you can do to make things better. When a session is over, you can take in assessments and use them for further improvements.

You should want to help your students, and creating a class with care shows this. You can reduce risks of confusion by preparing for problems and correcting them before they arise.

Any insecurity about making your own class should be responded to with love, both for yourself and others.

You can change people’s lives, including yourself, by making a great class. This isn’t just a way to make money. It’s also a way to inspire people.

We hope you’ve become inspired by this article to start work on your own class. You likely have untapped potential that’s waiting to come out, and the ability to bring the same out in others.

Getting started on your own is an option you have, but if you want an A-Z training program that takes you step by step through the whole process, then we recommend to check out Digital Course Secrets free training.

Good luck on your journey and we can't wait to hear your success stories!

Course Minds is a team of highly experienced educators, trainers, entrepreneurs, and business experts who help you discover the best e-learning courses, training, and certification programs online. Our team has spent thousands of hours researching the top classes to recommend and have helped more than 800,000+ learners find their ideal courses. 

Course Minds Team

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