So it’s safe to say online courses are all the rage for scaling your impact and income as a business owner, and I know a lot of y’all are harboring dreams of potentially building one down the line as well.

So today I’d love to answer the top 4 questions I get from people toying with the idea of building their first online course!

Here goes!

QUESTION #1:

When should I build an online course? How do I know I’m ready?

You’re already an expert on your topic

First, there’s the obvious, you feel like a legit expert on your topic, you know it forwards and backward and could talk people through your topic in your sleep.

That’s the first vital box that needs to be checked!

Dealing with a little imposter syndrome when creating your first online course is totally normal and to be expected, but I’m talking about the understanding you have of the actual topic you plan on teaching.

If you haven’t quite cracked the code on how to effortlessly do the skill or provide the service you plan to teach, it’s def worth putting in a few more months of investing the time it takes to be nailing that topic for yourself!

 

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You have a list full of people who would be interested in a course on your topic

The second indicator that you’re ready to be creating your online course (and this is super important for the actual selling aspect) is when your audience is actually asking for what you plan to create.

…OR that you don’t have enough hours in the day to serve all the people who want to work with you, and therefore moving from a 1:1 service model to a 1:many online course model would enable you to spread your knowledge without needing to individually work with every person!

Basically, you have built an audience big enough that you can’t serve them one-on-one anymore.

(How big? I answer that question here!)

If neither of those things are true, I’m afraid it could be pretty darn difficult for you to actually sell the thing, and building a course is a MASSIVE time investment so it’s pretty key you have some legitimately interested buyers lined up before you sink months of time into building your course.

 

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QUESTION #2:

How do I decide which online course idea to create?

Build what your audience is asking for!

Now, sometimes this looks like having to answer the same questions week after week in your inbox or DMs…

Other times, people will straight up email you and be like “I wish you had a course on XYZ! I would totally buy it!” or “Hey, would you ever considering offering 1:1 mentoring? I would kill to have your help with XYZ!”

A perfect example is after I had launched my first course, Square Secrets™️ (which was originally positioned to help online business owners learn the tech and the best practices needed to DIY their own killer website).

But pretty soon, I was being bombarded with messages from students saying…

So many people have complimented me my new website and asked if I could create one for them too! Any plans to create a second course teaching how to actually offer web design as a service??”

So I took this as my definite sign to get to work creating my second course, Square Secrets Business™️!

Not sure what your audience is even asking for?

Maybe it hasn’t been so cut and dried, and people haven’t been blowing up your inbox asking for any one thing specifically. Or maybe you’ve got a ballpark idea of what you want your online course topic to be, but you’re unsure about exactly how you want to position it.

Now is the perfect time to get in touch with your audience and figure out what they need! I share my favorite ways to reach out to your audience to find and validate your ideas for new revenue streams and offerings in that post.

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 NEW! Course Launch Collective Program

Build & launch your profit-boosting online course, so you can start enjoying the freedom-filled business you set out to create.

 

 


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Question #3:

How long does it take to build an online course?

As you could imagine, this varies absolutely wildly, depending on your topic and course format.

The first course I created, Square Secrets™️, was a tech course which meant my format of delivery was almost entirely screen-recorded video lessons (along with a good deal of other linked resources, workbooks, and checklists!)

So in order to create my content, all I needed was myself and a laptop, and maybe a microphone if I was feeling fancy.

Now, if you want to teach something like how to professionally dye hair, you’re going to need to book time in a salon, find and schedule time with the people who you’ll use as models for the hair tutorials, and will need to shoot legit video tutorials that aren’t just screen recordings of a computer.

As you could imagine, my course would take a LOT less time to create than the course on dying hair just because of the nature of the topic and format. So do think through what your format will be.

Now, I’ve since added a bunch of bonuses and content to Square Secrets™️ (again, because people were asking for it), but when I originally created it, it had 10-ish hours of video lesson content (plus those resources, workbooks, and checklists I mentioned).

And that took me 7 weeks of full-time work (including working weekends sometimes.)

In the course testimonials, I consistently saw people say that it was without a doubt the most comprehensive, in-depth, content-full course they’ve ever taken, so it paid off, but it was a LOT of work.

Now, building the course content is one thing, creating a sales page, preparing all the launch and marketing plan, setting up the tech (sooo much tech!) took me another 5 weeks.

So all-in-all, I spent 3 full months from start to finish on my course. I didn’t do any client work at that time, and worked weekends a lot.

I know I just made that sound rather daunting, but I can say that I absolutely loved those 3 months and found it such a pleasure to get to focus on one project and give it my all.

I can also say that I made an equal amount in my first launch to what I would have made had I been working one-on-one with clients in those 3 months.

So, first launch complete, I made the same as what I would have made working with clients for those 3 months, but the difference is now, I could relaunch the course again and again and again.

I have definitely needed to update and tweak bits of the course over time, but the bulk of the course content was good to go launch after launch after launch.

That means that on my second launch, I only needed to do the marketing and launching, enabling me to make much more in a couple week period than working with any client could.

So I honestly do see the time spent building the course as time really well spent, even though it was a massive amount of my year and I was rather poor for a while bringing in no income.

 

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Question #4:

How do you build an online course?

Now obviously there are a few more steps than can go into one 2,000 ish word blog post, but here’s a nutshell look at the the steps I took to create Square Secrets™️.

Deciding Course Content Format

First, you’ll need to choose the format for the delivery of your course, and therefore all that you’ll need to have prepared in advance to be filming/creating it.

Again, my first course being a tech course made it pretty clear that screen-recorded videos would be the way to go, and all that was needed for that was a laptop, a decent wifi signal, and a quiet room to be recording in.

If your idea requires teaching the technique behind something that doesn’t happen on computer screen, then you’ll need to consider things like backdrops, lighting, a camera, mic, and rounding up any tools or helping hands you need to be demonstrating that thing. (Oh, and also, you know…combing your hair.)

Recording course content videos: 

I recorded my screen-recorded videos with QuickTime and edited them in iMovie. I learned though that a more efficient way of doing this is using something like Screenflow because with that software you don’t need to deal with saving the video and then importing it into a different software.

I also used Handbrake to compress the video files. While Handbrake was an additional step, it cut down on the file size so much that uploading it to Teachable (my preferred course-hosting platform) was wayyyy faster, and therefore it was worth taking the time to compress it before uploading.

After recording for a few weeks, I got pretty good at confidently recording in one take and so for many videos, I didn’t need to actually import them into iMovie to edit them – yay!

When it came to onscreen videos where I’d actually be showing my face explaining a concept, I kept my background and my recording setup as simple as possible, making it easy to setup and takedown as needed so we weren’t tripping over my tripod for the next 3 months (though if you do have the extra space where you can leave it all set up, you’ll save a heck of a lot of time and headache!)

My fav way to avoid all the setup and takedown was to batch write all my content first, then spend several days back to back recording them.

Creating course content workbooks:

I decided to create all any workbooks my students would be using throughout the course in Google Docs.

I have been in other courses before where they give PDF workbooks, but I often find I either don’t have printer ink, don’t want to kill a zillion trees by printing them even if I do have ink, or trying to fill them in and saving the edits on my computer is rather difficult.

I instead created fillable workbooks in a Google Doc that people could save to their own Drive or desktop and fill in. Much better!

 

Creating checklists:

Unfortunately, I didn’t find a way I liked of creating actual check-off-able lists in Google Docs, so at first, I was creating them in the normal way – creating fancy branded checklists in Adobe Indesign or Canva and them saving them as PDF’s.

But since most of my students use some form of project management software to organize their business, they were finding it even more convenient for me to be sharing a simple list in text format that they could then be copying and pasting into their preferred virtual planner/list-making software (ie. Asana)

 

Deciding your course content hosting platform:

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again…the amount of tech and time that goes into creating a course was much more than I anticipated.

Platforms to host a course on are rather pricey, so it can be tempting to go for one that’s maybe not so easy to use, is lacking a few features but is cheaper.

I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I went for the most comprehensive and reliable course building platform our there – Teachable. Straight up, Teachable costs a pretty penny, but it was darn well worth it.

I loved having a course platform that straight up just worked, no headaches included. It was super easy to just hit upload on Teachable for all my course content files and organize modules, sections and other course settings.

 

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So there you have it! The top 4 questions I get from people in my audience around adding online courses as a new revenue stream to their business!

Oh, and by the way, I took my own advice here and created exactly what the people in my audience were always asking for…

So if you’re ready for more than just the nutshell version of how to build & launch your new online course idea, check out my new coaching program!

 


 

NEW! Course Launch Collective Program

Build & launch your profit-boosting online course, so you can start enjoying the freedom-filled business you set out to create.

 

 


JOIN THE WAITLIST TO LEARN WHEN APPLICATIONS NEXT OPEN!


 

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When should I build an online course? Top course creation questions answered.