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A great way to supplement your coaching or therapy income is to create an online course. But many get stuck wondering what they can teach or how they can convert their knowledge into a course that will sell.
This post shares 5-steps to get you started, but first let's clarify what an online course is and how you can generate residual income from it.
What is Residual Income?
Residual income is where you do not have to be physically present to deliver the service or material. Such as with an online course. You create the material once and then sell it to many, again and again.
Residual income is where you continue to get paid for work done previously.
For example, you create an online course that shows your audience how to solve an issue they have. Create workbooks, shoot videos explaining the material and then sell that material in a course format.
You may of course, choose to create your course and then run it live for your audience. This leverages your time so you can share your knowledge and expertise with many at one time.
What Can I Teach? – How You Can Earn by Teaching an Online Course
The popularity of online courses is booming and it’s easy to see why.
Online courses give people the ability to learn something new and valuable from the comfort of home – at very little cost or for free. The number of people embracing virtual learning is growing year by year, and so is the market value of online courses.
Teaching online courses has rapidly become one of the most profitable business models you can choose for an online business. Or to supplement income from working with people individually.
When you work with people individually, you limit your income because there are only so many hours in the day that you can work.
By creating an online course, you provide an additional income stream for your business that can generate earnings even while you sleep.
You might say, “But I’m not a teacher,”. Everyone has something valuable they can teach that others are willing to pay for. It’s just a matter of discovering where your expertise lies and figuring out how to get it to your target audience.
What Is an Online Course?
The goals of online courses are the same as those found in traditional classrooms, but the approach couldn’t be more different. Forget about classrooms, coursework, and textbooks.
You’re teaching your audience how to DO something practical that will make a significant change in their daily life. You do this through online tools that make learning interactive, fun, and immediate. Your course is an event that people can’t wait to be part of.
Your role as teacher is to use available tools and content to facilitate learning among your participants. No teaching experience required.
Why Teach Online Courses?
There are several very compelling reasons why you might want to pursue this business model:
Boost Earnings. There are many ways to monetize your courses and it can be quite profitable. You can charge for the course itself or use it as part of your sales funnel to generate sales later on. Either way, it’s a great avenue for earning money online.
Enhance Your Brand. Even if you don’t want to earn directly from your online courses, they are a great way to enhance your brand. You’ll be offering value to the market through your expertise, which in turn will help to solidify your reputation.
Build Your Audience. Online courses offer a great entry point for new leads into your marketing orbit. They discover you through your course and then explore everything else you have to offer, eventually becoming loyal customers.
One-Time Set-up and Repeat Earnings. Setting up your first course takes time and effort, but after you launch, it’s very easy to keep offering new courses using the system you created.
Monetize Your Audience. Online courses offer a great way to monetize an existing audience through YouTube or social media. You can offer a premium course to your loyal advocates.
Share Your Knowledge. You have something valuable to offer. You can teach online and share this knowledge for the benefit of the world.
Getting Started with Your Online Course
Step 1 – Choose Your Topic
The first step is to brainstorm topic ideas. Here are some questions to get you started:
What do you know a lot about?
What industry do you have experience in?
What do you blog about?
What problems or questions do you regularly help people with?
What feedback have you received about your products, services, and support?
What do your products and services do for your customers?
What are you passionate about?
One idea is to look at your products and services and see if it makes sense to design a course around how to use them, tying it into product purchase.
The above questions help you discover your areas of expertise. But another idea is to learn something new yourself through your online course. Take an area of your business where you’d benefit from learning more, research it, and then teach it to your audience.
Create a list of ideas and then go through and choose the best ones. You might want to do some market research to help you find out which topics are the most interesting to your audience. Try to get some insights on what type of courses people are paying money for.
Step 2 – Identify Your Audience
Next, figure out the target audience for the topic you’re teaching.
You may be able to make some pretty good assumptions about who can use your help. For example, if you’re teaching about how to cope when your children leave home, you need to target parents of children in their twenties. Get as specific as possible about who would benefit from your course.
A natural place to start is with your own customers or followers. For example, if you have an actively engaged social media audience that likes your posts, they’d probably welcome further knowledge you could share with them.
You may want to create an ideal customer profile for your online courses. This is a detailed profile that describes, in specific terms, who is the perfect match for your offering.
Step 3 – Gather Tools
Now, decide how you’re going to deliver your course.
There are specific teaching software programs like Ruzuku, Teachable, Thinkific, Udemy, Kajabi, and Podia that offer everything you need in one place.
For each software option, you’re considering, read reviews and take free trials to make sure it has what you need. Most of all, make sure it’s easy for you and your participants to use.
Other than your hosting platform, you’ll need some gear such as a camera, microphone, and editing software.
Don’t let tech issues hold you back. In addition to finding easy-to-use tools, you can also enlist the help of tech-minded friends, colleagues, or even your kids to deal with any issues.
For example, decide how you will record your videos if you are creating a video course. These days, videos in an online course are essential.
You can record videos on your smartphone, or you can choose a program like Zoom, or you could use Vimeo's screen record option.
Step 4 – Create Your Course
Design: The best way to design a course is to start with the goal in mind and work your way backwards. What do you want the participant to be able to do when the course is finished? Take this goal and break it up into steps, which can be the sessions or modules of your course.
At the end of each session, assign something for them to do that will help them work toward the final goal.
Here you’ll also have to decide on the format of your course. It can be live, or you can offer a mix of live and pre-recorded.
The advantage of including pre-recorded material is that you can create key content first and avoid technical issues during the presentation.
You also need to decide how many sessions students will participate in and what work they’ll have to do. This will largely be determined by the skill you are teaching and how much time you are willing to dedicate to the course.
It’s a good idea to sign up for some free online courses or webinars to see how others present their material. This can give you some valuable ideas and you will also get to participate in a course from the perspective of a student.
Create Content: The next step is to create the content for your course. This includes teaching materials like notes, templates, and worksheets, and also presentation material like scripts, visuals, and videos.
Repurposing offers a great content creation shortcut. Look at material you’ve created before and see if there’s anything you can use. You can edit older material or reformat it so that it’s appropriate for your course. Use anything relevant that offers value and would be suitable for your course.
You may also want to create some bonus content as an add-on, especially if you’re charging for the course.
For example, you might offer a free information product, a bundle of exclusive content, or a bonus video. This will improve customer satisfaction.
Step 5 – Promote Your Online Course
Once you have developed a high-value course designed especially for your target market, the next step is to promote it.
Figure out where your target market spends time online looking for solutions to the issues they face and engage with them there. This might include:
Social Media. Tell your social media followers about the course you’re offering. Ramp up the frequency of your promotional posts as the course gets closer.
Your Blog and Website. Promote your course on your blog and website. A sidebar is a good way to do this. You can also blog about your course, either writing about a related topic or providing a teaser of your course material.
Paid Advertising. If you want to get your course in front of a lot of people, use an ad network and target people who fit your ideal customer profile.
Create a Sales Page. Create a sales page for your course, treating it like a product and driving traffic to a central sign-up page.
Start a YouTube Channel. Create short videos that preview content from your course. Post them on YouTube and other video sites, remembering to add relevant hashtags.
Do Keyword Research. Find strong keywords related to your course and use them in all promotional content. This optimized content will help your course show up in Google searches.
When promoting your course to potential participants, explain the benefits, how it will solve their problems, and what they will be able to do once they’ve completed it.
Rinse and Repeat
Once you run your first online course and get results, you’ll see how easy it is. You’ll have also laid the foundation for all your future courses. Keep getting ideas and feedback from your target audience so you can make improvements and offer something even more valuable for your next course.