5 Questions To Ask When Building an Online Course

Building an online course is a difficult process

Thinking of building an online course but aren’t sure where to start? Here are some things to consider before taking the plunge into this very involved process!

Why would someone pay for this course?

What pain(s) does the course solve?

What outcome(s) can they expect at the end?

If you hang out in the online space for more than a minute, it’s likely you’ll find some guru telling you that you need to build an online course. “It’s the only way to scale your business!” 

“Relax on the beach with an umbrella drink while your course does all the work for you!” 

“Do less and reach more people with an online course!”

And while a lot of that is technically true, it’s hard to know if building an online course is the right next step for you and your business. So before you dive headfirst into building a course, ask yourself these five questions – and answer them honestly. Future You will be glad you did 🙂 

Why do I want to build an online course?

Let’s get to the heart of the matter – what is your motivation for building an online course?  Is it to replace some or all of your current client work?  Do you want to fill a gap in your own offerings that will help you reach more people?  Is it to empower your audience to do something that they otherwise would struggle with? Is it to make more money?

Your WHY will dictate the entire course development experience, so make sure that you’re doing this for the right reasons. Does that mean that a course you create with the sole intention of making money won’t be effective? Not necessarily.  But if you’re focused on the money, you’re not focused on serving your audience and solving a problem for them; what you create might miss the mark completely.  

What expertise do I have that would translate well to an online course? What gap in knowledge can I fill for my audience?

While many topics easily translate to online delivery, some just…don’t.  If you’re teaching something that’s already digital – like social media management – then online delivery should be pretty straightforward.  If your expertise is in an area that requires hands-on activity, though, you’ll have to think through how to make that happen online.  

Let’s say, for example, that you’re a dental hygienist and want to teach others how to enter your field.  If your course material covers concepts, best practices, how to get a job in a dental office, etc., then online delivery is probably just fine.  However, teaching them how actually to clean someone’s teeth is a pretty hands-on activity, so it may be harder to deliver that online (unless they have trusted family members who are willing to be their guinea pigs!).  

Answering this question before you begin building your online course will save you a ton of time, money, and effort down the road.

Who am I serving, and what do they need from this course?

Everything we do in our businesses goes back to our ideal customer avatar (ICA) – because without our customers, we have no business.  So dig deep on your ICA – what pain points do they have?  What are they struggling with?  What problem do they need help solving?  If you can identify the gap that’s causing them heartache and then build a course to fill that gap, they’ll be lining up around the block to take your course.  

So how do we know what problems our ICA is having?  We TALK to them.  Yes, talk.  Like, on the phone.  Or Zoom.  Market research is essential to building a course that will solve a problem.  Too many people (myself included) have created courses or products that seem like a great idea but end up flopping when we launch them.  Why does this happen?  Either the course doesn’t actually solve an acute problem that your customer is having…or the customer doesn’t realize they have the problem, so they don’t need your course.  

With thorough ICA research, you can determine where your ideal customer is NOW, where they want to be, and what they need to bridge that gap – and then you build that bridge!

How much time, attention, money, and effort do I have to dedicate to building this course?

Building a course is not for the faint of heart.  If you do it all yourself, it may take months to flesh out your content, record your videos, develop your supplemental materials, and create your sales assets and launch plans.  If you hire someone to take some or all of these tasks off your plate (which you should probably consider!), it will cost you money.  Realistically, it takes between 3 and 6 months to create and launch a course – and that’s if you commit to working on it daily.  

Am I passionate enough about this topic that I won’t get sick of it over the next few months?

Let’s be honest here, friends.  Building a course is a very involved process – and you’re going to get very up close and personal with your course material!  If your course topic isn’t something you love or are confident about, then you’re going to burn out on it pretty quickly.  So pick something that you could talk about for months on end…because you’re going to do just that while building this course!

Well, what do you think? Is an online course in the future for you?  Courses can be a great way to help more people and create a business and life that works for you – but they’re not a blanket solution.  Need help to decide on your next steps?  Book a FREE 15-minute kickstart call with me, and let’s chat!

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