How to Create and Sell an Online Course

The complete, step-by-step guide for creating, selling and profiting from an online course in 2020

How to Create and Sell an Online Course

This is the most comprehensive guide out there that will show you everything you need to know and do in order to successfully create and sell online courses from your own website, even if you don't have an existing audience.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • how to find a profitable course idea,
  • how to turn your idea into an awesome online course,
  • how to build an engaged audience,
  • how to launch and sell an online course.

In short:  if you want to turn your expertise/passion into a money-making online course, you’ll love this guide.

I have broken the whole guide into 7 chapters:

You can click on a link above to go directly to that chapter. However, I will recommend that you read this guide from start-to-finish and also download a PDF copy of this guide for future reference.

Let's get started.

Why Create an Online Course?

CHAPTER 1

Why Create an Online Course?

CHAPTER 1

Why Create an Online Course?

The online learning industry is huge and it’s only going to get bigger as more and more students turn to online courses to further their education.

As per the E-Learning Global Market Outlook Report, the size of the eLearning industry was $176 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $398 billion by 2026.

So, selling online courses is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to share their knowledge with others and make money in the process.

Online Learning Market Growth

I personally know and have consulted many creators who regularly make a six-figure or even a seven-figure income by teaching online courses.

More importantly, such success stories aren't limited to just a few make money online niches as there are thousands of creators who make money teaching yoga, photography, web design, cooking, and a host of other things.

Take my friend and client David Young for example. He is a drone enthusiast and the founder of Drone Launch Academy.

His course FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Exam Prep Course has earned him over $800k over the past 2 years. He quit his corporate job in early 2018 and now works full-time on his online course business.

Drone Launch Academy

Apart from the money, what makes the online course business model so attractive is the fact that you’re basically selling digital products that you create once but you can reuse them and sell for years.

So, you’re not trading your time for money which makes selling online courses ideal from a scalability point of view.

Finally, the kind of impact that you can create on the lives of other people through an online course, it won’t be possible with any other online business model.

When you consider all these benefits, selling courses online has to be the single most powerful and impactful way to make money online, and find the freedom you want.

Benefits of Selling Online Courses

It is a perfect business model for you if:

  • you’re a blogger / Youtuber / podcaster who has an existing audience,
  • you’re a freelancer / consultant / coach who wants to move away from 1:1 client work,
  • you have an established business and you want to add another income stream to it,
  • you’ve been teaching in-person courses and workshops, and want to take them online.

Now, I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t create an online course if you’re new to the world of online business. In fact, this is exactly what I did when I was getting started.

However, in order to successfully create and sell online courses from your own website, you’ll need to invest time, money and energy into the whole process.

So, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to make money online, it is definitely not the right option. 

But if you are interested in teaching online and are willing to put in the hard work, the online course business model will work great for you.

I’m sure you’re already thinking about things like “what I’ll teach in the course”, “how I’ll create videos” or “how I’ll market my course”. Don’t worry about these things as we’ll cover them in detail in the subsequent chapters.

The only thing that I want you to do before we move to the next chapter and start working on your course is to believe that you too can teach online and make a business out of it.

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Find a Profitable Course Idea

CHAPTER 2

Find a Profitable Course Idea

CHAPTER 2

Find a Profitable Course Idea

Now that you’re committed to selling courses online, it’s time to decide what you will teach your students. Basically, you need to find a profitable idea for your online course.

A profitable course topic should be:

  • something that you’re interested in and can teach,
  • something that potential students are willing to pay for.

Come Up with Ideas for Your Online Course

When I was planning to create my first course, I had close to 4 years of professional experience in the supply chain industry.

I knew it was something I was good at and loved doing on a day-to-day basis. As a result, finding my course niche was really straightforward for me.

So, the first thing that you should think about is your skills and professional expertise. 

If you do a regular job in an organization, think about the things that you do on a daily basis. You might have knowledge about certain processes or software which can be helpful to others.

Or, you might be working as a freelancer or a consultant in which case take stock of the things that you help your clients with.

Similarly, you might be a blogger or an Youtuber and so, you should look at the topics that you create content around.

Before founding MyExcelOnline, John Michaloudis had worked as an accountant and financial controller for 15 years. During his corporate career, he would use Microsoft Excel extensively and even trained other employees in using the software.

So, when he decided to start an online business and ultimately create an online course, it made sense to choose Excel training as his niche.

MyExcelOnline Courses

But what if you don't have such a skill or professional experience? 

Don’t worry! Bcoz you might have a passion or a hobby that others are interested in learning about.

Or, you might have overcome a personal challenge that many others struggle with as well.

Teach Online Courses

In fact, hobby/passion niches have picked up big time in the past few years and there are thousands of successful course creators teaching courses in these niches.

I love the story of one of my clients, Zaheen Nanji who developed a stutter when she was seven. She was also diagnosed with breast cancer recently.

She has overcome these personal challenges and now she teaches online courses to help others build resilience and the courses have done pretty well.

Resilience Champion Courses

Now that you have an idea about the things that you’re good at, it’s time to come up with potential topics for your online course. 

At this point, just think about the things that you can teach and don't worry about things like market demand, competition, etc. You can use this ideation worksheet to list all your ideas.

A very effective way to come up with course topics is to identify what your potential students are struggling with and think of the topics as solutions to these problems.

Obviously, you’ll know about some of the pain points based on your experience but you can also find out other things by following conversations in Facebook Groups, niche forums or other online communities (e.g. Quora).

Student Pain Points

Another important thing to keep in mind while brainstorming course topics is to be as specific as possible. Let's say you're passionate about baking, so here is how you can get more specific about it:

  • How to Bake (very broad)
  • How to Bake Bread (still broad)
  • How to Bake Sourdough Bread (specific)
  • How to Bake San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread (more specific)

Specific courses are easier to sell than broader courses and so, I recommend that you start with a specific course that promises specific results to a specific audience.

As you move along in your journey as a course creator, you can consider creating broader courses.

Validate Your Course Topic

Most new course creators completely skip this part. They will come up with some ideas for their online course but then they pick one randomly without validating whether there is enough demand for a course on that topic or not.

This ultimately turns out to be a big mistake and they end up spending a lot of time and money to create an online course which just doesn't sell. 

So, you need to validate your course idea and make sure that there is a demand for it before you start work on content creation or marketing.

1. Get Google Search Volume

The easiest way to validate interest in your course topic is by checking the search volumes for related keywords on Google.

The tool that I recommend you use for this purpose is Ubersuggest. It is free to use and doesn’t require you to create an account.

=> Go to the Ubersuggest website and do a search with your keyword. Now analyze the results.

You should then check the search volume for your main keyword as well as the related keywords. A high search volume for your keywords would mean that people are interested in your niche.

UberSuggest Keyword Research

This keyword research should also give you insight into what related topics people are interested in and so, you can use this information to fine-tune your ideas.

2. Search on Youtube

Youtube is the largest video platform as well as the second-largest search engine in the world. On Youtube, you can find videos on almost any topic and in any possible niche. 

Plus, Youtube has a huge audience for tutorial-type and how-to videos that give you a strong indication of interest in your course topic.

=> Go to Youtube and search for your course topic. Analyze the search results and video views.

Validate Course Topic on Youtube

You can also read comments on these videos as that will give you a sense of your students' pain points and what they want to learn.

3. Search on Udemy

Udemy is the largest online course marketplace and it has millions of students who take courses in virtually any niche.

While I don’t recommend you use Udemy as the main platform for teaching online, it can provide you a lot of information that will help you validate the demand for your course. 

=> Go to the Udemy website and do a search for your course topic and related keywords. Now check the courses that come up in search results.

Search Your Course Topic on Udemy

=> Select a particular course and check the number of students enrolled in the course.

Validate Course Demand on Udemy

=> Go back to the search results and repeat the previous step by selecting a different course.

If you find a few courses related to your topic and a few thousand students enrolled in these courses, that’s great news because this shows that there is a significant number of students in your niche who are willing to pay for a course.

4. Survey Your Audience

One of the most effective ways of testing your product idea is by collecting direct feedback from students and a survey is a great tool for doing that.

When I was planning to create my Supply Chain Network Design course, I first tried validating my idea using the approaches discussed above. 

But the numbers didn’t look great and it seemed that there wasn’t enough interest in the topic. 

However, based on my experience, I knew that Network Design was a premium supply chain skill and had seen how my colleagues and friends were interested in learning it.

So, I sent out a brief survey to my small audience asking them what they thought about the course idea and whether they would be interested in enrolling in the course when it launches.

Validate Course Idea through Online Survey

The response was overall positive and I went ahead with the idea which ultimately turned out to be the right decision.

If you have an audience of your own, this method is really straightforward to execute. You can create a short survey in a tool like Google Forms or Paperform, and send the survey to them via email.

If you don't have an existing audience, you can still send the survey to your friends and colleagues as well as share the survey in various online communities and groups you’re part of.

5. Pre-sell your course

If you need an even stronger validation for your topic, you can presell even before you create an online course.

To pre-sell an online course, you can create a sales page that explains what the course will be about and when it will release.

If you can successfully pre-sell your course, there is no better way to validate your course idea and you can be 100% confident about investing time and money into turning this idea into reality.

However, pre-selling only works if you already have an engaged audience whom you can pitch your idea to. Selling your course idea to a cold audience will not work in most cases.

If you followed all the steps in this chapter, you should have an idea for your online course by now. It's time for you to start working on creating your course content now.

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How to Create an Online Course

CHAPTER 3

Create an Awesome Online Course

CHAPTER 3

Create an Awesome Online Course

One mistake that a lot of new course creators make is to think about the value of their course in terms of the amount of content or the hours of videos it has.

They will then try to add as much content to their course as possible which makes the entire process not just time-consuming and expensive but also results in information overload for the students.

Remember you’re creating a specific course that promises specific results to a specific audience.

So, your course doesn’t have to include everything you know on the topic. It just has to cover the things that are required to help your students achieve the promised results.

Plan and Design Your Course

Before you start creating the content, you will need to create an outline for your course. 

Course outline (or curriculum) is like a plan and it will help you keep organized and focused throughout the content creation process.

While creating your course outline, start with the end results for your course and then think about the different stages a student will go through in order to achieve those results.

Online Course Steps

These stages are basically the modules (or sections) and most course creators I have worked with tend to have not more than 7-8 of them in their courses.

Now each module should have a learning objective of its own and will include multiple lessons.

You can think of the individual lessons as the steps that your students will need to take in order to achieve the learning objectives for a particular module.

Here’s how the outline for my first course looked like:

Create Online Course Outline

If you want to use this course outline template to plan your course content, you can access it here.

Once you have created the outline for your online course, you need to decide the delivery format for your lessons.

Now, video is easily the most popular and engaging delivery format for online courses and so, you must include video content in your course.

The key here is to keep your video lessons short, preferably between 2-10 minutes as shorter videos tend to result in higher student engagement.

Video Lecture Length

Source: Teachable

In addition to using video content, you should use a mix of other formats as well — audio, text, PDFs, etc. to deliver your content.

Again, you must realize that your online course shouldn’t just be a bunch of videos and other pre-recorded content because your students will lose interest very quickly and drop out of your course.

So, it’s important to design your course in a way so as to make it as interactive as possible. You should use interactive quizzes, add assignments, create a community and maybe even do live coaching calls.

That being said, the delivery formats that you use in your course will ultimately depend on a few things including the nature of your course, your niche, its learning objectives, course pricing, etc. 

Based on the formats you choose, you can then start creating the actual content for your course which I'll discuss next.

Create Course Content

Let’s first talk about creating videos for your online course. There are two popular types of videos that creators include in their courses:

  • Screencast videos where you record your computer screen
  • Talking head videos where you speak in front of a camera

Screencast videos are really effective if you want to create tutorial type content or record slides with voice narration.

The best part about the screencast videos is that they’re much easier and less expensive to create than talking head videos.

In fact, all the videos in my first course except the course overview were basically screen recordings and it worked very well for my course topic.

Screenrecording Video

A sample screencast video from my course

In order to create a video of your screen recording, I recommend that you use a tool like Camtasia.

Camtasia is an all-in-one screen recorder and video editor and is simply the best screencasting software in the market.

Now, let’s briefly discuss talking head videos. Recording good quality talking head videos is more complex than recording your screen.

Firstly, you’ll need a camera to record your face for which you can either use your iPhone or an external webcam like Logitech C920.

Secondly, you’ll need to get some basic equipment like a lighting kit, a backdrop, etc. to get good results with your talking head videos.

At this point, you don’t really need to invest in a professional camera or video recording equipment unless video quality is like super important for your course.

Sample Talking Head Video

A sample talking head video from Nathan's Cybersecurity course

While creating talking head videos takes more time and effort, they’re worth it because they allow you to create a personal connection with your students.

So, I recommend that you include at least a couple of talking head videos in your course.

Another very important aspect of creating quality videos (both screencasting and talking head) is audio quality and in order to record quality audio, you must invest in an external microphone.

The one that I personally use and recommend is Blue Yeti. It’s a plug-n-play microphone and is very reasonably priced as well.

Moreover, you’ll need to create a proper recording environment in your house (or office) where you have no background noise and minimal echo. Achieving such a setup is simple and you can check this article where I share a few tips for that.

Baidhurya's Notes

When you’re creating videos for the first time, don’t worry too much about the video quality otherwise it can slow you down significantly.

Yes, your course videos might not look that professional in the beginning but that’s totally fine. Instead, focus on delivering value through your videos and you’ll do well!

Your videos will automatically become more polished and professional as you create additional courses in the future.

Before we close this chapter, let’s talk about creating another popular content type — PDFs. Creators generally use PDF files for creating worksheets, checklists, case studies, and other support documents for their courses.

Sample PDF Checklist

A sample PDF Checklist from Pinterest Traffic Avalanche Course

The first option and the one I recommend is to outsource and you can get a PDF designed for as little as $5 using a service like Fiverr. You can also use Fiverr for video editing and to get your videos transcribed for cheap.

If you want to create and design the PDF documents yourself, you can either use Microsoft Word or you can use an online design tool like Canva.

Content creation for your courses (especially video creation) involves a lot of trial and error and will take some time. So, you should start working on other things like building your online presence and growing your email list simultaneously.

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Build an Audience for Your Course

CHAPTER 4

Build an Audience for Your Course

CHAPTER 4

Build an Engaged Audience 

Not building an audience right from the word go is one of the most common mistakes that course creators make.

I find it really surprising that so many people don't realize that without an audience, you can't really sell an online course. In fact, most people start thinking about funnels and email list only when the course goes live and they struggle to sell it.

The right approach is to start building your email list as soon as you pick your niche and finalize your course topic so that by the time your online course is ready, you have an audience to sell your course to.

So, let me show you everything that you need to do in order to build an engaged audience for your online course. I have broken the whole process into three steps.

Lead Magnet Funnel

Lead generation process

Step 1: Build a Simple Funnel to Capture Leads

The first step in the process of building an audience is to set up a lead generation funnel. The idea is to capture the email addresses of your visitors so that you can engage them and market your course via email.

Create Free Content Related to Your Niche

The first stage of your funnel should always be some content that is freely available and for which a visitor doesn't need to opt-in.

The free content can be in the form of blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics etc. and the main purpose of this type of content is to just provide value and warm your target audience.

So, you can create a Youtube Channel to share videos, start a blog to publish articles or start a podcast where you can interview other people in your niche.

StationX Blog

StationX's Blog

The key here is to create high quality content because all the social media platforms and search engines have now become much smarter at detecting crap and rewarding quality.

Believe me, this is the most important step in building a funnel and generating leads, something that a lot of beginners ignore. On the other hand, most of the successful course entrepreneurs create some sort of free content on a consistent basis.

Create a Killer Lead Magnet

Getting people to sign up to your email list should be easy once you warm them with free content and you’ll need a lead magnet for getting their email address.

A lead magnet is a piece of content that's available only when someone signs up for your email list. 

So, you might have signed up for a free ebook, or a free video training or even an email course, all of which are examples of a lead magnet.

Let me give you an example as well. If your niche is, say, weight loss, you might create lead magnets like these:

  • Weight loss checklist
  • 30-day weight loss challenge
  • Diet plan for weight loss
  • Excel-based weight loss tracker
  • Weight loss exercise guide
  • Weight loss quiz

A well-done lead magnet must solve a specific problem, it must be created for quick consumption and it must be related to your course topic.

And keep in mind that a 2-3 page lead magnet is as effective as a 300-page e-book. So, focus on content and quality rather than quantity.

Once you finalize a lead magnet idea, you can format your content and create a good-looking lead magnet yourself using a tool like Canva or you can get it done by a freelancer on Fiverr as well.

Set Up a Landing Page / Opt-In Form

If you don't already know about it, a landing page is a dedicated page with a singular focus of making your offer convert. In this case, the offer will be a lead magnet.

You must have seen pages like these:

Digital Marketer Landing Page
StationX Career Guide

These are examples of landing pages. Now landing pages are really effective at converting visitors into subscribers and so, you need to create one for your lead magnet as well. 

Once someone signs up, they are taken to a thank you page like this where you can guide them on the next steps and even ask them to take further action like buying a low priced e-book or a mini-course.

Stationx Thank You Page

Another popular way of collecting email addresses, especially on a blog is by using opt-in forms.

The most popular opt-in type is popups. For example, MyExcelOnline.com has a popup form on the homepage that appears when a user is about to leave the site:

MyExcelOnline Popup

There are other opt-in types as well and one that is really popular is inline opt-ins (or within content opt-ins). Once you click a button or a link, a popup will appear which will ask you to enter your email address in order to get the freebie.

Inline Forms

When it comes to the tech for creating landing pages and opt-in forms, you have a few options:

  • Option #1: Use an all-in-one course platform like Kajabi which includes the ability to create landing pages and opt-in forms natively.
  • Option #2: Use a specialized landing page builder like ClickFunnels and an opt-in form tool like ConvertBox.
  • Option #3: Some email service providers (e.g. ConvertKit) also let you build landing pages and opt-in forms.

Once a user submits his/her email address, the details will be passed to your email marketing platform where you can communicate with them and engage them.

Step 2. Engage Your Subscribers with Email Marketing

It's very unlikely that a new subscriber will purchase your course and turn into a paying customer as soon as he/she subscribes. So, you should create and set up a series of automated emails for your new subscribers.

The basic idea behind sending a welcome email series is to provide value to your subscribers and make them know, like and trust you. At this point, you shouldn't engage in any sort of selling.

While you can take different approaches while creating a welcome email campaign, the first email in the campaign should always be a welcome/introduction email that goes out immediately upon subscription.

StationX Welcome Email

Apart from the introduction email, you should send at least 4-5 additional emails as part of the welcome campaign over the next 7-10 days.

One option is to create an email course where you teach your subscribers something of value and something related to your online course.

Brennan's Email Course

This is how Brennan Dunn's Double Your Freelancing email course looks in my inbox:

Another option is to create an email series where you just tell your subscribers about some common mistakes users make in the industry or even just tell them about some common myths.

My friend and client Nathan sends his subscribers emails about myths in the cybersecurity industry and it works well:

StationX Welcome Campaign

These are just a few ideas for creating your welcome email campaign. There are so many other things that you can do like sending free resources, youtube videos or even articles from other blogs.

Now, if you sell an evergreen course, you can transition your subscribers into a sales campaign as soon as they complete the welcome sequence (we'll talk more about selling your courses in the last chapter).

However, if your course isn't open for enrollment currently or isn't ready yet, you will have nothing to sell to them immediately. 

In this case, you need to make sure that your subscribers are constantly engaged and so, you need to email them on a regular basis. 

Finally, you'll need an email service provider so that you can store the subscriber information, send them emails and most importantly, automate email marketing.

There are quite a few tools in the market but the one that I recommend is ConvertKit.

ConvertKit is a popular email service provider that offers powerful automation capabilities but at the same time is easy to use and affordable, making it ideal for online creators.

(If you would like to see a full breakdown of the tool, you can check this ConvertKit review.)

You now have your lead generation funnel up and running and you can start sending people to it without worrying about whether your online course is ready or not.

Step 3: Drive Traffic to Your Funnel

Driving traffic is key to building your audience and is also the #1 thing that course creators struggle with. You might have an awesome online course and a killer funnel in place but without traffic, you won’t have much success.

So, let me share with you the top 6 strategies that I have found to be most effective for driving traffic:

1. Promote Your Content on Social Media

One of the most essential strategies to drive traffic to your content is by sharing it on social media. There are so many popular social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. that one can target.

Again the key is to pick one social media channel that you think will work best for you niche and your content, and then go all-in with that.

2. Start a Youtube Channel

YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet and there are millions of people who visit YouTube to watch all sorts of video tutorials.

To get started, you’ll need to create a YouTube Channel and then publish relevant videos on your channel on a regular basis.

The good thing is that this won’t just help you get traffic from YouTube but you can also rank for the search terms in Google.

Youtube is still kind of an underutilized traffic source in many niches and so, if you plan to create video content, you should definitely target it.

3. Guest Podcasting/Posting

There are very few strategies which are as effective as guest posting and guest podcasting in helping beginners grow their audience. 

So, in guest posting, you write articles on other blogs while in guest podcasting, you appear as a guest on other podcasts. 

The idea with both these strategies is to put yourself in front of a larger audience in your niche. If you write guest posts or appear on podcasts consistently, you will build authority gradually and you’re almost guaranteed to get results.

4. Drive Traffic Through Affiliates

One of my favorite strategies for promoting digital products is to leverage affiliate marketing. So, you can reach out to and partner with popular bloggers, Youtubers, FB group admins, etc. and get them to promote your course.

The reason why I like affiliate marketing so much is because you don't need to spend money upfront but you share a % of revenue after the sale. Plus if done correctly, you can scale very quickly.

The key here is to offer generous commissions and since you’re selling a digital product, I will recommend that you offer a 50% commission.

5. Search Engine Optimization

I am a big fan of Search Engine Optimization and I recommend that you should leverage SEO if you write blog posts on a regular basis. In fact, SEO is one of the main sources of traffic for this blog as well as a couple of my other blogs.

However, you should keep in mind that there is no shortcut to getting search engine traffic, and it will be months before you start seeing some results from your efforts but believe me, it will be worth it.

Baidhurya's Notes

The main reason why so many creators struggle with driving traffic is that they try to drive traffic from every possible source. If you do that, you’re bound to fail!

Rather you should focus on a couple of traffic sources that you think will be the most effective based on your content and your niche. Simply go all-in with these sources and master them before targeting a new one.

Another thing that you should realize is that you don't necessarily need to run paid ads in order to grow your audience. If you're ready to put in the hard work, you can grow your audience by just using the organic traffic sources.

6. Drive Traffic via Paid Ads

It's not as easy to drive traffic to your website organically as it used to be 5-6 years back. Plus, many of the organic traffic strategies like Search Engine Optimization takes time to yield results.

As a result, you can consider using paid ads to drive targeted traffic to your blog posts and your landing pages but take this approach only when you have a budget.

Now, there are various advertising platforms including Facebook Ads, Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, etc. and the best one for your scenario will depend on a number of factors including your niche and your audience.

These are just some of the most popular strategies to drive traffic and build your email list. There are so many other channels through which you can promote and market your content.

In fact, you can drive traffic even by using the simplest strategy of commenting in relevant Facebook groups or answering questions on Quora.

Having said that, building an audience is an ongoing process and it will continue even after your course launch. What’s important is that you put consistent effort and you’ll see your business grow with time.

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Get Your Course Online

CHAPTER 5

Get Your Course Online

CHAPTER 5

Get Your Course Online

In order to sell an online course, you first need to get your course online!

What you’ll need for that is an online course platform that lets you host your content, create members' area, deliver your course and engage your students.

The good news is that you as a course creator have quite a few options for hosting and selling your online course. 

The bad news is that you have so many options that it can be overwhelming to research all the platforms and pick the best option for your business.

(If you would like to see a list of the top options, you can check this best online course platforms article).

I have helped hundreds of creators build their course websites on all the popular course platforms including Kajabi, Teachable, Thinkific, Podia, etc.

Of all the platforms I have worked with, I found Kajabi to be the most feature-rich platform while at the same time, being easy to use. Here’s why I recommend using Kajabi:

Why I Recommend Using Kajabi?

Kajabi is one of the most popular online course platforms in the market and is used by some of the top course creators like Brendan Burchard and Amy Porterfield.

The best thing about Kajabi is that it is an all-in-one online course platform. So, you can not just host and sell your course but you can also handle entire marketing including sales funnel creation, email marketing, blogging, etc. on the platform itself.

So, you don’t need a separate sales funnel builder like ClickFunnels or an email marketing solution like ConvertKit, rather you can run your entire business on Kajabi.

What is Kajabi?

Even when it comes to creating an online course, Kajabi is the most feature-rich platform out there. 

Apart from all the essential features like the course builder, video hosting, etc., it offers some powerful tools like Course Player Themes, Community, Assessments, Automations, etc. which will help you deliver a great learning experience.

When it comes to customer service, Kajabi offers 24/7 live chat support which you can rely upon. So, if you face an issue or have some other questions, you can reach out to the support team and you can get help pretty quickly.

Moreover, Kajabi is a hosted platform. So, their team takes care of all the techy stuff for you including things like hosting, site performance, security, backups, and maintenance which lets you focus on more important things like course creation and marketing.

Overall, Kajabi is the best option for creating, marketing and selling an online course. If you would like to read more about Kajabi and what it offers, you can check this Kajabi Review guide.

You can also get a free trial of the platform if you want to give it a try.

Create an Online Course on Kajabi

Once you log in to your Kajabi account, you'll be taken to the admin dashboard where you will see some high-level performance metrics for your courses.

In order to create an online course, you need to click on the Products option in the left panel. 

Kajabi Admin Dashboard

Once on the Products page, you'll see the list of your existing Products (if you have any). To create a new Product, click on the "New Product" button at the top.

Create a Kajabi Product

This will take you to a new window where Kajabi will ask you to choose from a list of Product Blueprints.

These blueprints are nothing but kind of a pre-made structure for your course. So, Kajabi will create some dummy modules and lessons for you. I personally prefer to use the "Start from Scratch" Blueprint. 

Click on the "Generate" button next to the Blueprint and a popup will appear where you will be asked to enter the name of your Product.

Kajabi Product Blueprint
Name Your Kajabi Product

Once you save the Product, Kajabi will take you to the curriculum page where you can define your course structure as well as upload content.

Curriculum in Kajabi consists of three different units - Posts, Subcategories and Categories.

A Post is the smallest unit and this is where you add actual content (videos, text, PDF downloads etc.) while a Category and a Subcategory are nothing but a way of grouping your lessons and they don't hold any actual content.

Most courses will only only Categories and Posts. So, subcategories are there just to provide you additional flexibility in structuring your course.

So, you can create Posts and add content to them one-by-one or you can bulk upload your videos into Kajabi and it will automatically turn those videos into Posts.

Bulk uploading is much faster and I prefer doing that. Click on the "+" icon next to Product Outline and you'll see an option "Upload Multiple Videos".

Bulk Upload Videos in Kajabi

Next you'll see the content uploader where you can drag and drop multiple video files from your computer.

You can also import directly via Dropbox/Google Drive which is much faster.

Upload Content to Kajabi

As soon as the videos are uploaded, Kajabi will create individual Posts for them. You can then reorder the Posts or even move them to a different Category by simply dragging and dropping.

Product Outline

If you want to edit any of the lessons further — you might want to change the lesson name or add some text or even attach a PDF download, you'll need to click on the lesson name and it will open the lesson editor.

Kajabi lesson editor-min

So, uploading content and structuring your course in Kajabi is pretty straightforward. Now it's time to customize the look and feel of the course player.

To do that, click on the Customize option on the curriculum page and then click on the "Pick a Theme" button on the next page.

Customize Product
Pick a Theme Button

You'll be taken to the Product themes page where you can choose from a library of 10+ course player themes. The themes are all very well designed and depending on the nature of your digital product, you can choose one.

Once you select a theme, its style will be automatically applied to the student area for that specific course.

This is my favorite Kajabi feature because no other platform offers you so much flexibility in terms of course area design.

Course Player Themes

Now that you've selected your theme, you can preview the student area and make sure that everything looks good.

Kajabi Course Preview

This is how the course looks with Momentum theme.

Obviously, there is much more to using Kajabi than what I have covered in this section. The idea here was to just show you how easy it is to create an online course on Kajabi. 

If you want to learn the exact steps on how to do that, you can start a free trial and you'll get access to the Kajabi University where they'll teach you everything you need to know about the platform.

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Craft Your Course Offer

CHAPTER 6

Create an Irresistible Course Offer

CHAPTER 6

Create an Irresistible Course Offer

Before you can launch your course and sell it to your audience, you need to decide your pricing strategy as well as build a sales page as well.

These are the two most important elements of your offer as they have a significant influence on your conversion rates.

So, it’s important that you get these right and that’s what we’ll focus on in this chapter.

Price Your Online Course

Deciding a price for your online course is not an easy task because most creators don’t know where to start. So, they take one of the following approaches to pricing their online course:

  • Set a price based on the number of hours of video or other content.
  • Set a very low price to attract a wider audience.
  • Set a lower price to undercut competitors.

While these approaches make it easy for you to decide a price for your course, the pricing won’t be optimal.

The first problem with low pricing (say $20) is that you might get a relatively larger number of enrolments but it won’t help maximize your course revenue.

So, you'll generally get a lower revenue even though you'll be putting in a similar amount of effort as selling a higher-priced course.

Here's an infographic from Thinkific that illustrates this:

Course Low Pricing

Moreover, if you price your course lower just to undercut your competitor, you basically start a race to the bottom. You’ll be better off differentiating your offer rather than undercutting.

So, how should you price your online course?

I like to think about pricing in terms of the value and the benefits that a student will get out of a course. So, if a course solves a huge problem for a student, you can easily charge hundreds of dollars for it.

Let’s take an example. Say, your course topic is website design for wellness entrepreneurs:

  • If an entrepreneur were to learn website design using free content, he would spend say a minimum of 30-40 hours to learn all the stuff.
  • Or if he/she were to hire someone else to design a website for him, it would cost him say $3,000 - $4,000.

When you think from this angle, you’ll realize that your course is much more valuable and you can justify premium pricing with the right messaging.

So, it’s ultimately about the perceived value of your course and a very effective way of further boosting it is offering bonuses on top of your course.

It is not without a reason that so many top course creators use bonuses to sell online courses. Look at this bonus stack that Amy Porterfield offers for her Digital Course Academy:

DCA Bonuses

Amy Porterfield's DCA Bonus Stack

Now you don’t need to create such an extensive bonus stack but offering even a single bonus that is super useful to your students will work.

Let’s take the “web design for wellness professionals” course example again. In this case, you might offer these bonuses:

  • Access to a private community.
  • Live Q&A calls or coaching sessions.
  • Pre-built website themes.
  • A website SEO course.
  • Case studies.

These are just a few ideas and you’ll ultimately need to figure out what works best for your course.

Now, if you feel that charging a premium price will make it unaffordable for some of your students, you can always offer a payment plan to allow students to pay for your course in multiple instalments.

Offer Payment Plan

If you’re still not convinced about charging a premium price, you can start with a “baseline price”. Teachable recommends that you should price your course at least $100 (baseline price).

Finally, you know your course and your audience the best! So, take those into consideration and set a price point for your course.

Whether you go for baseline pricing or premium pricing, it's up to you and you can always test different pricing and modify them as you move along.

Create the Course Sales Page

To present your course offer, you need to create a sales page. A sales page is a type of landing page that describes your course to your audience and convinces them to sign up for it.

You must have purchased an online course or an e-Book yourself from pages like these:

Online Course Sales Page
VIP Sales Page

It is at this stage that your potential customers decide whether to enroll in your course or not and so, your sales page can actually make or break the success of your online course.

So, you need to get it right and here are some elements that your sales page should have:

  • A compelling headline that immediately grabs your reader's attention and also conveys your course topic.
  • A sales video that covers all the important aspects of the course.
  • Relatable text that conveys your reader's pain points and convinces them that they need to fix it.
  • Course description that introduces your course as a solution to the problem that your potential customers are facing.
  • Author bio that introduces you as an expert, showcases your experience and helps establish credibility.
  • Testimonials from past students/clients that help build social proof and thus boost your credibility.
  • Pricing section that tells readers the price of your offer and what they will get as part of it.
  • A money-back guarantee that reassures your users that their investment is risk-free.
  • FAQ section that answers the commonly asked questions.
  • Multiple call-to-action buttons that make it easy for users to sign up for your course.

Apart from the copy, it's important to have a good design for your sales page as well. Make it a point to use a lot of high quality & relevant images on your sales page.

StationX VIP Sales Page

Here's a bird's eye view of a high-converting sales page we built for StationX

As far as the tech for building your sales page is concerned, most online course platforms allow you to create sales pages natively.

Plus you can always use a specialized landing page builder like ClickFunnels to build high-converting sales pages.

A sales page can go a long way in boosting your sales conversion and so, you should put effort into creating a good sales page for your online course.

Your online course setup is done and now you can move on to the last step where I'll show you how to launch your course and sell it to your audience.

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How to Sell an Online Course

CHAPTER 7

Launch and Sell Your Course

CHAPTER 7

Launch and Sell Your Course

You have put in some really hard work to create an online course and build an audience and now it's time to sell your course to them.

This is in a sense the most important step in the entire process because everything you have done till now will be of no use unless you get this part right and your subscribers buy your course.

So, let's start by discussing the two popular methods of selling an online course: 

Closed Cart vs Evergreen Courses

You can either sell an online course using a closed cart approach where the course opens for a few days (launch period) for enrollment and then closes.

Or, you can sell it as an evergreen course that is always open for enrollment.

If you follow the first approach, you can open your cart every 2-6 months depending on the price of your course and the size of your audience.

The course will be open for enrollment for a few days and once the launch period is over, the cart will close.

Stu McLaren uses this technique for his TRIBE course. The course opens just once a year and when you try to enroll in the program after the launch period, you will be taken to this page where you are asked to join the waiting list.

TRIBE Course Waitlist

TRIBE course's waitlist page

The major advantage of this strategy is that there is a time limit for enrollment that creates a strong sense of urgency and pushes users to make a decision.

Also, the students join your course in batches, so you can work more closely with them.

The disadvantage is that the course is not always open for enrollment and prospective students will have to wait for some time before getting access. Another disadvantage is that launching a course each time can be a time-consuming process.

The other approach is to make your online course evergreen. Evergreen courses can be taken anytime and the user doesn't need to wait.

Melyssa Griffin's course Pinfinite Growth is an evergreen course and is always open for enrollment.

Pinfinite Growth

The key to selling an evergreen course is automating your sales funnel which means you can focus on driving traffic and testing your funnel and email sequences on a regular basis. This is what I like the most about evergreen courses.

However, it's relatively difficult to incorporate a strong sense of urgency into your evergreen sales funnel because you'll need to offer a bonus or a discount that is unique for every subscriber.

So, I recommend that you keep it simple in the beginning! If you're selling a premium course ($200 and above), I recommend you follow a closed cart approach. 

Selling a lower-priced course is relatively easy and you don't need a similar sense of urgency in order to sell it. So, I recommend that you sell a non-premium course as an evergreen course.

But that is not to say that you can't sell a premium-priced course as an evergreen course. 

There are evergreen sales funnel strategies which are almost as effective as any closed cart strategy but they are advanced strategies and we'll discuss them later in this chapter.

Launch Your Online Course

Whether you're launching a new course or you're opening the doors to an existing course, you need to get your launch strategy absolutely right.

So, let me briefly discuss how to launch your online course. There are two phases to your course launch: Pre-Launch and Actual Launch.

In the Pre-Launch phase, the idea is to nurture your audience and prepare them for the launch. You can send blog posts, videos, etc. via email that will help educate your subscribers about the problem that your course solves.

As far as the number of emails is concerned, you should send at least 4 emails over a period of 7-10 days.

In the last email that you send in the Pre-Launch phase, give a hint that you'll be making an announcement soon. Don't introduce your course or provide any specific details about it as of yet.

Course Launch Plan

A sample course launch plan with first 4 emails being pre-launch emails

For the actual launch, I recommend that you follow a modified version of Teachable's 'Crazy 8 Launch Strategy'. Here's how it breaks down:

Day 1 - "Announcement Email" - Tell what's in your course. Talk about how many modules are there and what the students can expect to learn. Also, mention that the course cart will open tomorrow.

Day 2 - Course Opens Email (+Fast Action Bonus) - Tell your users that the course is open for enrollment now. Include a link to the sales page and explain how they can enroll in the course. Also, mention that they get a fast action bonus if they buy in the first 24 hours.

Day 3 - FAQ Email (+Last Call for FAB) - Answer the commonly asked questions for your course and tackle common objections in this email. You should talk about how long they will have access to the course, money-back guarantee, payment options, etc. and also include a reminder for the Fast Action Bonus.

Day 4 - Sneak Peek Email - Pick an important topic or a framework from your course and create an awesome blog post or video teaching the same topic. Tell them they will get more valuable lessons like these once they're inside the course.

Day 5 - Surprise Bonus Email - Announce a surprise bonus to your audience. You can offer some other course, e-book, group coaching calls, etc. as a bonus. Tell them that you want to make their decision to enroll in the course a no-brainer.

Day 6 - Thank You & Social Proof Email - Tell them how much you appreciate them being part of your launch. You should include some testimonials, social media messages, etc. that will help you build social proof.

Day 7 - Logic + Cart Closes Email - Remind the users that the cart will be closing soon. Build a logic as to why they should buy now and make sure to mention your surprise bonus.

Day 8 - Cart Close Email 1 - Send a quick reminder to the users that this is the last day to enroll in the course and briefly summarize what they will miss out if they don't enroll. This email should go out in the morning.

Day 8 - Cart Close Email 2 - Send the last reminder to users that the cart will close soon and there is no way they can enroll in the course. This email should go out 2-3 hours before the cart closes.

Now, this launch strategy is ideal for launching a premium course and so, your actual approach can vary based on your niche, your audience, and course pricing.

For example, if you are launching a lower-priced course (say $99) to your audience, you can simplify this launch sequence, and sending even 4-5 emails will work.

Selling an Evergreen Course

There are some strong arguments in favor of keeping your online course enrollment always open and the strongest one is that your students can enroll in your course anytime they want and they don't need to wait for your next launch.

If your evergreen course is a lower end offer, you can sell it using a simple 4-part sales sequence that follows the welcome campaign that you send upon subscription:

Day 1 - Introduce Your Course - Introduce your course, explain what's in the course, what they get when they buy it and what they can expect to learn from it as well. 

Day 2 - Overcome Objections - Tackle all the objections that your potential customers might have and help them decide whether the course is right for them or not. You should also answer questions related to your target audience, refund policy, etc.

Day 4 - Case Study & Social Proof Email - Include any testimonials from your past students or clients. If possible, include a case study and share how you helped your students get results in the past. Tell them they can also get similar results by enrolling in the course.

Day 5 - Opportunity Cost Email - Create a sense of urgency by pointing out the opportunity cost of not enrolling in your course now. Build a case of why they should enroll now and remind them that there is a money-back guarantee, so it's a no-brainer.

If someone doesn't buy the course during your evergreen campaign, you should put them into your regular newsletter so that you can keep them engaged and sell again in the future.

While this sort of an approach works well for selling lower-priced courses, it won't be effective for selling a premium-priced course and the simple reason is that your subscribers will need a stronger push in this case. 

In order to make a stronger push, you need to offer a special discount or a special bonus which is available only for a limited time but at the same time is unique for each subscriber.

In order to achieve this, you'll need to use a tool called Deadline Funnel that lets you create evergreen deadlines that are unique to your subscribers.

Deadline Funnel tracks your visitors using both IP and cookies and thus lets you create an expiring offer that is genuine and your users can't see an expired offer simply by visiting the page in a private window or a new browser.

(If you would like to learn how to add scarcity to an evergreen sales funnel using Deadline Funnel, you can check this guide).

Deadline Funnel is an advanced tool and there is a certain amount of learning curve attached to it as well. So, I don't recommend that you take this approach if you're just getting started.

This will unnecessarily complicate the whole thing which is not desired in the beginning and so, a closed cart approach would be the best option for you to sell your premium course initially.

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Create and Sell Online Courses Conclusion

Conclusion & What's Next?

Conclusion & What's Next?

In this guide, you have learned in detail how to create and sell online courses from your own website. We went through all the steps that are involved in the process right from finding an idea to creating your course and marketing it.

Now it's your turn to implement what you have learned in this guide and while doing that, try to keep things simple in the beginning.

It's very unlikely that you're going to get everything right the first time. So, focus on getting things done rather than aiming for perfection. And you can always tweak and improve things as you move forward.

Another thing you should keep in mind is that there are no shortcuts to building a sustainable online course business and you'll need to put in some serious work before you'll get any significant results. 

But if you do things the right way, believe me, the results will be worth it.

I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step guide on How to Create and Sell a Profitable Online Course. You can download a PDF copy of this guide and take it offline.

If you’re new to creating and selling online courses, it’ll be extremely helpful to go through this guide a second time, even referencing it when you go out and try putting everything into action.

What did you think of the guide? Or maybe you have a question.

Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.

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