Is Creating an Online Course Right for You?
An online course is a great way to monetize your blog, but you don't have to create a course on blogging or marketing to make sales. See some examples here!
💡 This post contains affiliate links. This means that I’ll receive a bonus or commission when you make a purchase after clicking on a link to one of my recommendations. Don’t worry, this is done at no extra cost to you.
Have you considered creating an ecourse before? Do you think you have to create a course about blogging, online business, or technology in order to be successful?
I’ve got some great news for you:
You can create an eCourse about anything you want. As long as you can provide a journey from Point A to Point B, you can create a course about it.
Don’t believe me? I’ve got some pretty awesome examples of courses that have nothing to do with blogging or business (at least not directly. You could make anything and sell it!). Some of which I’ve been following for several years.
I’ve written this blog post to challenge the idea of creating blogging ecourses when you run a lifestyle, productivity, or health blog. Or any kind of blog that isn’t already marketing related.
I’ll take you through 6 common myths people believe about courses, show you 6 examples of online courses, and explain why courses are a great addition to your blog, especially if you want to teach people something.
Creating an Online Course Quick Links
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6 Online Course Creation Misconceptions
Online courses are an excellent way to monetize your blog, but a lot of bloggers have the wrong idea about what they can create as an ecourse. You see people creating courses about blogging so you might immediately think that’s the only type of course that you could create.
Don’t think that just because you don’t see people creating a course about unique topics that they aren’t. You just haven’t been searching for the stuff they’re making courses about. You’re researching blogging or business topics, so those are types of courses you find.
Courses can be about anything. You just need to identify the problems people are having and solve them with your course content. They’re sort of like blog posts but on a much bigger scale. A blog could be about anything, right? So why not a course?
Let’s take a look at these 6 misconceptions you need to stop believing about ecourses and what ecourses can be about.
Myth #1: You have to teach about blogging or marketing
I’m not sure why this is even so common, but it is. I’ve taken all sorts of online courses before I even considered the possibility of doing one for blogging topics. In fact, I didn’t even realize “blogging” was something you could create a course about.
The truth is unless your blog is already about blogging, a blogging related course isn’t the best idea. Nor does it make a lot of sense. If you blog about meal planning, your course should be related to meal planning.
Creating a blogging course when your blog isn’t about blogging doesn’t really make any sense. It usually turns into showing people how to make money with their blog by telling people to blog about creating a blog… It’s just one giant circle. Yikes.
As expected, a lot of people aren’t comfortable with this idea and it keeps them from considering courses as a real opportunity for a business.
I realize those last couple paragraphs probably sound kind of weird to hear from me, a person who does teach about blogging and tech topics. I’m doing this because that’s what I know the most about. It’s exciting and fun for me, not just something I do to attract customers.
I’ve built up my tech and design skills by doing this for almost my entire life. I’ve always wanted to teach it to people but I never felt like there is a real audience that could benefit from what I had to teach and who I felt comfortable teaching.
Then I started joining blogging groups and realized I’d _finally _found the right people! Find your people!
Myth #2: Courses only teach people how to make money
Again, not true. Courses could teach someone how to do anything, regardless of if it will make them money.
Don’t you have hobbies? Fun things you like to do without the expectation of earning cash from it? So do other people!
A lot of people spend cash on things for entertainment purposes. Don’t think you have to show someone how to make thousands of dollars just to get them to sign up for your course.
All you really need to do is target a problem and solve it through a step-by-step process.
Myth #3: Courses have to be about technical topics
A bit in line with the last myth, this one assumes that online courses are only good for stuff like coding or even graphic design.
Let me stress again that an online course could be for anything. Even big universities teach practically anything online. When I was attending university, I actually took a lot of classes online so I could work more quickly than the traditional pacing.
While some of these were tech-based, most where things like my math courses, English, or even biology.
It stands to reason that if some of these traditional, education-based topics can be taught in an online format, normal everyday stuff can be taught as well. (And at a much more affordable rate, too).
Later on in this post, I’ll show you some examples of online courses that aren’t about blogging, marketing, or these tech topics.
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Myth #4: Courses have to be long and complicated
I’m definitely guilty of thinking this one. Right up until a couple of weeks ago even. But then I actually started creating a small course on a hyper-specialized topic and I realized just how big of an impact this one small thing made.
It’s never about how long your course is. It’s about the result people get from your course content.
In fact, if you can get people big results going in as short of time as possible, your course is more valuable. You’ve made a huge impact without complicating the process.
People love quick solutions, especially in the fast-paced world we live in today.
Of course, you shouldn’t cut things from your course just to have a short course. Sometimes a longer course is necessary.
The best way to think of it is that your course should be however long it needs to be. Don’t worry about the length. Just get out the lessons needed to understand the concepts.
Myth #5: No one would buy a course about X
See also: There’s already so much free information out there why buy from me.
People don’t really buy courses for the information. Shocking right?
While that’s definitely part of it, the main reason people buy a course is because they want someone to show them something that works.
- They want a full process to follow rather than spending the time figuring it out themselves.
- They want to see exactly how someone else does whatever thing is taught in the course.
- And for some, they want access to you, the instructor, so they can ask questions or get help along the way. You don’t get that when you’re browsing random resources online.
If you create the right package, target the right problems, and find the right price, you can sell a course about anything.
Myth #6: I’m not an expert, why would someone buy from me?
You don’t have to be an expert to create an ecourse. In fact, not being an expert could make you a better instructor.
I’ve been experiencing this so much while planning out my Photoshop course. When you do know something really well, you forget that the basic fundamentals aren’t common knowledge. In some cases, you’re so removed from being a beginner that you forget the struggle you had when you first started.
When that beginner experience is still fresh in your mind, you’re able to connect better with the pain points of potential students. You can really speak to their struggles and make your course a relatable solution.
Here’s an example of this:
I surveyed my friends and found a lot of them, even though they work in Photoshop just as often as I do (and possibly more), don’t know about the same things I do. There are a lot of the little things I do to make Photoshop easier and faster to use that they never knew could even be done.
Bam, course idea!
In fact, it was that course idea that eventually led to me opening this blog. I’m good with technology, why not share that?
Of course, this advice should be followed within reason. There are some things that require proper licensing and curriculum to follow. Unless you’re licensed to teach them, don’t.
Someone’s not going to become a surgeon after taking your online course, for example. Be reasonable!
Examples of courses not about blogging or business
Yay, time for my favorite section! I’ll now be showing off some courses that have nothing to do with blogging or online business.
Admittedly, a lot of these are about music because of my own interests, but I went looking for some other subjects, too.
- Singing Success – Training from vocal coach Brett Manning
- Every Tuesday – Watercolor brush lettering
- 52Kards – Card magic
- Sonic Academy – Music production with Ableton Live
- Shodo Essentials – The basic of Japanese calligraphy
- Level Up – Productivity for creatives
Honestly, if I were better at it, I think I would create a course on 3D modeling. I’ve been doing it for over 10 years and still, I’m the one that needs a course on it!
That just goes to show that as time moves on and new methods, technology, or other discoveries come along, people need to learn about these new things. They could be learning through your course!
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Why You Should Consider Creating an Online Course
Besides the opportunity to make a good chunk of change, courses are an amazing way to connect with people and share your knowledge.
Help people solve a problem
You might really enjoy working with people and making an impact in their lives, but there’s only so much time in a day. An online course will allow you to grow and scale your impact without adding on extra hours to your workday.
In fact, it will probably free up some time. You can then use that to provide better 1:1 service for more people or to actually have time to spend with friends and family.
Realize your own worth
Even though right now I only have free courses available, I’ve realized that my knowledge actually does have worth. I never thought someone would need help with using WordPress, setting up their blog, or even how to use Pinterest. But people sign up for this info every day.
I think that’s amazing!
There are all sorts of things each one of us does every day that someone else would like to learn. You just need to figure out what you’re passionate about and how you can teach it to others.
Enrich someone else’s life
The most satisfying part of creating an online course is that you now have the power to change someone’s life. Something you know is valuable to someone else.
Depending on what you teach, this could be something life changing or something that helps people have a little fun in their lives. There certainly are courses about serious topics just as there are for fun stuff.
Should You Create a Free or a Paid Course?
Free courses are an awesome way to grow your audience. Provide some amazing free content, then offer an upsell to a paid product once the free course has been completed.
Not sure about your course topic? A free course is also a great way to validate your idea. If people will sign up for free, you know there are people out there looking for the exact information you’re teaching.
Don’t share too many of your amazing life changing details, but give people an overview of how your process works. Then if they want to know more, they can upgrade to your paid course.
Of course, the process of selling courses is much more involved, especially for higher price points, so don’t just take this advice and think you’ll be making thousands. Do more research into how to sell your online course.
Benefits of Using a Course Creation Platform
Creating your course on a marketplace like Udemy or Skillshare might seem tempting. Afterall, you have access to the thousands of students that already visit the platform each day, right?
That access may be tempting and you may even find a way to actually get those users on to your email list (you won’t have access to their emails from the marketplace). In the end, it’s totally worth it to build up your own network of loyal students on a platform you have more control over. Here are a few reasons why.
You have complete control over your content and branding
There are no limits on how long or short your course should be. You can upload without having to wait for someone to review your content and you don’t have to worry about passing that review.
In addition to your actual course content, you also have control over the branding for your course, which can in turn tie into your entire business’ branding.
You have full access to your students
When you use a course marketplace, you don’t get direct access to your students. You can’t email them outside of the platform unless you have some way inside the course to convert them to a subscriber.
While this can be a valid tactic to build your audience, it’s not ideal when trying to sell higher priced content. You need to be able to build a relationship with your audience and you can’t do that if you have no way to contact them.
You can charge whatever you want, whenever you want
Some course marketplaces, especially Udemy, are known for their cheap course sales. I’ve watched my friends sit around and wait for the next “Courses for $10” sale that they have.
This seems great from the consumer side, but what you don’t realize is that course creators have no say over when their course goes on sale and for how much it goes on sale. Instead of the $97 your priced your course at, people are often buying it for just $10-15.
Don’t you think you’re worth way more than that?
As a newbie course creator you may think this is an OK compromise, but save yourself the trouble. You have to spend effort building up a loyal audience to buy your high dollar courses. Doesn’t it make sense to work on that rather than try to sell $10 courses to people who you may never be in contact with again?
Customers can’t run to cheaper competition
On marketplaces, people can shop for the most inexpensive course. Most people on these websites are looking for deals, which can hurt your chances of selling a course at the price you want.
Selling is convincing people to buy your awesome product. To sell a course at the price you know you deserve, you need to be out there forming relationships with potential customers. You can’t easily do that on a marketplace, especially since you don’t get access to their emails.
Just as your course might be suggested under someone else’s course description, others will be suggested under yours. A lower price point can take the focus away from you, especially when you’re first starting out and have few reviews. You might not even have a chance to show people how awesome your course is because of this.
4 Reasons Why Teachable is an Awesome Online Course Platform
My favorite platform for hosting online courses is Teachable. I’m currently hosting all my courses there which I use to grow my email list. People sign up for the free course and are then added to my email list.
Combined with promotion on Pinterest, my list has actually grown quite a bit faster than I’ve been ready for thanks to having an awesome free course available. I gain about 70-100 subscribers per month. That might not seem like A LOT but considering how I’m not actively promoting my content, I think it’s pretty good.
I personally like the ecourse format better than doing email courses because it’s way easier to find the information again. My inbox is a total mess, but in a course, all the info is organized nicely and I can bookmark it to go back to it whenever I want.
ANYWAY, I’m getting a little off topic. Here are the reasons why I looooooove Teachable as an online course platform!
It’s quick and easy to upload your course content
Honestly, if you already have your content ready to put into a course, you could be done in probably 30-60 minutes. It depends on how much content you have and how much time you spend working on your course landing page.
I’ve actually taken content from blog posts and consolidated it into a course format. It didn’t take long to set up since all I had to do was make a few changes and add in some special content that you can only receive by signing up for the course. You can then use this new content format to collect email subscribers.
Teachable allows you to upload text, image, PDF, video, or audio content into your course modules and you can create as few or as many modules (which they call sections) as you need. I suggest for video content to break it up into 5-10 minute lessons, which depending on how long your course is, might be a lot of lessons or sections. That’s okay!
You can start for free and upgrade once you start earning
Probably the best part of Teachable is that you can start your school 100% free and upgrade later once you’ve started pulling in paying students.
For awhile, Teachable did away with their free plan, but I noticed a couple months ago they brought it back. Yay!
The free plan does have some limitations, like no coupons, drip content, or affiliates, but it still allows you to create unlimited courses, have unlimited students, and upload whatever files you need. The free plan also has a $1+10% transaction fee for each sale, but once you upgrade, you can use your own payment gateway and eliminate that fee altogether.
Teachable staff is awesome and helpful
I think one of the greatest reasons why I love Teachable is because of my interactions with their staff. I’ve attended several Teachable webinars and summits over the past year and I have fun learning things pretty much every time.
Yes, I am that crazy person who attends the same webinar over and over to soak up more info from questions that people ask. You probably could have guessed that though, right?
Attending a Teachable event is always super fun. I’ve made it a goal of mine to be a featured guest during one of their annual summits because of it. It’s good to have goals!
Teachable is always updating their platform
Teachable is a relatively new platform, but they listen to their customers and are constantly updating the platform. A couple things people have been asking for awhile are one-page checkout and one-click upsells. Both of these features were eventually added.
Learn How to Create Your First Course with Teachable
If you’re interested in learning more about creating an online course, I recommend signing up with Teachable. Don’t forget that it’s totally free to start!
I suggest Teachable because they’re committed to helping you succeed. Their philosophy is that successful instructors are more likely to continue to use their platform. Makes sense, right?
They host 2 weekly webinars to help people get started with their first course and to answer any questions you have about using Teachable.
In the Teachable Quickstart Webinar, you’ll learn all about setting up your Teachable school and creating your first course. This is the perfect place to start if you’re curious about how Teachable works and you’d like to see the course creation process.
The second webinar, 7 Steps to Launch Your Own Profitable Online Course, includes information on promoting and launching your online course. They offer real examples from various schools and courses on Teachable and answer any questions you have about launching your online course.
I suggest you attend both webinars as each contains vital information for getting started. I’ve been to both of these webinars multiple times and I always learn something. A lot of the value comes from questions people ask during the webinars. Sometimes I have a question that I hadn’t thought of before that I’ll ask, too.
Teachable Course Creation Summit
In addition to the webinars, the Teachable Course Creation Summit is coming up in mid-November! The summit features 7 days of guest speakers on topics like course creation (of course), growing your email list, and becoming an authority in your field.
There’s always a special deal available during the summit, along with all the free training, so sign up now so you don’t miss it or the replays.
Online Course Creation Recap
This article was full of all sorts of information on online courses, so let’s do a quick recap of everything I mentioned.
- Courses can be about anything. Don’t feel like you have to teach people how to blog or run an online business.
- Here are some examples of online courses on various topics.
- You can check out even more courses on Course List.
- Creating an online course is a great way to teach and help people.
- A free course makes an awesome lead magnet.
- Using a course platform to host your courses is better than publishing to a course marketplace.
- Teachable is my top pick for easy course creation, even with their free plan.
- Attend the Teachable webinars to learn more about creating and launching courses.