Creating an Online Course 101: The Secrets to Getting Started


If you specialize in mentoring and coaching others, the geographical limitations of doing so in person can be frustrating. You want to help people, but it becomes impossible to reach a mass audience beyond your native town or city.

Last month, we shared how one AWeber customer uses email along with her Facebook community and paid ads to establish and nurture client relationships all over the country.

But the possibilities don’t end there.

This week, we’re featuring the story of Rachael Pontillo, AWeber customer and creator of Holistically Haute

She created an online course to connect with communities all over the world, and she shared her advice on how you can create a course of your own.

As we begin, let’s take it one step at a time.

Setting goals for your course

After beginning to teach skincare lessons and demonstrations in person, Rachael found the number of people she could reach was limiting.

That’s when she decided to try creating an online course, Create Your Skincare. It’s a six-week online course that teaches people how to create and customize all-natural skincare products for themselves and others.

Although she was initially intimidated by the idea of creating an online course, Rachael emphasized the importance of having courage and setting clear goals for the project:

By setting this positive tone, it made it easier for Rachael to stay focused and encouraged throughout the creation process.

Takeaway: Before you dive into creating a course for the first time, make sure you have a clear understanding of your goals and what you hope you and your audience will walk away with. 

Establishing your framework and researching topics

To get an idea for the type of course she wanted to create, Rachael spent time researching other courses and took notes on what she liked and didn’t like. She also reached out to the course creators to learn more about their process.

For Rachael, the goal of this phase was to create a simple framework to provide structure for her course.

Once she had a general model in place, it was time to develop content for the course. As she considered what her course would be about, she wanted to make sure it was something that would resonate with her audience.

To do so, she decided to survey her audience:

As she heard their feedback, it became clear as to what type of educational content they would enjoy – and from there, the idea for her skincare creation course took form.

Takeaway: Sign up for three to five online courses and take note of what aspects you’d like to repeat in your own course and what you’d like to avoid. If you have an existing audience, consider surveying them to learn their preferred way to consume content and/or what they would like to learn in an online course. Then, create a model for your course based on your takeaways and feedback.  

Putting the pieces together and creating your course

After Rachael identified that she wanted to teach others how to create natural skincare products, it was time to create the content.

To do so, she began with her end goal (creating the product) and outlined the steps that were required to make that happen: 

Once she had her angle, Rachael used storyboards, venn diagrams and sketches to create outlines for individual course modules. Then, she turned those into slides.

By creating these outlines, she was also able to identify areas where there were content gaps that required other assets, like videos and PDF downloads.

After she decided on an outline, it was time to create the content.

Although Rachael used an online teaching platform to develop the course, she also recommended automated emails as another simple way to get started.

Takeaway: The more preparation you do to develop your course, the easier it will be to tackle. After you decide on a topic, take time to outline the specific content pieces. To create the content, autoresponder emails are a simple place to start. You can also explore third party platforms like Teachable, Thinkific or Rainmaker.

Promoting the course to your communities

Rachael drives traffic to her course in a number of ways. The first is through email.

On her website, visitors can subscribe to her email list and receive frequent updates of her latest posts:

Sign up form


While the majority of her emails are packed with helpful and interesting info for the skincare aficionado, she occasionally promotes her skincare course as well:

Email promotion for course

With this “last call” email, Rachael creates a sense of urgency and communicates the benefits of the course.

In addition to email, Rachael uses Facebook advertising, webinars and incentives to build communities and relationships with prospects, display her skills and increase interest in her course:

By spreading the word about her content and course through different channels, it made it possible for Rachael to widen her reach.

Takeaway: Leverage a wide variety of channels (e.g., email, Facebook, Twitter) to reach existing and new communities as you begin promoting your course. Consider offering free incentives and other types of content to convince people of the value of your business before asking them to sign up for your course.

Ready to create your online course?

Today’s the day to get started! As you follow the steps above, just remember to stick with it – in the end, you’ll be creating something that will help others. And that’s pretty darn amazing!

For more detailed instructions on how to set up an online course, I encourage you to use this checklist.

The post Creating an Online Course 101: The Secrets to Getting Started appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

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