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10 Elements of a Successful Online Course

10 Elements of a Successful Online Course

Convenience has become a major factor consumers consider when purchasing products, enrolling in courses, and more. Since 2020, the luxury of doing almost everything online (working from home, online shopping, streaming newly released movies from your couch, etc) has become common practice even in 2023. 

Online courses have taken the online world by storm. Gone are the days when you must register for a 2-day course in another city – you can do it all from the comfort of your home now! With online courses becoming more and more normalized, how can you create one that is both quality content and successful? Here are 10 elements of a successful online course that your industry’s consumers will enjoy.

Pick the Perfect Platform

There are hundreds of different online course platforms that offer various additional features. It’s essential to do extensive research to see which platform can offer the best quality for your course. Here are some of the popular online course platforms and their pros & cons:

Platform

PROS

CONS

Teachable

  • Good value for money
  • Easy to use
  • Flexible payment options
  • Great course builder
  • Transaction fees on certain plains
  • Not able to build community
  • No live streaming

Thinkific

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Good balance of features
  • Customizable websites & sales pages
  • Ability to create community
  • Affordable (no transaction fees); $99/month OR $74/month billed annually
  • Course-only platform (unable to sell other products)
  • The checkout system experience could be improved

Podia

  • Unlimited students & online courses
  • Free plan available 
  • No transaction fees on paid plans
  • Sell different digital products
  • Full website builder
  • Sell access to premium communities
  • Includes advanced features (email marketing, messaging customers, etc)
  • Page builder is not flexible
  • No open API
  • 8% transaction fees on free plans

Kajabi

  • Amazing pre-built templates
  • Incredible automation tools
  • All-in-one solution
  • Great UI
  • Built-in CRM
  • More costly than other solutions (paid plans start at $149 USD/month)
  • No free option; 14-day free trial is available

Udemy

  • Large user base
  • User-friendly
  • Free to sign up
  • Various marketing tools available (promos, coupons, etc)
  • 24/7 support for course creators
  • Competitive marketplace
  • Takes a high cut of sales profits 
  • All courses must contain at least 5 lectures & each lecture must be at least 30 mins

Thrivecart Learn

  • Very user-friendly
  • Multiple integrations 
  • Able to add multiple users on a Pro account
  • No free trial
  • High startup cost ($495 USD)
  • Minimal templates (4 options)

Learning Your Demand

While the online course is on the steady increase, it’s crucial to make sure that there is demand for your course idea & that it will become successful. Completing extensive research ahead of concrete planning and course creation will give you key indicators of if your idea will be a successful one. To validate your concept for the course, it’s important that you understand the consumer’s pain points & collect market trends, analyze the data, select your topic & plan your pre-launch.

Outline your learning outcomes

While creating an online course, one of the most important things to identify is the learning outcomes of your course. What would you like learners to take away from your course? Providing a clear visual to your potential students of what they will be able to achieve by the end of your course is non-negotiable. This will provide clarity to the consumer, and allow for higher conversion rates and lower complaints.

Structure of the Course Plan

The organization of an online course can make or break the quality of the course. Structuring the course outline and modules efficiently is a very important step in the course creation process. Giving students a downloadable course outline that highlights everything that will be covered in the course and the modules is a great way to allow transparency for expectations. If you have a very broad topic for your course (i.e. Digital Marketing), it would be very helpful for your students to have various modules surrounding the different learning objectives and information regarding digital marketing.

Creating Proper Course Engagement

Now that you’ve picked the topic, researched the demand, planned out your outline, and organized your modules, how will you deliver the content? When deciding the best options for creating an online course, each student learns through various different content styles. The important things to consider when creating an engaging course are: 

  • Will you cater to visual learners (video content, diagrams, pictures, etc)? 
  • Will you offer a community aspect (allowing students to chat with each other)?
  • How will you incorporate different learning styles?
  • How long will the course take to complete?
  • Will you add homework for students to complete?
  • Will you offer any live sessions?

There are many different ways to make an online course engaging and accessible for all. Taking the time to find the right options for the industry you are catering to will have an overall positive impact on your students. A course that is both engaging and accessible is more appreciated than you would think – no detail is overlooked by consumers!

Structuring the Pricing

Once you have created the course, produced the content, and organized the modules, you should be ready to set pricing. There are various different ways to price your courses, and we have created the ideal pricing guide for you to consider (link to pricing blog post here).

Plan for your Launch

You are at the final step… planning out your launch! You have put in the work by brainstorming, researching, creating, producing, and pricing. Now it’s time to release your project into the world! Creating a marketing plan for your launch will allow time for people to learn about the course, look into its value for them specifically, and consider enrolling or purchasing. An efficient marketing plan can greatly impact your overall sales and success, so it’s important to strategize. Here are some things to consider when deciding how to market your online course: 

  • Pre-sales: This can be a great indicator of how much demand this course is generating and how many people are genuinely intrigued by the course idea
  • Landing pages: creating a sales page for the course is a great way to include information relevant to the course. Adding an attention-grabbing headline, notes about the course, testimonials (if applicable), FAQs, and more on your landing page will allow everything to be centralized and decrease the need to ask any follow-up questions.
  • Webinars: Offering a webinar with exclusive access to the course afterward can generate some buzz for the course. Collaborating with local businesses and organizations in your industry can provide some organic marketing and allow attendees to feel like they learned something from the webinar and want to learn more.

Course creation can be a very overwhelming experience. One of the best pieces of advice we live by is: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Preparation and organization will be your best friends throughout the course creation process. As long as you remain fully prepared and take your time, we are certain that your online course will be both successful and profitable for you.

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INCOMING: Sporadic, non-snoozy newsletters covering web, tech, systems, and business insights. We pinky-swear promise to keep things fun, informative, and focused on your needs as a busy entrepreneur. 

I’m Tara, but you can call me Flo.

I’m a seasoned web designer and course creation expert, and my heart beats for all things TECH. (I know, I know … it’s not everyone’s idea of fun!)

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