The online course space is still growing, and is projected to hit $1 trillion by 2030. It’s a huge and growing market, and more and more creators are joining the online course revolution everyday.
Unfortunately, some will not succeed.
So many online course creators are wandering into this space on the advice of a webinar or an influencer, working with outdated ideas about what an online course should be. The result, unfortunately, is that way too many creators are struggling to build courses that actually A. deliver transformation and B. sell.
If you've been in this place, whether you've built a course yet or not, we want to talk through the things we have learned about building AMAZING courses. These best practices for creating online courses will help you make something you can be proud of and that your members will love.
If you want more support in building your online course community, come join OUR Mighty Community for free and meet other new and established community owners! We’d love to meet you. Join for free!
In this article
1. Have an Ideal Member
One of the biggest reasons online courses fail is that they lack a niche. Too many course creators don't really know who their courses are for, and/or they feel that creating a course to appeal to as many people as possible will mean more revenue.
As a result, they end up teaching courses with no clear value proposition and no ideal member, courses like "get a better career" or "learn marketing."
The best courses are built for one ideal member. They appeal to a niche, instead of everyone.
And that's why finding your ideal member is one of the best practices for creating online courses.
We have a free training on finding your Ideal Member in our Mighty Community!
2. Focus on transformation
The second of our best practices for teaching online courses is to focus on transformation instead of information. Ask any successful course creator about their first course, and they will tell you that it was probably too long.
New course creators are always tempted to cram as much information as they can into their course, mistakenly believing that their course members will value it more because it’s longer. As a result, members are bombarded with way too much information, including a lot of stuff they don't need, and they end up dropping off and not finishing the course.
To begin with, define the transformation you want your members to achieve. You can do this through creating a big purpose statement:
As you outline your course and the modules, constantly see what you can eliminate. Ask yourself, "Could my members still achieve X if I left this section out?"
Be ruthless. Cut everything that doesn't lead directly to the outcome your members want. They'll thank you for it in the long run.
3. Mix mediums
People learn in different ways, and that's why one of the best practices for creating online courses is to mix up your mediums. Some people prefer video. Some learn better with text. Some learn best with a discussion group to talk through course material and brainstorm about how to apply it.
While you can't necessarily do everything, a mixture of the mediums you use to deliver your course can really help it stick in your members' minds! (And choosing a good course platform will make it easier to serve up different kinds of content.)
And you don't need to guess. When you are doing your interviews trying to find your ideal member, ask them how they prefer to learn!
4. Apply the knowledge
The real magic of online courses is not just about sharing your knowledge. You can help your members apply the knowledge, which is often something that's missing in traditional education.
You can do this by making sure that you are not just teaching information, but walking your members through application. And a big part of this is in having students produce things from your course.
If you were teaching of course on YouTube ads for entrepreneurs, will they have an ad ready and launched by the end of the course? If you are teaching a course in oil painting, will they have an oil painting done by the end?
Make sure the knowledge is practical, and make sure it's applied as much as possible.
5. Quality production
This is one of the more technical best practices for teaching online courses, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention it. Whatever medium you choose to deliver your course, whether video, audio, or written, make sure that you deliver a quality product.
This is partially because it looks professional. Which is a great thing for your brand.
But it's about more than this. You want your audio, video, and / or text to actually be easy to understand and engage with.
And you don't need an enormous budget to get a good product. It might be as simple as hiring a freelance editor for a few hours to look over your written material.
If you want really good audio quality, do some tests with headphones with a built-in mic, or even purchase a condenser lapel mic. You can buy a decent mic for under $50 that will dramatically increase your sound quality. And ask any YouTuber, people will stick around if your sound is good, even if your video is scratchy.
But the video doesn't have to be scratchy either. You can get good, high-quality video from the average phone or webcam. One pro trick is to sit in front of a window, with the light directly on your face and the camera pointing back into the room (don't sit in direct sunlight).
This will give you a video that looks nearly professionally lit, without the expensive lighting gear.
6. Build community
This is the absolute best practice for creating online courses. Don't just throw the material up and leave it. Build a community around your course!
Let members meet each other and build relationships. Have opportunities for them to meet you and ask you questions. Have discussions about the individual course modules. We’ve found that courses built on community have a way higher completion rate and much more satisfied members.
7. Choose an all-in-one platform
And as you're building that community, choose an all-in-one platform that will let you build a course and community together.
Too many people are choosing a course platform that only lets them build the course, and then realizing after that they want to add community. The result is usually multiple platforms awkwardly stitched together, with a course in one place, a community in another, and no real continuity anywhere.
The thing is, for roughly the same price as any modern course creator (or less even), you can get an all-in-one platform that will literally let you do it all.
If you're ready to try a platform that lets you create and sell any type of online course you want, PLUS build an engaged community, come give Mighty Networks a try! Mighty harnesses the power of cultural software and lets you bring together content, courses, community, and commerce! Plus, our flexible Spaces give you containers to pretty much create any type of online course bundle you can imagine -- adding live events, discussions, live streaming, and more. Oh yeah, and you can charge in different currencies or even crypto!
We built an all-in-one platform that lets you run your entire course business from beginning to end. Ready to see what you could create?