online course ideaWelcome to part two of the #onlinecoursebizseries. In this series, I’m showing you the step-by-step guide to create and launch an online course. 

Not had a chance to read the other posts? Don’t worry! You can catch up before you dive further into this post. Here’s what I’ve covered so far:

>> In this post I showed you how to choose a target market, build your email list, as well as tips for creating and planning your course content.

Now onto today’s topic! To kickstart your course creation journey you want to get clear on your online course idea. At this point, you probably have a few ideas for a course, but you’re stuck and you’re waiting until you find “the one”. 

No matter where you are right now in your journey, the following 5 strategies will help you to come with a profitable online course idea. This is likely to be a topic that you’re genuinely excited to teach and something that your audience wants and needs! You ready for this? Let’s make it happen!

1. Find the “sweet spot”

Before we jump into any technical strategies, you want to create a course that you’re excited about. If you choose an online course idea that feels heavy and complicated then you’re likely to feel more resistance and you’ll avoid creating your course. (I’ve been guilty of this!) But, if you start with an idea that is simple and achievable then you’re going to be more likely to follow through. 

Your goal is to find the sweet spot of your knowledge, passion, audience’s problem and your profit potential.

Your knowledge:

Think about all the knowledge and know-how you’ve cultivated over the years. Now, don’t be hard on yourself, my friend! You’ve had a TON of experiences and I know how much you love learning. So, think about how do you best add value? What do people compliment you on? What do people ask you for advice for? What are you the go-to person for? 

Think of it this way: what can you teach people who are where you were 1-2 years ago? I say this because it’s important to think about where you were before now and the building blocks that you’ve learn’t along the way. These things may feel so obvious and simple to you, but they’re probably highly valuable for somebody a few steps behind you. 

Your passion:

Now, just because you’re really good at writing copy doesn’t mean that you’re going to use it for your online course idea. Your course should be something that lights you up, so that you’re energised to teach it to others. It needs to be a topic that you enjoy so much that time flies when you’re talking about it. And when things get tough in your course creation journey, your passion needs to be able to pull you through!

Your audience’s problem:

Before you choose an online course course idea, you need to make sure that it is something your audience struggles with. There’s no point in creating an amazing and valuable course if nobody’s going to pay for it, right? 

So, it needs to be something that your audience needs in order to overcome their problems and improve the quality of their life. This requires you to put your market research hat on because you need to find out what your audience is struggling with the most. After you know what your audience struggles with the most, you can choose an online course idea that solves their problem and provides them with a “short cut” or transformation. 

Your profit potential:

A shortcut to finding out whether your online course idea is going to sell is with the “will it sell?” test. Have you taught this to paying clients? Are there similar courses out there? If so, then there is a market for it! If there aren’t any courses on this topic, are there books, events and in-person workshops on this topic? If you answer “YES Victoria” to any of those questions then you’ve passed the “will it sell?” test. 

2. Join Facebook groups 

If you think your ideal customer hangs out on Facebook, then you can search for the best Facebook groups to do some ideal client stalking. Obviously not the YOU, on Netflix creepy kind of stalking!

Facebook groups are a great way to do a little digging and to find out what your audience is struggling with. To get started with this, you can use Google to search for “best Facebook groups on X” (X is your niche) to find a list of engaged groups. 

Once you’ve been granted access to those Facebook groups, you can use the search bar to find questions that your ideal customer is asking. To do this, you can enter keywords related to your course topic to gather a list of questions your audience has. You can also enter the words “how”, “help” or “struggle” to find a list of questions that are being asked in the group.

3. Do a survey

Surveys can be a powerful way to find out what your audience wants to learn more about. If you’ve already got a blog or email list, you can create a survey to find out what your audience is struggling with. 

The goal is to ask your audience what their biggest struggle is when it comes to X (X being your niche). 

But don’t make this mistake! Most people who write surveys don’t prompt their students to be specific with their answers so they struggle to pinpoint what their ideal customer needs help with and why. So, ask them to be as specific and detailed as they can in their answers, so that you can help them the most. 

How to put this into action: Create your survey on a tool, such as Typeform(I like this tool because it’s easy and intuitive to use!) But don’t stop there. You want to make sure that you get as many eyeballs on your survey as possible. So, create a “pop-up” on your site with an incentive to complete the survey, so that they’re like “I’ve gotta win this!”.

4. The transformation

Another powerful way to come up with a profitable online course idea is to look at YOUR very own transformation. This is likely to be some sort of result or transformation that you’ve achieved and can share with others. 

Put it this way: your customer is likely to be you 1-2 years ago and a framework or shortcut to help your customer achieve a similar result as you may be exactly what they want and need. 

This is a such a strong place to start for your online course idea because you have proof that your framework works. So, pick something that you can back-up and show off to your students and they’ll be inspired by your transformation. Plus, you’ll be able to share you personal story and the results you achieve will feel more doable for your audience. 

How to put this into action: Think about what obstacles you’ve overcome in your journey. What is the before and after picture of your journey? What building blocks have helped you to get to where you are now? Could this be “the one?”

5. Have “course calls”

Want to know the best way for finding a profitable online course idea?

Speaking to your audience.

Getting on the phone with your ideal customer is hands down, the best way to “validate” your online course idea because it allows you to fully understand their deepest needs and desires.

The goal of a “course call” is to have a 20 minute conversation with your ideal audience so that you can discover their fears, challenges and desires. These calls are a GOLDMINE and they’ll give you the most understanding of your ideal customer more than any other strategy out there. 

They allow you to have a personal and intimate conversation with your ideal customer, so you can get more in-depth and detailed responses than you would from surveying your audience. The key is to listen closely and to probe them, until you have a full picture of their fears, concerns, challenges and desires. 

Don’t know what questions to ask your ideal customer? Don’t fret pet! Here’s a few to get you started:

  • What are your biggest challenges with X?
  • What has stopped you from taking action?
  • What have you done to solve this problem?
  • How would you feel if this challenge was figured out for you?

How to put this into action: Find 4 people in your network to schedule your course calls.  If you’re stuck on how to source people for your calls, here’s a few suggestions:

1) Send an email to your newsletter and in the post-script (P.S) say that you’re looking to do 4 calls with people who are struggling with X.

2) Do a poll on your Instagram stories and give them a call to action.

3) Send an email to your friends and say that you’re looking for a referral. 

Congrats, you made it to the end!

And now it’s time for a glass of wine…

Know what would make my day? Let me know one thing that you found useful in this post. I can’t wait to hear!