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8 Things to consider before developing an online course

Do you have a brilliant course idea that you’re passionate about? Developing an online course from the ground up is a challenging process. Becoming successful takes more than just a great idea - many important steps go into the final results. Here are 8 key things to consider before developing an online course.

1. Target audience

To develop meaningful content, you need to have an idea of what your audience wants to learn. There’s no point in creating a course that nobody wants or needs to take.

Is there a gap in the market for your particular course idea? Is there a demand from your target audience? What skills and expertise do your target audience currently have? Here’s where you’ll have to research your market carefully. Once you’ve identified the needs and wants of your target audience, you can begin planning the course.

2. The course objectives

Before you can create the course content, you must establish the learning objectives: the skills and knowledge that each learner will obtain in the course. The objectives you set must be specific and measurable to be effective.

You want your audience to see the value of course at first look. If the objectives aren't compelling enough, it could influence their decision to enroll.

3. Course content

Here’s where the real work begins. There’s a lot to think about when compiling information for your course. Does the content fill the gaps of your competitors? What information will be of most value to your learners? How will this course content stand out from other courses?

Many course creators make the mistake of “information overload” — they provide course participants with more information than they need. This can make it difficult for them to retain what they’ve learned. If learners find your course too heavy to get through, this could harm your reputation.

The best advice is to keep it simple. Any written content should be clear and concise. The only information included should be directly related to the course outcomes. If something isn’t of value to readers, throw it out. Try to make the content compelling and interesting to read. Insert your personal experience as much as you can. Personal stories immediately make your content more relatable and engaging, and instantly separates your content from competing courses.

4. Course timeline and duration of each module

When compiling the course content, you must also consider the course timeline. This will help you figure out what (and how much) information to include in each module. You will need to ensure that the course follows a logical order that is easy to follow. Remember, everyone learns at a different pace, so it’s wise to keep the timeline flexible. The duration of the course could influence people’s decision to enroll in the course.

5. The learning experience

The success of an online course isn’t just determined by how good the content is. It’s also about the learning experience. The best online courses are interactive. They engage readers with games, exercises and assignments to improve the user experience.

An online course containing no interactive elements will likely be dull, no matter how interesting the topic is. The key is to combine compelling content with gamification and interactive design. These elements will keep your students motivated to complete the course.

6. Usability and design

Usability is absolutely crucial to the learning experience. This relates to factors such as screen design, error frequency and ease of use. If your course design is overly complicated, you could lose potential students. The design should be both appealing and user friendly.

7. Pricing

The pricing for your course will depend on the course content and duration. The best way to determine a reasonable price is to look at your competitors. This will give you an idea of what people typically pay for similar courses. From here, you can decide on a price that will make you stand out from potential customers.

8. Marketing strategy

Having an effective marketing strategy is a crucial component of any business venture. It doesn’t matter how great your business idea is. Without smart marketing, you won’t reach the customers you need to sustain success.

Since your course will be based online, your marketing strategy should be also be digital. Google ads, blogging and social media are excellent ways to reach potential customers. How does your course idea stand out from competitors? Use this as your unique value proposition in your marketing messages.

FREE White paper: 5 Bulletproof steps to marketing your online course


If you want your online course to be successful, these 8 steps are important stepping stones. When you have a genuine passion and are willing to commit to the hours of hard work, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go for it. Good luck!

INDIE Guide: Creating beautiful online courses using INDIE

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