Looking for innovative and creative ways to work from home but don’t want to work for anyone else?
Online course creation could be the best option for you if you’ve got teachable skills that can help others solve problems that will generate passive income and help you find the financial freedom and independence you’re looking for.
In this post I’m going to teach you how to create your own digital course so you can deliver you’re own valuable content to your online community, teach you what it’s going to take personally, and help you understand each of the steps you need to take to build a profitable online business.
There is so much valuable content in this post – you do not want to miss any of it!
Creating a digital course is easier than it’s ever been, and it can be the thing that takes your business from something that you dabble in as a side hustle to something that earns life-changing money for your business.
Here’s how you can create your own digital course in 17 simple steps:
- Cultivate belief that you can do it and commit
- Figure out who the people are that will benefit the most
- Build your dream 100 list
- Develop your result-delivering framework
- Decide what result you’re seeking to deliver
- What are the exact steps you took to get the same result yourself
- Determine what’s going to help them the most to get that result
- Start creating content to market your digital course
- Decide what result you want to help people achieve
- Validate your digital course idea
- Decide what your digital course is going to cover
- Structure your module and course content
- Determine what kinds of content your digital course is going to cover
- Put your irresistible offer together
- Create your digital course branding
- Set up your online course delivery platform
- Create your sales funnel
- Bonus! Market your online course
How to Create A Digital Course
Creating an online course for your business has the potential of turning on an income stream that runs on autopilot.
Non-stop income coming from something that you create once and then deliver over and over again.
That’s what motivates most of us.
Of course we want to share and make a contribution to help others get the answers they’re looking for.
And it’s also true that, if you’re thinking about creating your own digital course, that you want to build additional streams of income.
Absolutely NOTHING wrong with that.
The good news is that you can do both.
There’s a good bit of hard work involved in creating a killer digital course, but there are tips and tricks to make it faster and easier.
And we’re going to talk about those along the way in this post.
So if you follow the steps I outline here, you will not only create an amazing online course, but you can be successful with it on levels that you never even thought about!
So consider this post a complete guide on what the most successful course creators are doing to build their online courses.
Because there’s more to it than simply picking a topic and running with it.
There’s a difference between just any course you can create and one that will be wildly successful.
And we’re going to cover it all.
Cultivate belief that you can do it and commit
This isn’t a pep talk, this is real stuff.
We need to talk about this first, because in the interest of full disclosure creating a digital course involves hard work.
And like my dad used to tell me when I was a kid, “anything worth doing is worth doing right”. Your target audience deserves your very best.
Even if you’re not the only one who’s doing all the work yourself – shooting videos, creating course material, etc. – the creative energy required to concept all this stuff and put it into something that’s useful enough that someone else will be willing to give you money for it, is enormous.
So let’s start by getting our mindset right.
Don’t dismiss the idea of getting your mindset right when you’re starting to create your own digital course or info product.
It’s essential that you’ve got your mind right so you can tackle the challenges as they come up during the process of creating your digital course.
Instilling yourself with belief in your knowledge, skills and abilities is vital, because you’re going to hit a wall.
Sorry to say it, but it’s true.
You’re going to get to a place where you’re wondering if it’s all worth it.
You’re going to be hit with imposter syndrome.
You’re going to feel like you’re not good enough, smart enough, experienced enough or talented enough to pull it off.
That’s why you “begin with the end in mind”.
By getting your mind right at the outset, you’re deploying the greatest weapons you have against all that negative mental energy.
Commit to yourself that, come hell or high water, you’re going to get it done.
Sometimes it may not feel like you’re ever going to get done.
But let me tell you, as someone who has done this, the feeling of accomplishment when it’s all said and done (and not only have you launched your digital course, but you’ve made your first sale!) is worth all the crap that comes flying your way.
Figure out who the people are that will benefit the most
The people that you are trying to help are called members of a congregation called your “target audience“.
These are the people you would love to work with, who you can help the most, and are the perfect group of people that your digital course is designed to help.
Here’s how you do it.
To figure out who your dream customer is, write down everything you can think of about them – their name, their age, their marital status, where they work, what they earn, and what their dreams are.
Your dream customers are those people who are your potential students who are looking for answers to questions that you know the answer to.
They want to learn from you because they trust you and believe that you’ll provide value.
Once you figure that out then write down what they’re struggling with.
This is the most important part.
What your dream customer is struggling with is exactly the same area where you can help them!
It shouldn’t be a vague description of their struggles either. It should be as detailed as you can make it.
Because when you do it right, it should give you a crystal clear picture of specific problems you can solve for them.
First figure out who exactly you want to serve, then the rest of it will be much easier.
“Your dream customer is most likely YOU from 5 years ago” — Russell Brunson
Build your dream 100 list
Next up, it’s time to figure out where these dream customers are hanging out, and I’ve got some really good news for you:
Someone has already gathered all those people into their own congregation!
You want to sell your course, right?
Do you want to have lots of excited people lining up on your launch day to see what you’ve created?
Then you need to dig your well before you are thirsty.
And one of the best ways to do that is to start building your dream 100 list.
What is a dream 100 list?
Your dream 100 list is a list of other people – influencers, opinion leaders, and those who already have the audience you want to get in front of.
These are the people who’s names should come to mind pretty quickly.
They’re the top 100:
- Instagram accounts
- Facebook groups
- TikTok creators
- Subject matter experts
who’ve already gathered people who are in your ideal customer audience.
By building relationships with these people you open up an entirely new world of opportunities for your new digital course.
Develop your results-delivering framework
Now that we know who we’re talking to and trying to reach, we have the beginning of a plan!
Next up is figuring out what we want to cover in our course and this can be more tricky than it appears at first site.
You see, if you’re like me, you have a LOT of different ideas running through your mind.
(Or, if you’re lucky, you’ve got it dialed in already!)
This is an amazing concept I learned from Russell Brunson – you have to check this out – it will blow your mind!
Think about it this way:
If budget were no issue for your dream client, what could you possibly deliver for them in terms of results?
What would be the ultimate solution you could deliver for your dream customer?
What would it look like?
Would you drive or fly out to their location to meet with them?
What would you teach them and then do the work personally to help them implement?
What could you deliver in as a high-touch, high-ticket service that would be irresistible for your dream customer?
Something might immediately come to mind as a service that you’ve already got in place.
Or, if you don’t already have something like this in place, this is something new that you need to create because you need to have products and services that serve your dream client at the highest level possible.
So if you don’t have it you need to create it!
This is what we’re going to call your flagship service and it’s the most expensive, most high-touch service you can deliver.
Your course could be based on your flagship framework, or it could be based on one of the elements of your framework.
I call those your “core” result areas.
When you combine those, they make up your flagship framework.
But even your core result areas have frameworks that you’ve employed to get results and we can call those micro-result areas.
Your micro result areas are great for using to create lead magnets to drive traffic to your funnel.
An example might be helpful.
I’ll use myself as an example.
My ultimate flagship framework is a system I’ve built over the years that produces amazing websites that results-driven and high-converting.
My core frameworks are related to the copy I use on your website, and how I develop your sales funnels among other things.
From those I have my micro frameworks that I’ve created one of which is how to set up and install a self-hosted WordPress website.
And I use that as a lead magnet.
That leads to course.
And ultimately to my flagship services which are for my high-end web design and development clients.
Here’s another example for a course called “Project 24” which is an online education platform that teaches content creation via blogging and YouTube. If that was my course, here’s how I would create it:
- generate free organic traffic (like they’re currently doing on their YouTube channel)
- create lead magnet would be a list of underserved niche opportunities
- tripwire product would be $17 post recipe and – or something like that.
- P24 blogging course at $500
- upsell would be to add the YT course for another $250 or so
- upsell #2 would be a high-ticket opportunity to get a 60 minute coaching session for $1000 or something like that where you’d get one-on-one help and guidance with an IS staff member, recorded video session and transcript, etc.
- cross sell could be their Content Warrior service where they could do some search analysis for you – get your first 30 topics done FOR you by Income School staff for $200
- cross sell #2 would be content warrior post creation – get your first 30 topics done FOR you by Income School staff so you know the right way to create content going forward for $3000
- cross sell #3 would be a full WordPress setup & configuration, with all the content loaded that they created, with hosting setup, and everything you’d need to explode out of the gates.
Would you buy that? I know I would!
Decide what result you’re seeking to deliver
Now that you know how to define your flagship framework it’s time to figure out where you’re going to focus.
Which part of your framework are you going to use to create your course around?
Here’s something to keep in mind:
The depth of the how-to or other material you’re teaching in your course should be related to the price tag.
For those who want to go deeper the price tag should be higher.
You can have different levels of your course from the intro level, to the pro level.
Your intro level can be just that – an intro to the topic so that someone can accelerate their path to achieving the result they’re after by taking your course.
For those who need deeper instruction you can develop additional levels of depth for your course.
This could mean that there are advanced level modules in your pro-level training, or even mean that the pro-level includes an accountability group, or some kind of instructor-led material where people can get hands-on help.
Keep it simple to get started so you can get it done.
That’s the most important part!
It’s easy to get caught up in overthinking things.
Decide what will be available at each level of your course, and start with the simplest version.
What are the exact steps you took to get the same result yourself
When you’ve got your topic selected now it’s time to figure out what you’re going to teach.
The most successful online businesses are those that can deliver a learning outcome based on their own knowledge skills and abilities.
And the easiest way to do this is to trace your own steps for how you achieved the same result yourself.
No need to get into the weeds with trying to think about what you think people should know.
By retracing your own steps on how you were able to get the result you were able to achieve, you simplify the entire process for what specifically you need to teach.
This is also a great source of inspiration for your marketing material that we’ll talk about in a few minutes below.
People will relate to your story and how you were able to get to where you got to and want to reproduce the steps you already took.
Determine what’s going to help them the most to get that result
Part of your own journey will include missteps and mistakes you made along the way.
Don’t eliminate these things!
Tell your dream customer about your mistakes and the missteps you made.
it will show that you’re a human too, but it will also help your dream customers avoid those pitfalls themselves and be able to move faster toward the result they’re after.
Your course should contain the very best you can pull together.
Just good, actionable, reliable info to help them get where they want to go.
Start creating content to market your digital course
One of the things that’s going to work hand-in-hand with your dream 100 list and your other marketing efforts is going to be the content that you create around your digital course.
This is the material you’re going to use for promotional purposes on social media, on your own blog, podcast interviews, etc.
And what I like to encourage digital course creators to do – and just creators in general – is to publish something every day.
It could be a Facebook live in your private Facebook group or on your profile.
It could be a live stream on Instagram.
It could be a blog post.
It could be a podcast.
It could be any combination of those things.
The point is that you want to start to raise the pressure surrounding your course and you want to get your voice heard.
The point is to get started if you’re not already publishing.
And if you’re already publishing, then ramp up your efforts so that you’ve got something going out every single day.
Nathan Barry made provided this amazing insight in a blog post he did called, “Endure Long Enough To Get Noticed“.
He asked a simple, but insightful question: “How many great TV shows have you discovered in season 3 or later?”
By beginning your practice of publishing relevant helpful content, you’ll start to build momentum that will be ready for you when the time is right.
Validate your digital course idea
How do you validate your digital course idea?
You pre-sell it.
Who wants to spend 3-4 months creating a digital course that you’re not even sure if it’s even going to be popular or not?
You can skip this whole painful process of creating something and only hoping that it actually sells, by starting the process by pre-selling it.
The best part is that you don’t even have to have everything about your course figured out yet.
As long as you’re up front with your customers about your process and being 100% authentic about it being a “beta” program, you can build your course as you go with a pre-sold beta group.
You can then lean on your beta group to get feedback on what works best and what needs to be fixed.
What you need is a concept and framework that lead to an outcome and result.
Then you can start pre-selling it to your audience.
But what if you don’t want to pre-sell it or you’re not sure how to do that?
Then you can start with a small offer – one that covers just a part of your larger online course topic that will help your dream customer reach the goal they’re trying to achieve.
Decide what your digital course is going to cover
Now that you’ve pre-sold your course you can decide what you want to cover.
Create an outline of the concepts based on your framework that you want to deliver.
This is where you are outlining the exact steps you uncovered in the previous steps and placing each of the concepts you want to teach into their proper place.
It will probably become clear some things should stay, and some things should go.
And you will also see opportunities for a pro-level of your course where you deliver advanced concepts.
All the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together.
And if you pre-sold your digital course you’ll be getting invaluable feedback from your initial beta group, which will help you make it even better.
This is where you will give structure to the concepts and start putting your teaching modules together.
Determine what kinds of content your digital course is going to deliver
Most courses these days rely heavily on video content.
So it’s time to get comfortable getting in front on the camera.
But video isn’t the only medium of content.
Some people aren’t going to watch your videos.
Some would rather listen on a podcast.
Some would rather read the material.
The best online course content uses a little of each.
You will want to have some video content – whether it’s talking head style, or you’re doing on-screen tutorials. Virtually all self-paced online courses these days have some kind of video content, whether it’s talking head videos, or more in-depth screen recordings.
The bottom line is that you don’t even have to put your face on your video content.
My first course I created doesn’t have any instance of my face on the videos!
You can do screencasts that deliver your content via a Powerpoint style presentation, or on-screen demos via screen casting.
But you should also look at delivering the course content as an audio file. (I’ve got a technique that will increase your revenue per sale on your course just by being generous with the kinds of materials you deliver, but more on that in a few minutes.)
And you will definitely want to have accompanying workbook types of materials.
Your printable content should have concise instructional materials along with cheatsheets and checklists.
Unless you’ve got a big high-ticket program, you’re not teaching a university level course (at least most of the time!) so be mindful of how you’re teaching your materials.
Put your irresistible digital course offer together
Once you’ve got all your course materials created it’s time to package it all together in an offer that is so irresistible that people would be stupid saying ‘no’.
This is where it all comes together.
Putting together an irresistible offer is an art.
You want to put together an offer stack that when your dream customer sees it they will be blown away by the amount of value you that you’re delivering for the price.
The goal is that your total offer, of which your digital course is just one part, totals up to 10x the dollar amount in value that you’re asking for.
So if your digital course is $100, that means that your irresistible offer stack delivers at least $1,000 in real value.
That’s real, authentic value – not “fake” value.
So what does that mean?
It means that you’re adding additional items to your offer that complement your primary product, which is your digital course.
The kinds of things that deliver the most value are your by-products.
In the book Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinmeier Hansson of 37 Signals, they remarked on a concept that’s pure genius.
So many people have done so well with this concept, and it’s so easy to implement.
Here’s the concept:
According to Fried, creators, software companies and the online business industry as a whole has a lot to learn from other more traditional businesses.
The lumber industry sells what used to be waste — sawdust, chips, and shredded wood — for a pretty profit. Today you’ll find these by-products in synthetic fireplace logs, concrete, ice strengtheners, mulch, particle board, fuel, livestock and pet bedding, winter road traction, weed killing and more.
Ultra refined petroleum finds its way into plastics, cosmetics, food, rubber, synthetic fiber, insecticides, fertilizers, heart valves, toothpaste, detergents, waxes… The list goes on.
Corn and soybeans are refined and processed into just about anything these days. By noon you’ve probably consumed a few pounds of corn energy without even knowing it. It’s hidden in your food in the form of HFCS, xanthin gum, dextrin, maltodextrin, MSG, or ethanol in your gas tank.
This includes things that you can add that are the NEXT thing your customer will need.
For example, one of my offers is my WordPress set up service.
One of the next things they need after getting that package is figuring out how to create the content for their website.
So I have a guide on how to create all the different pages for your website.
It logically follows the WordPress service and it’s the next thing that the customer will need.
For you this could include things like:
- Guides & Workbooks
- Swipe Files
Put together an entire offer where when your dream customer sees what you’re asking and they think to themselves, “they only want $100 for this?!? This is a no-brainer!”
Create your digital course branding
You will need to get all your design work done too.
This means all your branding for your course needs to be done.
That means your logo, your style guide, etc.
All your documents will need to be created as PDFs so they can be downloaded for each user.
This will also include the email sequences you use for your course – your welcome sequence, and your follow-up sequence.
For one of my courses I’ve got a short welcome sequence that’s followed up with all the lessons delivered via email in addition to being in the membership site (which we’ll talk more about in a second).
You want to get all this stuff completed so in the next step when you’re ready to build out your digital course delivery platform you’ve got everything you need.
Find the “who” not the “how” to get the technical stuff done for you
Now by this time you’re probably thinking, “this sounds like a lot of work”.
And it is.
Not going to sugar coat it for you – there’s a lot of work you need to do here to get your digital course done.
Not everyone is going to tell you that.
But as someone who’s done it all himself, it’s a good bit of hard work.
But there’s a solution for that and it’s simply this:
Instead of trying to figure out everything yourself, find people who you can pay to do some of the work for you.
Sometimes the budget doesn’t allow for hiring help, but i can tell from experience, having a great team will help you move faster than you could ever imagine.
Get help building your marketing funnel.
Get help designing your course logo and assets.
Get help editing your videos and printable materials.
Finding the “who” who can do it for you will free you up so you can keep moving.
Set up your online course platform
Your online course platform is your online hub where all the materials and assets that you’ve created for your new digital course will be delivered.
Once you have it all out on paper what you’re going to deliver with your course it’s time get it all set up in an online learning system.
You will need to set up your pricing, your membership access levels if you’ve got more than one level of your program, and if you’ve got upsells and one-time-offer materials (more on that in a minute).
There are a lot of options when it comes to setting up your course online, but I’m only going to mention one because I believe that it’s the best tool for the job when you’re getting started with your digital course.
I personally use and recommend using ClickFunnels to set up your online course platform.
It can handle all your membership site needs, all your payment gateway needs, help you create your products with upsells, deliver your fulfillment emails and a whole lot more.
Create your sales funnel
Your digital course should be all about delivering results.
Nothing else matters.
Outcomes and results are what your dream customers are looking for.
So make it crystal clear what results your dream customers can expect by purchasing your course.
There are three basic steps you want to have in your sales funnel for your digital course.
(There can be more, but these are the three cornerstones you need to have in place).
First off, as mentioned before, you want a fantastic lead magnet.
Your micro result areas of your flagship framework is a great place to look for this part.
This first part of your sales funnel is something that’s absolutely drenched in value that you give away for free.
The second part of your sales funnel is your digital course. This is where you present your irresistible offer stack – an offer so good people would be stupid to say no.
The third part of your sales funnel is a one-time offer. This is something that’s an expanded version of your course or it’s the next logical thing that someone will need when they’re working toward the goal you’re trying to help them reach.
A little while back I told you I had a technique that would help you increase your revenue per sale.
Here’s what you do:
On your checkout page for your course you add what’s called an “order bump”.
An order bump is where someone can add an item to their order by checking a simple box.
And the item you add here adds tons of value and makes the result your dream customer is pursuing faster and easier.
This is where your alternate media format comes in to play.
As an example you can add the audio recordings as an order-bump here so people can listen while they drive or work out.
Or it can be your best swipe file.
It’s something that’s part of your overall offer stack that delivers tons of value and can stand as a product on its own.
It’s like the grocery store checkout line with the sodas and the National Enquirer magazines.
It gives those who want the opportunity to impulsively add this other item to their cart while they’re checking out.
Do NOT use this technique if you hate making money.
Because it will make you money.
As an example – one of my order bumps in one of my funnels converted at more than 70%.
That’s an additional $47 I was earning on each purchase!
Create bonuses that make your offer so awesome people wouldn’t feel stupid to say no
Bonuses are what you use to deal with objections and break down the final barriers to the sale.
As people are looking at your offer they’re going to have thoughts about how they won’t be able to do it, it will take too much time, etc.
That’s where your bonuses make all the difference.
It could mean that you are going to do a on-on-one consultation/onboarding call with each new customer.
It could mean that you’ve included a bundle of your highest converting headlines that have made you a ton of money.
Bonuses are the things that “grease the slides” so that your dream customer will overcome their buying objections and where they deliver real value to make the entire package better.
I mentioned upsells in my examples above so you should already have at least some idea of what we’re talking about here.
Upsells help your dream customer reach their learning goals faster.
Upsells are where you invite your dream customer to an exclusive one-time offer for higher ticket items or add-ons so that you can earn more per sale and your customer can get even greater resources to help them move faster toward their desired result.
It’s a fantastic way of offering additional products or services that your customer hasn’t even thought about yet.
So ask yourself: what’s the next thing they need?
One of the best examples I’ve ever seen of this is where Russell Brunson made a ridiculously low-ball offer for his Traffic Secrets course as an upsell for those buying the One Funnel Away Challenge.
It was a natural fit because once you’ve created a sales funnel the next thing you are going to need is to drive traffic to your sales funnel.
It was a no-brainer and when I saw it I was happy to include it in my order.
If you’re going to include an upsell or one-time offer opportunity it should be complementary to your primary digital course and make everything faster or easier.
Market your online course
If you’ve been following along, we’ve already started laying some of the groundwork for marketing your new digital course.
Now it’s time to put it all together and build your marketing campaign.
There are four main topics we’re going to talk about here for driving traffic to your online course:
- Dream 100
- Your own list
- Organic social media
- Organic search traffic
- Paid ads
By now you should have built your dream 100 list, started building relationships with those people and now it’s time to take the next steps.
Your dream 100 list can promote your new digital course to their email list, or on their social media platforms.
You will want to set up each one of them as an affiliate and you need to be generous to make it worth their while to promote your stuff.
You also want to make sure that you promote it through all your social media channels too.
If you’ve been doing your social media right, you’ve built tons and tons of connections with new people in your target audience, so they’ll also be eager to hear about your new online course.
Organic Social Media
You want to find the platform that fits you best, but you also want to be present where your target audience is present too.
Some are better for driving traffic to online courses than others, you just have to find the right mix for you and your audience.
The hottest platforms right now are:
- Facebook Groups
The fortune is in the follow up
You should have at least a small email list from your lead magnet and your earlier marketing efforts.
And you’ve been cranking out content, elevating your own voice, and showing your audience how you solve problems and deliver results.
Now it’s time to let your own followers, fans and email list know about your new online course.
I once heard Russell Brunson talk about how the “fortune is in the follow-up” meaning that just because you get someone on your list doesn’t automatically mean that they’re going to buy from you.
This is where those email sequences you’ve been working on with those who sign up for your list will pay dividends.
Keep your list active and involved and your launch will turn out great!
Once you’ve figured out what messages are resonating the best with your target audience & dream customer, you want to pour gas on the fire.
But not until you’ve got all your organic messaging worked out.
Otherwise, you can waste a lot of money very fast.
Unless you’ve got a huge budget of money to just burn through, you want to get your messaging perfect so that when it is time to turn your paid ads on it’s literally like throwing gas on a fire.
Online digital courses & funnel audibles
Odds are things aren’t going to work out perfectly the first time.
I know they didn’t for me. And I can’t think of anyone else where things just magically went perfectly the first time they launched.
Here’s the most important part though:
Don’t be discouraged – be determined.
Be determined that you’re going find out where things are working and not working and adjust appropriately.
That’s so important.
Because at first, you don’t know what you don’t know.
And with each tweak and adjustment you get smarter and better.
It could be your sales copy.
It could be your price.
It could be your bonuses.
You have to be willing to revise and reinvent as you go.
It will happen. You just have to be persistent!
If you want help putting your online courses together I want to invite you to my free private Facebook group where you can connect with others who are trying to do the same thing you are, who are just at different stages.
You can find lots of great help and connect with great people, and who knows – you may even find that some of your dream customers are already in there!
Come join us in Home Office Hacks – I’d love to have you join us there.