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Design A Course Online And Make Money

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Design a course online and make money passively over the long term. By creating a course you are investing in an online asset for life. As a beginner in online business to make money with your first online course will be a lot of fun. This is because you will realize the value of the skill sets you are developing during this process.

Article: Planning your first money-making online course.

Do online courses make money?

It is not easy to create a money-making online course as a beginner but it is not an impossible task. Design a course online and it becomes a long-term investment. A well-designed course will become a passive income over the long term.

Do online courses make money

There are many amateurs who are making a good income online from sharing their skills and knowledge through online courses.

How much you make will depend on the market you are targeting and the demand for the information you can share. Do you have knowledge that other existing courses cannot offer? Even if you are a better presenter than your opponent you stand a chance to earn a good income from online courses.

How do you create online courses?

If you are not an experienced instructional designer it is advisable to first do some research on the subject. By doing this you are developing your first new skillset. It will also count in your favor when you start planning your first online course.

Learning instructional design will help you to understand the concept of learning and the methodology behind course structure. There are a lot of things you can learn about course design with instructional design theory that will be applicable to online learning.

Design a course online that is well structured and learners will trust the information they are paying for. Online courses are created by joining an online learning platform where you can host your course.

Most online platforms will have a tutorial or guideline of what is required when developing your course. Adhering to these terms and conditions will ensure that your course is of good quality and approved without a problem.

As a beginner, you will be surprised at how simple it is to create your own online course and start earning from it.

Can I create an online course for free?

Create an online business for free

It is mostly free to design a course online but you have to be prepared to give the platform a cut of your income. This is to compensate them for hosting the course and the marketing they do for the platform.

Unless you invest money in course creation software the design of it is free with only time as an input. When you have built enough experience and decided that you want to host your courses yourself it will start costing you.

The normal commission a platform will charge will be in the range of 5 – 11% of every sale you make. There are some platforms that will charge you a monthly fee to host your online courses.

All you need to do the course design for free is a Word Processor. Before uploading you will have to get some creatives such as videos or images to complete the course. All these resources can be done for free as your skills develop.

What makes a good online course?

It is important to design a good online course because learners are paying hard-earned cash for it. If they find no value for money their reviews will kill your business instantly. Always keep in mind it is mostly people who are bored who will take the time to write a bad review.

People who are productive will not have time to sit and write that good review unless you ask them directly for it. So in the end, the bad reviews will outweigh the good ones by far but it does not help your cause.

There are certain criteria that you can focus on to make sure your online course is good:

  • Targeted at a specific market
  • Provide solutions to problems
  • Well-structured and logical
  • Informative about the topic
  • Engaging so learners can focus
  • Priced right for the specific market
  • Good presentation skills

Most of the above will contribute to how well your online course performs against competitors. As a beginner, the idea is to spend all your time on research and design so you can build authority on the topic from the beginning.

Design a course online that is usable and enjoyable. It will stand out from the competition because it looks professional. A good online course is the one that will sell the next one for you.

The 10 Steps of creating an online course?

We have already spoken about instructional design and by now you would’ve come across it in your quest to create a good online course. Most online learning platforms will use instructional design as the basis on which they will approve the quality of your course.

Let’s have a look at a structured process that will help you organize yourself to create an online course for the first time.

10 Steps To Designing an online course

1. Choose the online learning platform

Before you start planning your course it is advisable to find the correct online learning platform that will suit your needs. There are many online learning platforms but it is important to find the one you feel most comfortable with.

Factors that might influence your decision:

  • Ease of use
  • The competition you might have
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Payment structure
  • Platform authority online
  • Their marketing capacity

Ease of use

What course structure do they require? Some platforms will need specific combinations of video, images, and text whereas others might have a more simple course setup. Make sure you have the resources to comply with their standards.

Are they offering step-by-step module building? This will assist you in keeping in line with their requirements. As a beginner, you want to keep it as simple as possible to get your course listed.

The competition you might have

Have a look at your niche or topic to establish what you can offer better than what is already there. Compare pricing in relation to content and solutions provided. At the same time, it is important to see how their courses are performing on the platform.

It does not mean that the niche is “dead” if they don’t have sales. It might simply mean that it is listed on the wrong platform and you need to search further. You can only get a clear picture of your competition after comparing several sites against each other.

It is also important to see the expertise displayed in the other courses. Do you have more experience or do you have some specifics they are lacking?

Terms & Conditions

The most important is to scrutinize the terms and conditions. You do not want to sit creating an online course for weeks or months just to get rejected. There are enough guidelines and tutorials available for free online that will help you avoid rejection.

Rejection is not a sign to give up but rather a chance on what you need to improve on. Write rejections off to experience and skills development. You will just save yourself a lot of time adhering to these T’s & C’s.

Payment Structure

It is important to know how, how much and how often you will be paid by the platform. Most online learning platforms will have only PayPal and Payoneer as payment options. If you want the direct transfer to your account make sure they accommodate this.

Not setting up your payment process beforehand can become unnecessary work should you wish to change it later on. It is also possible that you can lose money should you not have the payment process set up correctly.

See the profit margins as later it is no use complaining. See if you are happy with your margin which will depend on how much work the platform does from their side.

Also, see if there is a payout threshold you have to achieve in order to get paid. Also, know on what day of the month they will pay your share to you.

Platform authority online

Because you will need great support from your online learning platform it is important to see how popular they are. Do they receive the organic visits that will increase your chances to sell your course or will it all depend on your marketing efforts?

It is also important that if you design a course online it is with a reputable platform that is known and has been around for a while. For online entrepreneurs, there is nothing worse than building up an online income stream that suddenly disappears after a few months.

Once you are familiar with online course design it is advisable to branch out to other platforms. Never keep all your eggs in one basket.

Their marketing capacity

Very important for you as a beginner in online course creation is that you have a platform that markets itself. You want to focus on developing content for a quality course and will have very little time for marketing.

Many of the larger online learning platforms have an organic reach that makes them stand out from the rest. That is why you need to check how easy it is to find your specific course once you land on the platform.

While browsing the web for course creation advice see if you can find banner ads or other indications of the platform you are interested in. Some like Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera spend a lot of money on advertising.

2. Research Demand

By now you will have sort of an idea of what your expertise can offer in the form of an online course. Before you even start working on any course it is important to research the online learning market to see what your competition is offering.

Typically you will want to find a topic or niche where demand is strong but course offerings are thin. This makes it easier for a beginner to break into the market.

If the demand is high and supply is high the only way is to micro-niche down into an area where there is very little on offer by competitors.

The most difficult for beginners are niches where there is low demand but many courses on offer. You will have to look and feel spectacular to make money in a market like this but you will have to be exceptional.

3. Pick a niche

Find your own niche

It is important as a beginner to stick to what you know but it is not a hard-fast rule. Some online course developers make money in any niche. This is because they are exceptional at the art of creating courses and their presentation skills.

If you are not then it is important to look at a broad niche and then micro down to something where you have the most knowledge. From here you can become an authoritative figure in your niche and branch out later with a larger portfolio.

4. Create an outline

As we already know all platforms will have guidelines on how to structure your online course. Life is much easier when you have a proper outline of your course with which you can work.

Most online platforms are based on instructional design so it will be easy to apply your outline to any learning platform. You can find my free Online Course Template which will help you with your course layout and content creation process.

By having an outline before you start you will be able to focus on one thing at a time but still end up having all the information you need. This information will then be easier to slot into your online learning modules as you build them.

5. Create content

When you hear terms such as modules, outcomes, and activities don’t stress. It is just a fancy way of describing the content you will need to structure your course well.


Your layout will always start with establishing your outcomes first. In other words, what will your learner be able to do after completing your course? Does it line up with your target market? It is no use having outcomes that your learners might already have mastered.

Knowing your outcomes first also helps with the development of all your other content. It helps you to maintain focus and structure throughout the course development phases.


Models are the various main sections that your course will be divided into. In other words, it is the sub-topics that will make up the main topic of your course. Models can also be broken down further into parts that will make it easier for learners to understand how things come together in the end.

Modules will contain all the information that you need to transfer to your students. Depending on your targeted learner it is always best to keep things simple for the learner. In this way, they can enjoy it more and find solutions quickly.


Activities are exercises and practical examples your learners use in order to display an understanding of the subject. Learners will understand things better if they get the opportunity to practice what they learn.

One of your biggest problems with online course creation will be keeping learners engaged. Activities are one way of doing it but keep in mind that your learners don’t want their learning experience to feel like work.

7. Create additional resources

When you design a course online your learners will find value in the resources you can provide them with. Most activities will require either a PDF or some other document. There can also be a lot of other supporting material that will create a pleasant experience such as:

  • Templates for use afterward
  • Video and Audio explainer files
  • Maybe an eBook for further reference

These resources can add considerable value for your learners that will make a paying course worth it. It also serves as a long-term marketing strategy if the learner needs further information.

8. Compile your course

When all your content is created it is time to piece the whole thing together. How you do it will depend on your platform requirements. By having everything ready on the free online course template you can simply transfer information to where it is required.

Once your basic outline is completed with informational content it is time to add the rest. All your activity resources and other material can now be loaded into your course modules to complete.

Remember to have a final quality check on your content to make sure grammar and spell checks are done. I suggest when writing content that you use either Grammarly or ProWriting Aid software to make it easy.

Also, make sure there are any links that work as intended. Things not working or structured wrong will lead to learner confusion and more work for you.

9. Upload the course to the platform

Once you are 100% happy that your course is in compliance with the online learning platform requirements you can upload it and activate it. Most platforms will first have a quality audit to make sure you have followed guidelines and you are in compliance with their terms and conditions.

It might take from a couple of hours to a couple of days for your course to be approved and placed on the market for sale. Be patient as it will be a welcome break in which you can prepare your marketing creatives.

If it fails then don’t despair. Fix what is wrong and re-upload. It is all part of the learning curve and it enables you to learn new skill sets you never had before.

10. Market your courses

While you are waiting for approval you can head on over to Canva and start building creatives for your social media accounts. Once the course goes live it will require you to tell the world that it is there. For a beginner, social media is the best free and easy option until you have built-up experience.

Once you have confidence that your course has possibilities then you can start thinking of paid advertising or email marketing. Just be careful that you don’t spend your profits on advertising by keeping an eye on the ROI factor.

Consistent posting on social media and free e-mail marketing is the best option for beginners in order to enjoy the benefits of their hard work. Try to build a recognizable brand while you expand your online course portfolio.

What is the best online learning platform to use?

Most beginners will ask this question but there really is no perfect answer.

According to me the best online learning platform to use is the one that suits your needs the most. In other words, the one you enjoy working with the most and provide you with good value.

I can only suggest some platforms for you but Udemy stands out from the crowd when it comes to learning how to design a course online. They have very good free video tutorials that will even assist a total beginner in publishing the first course.

It won’t hurt either to do one or two of their highest-rated courses yourself to see how the experienced course designers are doing it. There are a couple of paid courses that will supplement the free courses on Udemy.

Suggested online learning platforms


Udemy Online Learning


New teacher supportFree to Join
Skillshare community assistFocus on creativity skills
Easy-to-use class upload tools100’s of topics
Global footprintMillions of visitors monthly

Design a course online and make money – Conclusion

If you have any skills that you can teach others then you have the perfect opportunity to create your own online course. Online courses are one method of creating an online income stream that will last you for a lifetime.

Initially, it can be time-consuming but eventually, you would’ve developed the skills to create courses on the fly. Over time these courses will provide a steady passive income for you that will require very little attention.

There are many different platforms available online that make this task easier for beginners. The good thing is that thousands of topics are covered for you to start with. All it takes is research, motivation, and time.

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