I’ve been publishing courses on Udemy (the largest online course platform) while working a full-time job for several years now, and after launching 9 courses with over 215,000+ students, I learned a few things about what works.
Here are five tips that will help you out.
1) Expertise is overrated
You don’t need to be an expert on a topic to teach it. You just need to know a bit more than what the average person knows, but explain it in a simple and digestible way. Most people know more than they think they do about a particular topic.
2) Focus on solving problems
People don’t buy a quarter-inch drill. They buy a quarter-inch hole. This idea by Theodore Levitt sums up everything about purchasing psychology. Course takers want a solution to a problem, not a product or service. So if you focus on the problem and its solution (e.g., generate revenue, save money, save time, etc.), you’ll have a solid course idea.
3) Check what the market wants
You can use many online tools to identify what people are actually searching for to learn. You can use Google Trends, the Google Keyword Planner, or even Amazon to check out what books are popular in the marketplace. Udemy has a fantastic market insights tool that tells you the in-demand topics and even gives you a rough idea of how much money you can make. Avoid guessing. Pick a topic that people want to pay for.
4) You don’t need any fancy tools to teach a course
The main thing you need is a video editor (I use Camtasia), a good microphone (I use the AT2020 USB mic), and a presentation tool (I use PowerPoint). Most of my lectures are voice-over videos of me presenting slides. You can get a bit more sophisticated with lighting and backdrops for promotional and introduction videos (to make those shots look a bit more professional), but you don’t need any of that to start.
5) Rely on a marketplace for sales
Although you’ll make higher profit margins from a course that you host on your own blog or site, marketing your course will be an uphill battle. You’ll need a (relatively large) audience to be able to convert followers to buyers without relying on paid advertising. A better alternative is to leverage an existing marketplace like Udemy, especially if you don’t have much time to spend on marketing. Although you’ll take a hit on the profit margins, you’ll make up for it with volume.
There’s no way I would have been able to reach 215K+ students while working a full-time job without relying on the marketplace.
Quick Note: I’m launching my second live course about how to Create & Sell an Online Course on the Side (starting June 06, 2022) if you’d like to get a more in-depth understanding of this topic.