There are not many things more rewarding than taking your hard-earned knowledge, and paying it forward to the next generation. You can help shape the world of tomorrow by empowering people with new skills today.

Online courses are also a great way to start a reliable business, if you provide the skills that people need. But it can be challenging to know where to begin for the day-to-day operations of your digital teaching.

This guide discusses how to run an online course, which includes:

  • Choosing your topics
  • Identifying your audience
  • Gathering your knowledge
  • Outlining your course
  • Choosing your platforms
  • Building your community
  • Using your feedback

Learn the steps for how to run an online course

Choosing your topics

The first stage of how to run an online course is to choose the suitable topics that you are in an excellent position to teach. It would help if you had an authority on the subject to attract people who’d want to learn from you.

If you expect your students to pay for the course, then they need to get something out of it. It might be a great idea to think about which jobs are likely to be important in the next few years.

For example, you could teach topics on:

  • Social media
  • Video games
  • Virtual and augmented reality
  • Influencers
  • Cryptocurrency and NFTs
  • Green manufacturing
  • Data science

Identifying your audience

A topic in mind makes it easier to think about the people you’d like to target to become students. They’re likely to have a keen interest in those subjects, but how do you know who that would be?

That means you should conduct market research where you can investigate. You can carry out public surveys or interviews, which you use to ask people about themselves, and the courses that would interest them most.

Your market research will help you find insights about your ideal customers, like what prices they are willing to pay, and what they expect you to cover.

Gathering your knowledge

To be a capable teacher, bring together any current knowledge in the relevant area. If there are any aspects of the topics you’re unfamiliar with, search for books or videos to help fill those gaps.

You can attend courses yourself to brush up on your skills, and it will allow you to see how your competition works. But to avoid the cost of those affecting your business, search for free ones.

Some free online course providers include:

Outlining your course

With all you need to know ready, the next stage of how to run an online course is for you to create the outline. You can use that to share the areas you’ll cover with your potential students, and design the course.

Your outline should offer everything you think people should know about the topic

You can create a comprehensive course that focuses it all on a specific part. If you choose to hone in a particular area, you can provide something more in-depth. 

Still, a wide-ranging course can also be great for people who want to learn the basics of different aspects.

For example, you could run a course on social media marketing in general or one on how to create TikTok advertising.

Choosing your platforms

A significant part of how to run an online course is how your students can access it. You could use a platform to create and run on their site, or you can build your own.

One online course platform you can use is Udemy. It’s full of unique courses that people run. There’s no fee for the setup, but you must share the sales revenue with the company.

  • 3% –– to Udemy if people sign up through your coupon or referral link.
  • 63% ––  to Udemy if there’s no link or coupon which directs students.

Alternatively, you can build a website with your content that your customers can access after they pay you to sign up.

To learn more about creating websites, see: How to create a business website.

Another option is to provide live courses that people pay you to attend. You can host them through online meeting platforms like:

Building your community

To get people to sign up for your course, create a reputation for yourself as someone who can offer knowledge. You can aim to do that through social media platforms where you share insightful content.

Offer free help for people in the form of short clips on Instagram, longer in-depth videos on YouTube and written explanatory posts on LinkedIn

Blog posts are another great way to share free advice, and you can promote those pieces across your channels.

If people get valuable content from you for free, they’re more likely to return to hear what you say. Eventually, you can build a relationship with audiences and hopefully, they’ll become paying students.

Using your feedback

When it comes to running an online course, it’s always a good idea to try and improve what you offer. You can ask your students for feedback during your sessions or routinely throughout their experience.

In the end, you can ask them to provide you with reviews, and offer them a discount for another course in return. Any areas that go well or not so well are great points to help you evaluate what you do.

Keep improving and providing people with the best possible experience. It will help build your reputation further — the more people who come to the course, the more reasons to create more.

Become the master of financial management with Countingup

Your online course business is a great way to teach people and make money for yourself. But it can also cost you for equipment like computers and marketing through paid social posts.

The best way to continue to teach is to learn how to keep on top of your finances.

Countingup is a business account with built-in accounting software. It’s the perfect solution. With its expense categorisation software, you can sort costs automatically with HMRC approved labels.

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