How to Create an Online Course – The Ultimate Blueprint

Looking for a straightforward, step-by-step process for building an amazing online course? This blog post is a complete guide to help you do exactly that. You'll learn how to identify your ideal customer, what they want out of an online course, how to plan your content, and more. By the time you're done reading this blog post, you'll have a clear picture of all the steps you'll need to complete to build the course of your dreams.

How to Create an Online Course:

Start With Why

Creating a successful online course starts with understanding your ideal customer. You need to develop a clear picture of who you're creating your course for and what problem it will help them solve. It's important to note that identifying your ideal customer is really about developing an intimate understanding of what drives them and why your course will help them achieve a certain degree of success. This is why customer personas are invaluable.

Create Your Persona

While there are tons of resources available online with questions you can ask to develop a persona, when you're creating a course, you need to be more specific. You will need to identify your persona’s demographic and psychographic profile. These will help you uncover critical aspects directly related to what your course must do to be successful.

Identify Demographics

Demographics include details like the age, gender, location, and income of your ideal customer. This information will give you a closer look at their environment, help you easily identify what matters to them given the current position. 

For example, if you're planning a course on hip-hop dancing, identifying a younger audience would make sense. If you know that teenagers in a specific part of your country are interested in hip-hop dancing, you'd be able to target that location with promotional content like paid ads to convert more teenagers into students.

Identify Psychographics

Psychographics relate to intrinsic elements or characteristics of your ideal customer. These include values they hold near and dear, interests, and motivators that are responsible for their actions. 

Going back to an example of offering hip-hop dance classes to teenagers in a specific jurisdiction, psychographics would become instrumental as you determine why teenagers are interested in hip-hop dancing. When you understand what their motivator is, you can weave it into your course and marketing content to attract your target audience.


What do Customers Want From a Course?

When developing your persona don't settle for secondary and tertiary research. Often, not going to the source can lead to assumptions about your ideal customer’s interests, resulting in the creation of a course that holds no value for them, and a lot of wasted time and energy for you. 

To figure out what your customers want from a course, take the time to interview them. Reach out to people who match your persona and ask them questions. You want to find out:

1. What major challenge they face when it comes to the topic you plan to create your course around and how does this challenge make them feel?

2. Why does this challenge matter?

3. What's the next significant challenge they’ve experienced and what emotions do they associate with it?

4. Why does this challenge matter?

5. Are there any other challenges or pain points that they are aware of? And if so, what emotions did they stir up?

6. Have they addressed the challenges with any solutions and what were the solutions?

7. If they were unsuccessful addressing the challenges, what did they learn?

8. If they were to seek out a solution, what would they want out of it?

9. What emotions are associated with finding the perfect solution?

10. If they found the perfect solution, how much would they be willing to pay for access to?

As you can tell, this collection of questions will help you uncover many of the drivers behind what makes your ideal customers the right person for your course. By understanding what steps they have taken or how they failed to address their needs, along with the emotions they've experienced on their journey, you'll have invaluable firsthand knowledge of how your ideal customer thinks.

Plan Your Course

With a clear understanding of who your ideal customer is and what drives them, it's time to plan your course content. Planning your course starts with an outline. While that sounds formal and rigid, it doesn't start out that way. Outlines are just lists of ideas that have been ordered. And that's what yours will be. Because your ideal customer has shared information about what they want from a course, your goal is to identify all that goes into producing a course that meets their needs.

Step One: Gather all Information

Gathering information may seem like a daunting process, especially if not an expert in your field. Truth is, experts sometimes miss important details, too. You can ensure that you build a comprehensive course by uncovering all you don’t know.

Identify Your Knowledge Gaps

Identify what knowledge you're missing to be able to build your course. Start by asking these questions: 

  • What information must my client have to transform into a more successful person after completing my course?
  • What order must this information be in?
  • Where will I find this information?

These questions are versatile enough to be applied to any scenario. For example, if you know that you must use social media to promote your online course, you'll need to know how each platform works, how to create content for each platform, and everything that goes into leveraging social media to reach your ideal customer. To find this information, you can go to YouTube and watch videos or enroll for a course on each social media platform.

Once you’ve collected all the information you'll need, it's time to arrange it in order. While we briefly touched on this above, arranging information is an important step. You'll have to order your information by sequence. 

Start by identifying the order flow of the information. Group it into sections according to similar ideas, then create subsections and lessons. Online learning is effective when lessons are short. Long lessons tend to drone on and lose the attention of students. So, ensure that complex topics are spread over numerous lessons to make them easy to digest.

Step Two: Test their Knowledge

Online education must be as engaging as possible and rewarding at the same time. To help your students grow, include quizzes, tests, and assignments to test their knowledge. These tools will help students correct any inaccurate interpretations of the course material and set them on the right path to words experiencing the desired transformation.

As you determine the types of tests to include in your course, go back to step two and find the best place to insert your tests, assignments, and quizzes. The great news about working with online course platforms is that some offer various testing options. Thinkific, for example, provides the option of offering quizzes and assignments to students. These are also easy to create in the platform.

Step Three: Design a Resource Library

With a clear idea of how each section, subsection, and lesson flows, it's time to look at additional resources. Resources make the learning experience more wholesome. These can include guides, checklists, downloadable audio files, and more. Having identified the structure of your course, look back through each section, subsection, and lesson and identify the best places to offer additional resources. 

We recommend that resources be made available for core learning concepts. For example, including a checklist on how to perform a workout will make it easier for students to execute the complete workout.

How to Create Your Course Content

With planning out of the way, it's time to start producing content. The content you create will depend on how you plan to deliver your course. Today, video is one of the most common formats that most online courses are delivered in. This is because it's engaging, and more people spend more time watching online video today than ever before. If you're not sure which medium to use, we recommend going with video.

Here's a step-by-step process of how to go about creating your video content:

Create a Script

Video may seem like an overwhelming experience, especially if you never recorded video course content, but you quickly get used to it. Creating a script will help you communicate all you need to for each lesson, keeping your delivery professional and saving you from improvising and wasting time as you try to find the right words to communicate.

Develop a Storyboard

Storyboards are essential to helping you plot what your video will look like. Despite common misconceptions, storyboards are easy to develop. All you need is a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. You don’t need to be an artist either. Your goal is to identify camera angles you will use and when you will include different elements in your video like screenshots, tutorials, and more.

Design Your Environment

Before you can start recording video, you'll need to ensure that you have the right environment. High-quality video courses are recorded in distraction-free spaces. What kind of distractions should you be in the lookout for? Here's a shortlist to help you quickly create the perfect setting:

1. Eliminate distracting sounds like traffic. You can achieve this by purchasing noise-canceling foam or moving to a quiet space.

2. Declutter your environment by removing excess belongings from the view of your camera. For example, if you're seated at a desk, remove all items from your desk that you don't require for the creation of your videos.

3. Make sure your recording space is visibly clean.

4. Remove shiny objects or surfaces from the camera view to eliminate distracting reflections.

Set up Your Equipment

When creating a high-quality course, camera angles and positioning, lighting, and audio settings you’ll use must blend together to produce a high-quality experience for learners. Here's how to achieve that:

Position Your Camera(s)

Set them up in spaces where they'll have an unobstructed view of your subject. To make our life easier if you are shooting over a number of days, use marking tape to mark your camera and/or tripod’s position. This ensures that you can establish the right positioning and angles quickly and easily if you need to recreate your setup.

Get Adequate Lighting

Lighting is a critical component of filming. If you're not recording in a well-lit environment, you'll need to invest in lighting to brighten it up. Alternatively, if you have the opportunity to record in daylight, arrange your environment to allow as much daylight into your recording space. Often, this means sitting directly in front of a window. If you need to rely on artificial light, position them directly in front of you and 45 degrees from where you are. This approach helps you eliminate shadows from various angles, giving your videos a professional look.


Set up Your Audio

Audio can be tricky. To some videographers, even the most attractive looking videos can be ruined by poor sound quality. To avoid this mishap, invest in a lavalier lapel mic. Lavalier mics allow you to record separately from video and then sync both in post-production.


Edit Your Footage

Editing your content may seem like a complex process, but it’s easier than you imagine. To get started, you'll need access to the video editing tool. The great news is that there lots of free and easy-to-use video editing software packages available. For example, you can use any leading video editing software. It's filled with transitions, effects, sounds, the ability to layer elements, and more.


Take the opportunity to add branding elements to your videos. These include title bars and logos that can appear at different times throughout your videos. You can also include an intro at the very start of your course, and if you'd like, at the beginning of each lesson.

With your content created, you are ready to transfer it onto your course platform or website. Depending on where you plan to distribute your course, getting your material online will be as simple as logging onto an online platform, using a template builder to create sections, subsections, and lessons, and uploading your material.

Build Your Course

And there you have it, a complete process for identifying your ideal customer, what they want out of an online course, how to structure yours, and ultimately produce the content for it. Feel free to return to the guide at any time.

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.