How to Create an Online Course: The Why, When & How

How to Create an Online Course: The Why, When & How

Jimmy Naraine, trainer of Mindvalley's Course Pro Quest, teaching how to create an online course
Summary:

How can you put together a course that resonates, sells, and makes an impact? Discover how to create an online course with tips from Jimmy Naraine.

In this age of the internet, there are countless ways to share your knowledge — YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and the list goes on. As wonderful as they are, they’re only bite-sized wisdom.

If you’re looking for another way to share your knowledge and generate revenue, there’s a way you can tap into the market. It’s called online learning. 

But what do you need to know about how to create an online course, let alone sell it? With insights from Jimmy Naraine, award-winning educator and Udemy partner, this guide will walk you through how you can do so.

There’s no better time to learn a new skill than now. And that includes learning how to create an online course.

Why Do You Want to Create a Course?

Before doing anything, it’s always advisable to ask yourself your “why” — why do you want to create a course? An obvious question, no doubt, but a valid one. 

It’s easy to get caught up in following the trends, especially if you contemplating a career change or looking for passive income. So much so that you may just forget what you’re trying to accomplish in the first place. Plus, let’s not forget that FOMO (the fear of missing out) is a real thing. 

If you don’t define your why, it’s going to be very hard to persevere to go out there and to make things happen,” says Jimmy at the Mindvalley University 2022 in Tallinn, Estonia. “So why do you want to build the course?

It could be to get paid for what you know, position yourself as an authority in your field, bring together like-minded individuals… There are no right or wrong answers. But the bottom line is, knowing your “why” serves two fundamentally important purposes: 1) it motivates you, and 2) it orients you.

Why Self-Belief Matters In Course Creations

Believe in yourself” is not just an internet quote; it holds a lot of weight regarding your confidence, compassion, and happiness. It helps you trust in yourself and your capabilities. Without a doubt, it’s the source of all positivity.

What does this have to do with creating your courses? Practically everything

You could be thinking, “I’m not the best in the world,” or “Why would anyone want to learn from me?” or “Who would even take this course?” For most people, self-doubt is kryptonite.

When you allow your limiting beliefs to take the wheel, you’ll be less likely to build your course content and record your videos. As a result, when you expect to fail, you’re actually more likely to fail.

Jimmy can sympathize; he’s been there. He highlights that your mindset plays a huge role in your success. 

Most of your fears, most of your worst-case scenarios are just an illusion.

— Jimmy Naraine, trainer of Mindvalley’s Course Pro Quest

So what does he suggest to do? Turn your fears, excuses, and worst-case scenarios into your power. And then, take the knowledge you learned from it to help others.

Jimmy Naraine, trainer of Mindvalley's Course Pro Quest, filming to teach how to create an online course
Jimmy Naraine, trainer of Mindvalley’s Course Pro Quest

How to Create an Online Course in 4 Steps

Course-making is simpler than you might think, even if you’re considering how to create an online course for free. And with today’s technology, you, too, can do what Jimmy does. 

That’s the core of Mindvalley’s Course Pro Quest, the transformational program taught by him and Vishen, founder of Mindvalley, to help you (and people like you) to get started. So here are some highlights of the four essentials covered in the Quest.

1. Unleash your uniqueness

People buy courses not only for the information but also for the connection to you. It’s the power of relatability. 

For example, if you’re looking for advice on entrepreneurship, which type of business consultant resonates more with you: the one who came from a life of privilege and had the means to start their own company? Or the one who started with little to nothing?

When you have a topic and you do your research and you realize a lot of people teach that topic, it doesn’t matter because no one is like you. You are uniquely you and this is what matters.

— Jimmy Naraine, trainer of Mindvalley’s Course Pro Quest

Your uniqueness is your magic. And this is something that’ll help you create and sell courses online. 

Start here:

  • Write your goal statement — the message you want to project and the vision that will serve as your rocket fuel.
  • Learn techniques to overcome toxic perfectionism and build your self-confidence.
  • Identify your unique style to draw people in with your authenticity.

2. Design your course

The reality is, everything is already out there. You can literally Google any how-to’s — how to feng shui your bedroom, how to excel in business coaching, how to be a meditation instructor…the list is endless.

Here are two crucial steps you should take: 1) figure out who’s your audience and 2) try to please your audience. 

So often, what people do is they don’t consider [their audience] and they build courses that are too generic. They try to serve everyone. And as a result of that, they end up serving no one.

— Jimmy Naraine, trainer of Mindvalley’s Course Pro Quest

For instance, let’s say you work in the fast-paced corporate world, and you want to teach yoga. Instead of putting together a generic yoga course, create a yoga program for busy corporate people.

Start here:

  • Find your niche (life coaching can help you if you need it). Find out how you’d like to be positioned in the market based on your target audience and your specialties.
  • Identify the transformations your audience will experience. These include how their mind, habits, and lifestyle will shift as well as how they’ll show up in the world, tools that help them when they need it, and the “special power” they’ll unlock.
  • Reverse engineer your course process — start with the transformation you want them to have, list out the objectives that will get them there, and create the path.

3. Produce your course

When people buy online courses, they want to be guided in a compelling and entertaining way. However, novice course creators often show up in front of a camera and film their entire course from beginning to end.

Chances are, here’s what’ll happen: they make mistakes, the content is not compelling, and it is just things are not working out very well. And that creates even more pressure.

When you feel a lot of pressure, you cannot perform. So it’s very easy to fall into this negative spiral where you want to film videos, but nothing is really happening. Nothing is working out for you.

— Jimmy Naraine, trainer of Mindvalley’s Course Pro Quest

Contrary to your belief, you don’t need expensive camera equipment, a production team, or a studio to bring your courses to life. The secret lies in the specific (and highly affordable) techniques that can help gain your audience’s trust, engagement, and satisfaction.

Start here:

  • Create a trailer. If your audience likes what they see, then they’re more likely to buy the course.
  • Pick a platform that suits you, like Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Teachable, and so on. Keep in mind, there’s not one that’s better than the other and there’s also no rule that says you have to stick to just one.
  • Split your lessons into bit-sized content so that it’s easily digestible.

4. Publish and market your course

Once you’ve picked your platform and published your videos, now it’s all about how to sell the course online. 

A lot of people have this weird misconception that if you just build something, people will come. …You have to entice people to come in and buy your product. 

— Jimmy Naraine, trainer of Mindvalley’s Course Pro Quest

The reality is, we’re living in an overstimulated world, so building a launch strategy is incredibly important to get noticed. 

Some platforms, like Udemy and Skillshare, can help to promote your content. However, you can also take matters into your own hands with the right strategy.

One secret Jimmy’ll let you in on? Work on your course launch even before the actual launch date to create hype.

Start here:

  • Create a landing page with the course objectives, relevant pictures, and the trailer you filmed.
  • Use your inner circle (ideally, those who are similar to your customer avatar) and tell them about your course early on.
  • Send out coupon codes. It can drive people to your course as well as introduce new ones.
Women looking at laptop to understand how to create an online course

FAQs of Setting Up Online Courses

If you’ve been doing online courses for as long as Jimmy has, you’re bound to have run into frequently asked questions. Here are some that award-winning educator has answered:

1. What if people reject me?

Keep in mind that you’re not going to please everyone. Those who don’t like your content will move on, and that’s okay. Because those who do like what you have to say will stay for the value that you give them. 

As Jimmy says, “I could probably spill something on me, I could trip, and it doesn’t matter as long as I give you value.

2. What should I teach?

Some people are blessed to know exactly what they want to do in their lives and the long-term goals attached to them. However, if you’re not one of those people, then here are some of Jimmy’s tips:

  • Think about the challenges you overcame and teach the strategies and techniques you used to do so.
  • Blend your passion and relatability with what the market needs. This will take some research and analytical skills, but it may help solve a problem that someone or the community has.
  • Think about what you can create that will impact your brand positively.

3. How do I find my audience?

Identifying your audience allows you to focus your marketing on the people who’re most likely to buy your course. Additionally, it ensures more consistency in your messaging. And therefore, you’ll be able to generate business leads in an efficient, affordable manner.

Jimmy suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • What are the characteristics of my audience?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What are their challenges?

List down all that you can — just brain dump the type of people who you’d like to attract. This will be your customer avatar.

4. How should I structure my course?

There are many ways to do it, but Jimmy suggests a simple structure that has worked for him:

  • A promotional video is a priority. It’ll tell people why they should take your course, what benefits they’ll get out of it, and who’s the expert that’ll be teaching them (meaning, you).
  • Have introduction and thank you videos. This will help invite them to other courses you may have.
  • Create sections that group together the different ideas of your course. Jimmy suggests having three to seven videos in each section.
  • Make your videos shorter so they’re easier to watch. Bite-sized videos help make the content more digestible, so your audience will stay longer. It’s about taking one step at a time instead of one giant leap.

5. Why should I give a 30-day money-back guarantee?

Having a money-back guarantee shows that you have confidence in your product and that your audience can, too. 

I realize that when you do it, it increases the conversion rates ridiculously,” says Jimmy. “When people like your content, when they resonate, they don’t want their money back.

He adds that, from his own experience, if you include it in your promotional video, people are more likely to sign up for your course.

There are several platforms you can choose from. Here are some that Jimmy recommends:

  • Udemy
  • Skillshare
  • LinkedIn Learning
  • Kajabi
  • Teachable

It’s really a “different strokes for different folks” type of choice; none is better than the other. You can check out all of them and, like Goldilocks, find out which one is right for you.

Udemy

Udemy is an online learning and teaching marketplace, people can learn anything and everything under the sun there. They have students worldwide, which means you can teach in any language.

Requirements: Courses must have at least 30 minutes of video content and at least five lectures or learning modules.

Revenue: You’re paid according to a revenue share model. 

Marketing: Udemy can help market your course through the Udemy Deals Program. Additionally, they provide resources on how to promote it effectively.

Fees: There is no fee to be an instructor.

Plus point: They have a Marketplace Insights tool where you can learn more about the demand for any particular topic.

Certification: Your students will receive a certification of completion.

Skillshare

Skillshare is an online learning community mainly geared towards creativity, the arts, design, freelance, entrepreneurship, lifestyle, and productivity. Since they’re based in the United States, their main target audience is those living there.

Requirements: Every course has to have a hands-on project. This is part of the company’s values of “learning by doing.” 

Revenue: You earn monthly royalties based on the number of minutes watched in your course. 

Marketing: Skillshare is based on memberships, so you’ll have access to a built-in audience from the start. They also have tons of tips to help you promote your course to your community.

Fees: There is no fee for publishing a course as long as you adhere to their class guidelines.

Plus point: You get a referral bonus for every student you refer to Skillshare.

Certification: Certifications are not available.

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning is mostly preferred by industry experts, especially those who teach software, creative, and business skills. Courses fall into four categories: business, creative, technology, and certifications.

Requirements: LinkedIn is selective in who gets to teach on its platform. You have to fill out an application form and they’ll contact you if they see you as a fit for their faculty.

Revenue: It’s contract based, so once you sign, you’ll get the first half of your royalty advance. After your course is published, you’ll receive the other half. And once you “pay off” the advance, you’ll receive royalties every month for as long as the platform keeps the course up.

Marketing: LinkedIn Learning handles all the marketing for you. That said, you can also do your own promoting to encourage people to learn from you on this platform.

Fees: There is no fee.

Plus point: A LinkedIn Learning instructor is essentially a contractor to create and publish courses. It’ll be a long-term relationship with your content manager and producer, so you may end up creating more than just one course. (The downside is that you wouldn’t be able to have courses on the same topics elsewhere.)

Certification: LinkedIn Learning provides certifications to your students.

Kajabi

Kajabi is an all-in-one business platform that’s beneficial for veteran creators and entrepreneurs. Not only are you able to create and sell online courses, but they also make it easy to develop membership sites, coaching programs, and a plethora of digital content.

Requirements: As long as you’ve got the bare minimum of tech tools and pay the subscription fee, you can make a course on this platform.

Revenue: You keep all your profits, but because Kajabi uses Stripe as a payment gateway, there is a processing fee of 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.

Marketing: You’ll have to do your own marketing. However, they provide tons of marketing templates so you don’t have to create one.

Fees: Kajabi is subscription-based and there are price plans you can choose from.

Plus point: Pipelines, which can help you visualize your marketing “pipeline” you are going to create, like landing pages and emails. Bonus, there’s the option of using editable templates and the pipelines can be automated.

Certification: There’s no built-in certification feature.

Teachable

Teachable is similar to Kajabi, where you can take ebooks, courses, or videos and sell them as digital products. It’s a freemium learning management system platform that’s recommended for beginners.

Requirements: The only expertise you need is your own.

Revenue: You take what you earn, but there is a 5% transaction fee on all course sales.

Marketing: You can do your own marketing. However, you can opt for help with Discover by Teachable (which will collect a 30% revenue share of sales.)

Fees: It’s subscription-based. Here are the price plans you can choose from.

Plus point: There’s a built-in quiz feature where you can create both graded and non-graded quizzes.

Certification: There are various certificate templates to choose from as well as the option to create your own coded ones.

Man on laptop learning how to create an online course

Unleash Your Genius

Truth be told, creating an online course isn’t quick and easy. But the hardest part, as they say, is starting. 

If you’ve got the knowledge to impart, then pull off that bandaid and get to it. And don’t be afraid to seek help if you need a little nudge. That’s what Mindvalley is here for.

When you sign in to Mindvalley, you can sample selected personal growth classes, like Jimmy Naraine’s Course Pro Quest. What’s more, you can go at your own pace or join the quest tribe so that you can learn with other like-minded individuals.

With a little know-how to get your gears running, you’ll be setting up online classes in no time. And we can’t wait to see what you share with the world.


Recommended Program For You

Build online courses that transform, sell, and make an impact with Mindvalley founder Vishen and top Udemy instructor Jimmy Naraine

Master the art of building bestselling online courses with two of today’s leading course creators: Jimmy Naraine, who has trained 315,000+ people on Udemy, and Mindvalley Founder Vishen, whose courses have earned nearly 500 million in revenueJoin the program

Written by
Jimmy Naraine - Quest Trainer
Tatiana Azman - Mindvalley Writer