How to identify, market and sell your expertise through online courses
Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning I may earn a small commission if you end up purchasing or utilizing the service I recommend. I ONLY recommend things that I stand behind with 100% conviction and use myself.
I was recently asked how I learned to make online courses. I was first inspired to make an online courses after interviewing Kat Norton, aka, Miss Excel on my podcast in 2021.
After 6 months of "sitting" on the idea, here were the steps I took to build my first online course, "Becoming An Online Executive Function Specialist," which has generated over $5,000 in income for me in the first 7 months of releasing it.
Step #1: Decide on your course topic
The most important first step is decide on your course topic. One of the easiest ways to choose a valuable course topic is to identify the topic that people come to you over and over about. For me, I am always answering questions about executive function coaching: how I do it, what strategies I use, etc. If you are wondering how to define your topic, try a free module from my new course which will take you through identifying your value proposition for clients.
To break it down for you here, your value proposition is your offer to clients. If you can complete the sentence below, you have a value proposition:
My course... (name of your course)
Helps... (demographic you will serve)
Overcome…(specific challenges they have)
By teaching them…(skills they will develop with you)
So they can…(what outcomes and overall transformation do they experience after taking your course)
Once you've fleshed this out, you will have a better idea of what your course subject, title and transformation offer will be.
Step #2: Identify the pain points of your course audience
Once you know your course subject and who it will be for, the next step is to REALLY understand their pain points and what is getting in the way of them reaching their goals. The easiest way to do this is to ask them!
Go on to the Facebook groups and forums where your ideal course customer is sending time and ask them lots of questions about their challenges in reaching their desired outcome. Because my first course is titled, "Become an online executive function specialist," it was my job to figure out what was getting in the way of people becoming an online executive function specialist.
Once you know the most challenging factors getting in the way of your ideal clients reaching THEIR goal, you can then convert those challenges into course modules or chapters.
Step #3: Create an outline of your course
Now that you know the pain points of your ideal customer, you can turn those pain points into modules that will guide your course participants to reaching their ideal transformation. In the same way that you would write an outline for an essay, write an outline for your course.
Keep your course to around 6 chapters or module. Anything more and you will probably want to create another course. You want to focus on the most critical challenges your potential clients are facing so you can add lots of value to their lives and help them quickly reach their desired transformation. For each chapter, break down the key steps or process you will guide them through so you can share this in your pre-enrollment period.
For me to complete this step, I used the process in Brian P. Moran's book, The 12 Week Year. This helped me think in terms of 90 day cycles, rather than setting a goal that I would reach by the end of the year. You can hear my interview with Brian here where we discuss how this process can be applied in more detail.
Step #4: Create a pre-enrollment landing page
This is the step I didn't take at first, but that I do every time I create a course now. Once you have your course title, modules and key strategies, activities and steps you will share in each module, you want to pre-sell the course to make sure it is something people will actually pay for (before you spend hours and hours building it).
I decided to use Thinkific to host my course and the neat thing about Thinkific is that they have a pre-sell template you can fill in to create a pre-sell landing page and link. Thinkific also provides a lot of guidance and support on how to create your course, so if you follow their FB group, subscribe to their email list, and use their help videos, you will learn A LOT.
Step #5: Sell your course!
Now that you have your landing page, outline, and dream client, you job is to sell your course. My preferred method to sell my course is to create a webinar in which I do an overview of my course and answer any questions that people ask me individually, to the whole class.
Another thing that is really helpful is to sign up for a more experienced course creators webinar and see the small strategies they take to sell their course. Because Kat Norton was so influential on my course creation journey, I joined for her webinars and learned her whole process (I also bought her course -- she is SO good). Learning from others to create your own approach is the way to go.
Additionally, I am CONSTANTLY reading books on how to increase my course sales. Here are the top five books that helped me come up with my sales approach for my course:
Step #6: Update and improve your course to increase its value
Lastly, get feedback from course participants to see what they would like to see different or in-addition to what you created. Remember, it's not what you want to share, its what THEY want you to share. When you are creating content that directly addresses their need, you are going to be a success.
The most important thing is MINDSET. If you want to create a course and you are willing to put the work in, it’s only a matter of time before you will be successful (but it does take months or even years, so you need to be patient).
If this article was helpful to you, subscribe to my email list to get my monthly updates that include my new podcast episodes, blog articles and offerings. And if you are ready to double your tutoring income in the next six months, enroll in one of my courses and join the community!
About the author:
Sean McCormick is a parent, husband and international executive function coach. He is the founder of Executive Function Specialists, an online coaching business which guides middle, high school, and college students in overcoming procrastination, disorganization and anxiety by teaching time management, prioritization and communication skills so they feel motivated, prepared, and empowered.
He has also spoken about executive function at prominent venues including the Association of Educational Therapists' National Conference, at the Athenian School and on the Qualified Tutors Podcast.
And last but not least, Sean has hosted over 50 episodes the Earn More Tutoring Podcast with a mission to eradicate educator poverty. The show recently surpassed 8,000 downloads.
Sean is regularly featured across media channels for his expertise on executive function, ADHD and special education.