The Ultimate 7-Step Guide to Building a Bestselling Online Course

by Naomi Jul 08, 2021

Call it a weakening of trust in the traditional education, exaggerated fee structures of full-time courses, internet penetration, or the masses’ will to learn as they earn, e-learning is on a massive rise.

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Research and Markets, in its report titled E-learning Market - Global Outlook and Forecast 2020-2025, valued the Global Corporate E-Learning Market at $50 Billion by 2026. And it’s not just corporate e-learning. It’s everywhere.

From advanced computer applications to Broadway music, in a world dominated by Internet speed and its easy availability, online courses are the rage. If one goes by Guru99, one of the leading online learning platforms, the online learning market is set to experience a 200% increase between the years 2020 to 2025. 

The reasons behind this growth could be the ease of access from remote locations, learning at a pace that one favors the most, the declining cost of e-Learning and increasing cost of on-site one, and the opportunity to get associated with the leading faculties of the world. 

 And it’s not just the students. The teachers, too, have realized that online courses are as beneficial for them as they are for the students taking them. But what are these benefits? Let's have a look.

Benefits of Selling an Online Course 

  • You get to teach what you are good at, at your own pace.  
  • You are directly responsible and connected, for the success of your students, which means the sense of achievement would be next to nothing when your students show growth.  
  • Teaching online courses could be a medium for professional brand and network building. If you are good at what you teach, and your students are thankful for that, then you have your ambassadors at some really good positions of the professional world singing your praises.  
  • It could help you promote your next-in-line products. So, say, if your online learning platform teaches funnel building, then you have the option of promoting, and selling, your web templates or book on internet marketing strategies at the right price.  
  •  Once a hit, it could be a source of a long-time passive income.   
  • An online coaching platform is seldom a slave to state boundaries. You could get students pouring in from all states and nationalities if you could get some good words out about your course.  
  • You probably have clients awaiting your next online course if the last one was of quality and a hit. 

And Now, Your Ultimate 7-Step Online Course Building Guide 

And Now, Your Ultimate 7-Step Online Course Building Guide 

1. It All Starts with an Idea

All Starts with an Idea

From what we saw above, it won’t be wrong to repeat that you can have an online learning platform just about anything till you are teaching anything that adds value to the lives of your students or clients.

You can teach Rock'n'roll or Jumba. You can have a short 3-week Amazon Forest survival training course or a 12-month long, online literary appreciation of the Jacobean era. It’s your choice. So how do you get to the topics to teach online about? Ask yourself a few, or all, of these questions before you decide on any topic. 

15 “Must Ask” Questions to Test Your Killer Online Course Building Idea 

  • Is my course providing something that’s not already available online?  
  • If yes, will the students be interested?  
  • If no, what makes my course different than the other online courses?  
  • Do I have the right research strategy to arrive at important conclusions that would affect my course of teaching?  
  • How long will it take for me to create this course?  
  • Will I need a team or will I be able to do it on my own?  
  • Do I have all the certifications required before I teach online?  
  • Will it be a certification program?  
  • Will it have expertise levels for learners who wish to get more of it?  
  • Will I need resources that might amp up the course creation cost?  
  • What will be the marketplaces that I could go for to host my material?  
  • Do I have the right set of communication skills required to convey my ideas best to my viewers?  
  • Do I have the right technology for the course available at the right cost?  
  • What will be my marketing strategies and budget for both the long- and short-term?  
  • How long will I be able to hang on to it if it doesn't fly as quickly as I had thought?

2. Conduct a Research to Sense the Learning Market’s Mood 

Conduct a Research

Just like with most of the businesses or books that aren’t planned or executed well, online courses fall flat too. Try checking it out for yourself. Month-long courses on some of the prominent e-learning marketplaces have zero to a few views months post their launch.  

You won’t feel good being a guest at that kind of party now, will you?    

Get online. Search what online courses sell the best. Look for elements that make them best. Do you need to write courses that must include videos or simple pdfs accompanied by a simple voice-over will do? What countries offer the biggest market? What is the right course length in your domain?    

You can check professional networking sites like LinkedIn to get answers to most of these questions. Most, not all. You can start a poll on professional as well as social networks.

If you are not getting the right results, then consider taking the help of market research agencies. They’ll take care of the polling and audience response parts for you. For the right price, of course. But don’t run with the risk of building an online learning platform first and then asking students whether they would be willing to join your course or not? 

3. Create Your Course  

Create Your Course  

Now is the time to finally get your course on paper. As we’re discussing online learning, your material should strike the right balance between text, images, audio, animation, and real-life videos.   

Text Files   

Let’s first have a look at the "Text" part of your online course. Simply using a text editor to write a .doc file won’t cut it. Remember, you might have to distribute your reading material across multiple channels, so consider using creating files with .doc, .pdf, .xml, .epub, etc., extensions. This is to ensure that your text files can be accessed using all kinds of file readers.    


Never make the mistake of thinking that animation is limited to e-Learning classrooms for k-12 kids. The animation might seem like a fun and mild-mannered way of going about teaching a classroom full of kids, but it’s as effective for adults.

As proof, you can switch on your TV set, put Discovery, History Channel, or National Geography on, and see how frequently and vividly they use animation to explain concepts in the most lucid way to their viewers.

You can get in touch with professional animators or animation studios that excel in making e-learning animation. Or, if you have some time to spare, you could try going for online animated video tools, such as Moovly, Animaker, Explee, etc.    


Say, you sell online fitness programs. And in that, you have a particular exercise that requires synchronized movement of shoulders, lower back, and hips. You think an animated video or paragraph that reads “12 up and down repetitions” would please your users?

That's where you’ll need to lead by example by showing your students how to do these movements right with your videos.   

For that, you must have a good camera, with appropriate lighting, a background that’s suitable for doing morning or evening workouts, and clear audio with a motivational music track in the background.

You could seek the help of a professional cameraman, or ask a friend of yours. The post-production would include cutting the background noises, using video filters, editing for video and soundtrack, length, etc.   

Now, shooting a video is somewhat an easy part. Making them available to your students is where your whole success lies. You can't just upload them on YouTube and then embed them on your website using the embed link. That way they are going to be available for free and no one is going to pay for them anymore.   

That’s where video hosting services such as Wistia, Vimeo, and DotcomPal come in. These video hosts also help you upload gated videos, which means that only people who have subscribed to your courses can view them on your website.

These video hosts also provide other important features such as video analytics, SEO, video player branding and customization, etc.    

But if you are planning to use an online learning marketplace such as Udemy, Teachable, or Skillshare, it becomes their responsibility to gate all your digital assets.

4. Build a Website (Highly Recommended) 

Build a Website

Not all online course sellers would recommend this. Especially once they have discovered that creating and marketing a course alone takes a big bite out of your daily schedule. And managing a website, no matter how good your tech team is, would only add fuel to the fire. And still, the ones who have been in this industry for long will tell you to go for it.

Why? Because having an online learning website of your own helps you in not one or two, but three ways. How? Let’s have a look.   

Helps in Online Reputation management   

Let’s say you’re a hit among your students and you’re getting good word of mouth. Now, what would be the most probable and logical step for a potential learner of your course? You guessed it right. Before they put in their money to enroll, they’re most definitely going to Google about your course.

And now you’re at the mercy of some third-party content creator, such as a blogger, a course reviewer, a YouTuber, etc. Can you afford to run with the risk of letting some random influencer deviate your potential subscribers run away from your course? No, right?    

That’s where well-coded, beautifully designed, and high-converting websites come into play. According to a study, 70%-80% of people do an online search with the company’s name before they make a purchase or visit their store. You can’t afford to leave that much potential in the hands of some third-party platform alone.   

One more advantage you’ve with your website is positive reviews and testimonials. Anywhere else on the internet you don’t hold the power to manage what people say about you. But your website’s testimonial section gives you all the power you could ask for when it comes to having an abundance of positive social proof for your product.

If you are worried about all that coding and designing that comes with website development and management, then don’t be. With DotcomPal’s drag-and-drop website and landing page builder, you can build a website in minutes, without having to write a single line of code.    

Aids Leads Generation   

When you engage with SEO, content marketing, paid ads, and other online marketing strategies the right way, people do end up on your website.

That’s how they come to know, or know more, about your online learning platform, and leave their information (name, postal code, email, phone numbers) if they’re interested, and that’s when they become a “lead”.    

From this contact information, you build yourself an email list that you could use extensively in the present or future to let your website visitors know about new courses, offers, discounts, etc.

Though the average lead –to-conversion ratio for a website is around 4% to 5% only, you could make it big by increasing the number of visitors to your website.   

Giving out free eBooks or short course videos for download to your website visitors is quite a strategy to gain trust. In case they find it helpful, or someone in their circle does, chances are they might come back to your website for more.   

You Don’t Have to Give Commissions on Every Sale You Make   

E-Learning marketplaces like Udemy charge course creators a part of what they make through them. Such costs are not hidden and neither are out of any malintent, but this practice might start bothering you sooner than you'd think.

But when you sell using your website, you don’t have to share your spoils with anyone. So thinking long term, you’d be able to cover the cost of your website’s development in saved commission. 

5. Promote Your Course Using Social Media 

Promote Your Course Using Social Media

Your course and website are both online, you're getting good words flowing in from every direction, so what’s left? That big push that no other medium could offer other than social media.

It’s no secret that a little more than half of the world population is on social media today, and a good chunk of it comprises the millennials; the target of many e-Learning platforms.   

And maybe that’s the reason why 73% of marketers believed that their efforts through social media marketing fell between “somewhat effective” to “very effective” for their businesses.

Promote your courses on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn using your testimonials, images, short video lectures, or be creative any way you want. But make your presence felt. 

6. Build Online Reputation Using Guest Blogging 

Build Online Reputation Using Guest BloggingAnd any good SEO practitioner worth his or her salt would tell you that one backlink from a reputed blog/website is worth more than a hundred of them from ones with lower domain authority. That’s why you need to write good blogs that popular and reputed websites would accept with your name as the author, giving your website a backlink in return.    

Good backlinks help you climb up the SERP (Search Engine Page Ranking) ladder, as evident by this statistic: The first ranking page on Google has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than positions 2-10 (source: uSERP) 

7. Build an Alumni Network for a Better Social Proof  

Build an Alumni Network for a Better Social Proof  

What makes Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, and other such Ivy league colleges so great? Is it the millions of dollars that they allot every year to research? Or is it the lush green college premise that could put the worlds’ best stadiums to shame? Or maybe it's the architecture, that could give the Buckingham palace a run for its money?    

Well, it’s all of these and one more thing. The alumni network. A reputed alumni network is one thing that no mediocre educational institute could replicate.    

“A total of 161 Nobel laureates have been associated with Harvard University.”, according to Wikipedia. And that’s what gives the university its power. It's students.   

Build a network of people that took your online classes and implemented your teachings in the most successful way possible. There is no better advertisement than a successful alumnus crediting his or her success to your teaching.

Creating an online coaching platform takes more than being a presentable, genius, and empathetic coach. Marketing, collaboration, team management, and an insatiable hunger for personal and professional growth are a must to keep your business compass pointed in the right direction.

That’s why you should try yourself introducing, and then mastering, to the concepts of social media engagement, online research, web technologies, customer retention, budgeting, and every other tool that could take you a step closer to your goal.