How To Create an Online Course That Sells

Published by Lerna on

This is step-by-step guide to create an online course that sells and your students love
This is step-by-step guide to create an online course that sells and your students love

We’ll be going over how to structure and create an online course that sells and helps your students achieve their goals!

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It may seem almost impossible and overwhelming when you actually sit down and begin outlining your online course. 

Ideas may churn, but you may not know exactly how much information to include or how to best convey that information to your students. I’m here to tell you that there is a formula and a process you can use.

The formula allows you to structure your online course to convey the greatest amount of information without overwhelming you with weeks of work. You’ll find you can get all your online course information down on paper in as little as a week!

In order to create online courses that sell, you need to make sure that your students are fully captivated. When you sell a course through Lerna, your students get immersed in your content because they’re incentivized when they complete homework.

All your courses are in a hub where the students get positive reinforcement for doing their work. This means, less drop-off and more people actually coming back to your content and future content! 

  1. What can you teach?

    Your step one is finding a profitable course idea. The key word here is PROFITABLE.

    Let’s assume you’re an amazing chef that specializes in healthy salads. You can 100% make an online course on different types of greens and veggies which can be used in a salad.

    The online course can go into scientific names and how the veggies have been incorporated historically. This will garner some interest and it might sell a few copies. 

    What’s better? Teaching a course on how to put together a myriad of salads based on flavor profiles of the different greens!

    There are a lot more people out there simply looking to learn how to impress their friends and loved ones! That means the student will gain the skill of becoming a salad chef in their own right.

    See what the difference is? One caters to the students’ intellectual growth and the other is a lot more actionable.

    So, think about your skills and what you’re good at. Can you pass on information that will enhance somebody else’s skill in that area? Think about ways you can improve someone else’s life when deciding on the course topic.

  2. Start with an online course outline that guides student

    At Lerna, we guide your course creation by asking you to create chapters. Within these chapters, are videos that tie into the main theme of the chapter.

    Think of your course creation process in terms of overarching chapters first. Then, organize the information by the individual skills your students can learn. These will be your videos that will guide your student through the chapter.

    Create an online course that sells how to create an outline

    Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

    You’ll find yourself reorganizing some chapter titles and the content inside them as you start writing your content. That’s perfectly normal and, in fact, should happen. You’ll get a clearer idea of what you need to include when you start filling in the content.

    You can use a tool like Excel or Google Spreadsheets to organize your course outline. For our first course, we used Evernote. Each chapter was a separate note in the notebook. 

  3. Review your online course titles

    Be descriptive with your outline titles. This is what a student looks at before deciding whether to buy the course, so the titles need to give them an idea of what they’re getting into.

    The titles of your individual chapters serve as a syllabus for your student. When I land on a course page, the first thing I do is scan the syllabus to see if it will cover the topics I’m looking to learn.

    Be clear and concise, giving the students a complete overview of your course. At the same time, think about what will entice the student to want to know more! Make the title compelling.

  4. Start pre-selling and selling before it’s all complete

    Most people are really surprised at this. You should start selling the course before it’s ever finished. 

    I know, this is VERY scary. What if something happens and you can’t finish?

    You will. You’ll actually be more motivated to finish when you start hearing feedback from your students! And this is one of the primary reasons you should launch your course before it’s complete. 

    Your students will let you know if they’d like you to talk about a certain element more. They’ll also let you know if your video or audio are not up to par.

    These are changes you can make on the go and make sure that you are producing content your students want and need!

  5. Get to the point

    You need to consider the value you’re providing with every single chapter, or module, in your course. Your student is ultimately there to learn something new. Therefore, your main focus should be to give them valuable information.

    This means that if your graphics aren’t that great or you’re worried about how you appear on camera, it ultimately DOESN’T MATTER if you’re delivering value!

    How to Create an Online Course That Sells

    Photo by Sam McGhee on Unsplash

    Your audience is looking for a transformative experience. Give them what they’re looking for and don’t worry about the rest! Just put yourself in their place and think about what you’re looking for when you look for a course.

  6. Deliver Results

    We’re all about results at Lerna, that’s why we launched an incentivized platform to begin with! 

    You should be giving your students MANY opportunities to get rewarded for their work and see results. An easy way to do this is to provide students with homework or actionable items in every chapter.

    The best way for information to stick is for the student to apply it immediately after learning. As soon as a student completes a chapter, give them an actionable item.

    This is where the homework assignments come in. Let the students apply what they learned in the chapter immediately so the information sticks.

  7. Give them an incentive!

    That’s right, while others might be struggling to provide meaningful incentives, we here at Lerna got your back!

    Your students need to feel rewarded often. Think about your own wins and a strategy for keeping yourself motivated. Whenever you achieve a goal, it’s helpful to have a little reward. It’s a little ‘job well done’ reward.

    In a similar fashion, your students should have a little reward that tells them they did a good job.

  8. Don’t overburden your students

    You don’t need an hour-long video per lecture. In fact, it’s to your disadvantage to have very long lessons.

    People have decreasingly shorter attention spans, and you need to cater to the fact that your students might not want to sit through a long lecture.

    Your best bet is to deliver your videos in short, bite-sized pieces. Remember, you can upload slides, presentations, videos and text transcripts when creating the course on Lerna. You have unlimited time to perfect your course outline and edit your content.

    Your students can preview the length of each video before they start watching, so they can determine whether they have the time to complete a chapter and plan ahead.

  9. Price the course with value

    Here’s the deal, we’re giving students an extra bonus to complete the work. This means that any course, even the free ones, would require an initial payment up front from the student.

    I.e. since every homework assignment costs $10 and each chapter requires a homework assignment, even a course with one chapter that you want to give away for free will have a $10 homework at the end.

    This may seem like you’re missing out on a lot of students because you need to charge even if you’d like to warm the student up with free information!

    I’m going to say this as gently as I can: you’re wrong.

    While we fully believe in free information, it usually doesn’t give students with an opportunity to take themselves and their work seriously.

    Yeah, our brains work in mysterious ways. We can’t unwire how we’re wired, so we have to work with what we’ve got!

    When pricing your course, don’t undervalue your information. Students are more likely to be motivated when purchasing a higher priced course. And they’ll still have an opportunity to earn themselves a discount if they work hard!

Ready to earn?

Launch your course on Lerna for FREE. No monthly fees. No restrictions.

Main Photo by Courtney Clayton on Unsplash


Lerna incentivizes online course learning with a cash-back program for completion of course homework. The more course-work students complete, the more they can earn back from purchase price. We're here to see you succeed!

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