4 Key Decisions to Make Before Creating Your First Online Course

August 31, 2023



That amazing idea lightbulb has officially gone off: you’re curious about creating your own digital course. I get questions from people at this point in their journey all the time, especially in this season of gearing up for my business BFF (and course creation mentor) Amy Porterfield’s Course Creation Bootcamp. I love seeing new people start to get curious about how a course could impact their life, their business, and their income. Spoiler: Online courses pack a BIG impact.

The first are the easiest to answer, which usually sound something like “How do I know if I should create a digital course?” Emphasis on the I. I’m always eager to answer this question, because it’s one of those true win-win situations.

First, your audience wins because they get more from you than they thought was possible — and more than you’d ever be able to give them through the usual channels, like social media, blogging, or even podcasting. And then it’s a win for you, no matter what your business is, because you get to finally create that side hustle, or add a revenue stream to your current business, or go digital with your non-digital business, or, honestly, be able to do what you do but spend less time at the wheel while your course serves for you. 

While a dozen more questions flood your brain, hit pause, because you don’t have to know all the answers in order to be able to create the best course for you and your future course students. Rather than listening to your doubts and what-ifs, or staring wide-eyed at a year-long process, focus on these four steps and simplify what can be an easily overcomplicated process when it definitely doesn’t need to be.

Clarity is key when creativity wants you to take off running! (Or give up before you even take that first step.) Give yourself a little space to slow down, get honest, and build a strategy as you think through 4 key decisions to help you craft a super clear, and likely more successful, vision for the online course you’re excited to make.

Decision 1: Choose Your Ideal Course Topic

Pulling your course topic out of the ether is where you need to begin, because getting excited about what you want to teach will help you drive through the process of building it — and, bonus, you’ll be excited to tell the world about your course because it lights you up, too.

Carve out time to shut out the world and let the discovery questions start flowing. What are the topics you’d find yourself talking about for free or without being prompted? What are the solutions people come to you for over and over again? What’s a part of your work that, for some reason, fills you up rather than drains you? What’s a part of your process, even a simple part, that you wish everyone knew how to do? What’s something you wish you could have known when you were just starting out?

As you examine your own journey, think about who you’re creating the course for. Who is your audience for this course? What are their struggles and aspirations? What’s something you wish you could share with them more in-depth but can’t seem to find the right space or time to do so?

Here’s where I will spoil a bit of a secret: there is no actual perfect course topic. What do you have the time and energy to create? Which topic aligns with what you’re ready to teach NOW versus what you want to teach in the next 2-3 years? Which topic would be something your audience would be super excited about? That’s the course topic to start with. But don’t throw your idea list away. Keep it for when you’re ready to create your next one!

Decision 2: Select Your Online Course Type

The next decision to make is choosing the kind of course you want to create. We know it’s digital, but that doesn’t mean all digital courses are alike! Based on the topic you choose, there might be a better way to deliver the information through how YOU teach and how your audience wants to learn!

Workbook: If your course topic would be something you want your audience to work through rather than primarily listen to you teach (i.e. lecture style), then you’ll want a course that feels more like a guided workbook that someone can work through. 

Video: This is the most popular option for course creators whether you’re face-to-camera or recording your screen as you review your slides!  If your topic needs to be visually guided, you’ll want a video course so your students can see the work being done (rather than just talked about.)

Audio: If your course topic needs a bit less distractions (like a meditation course, for instance!), then you might want a course that has audio that doesn’t require video for the content to makes sense. Your students can download and take with them on the go.

You’ll want to decide how hands-on or hands-off you will be for your students and course! Some courses work well without you needing to guide, cheer on your students, and motivate as they go through, and some definitely need that. So, would your topic work best with some LIVE classes featured once a month or even concentrated once a year? Or maybe your course topic would be best paired with a student community, like a Facebook, Slack, or Discord group, so you can stop in and drop your knowledge, updates, and keep the energy up!

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Decision 3: Pin Down the Right Course Price

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of figuring out that sweet spot for your online course price. Think of it as a blend of art and strategy – a dance that needs some thoughtful moves. Here’s your playbook:

  1. Know Your Value: First things first, you’re bringing unique value to the table. What’s your expertise worth? Take a moment and truly gauge the worth of what you’re dishing out. Consider your experience, the transformation you’re offering, and the hours of sweat equity you’ve poured into crafting this course.
  2. Size Up the Competition: It’s time to hit the dance floor with some market research. Take a look at what your peers are charging for similar courses. Not to copy, but to understand the rhythm of the market. Are you offering something more? Something extra special? Adjust your steps accordingly.
  3. Evaluate Budget: Let’s talk costs. What does it take to create, market, and maintain your course? Hosting platforms, tech tools, and maybe even some marketing moves – they all have a beat in this dance. Calculate these costs and make sure your price can keep your course grooving smoothly.
  4. Don’t undervalue yourself: Slapping on a low price tag can make you seem like a bargain-bin deal when you’re offering a five-star experience. Be confident in your worth and don’t be afraid to charge accordingly.
  5. Pilot Test It: Before you hit the grand stage, consider a soft launch. Offer your course to a smaller audience at a discounted rate. This not only helps you fine-tune your moves but also generates some testimonials that you can use to show your future students that your course is the real deal.
  6. Embrace the emotional factor: How do you want your audience to feel when they invest in your course? Remember, the price isn’t just about dollars – it’s about the value they’re gaining and the confidence + skills they’ll carry after progressing through your content.
  7. Consider your audience’s options: You don’t have to create a single price tag for your course. If you’ve evaluated your course and end up with a price tag that you think is both entirely fair but also might be a barrier, you can open payment plan options. Students can feel good about the investment, and you’re not selling yourself short!

Decision 4: Craft Your Audience Growth Plan

Your last piece in the course-creation puzzle is to figure out how you want to invite, or ‘lead’, your current audience into the course you’re creating! We know your course is going to be chock-full of value, but turning cold customers into warm customers into real students takes a bit of guidance. Just like trying the samples at Costco to see if you want the full size, you want to give them a chance to engage with what you’re teaching in easily approachable ways and build trust in you as their new favorite digital educator!

Giving them a chance to try your sample-size-style offer helps create a new segment of your audience, one that already likes you, but wants to get to know you more deeply as a course creator. When you’re planning what you’re going to offer as a ‘lead magnet’, think about your course as a sweater and what thread you can pull out to become your free, intro offer. Is there a part of the process you can expand on without taking value away from your course?

An example of this would be if you’re teaching a course on how to meal prep as a single person on a budget, you could create a freebie that teaches someone how to have a no-stress grocery shopping trip every other week for under $50. Or if you’re teaching a course on time management for people who work from home, you could create a freebie about 5 ways to distraction-proof your workspace!

Need some help with your course creation decision process and action-taking?

Save a seat beside mine inside Amy Porterfield’s LIVE 5-Day Digital Course Creation Bootcamp and get my best-selling IG mini-course absolutely FREE when you join!

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  1. Cintia says:

    Amazing post! Thank you ♥



Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life).  One of my favorite places to be is here, sharing what I'm learning with you. I'm glad you're here!



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