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The internet connects us all, and its existence has been directly responsible for the birth and growth of countless industries – eLearning being one of them.

The eLearning industry has empowered people all over the globe to acquire specific knowledge, qualifications, and skills by taking courses that are delivered exclusively online, and that are accessible from virtually anywhere in the world. Not only are online courses fantastic for people who want to learn, they are also incredibly rewarding for those who want to impart their knowledge and teach others the skills they’ve worked hard to acquire.

You might fancy yourself as someone with a flair for teaching, but how do you know if creating an online course is going to be the best way for you to go about delivering your content, or if it will even be profitable for you?

Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself before you jump straight into creating an online course:

1. Is your course topic suitable for online delivery?

Just because a subject is taught in an offline setting (like a classroom, for example), does not mean that the same topic can be taught online effectively. Here are some things to consider before you assume that your course topic can or should be taught online:

  • Consider your subject matter carefully and think about how you might present your lessons and if engaging with your students is required.
  • Does your course require one-on-one tutorship? If it does – you’ll have to limit the number of places available on the course.
  • If your subject matter has any kind of safety element or requires practical assessment elements you might be better served delivering part of the course online and to arrange for practical lessons through the appropriate channels.
  • Where safety legislation is involved it’s unlikely that online course creation is going to be your best option. Presenting safety training videos as part of employee training could however be the perfect subject matter if the tutor is performing the tasks in order to assist learning, such as showing how to correctly lift heavy items or teach people the basics of first aid.

Understanding exactly what should and shouldn’t be taught in an online environment is very important. Communicating your expertise and certifications will help give validity and credibility to your course but never ask students to practice anything which might place them in danger. Online courses are, in most cases, unsuitable for that kind of training.

2. Do you have the skills to teach online?

Another important thing to consider is your ability to teach online effectively. The brilliant thing about eLearning is that it’s adaptable. Most online course platforms (including Thinkific) allow you to include different types of media in your course content. But including different types of media in your course doesn’t necessarily make you an effective teacher.

  • Do you have any experience teaching people in other environments? (in a classroom, webinars, workshops, one-on-one, etc.)
  • Are you prepared to adapt your content and communication style to accommodate different learning styles?
  • Are you capable of organizing your knowledge about a specific topic into logical and sequential lessons?
  • How will you ensure your students are ready and able to implement what you teach them?

3. Who is your course intended for?

A common mistake that a lot of course creators make is assuming that everyone will be interested in taking their course. But like any product or service, there is a specific target audience that your course will most appeal to. Understanding who your target audience is a critical step in creating your course. Plus, knowing your target audience will help you create the best possible learning experience for your students.

  • Who is most likely interested in taking your online course? Who is your target market?
  • What are their demographics (age, income, profession, etc.)?
  • What result do they most want to learn to achieve from taking your course?
  • How do they want to consume your content? All at once? Over an extended period of time?
  • What other courses or training products have they purchased? What was their experience with them?
  • How much are they willing to pay to learn your topic? How will they pay for your course?

4. Why would people buy your online course?

There are plenty of books, journals, videos, podcasts and other resources available on just about any topic. What do you have to offer through your course that makes it worthwhile? Since there is an overwhelming amount of free and inexpensive information available online, what separates you from these competing resources is how you organize and convey that information. In other words, how you teach.

There are lots of different learning styles and even more teaching styles. Will you be providing a course delivered partly in video and partly in text modules? Online courses are developing at a rapid rate, if you want to be competitive, you need to offer formats that allow busy, easily distracted people to easily consume and retain that information.

  • You are the expert. People need to trust your course is of great quality, otherwise, why would they pay for it. If you’re not the expert on the subject being delivered, make sure you have a tutor available that is. You may decide to employ the services of a number of people and each of them needs to be credible and available to an extent.
  • You understand digital delivery. To deliver an educational module online, it’s only fitting you should understand how digital communication works and be able to guide those students who may not. You’ll likely include discussion features in your course or use social media to create a private group for your students.

5. How passionate about your topic are you?

As with any business idea or venture, you need to ask yourself why you’re doing it in the first place — and if it’s not because you love it, then why do it? Having expertise on a specific topic and the ability to teach others is a great reason to create online courses. There is also an abundance of online course creation tools available that make it easier for you to build an online course business. But whether this is for you also comes down the how much time you have and how much you want to give.

  • The administration of managing a course and responding to questions and queries needs to support the quality of the brand you’re proposing. You must be able to supply value for money, and you must be genuinely interested in your students’ progression.
  • If teaching is a passion, your first online course may form part of a much wider business plan. How many courses do you see yourself delivering and how much time, effort, and money can you realistically commit to making it happen? Consider what your business MVP (minimum viable product) would look like: it may help give you some clarity on feasibility and timescales.

Creating an online course can be a very rewarding experience

Creating, marketing and delivering are equally important elements of your course and big factors in deciding if online course creation is for you. The good news is that you have Thinkific, the all-in-one solution for creating and delivering online courses, at your disposal.

But remember: just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come. Once your course is up and running, be prepared to start marketing your online course to attract new students.

Being an online educator can be a rewarding experience, offering others the chance to learn from you and improve their lives in some way. It can also be a very lucrative addition to an existing occupation, or an entirely new revenue stream that scales with you.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and create your first online course, you’ll find plenty of helpful resources and a supportive community right here on Thinkific. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up being their next success story!

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Create An Online Course @myecommercetips Click To Tweet

Patrick Foster is an eCommerce expert who has been helping people set up and run successful eCommerce businesses for over a decade. He coaches small startups and writes for a variety of business and eCommerce publications.