If you don't want to spend as much time and money marketing your course, you can always try to sell your content on course marketplaces with existing audiences. Here are 10 you may want to consider.
11 Places to Get Expert Course Creation Training for Little to No Cost
You've probably heard there can be big money in selling courses online. Fortunately, you don't have to spend a fortune to learn how to do this as there are several free and very low cost guides and courses we have collected for you below.
If you are new to course creation, I suggest you read through all of these resources, take notes, and start building a foundation of knowledge in course creation. If you do, you will probably be far ahead of your competition that has not invested the time in learning how to do course creation right from the start and avoid costly mistakes and missed opportunities.
The goal here is to strategically leverage the knowledge of several different people and companies who have strong experience in course creation. The goal isn’t necessarily to copy everything they recommend, but to tap into their minds and understand the thinking behind what they are suggesting.
Pay attention to:
- Common tips between these resources – if they are all saying the same thing, it is probably a fairly good practice to follow
- Unique tips – are there any insights that are unique to a particular resource? Ways to generate ideas, how to do market research, how to test a course, etc.
- Tips you know are valuable – make a running list of tips that you know you will use later. Start building a knowledge bank now that you can come back to when developing and marketing your course
- What questions do you still have that need answering? Make a list for further research.
The resources and guides listed below are from sources we found to be knowledgeable and experienced in course creation. Reading some random blogger isn’t going to be very helpful. You need insight from people who have actually succeeded in course creation.
Some of these are absolutely fantastic – especially for being completely free. Of course these companies want you to buy their product or enter their sales funnel but might as well take advantage of the great advice.
Guides from Course Creation Platform Companies
These companies have a vested interested in training people to design and sell successful courses using their technology platform. Leverage what they are teaching their customers and potential customers to learn from their expertise without having to pay anything for their service.
#1 – Thinkific – Create and Sell Online Courses: Step by Step Guide
Thinkific is a leading software platform for creating and selling courses online. This large, 14,876 word guide, covers the basics of course creation and marketing.
The guide starts with a few different strategies for how you can use courses as a way to increase revenue beyond affiliate marketing or ads or as a way to support other existing products like software. Courses can be a great way to train people on how to use a product that has a learning curve so they don’t get frustrated and end up leaving for a competing product.
Other topics and ideas mentioned in this guide:
- Generate course ideas through surveying your audience
- Create a course as an extension of a book by going deeper into the topics covered
- Test the market demand for your course by pre-selling it before you even start working on it
- Using pilot courses to test your market before creating a full length course
- A method for outlining your course content by creating milestones and steps you can then turn into lessons
- A few tips on how to make your content educational, inspirational, and entertaining
- Advice on pricing your course and why avoiding a low price is wise
- Ways to think about how much your course is worth to your audience
- Tips on how to add value to increase course price
- Questions to ask in order to produce results-oriented sales copy
- 10 elements of a successful sales page
- Elizabeth Rider’s seven figure success story in moving from a blog to 1-1 coaching to a course
- Tips on how to use free content to get readers into your sales funnel
- Advice on how to help students succeed through your course
This sensational 12,000 word guide from course delivery platform Podia is spread out over eight chapters. The content includes deciding if selling a course is a good fit, getting ideas for a course, creating a plan and outline, building out the course content, deciding on a price and launch model, using email marketing and writing a sales page.
Overall, the content of this guide is so good they probably should have created a course out of it and sold it.
To get a taste of the content offered in this guide, here is a video that is connected to the first chapter on deciding whether or not you should create a course:
One of the tips in the very first section addressed the fear of not knowing enough to feel like you can create a course. The way you do this is thinking in terms of solving problems. If you can solve your audience’s problems, you can create a course.
The reason why this works is that people aren’t just interested in information. They can Google information for themselves. What they want are solutions. They want to be able to do something. If you can walk them through key steps to solving those problems, you have something they want. Most people will not put in the time to research and find solutions for themselves.
Another great tip if you don’t feel like an expert is simply not to cast yourself as one. The guide cites Jimmy Daly, an experienced course creator who offered three clever ways you can avoid the expert problem. You can put yourself in the position of a novice who is taking your audience on a learning journey. Chart your progress and what you learned. That way your audience can go with you and learn as you do. Another solution is to cast yourself as an analyst or an experimenter. Run experiments and share your findings. Lastly, you can simply interview experts and collate their knowledge into course form.
Other highlights of this guide:
- How creating a course can serve as lead generation for other aspects of your business, create connections and trust with your customers, and a springboard to upsell additional products
- Why you shouldn’t worry about creating courses in competitive markets
- A method of surveying a small amount of people to identify challenges they are having with a particular topic that you could solve in a course
- Using Reddit as a market research source to identify problems people are having you could solve in a course
- A method of finding the intersection of topics you are passionate about which would also be profitable course options
- Pros and cons of different media formats (video, pdf, text, audio)
- Tips on naming your course by using precise language that tells what problem you are solving
- Money back guarantee tip – make it 60 days so it isn’t a rush to get through the material and require students to show they have done the homework in order to get the refund.
- Email capture tips – give away to subscribers: turn an old blog post into a pdf, create a checklist of things to solve a problem, make a list of tactics or ideas
- Example 5 email sequence designed to create interest and get people to sign up for your course
#3 – Teachable’s Massive Course Creation Bundle
Teachable offers a downloadable zip file that contains pdfs and spreadsheets that support the development of a course through seven different steps. Step 1 is the idea phase and the bundle includes a pdf with a list of questions that will help you understand yourself and your target audience that will help you narrow down course options. The second step included a course price calculator spreadsheet which, depending on which of the list of features you want to include, adjusts the suggested cost of the course up or down.
The third step included a link to a video tutorial on creating an email based course (we’ve included the tutorial below:)
This step also included a spreadsheet of potential online communities where you could market your course from Facebook groups to Reddit forums to other suggested places to search for an audience.
The fourth step includes a spreadsheet to help you with projections on how much the course will cost you to develop and how much you might be able to earn at different price points. The fifth step includes two pdfs on creating sales and landing pages.
The sixth step includes a 33 page PDF on how to create content for your online course. This is probably what most of you might be looking for. There is also a PDF with some suggestions for video equipment grouped into three pricing tiers.
The last step includes a link to a video tutorial on how to launch webinars and a PDF with Teachable’s email launch sequence which includes what emails to send potential buyers on what days. It’s a nice template for those who don’t have any experience or strategy with their email marketing.
Overall, this is a nice kit and worth downloading to understand a method for course planning, creation, and marketing.
#4 – Articulate – e-Learning for Beginners (free ebook)
Articulate 360 is a higher end elearning technology platform that commands a higher annual price than services like Teachable and Thinkific. However, for merely the time it takes you to register for free, you can get access to several free ebooks related to course creation, design, and elearning in general.
The “E-Learning for Beginners” ebook is a 63 page pdf that introduces the concept and benefits of elearning and then walks readers through the creation process, making elearning effective, and distribution.
The ebook isn’t terribly in-depth in any one subject but is meant more to educate you on the principles of the design and delivery process. The target audience is more geared toward corporate culture but because it isn’t a long read-through, its probably worth your time.
Once you are done with that one, you can check out their other free ebooks on multi-device e-learning, effective strategies, typography, accessibility, visual design, building compelling interactions, and creating great videos.
#5 – LearnWorlds – The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Online Course
LearnWorlds is another all-in-one course authoring and selling solution like Teachable or Thinkific. This particular guide is about 6,000 words and offers tips from getting ideas, types of courses you can design (Masterclass, Coaching, MOOC/Massive Open Online Course, Corporate Training, Mini-Course, and Software training and tutorials), and on to the creation and marketing of a course.
The guide includes a nice section on creating instructional goals for your students and how to write out learning objectives and what activities you might wish to attach to each. There is also some helpful pricing information (which is offered more in-depth here) and why shouldn’t price your course less than $100.
This guide is a bit leaner than the first two but offers some unique tips and is worth a read.
#6 – Raccoon Gang – Creating Online Courses: a Step by Step Guide
Raccoon Gang is another company that offers an online learning management system called Open edX. Their guide is 3,500 words long and follows the ADDIE model of Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate.
The guide is clearly marketed to larger businesses with teams of people that can handle each aspect of the course design. If you are a solo operator or work with a small team, just learn from the concepts in the guide rather than feeling like you have to emulate every point.
The reading is a bit dry but the basic model the guide follows is logically sound and a helpful framework to think through as you plan out your course.
Guides from Professional eLearning Trainers
Moving on from the technology providers, we now focus on a couple of guides offered by professional elearning trainers. These people make a living training course developers and marketers and have had quite a bit of success in this market. Their paid training courses are expensive, but these free guides are a nice entry into their expertise.
#7 – Mirasee – 7 Steps to Create an Online Course That Doesn’t Suck
Mirasee is the company created by author and trainer Danny Iny who has written the well-regarded books “Teach and Grow Rich” and “Leveraged Learning.” He also offers a course called “Course Builder’s Laboratory” that is around $6,000.
Skip the expensive course and take some time reading through this free 11,000 word guide instead.
The main concepts in this guide:
- Focusing on the happiness of your students as the primary goal of your course
- Leveraging the strategies of creating a pilot course and co-creation to minimize the risk of high creation cost that ends up failing in the marketplace
- Co-creation is getting students to help you build the course by actively seeking their feedback and observing how they interact with your pilot course. The idea is getting your students to show you how to teach them.
Compared with other guides already mentioned, Mirasee has a unique and intriguing approach to course creation. From the very beginning they advocating being in close contact with your target audience and using various methods to understand their problems and how you can go about solving them.
This guide is well-worth your time to read to understand the thinking behind Mirasee’s unique process and whether you want to adapt it for yourself.
Helpful Resource – Steps in Creating an Online Course Using a Market-Driven Approach
#8 – Jeanine Blackwell – The Expert Called You (free ebook)
Jeanine Blackwell is another trainer who has had a lot of success teaching others how to make money through course creation. Her free 168 page ebook is an entry into her sales funnel which also includes access to a webinar and community.
The ebook focuses around the success stories of 8 experts who leveraged their personal knowledge and skill in the information marketplace. Their stories are integrated with the following 6 steps (I’ve changed the wording on some of these to make them more clear): 1) Identify Your Sweet Spot, 2) Choosing the Right Audience, 3) Focusing on Transformation, 4) How to Structure Offers and Create Repeat Customers, 5) Your Financial Model, and 6) Automate & Systematize to Scale.
Although the book will take a bit longer to get through then some of these other guides, the pages tend to be short and include lots of graphics.
#9 – Foundr – How to Create an Online Course Like Foundr
Foundr is an online magazine targeted to entrepreneurs. The company created a course called “Instagram Domination” that became a huge success for them. This article is an outline of the principles they used in the process.
One fascinating tip mentioned in the article is that the course actually arose from a blog post on Instagram marketing that went viral. Readers wanted more in-depth information and even inquired about paid 1 on 1 coaching. The result was developing a course to serve the demand.
The company hasn’t just sat on their initial success. They continue to revise, improve, and update the course and are now in their third iteration.
Low Cost Paid Resources
If you worked through all that free material, you may be wanting more. Now you can tap into some low cost courses on how to create a course.
For what you get, the price of these courses is very low and should be seen as a cheap investment into your education and success. Plus, stats show that people tend to finish courses more when they actually pay for them so hopefully you will be a finisher and learn from the success of these people.
#10 – Udemy Freedom Blueprint (Musicians Inspired)
Typically on sale for $11.99. I purchased the Udemy Freedom Blueprint recently but haven’t gotten too far yet. I was particularly impressed by the good user reviews and how the course creator walks you through success on Udemy.
Although I don’t plan on selling on Udemy at the moment, what I want to get out of this course is understanding the process and if it can be adapted to other formats. The author claims there is a process you absolutely need to follow in order to get Udemy behind your product and start promoting it through their advertising network on their site.
The course is only 4.5 hours long and you should get a good understanding of how Udemy thinks about course marketing.
#11 – Udemy Masters: Learn Online Course Creation (Phil Ebiner)
Typically on sale for $11.99. Phil Ebiner is a top instructor on Udemy with over 1,000,000 students and 96 courses. Might as well learn Udemy course creation from one of the top guys doing it.
You can view an expanded outline of his Udemy Masters course on the course page. The main sections include validating your course topic and designing an engaging course, creating the course, publishing and promoting, growing your brand and income, and question and answer.
For Udemy courses, don’t expect them to be of the same caliber as courses that cost hundreds of dollars. It’s probably better to see these as more detailed overviews that are step up from the free written guides.
If you’ve done your homework and gone through all the resources above, you are probably far ahead of the vast majority of your competition.
The key here is to synthesize the ideas you’ve read and start building a course for yourself. Not every idea you’ve read will be helpful for your particular situation, but the principle or reason behind the idea might be something you could adapt for your success.
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