You’re probably here because you’re ready to take the first step in creating your first online course 一 choosing your online course topic. However, the first steps are where people usually tend to trip the most. You’ve made the wise decision of asking some questions before taking that journey in launching a successful online course. This short article may not be able to tackle all of those burning questions, but if you’re looking for concise and concrete tips to help you choose an online course topic, then read on.
How to Choose an Online Course Topic
The initial and most basic question online course creators have is, “How do I choose a perfect topic for my first online course?” You only need to think about one sentence to come up with the answer. Here’s the template that will help get you started:
My course teaches how to (learning objective) for (target audience).
All you have to replace the words in parenthesis with your own learning objective, target audience, and voila! You have a ready answer to anyone who asks, “So, what is your online course about?”
It also helps narrow down your subject matter and differentiates your online course from similar products on the market. There are plenty of online courses about home-cooking, for example. But an online course that “teaches how to cook vegan recipes for beginner home cooks” is more likely to stand out. People are more willing to click on something that addresses their specific needs, and they’re more likely to recommend it to their friends who are looking for it as well.
Choosing a Learning Objective
A learning objective is the online course’s primary goal一either knowledge or a skill that it promises to teach its students. When it comes to choosing a learning objective, you have to keep these questions in mind:
DO YOU KNOW HOW TO DO IT?
The most fundamental requirement is just being knowledgeable about the topic. You don’t have to be the foremost expert in the field, but a good rule of thumb is that you can’t teach something you can’t do yourself. You don’t necessarily need a Ph.D. in European Languages if your learning objective is “be fluent in Spanish,” but you do need to know how to speak Spanish better than your students.
ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT TEACHING IT?
Is this something you want to teach? After all, you’re going to be spending hours upon hours talking about it and making learning materials for it. Sure, you may know how to code using Python, but maybe you find it boring or tedious. That lack of excitement will show up in your online course, and people generally don’t want to learn from someone who isn’t as interested in the subject matter as they are.
IS IT FEASIBLE TO TEACH IN AN ONLINE COURSE?
Certain learning objectives would be difficult or even impossible to accomplish in an online course. Avoid making your online course objectives too ambitious, too vague, or require instruction that can’t be given remotely.
IS IT SOMETHING PEOPLE WANT TO LEARN?
When choosing an online course topic, we have to make sure people are willing to pay for it. A quick way to check is by researching the market. Seeing courses with similar topics to yours and having a lot of competition is actually a good sign because that means there’s a demand. There are also online course niches that will always be in-demand, such as courses on the creative arts, language learning, and, of course, anything that involves technology and online activities.
However, the best way to answer this question is by validating your online course topic and asking for public feedback.
Defining Your Target Audience
Now, let’s answer the question, “Who will we be teaching this online course to?” This will further refine your course topic because how you get to your learning objective varies based on who’s supposed to accomplish them. Consider the following factors when deciding who you want your online courses to cater to:
Is this an online course for novices, intermediate learners, or experts? Your target audience’s skill level will have a considerable effect on the content of your online course. As mentioned previously, your skill level must be higher than your students’. You can reasonably make online courses for beginners even without being a veteran in the field, but more seasoned professionals will be reasonably unhappy with an instructor without comprehensive expertise.
Some of the best-selling online courses combine all skill levels into an all-in-one boot camp following a student’s progress from beginner to advanced. Be prepared to invest a lot of time and effort, however, if you do plan to try your hand in creating one of those online courses. A short few hours of online videos isn’t going to be enough to cover everything, that’s for sure.
This relates to skill level in that professionals, those who make a living in your online course’s niche, get paid more doing it and, thus, are willing to pay more honing that skill. If your online course is for hobbyists or casual learners rather than working professionals, you would have to adjust your content and pricing accordingly.
Don’t require any learning materials that you think your target audience may not be able to afford. For instance, an online course on fitness with a routine that requires a particular set of exercise equipment risks losing students who aren’t willing to shell out money for it. Alternatively, you can appeal to people with lower disposable income by making an online course specifically tailored to those on a budget. In this case, think of another online course on fitness, but this time it teaches the best equipment-free ways of working out at home.
YOUR PRE-ESTABLISHED NETWORK
Chances are you’ve already interacted with your target audience. If you run an online business, then your clients will be the first to hear about and try out your online course on launch. They are the ones who are already paying you for your expertise. And they’re also most likely to promote it, recommending it to their friends if they like the online course. Since you already have a relationship with them, it’s easier to get feedback and know exactly what needs they’re looking to address.
And even if you don’t have an online business up and running, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a network. Look to your peers, friends, and family. What kind of people are they, and what kind of problems do you regularly help them solve? Have you created any content recently that impressed them or garnered their attention? If you grew up with your grandparents and constantly have to help them with their Facebook account, for example, then why not make an online course on social media management for retirees?
Choosing an online course topic may seem difficult and nebulous at first, but the solution is closer than you would believe. Just look to your experiences, your passions, and your relationships, and you’ll find that specific thing that you’re ready to offer up to the world. You don’t have to reinvent yourself to start an online course business. Just keep doing what already works.