Creating Online Course Topics, Outlines, and Materials

An online course is a form of distance education where students can learn from the comfort of their homes. This type of learning is perfect for students who want to continue working or have other responsibilities that they cannot leave.

Creating Online Course Topics, Outlines, and Materials

What is an online course?

An online course is a form of distance education where students can learn from the comfort of their homes. This type of learning is perfect for students who want to continue working or have other responsibilities that they cannot leave. Additionally, an online course provides students with the opportunity to learn from anywhere in the world.

There are two main types of online classes: synchronous and asynchronous. A synchronous course requires all students to be online at the same time, while an asynchronous course allows students to access the materials at their convenience.

Advantages of taking online courses:

Confident young woman stating advantages


Students can learn at their own pace and in their own time. This is perfect for students who have busy lives and want to balance their education with work and other commitments.

These courses are also very flexible in terms of how they can be accessed. Students can access their courses from any device with an internet connection, whether it’s a computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

In addition, online courses offer a variety of delivery methods. They can be self-paced or paced to match the instructor's schedule. Most online courses allow students to work at their own pace, so they can fit learning around their schedule.


Students can learn in a variety of environments, such as their home, a coffee shop, or the library. They can also be completed at the student's own pace, which means that they can work on their course material when it is most convenient for them. Instructors can easily communicate with students through email rather than struggling to schedule time for in-person meetings.


Online courses can be cheaper than traditional courses, as there are often no commuting costs or textbooks to buy. Videos can also be reused and repurposed, making them an asset for instructors that can be used long-term over a variety of different products.


There are a variety of online classes available in a range of subjects, from business to history to science. This allows students to find the course that is perfect for them.

A variety of teaching methods are used in online courses, providing students with different learning opportunities. Some classes use a lecture format, while others have students complete tasks or projects.

This variety ensures that all students can find an online course that is suitable for them. Additionally, it allows students to learn in different ways, increasing their understanding of the topic.

Are online courses still profitable?

Pointing at a graph with a pen

Yes, online courses are still profitable. In fact, the global e-learning market is expected to grow.

This growth is being driven by a number of factors, including the increasing demand for workplace skills training and the growing popularity of online courses among students worldwide.

So, if you're thinking of selling online courses or starting an online school or other online course business, now is a great time to do so!

Do you have to be an expert to create an online course?

Expert stamp of approval

You should be able to show your knowledge by either having education or experience in your course topic area. It helps build trust and reassures the student that they are getting someone who knows what's up, which will create a better learning environment for everyone involved!

While it is possible to teach a course on any subject without expertise, this can be risky and ineffective. For example, many online courses are created by new instructors for novice students who may lack experience with the material at hand.

But these same teachers often do not know what answers would work best in certain situations because they have never faced those challenges themselves!

How do I create an awesome online course?

Robot artist begins to create a drawing

There are a number of steps involved in creating an online course. We'll cover them in the sections below.

What do I need to start an online class?


To start an online course for your online school you need to have:

  • A course topic
  • An outline of your course content
  • The ability to create materials and lessons for your students

Creating online courses

Online course of study

Creating an online course can be a great way to share your knowledge with the world and make some extra money on the side. Here are a few tips to get started with the online course creation process:

Choose a course topic

Your journey into the world of creating online courses starts with one essential step: choosing the right course topic. This step is critical, as it will define your online course creation journey and significantly influence the success of your online course business.

The first step in course planning is to choose a course topic that you are passionate about and know a lot about. This will make creating the course much more accessible and ensure that your students learn a lot. But your passion for a subject is only one piece of the puzzle.

Understanding the demands of your target audience and aligning your course topic with those needs can be the difference between creating a course that merely exists and creating a course that sells. The topic of your online course must be not only something you're passionate about but also something that your target audience is interested in learning.

Moreover, consider what unique angle or insight you can provide on the topic. With numerous online courses available, offering a fresh perspective or addressing a specific niche can help your course stand out.

When writing about a subject, having enough depth is critical. For example, if your course name is "Beginners' Guide to Fishing," the lessons should be simpler and more directed towards newcomers. You don't need to go into great detail when teaching such courses. It's critical for instructors to make their points clear to students.

In contrast, "How to Catch a 1000-Pound Striped Tuna" is a shorter and more succinct tutorial that may be taught by fewer people since it is targeted toward experienced anglers.

Because of this, the optimum depth varies considerably depending on the target audience for which the course is created. Choosing a topic is critical, and you should also check out other courses on the same main subject for ideas.


Once you have chosen a course topic, research what other courses are available on the subject. This will help you to see what topics you need to cover and how to structure your course. This can be done by reading books, articles, or blog posts on the subject. You can also watch videos or take courses related to your topic. Once you have a good understanding of your topic, it’s time to start creating an outline of the course content.

You also should be wary if there aren't any other courses on your topic. Although it's possible that you're the first one to come up with a new course idea that will be extremely successful, it's more likely that courses on that topic don't sell that well and you should find a topic that is more popular before wasting any of your time to create an online course.

Many course creators believe that their course idea will never work because they see other courses on the same topic. However, this means that there is a greater chance that people want this type of course. So it is a good idea to investigate the demand for your course idea more.

Conducting Market Research to Validate Your Course Topic

Once you've chosen a potential course topic, it's crucial not to rush into creating your online course content. You should first validate your course idea to ensure it has a viable market on platforms like Udemy. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do this.

Using Udemy's Marketplace Insights

Udemy provides a useful tool called 'Marketplace Insights' that allows you to gauge the demand and competition for various course topics. It provides invaluable data on student demand, search volume, and the number of existing courses on a specific subject. This tool can be instrumental in guiding your decision and setting realistic expectations for your online course's success.

Keyword Research

Another essential part of your market research should be keyword research. By determining what prospective students are searching for online, you can tailor your course topic and content to meet their needs. Google's Keyword Planner and other free online tools can provide insights into popular search terms related to your chosen topic.

Studying Successful Online Courses

Consider studying successful online courses on Udemy that align with your chosen topic. What are their key selling points? How do they structure their course curriculum? What kind of language do they use on their course landing page? While it's important to create unique course content, learning from successful course creators can provide valuable insights.

Gathering Feedback

Don't underestimate the power of simply asking your target audience what they want. Use social media, online forums, or even personal contacts to gather feedback on your course idea. Understanding your audience's needs and desires can provide a solid foundation for your online course creation journey.

Once you've conducted thorough market research and validated your course topic, it's time to move on to structuring your online course. The following section will delve into creating an engaging course outline and course content.

Create an online course outline

Once you have researched your topic, create a course outline. This online course outline will help you to stay on track while creating the course and ensure that all the important topics are covered. The outline is a map of your entire course that will help you create the course.

An engaging course outline is the backbone of your online course. It provides a roadmap, guiding your students through the course material in a logical and cohesive manner. A well-planned course outline can enhance learning outcomes and improve student engagement, crucial aspects for the success of your online course.

Understand Your Course Goals: Before you start creating your course outline, it's vital to understand your course's objectives. What should students achieve by the end of your course? Defining clear learning objectives will guide your course creation journey, ensuring every piece of content contributes to those goals.

Break Down Your Course into Sections: Once you've defined your course objectives, you should break down your course into manageable sections (usually called course modules). Each module should focus on a specific sub-topic or skill, leading the students progressively toward the course's overall goals. Breaking down your course content into modules also makes the course creation process more manageable for you as the course creator.

Your course outline should include a table of contents that outlines the modules and topics covered in your course. This will help students know what to expect and provide an easy reference for finding specific information.

Sequence Your Content: Order your modules logically, starting from simpler concepts and progressively moving towards more complex ones. Ensure each section builds upon the previous one, providing a seamless learning journey for your students.

Each module or category in your course should have its own outline. This will help you to stay on track and ensure that all the important topics are covered. The outline should include a list of topics covered in the module, as well as the time allotted for each topic.

Once you have your outline, you need to decide what information should be removed. Remove anything that is not related to the course's learning objectives.

Once you have the content ready, you can start working on fixing any structural concerns like complex topics. Breaking the information into small pieces will help your students learn it better and also help you prepare for your lessons.

Create content

Once you have created an outline, the next step of the online course creation process is to start creating course content. Make sure to write in a clear and easy-to-understand style so that your students can follow along.

Include Varied Learning Materials: For each course module above, include a variety of learning materials. Although video lessons are the mainstay of online courses, consider adding quizzes, reading materials, and practical exercises to ensure an interactive learning experience.

Record videos

A great way to create engaging content for your online course is to record videos. This will allow your students to see and hear you explaining the topics in the online course. The first video should be an introduction to your course. In the video, introduce yourself and give a brief overview of the course.

In the next video, explain a topic from the course. Be sure to use examples to help illustrate your points. Create another video for each additional lesson.

Finally, create a video conclusion for your course. Thank your students for enrolling and reiterate the main points.

Create quizzes and exercises

Regular assessments help students gauge their understanding and reinforce learning. To ensure that your students are learning, try creating quizzes and exercises. See if your students can answer them correctly and quickly. If they can't, then maybe you need to try a different method of teaching.

Market your online course

Once your online course is complete, there is one more step in your online course creation: marketing. After all, students won't enroll in your course if they don't know about it.

There are several ways to do this, such as creating a website, writing articles, and promoting it on social media.

The different types of online courses

Organized archive with ring binders

There are a variety of different types of online courses available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few of the most common types:


MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are a type of online course that is open to anyone who wants to sign up. This type of online course is perfect for students who want to learn about a variety of different subjects.


Micro-credentials are a type of online course that focus on a specific skill or topic. This type of course is perfect for students who want to specialize in a certain subject.


SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses) are a type of online course that is offered by a specific school or organization. This type of online course is perfect for students who want to learn about a specific topic from an expert in the field.


eLearning is a type of online course that uses technology such as videos, quizzes, and interactive exercises to teach a subject. This type of online course is perfect for students who want to learn about a variety of different subjects.


Bootcamps are a type of online course that focuses on teaching a specific skill, such as coding or Photoshop. This type of online course is perfect for students who want to learn a specific skill.

Tips for creating a successful online course

Top tips notebook

Creating successful online courses requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Here are a few tips to help you get started with creating profitable online courses:

Choose the right platform

The first step of online course creation is to choose the right platform (also known as a learning management system) to host your online course.

Different platforms have different features that can influence the type of course material you include in your course idea.

There are a number of different platforms available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, and all will help you to create a successful course. Here are a few of the most popular course platforms.

Create high-quality content

The most important part of creating a successful online course is to create high-quality content. This means writing in a clear and easy-to-understand style, recording videos, and creating quizzes and exercises.

Give your students small wins

A small win is a task or activity in your class that makes your students feel confident. These activities will keep your students excited about learning. Include small wins during the training, mostly for those who have successfully completed a challenge and are ready for the next one.

Engage your students

One of the best ways to keep your students engaged is to interact with them regularly. This can be done by answering their questions, commenting on their work, and providing feedback.

Utilize scaffolding

Scaffolding helps students learn. It is a way to build on what they know and make it more challenging. Scaffolding is done by gradually adding new information that builds on the old.

Promote your course

Once your online course is complete, it is time to promote it. There are a few ways to do this, such as creating a website, writing articles, and promoting it on social media.

Update your course

As time goes on, you will continue to learn new information and techniques. Make sure to update your course regularly to reflect this new information.

Start with a course marketplace

If this is your first course and you want to test the waters before investing in a learning management system then you can publish your course to a marketplace like Udemy. Then you can graduate to tools that let you better grow your business once you feel confident that students can learn from you and like your content. We typically recommend skipping course marketplaces and to start with more professional tools, but we understand that some new course creators might want to get their feet wet a bit before jumping headfirst into the water.

Things you should avoid when creating an online course

keep out sign between stones

Don't create a course that is too long

It is important to remember that students will only be willing to spend a certain amount of time on an online course. Make sure that your course is not too long or they will lose interest.

Don't overload your students with information

When creating content for your online course, make sure to break it up into manageable chunks. This will help your students to better understand the material.

Don't create a course that is only for experts

Make sure that your online course is designed for beginners and experts alike. This will make it more accessible to a wider range of students.

Don't forget about marketing online courses

Marketing your online course is a crucial aspect of creating it.

Social media promotion: This is the use of social media platforms to market an online course.

This can involve creating a profile for your course, writing articles about it, and promoting it on social media websites like Facebook or Twitter. Many course creators create Facebook groups to use as an online community for their courses.

Search Engine Marketing (SEO): SEO is a process that can be used to improve the ranking of your own website on search engines.

This can be done by optimizing the website for specific keywords and improving the quality of the content. These keywords should relate to the topics of your online course content to attract web searchers to your marketing material so that you can sell courses.

Email marketing: Email marketing is a type of marketing that uses email to promote a product or service (your online course, in this case) to your existing audience.

You can reach your target audience and promote your course by crafting effective emails.

Online course marketplaces: An online course marketplace is a website where students can find and purchase courses.

These websites typically have a large selection of courses to choose from, and they often offer discounts on multiple classes.

Create a free online course: A free online course lets students take their first course from you with no financial risk to see how you teach and make them feel more trust you when you start selling online courses.

Create a great sales page: A course sales page is a web page at your online school where potential students can learn more about your online course and how it can help them achieve their goals.

It should be well-designed and easy to navigate, and it should include clear information about the course contents, the price of the course, and the benefits of taking the course.

Don't forget to test your course

error robot poster

It is important to test your online course before releasing it to students. This will help you to catch any errors and make the necessary changes.

Creating an online course can be a daunting task, but following these tips will help you to create a successful online course that your students will enjoy.

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