How to create your online course

Nov 23, 2020

When you are going to create your online course, it is good to think in advance what your participant will get from this online course. What will he or she achieve with your online course? The quality is more important than the length of your online course.

The quality of an online course does not depend on the size or length of the online course, but on the quality.

This article covers the following components:


A great long course has more value. You don't have to! That misunderstanding is widespread and persistent. Many entrepreneurs think they have to make a course of 16 modules and many lessons before they get something right.

But the danger of a long course is that your students will drop out and become demotivated. And therefore they do not complete your course. They don't come to the end. And you have no success stories because nobody finishes your course.

To make a high-quality online course, it is important that you can actually complete the course for your participant. And that is why you have to make a course that is manageable for them. And which is inviting to actually get started.


What is the difference between an online course, online training, online program?

The terms online course, online training and online program all refer to the same thing. All three courses are offered over the Internet, often with pre-recorded videos. You can follow these lessons in a closed learning environment. The term online course is the most neutral and causes the least confusion.

In the Netherlands, people tend to speak of an online program. In Belgium this is referred to as online training. An online training course may sound bigger and heavier than an online course, but in fact they are the same.

In my articles you usually read online courses, because everyone immediately understands what is meant by that. When you read online program or online training, it means the same.

Before you start creating an online course or online training, it is wise to know very well why you want to create this course. What is your personal motivation for doing this. To get your motivation clear, read the blog: 20 Reasons to Create an Online Course Now.

Step 1. Describe the 3 phases of your student

The reason someone buys your course is that they expect to be successful with your online course. You promise them that success in advance when you offer the course. And you must also be able to achieve that success in your course.

There are 3 phases to distinguish in your online course.

  1. The initial state of your participant
  2. The final state of your participant
  3. The transition of your participant

The initial state is a phase in which your participant has a problem, feels bad or is unable to do something.

The final state is how your participant feels after he has done all the lessons. A feeling of euphoria, of success. A feeling that he wants to share with other people (very important, because then you have an ambassador of your online course).

The transition is your course. Your course ensures a transition for your participant from an unhappy person to a happy person.


Step 2. Write the outline of the online course with modules and lessons

Your online course basically consists of the steps a person has to take from getting the unfortunate situation into a happy situation. It is your job to discern those steps.

Try to describe the transition from one state to another in about 4 intermediate stages. These four intermediate stages are actually the chapters of your online course. In course jargon, these are called the modules of your course.

The next step is to subdivide these 4 modules with different lessons.

 In your first online training try to keep the number of modules and lessons clear, both for yourself and for your participant. A nice aim are 4 modules, each with 4 lessons.


Step 3. Create substantive lessons with text, video, downloads

A lesson within an online course can consist of a number of parts: video, audio, text, exercise, response or a download. Which of these components best fit your online course?

Research shows that most people prefer video in an online training. Video is very easy to make these days. In the next section I will go into more detail about the different forms of video.

Before you start, determine how long the lesson can be. The length of an online lesson is not unlimited. Remember that your participant only has limited time available. For example half an hour. Your participant must then be able to view or listen to your lesson and complete the assignments within that half hour.

By using the time available for your participant, you force yourself to be more compact in your lessons and get to the point quickly.

For example, you can choose to watch 15 minutes of lessons and 15 minutes of the assignment.

In that case, your video lesson may last a maximum of 15 minutes. And then your assignment should not take longer than 15 minutes. There is a danger that you will make the lessons too long, then the video will not be viewed. Or give too many assignments and homework, then they do not do the homework. You will have to be able to find the balance between them.

A few guidelines:

  • 100-125 words is approximately 1 minute of video.
  • 1200 words is enough for a whole lesson. Then you can also drop breaks here and there.

Another word of warning: Most people don't want to watch video for much longer than a few minutes. And to make a 15-minute video, you have to be able to tell a good, tight story if your participants want to watch it completely.

When you start your first online course, it might be wise to sit on the short side of your online lessons. For example 5 minutes of video and 5 minutes of homework.

I understand if you now think: But how can I put all my knowledge into my course, if the lessons are allowed to be so short?

Making an online course means making choices in what you can share and train. And how restrictive that feels, the great thing about it is that your course will be much tighter and more compact. This increases the chance that your participant will actually complete the course and achieve the successes you have promised.

After you have decided which media types you want to use in your online course, it is time to actually start creating the lesson.

My roadmap is as follows.

  1. Write out the content of your lesson - this is the text within the lesson
  2. Record the content in a video
  3. Save the audio of your video as a separate file
  4. Create a PDF with the command

When you use this order, you can make your online course the fastest, especially if you have no experience with creating online courses yet.

Of course you can also record the lessons directly if you are a good speaker. In that case, you can have someone type and edit the lessons afterwards, after which you can use this text in your lesson.

Do you want to do the minimum (and that is often more than enough). Then just focus on making one video per lesson, in which you cover everything.


Step 4. Record the videos for the lessons

There are different forms of video lessons: talking head, live presentation, slides, slides + talking head, screen capture.

Depending on the nature of your online course, you choose one of the video methods. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. It has not been said that one is better than the other. It all depends on the objective of your online course.

Online video lesson with Talking head

The talking head method is when you only record your head on the video and talk directly into the lens of your camera. This method is fine if you want to give a quick tip. You also see this method appearing a lot on social media.

Tips for the talking head method:

  • Record it with your mobile phone
  • Place your mobile phone on a tripod, make sure the lens is at eye level
  • Face the window for natural light
  • Look into the lens of your mobile phone (and not the display)
  • Use an external tie clip microphone
  • Record the entire lesson in one go. If it goes wrong, record the whole lesson again in its entirety. Editing is always more work than recording one more time
  • Cut the beginning and the end of it.


Online video lesson with live presentation method

With the presentation method you film your entire upper body including a whiteboard next to you. The advantage of this method is that it is more visual for your participants and therefore more fun to watch. Your participants will keep looking longer.

(Brendon Burchard always presents in front of a whiteboard)

Tips for the live presentation method

  • Record with your phone or a professional camera
  • Provide a tie clip microphone, because you are further away from the camera
  • Provide good light
  • Make sure you and the whiteboard are both clearly visible
  • Write the words down on the board so that you have a grip during the recording
  • Don't be too serious, a mistake or a slip of the tongue during the recording is no problem. Laugh at yourself.
  • If necessary edit the video
  • If you dare, record the lesson with a real audience (live or online). This makes your story more real and authentic


Online video lesson with slides

You see the videos with slides a lot during webinars. Many trainers give a slide presentation so that they do not have to be in the picture themselves (so that there is no feeling of time with the video and you can offer a replay at any time). And because they can then visualize text. The advantage of text on screen is that your participant can read along and is therefore less distracted. In addition, you can re-record the voice over as often as necessary. You can easily go back one slide and continue your presentation from there.

Tips for the slide presentation method

  • Create the slide show in PowerPoint or in Keynote
  • Use the voice over function of these tools to record the presentation.
  • After recording you can export the presentation including voice over as a video file.


Online video lesson with slides and talking head

A slide presentation including talking head is the best of both worlds. Your participant can read the texts so that they are less distracted. Moreover, you are in the picture, which gives your participant a good feeling about your person and will probably take the content of your lesson more seriously. The tricky thing about this variant is that you can edit less easily than with a regular slide show. You will also have to perform during the recordings (take into account that your body and face also convey emotion.)


Tips for the slide presentation and talking head

  • You need recording software to be able to record both at the same time. For example Camtasia or ScreenFlow
  • Have a good webcam
  • Provide an extra microphone
  • Play the slide show and speak about it, as if you were presenting to the group.


Online video lesson with screen capture

A screen capture video is a video in which you record all actions on your screen. These are mostly how-to videos. You tell your story and your participant can continue to follow your mouse and participate. This vide method is ideal if you want to explain software or an online product.

(Screenflow after a screen recording has been made)

Tips for the screen capture method

  • You have recording software that can record your screen, for example Camtasia or ScreenFlow
  • Provide an extra microphone
  • Record all steps. Should it go wrong yourself, pause the recording, find out, and continue from there.
  • During the operation blur the parts of your screen that your participant does not need to see
  • During the edit, let your mouse light up when you click somewhere.
  • Export the recording after you are done in HD format.


Step 5. Create an audio file for your online course

Creating an audio file for a video lesson is very simple. Almost all video editing software has the ability to save only the audio. Click "save as" or "export as" and choose audio or mp3.

(Export to audio option within ScreenFlow)

You can add this audio file to your online lesson.

The advantage of also adding an audio file, in addition to your video lesson, is that not everyone is able to view the video. Certainly if your lessons are a bit longer, chances are that your participant will want to view the lessons "on the way". For example in the car or in public transport. In that case it is easier for your participant to turn on the mp3 and just listen.

Adding an audio file is not a necessity, but it is easy to do. And you immediately increase the value of your course.

To put the course online, use software that you can quickly get started with. In addition to making your course, avoid spending weeks, if not months, on making your online learning environment technical.

For this website we use Kajabi as an online learning platform and marketing. If you want to work with another platform, click through for the best online learning environments.


Step 6. Repeat and complete your course

Why are most online courses not completed?

You can answer this question in 2 ways. Both from the participant and from the maker. Let's review them both.

Why does a participant not complete the course?

  • The online course is too big, too long
  • They don't feel like they're getting the result (what they're promised)
  • The lessons are too long or too boring
  • The lessons are too hard

Why does an entrepreneur not complete his online course?

  • He makes it too big
  • He has not made an outline (modules with lessons)
  • He is afraid to get started with video
  • He's losing interest


What is the next step for your online course?

It is time to act. With this article you have enough information to start creating an online course. Take the different parts and work them out. Set a deadline for yourself. When do you want your course to be finished? Can I make a suggestion? In 4 weeks. You must go through the entire process and have it recorded within 4 weeks. If you take longer, then you have either taken on too much hay, or the course does not have enough priority. Try to stay within these 4 weeks, because then you will have the feeling that you are making progress. If you take longer (and give yourself that space), chances are that you will give up and stop somewhere.

Your success is in the implementation you do.

It starts today. Now! Good luck

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Thank you,

Bastiaan de Koning - Online Course Specialist

Online marketing entrepreneur for 7 years and specialized in building and selling online courses and learning environments. I mainly work with the all-in-one platform Kajabi, because here you have your website, blogs, courses, email marketing and customer data together. Questions about which platform is right for you? Please feel free to contact us.