How to Find Your Profitable Online Course Idea
Are you wondering how to find your profitable online course idea (that you know will sell before you create it)?
When you create an online course, you invest your time and energy once and end up with a product that works for you forever that generates a steady stream of clients and steady stream of revenue.
Wondering if the topic you are considering is actually a profitable online course idea can hold you back from investing time in the research, creating, and promoting of your course.
If only there was a way to know that your online course idea would be a profitable success before you create it…
Well, what if I told you that there is a way?
You don’t need to be a fortune-teller to predict your course’s success; you just need to follow through with the right research. Which is exactly what we’ll be going over today.
If you have an idea for an online course (or tons of ideas) and you are not quite 100% confident your idea will be a hit, let’s get started testing your idea.
Carve Out Your Online Course Niche
Most course ideas start out as a broad idea. Think of your course idea like a big slab of marble. To turn a marble slab into a perfectly polished and well-defined sculpture, the sculptor needs to chisel away everything that doesn’t need to be there. That’s exactly how you will take your course idea and turn it into a high-demand work of art: you will focus in on exactly what needs to be there and eliminate what doesn’t. There is a myth out there that you have to teach people about making money to create a successful course. Not true. You need to speak to a specific audience about their specific problem to create an online course that sells.
I love seeing experts in our Create 6-Figure Courses community creating successful courses in all kinds of niches including art, haircutting, real estate “staging,” herbs, gardening and so many other topics that are not about making money online. What will make your online course successful? Three things:
- Specific Focus
- Specific Audience
- Delivering a Specific Result
Here’s the secret to successful online courses: Specific Sells. Let’s start with how to research your broad idea and see what competitive offers are already out there in the market.
5 Ways to Research Your Profitable Online Course Idea
Scoping out the competition is a MUST to make sure your online course idea is indeed profitable. You’ll not only see which courses you’ll be competing with, but you’ll also see what’s currently selling. Start a simple Google search with keywords relating to your idea. You’ll encounter three possible results:
- There are PLENTY of courses about your subject material
- There are ZERO courses about your subject material
- There’s a fair amount of similar material, but none of them are exactly like yours
If there are tons of courses about your subject material you may start to worry, but let me tell you why you should relax. To have this many options available means there’s definitely a market for your online course. Seeing paid Google ads for these courses is another big sign that they’re selling enough to afford investing in advertising.
If your search results return with zero hits, your course idea may not be a profitable venture (yet). Either people aren’t searching for that specific problem or the free resources available are enough to satiate your audience. More research is probably needed so that you can refine your idea into a high-demand offer.
You want to be in the sweet spot of scenario three: there are options out there and you are going to bring a unique spin to this conversation. Competition for your online course is a good thing. It means demand exists. Competition for your online course is a good thing. Click To Tweet Not only will you offer a different perspective because you’re, well, different from those other experts creating courses, but you’ll be able to identify the gaps in their audience coverage and fill them with your course.
5 Ways to Research Your Profitable Online Course Idea:
- Amazon can be a great online course research tool. Type your potential course’s keywords into the search field and look for books that match your subject material. Read reviews from customers to see what these books got right (and what they failed to solve) for your target audience. Turn these negative reviews into positives for your course. If you discover something missing, simply add it into your course.
- Facebook groups about your subject material will connect you to the conversations happening in your niche. Notice hot topics that seem to get the most attention. Start a few introductory topics that mimic what you’ll possibly cover in your course and see if they draw any interest.
- Online forums (Reddit, Quora, etc.) are a great way to interact with potential customers. You can sift through the most common problems potential customers are looking for help in solving. If you need help finding your audience’s forum, just do a Google search with “forum: [your topic]” and you’ll find the most active discussion forums in your niche.
- Google Trends/BuzzSumo will put your finger on the most discussed and shared trends specific to your niche. Learn what’s going viral and see what clues this gives you about what your audience is interested in.
- Google is a great starting place to see other offers and paid ads showing up in the search results related to your online course idea.
After you get to know what’s out there, you’ll begin to see how you can zone in on a specific niche. For example, if your topic is “social media marketing”, you will find many courses and books out there on this topic.
One way to quickly get more specific is to narrow your audience. One of my clients took the topic of “leadership coaching” (lots of competitive offers in this topic) and narrowed her audience based on her career experience: Leadership coaching for anyone in the world (broad audience)>>>leadership coaching for small businesses (more specific)>>leadership coaching for salons and spa owners (really specific). Her first online course generated over $41k in 16 days. Getting specific works. (And, notice this is not a topic focused directly on making money).
Get Specific With Your Audience
You may think everyone should be a customer of yours, but you’ll actually make marketing more difficult for yourself when you try to sell and market to anyone and everyone. Instead, tailor your efforts to a select group of individuals who will find value in the product you seemingly created just for them. Here’s an example of how to find your profitable online course idea. Let’s imagine you want to create a course on “organic gardening”. You dig in to start researching your topic.
What if you discovered during your online research that most people have questions about starting a garden indoors, but many courses were not addressing this situation? What if the most commonly searched keywords about produce were related to “organic” and “budget-friendly”?
What if in checking forums and Facebook you realized that the largest group of eager green-thumbs are young people with zero gardening experience who have little space?
Using all of this research, you can set yourself apart by creating an online course designed to target a specific group of people who seem to be in need of answers.
Instead of creating a course on “organic gardening”, you are now focused on creating a course on “small space organic gardening on a budget”.
See how much more specific this topic is? Instead of choosing a broad subject like organic gardening, which may not even cover the topics your apartment-dwelling organic produce lovers want to learn about, you’re laser focused on a specific problem. It’s counter intuitive to think that a more narrow focus will create bigger results in your course. Trust me, this is the key to creating a high demand online course. Now, when you couple your specific topic with a specific target audience you have a profitable online course idea.
With a specific focus you can search and find your ideal customers online. Some of the things you already know that will enable you to reach your audience online using tools like Facebook ads:
- A beginner with very little experience
- Living in a small space like an apartment/condo/dorm instead of a house
- Between the ages of 18–35
- Most likely interested in cooking rather than horticulture
- Interested in organic food
Launching a profitable online course takes more than expertise in your field. You have to deliver specific content that solves a specific problem. If there’s demand in a niche that’s been previously ignored, you’ll have customers lining up to buy from the one person who seems to understand exactly what they need (that would be YOU).
Welcome competition in your niche as a great sign. Learn where these courses fall short and design your course to fill this gap.
Get specific with your audience and specific in your content focus and you are well on your way to a successful course launch.
What is your idea for an online course? Share in the comments below.
Can we give our students certificates of “certification” in a special field after they finish our course, and how do we get our course and certification recognized in our field?
Hello Chris, If there is a certifying body in your “niche” or an entity that offer CEU (Continuing Education Unit) accreditation, you can submit your course for CEU credit approval. Alternatively, you can create your own certification in the body of work you are delivering. Thanks for popping in, Chris. Cheers, Jeanine
Jeanine, I’m a big fan of yours! You helped me go from a vague idea of who I want to serve to a crystal clear AHA realization of precisely the ones I’m most able to help, which in turn has given me the enthusiasm I need to follow through.
Funny how once you know the specifics of your niche, the right messaging naturally follows: the right words, the right tone, the right feeling…
The trail to my niche looked like this: introverted women –> introverted women solopreneurs –> introverted women solopreneurs who are sensitively wired and naturally cautious.
This last piece came when I was reading a couple of books by introvert gurus and noticed that they dropped the ball when it came to certain advice that won’t work for this type of introvert. Instead, it would make them feel shamed and discouraged. This disservice gave me the GO energy to intervene and teach what I know to be best practices for these women.
Your teaching caused me to pay attention while I was reading those books, looking for “the gap.” It’s so empowering to have this clarity, and it’s so gratifying to see how those women recognize themselves. Thank you!
Hello Summer! Thank you so much for sharing this. Your example of getting clearer and clearer on your audience is powerful for everyone going through the process of “finding my people”. The right questions can help us see what we have been missing. When we change the questions, we notice things we missed before. Thank YOU! Jeanine
I see you mention June 14th for an online live retreat to do this with you but the link only takes me back to this blog post and not to see times or to register. Thanks!
Thank you, Alyssa! Sorry for the black hole of links. Here is the direct link to the Your Big Leap Revenue Retreat. Looking forward to creating with you! Cheers, Jeanine
I always love your sales pages; my question is a bit off topic. I was wondering who puts these together; is it you or do you have a virtual assistant. As a relatively new coach, it always takes me hours to do the technical stuff, and I know the look and feel of your messaging makes such a difference. If you have a VA, I’d love to use them as well. Not sure if I will attend the retreat. It looks fabulous. Thanks so much.
Hello Melissa! Thank you for the lovely feedback on on course pages. Our internal team creates all of our visual content. You can certainly ask for recommendations for support in our community forums. Folks are always referring really talented virtual assistants and designers. Cheers! Jeanine
hi jeanine, i came across your website while searching the internet for profitable online course ideas. after reading this present post, then it hit me that i already have an idea but i am somewhat scared to even think about the idea. i am nigerian and a naturalista, an we have ladies embracing their natural hair rapidly. From personal experience when i went natural i totally did it the wrong way. when i went natural nobody advised me to put into consideration my hair type, hair porosity etc when buying products. i lost my hair , gave out hair products because of this and had to learn from my mistakes. i always get people asking me how my hair is healthy , how to i manage the way it is, how to start their natural hair journey, what products and etc . this is a niche
like you said “You have to deliver specific content that solves a specific problem.”
i dont know if it is specific enough.