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How to Create Online Courses

Mychelle Blake
woman viewing online course

If you have expertise in a subject, creating online courses is a great way to earn income. You can set a course up very simply without any website knowledge.

Step 1: Do Your Homework Before Starting

There are a few questions you should answer before getting started. Do your homework first to plan your online education strategy.

  • Do you have expertise in a topic? Or do you have access to subject matter experts willing to handle the instruction in exchange for you handling production and administration?
  • Do you know if there is a market for courses on your topic? If there are other courses offering the same information, what makes your course stand out from the competition? Do you have a niche you can focus on or a different way of teaching that will entice learners?

Step 2: Create Curriculum

If you've never created a curriculum before, start with creating the learning objectives for your course. A typical curriculum outline would cover the following information:

  • Learning objectives and goals for students
  • Topics for each lesson and what the content will cover
  • The time frame for each lesson (for example once a week for a set number of weeks)
  • Assignments for students, if any

Step 3: Create Content

Course content includes written material, video and audio files, slide presentations, handouts, and references. You will need to decide how to create this material. This may mean hiring extra help. For example, if you want video and have no experience, you may want to hire a professional videographer and editor.

Another consideration you may have if you decide to use a Learning Management System (LMS) is whether you will be required to put your material into Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) format. SCORM is a very common file format used in most LMS. The benefit of SCORM is you can easily transfer your files to a new LMS without having to redo your work. SCORM files need to be created with SCORM-authoring software, such as Articulate Storyline. If you want to use SCORM and don't know how, there are freelancers and firms you can hire for this.

Step 4: Select a Hosting Platform

Where are you going to make your course available? You have multiple options.

Online Course Platforms

This refers to online programs such as, Ruzuku, and Udemy. These platforms have simple interfaces where all you need to do is add your content to start selling a course. Pricing ranges for each platform with Teachable at $39 to $299 per month, Ruzuku between $74.75 to $125 per month, and Udemy is free with a revenue-sharing plan.

Learning Management System (LMS)

An LMS is an option with more robust features and is often used for schools and corporate training. They can be quite expensive ranging from a few hundred a month to thousands of dollars per year. Some popular LMS are Matrix LMS and Docebo. Matrix is $129 per month up to $11,999 based on the number of students. Docebo is $230 per month for 50 students and up to $600 for 350. An LMS is an expensive investment but if you will have a large volume of students and courses with many high-end features, it's an option to consider seriously.

Content Management System (CMS)

You can create a site entirely custom to you with a CMS. If you consider the monthly cost of an online course platform to the fees involved in a CMS, it may be a better return on investment. You will have to pay for a domain name, hosting, premium themes, and your course creation plugin, as well as payment system fees for credit cards. You do need to have some technical knowledge to put a website together, or you can hire a pro. Some examples include:

  • WordPress - LearnDash and LifterLMS are popular course creation plugins. A LearnDash annual license is $199 and $369 per month for up to 25 licenses. LifterLMS starts at $99 per year for a basic package for features and up to $999 per year for their full-service package.
  • Joomla - Similar to WordPress, there are plugins you can purchase to create courses with the Joomla Content Management System. For example, Guru starts with a free basic option and their full-featured plan is $299 per year.

Getting Started Creating Online Courses

It may seem easy to create online courses but do your homework first to make sure your idea will be a profitable one with quality content. Online education is a viable way to earn revenue while reaching students all over the world.

How to Create Online Courses