How to Select a Topic For an Online Course?

Everything you need to start an online course is to find the right idea.

But how do you find the winning idea? That idea that immediately makes you feel as comfortable as if you were in your own living room or that makes you feel like an expert in that field? You will realize that finding ideas actually requires effort, experience, and skills. But there’s more.

The idea, in addition to hiding so well in your brain, must then interest a fair number of people, otherwise, you will not have enough traction to make the course profitable.

Teach What You Like or What You Are Competent In?

So, what idea do you have to set up an online course? What a question. It’s completely obvious!

The idea behind your online course is the one where you are most competent. That’s it, I don’t mince words in this case.

If you’re going to teach something, it’s good that you know that thing at a high level, or at least above the level of your future students.

If you are at a medium level in a discipline, it will be enough to address your online course to absolute beginners.

There are many cunning impostors around and few honest experts.

Maybe an impostor can get away with selling a single course, but in the long run, his bluff can’t hold up.

It is much better for your students, and also for your future reputation, to teach subjects in which you are competent.

This should be obvious, but maybe it’s better to put it into words since there’s some much fluff around: you don’t teach something you’re not experienced in.

Can Your Online Course Sell Well?

Let’s say we found the idea: it’s the one where you feel more comfortable in the act of teaching, where you have materials to consult, where you have no problem talking for ten minutes.

Now, all this is just the first step, because you have to see if you can build your online course profitably on that idea.

We’re talking about potential audiences: students who are going to give you money to attend your online course.

How many people could you reach with your class? Is the topic of your online course interesting for people? Could it interest them so much to make them pay for it?

The course on “How to feed a Tibetan goat” is great, but how many people will actually buy it?

And this is a harsh reality that you have to deal with, rigorously with yourself, otherwise, you lose a lot of time and a lot of money.

The question is: does the subject I want to teach interest enough people?

Do you want to remove all doubts about whether an idea can appeal to a large number of people? Here’s a very interesting procedure. Do a webinar, it will work as a validation of your idea.

Let’s go into more detail and try to figure out what to do to choose our topic. We’ll see:

  • What is market analysis and why you have to do it?
  • Which methods you need to use to make a market analysis. 
  • What to do with the information received.

A market analysis is a set of activities that allow you to obtain information about the effectiveness of an idea. You need to analyze before you start building a product or service to minimize the risk of failure and maximize the results.

The market analysis will help you to understand what you can offer, who to offer it to, and whether the price you imagine will be acceptable for the “target” people.

The Best Online Course Platforms Reviewed

There are many online course platforms where you can find thousands of courses on different topics. You can learn or teach on these platforms. If you are interested to learn more about them, here are some posts that I have written:

Where to Begin the Analysis of an Idea?

Usually, the ideas for new services or products are born in response to a concrete need. But this is not always the case and sometimes the logic is reversed. If you read some case studies about successful companies like Apple, for example, you’ll see that they were able to create the needs and desires in people they never imagined they would have.

To begin with, you have to define who is the ideal student for you. A couple of months ago, I wrote a post on this very subject: the ideal student finds you, discovers you, and stays with you. It’s not easy to define him or her, but it’s fundamental to understand who you’re addressing with your content. You may not be able to do it right away, take some time observing and analyzing Google statistics too. If you develop an idea that doesn’t suit your students, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t get a good response!

Once you understand who the people who could potentially follow you are, you will also understand what their problems, needs, and desires are. Or is it not that simple?

Here are five methods to analyze an idea:

Family

This is not advisable! If you are hatching an idea because you think it might be interesting for a certain group of people, you don’t have to ask for advice in the family, or at least, not at first.

Imagine announcing that you are thinking of an online cooking training course. You will most likely hear one of these two answers

1. “No way! Who would want to learn to cook online? Forget it.”

(They tell you this based on their beliefs and without knowing the context in which you operate)

2. “Yes! Go ahead, it’s a beautiful idea!”

(They tell you that regardless of whether your idea is a success or a failure. They love you and they don’t want to hurt you).

You have to look for the feedback on the validity of the idea from people who have this problem or desire that you can solve or fill, otherwise, it is not valid and false reality.

Observation

To understand if your idea can receive positive feedback, you need to observe and understand what people are looking for on this particular topic, what the problems and desires are, what they lack.

To do this you can:

  1. Be present on thematic forums.
  2. Read the opinions and questions in Facebook groups, which have been very popular lately.
  3. Look at the most-read posts of blogs and see what and how people comment.
  1. Read the reviews of thematic books to see what new problems the readers detect.

Virtual Challenge

To test the interest in your idea, you can organize a virtual blogging challenge. You can do this if you already have a formed community.

To do this, you create a mini-path based on your idea proposed to the readers and based on the feedback, you evaluate the general idea. Do you have in mind to create a cooking course, but you don’t know if the audience might like it? Create a virtual challenge of a few days where you propose to run some of the recipes under your guidance. A blogging challenge is a taste of what will come next when you launch the complete idea.

What do you need to create a blogging challenge?

  1. A landing page to explain the rules of the challenge and enter the registration form (it can also be a post published on your blog).
  2. A system for sending e-mails to those who sign up to participate.
  3. A Facebook group to manage the challenge.
  4. Lots of promotion to launch the blogging challenge.

There are many ways to organize a blogging challenge and only your imagination can set limits.

Competitors

Of course, you can have a super innovative idea that no one has realized yet and if it gets a positive response from the market, it means you are brilliant.

More often, however, it happens that you go to do something that is already on the market but perhaps in other contexts or even places. It’s possible to adapt something that already exists to the needs of a specific target group or territory or to replicate the idea by improving it. If your idea has already been implemented, see how they did it, what you think works, what doesn’t work, what are the weak and strong points, and how you can improve it. Think about your target group and how this idea can be adapted to their needs.

Consulting

It remains one of the best ways to understand what students want, what concrete problems they have, and whether your idea matches what they want.

It can take as little as 20 minutes and you can do it with 20 people who you consider your interest group, but I assure you that the answers to the questions you prepare will be very valuable. Where can you find people? On your page, in Facebook groups, on the forums, or sending a newsletter looking for people who are interested in talking to you about a problem that has for example with the organization of holidays (since your idea is about this).

These are the questions to prepare for the interview:

  • The biggest problem with… is…(put what you would like to develop as an idea).
  • What’s harder with…?
  • What did you do to solve the problem?
  • What worked and what didn’t? What didn’t you try and why?
  • These are of course example questions, you should ask the questions that will help you find the answers if your idea can be successful.

Survey

If you have an already formed community you can ask your followers to give their opinion using one of the tools available online such as Google Form, TypeForm, or Survey Monkey (they are all free).

In the survey, try to ask a few questions, but very focused and rather closed than open. The closed questions are those where you suggest the answer. For example: which section of my blog do you like the most? And you let them choose between several answers. Those who fill in the survey are free to answer the open questions. The latter group is more valuable for you, but also more challenging for those who fill in the questionnaire, so don’t exaggerate.

To encourage people to fill in the survey, you can donate a product, for example, a mini e-book, a notebook with exercises, etc., or if you have open questions, you can give three 30-minute consultations to those who answer these questions better.

Where to promote the questionnaire to receive answers? On social networks, in blog posts, in Facebook groups, in newsletters, in all these places where potentially interested people can be.

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