Steps To A Profitable Online Course


I was vacationing at the beach with my family, so I taught my kids the fine art of riding the waves.

The truth is I have never ridden on a surfboard in my life but I know how to body surf with the best. So I was showing them how to find the perfect wave; you have to hit the wave just right to ride far.

If you're too late, you miss it. If you're too early, you won't go very far; but if you hit right at the top and ride down, it's an amazing feeling. To me, it's the closest thing to flying without jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft.

So, I relate this to life changing ideas. If you don't act on your ideas when they come, you may miss them. Or if you start too soon and don't have a plan, you won't go very far. But first you need to get in the water. So get off your butt up and get started.

What we will cover

Step 1 : How to get started  
Step 2: Come up with a profitable idea for your online course
Step 3: Validate your online course idea
Step 4: Organize your materials
Step 5: Create the Nuts and Bolts of the Course
Step 6: Upload to your course platform
Step 7: Summary

What are the requirements?
A microphone
A computer for editing
Editing software

Optional Equipment
A video camera for shooting video
Need lighting Package
Diva Ring Light Super Nova 18" Dimmable Photo/Video Light with 6' Light Stand
Need backdrop or green screen paper that you can tack on your wall

Step 1 Get off your butt!

If you are reading this then you have thought about making a course. You've probably talked about it until you lost your momentum; just like missing a wave.

You think there is no good time to start because life happens around every corner and something always comes up. If you are breathing, then make your bloody course! All you need to start is a small wave, you don't have to get on the tsunami and ride it in.

Start riding small waves and get some confidence in your accomplishments. I have spoken to so many people that have lost their motivation because of timing. If you feel that you have lost your momentum, then you are Prince Rilian from the Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia). If you don't know the story, a witch has put a spell on Prince Rilian that makes him act kinda like a robot during the day, but at night the spell wears off.


So, the witch has him tied to a magical silver chair to keep him from running away. When the spell is cleared from his mind he is himself once again and begs and pleads to be let go. This happens day after day until the children in the story believe him and release him from the chair, breaking the spell.

He then shatters the chair and goes after witch who turns into a dragon. He kills the dragon, the end.... Just kidding. I love the book, it goes on; but the point is, don't get yourself tied to the silver chair. What has kept you tied up from doing your course? The time is now I am freeing you.

Step 2 What is your Idea?

If you have a blog about a certain topic, then you may have your idea already figured out. But if you are struggling with a topic, then you should read my "Idea Magnet" post about how to find your idea. You need to find solutions for other people's irritations and problems.


5 Ways To Become An Idea Magnet

Also, if you have google analytics running on your site, what pages are getting the most views? Looking at those pages could be a good indication of what you should teach about.

I made a wonderful website for my wife called  It caters to people that suffer from food allergies.

So, the pain is food allergies and the problems that go along with dining out, parties and other social gatherings where food is served. As Remit Sethi says, "a crunchy solution" that feels a need for the pain that people may have.



So you would put it together like:

Step 1: Good at programming

Step 2: Good with meeting new people and networking

Step 3: Is it a good idea? Once you've done your research you say...Yes! Because as you know being a programmer yourself, you spend a lot of time in front of a screen and not a lot of time meeting people.

The reason we mix what you're good at doing and what people say about you, is to stand out from every other person doing what you do.

So, you could have a course for programmers because you can speak their code language and tailor it toward people who want to be more outgoing.

Similar to this idea is a website called nerd fitness. Steve Kamb came up with this idea for his love of well, just being a nerd and his love for fitness.

After researching, Steve found out that there were a lot of people like him. Yes, there is a nerd camp!  (I would totally love to go to nerd fitness camp). Steve has made a good living doing what he loves and doing it with like-minded people.

Nerd Fitness

Step 4: Would someone pay for it? As a progammer you may have seen first hand how hard it is having time to meet new people.

But I would suggest getting 10 hard yes's from people. For example, if you ask someone who is a programmer if this would be for them and they say well.......that's probably not a yes.

If you ask someone else who is a programmer and they are like, "Where do I sign up?", then that is one hard yes.

Step 3 Validate your Ideas

This is critical. How do you validate your idea so that you won't spend hours, days, or months working on a course that no one would ever want?

There are 2 books that I recommend, Pat Flyn's "Will it Fly", and the "Ask Formula" by Ryan Levesque.

Because the "if you build it, they will come" attitude is not going to work.

The Ask Formula involves creating a list of questions that you create on google docs, or Survey Monkey. Both of these survey components are free and are easy to set up. All you do is create a simple list of just 3 or 4 open-ended questions.

Here is my question bank that I use .

I am using these questions to build my course on what people struggle with the most when developing a course. If one or two people are struggling with the same issues then others in your niche may struggle with the same issues.

If I have no subscribers, who do I send the link to?

Well, this is the hard truth. If you can't find people that will follow you, how are you going to get them to buy?

The best place to find people in your niche that you are targeting is on Twitter.

Find people in your same niche that have a lot of followers and just start following them. In turn, they will follow you because most everyone on Twitter loves more followers.

You will be surprised at how fast people will follow someone they hardly know, but they will.

Now that you have a couple of followers, you can now start a message to them and ask them if they wouldn't mind taking a survey. Here is a sample:


Also, you have friends; why not hit them up on Facebook? Friends are more likely to join your site than complete strangers. Message them and tell them your deal.


That way when you build the course you will use the information from the completed survey and people who are pitched the course will say, "He totally read my mail." They will feel like the course is custom built for them.

Well, it actually will be custom made because it was made from their answers. This will also work for a blog post!


Step 4 Organizing Blocks

Ok, this is where we get it to it.

Now that we've started (which is crucial); we have our idea; it's been validated; now is the easy part. We just need to build it. Yeah right! We need to know how to put all of your ramblings in order.

Just as a reminder, people in this day and time have an ADD personality; they want it quick, without a whole lot of fluff. So we will give it to them in chunks that we call modules. You can use  some cool tools to help get organized on Popplet or Mindmeister . I also have a module worksheet that I use here.

This is where we will make a flow chart to organize your course. From here you can your create your modules and sub-modules; see this example. From here you can go into Power Point or word doc and start laying down your content.

You don't have to have a ton of content on your screen because no one is going to read it anyway.

Now, I should say from here, we need to think about what format you are going to use to deliver your course? Are you just using audio and video screen capture software? If you are, then just organize your course as just audio with PPT slides.

If you are teaching software, then start from the beginning as a new user. You can always tell the person to skip ahead if they are an advanced user, or put in tips that may help someone that might have never learned.

If you are going to do a mixture of video and audio, then make sure you plan it out; different shots, camera angles, and screen recording software.

Most of your content you are creating here is just for your voice so that when you are creating your video you can reference the document. Here is an example of a less wordy PPT slide deck that you could come up with other than a video of yourself.


Information Module
First off, you need to create an information module to start your course. This will introduce the students to you and tell them what they will learn in this course.

This will usually have an overview, an objective section of what they will learn, and what will be the end result after they finish the course.

Meat and potato modules

Here is a flowchart that I made about the ocean. Ok, I am going to get nerdy. If you can tell me who Attuma is, then I will give you a $25.00 Amazon gift certificate. This will be a random drawing on NOV 2, 2016. All you have to do is fill out my survey and in the description tell what your biggest struggle is with developing courses, and who Attuma is.

Click here for a chance to win $25.00 Amazon Gift card.


These are the modules that will be the foundation of your course. Look at the Ocean course that I laid out. This was just a rough draft of the ocean as I see it; with monsters, villains, and superheroes.

These would be:

  • The color of the Sea
  • Ocean Waves
  • Villains
  • Heros
  • What You Learned
  • This would be an outline that I would use to lay before starting to build a course.

This just helps me get organized, instead of just winging it and wasting a lot of time. I wouldn't have more than 5 or 6 main modules, and then have a download module for all of your worksheets.

Sub Modules

These are the videos that you create for the modules. They can be anywhere from 1 to 5 min long. If you are doing a software tutorial, they can be longer based on the project; but if you are doing a course on relationship building, only make it up to 5 minutes or you will hear the snores all the way to your house.

Every sub-module needs to have an overview section. This is to let the learner know what you will be covering. Now you don't have to say it robotically, but in just common dialog. Say, "Hey in this module we will be covering the damage waves make when superheroes battle".

Also, you need to have a summary at the end of each module, something like, " Now this is why superheroes shouldn't battle in water. In our next module we will cover all the villains that live in your local water supply."


If you want to create quizzes in your course then that's great; as long as it is relevant and not just put in there because you think you need some. Really think through the questions, and make it challenging instead of having something in there as a filler. Quizzes can also be a good tool to see if the material that you are teaching is making sense to your students.  If you have 20 questions and #3, #6 and #18 are being missed by most of the students, then that is a good indication that you need to look at your material and find out what's going on.


At the end of each course, you want to have a summary of what they have learned. This should be about 5 min long because this will cover your entire course. Be detailed enough but don't feel like you have to rehash certain topics that they have learned.

Download Section

I always like to have a download section in my course so that users can find docs and worksheets easier instead of digging around in sub-modules.

Need more details on building your online course? Think of this page as just a page in a book and my step by step course is the book. Sign up now to get on the early bird notification list for my "Step By Step How to Build a Profitable Online Course".

Step 5 Creating the Nuts and Bolts of the Course

Alright, now we can start to put it all together.


Now that you have written your script, and made your flow chart we can start storyboarding for your course. Here is a simple PDF of what I like to do when I build a storyline.



It is just basically a word doc with a row and 2 columns. One side has the voice-over, and the other has the action. So whether you are doing a camera angel or displaying text in a certain scene, your action will always be beside the voice-over.


In the beginning of this article, we talked about the requirements for your course. If you want to record yourself talking while you click through a Power Point slide deck then you need to do what's called screencasting.

Once you install this software you will be able to record all the moves that you make with the mouse and record yourself while you talk through your deck. So, if you are doing screencasting of your ppt or software I would recommend:

Video Screen Recording







Cool Link for Type

videomaker fx (Will help with animations text and images)

Aftereffects (There is a learning curve with this software)

Video Editing

Adobe Premiere 

Final Cut Pro

Sound Editing

Adobe Audition



In this section, we need to go over what hardware you will need for your videos.


You will need a mic for your course. If you want you can also use your cellphone to record your voice.

CellPhone (Way cheap, but not great quality, you will also have to sync the audio to your video in a video editor)

Zoom H5 Four-Track Portable Recorder (Great quality, but you'll have to sync the audio in a video editor)

Rode Video Shotgun Mic (If you have a camera with an audio input and a shoe to install the mic)

Giant Squid Audio Lab Omnidirectional Microphone


Best budget cameras for course development:


1. Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920
The C920 is the best cheap Web Cams for Course Development.

2. Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS

3. GoPro HERO

4. Canon VIXIA HF R600

5. Canon EOS Rebel T5i EF-S 18-55 IS STM Kit

6. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G7 with 14-42 mm Lens Kit

USB Microphone that will work great with the Logitech webcam:


Photography Photo Portrait Studio 600W Day Light Umbrella Continuous Lighting Kit by LimoStudio, LMS103

Diva Ring Light Super Nova 18" Dimmable Photo/Video Light with 6' Light Stand

Step 6 Upload to your course platform

Now you will need to upload your videos to a platform so you can get paid for all your hard work. Choose what course platform are you going to use. There are pros and cons to all platforms; lucky for you I have made a post telling all the pros and cons of these platforms.


8 Course Platforms That Make You Money

Step 7 Summary

Now lets recap

Step 1 : You got started (Which is the hardest thing to do, BRAVO!)
Step 2: You came up with a profitable idea for your online course
Step 3: You validated your online course idea
Step 4: You Organized Blocks
Step 5: You Created the Nuts and Bolts of the Course
Step 6: You Uploaded to your course platform
Step 7: Summary

Ok, so these are the basic steps to building your profitable online course. Now, there is marketing of your course, which is a whole other animal. This would include something like a 3 video pre-launch, marketing funnels and on and on; but in everything your content is king... find out what your users want.

Need more details on building your online course? Think of this page as just a page in a book and my step by step course is the book. Sign up now to get on the early bird notification list for my "Step By Step How to Build a Profitable Online Course".