How To Find Profitable Online Course Ideas

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How To Find Profitable Online Course Ideas

It’s not about finding the biggest and best selling courses out there and creating a slightly different version. Instead, it’s about picking the right idea — one that your customers will actually buy.

By Gbenga A. Ayanfe

So are you ready to figure out which of your online course ideas is best? Let’s get started!

Your first step: talk to people. It sounds so easy, right?

But a lot of first-time course creators get stuck on this step. It’s often because they *think* they already know what their audience wants, or they’re intimidated by putting their ideas out into the world in a real way.

So to keep things simple, let’s start at the beginning. According to Chris H of Course Lifestyle… 

The Big Mistake

Before I jump into all the tips and ways to brainstorm ideas I want to mention one big mistake a lot of people make when picking their first-course idea and that is finding the perfect course idea.

Maybe you already have an idea for the course you want to make but what I’m asking you to do here is to keep an open mind before you pick one.  I know when I did this exercise you’re about to do I made this same mistake.

I went in with the idea that I already knew what course I wanted to make and by not being open about it I was passing other ideas up without even giving them a second thought.

4 Quick Tips to Help You Find More Ideas

To help you get the most out of this exercise I want to share a few quick tips with you that I learned along the way.

Don’t  worry if you’re not the expert.  First off, don’t worry if you’re not the expert on a given topic.  A lot of times theirs this belief that you have to be that expert with 10,000 hours of experience and this just isn’t true.  If fact you really only need to be one step ahead of everyone else to be the expert.

Just brainstorm ideas.  Second, write every idea down that comes to your mind.  I don’t care how weird or silly it might sound but one idea can lead to another and another and eventually to one that would’ve never thought of if you didn’t write all those other ideas down.

Think Specific.  Next, try to get specific.  I’m sure you could create the complete course on internet marketing but you want to narrow things down to a topic that is much more specific rather than a broader topic.

Offers a Transformation. Think about the transformation you want someone to achieve.  Maybe it’s something you’ve recently achieved.  A strong transformation creates a strong course.

6 Questions to Help You Brainstorm Online Course Ideas

Now it’s time to get those ideas onto paper.  Below is a list of questions you can ask yourself to help generate all kinds of ideas.

Your Goal: List at least ten-course ideas based on the questions below.

Question #1: What is something you’re passionate about?

Do you have a passion for something, maybe it’s collecting baseball cards, or antiques, or even flying drones?  All these ideas can be turned into courses.

Question #2: What is something you know a lot about?

Do you know a lot about a particular topic, say Microsoft Excel.  What you think might be basic information might be just what other people are looking for.

Question #3: What’s something you learned recently?

Did you just recently learn something new?  If so this could make a great idea for a course you could teach.  Again no idea is too small or basic, just write it down.

Question #4: What is something you do at your job that people would want to know?

What’s something you do at your day job that you know how to do really well?  Chances are other people are looking for these skills as well. So why not be the one to teach others how to do it.  For example, maybe you recently started learning Quick Books and you want to teach the basics of using it.

Question #5: What is something you struggle with?

 Let’s flip the script now and look at things from the other side.  What is something you’re struggling to know right now?  Chances are if others are struggling you could learn how to do it and teach it to others.

For example, my company recently purchased a CNC Plasma machine and I didn’t know anything about how to run it.  If I’m looking to learn more about this topic then it’s likely other are as well.

Question #6: What kind of courses have you recently taken?

What are some courses you’ve recently taken that you could share more about?  Maybe you noticed that a course you took didn’t share everything that you was looking for and you could give some unique perspective on the topic.

Narrowing Down Your Ideas

Did you come up with 10 ideas?

If not do it now and for those of you who did come up with your ideas good job.  Now it’s time to narrow your ideas down to those 2 that you feel have the best chance at being successful and profitable.

Side Note:  You’ll want to narrow it down to 2 just in case you find it hard to validate one of your ideas.  By the way I’ll get into validating your course idea in next weeks article.

To do this you’ll want to pick the course that offers the biggest transformation?  In other words, it will give people the biggest result.

For example, if you can teach a course on how to run profitable Facebook retargeting ads or a course on setting up your Facebook fan page, the first topic would likely be the better option because it gives the biggest transformation.

However, if you have two ideas that offer big transformations and you’re finding it hard to choose then go with your gut instinct and pick the one you feel like teaching the most.

Did You Find Your Profitable Online Course Idea?

So did you find your course idea or are did you struggling a bit?  If you keep at it and don’t give up you will succeed.  I know for me it was tough to get 10 in total but  I stuck with it and made my 10.

For now, I’m not going to share my list but I do plan to share my course idea once I get a little further along with the process.

So how about you?  Did you get 10 ideas and narrow it down to that 1 idea you feel confident with?  I would love to hear your thoughts on this and what you struggled with in this process.

Be willing to take your online course ideas back to the drawing board.

There’s a good chance you’ll go through a few of these steps multiple times as you try to hit on your winning course topic. Don’t get discouraged. It may take some tweaking before all your ideas are aligned.

Simply take a hard look at your course to see what might not be adding up for your audience. It could be that you’ve created too niche of a topic to fly with many people. Or it’s priced too high for what is essentially a hobby course.

Identify what’s losing people and correct course. After all, trial and error is all part of the learning experience.

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How to Find Profitable Topic Areas and Niches

What happens if you’re just getting started out, don’t have a bunch of clients you can ask about their struggles, or are thinking of heading in a new direction with your course?

Whatever the reason, you want to make sure there’s a larger market for what you’re planning to offer. This step will help you identify ideas that aren’t viable, saving you time and headaches.

To help you separate the bad ideas from the good, let’s take a look at one quick way to gauge audience interest in a particular topic.

Your best bet to tell whether a topic idea is viable is the Amazon Best Sellers list. At any given time, you’ll be able to see the top sellers in 30+ categories of books — which is a great indicator that these topics are interesting to a large audience.

To help you out with your research, we’ve compiled a list of some profitable topic areas and niches you might consider.

A Cheat Sheet for Your Best-Selling Idea

The following list breaks down 12 of the biggest areas of focus for course creators. We even went a step further and included five examples of possible profitable niches for each area.

  1. Computers and Technology
    • Computer projects for kids
    • App Development
    • UX / UI Design
    • 3D Printing & Makerspace
    • Machine Learning
  2. Business & Entrepreneurship
    • Leadership & Management
    • Freelancing
    • Marketing
    • Social Media & Blogging
    • Startups
  3. Money & Finance
    • Crowdfunding
    • Frugality
    • Personal Finance
    • Creating Passive Income Streams
    • Investing
  4. Creative Endeavors
    • Drawing & Painting
    • Photography
    • Design
    • Fashion & Jewelry
    • Crafting
  5. Health
    • Fitness
    • Sports & Outdoors
    • Nutrition & Cooking
    • Holistic Healing
    • Yoga, Ayurveda & Mindfulness
  6. Education
    • Homeschooling & Unschooling
    • Careers vs College
    • Young Entrepreneurship
    • Psychology
    • Online Course Creation
  7. Writing and Content Creation
    • Nonfiction Writing
    • Children’s Books
    • Creative Writing
    • Public Speaking
    • Editing
  8. Personal Development
    • Parenting & Relationships
    • Emotional Intelligence
    • Productivity
    • Stress Management
    • Memory & Study Skills
  9. Career
    • Job Search & Interviewing
    • Life & Career Coaching
    • Networking
    • Office Productivity
    • Communication Skills
  10. Humor & Entertainment
    • YouTube
    • Gadgets & Tech
    • Culture
    • Music
    • Movies
  11. Academic Subjects
    • Engineering & Transportation
    • Science & Math
    • Languages
    • Politics & Social Science
    • History & Philosophy
  12. Lifestyle, Hobbies & Home
    • Beauty & Makeup
    • Tiny House Design
    • Home Improvement
    • Travel & Digital Nomad
    • Pet Care & Training

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