Picture of man teaching online and woman watching screen. It reads e-Learning underneath.

How to Build an Online Course

Creating and delivering online courses can help small businesses and entrepreneurs in many ways. They can serve as Lead Magnets to help build email lists, can establish expertise so people want to purchase from you, and can also serve as streams of income if you choose to sell your courses.

If you have never created an online course, the steps and tasks may seem overwhelming. What should you teach? Do you have video or texts? Should it be done on live webinar or with automated video?

6 Steps to Create and Launch an Online Course

The process of creating and launching an online course can be explained in 6 Steps.

Infographic showing 6 Steps to Create an Online Course. These steps are also found in the main text.

Step 1 Planning

Entrepreneurs and small business owners sometimes like to jump right in to projects with little to no planning. In this case, taking time to plan ahead will help you create the best course, possibly even multiple courses, for your target audience. It also makes the content creation process much easier.

Step 2 Discovery

In the Discovery phase, you brainstorm and dump every idea and thing you want to teach onto the page. This is not time for editing. Just get everything on the page. We’ll organize and edit later. The good news is that most people end up with content for multiple courses and workshops.

Step 3 Curriculum

Here we edit and organize our content into a curriculum that we can develop and teach.

Step 4 Content

This is the biggest, most time-consuming piece of the course creation process, although if you don’t have a large audience yet the time and effort commitment required for marketing and launching may be just as intense.

Here you actually create the content laid out in the curriculum. This might include slides for a presentation, videos, a workbook, infographics etc…

Step 5 Upload

The upload step is focused on automated online courses where someone will sign up and move through the course. It may also include uploading a resources page for a live, webinar event.

Step 6 Launch

You have to launch the course for you to get anything out of it. A presentation sitting in your desk drawer, isn’t going to do anything for you.

If you’re running an online course, either live or automated, you’ll need to reach out to both your in-person and online contacts and send them to the landing page for the course. Get this information out to your email list, and possibly consider a Facebook Ad Campaign or other advertising strategy.

How to Build an Online Course 6 Step Process Introduction Video Transcript


Hey everybody, it’s Kim Shivler. Welcome. Today I’m coming to you in my role as an instructional designer and instructional design consultant. As that I’m someone who builds courses, launches courses, and helps others do the same. Today, we’re specifically talking about online courses because it is June 1st, 2020 and most of us have been experiencing and practicing social distancing, working and meeting online and remote and that’s a great time to build and launch an online course. Now, if you’re a business owner, there are many reasons you might want to actually create a course. I wrote about that in this month’s local Brevard County Spotlight Magazine. Things like helping yourself establish yourself as an expert and a competitive differentiator maybe from your competitors even and even as a monetization strategy. You can, depending on the course and the value, you can actually sell your online courses. Today I’m going to show you a six step process for actually creating your course.


Now, if you took my content creation webinar that I did last month, some of this you may have heard a little bit before. First, it’s very important to plan. You need to plan several things. First you need to really sit down and make sure you understand your target audience. Who’s going to take this course, what knowledge do you want to give them and for them, why are they even interested? That’s very important to know ahead of time. You want to plan how you’re going to deliver the course. Is this the course that’s going to be automated, for example, where they sign in somewhere, have an account and can go through the videos or text or or whatever your multimedia presentation is, they can go through it on their own or are you perhaps going to do webinar classes? Again, some of you may have been taking mine.


I’ve done several between March and now on various topics like how to become a virtual assistant and how to build a WordPress website. These are topics I teach normally and I’ve been doing a lot of that through webinars recently, so perhaps that’s how you’d like to do it. So we want to plan that ahead of time. Then we go through our discovery process and the discovery process is looking at our getting everything out of our head about this topic that we’re choosing to teach and just getting it out on the paper or a whiteboard or Word or whatever you like to do, but just get it out there. No editing, no thought other than just brainstorming free flow, get the ideas out that at that point we do go through and we organize them into a curriculum. What are we going to actually teach? One thing I can tell you that’s pretty cool for most people, once they’ve gone through that discovery brainstorming brain dump session, they usually end up with more than one course because for the most part, we want to keep our courses very manageable, our content, bite-sized for people, and that means that we don’t want to put a hundred lessons into most courses.


We would rather break that into one to three courses and let people go through and actually learn and be able to implement some things before we move them on to the next course. We’re not what we’re talking about here are business courses. We’re not talking about building a college level, semester long type of curriculum, so we’re going to keep it a little shorter, little simpler, and really make it easy for people to grasp. So once we’ve planned out that curriculum, we’ve done the overall course planning, we’ve put together our curriculum, what we’re going to do, where are we going to have video, where are we going to have audio? Then we actually dig in and do the creation and that is the biggest time for most people. It’s getting those videos done, getting transcripts and captions, taking care of, adding any supplemental text images, infographics, creating their slides to deliver.


For example, a webinar presentation. That’s where the big chunk of time comes in and then editing it. Then the next step is to upload and depending on what you chose as your delivery medium, that’s going to be a little different there. So when you’re doing an automated course where people can come in at any time, they can purchase, they can log in, they can take the course, you have to either you or hire somebody to actually upload those videos, display them, put your text there so people can access it. That all has to be configured. If you’re doing a webinar, it depends on your webinars software. Sometimes you may need to upload your slide deck in order to show it when you’re in the webinar. While other times maybe it’s going to be where you share your desktop and show the slide deck. That way.


That’s going to depend on the webinar software that you’re using and then once you’ve got all that ready, it’s time to launch. Now, launch requires both planning. How are we going to actually launch this? What type of advertising are we going to do? What type of marketing we’re going to do, do we already have an audience and an email list to send to or is this going to be a longer process because we’re still trying to build that initial audience. So we’re going to go ahead and do our launch plan and then we’re going to get right in there and launch whatever you do. If you taken the time to do all of this, get it launched, it doesn’t do you or anyone else in the world any good if you haven’t launched it. That’s the six step process. Fairly simple, but not always easy.


Getting that content created can be a challenge, but it’s worth doing and especially if you have something that’s evergreen type of content where, you know, software’s tough because when I teach software, I’ve got to update that probably at least once a year because they keep updating the software. But we now I’m teaching content creation and this type of thing. This is good years and years to come. Although we may have new features and new technologies that we can plug in as we find, you know, for example, back when I first started in instructional design, we weren’t talking about the internet and teaching on the internet because we didn’t have browsers and all of that back in the, uh, early eighties. So that type of thing will change. But get your content out here and I have more for you. If you’re interested, I’ll be launching on this page today announcing a live course.


I have not done this course in a couple of years and I’m really excited to get it going again, and that’s going to be three live sessions where we walk through the process of building our online course and launching it. It’s also going to have some bonuses showing how to actually upload content and get it into a course framework. And I also have an ebook that’s launching just to do the same thing and actually walks you through this process I just shared in more detail, and it has actual exercises for you to follow and build your course. Those will both be launching here on this page today, June 1st I’m Kim Shivler. I hope to see you soon. You can find this at https://simplesolutions.com/buildacourse. I’ll see you next time. Bye.

For more information on building online courses, checkout my website HowtoBuildanOnlineCourse.com