Designing and marketing your online course can sometimes feel like betting all your money on the stock market. Despite all your efforts and the predictions for the market, the course may sell like hotcakes, sink like a rock in a pool, or do only moderately well.
Well, not if you do your homework thoroughly and properly validate your idea with the niche audience it is aimed at before you start designing your online course.
Some surprises may still come your way, but if you go through the whole validation process, there’s a guarantee of at least reaching, if not exceeding your goals. Yet, you must be aware that this is about more than posting a few questions on social media.
Have some topics in mind before you begin
Indeed, you should be aware of the market’s requirements, but to create a course that’s good enough, it should be either on a subject you are very familiar with or one you are passionate about.
Even if there is, let’s say, a high need for materials on computer programming, if you are geared towards soft skills and creative writing, there will be other, more technical course creators who will do a much better job.
It’s important to have options (and keep them open), but you must be constantly aware of and play to your strengths.
Look for the pain points
People choose to learn something new either when they feel that their life will be better or more beautiful on account of that (as is the case with artistic skills) or when they have a problem that the new skill constitutes a solution to.
See what questions are asked most often and what are the hot subjects of the moment. Once you have a list of potential pain points, you can brainstorm possible solutions and weigh if they are substantial enough to be made into e-learning modules.
You will often find that the best answer to a recurring issue is not a new skill but a shift in attitude. Luckily, that can also make for quality learning material.
Find a profitable niche
You should start by looking closely at the broader subjects you have decided are up your alley for designing e-learning material. Even if you are very familiar with them, thorough research will turn up information that may still surprise you.
The digital revolution led to rapid transformations everywhere, and while it’s challenging to stay on top of all the developments, it’s very easy to find out about them once you set your mind to it.
Furthermore, there will always be a better chance of making a profit in a niche that is trending right now, so be mindful of those.
Think of more than one course idea
We all know the wise saying that you should never put all your eggs in one basket. While it will be important to stay focused once you begin designing a certain e-learning module, the validation process requires a much more comprehensive approach. Your first idea may be a good one, but most likely, other people have had it as well.
You can look at any traffic stats to know you are far from alone on the world wide web and have quite some company when it comes to e-learning designers. That’s why it’s best to consider all the data you have gathered up to this point and plan for a series or a portfolio of courses.
Validate, validate, validate
The thorough research done so far should ensure that all your ideas are at least viable. Yet, you need market share and profit, so it is time to see which items on your list have the best chances of success. There are several ways of finding out, and you should employ more than one to make sure you are really on to something worthwhile.
Check out the competition: search the course catalogs of the big players on the market and look at enrollment rates; great numbers will tell you that there’s a high demand and quite a lot of already designed material. If you find gaps that your modules can bridge, however, you are good to go.
Google Trends can be a precious source of information as you can find nifty statistics about what is being searched and in what areas. You can run broad searches or more minute ones and even have the option of employing Google’s keyword planner to try out various wordings.
Amazon is also a great place to do research (the site, not the river). The kindle e-book market is an excellent indicator of what subjects are hot and what topics people are looking to learn about (and willing to pay for doing so).
Quora is, like the name pretty much gives away, a site for people to ask questions. You must look for what subject matter experts have to say and see what topics spark the most debate. It’s also an excellent place to post questions of your own.
Read more: Using Quora to grow your online business
As the second most visited site on the web, YouTube can also give you many insights into the most-watched videos and what channels get a lot of attention.
Picking a subject for your e-learning course is paramount in how successful your product will be on the market. Careful research and planning will take you half of the way; for the rest, you’ll have to do your best to validate your idea.
Raluca Cristescu has over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.