Before you begin creating a digital course, you need to spend time validating your online course idea and testing its selling potential. Read on for valuable tips and insights.
If you’re reading this blog post, it’s likely that you’re considering creating an online course. Congratulations! Online courses are a great way to share your expertise with a wider audience, and can be a fantastic source of passive income.
However, before you dive in and start creating content, it’s important to validate your course idea.
Validating your course idea means…
- You’re testing to see if there is a demand for the course you’re offering.
- You protect yourself from spending months creating a course that nobody wants.
In this blog post, I’m going to share 20 ways to validate an online course idea. I’ll also share suggestions for sites, digital tools and software that can help you with the validation process.
I’m writing this article because I’m a multi-bestselling entrepreneur, with about 2 million books and courses sold globally.
I’ve spent about 2 decades studying and practicing various marketing strategies to learn which are the most effective marketing tools for today’s competitive marketplace.
I also created a bestselling program to help entrepreneurs make money online called “Make Profitable Courses Without The Overwhelm.”
So without further ado, here are…
20 Ways to Validate an Online Course Idea
Below you will find some helpful strategies to validate online course idea and test its selling potential.
1. Choose a Topic You Love – And That Others Have Been Reported to Love too
When creating an online course, it’s important you choose a topic you’re passionate about and skilled at helping people with. Plus, by selecting a topic that excites you, you’ll be more motivated and won’t be as likely to procrastinate or give up.
However, it’s also important to choose a popular topic which has been proven to have an audience that needs what you’re gonna teach!
Here are 15 popular online course topics:
- Language learning
- Creative arts, such as music, photography, and writing
- Professional courses on e-commerce, marketing, accounting, programming, and other specialized fields
- Health and fitness-focused learning programs such as yoga, dance, and home workouts
- Self-improvement courses on relationship building, communication, leadership, and personal development
- Business and entrepreneurship courses, such as starting and growing a business or becoming a freelancer
- Technology-focused courses, such as web development, coding, and data science
- Academic and educational courses, such as tutoring and test preparation
- Personal finance courses, such as budgeting, investing, and retirement planning
- Culinary courses, such as cooking and baking.
- Parenting courses on various topics, such as positive discipline, communication, and child development.
- Courses to help kids with learning disabilities: These could cover speech and language development, reading challenges, dyslexia, ADHD, autism, etc.
- STEM courses for kids, covering topics such as robotics, coding, and engineering.
- Homeschooling courses for parents, covering topics such as curriculum planning, assessment, and learning styles.
- Art Therapy: A course designed to help kids with learning disabilities and special needs express themselves and develop their creativity through art, painting, drawing, and sculpture.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
It’s crucial to know your target audience before creating your course. You need to understand their needs, wants, and pain points.
By identifying your target audience, you can create a course that meets their specific needs, ensuring that your course resonates with your ideal students.
I recommend using the following…
- Google Analytics: A free tool that provides valuable insights into the demographics, interests, and behavior of your website visitors. By analyzing this data, you can gain a deeper understanding of your audience and tailor your course to their needs.
- SurveyMonkey: A user-friendly tool that allows you to create custom surveys to gather feedback from your target audience. With SurveyMonkey, you can create surveys to gather insights on your audience’s pain points, preferences, and needs.
- Google Keyword Planner: A free tool that helps you identify the keywords and phrases your target audience uses when searching for information online. By using this tool, you can discover new topics and ideas for your course content and optimize your course for search engines.
3. Conduct Market Research
Market research is an essential part of validating your course idea. You need to know whether there is a market for your course and what the competition is like.
Some good market research suggestions:
- Analyze competitors’ courses: Use online course platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare to analyze courses on your chosen topic. This will give you a good idea of the market demand and competition.
- Conduct surveys to understand your target audience’s needs: Use Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, or Typeform to conduct surveys to learn more about your target audience’s pain points, challenges, needs and ways to explore cognitive biases.
- Use keyword research to determine the search volume for your chosen topic: Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and Moz to identify profitable keywords related to your chosen topic. Plus I also recommend using SEMrush’s competitive analysis feature. It can help you to identify the online courses that are currently available in your niche and analyze their performance – plus optimize your course content for search engines. Learn more about SEMrush here.
By conducting market research, you’ll have a better understanding of your course’s potential and what you need to do to make it stand out.
4. Offer a Free Mini-Course
A free mini-course is an excellent way to validate your course idea and generate leads. By offering a free mini-course, you can collect feedback from your subscribers and use it to improve your course content. Additionally, you can use this feedback to generate testimonials and case studies, which are excellent marketing tools.
I recommend these to create your mini-course:
- Teachable: An all-in-one platform for creating and selling online courses. Teachable also allows you to create free mini-courses as a way to attract new students and promote your brand. Learn more about Teachable here.
- Canva: A graphic design platform that allows you to create professional-looking course materials, including graphics, slide decks, and social media images. With Canva, you can create visually appealing materials. Learn more about Canva here.
5. Use Google Trends to Identify Trends and Patterns
Google Trends is a valuable tool that can help you identify trends and patterns. By using it, you can determine the popularity of certain keywords and whether your chosen topic is trending or not.
Here are 5 suggestions to help you use Google Trends:
- Identify Your Keywords: Start by identifying the keywords related to your course topic. Use these keywords to search for related topics in Google Trends.
- Analyze the Trends: Analyze the results to determine the popularity of the keywords and related topics. You can compare the popularity of different keywords and topics over different time periods to identify trends and patterns.
- Identify Seasonal Trends: Use the time range feature in Google Trends to identify seasonal trends and patterns. For example if you’re creating a fitness courses, you can identify peak seasons for fitness.
- Refine Your Course Topic: Based on the insights you gain from Google Trends, you can refine your course topic to meet the current and upcoming trends in your niche.
- Use Keyword Trends for SEO: Use the keyword trends and patterns you identify in Google Trends to optimize your course content for search engines. This can help you improve your visibility and attract more students to your course.
6. Analyze Your Competitors’ Reviews
Another way to validate your course idea is to analyze your competitors’ reviews. Look for patterns in the reviews and identify what customers are looking for. By doing so, you can identify gaps in the market and create a course that meets the specific needs of your target audience.
Some suggestions to help:
- Udemy: Another platform to check is Udemy, which has a review system that allows students to leave feedback on courses. Look at the reviews to see what students liked and disliked about the course and identify areas where your course can be improved.
- Trustpilot: A platform that allows consumers to leave reviews for a range of products and services, including online courses. Look for competitors who have a presence on Trustpilot and analyze the reviews to identify areas where they are meeting or falling short of student expectations.
- Course Compare: A website that allows you to compare online courses and read reviews from students. Use this platform to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and gain insights into what your target audience is looking for.
- Google Alerts: Set up a Google Alert for your competitors’ courses and receive notifications when new reviews are published. This can help you stay up-to-date on what students are saying about your competitors’ courses and identify areas where you can improve your own course.
7. Conduct Interviews with Your Target Audience
Conducting interviews with your target audience is an excellent way to validate your course idea. Ask them about their experience with the topic, what they would like to learn, and what challenges they face. You can use this information to create a value-packed online course that meets the needs of your target audience. (Pssst…you should also use this to brainstorm a new type of freelance business!)
Some suggestions to help with this…
- Google Forms: A free tool that allows you to create surveys to send to your target audience. You can include open-ended questions in your surveys to gain insights into what your target audience is looking for and what challenges they are facing.
- Intercom: A platform that allows you to chat with your target audience in real-time. Intercom provides a way for you to have conversations with potential customers and gather feedback on your course idea.
- Calendly: A scheduling tool that allows you to set up interviews with your target audience. Calendly integrates with your calendar and allows you to share your availability with your interviewees, making scheduling easy.
8. Use Social Media to Validate Your Idea
Social media is a powerful tool for validating your online course idea. You can use it to ask your audience whether they would be interested in your course. Additionally, you can use social media to conduct surveys, offer free content, and generate leads.
A suggestion to help you with this…
- Instagram Stories: I recommend using Instagram Stories to offer free content related to your course topic and generate leads. You can also use the poll feature on Instagram Stories to ask your audience for feedback on your course idea.
- I also have special highlight areas on my @notsalmon Instagram page which explain my courses. And I constantly check which ones get clicked the most.
9. Use Video Content to Validate Your Idea
Video content is an engaging form of content that can be used to validate your online course idea. Create short videos on your chosen topic and use them to generate interest in your course. You can share these videos on social media and other platforms and collect feedback.
A suggestion for this…
- YouTube: Use YouTube to create short videos related to your course topic and share them on social media and other platforms. You can also use YouTube analytics to track engagement with your videos and identify which topics generate the most interest from your audience.
10. Create a Landing Page
Creating a landing page is an excellent way to validate your online course idea. Use it to outline the benefits, features, and pricing of your course. You can then promote the landing page to your target audience and measure the engagement. If your landing page generates a lot of interest, it’s an excellent indicator that your online course will be successful.
A suggestion for this…
Thrivecart: A powerful all-in-one shopping cart and checkout platform that allows you to create high-converting landing pages and sales funnels. With Thrivecart, you can create a custom checkout process that allows you to collect valuable user data and validate your course idea. Additionally, Thrivecart offers a variety of features that help you optimize your landing pages and improve your conversion rates. Learn more about Thrivecart here.
11. Offer a Beta Version of Your Course
Offering a beta version of your course is an excellent way to get feedback and validate your course idea. Offer your beta course to a small group of people and collect feedback. Use the feedback to improve the course content and launch a more refined version of the course.
12. Conduct A/B Testing
A/B testing is an excellent way to validate your online course idea. Test different pricing strategies, course titles, and marketing strategies. Analyze the results and use the data to make informed decisions about your course content and marketing.
Suggestions for this…
- Google Optimize: A free tool that allows you to run A/B tests on your landing pages and websites. With Google Optimize, you can create variations of your landing pages and measure the engagement of your target audience.
- VWO: A testing and optimization platform that allows you to conduct A/B testing, multivariate testing, and personalization. With VWO, you can create different variations of your landing pages and measure the engagement of your target audience.
13. Pre-sell Your Course
Pre-selling your course is an excellent way to validate your online course idea and generate revenue before you launch. Offer your course at a discounted rate to early adopters and collect feedback. Use the feedback to improve the course content and launch a more refined version of the course.
14. Offer a Free Trial
Offering a free trial is a great way to validate your online course idea. By offering a free trial, you can collect feedback and identify areas for improvement. Additionally, you can use this feedback to generate testimonials and case studies, which are excellent marketing tools.
15. Use Webinars to Test Your Idea
Webinars are an excellent way to validate your online course idea. Host a webinar on your chosen topic and use it to generate leads and collect feedback. Additionally, you can use the webinar as a marketing tool for your course.
Some suggestions for this…
- GoToWebinar: A webinar platform that allows you to host live and on-demand webinars. With GoToWebinar, you can create custom registration pages, conduct polls, and generate reports to measure the engagement of your target audience.
- Demio: A webinar platform that allows you to host live, automated, and hybrid webinars. With Demio, you can create custom registration pages, conduct polls and surveys, and analyze your data to measure the engagement of your target audience. Additionally, Demio offers a variety of features that help you improve your webinars, such as analytics, integrations, and customizable branding.
16. Create an E-book
Creating an e-book is an excellent way to validate your online course idea. Write an e-book on your chosen topic and offer it for sale. Analyze the engagement and use the feedback to improve your course content.
17. Use Quizzes to Collect Feedback
Quizzes are an engaging way to collect feedback on your online course idea. Create a quiz related to your chosen topic and use it to identify the needs of your target audience. Use the feedback to improve your course content.
Some suggestions for this…
- Interact: Interact is a tool that specializes in creating quizzes. The tool offers a range of templates that can be customized, and it provides analytics to help you understand the results.
- Quiz Maker: Quiz Maker is a tool that allows you to create quizzes quickly and easily. The tool offers a range of question formats and allows for customization. The results can be viewed in real-time, and the tool provides analytics to help you understand the results.
- Typeform: This is a versatile survey tool that can be used to create engaging quizzes to collect feedback. The tool offers a range of question formats and allows for customization to make the quiz match the look and feel of your brand.
- Google Forms: This is a FREE tool that can be used to create quizzes to collect feedback. The tool offers a range of question formats and allows for customization. The results can be viewed in real-time, and the data can be exported to other tools.
18. Use Forums to Identify Pain Points
Forums are a great way to identify pain points related to your chosen topic. Join online forums related to your topic and identify the challenges and needs of your target audience. Use this information to create a course that meets the needs of your target audience.
- Reddit: This is a popular online platform with a wealth of discussion forums or subreddits that can help you identify pain points. You can search for subreddits related to your course topic and see what people are talking about.
- Quora: This is another question and answer platform where people ask questions related to a variety of topics. By joining topic-specific groups or following topics, you can identify the pain points and challenges faced by your target audience.
- Facebook Groups: These groups are another great resource for identifying pain points. Join groups related to your topic and see what kind of questions and discussions are taking place. You can also use these groups to ask your own questions and get feedback.
- Buzzsumo: This is is a content research tool that allows you to find popular content related to your topic. You can use this tool to find popular blog posts and articles related to your topic, then read the comments to see what people are saying and what their pain points are.
19. Offer One-on-One Coaching
Offering one-on-one coaching is an excellent way to validate your online course idea. By offering coaching sessions, you can identify the specific needs of your target audience and use the feedback to improve your course content.
20. Work One-on-One with Me As Your Business and Marketing Consultant
If you’re feeling unsure about how to validate your online course idea or you simply want some personalized guidance, consider working with me 1-on-1. I’ve been a recognized branding and marketing consultant for about 3 decades and counting. I can help you identify your target audience, analyze your competitors, conduct interviews, and use social media to validate your idea. Additionally, I can guide you through the process of creating a landing page, conducting A/B testing, and using webinars to test your idea. With my 1-on-1 guidance, you can feel confident that your online course idea is validated and has the best possible chance of success.
Conclusion: Validating Course Ideas
Validating your online course idea is crucial to ensure that it resonates with your target audience and generates sales. I recommend you use at least a few of the above key course validation strategies and test your course’s selling potential.
- When you validate your course idea, you’ll have more confidence in the product you’re creating.
- You’ll better serve your customers, because you’ll be creating a value-packed online course that meets their needs.
- The end result? Happier customers and larger revenue!
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