5 Questions to Ask Before You Create Your Online Course

Five Questions to Ask Before You Create an Online Course

You have content and ideas, but that doesn’t mean you are ready to create an online course… and sell it!

“You know, I’ve got all this content and I’ve been thinking about to create an online course. Do you have a card?”

That’s the typical response once I get when I tell people what I do. While it would be easy to take their money and help them create an online course, it’s not something I could do and be in integrity.

Why? Because 7 out of 10 of the people that I consult with are not ready to create an online course.

Many coaches, consultants, and practitioners see the value of having an online course. Who doesn’t want to create something that can generate income 24/7?

But they’ve bought into the passive-income hype. They believe it takes very little time, money, and effort to create a course.

While many have turned their experience and expertise into a six-figure course, they also had certain things in place to make that happen. In fact, many of them will tell you they failed along the way to six-figures more than once.

Before you create an online course, there are five questions you need to be able to say “YES” to:

  1. Do you know your target audience?
  2. Are you clear about their problems and how you help them get results?
  3. Do you have a sales funnel mapped out for your target audience?
  4. Do you count on a marketing system that you execute consistently?
  5. Do you have partners to help you promote your course?

I’ll be going through each one of those questions in this series. First up – let’s talk about your target audience.

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Do you know your target audience?

This goes beyond being able to say, “I work with women in corporate America between the ages of 35-50”.  To create an online course that sells you need to know more about your audience.

How does knowing your audience help you create something that sells?

One of my clients is a brilliant career coach. She helps people get into their first management position. Initially she wanted to create a self-paced course for anyone wanting a promotion.

After a BrillianceStorming session, we created a much clearer description of who she would create the course for.

Here’s a sample of the clarity she was able to get to about her intended audience to create an online course:

  • college-educated women
  • with at least 10 years of experience
  • who have excelled professionally, and
  • love what they do, but
  • they’re often overlooked because they are introverts.

She would still need to do a little target audience research. But here’s how adding just the details above helped shape her online course and other offerings:

  • #1 – Women who are trying to get promoted but don’t have any college experience have different professional challenges than women who have at least a four-year degree.

They may have to go back to school or find a company that doesn’t require a degree to be considered for management. So to create an online course that doesn’t address those issues would be worthless for them.

On the other hand, women with a degree and experience need a coach rather than a class.

  • #2 – Women who enjoy their work and have a track record of good performance, don’t need to repair their reputation or build their credibility. Women who need a professional image makeover because of past performance issues have a whole other mountain to climb.
  • #3- By focusing on introverts that aspire to become managers, she is speaking directly to an audience that she knows about (she’s an introvert). She’s also focusing on a specific goal she can help them meet.

In a sea of career coaches her course and offerings will stand. As an introvert that had been passed over for promotion again, which title would catch your eye?

A. 5 Steps to Get a Promotion
B. The Introverts Guide to Getting Noticed (and Promoted) at Work (one of the potential titles we came up with)


Hands down you would be drawn to B. You’d be attracted to the coach offering that course because they could help with your exact problem.

How well have you defined your audience? Do you know them enough to create a stand out course? Or will it blend into the background of all the other things out there?

A few other things to know about your audience so you can make products that your audience really wants:

  • What triggers them to buy?
  • What’s their preferred learning style? Do they prefer to read, listen, or watch?
  • How much discretionary income do they have to invest in your course and services?

Answering these questions help lay a solid foundation for creating an online course that sells.

Talk to Me

What’s your biggest obstacle in defining your target audience?

In the next article in this series, we’ll dive into the 5 mistakes people make when choosing the topic for their course.

11 thoughts on “Five Questions to Ask Before You Create an Online Course”

  1. The key to product development is not expressing your own passion but in responding to your clients’ needs. If you don’t know who she is, how will you find and entice her with meaningful benefits? This is an excellent discussion of not putting the product before the expressed need, Tai!

  2. Bravo Tai! I agree. There are many that have created product after product without really knowing who they are making it for. Generalities simply don’t sell as well as targeted, focused solutions to problems. Knowing your ideal client for any product, service or event is significant because you can speak directly to them.

  3. Well said Tai. When it comes to defining a target I think one of the first obstacles people face is getting over the fact there is no such audience as “everybody.” I occasionally work with new authors and this is a big issue for them because so often – particularly with a first book – they’ve honestly poured their heart into the book and because they love the story feel sure that everyone – everywhere – will (should) also love it.

    1. An author that took my Infoproduct Intensive workshop said she wished she had done the Mapping Your Market work before she wrote her book. It pains me that there are people that pour their heart and soul into something – and no one helps them answer the critical question of audience.

  4. Hello Tai,
    Great post. “Know your target audience” is such a phrase that every marketing expert is throwing around social media these days – and when I hear it my eyes usually glaze over. Your post captured and kept my attention. Well written and full of real, practical and useful tips. -Peace & Blessings !, Phyllis

    1. Thank you Phyllis! It’s the teacher in me that wants to not just tell people about something, but help them see the reason behind it. I am so glad I didn’t make your eyes glaze over.

  5. It’s so important to know your audience before you do any marketing. And, to speak TO them, not AT them. Understand what their challenges/issues are and then address those issues with a solution that helps make their lives easier. Thanks Tai.

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