How To Create An Online Course: A Step-By-Step Guide

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In this guide I will show you the process of creating an online course.

Creating an online course can be a struggle if you don’t know where to start; but it doesn’t have to be. I have created online courses before and so I know first-hand what it takes.

If you follow this guide, you can get started right away and for free!

Picking a course platform

To create an online course, you need to decide what platform you are going to use to create and market your course.

There are quite a few platforms available that make creating an online course easy.

I recommend using Teachable to create your online course.

Why use Teachable?

Teachable is an all-in-one platform that makes creating and selling online courses easy.

I use Teachable to create my online courses. Here are the main reasons why I love them:

  • They have a Free (but limited) price plan
  • The course sale pages are super easy to create
  • They do not limit your bandwidth usage
  • You can create as many courses as you like
  • They can take care of the VAT side of things (premium feature)
  • You can create coupons to give away (premium feature)

Think about what type of Teachable account you want

One of the main attractions for using Teachable to create your online course is that there is a Free account available – so you can get started and set up with no upfront fees!

Be sure to check out my dedicated post on Teachable pricing here.

The main features of their free plan are:

✔️ Unlimited courses and hosting
✔️ Add course quizzes
✔ Integrated payment processing

I will create a Free account for the purposes of this guide. Once you have your School and course set up, it is also worth thinking about upgrading.

As you would expect, their Free plan is restricted. For example, you can only have 10 students on your course.

So, it is worth having a think at the beginning if you would like to invest in a premium plan to unlock more features. There are three premium plans: Basic, Professional and Business.

Teachable pricing
There are three premium price plans at Teachable: Basic, Professional and Business. Prices start at $29 per month (annual billing).

I use and recommend their Basic account and here are my main reasons why.

  • Unlimited students – Unlike their Free plan, you can have an unlimited amount of students enrolling on your course.
  • Lower transaction fees – For the Free plan, Teachable takes $1 and 10% of the transaction fee. In their Basic plan, this is reduced to just 5%, so make more money.
  • Custom domain support – When on the Free plan, the website address that you will be given is your School name with a suffix of ‘.teachable.com’. In the Basic plan, there is the option to add your own custom domain (ie, remove the ‘.teachable.com’ part) to make the site look more professional.
  • Coupon codes – Coupon codes are great to increase sales and are available in their Basic plan.

But, for now, we will go ahead and create a Free account and get started on creating an online course.

Create a Teachable account

The first thing you need to do is to head on over to Teachable and create an account.

Create a Teachable account
Just like creating any other account, enter your name, e-mail address and create a password. After agreeing to the their terms, click the Get Started button to create a Teachable account.

Next, you want to enter a name for your School.

The School is where all of your courses will be hosted. The School name will also form part of the subdomain.

For example, I called my School ‘SideHustleTeach’.

So, my students will go to sidehustleteach.teachable.com to see my courses.

Teachable create a School name
Next, enter a School name. The name should be unique and will form part of the subdomain where your students will go to.

After creating an account and deciding upon a School name, Teachable will then ask you a few questions.

Don’t worry too much about these. The answers to these questions will just customize your Teachable experience ie, provide you with more guidance if needed.

Once you submit these answers, you will then be taken to your School’s dashboard.

The Teachable dashboard

The Teachable dashboard is the main hub behind your School. It is packed with features and helpful tips from the Teachable guys. So, I recommend taking a bit of time to explore the functionalities of the dashboard.

Teachable dashboard overview
An overview of the Teachable dashboard when you first log in. Each numbered marker is described underneath.
  1. Dashboard – The dashboard will show you an overview of your School’s activities.
  2. Users – When you have students that sign-up to your courses, their profiles will be listed here. You can also manually add students if you so wish.
  3. Site – In Site you can modify the appearance of your Schools website. You can also add a custom domain (premium feature).
  4. Sales – When you make course sales, the transactions will appear here.
  5. Emails – Teachable has a built-in e-mail feature so you can message students directly (premium feature).
  6. Settings – There are a plethora of settings to tweak including your School’s name, tax collection details and payment details.
  7. Courses – Courses are where you can create and edit courses in your School.
  8. Plan – You can upgrade your Teachable plan here. Upgrading to a premium plan comes with more advanced features.
  9. Help – Teachable has an excellent help resource – if you ever get stuck you can see their knowledge base or submit a support ticket.
  10. TeachableU – Those on a premium plan have access to TeachableU – an online training area for course creators.
  11. Account – In the account area, you can adjust your personal details.
  12. View Your School – As the name suggests, clicking on this button will take you to your School’s webpage, as viewed by students.
  13. How do I – Browse one of the many tutorials available on Teachable.
  14. Training – Even more training and webinars to take advance of.

Creating a new course

Now you have a Teachable account, you can now create a new course for your School.

To create a new course, click on the plus icon next to ‘courses’ in the menu.

The first step in course creation is to think of a course title and subtitle.

The title should be short and snappy, while the subtitle provides additional detail about the course.

Also, you need to select a course author. Usually, this is just you, but, you can create a new author profile if you have multiple authors in your School.

You can change these details throughout the creation process – so don’t worry about thinking of the best course title right now!

Teachable add a course title and subtitle
The first step is thinking of a course title and subtitle. Don’t worry about picking the right name just yet – you can always change it down the line.

In the example, I created a course about making money with YouTube.

By clicking on the ‘create course’ button, you will be taken to the curriculum area. This is where you will add your course content.

Creating the course curriculum

The curriculum is basically where you will upload all of the content for your course.

In Teachable, the curriculum can be organized into sections and lectures.

Sections are used to break up the course into different areas, a bit like chapters of a book.

Lectures are the individual lessons that are placed within sections. Students will complete lectures as they progress through the sections.

A nice feature that I like is the ability to click and drag sections and lectures around to reorganize them.

Teachable create a curriculum
The course curriculum is made up of sections and lectures.

Adding a new course section

To add a new section, click on the ‘new section’ button. Then enter a section name and click on the ‘create section’ button.

Personally, I think it is useful for students to see an introductory section at the beginning of the course. This is where you can tell students more about you and what they will get out of the course.

Teachable create a new section
To create a new section, enter a section name and click ‘Create Section’.

Adding a new course lecture

Now you have some sections, it’s time to start creating the lectures.

Simply click on the ‘new lecture’ button to create a new course lecture.

Teachable create a new course
The course builder in Teachable is very intuitive. Add files, text, quizzes and code for students to learn from. Preview and publish the lecture when you are happy with the content.

In lectures, you can add in different types of media. Media for lectures in Teachable can be split into four main areas:

  • Files (eg, videos, audio, PDFs)
  • Text
  • Quizzes
  • Code

When creating lectures, I recommend the following structure:

  1. Text – Add some introductory text to tell students what the lecture is about.
  2. Files – Add the main bulk of the content in the middle. For me, this is usually a video.
  3. Files – Think about adding supplementary files. For example, adding in lecture handouts or cheatsheets as a PDF.
  4. Text – Add a short summary of the lecture to remind the students what they have just learnt.

Again, simply click and drag the different lecture components around on the screen to reorganize them.

💡 Pro Tip
Don’t just add lectures with videos. Try and mix it up a little. Think about adding an end of section quizz to test the students on what they have learnt.

At the bottom there is also the option to enable student comments. When active, students can post a comment under the lecture. This is useful to see if there is a particular aspect of the lecture student’s didn’t understand.

Be sure to click the ‘preview’ button to see what the lecture will look like from a student’s point of view. Then, click ‘publish’ to make the lecture live.

Reviewing the curriculum

Once you have all of the sections and lectures added, be sure to give the curriculum a final review.

Think to you yourself:

  • Have you missed anything?
  • Do you need to re-record a lecture?
  • Are the sections and lectures in a logical order?

💡 Pro Tip
Preview the course by clicking on the ‘preview’ button and complete it as if you were a student. Or, even better, ask a friend to do this for you. The more feedback you get, the better!

Marking lectures as a free preview

If you are thinking about charging students for access to your course, it may be worthwhile giving some lectures away for free so they can preview what it is like before they buy.

By marking lectures as a free preview, anyone can view and complete the lecture – they do not need an account in your School.

To make a lecture a free preview, on the Curriculum page, click the eye icon.

Teachable make lecture a free preview
Clicking the eye icon will mark the lecture as a free preview so anyone can see it.

After the student completes the free preview, they will then be told they need to pay for the course to get access to the rest of the lectures.

💡 Pro Tip
Think about enabling a free preview on the first section of your course. This will give potential students enough access for them to get hooked, build trust with you and ultimately increase sales.

Creating a pricing plan

Now you have the content for your course created and your curriculum is complete, it’s time to decide on a pricing plan.

To create a pricing plan, click on ‘pricing’ on the left-hand menu.

In Teachable there are four different price plans your course can have.

  • Free – Your complete course will be free.
  • Subscription – Students will get access by paying either monthly or annually.
  • One-Time Purchase – A single payment fee for access to the course.
  • Payment Plans – Charge a recurring amount over a set period for access.
Teachable course payment plans
There are four payment plans to choose from: Free, Subscription, One-TIme Purchase and Payment Plan.

Usually, a one-time purchase plan is selected for online courses. But, you can decide what is best for your course.

A useful feature is the ability to have multiple payment plans for a course. So, you can give students the option to pay a one-time fee (eg. $99) or a payment plan (eg. three monthly payments of $33).

To create a payment plan, choose from one of the four options.

Then, enter the required details. For example, a one-time purchase plan only requires an amount, as shown in the screenshot below. Click the ‘add pricing’ button to save the plan.

Teachable creating a one-time purchase plan
For a One-Time Purchase plan, enter an amount that the course will cost students. You can also set the currency.

Editing the appearance of pages

In Teachable you can edit some of the pages that students will see whilst on your School and purchasing a course.

The three editable pages are:

  • Sales page – The most important page! This is the page customers will see on your School. It needs to look good and read well.
  • Checkout page – The page that customers will see when they click on the ‘buy’ button. It is the last page they will see before confirming their purchase.
  • Thank you page – A page that appears after they have completed the purchase.

To edit any of these pages, go to ‘pages’ in the left-hand menu.

Teachable customizing pages
It is possible to change the appearance of the sales, checkout and thank you pages within Teachable.

Customizing the sales page

The sales page is the most important page in your School. It should contain everything potential students need to see before deciding on purchasing the course. Aspects to think about including on the sales page are:

  • Information about you – Students will want to see who is actually going to teach them.
  • A picture of you – Preferably you will want to include a picture of you to prove you are a real person!
  • The course curriculum – The outline of the course curriculum is a must. Students need to know exactly what they are going to learn.
  • Testimonials/reviews – Ideally, you want to include testimonials or reviews from students that have used the course.
  • Pricing – Obviously, you need to include the price of the course.

To edit the sales page, click on the ‘edit’ button under the box.

Teachable has a very intuitive page builder that makes creating a compelling sales page easy!

Teachable sales page customize
Customizing the sales page is very easy, simply use the page builder to add and edit blocks.
  1. Settings – In Settings, you can decide to show the top navigation and bottom footer. Also, you can add the page title and description.
  2. Blocks – Blocks are the different components that make up your sales page. For example, a banner is a block and so is the course curriculum.
  3. Preview window – In the main window you can preview any changes made in real time.
  4. Preview – You can also preview any changes made in a separate window/tab.
  5. Update – Make sure you click the ‘update’ button to save any changes.

To start with, there will be some blocks already on the sales page. Ensure you go along and customize each one. For example, you will want to add a nice image to the top banner that is related to the course.

A nice feature of the page builder is the ability to click and drag the blocks around to reorganize them. Try and put them in a logical order.

  1. Banner
  2. Information about you
  3. Information about what the students will learn
  4. Course curriculum
  5. Pricing

💡 Pro Tip
Place the ‘pricing’ block at the bottom of the sales page. That way, customers will need to read all aspects of the page (reviews, detailed course information etc) first. By the time they reach the bottom of the page, they will be sold!

Customizing the checkout page

The checkout page is the second most important page related to your course. Some customers will get to this page and have doubts about buying your course. So, it needs to confirm that this is the right product for them!

A cool feature here is the ability to add up to two testimonials.

Testimonials are basically reviews from people who have, in this case, used the course. This is also known as a social proof. By reading reviews from real people, this will reassure customers that the course is not a scam.

To add a testimonial, fill in a heading (eg, ‘Reviews from students on the course’), the reviewer’s name and their words. You can also add in a picture of the student. If they are willing to provide a picture this will show that they are a real person.

Testimonials are a powerful way to increase course sales right through to the end.

Make sure you click ‘save’ after you have filled this out.

💡 Pro Tip
After giving some time for students to work through your course, ask them for feedback and their permission to put it on your website as a testimonial. I create a simple survey by using the free SurveyMonkey service to collect the feedback.

Underneath, you can also add some bullet points.

Bullet points can be shown to display the main five perks of the course. In other words, what are the main features of the course that the student can expect? Are you giving away some extra bonuses like cheatsheets, for example?

Teachable add bullet points
Add up to five bullet points to state the main features of the course.

Finally, you have the option to include information about a money-back guarantee. This gives customers added reinsurance that they can get their money back after a set period, usually 30 days, if they are not satisfied with the course.

I completely recommend adding a 30-day money-back guarantee to your course.

What’s great is that there are a selection of images ready made to choose from that will show there is a guarantee on your course. Or, you can add your own if you so wish.

Teachable add course guarantee
Select a course guarantee image to show that your course has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Creating a coupon code

Coupons are discount codes that you can give away to give customers some money off the course. They are a great way to increase sales over promotional periods such as Black Friday or Christmas.

To create a coupon in Teachable you need to have a premium account.

Creating a coupon code is really easy; simply, click on the ‘codes’ section of the course menu. Then, select the type of coupon code you like to create:

  • This course only – The code will only work for that particular course.
  • All courses – A School-wide coupon that will work on any course.
Teachable create a coupon code
When creating a new coupon code, choose between a course-specific or a non-specific code if you have multiple courses.

Since this will be the first course in your School, I recommend the ‘this course only’ option for now.

There are two subtypes of coupon code that can be created:

  • Amount – This will reduce the course by a set amount, eg $10.
  • Percentage – This will reduce the course by a percentage, eg 10%.

Usually, the ‘percentage’ option is selected for a coupon code.

Ensure you create a name (‘coupon code’) that is relevant to the course or promotion. This is the actual code students will enter when applying it at the checkout. So, for example, if I wanted to give 10% off my YouTube course, I could enter the coupon code’ as YOUTUBE10.

When creating a new coupon code, change the following settings to restrict the code usage.

After adding in your desired settings, be sure to click the ‘add coupon’ button to save the changes.

How to recieve payments from Teachable

One of the final bits you need to do before you start promoting your online course is to fill in all of the required details so Teachable can send you money from sales.

To set up payments in Teachable, click on ‘settings’ in the menu and then ‘payments’ in the sub-menu.

Firstly, you will need to enter an e-mail address that is linked to a PayPal account. If you haven’t already got one, you can create a PayPal account for free.

Teachable settings payment PayPal account
Firstly, add in your e-mail address that has a PayPal account associated with it.

Click the ‘continue’ button when this is done.

Then, you will be asked whether you are a company or an individual. Unless you have your own company registered, select the ‘individual’ option. Also, fill out your annual sales for the previous year. If this is the first time you are going to be making money online, then select the ‘$0-$100’ option.

Teachable settings payment company or individual
Pick either ‘company’ or ‘individual’ depending upon your circumstances. Chances are, you will select the ‘Individual’ option.

By clicking on the ‘continue’ button, Teachable will then ask you whether you would like to enable the BackOffice.

The BackOffice is an optional service Teachable offers to take care of additional administrative duties including processing any value added tax (VAT) for EU customers.

The cost of using the BackOffice is an additional 2% fee on any transaction, but I believe it a small price to pay to take care of all that tedious paperwork.

Next, there is an option to accept PayPal payments from students. By selecting ‘yes’ here, you can give customers more flexibility for their payment option. I also find that some students prefer to use PayPal over a credit card for that added security. So, I recommend accepting PayPal payments.

Teachable accept PayPal payments
By clicking ‘Yes’ you can accept PayPal payments from students.

The final piece of information that is required for the payment settings is to tell Teachable what the type of courses you will be making and their approximate selling price.

Now all of that is complete, you can now accept payments from customers.

Customizing the appearance of your School

You will also want to customize the appearance of your School to personalize it to your brand. Take the time to add a logo, adjust the font and colours of your pages to fit with your brand.

To customize the appearance of your School go to ‘Site>Theme’.

Teachable add a logo

Not got a logo yet? Have a look on Fiverr. You can get someone else to design and create a logo for you and prices start super cheap ($5).

Selling your online course

So once you’ve created your online course, you can finally start making some income from it.

Selling an online course is a skill in itself.

By using the right marketing tools and tips, you can make all the difference to convert customers into sales.

Check out my tips when selling an online course.

Conclusion

By following this guide, you will now have the knowledge to go ahead an create an online course. Hopefully you can see that it isn’t that difficult to get set up. Teachable makes creating and selling online courses super easy – best of all you can get started for free!

Have you created your own online course? Let me know in the comments below on how it went.

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