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How Do I Build An Online Course?

Updated: May 17, 2021

The year 2020 has certainly helped shift the vision of many business owners to thinking about their online presence as well as how to survive by providing another revenue stream. Many want to build online courses for their communities, clients and audiences although are not sure where to start.

At the Modern Mind Group, we help people who help other people, offering online eLearning courses so we want to help you to build your own online course so that you can continue to help more people.

Here are some considerations for you when you are starting out -


The best projects and business plans start with a strong sense of purpose. What is your why? Write down 3 outcomes that you are looking to achieve from this online course and why they are important to you

Objectives For The Learner

We encourage you to keep the learner at the heart of what you do. List 3 objectives for the learner. For example, when creating our Mental Health Awareness Course the objectives were, to ensure confidence and understanding to support others with a mental health challenge, to help them notice signs and symptoms within themselves and others and to destigmatise mental health through education. Having your objectives will make it clearer on what content will be needed to achieve these objectives. Don’t just put something in the course because you like to talk about it. Make it impactful.

Feeling Outcome

Ask yourself ‘how do I want my learner to feel?’. When asking this question, the answers you come up with may sound like, successful, a sense of achievement, empowered motivated, calmer. Then take one of those outcomes and work backwards, for example, if you chose 'motivated' ask 'how are people motivated?' Or 'what type of education will motivate the most'. This will start to shape how you will deliver your course.

Change Your Mindset

There are barriers to success with course building and they often start in our minds. ‘I already have that information in my book’ there is nothing wrong with repurposing your content for your audience. They need convincing of your message, many will buy the book, the course and the t-shirt (if you have one). Or you may have imposter syndrome and believe you are not worthy to create a course on the subject. You are worthy! If everyone thought that then there would be no courses or content in the world. Many people already pay for your advice and knowledge just in a different way to leave the self-doubt behind you.


Here the suggestion is to start with 2 clear areas to your planning.

1) Mind Map – Get all your ideas down on paper or in digital form – there is a great online tool called AYOA that you can use for projects and mind mapping

2) Story Board – Once you have your ideas it’s time to storyboard them into subjects, modules and units. Then this will create the flow for building or curating your content

Make it a Sandwich

Beginnings and endings are extremely important. Make your welcome message direct to your learner at the beginning to inspire and excite them. It sets the scene and tone for the entire experience. The ending is equally important. Congratulate them and celebrate their success. The aim is to make them feel proud of what they have accomplished and empowered to take action on what they have learned.

Content Building

There are four main ways to build your content and deliver your message. They are video or film, documentation, audio and presentations such as PowerPoint. I do suggest making it as interactive as possible. I understand though that many people may feel uncomfortable about doing a video for the first time so start with where you feel comfortable and build from there. You could even outsource the video content once you have scripted what needs to be in each one.

Attention Span

In 2018 the average attention span was found to be 8 seconds which was a significant decrease on the attention span in 2000 of 12 seconds. With this information, be aware of how long your units or videos are. This does not mean that content needs to be 8 seconds, as when we choose to learn our focus can go up, that being said, make it as engaging as possible so that people stay focused longer and find it memorable. The suggestion for content would be to keep it between 2- 3 mins per piece if you can.

Blended Learning

Many people talk about having a preferred learning style there is a great TEDx talk on learning style being a myth and that making memorable experiences is better for learning. So we encourage a blended learning approach using all the different types of content available to hit as many senses as possible through online delivery. It helps to also keep engagement up.


Delivery is all about the way that you communicate your message and deliver your course.

There are many different channels to run your course, Facebook groups, zoom virtual classrooms, pre-recorded videos through YouTube or with a learning management system (LMS) that can house all of your learners and the content, helping you with more strategic learning and support outcomes.

Think about what is best for you and for your learners. You also have to think about your audience, timezones, commitments and your own delivery time. Do you want to be there in person every session or would you prefer to use LMS that can run in the background at the learner's own pace?


When it comes to accreditation there is nothing better to express your credibility to your customers. Although accreditation can come at quite a cost even for small business trainers. This is where I encourage you to ask yourself ‘who is my learner?’ – if you are wanting to help people become professionals, teachers, pilots or surgeons, there are going to be pretty strong regulated training that is involved which would involve full accreditation, awards and a rigorous approval process. If you are creating a marketing course to share your knowledge on how to grow a small business then whilst it may be preferred it is not essential that you are accredited. Also, ask yourself ‘who is my course not suitable for’ and if that message is clear and transparent to the audience then they get to decide whether it is right for them or not. No false promises.


With a well thought out planning process, an 8-hour online course will take around 2 weeks of laser focus content building. Unless of course you already have the majority of the content, then this will be much quicker. The more complex then longer it will take.

Selling Your Course

‘What audience do you have and who knows you?’ is the first few questions to ask, to promote a course on social media when you are new to it would mean that you need to set expectations. It is likely that only 10% of your audience will see or engage with your post. Then of that 10% experience has shown that 10% of those that engage or see the posts will join. If you have a Facebook group it is higher and more like 30% - 50% of people see your communication and email marketing is around 80% that will engage and then 10% of that likely to sign up. Once you get going there is of course social proof and testimonials will increase your chance of the next enrolment success.


The costs you want to consider are for LMS systems, subscriptions to video editing apps, video housing platforms, websites certificates, printing, accreditation, and your time.

Without your time you are looking at £200 - £300 per month with an LMS system and eCommerce shop for your courses, with accreditation for up to 5 courses and 40 users. The more users you have this goes up as well as the number or courses. All this should be factored into your costs.

Minimal Viable Product

The focus when starting out should be to work with what you have and improve it every course cycle following feedback from your customers, clients, and learners. Think about the minimal viable product that you can use and then build on it. If you spend 6 months creating a singing all dancing course to find that there is not a market or audience for it then you will lose money and motivation. I suggest experimenting and adapting to what you learn from feedback.

I hope these considerations have given you much food for thought on the process of creating an online course. If there is one key message I can leave you with today, it is START TODAY! You won’t have a course if you don’t start. A dream that is written down becomes a goal and a goal achieved becomes a reality.


The Modern Mind Group are emotioneering human performance not engineering it.

As a learning and performance consultancy, we work with your business to identify and improve performance gaps so that you can be more profitable and professionally develop your people. Over 10 years of expertise in learning and performance with results to back it all up. Why settle for the average when there is a world of possibility when you know how to achieve it? Untapped potential - Let's go get it!


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