October 27th, 2017 Business

Creating an online course is no small task. Before you spend months of your life getting everything put together, why not validate the idea first?

It isn’t uncommon for an online course to take a very long time to complete. Back when I was doing regular consulting I would be working with clients for close to a year to roll out a learning program.

Now this is not going to be your timeline as my consulting engagements were for Fortune 500 companies, but you can fully expect that your course will take longer than you think to create and configure. We used to quote 99 hours of development for every one hour of online course instruction – and that was on the low-end.

Oh, and the course is just the first part. You have to consider how you’re going to market it (hint: start marketing before anything else) and other critical components like your website configuration, e-commerce, etc.

Feeling overwhelmed yet?

It’s easy to look at all that has to be done when creating (and selling) online courses and to feel a little overwhelmed. Remember to approach the project in small chunks. Everyone struggles with motivation at times, it’s natural.

Simple Pre-Selling / Validation Strategy

What if I told you there is a unique way for you to validate a course before you start creating it?

Yes, this is something I have mentioned in the past, but this is a little different. With this method, you get to make some money before you even start creating the course!

It’s simple: create (and market) a paid webinar that focuses on teaching people something valuable.

If 30 to 50 people signed-up then your course is likely applicable to many more.

There are a few caveats to making this strategy effective.


First, you need to still put in a lot of effort marketing in order to build awareness. You can pay for advertising or build an audience organically through content marketing (or both). The point is that the strategy is pointless unless you put in the marketing effort.

Secondly, your webinar should be somewhere between two and three hours. If three hours, build in a break. Virtual instructor-led training requires some upfront work (though not as much as an online course). If people are going to pay to attend a webinar you better make it worth their while. One way to do this is to give them a free recording of it afterwards.

You may be wondering what to charge for your webinar. That’s up to you and largely depends on the topic and your industry. The higher the price, the less people you need to attend in order to validate the idea. The most you should ever charge is $99. If you are at that price-point then your webinar better be the best webinar that these people attend all year.

So that’s it. It may not seem revolutionary but it’s a technique that allows you to test the waters before you put in all of the effort involved with online course creation. If your webinar is $79 and 75 people sign-up, then you’ve made $5,925 and validated your idea. You have funds to fuel initial course development and also have a list of 75 people who you know are interested in your course’s topic for when you launch.

Now, let’s say your course is $79 and only 20 people sign-up. If you determine that the lack of attendance isn’t related to your marketing, then you know that the course probably isn’t worth pursuing. And hey, at least you made $1,580 for your time.

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter

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