Top 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Creating an Online Course

Maeve Ginsberg
5 min read

Launching an online course is an exciting step for any business. And there’s never been a better time: the e-learning industry is projected to grow by over $21B from 2020 to 2024. But this momentum doesn’t come without its downsides. Many launch their courses too quickly or without sufficient audience research and miss sales targets as a result.

Want to build and launch an online course that hits your goals? As online course pros, we have compiled the top mistake to avoid when creating an online course. 

Need help launching your online program? Get in touch with us today to see how we can help.  

1. Poor quality

There’s a reason our Online Course Master Guide focuses so much on quality: quality is everything. It is the reason people buy your course, the reason they complete it, and the reason they recommend it to their friends. Quality influences perceived value, so it’s critical to be confident in the integrity of your course.

Some factors that influence quality include:

  • Ease of use: User experience is critical to online courses. They should be easy to advance through, following a logical flow that prompts feedback and interaction at regular intervals.  
  • Content: Low-resolution video or poor writing is quick to pull a student out of their learning environment and may lead to them not completing the course.
  • Specificity: Your content has to be specific enough that it fulfills a particular need within your industry or niche. If you try to cover everything, your content will be too surface-level to provide value. Alternatively, if you try to be too specific, your course might not appeal to a broad enough audience.

2. No branding 

Who you are as a brand has as much to do with your course as your topic does. Some customers will be interested in your program for its content, but just as many will be interested in it because of you and your brand (particularly existing customers who are already familiar with your business). 

Why does branding matter for online courses?

  • Branding gives an identity to what you’re selling.
  • This identity helps customers understand your philosophy and style.
  • This understanding helps push customers from prospect to student.

3. Lack of audience research 

You have to know who your ideal student is before you build a course. Otherwise, your content will lack focus and direction, compromising quality (remember mistake #1?). 

Here’s how to hone your target audience:

  • Profile your demographic to ensure your topic and content are both relevant. 
  • Conduct market research to confirm demand for the topic.
  • Survey prospective students to understand what they’re interested in learning and offer beta testing of your program for feedback.

4. Lack of feedback

How will you know that your course is relevant, easy to follow, and achieves its learning objectives? Feedback! It is so important to get external feedback to understand how it feels to go through the course.

Use user feedback to understand:

  • What works in the course and what is confusing.
  • How the pacing and outline works for learners of different styles.
  • How the user feels upon completion.

5. No marketing plan

Marketing is at the core of e-learning course success. Without marketing, no one will know you’re offering a course, which defeats the purpose of creating a course in the first place.

Be sure to have answers to these questions before building and launching your program:

  • How will people know you’re offering a course?
  • How and where will they find the course?
  • How will students sign up for the course?
  • After the initial launch, what’s your plan? 

6. Poor pricing 

Pricing is a delicate art. Don’t go too low and undersell yourself, but don’t go so high that you don’t break even. Consider including pricing in your market research to see what prospective students would be willing to invest in your course.  

7. Rushed launch

Timing is everything. Take your time to curate and market the course. Don’t delay launch by trying to make everything perfect (reminder: perfect courses don’t exist!) but don’t rush yourself and compromise your launch by being unprepared.  

8. No maintenance plan

This is another point we like to hammer home: e-learning programs aren’t just a set-it-and-forget-it business venture. While courses offer an opportunity for passive income, they do require upkeep.

Consider these questions as you prepare for launch:

  • How will you keep the content updated?
  • How will you continue to find new students?
  • Will you go on to create different tiers of the topic targeting different levels of experience?

How are you feeling about your course launch plan now? Don’t worry about hitting every target perfectly; be sure to cover your bases and be thorough, but have faith in your product. That faith will translate through your branding and marketing to convey confidence to prospective students, creating a sense of urgency around your program and boosting sales.

Need more guidance on launching your online course? We can help!