7-Step Guide to Creating Online Video Courses

Author: Tyron Pretorius

My name is Tyron Pretorius and I graduated from ESTEEM in May 2018. Since graduating I have spent my time becoming what I call a “Full-Stack Marketer”, gaining experience in creating content, analyzing marketing data, and automating workflows to support sales and marketing teams.

After building two online video courses (Marketo API Crash Course & Demystify the API Crash Course) in the past 12 months, I am here to share a step-by-guide on how anyone can create an online video course.

By following these steps, you'll be able to convert your niche expertise into a high-quality, engaging, and profitable online course. I will show go through the following steps in this guide:

  1. Identify Your Course Topic
  2. Design Your Course Curriculum 
  3. Acquire Your Course ToolBox
  4. Record Your Videos
  5. Get Feedback & Iterate
  6. Price your course
  7. Promote your course

Step 1. Identify Your Course Topic

The online course world is very competitive so it is important to consider what unique insights you have that will make your course stand out from the competition.

When I joined Telnyx I knew nothing about APIs. I was then confronted with a lot of repetitive tasks in our marketing automation platform called Marketo. Doing some research online I realized that I could use the Marketo API to automate a lot of these tasks and I set about learning how to test APIs, how to embed them in code, and how to build automated workflows in Marketo.

Even with my technical background in mechanical engineering and my previous programming experience this still took me quite some time and there were a lot of things I struggled with along the way. 

After speaking about the Marketo API at a conference, I realized that there were a lot of other people like me in marketing operations using Marketo who didn’t have a technical background but could really benefit from learning about the Marketo API.

I also realized that my experience teaching myself how to use the Marketo API from scratch and using the Marketo API to automate workflows gave me a unique learning process and unique knowledge that I could share with others.  Consequently the idea for my Marketo API Crash Course was born.

Step 2. Design Your Course Curriculum

Here is a good high-level structure to use when designing your course content:

  1. Define learning objectives: Outline specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for students to achieve by the end of the course.
  2. Identify course modules and lessons: Organize content into logical modules or sections and divide each module into individual lessons.
  3. Create a logical sequence: Arrange modules and lessons progressively, so each lesson builds upon the previous one.
  4. Balance theory and practice: Include theoretical concepts and practical applications, incorporating activities, case studies, quizzes, and exercises.
  5. Include multimedia content: Utilize various types of multimedia content, like videos, images, slides, and audio, to cater to different learning styles.
  6. Plan for interaction and feedback: Design opportunities for students to interact with you and their peers through discussion forums, live webinars, or group projects.
  7. Design assessments and evaluations: Develop assessments to measure students' progress and mastery of learning objectives.
  8. Create supporting materials: Develop supplementary materials, like course handouts, worksheets, or checklists, to reinforce learning and application.

You can check out this Google Doc to see how I planned out the structure for my Demystify the API Crash Course and how I planned what I wanted to cover in each of the video lessons (more on this below).

In order to help promote your course you should see if you can build viral aspects into your course. In my Demystify the API Crash Course, I show the students how to send an SMS via API to 3 of their friends and the template message I provide contains a link to the course ;)

I also added bonus content to my course that people can unlock by sharing the course on social media.

Step 3. Acquire Your Online Video Course ToolBox

  1. Good quality microphone: Make sure you have a good-quality microphone for recording. I recommend using a headset with a microphone attached instead of relying on your laptop’s internal microphone since this will pick up background noise. A headset microphone is directional and will only pick up the sound of your voice as you speak into it. My research online found that the Fnatic React Gaming Headset was a nice balance between great microphone quality and cost.
  2. Video recording software: I recommend Loom for screen recording. As the saying goes “Eyes earn trust” and I really like how my face appears in a window on the screen  while I am going through slides for the course or giving a demo. Loom also has nice post-processing tools for trimming videos and joining different videos together. Loom offers a freemium model where you can record up to 5 minutes for free and store a limited amount of videos.
  3. Video hosting platform: Vimeo’s abundance of features makes it a great platform for hosting your course videos:
    1. You can ensure that the videos only play on the domain on your website (to stop others from stealing your content)
    2. There are automatic subtitles
    3. You can put Call-to-Actions (CTAs) at the end of videos
    4. You can use video chapters (like you see on YouTube videos)
    5. There are many design options to put your brand’s stamp on the videos. 

You could also host the videos on YouTube as a free option and have them set as “Private” so that people cannot see them for free while browsing YouTube.

  1. Online Course Platform: The final part of your online video course tech stack is a platform that will integrate your videos and other course content into a cohesive product that you can sell. There are 2 main options here:
    1. You could host your course on your own site, which gives you complete control over things like pricing and means that you will be able to keep all the revenue generated from the course. If you use WordPress I recommend using LearnDash to build your course.
    2. You could sell your course on sites like Coursera or Udemy, which will bring a lot more eyeballs to your course but also means a lot more competition since there are so many courses on these platforms already. Since there is so much competition you might be forced to sell at a much lower price than you would on your own site. Also, instructors who create the course typically only get about 40% of the revenue from a course sale.

You could of course do both options. The thing to be aware of is if you sell your course on a 3rd party site you may be forced to a lower price than on your own site. If people find out that your course is cheaper on these other sites or these other sites outrank you in search results (which is likely since they have a higher domain authority) then you will be cannibalizing sales from your own site.

Step 4. Record Your Videos

Aside from the obvious things like ensuring you have good lighting, good audio quality, and what you want to cover in the video planned out here are some of Tyron’s top tips:

  • If you use big monitors like I do make sure you are zoomed in enough when recording because people who use smaller regular laptop screens might struggle to view the content. After you’ve recorded check on both your monitor and laptop screen how clear all the content is.
  • On the topic of using multiple displays, I recommend having the content you want to record on one screen and then your video outline and what you want to say open on another screen. I recommend using bullet points for your outline and if you have paragraphs of text written that you want to say then highlight/bold the important words so you can quickly glance down if needed to stay on track.
  • Strike a balance between recording short snippets, so re-recording and inserting new snippets in between others is easier, and ensuring that each snippet is not too short so that the video doesn’t flow and looks disjointed.
  • Also, don’t be too tough on yourself when it comes to recording and if you make small mistakes like stumbling or misprouncing a word, people will most likely still get what you are saying. This is especially important when you are recording your draft videos, which you will share for feedback (see the section below) since the feedback will likely result in you having to re-record sections anyway.
  • Depending on the style you want your course to have you might consider blurring your background if your background does not suit your intended style. For example, for my courses, I like showing people that I am an everyday guy recording these videos at my desk in my bedroom since it goes with my desire to convey that the content I teach is approachable to everyday people.
  • Eyes create connection! I highly recommend using a screen recorder like Loom where your face is shown on the screen while you are recording. This makes the course more engaging but also helps you build more of a bond with the course taker which should help you get higher reviews and might result in more sharing of your course.

Step 5. Get Feedback & Iterate

As any ESTEEM student knows, feedback and iteration are key when creating a successful product or service. It is the exact same here with your online video course.

Share drafts of your first videos with friends early on in the process so they can give you feedback on how you are delivering the content and if you are explaining the topics well. When you want feedback on the content itself then it is best to ask friends who meet the target audience for your course e.g. for my Demystify the API Crash Course I asked friends who did not have a technical background.

When your videos are ready to go and you have your course set up then you can ask any friends, whether they are in your target audience or not, to help you test out the user experience (UX) of your course. If you are hosting the course on your own site then ask friends to test registering for the course and then taking the course to make sure there are no bugs.

Step 6. Price Your Online Video Course

When it comes to pricing your online course there are three approaches you can use:

  1. Survey your target audience whether it is on social channels or sending out surveys via email. I recommend using the Van Westendorp pricing questions when designing your survey.
  2. Research online to see what similar courses sell for on sites like Coursera and Udemy as well as other courses that come up in the search results.
  3. Research the psychology behind pricing. There are so many ways to make your pricing look better. Did you know $19 feels a lot cheaper than $20? This is because odd numbers seem cheaper to us. If you are interested in learning more about pricing psychology take a look at this document of notes and resources that I put together.

Step 7. Promote your Online Video Course

You should use each and every avenue available to promote your course:

  • Send an email out to your email database
  • Let all your friends and colleagues on LinkedIn know
  • Put a promotional video on your YouTube channel
  • Ask your employer if they can promote your course in their social media and if you can get a backlink from their blog to your course e.g. an employee spotlight blog post
  • Reach out to your college (like I did here ;) ) and see if they can promote your course on social media and give you a backlink from their blog to your course e.g. an alumnus spotlight

Make Courses That Matter

And there you have it folks that is the 7-step guide to creating online video courses. If you have any questions please reach out to me on LinkedIn and if you want to learn more about APIs and take a look at a course I built then check out the Demystify the API Crash Course :)