Are you already teaching a course offline, but would love to add some more students online? It seems straight-forward, but are online students actually interested in what you’re offering?

Sometimes what seems like a great course idea doesn’t work out so well when it goes online. Before you jump on board the online education train, it’s important to do some course idea validation tests to see what students think.

You’ll save yourself time and get valuable feedback if you just do a little research before you start building your online course. Ready to see if you have eager students waiting? Let’s get started.

Is Course Idea Validation Really Important?

Yes. An absolute, resounding yes! Even if you’re an online course creating ninja with a dozen courses under your belt, course idea validation is still important. Why? Creating online courses is hard work. Do you really want to work for hours only to watch your course crash and burn? No.

The course you’re teaching in-person may have an audience, but does it also have an online audience?

If you’re currently teaching a course face-to-face offline, it’s easy to get carried away with thoughts of becoming a millionaire by reaching hundreds of thousands of students online. It’s still not that easy, though every teacher ever wishes it was. What you’re doing right now may have an audience, but does it have an online audience?

That’s the question that comes with every course idea you have. It’s not surprising that one of the top reasons online courses fail is because course idea validation was skipped. So don’t be one of the failures, not when a few simple steps can hand you success.

Not sure if your course is ready for online? Grab the cheat sheet that goes along with this article! 

Talk To Your Offline Students

Obviously, there is an audience for what you’re teaching. After all, you wouldn’t have a classroom full of students otherwise. So, why not start your course idea validation right there? Yes, go straight to the source – actual students. While they probably aren’t going to take your course again, they’ll let you know whether it’s something they’d be interested in online. 

Ask for feedback on what they might pay, any areas that might not work well online, why or why not they’d choose online versus offline and any other questions you can think of. The more feedback you get, the easier it is to determine if you’re ready to take your course online or not.

Try An Online Survey

Since you’re wanting to create an online course, an online survey is a great approach to validating your idea. Create an online survey with questions about your course. Share it on social media, in an email newsletter and even with current offline students. PCMag lists and reviews some of the top online survey creation tools. Of course, don’t forget about the free Google Forms to create nice surveys without spending a dime.

Check Current Online Interest From Various Outlets

Talking to students and sending out surveys are just two ways to start with course idea validation. Still, you could use a little more feedback to see if there actually is any interest online. So where should you start? Online of course.

You have four main areas to help you quickly see how big of an audience exists for your course idea:

  • Online course marketplaces
  • Keyword research tools
  • Social media
  • YouTube

Start by searching for your course topic on major online course marketplaces, such as Udemy and Lynda. If similar courses exist and have active student bases, congratulations! There is an online interest.

Are people searching for your topic?  The bigger the number of searches, the bigger your potential online audience!

Keyword research tools kind of sound like they’re more for writing a killer SEO blog post, but they’re for so much more than that if you know how to use them. The idea is to test out the popularity of your topic in search engines. If you do a search for your course topic (remember, use keywords) and there are only a few searches, your idea might not be ready for an online audience. The bigger the number of searches, the bigger your potential audience. Try out some of the tools SEO experts recommend to start testing your idea.

Social media always seems to have the answers, doesn’t it? But once again, social media comes to the rescue for course idea validation. Naturally, you can share your survey on social media, but doing a quick search for your course idea will show you how many people are talking about it and related groups (especially on Facebook). If you find groups, pop in and ask about your course to test interest.

Finally, there’s YouTube. Don’t get distracted by all the cute kitty videos. Right now, you’re here to do some hardcore course idea validation. YouTube is full of instructional videos and odds are, if there’s an audience for your idea, there are probably some YouTube videos and channels about it. See what viewers think and how many people follow those channels. 

Test Out A Quick Course Outline

Sometimes it’s hard for current students or any of your online followers to fully understand your course idea. Create a mock outline of what your course might look like, including things such as:

  • Section topics
  • Type of content (text, videos, quizzes, etc.)
  • Length of course
  • Reward(s) for completion
  • Average cost
  • Where you’ll host it (this can make a difference to students)

Seeing your course laid out gives potential students an idea of what they might learn and how it’ll benefit them. It also gives them a chance to provide valuable feedback on what they think might work well and what might not.

Ask The Crowd (Funding That Is)

This test is usually best saved for last. Why? You’re actually asking people to invest in your idea. Crowdfunding is often seen as a great way to raise money for a project, but it’s also an ideal idea validation place for business ideas. Some online course creators not only test their idea, but fund their courses this way. 

Places like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are perfect starting points. Of course, you could just search them to see if anyone is working on ideas similar to yours. The good thing is if there’s not enough interest, you’ll know pretty quick. Just remember to market your campaign on social media or your website.

Tweak Your Course For Online Consumption

You might have discovered that your course isn’t quite ready for online consumption. Don’t give up. It may be that part of your idea is perfect, but another part isn’t quite right. Use all the feedback you got during the process to tweak your idea. For instance, an hour long course on building large bridges might not be very effective. But, a course on creating bridge blueprints might work very well. 

The idea is to use your feedback to not only see if your idea is valid for online students, but to create the perfect online course for their needs.

Not sure if your course is ready for online? Grab the cheat sheet that goes along with this article! 

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