After the exhilaration of deciding you’re going to share your knowledge with eager online learners starts to pass, the real work begins. You know you want to create a course, but where should you start?

This is where the five stages of brainstorming for a new course begin. Think of them as a blueprint for going from that light bulb moment to a solid idea that is ready to be created. 

Honestly, once you actually finish brainstorming, you’ll find it’s much easier to create the actual course. You’ll be more focused and even more excited to start interacting with online students.

1. Coming Up With Ideas

If you already have a great idea, you’re halfway through stage one. Why just halfway? No matter how great your first idea is, it’s always best to have at least 3-5 ideas. Don’t want to give up on the idea you already have? You don’t have to. Instead, see if you can break it down into multiple courses. Remember, bite-sized learning is the key. The more focused your course, the better.

If you’re a great teacher, but aren’t sure what to put online, it’s time to do a little research. A few ways to come up with course ideas include:

  • Thinking about what subjects you’re most passionate about
  • Check out Amazon best-sellers in non-fiction subjects to see what people want to learn more about
  • Search for Facebook groups on various topics to see what people are talking about
  • Look at questions on Quora
  • See what courses are popular on online course marketplaces

2. Testing Your Ideas

The next step in brainstorming for a new course is to start testing your ideas. Narrow down your list to five topic ideas or less and then see what potential students think about them. If you have offline students, survey them to see what they think would work best for an online course.

Find Facebook groups about your topic and ask members their opinion. Do keyword research to see how popular your topic is. This helps you figure out which ideas potential students are most interested in. It’ll also give you feedback on what exactly students want to get out of your course.

3. Creating A Rough Outline

At this point, it’s time to start creating a rough outline. If you’re still juggling multiple ideas, outlines help you decide which topics have the best potential in an online course format. If you’ve never taken an online course yourself, look for free courses to try out to give you an idea of the format.

Plus, if possible, present your outline to potential students. You probably see a pattern here. You need feedback throughout the brainstorming and course creation process. Why? It’s kind of like product testing. Do you really think Coca-Cola got it right the first try? No! They did product testing until they found what people liked best. The same goes with online courses. A little research and feedback help you create the perfect final product.

For help with this process, consider using mind-mapping tools to layout your course in a more visual way.

4. Setting A Creation Schedule

No matter how well you know the subject matter, you can’t create a course overnight. Though, that would be awesome, right? The best online courses are popular because they’re well thought out and the creator(s) put in a lot of time to create something students will truly benefit from. 

To keep yourself on a schedule and prevent your course idea from falling through the cracks, create a schedule for the actual creation. For instance, you might set aside an hour or two each day if you work a full-time job. Expect to spend at least a few months getting everything in order.

5. Finding A Home For Your Course

It might not sound like this is really a stage in brainstorming for a new course, but the way you create the course will vary based on where you decide to set up shop. You don’t want to go through the process only to have to break it back apart and start from scratch because of the platform you choose. Take your time to review your professional development platform options before you even start creating the course.

Bonus: Getting Your Course In Front Of Students

As a final piece of advice, think about marketing while brainstorming for a new course. It’s never too early to think about the best ways to tell potential students about your new course. For instance, now might be a great time to build a basic website with some info about yourself and start building an email marketing list. After all, marketing helps give you valuable feedback during the process and ensures you have students ready when you launch your course.

Need more advice on online course creation? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me to better understand your options.

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