5 WAYS TO VALIDATE YOUR ONLINE COURSE IDEA TO MAKE SURE IT SELLS
By Susanne Rieker
Do you think you have a great online course idea but are wondering if there is really a market for it? It’s a question everyone creating an online course faces: is this a product that people will want to buy?
Before you put your heart and soul into creating your product, make sure your audience wants it. You can’t just guess here. You need to know it deep within yourself that this is what your students want and need.
Validating your course idea means taking steps to be as confident as you can that there are people likely to pay for a course on whatever topic you have in mind.
Here are five ways to validate your online course idea. You don’t have to use all of them, but I recommend doing at least three. This is the best way to vet your idea and ensure that you get the best results.
#1 Do an online search
Google is always a good place to start. First, you want to know if there are any actual courses already available on your chosen topic.
If there are, this isn’t bad! It actually validates your idea, proving that there is a market out there already. Remember that no one is going to present your content in the same way you do. It’s your personality and uniqueness that will sell your course, not the list of lessons included. Just think about a yoga class – even if it’s the same poses, every class is different depending on the teacher.
#2 Interview your students
Set up meetings for a coffee or a call with some of your students and ask them about their struggles, what they need help with and what they are scared of.
Listen more than you talk. Let them have the space to think and share with you some amazing insights.
Especially look out for trigger sentences like “I’m embarrassed to say this, but . . .”, “I hate to admit it, but . . .” or “I feel so silly to tell you this, but . . .”.
When people start using sentences like those, this is when you want to listen even more, because that’s the golden stuff that will help you understand if your product idea is right for your students.
#3 Create a survey
If you already have an audience, or if you want to teach a very sensitive topic and feel that personal conversations will only get you so far, a survey can give you some amazing insights.
There are free tools like www.surveymonkey.com that make it super easy to set up an online survey.
In your survey, ask your audience a few questions (maximum 5), for example:
What’s the biggest challenge they have right now related to yoga (or your topic)?
What’s their biggest fear?
Where do they need help?
What would they like to learn more about?
What’s important to remember is that you don’t want to ask them what they WANT. People don’t know what they want, they don’t know the solution to their problem, they just know their problem. That’s why you ask them what their problem is.
Like Henry Ford said: “If I would have asked people what they want, they would have said a faster horse”.
When you’ve finished setting up your survey, you can send it by email to your students, embed the form on your website or post it on social media.
#4 Create a freebie that’s related to your course topic
A freebie is something that you offer your students for free, for example a PDF guide, a yoga video or a free email challenge, normally as an incentive for signing up to your email list.
Offering a freebie that’s related to your chosen course idea can be a great way of validating your idea. Think about it: if people aren’t willing to sign up for your freebie, how likely is it that they will pay for a course on the same topic?
The freebie needs to be closely related to your course idea and it needs to make the value you would offer through a course clear. Don’t hold back here – put some of your best potential course content into it.
Create an attractive landingpage for your freebie and share it in your newsletter and on social media to spread the word.
#5 Pre-sell your course
Pre-selling means that you give your students the possibility to buy your course before you even created it. This way if nobody buys, you won’t have invested tons of time and effort in creating it.
When pre-selling you want to offer your early buyers a lot of value they will not get as a normal purchaser – e.g. bonus content, 1-on-1 coaching or a special discount.
If you get zero pre-sales, then you probably shouldn’t proceed with this course topic idea. If you get relatively few, then use that feedback as a clue that you need to figure out what you need to do to make your course more valuable.
As I noted earlier, you don’t need to use all the approaches to validate your course idea. Some will make more sense than others, depending on the nature of your course idea and your market. What I would always do, no matter what, is interviewing a few peeps of my target audience. This has helped me immensely finding clarity on what I’m offering and understanding my audience better and I strongly recommend that you do it.