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Course Creation

Check out our members' courses here!

 

Creating a course is a great way to share your knowledge and help educate others while bringing in passive income for you for your work. Therefore, course creation is a popular side gig amongst our members - whether related to healthcare or not, or made for the general public or specifically for physicians. Courses our members have created range from locums to real estate investing to medical material to finances. While course creation requires an upfront time requirement of preparing, recording, editing, distributing, and marketing your course, it does allow for passive income generation once the course is live. Great courses garner great word of mouth, so the upfront investment can reap substantial ongoing relatively passive income streams.  While some course material is evergreen, most good courses will require some updates over time to reflect current trends, market conditions, research, or new developments, so expect that you’ll have some ongoing work.  

 

Having a successful course creation side gig has two main components: developing a course with great content and then getting the word out by marketing it. We’re going to cover both below.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links, which support the group at no cost to you (and often provide discounts for you!)

Quick Links

Resources

  

Tools to help you get your course up and running:

Webcam: Logitech C920x HD Pro Webcam

Microphone: Blue Yeti USB Microphone

Ring light: NEEWER Ring Light Kit

Green screen: Elgato Collapsible Backdrop

Capture card: Elgato External Capture Card

Popular platforms for hosting your course:

Teachable is a very popular platform for hosting courses, and even offers a free version.  Pricing can be done in various ways that may be cheaper if you don't need a lot of complicated features. It has standard templates that are easy to navigate. It has an iOS app option, but not currently with Android. It can not only help you manage digital downloads for your content creation, but it can help you monetize them as your side gig grows. Teachable helps with content such as podcasts, ebooks, newsletters, and educational deliverables. There is the ability to have quizzes and give course completion certificates.

Kajabi can not only host your course, but can also host content that will help drive traffic to your course and help you build your brand. It offers lots of opportunities to customize courses and the website, including a community feature, as well as great marketing features. There are lots of third party integrations and payment options, and it has an app for both iOS and Android.  This is a more sophisticated (but also more expensive) option.

Tools for managing your side gig finances:

Square offers a hardware discount and an opportunity to explore lower processing fees through our group affiliate link. It is a popular option because it's easy to set up and the fee structure is straightforward.

If course creation is your first side gig and you're new to self-employed finances, check out our primer page.

Is Course Creation The Right Side Gig For You?

 

While everyone has something to offer the world in terms of knowledge, course creation isn’t for everyone. Like any side gig, there are attractive upsides, like passive income and building a brand off of which you can create other revenue streams (coaching, speaking, writing a book, blogs, and affiliate marketing come to mind). That said, creating a successful course is a lot of work and there’s a lot that’s left to luck. 

Online education is a huge market that has become attractive to many recently. This can create a lot of competition, especially for popular topics. Creating content that stands out, delivering it in a way that people respond to and find effective, finding the right price point, and finding the right target audience to market to will require a combination of strategy, luck, and investment of both time and money.  So before you follow the advice below, make sure this is the right side gig for you that you’re going to enjoy and that you’re happy to pour time and passion into. Check out our page on evaluating and selecting the right side gig for you. If it turns out course creation might not be your dream side gig, that’s okay! It’s better to know that now then on the back end.

Topic Selection

 

The best topic for your course is one you’re an expert at or well versed in, and are passionate about. If you don’t know your material or your students can’t latch on to your excitement about a topic, you’re unlikely to be successful in a competitive market.  Having a personal interest in the course will make the hours of developing, creating, and marketing your course feel more like an opportunity than a chore you have to get done.

Selecting your course topic.jpg

 

Ideally, your course solves a problem that people are seeking answers to or offers a new approach to a skillset people are looking to acquire. While it’s possible to get someone excited about learning a new topic, it’s easier to create content for a need and desire that are already in place. Some of our most successful course creators have done this.  Some examples from members of our community:

  • Dr. Fawcett took his own years of experience working locums to create this course to help other physicians navigate the industry, and also created this course to help physicians manage rental properties.

  • Dr. Dahle realized many physicians didn't know where to start when it came to their personal finances, so he created these courses.

  • Dr. Sharma saw a need for depression and anxiety treatment guidance/education for his non-psychiatry colleagues to help their patients and created this course.

  • Drs. Mangona saw many were interested in syndications, but don't know where to start, so they and others created this course.

  • Dr. Krishnan co-founded MD Senior Living, one of Arizona's largest providers of residential assisted living facilities, and had people asking him how he could do the same, so he co-created this course to share his experiences and knowledge.

It likely seems intuitive that the greater the size of your target audience, the greater your opportunity for profits.  While this is true to some extent, consider also that the broader your topic, the more courses there are likely to be in this space, and therefore your competition will be greater.  This may result in you needing to spend more energy and money marketing, as well as your price needing to be lower.  Additionally, when a topic is too broad, the chances that there’s a much cheaper book or free blog out there to compete with people wanting to get out their credit card is higher.  

 

We’ve found that the more niche the question, the less experts are out there.  This makes it easier to brand build and become the ‘go to’ resource for a particular question.  With less competition, you can focus in more on just creating tangible advice and content that builds your brand as an expert in this space, and not worry as much about competition or pricing, as people will be willing to pay more to learn specifically from you.  For a lot of us, it’s much more fun to focus on what we’re passionate about and creating resources related to our expertise than learning about marketing. 

 

If you aren’t sure exactly where to start with a course within your area of interest, polling your target audience is a great way to define your topic. Instead of guessing what problem needs to be solved, ask people in your network what problems they have. Building a topic based on a known need is a great way to ensure you will have a market to sell your course to once you’ve made it.

 

You can also research what others have already done in your area(s) of interest. Doing market research has an added benefit of making sure you don’t select a topic that someone else has covered in the same style and manner you’re hoping to present. Study courses that have done well and watch a few that haven’t. Look at how they’ve branded themselves and raise awareness for their product. Pay attention to what you think the differences are and learn from their successes and mistakes to save yourself those bumps and trial and error. 

Create Your Content

 

Determine Your Format

 

Let the KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) formula help guide you here. A simple but professional set of PowerPoint slides might be all you need, or you might need other educational visuals to help break down complex topics. If you aren’t sure what to use for your format, your network is again a powerful tool you can use for market research. Checking what others have done with their courses on similar topics is another great place to start when designing your first course. Just remember to add your own unique spin to distinguish yourself when it’s time to market.

 

Your course could include any and all of the following, depending on your topic:

  • Live sessions

  • A record video lecture

  • Supplemental teaching visual adds

  • Worksheets to work through examples

  • Checklists or other real-world implementation tools

  • An audio-only option

  • An online community where viewers can ask questions and engage with each other as they go through your course

  • “Office hours” where you are available to answer questions as people go through your course

 

As you determine your format, remember that not everyone learns best in the same style. Offering more than one of the options above can help you expand your potential target audience.

Organize Your Content

 

Life is busy and time is a valuable resource. Few people can complete a course all in one sitting, thus most online courses come in multiple modules that make it easy for people to return where they left off. Design your modules so that they flow organically, but have logical breaks. The more concise you can make each module/lesson, the more likely your viewer will come back to finish the course and then recommend it to a friend.

 

Making an outline for your course can be a great way to visually map it out for yourself to help determine the flow and breaks for your different modules. If you’re a visual person, a storyboard is a great tool to use to outline. For your overall course and then for each individual module, consider:

  • What is the main takeaway of this section?

  • What does my viewer likely know already about this topic?

  • What are the key points I need to make to help the viewer learn the takeaway?

  • Are there specific examples you can use to help demonstrate the takeaway?

  • Is there an engaging activity you can link to help reinforce the lesson and help viewers remember it?

 

When designing your outline, it can be helpful to consider not just this course but other future courses you might also want to develop on similar topics. Planning for your overall course development up front in the context of a series versus focusing on just the one course now can save you a lot of overlap of material later, which might deter viewers from purchasing later courses you develop.

 

The shorter you can make this course while still comprehensively covering the topic you’ve selected, the better. In an increasingly busy society, attention spans have shrunk dramatically. And the shorter the course, the less up front time you have in developing. Just don’t trade expediency over quality and completion.

One thing that we’ve found is that it’s very important to give actionable, practical knowledge in addition to teaching the 30,000 foot view. This means that you should put some real thought into how likely your students are to be able to execute what they’ve been taught. If there are forms or spreadsheets that would be helpful, consider making some templates for them. If there are relevant how to guides that are publicly available on the Internet where they can learn more, consider linking them (of course, with proper credit given).  If there are steps they should take or relevant networks they should join or vendors they should know, cite them. The success of your students will be the success of your course.  Additionally, forming affiliate relationships with this resources, if applicable and vetted, can give you additional revenue streams for your course.  


If you’re hoping to have your course qualify for CME or other continuing education, make sure you check if there are any length requirements in order to qualify as you map your outline.  The advantage here if your course is geared towards physicians is that they can use their CME money to purchase the course, therefore lowering their threshold to get out their credit card and buy.

Record Your Lessons

 

Once you have an outline for what you want to cover in your course and how, it’s time to get started! Don’t put too much thought into making this perfect at first. Chances are your first recording won’t be your last, but it will give you a place to start, and that’s often the most important step - getting past inertia.  Setup your office, double check your lighting and video, and start recording your videos.

 

Here are some of the tools we love here at PSG that can help you record your course:

Webcam: Logitech C920x HD Pro Webcam

Microphone: Blue Yeti USB Microphone

Ring light: NEEWER Ring Light Kit

Green screen: Elgato Collapsible Backdrop

Capture card: Elgato External Capture Card

Recording software: OBS is a powerful free one, though it does have a bit of a learning curve

Make sure you are engaging and approachable in your videos. We all remember the monotone professor who was a perfect excuse to sneak in a power nap before your next class. Be yourself and don’t worry about letting some personality shine through - often this is what will make the course unique and why people will gravitate towards it.  Be professional as well. Remember, you will be charging people for this course, so take the time to properly set up your lighting and re-record sections until you are sure you have presented them to the best of your ability. While you can always update your course later, you only have one first impression with each new viewer to your course. Make it count.

 

To some, this is second nature. To others, especially for their first course, it might take some practice. Don’t rush your recording process. You can have the best material in the world, but if it is shot poorly with grainy resolution and your selected microphone makes the audio hard to hear, no one will want to purchase your course and recommend it to colleagues.

Edit Your Lessons

 

Once you’ve recorded, make sure you take the time to edit it. This can be done DIY with software or you can hire a professional editor, depending on your skill level and available amount of time to learn.

 

Editing is another avenue in which to employ the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle. Adding too many flashy transitions between spliced videos can give your course an overproduced quality.

 

Keep your target audience in mind. For a medical-related course, you don’t need flashy effects or background music/sound effects added in for emphasis. If you’re doing something for entertainment, it’s worth considering, but simple is still better. Whichever style you choose should remain consistent with your branding. Editing should be a tool to clean and polish, not spice and pizazz. Let your experience and your presentation do the hard work.

Prep Any Visual Aids

 

If you determine you will need auxiliary materials to your course lectures when determining your format above, now is a great time to prep them. There are several free or paid editing programs and sites, such as Canva, to help you make engaging deliverables to aid your videos. As was the same with video editing, keep it simple and professional (and on brand) here as well. The cleaner your design, the more focused the viewer will be on the material you’re presenting instead of the graphics surrounding it.

Audio Option

 

If your course doesn’t rely heavily on visual aids, you may want to offer the option of audio recordings versus videos for your course. (Offering both is great too as it can expand your target audience!) To do so, you can use free or paid software to splice the audio from your videos and convert them easily to audio files to offer with your course. I have Audacity and it’s pretty easy to learn and use.

Pick Your Platform

 

Kajabi and Teachable are two very popular platforms to sell online courses with, and the ones we’ve most often seen used by our community members. There are others as well. Take some time to research what makes each unique - some have community features, some allow more complicated websites, etc.  The price points are also different, so make sure you’re not overpaying for features you don’t need, as this is going to be an ongoing cost in keeping the course going. Both Kajabi and Teachable offer the ability to have affiliates who can help you sell your course by sharing some of the revenue generated. 

Offer CME

 

If you’re a physician and want the ability to offer CME credits for your course, you can use sites such as CMEfy.com to set up CME. While they will not accredit your course and you do have to pay for their service, it offers you the opportunity to offer CME without the huge time and monetary investment that a full accreditation requires. As mentioned above, just make sure you check the length requirements and ensure your proposed course will meet the CME requirements before starting the process.

 

There are different ways to get CME credits for your course. There are some online platforms and there are more traditional CME outlets. As the options are constantly changing, we recommend reaching out to others who have recently gone through the process by asking on our communities or reaching out to your networks, and seeing why people chose the methods that they did.  Remember that this will likely also be an expense that will affect the price point of your course, as well as usually come with it’s own requirements, so make sure that this is something you need in order to sell your course before investing the time and energy into it.

Price Your Course and Get Ready to Sell

 

If you didn’t do any market research prior to developing your course (you really should!), you will need to now. To price your course, you want to be competitive, so you have to know where your competition is priced. Price your course as it fits in the market. If it’s a shorter, less in-depth “quick learn”, you’ll need to price it cheaper than the longer courses. If you offer live sessions and an online community for your course, you can charge more than a simple download and watch at your own speed course.

 

You might think that pricing your course the cheapest is the easiest way to market and sell it. While it makes sense in theory, it’s almost never the right avenue to take. For one, you’ll have to sell significantly more courses to make the same profit than if you price it comparable to your competitors. And if you underprice the market significantly, it triggers an alarm in potential viewers that your course might not be the same quality as the others on the market.

 

Another interesting option to consider is offering various versions of the course at different price points, in order to have something for different price points.  This may broaden your target market - but also runs the risk of people who would have bought the more expensive version deciding instead to buy a cheaper version. For example, you may offer an online only version for a cheaper price, a version with more support such as a course community or coaching, or a version that allows you to purchase modules separately or the complete set.  As with anything, these can be fluid, so play around and see what your audience responds to.  

 

Before you start selling, make sure your side gig finances are in place to accept payments!  You can accept money through a platform like Square, or your course platform may already have some integrations. Make sure your legal structures and finances are set up the way you want them to maximize tax efficiency and legal protections. With online courses in particular, if you’re going to be selling in multiple states, you may need to be aware of the different sales tax rules in different states. The platforms may guide you through this process, but always consult with a lawyer or accountant if there’s anything that you’re not sure about.

Spread the Word

 

Congratulations, you have an online course ready to sell! Now that it’s all set up and live, it’s time to market it.
 

If you did some market research when designing your course, reach out and let the people you spoke to know you’ve solved the problem they brought to your attention and send them the link to your course. Also consider giving away access to your course to a few people or offering it at a discount to those that had expressed interest in the content.  This is a good way to get some testimonials that will help you market your course better, as well as to get feedback which you can use to improve the course before the official launch.  They will also be more forgiving of errors or glitches than somebody who’s paid full price for the course and will likely let you know about them, so it is a good strategy for multiple reasons.

 

Once you are really ready to put your course in front of everyone, spread the word on your branded social media channels and among your network.  The core of marketing is simple: go to where your target audience is. Reach out to those who have audiences that may be interested in your content and see if they are interested in having you on their podcast, writing about your course on their blogs, or helping you sell your course through affiliate marketing. If your audience is for new moms, join both local and online mom groups. If your topic gears towards fitness, reach out to gyms and other physicians who have patients that are your target audience. If you’re interested in marketing it to physicians, our communities may be a good fit, and we offer affiliate marketing for those who offer members of our community a discount! 

If your course creation is a part of a larger side gig you’ve already created, you already have a platform from which to share it. Make sure you utilize it - let your email list serve, Facebook group, podcast, and social media following know that the course is ready.  It’s always best to have your own audience as your success doesn’t rely on the rules and algorithms of other platforms.  If course creation is your first step into side gig territory, check out the other guides we’ve done on setting up and growing your side gig to learn how to brand yourself in a way to build your own following.

 

A presale is a great way to drum up interest. Offering a limited time discount can give potential customers a FOMO mindset and make them more likely to purchase your course before the price hikes up.

 

Make no mistake: marketing and brand building take time. But if you’ve developed an educational course, the power of word of mouth with work in your favor and you’ll see your gains in traction as you continue to promote your side gig and your course. Ask satisfied students to tell their friends, and consider offering them perks for referring other people to the course.  If you have other related courses, let them know about those as well.

Enjoy Your Success

 

Chances are, your first launch won’t be totally smooth, but you’ll learn as you go along. Make sure you have your side gig finances in place to be able to take advantage of the perks of your new non-W2 income stream!  

 

Importantly, put systems in place to gather feedback from your students, and make sure you listen carefully and improve your course accordingly. If there is related content that your students are asking for that you also have expertise in, it may be time to start thinking of your next course!

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