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10 Tips To Create An Effective Online Course

Before you start creating your online course, even before creating modules, outlines, lesson names, or the name of your course, you should read these tips thoroughly. Only to make sure you are creating something that yields results but also makes the student feel good about your course.

While it’s important to know what modules to include in your course or how many lessons each module should have. It’s equally important to understand WHAT your online course is all about and HOW your online course works.

I’m talking about the inside engine that your outer layer (modules, lessons, content) is built on. 

This is not so much talked about in the online course industry, and it’s mainly because people always talk about how to sell or how to make money with your online course. 

However, it’s critical that the one who purchases your course will actually gain what he/she was looking for. That your student gets results and also COMPLETES the course.

Many people talk about selling, marketing, automating, and making that passive income with online courses. While it’s the end goal, it’s only achieved by having a course that gives results to your students.

When your students get results, you get results, and you get those most efficiently by word-of-mouth, people praising your course over another. That is how you build your business. People wouldn’t be promoting your course if it was a disappointing experience from the getgo.

Here are the ten tips you need to read, to give and get the best possible experience from your course. 


People buy courses based on results. What results you have had, or what results your students have had. Rather than leaving those stories to your sales page, do include those to your lessons too.

In your lessons, you should include stories on how you overcame a struggle in a certain topic. 

Let’s say you are teaching Facebook Ads, and the first struggle for you was understanding Facebook pixel, for example. You could include a story of how frustrated you were when you were trying to figure out how to manage the pixel and what you didn’t understand then that you do now.

By including this small personal touch, it will make the student feel closer to you. You are sharing feelings that the student might have currently. By being compassionate and making yourself feel like another human being, and not some marketer or a business person, you create a connection with your student.

You bring yourself forth and open up and become vulnerable. You are showing emotions through stories, and doing that emphasizes the course material to another level.

Who would like to listen to some robot teaching this or that? Become a person and someone who we can relate to.

We, as humans, are always looking people that are like us. That share the same values and motives that we have. We are animals, only very sophisticated ones, and we like to be in a pack that feels like us. That does the things that we do.

People like us do things like this – Seth Godin.

Stories bring the same persons together, so don’t be afraid to use those in your lessons. They make you more human that is a good thing.


When I was creating my first online course, I was terrified. I did NOT want to be heard on a video. I didn’t like how my voice sounded, and I didn’t like the way I pronounced words. I felt so uncomfortable, and creating videos just wasn’t for me.

However, after recording video after another. It became more natural, and I got used to my voice more and more. Now, I’m not saying I still feel good in front of a video. I’m just saying that it doesn’t feel so awkward anymore.

What is good about videos is that they give you the opportunity to show yourself in a way that is not possible through a written format. 

You might have heard about these microexpressions before, and that is precisely what happens when you are watching a video. You are reading the person’s microexpressions. Body-language, tone of voice, lip movements, eye-movement, everything really, and all of these create an opinion in your mind.

Hopefully, your opinion is not one of judgment.

You are creating thought and a feeling about a person, and if it’s a good feeling, then you and the person become closer.

Video enables you to show yourself and really make a connection. You and I both have watched plenty of YouTube videos, and we both have formed opinions about persons. Those opinions affect the way we consume the content.

When you are adding videos to your online course, make sure you bring your A-game on and be the person you really are. You don’t have to be anything else than you are. Just be yourself, it’s the easiest to be as anyway. 

Microexpressions are the ones that will more than likely show whether you are an honest person or not. 

I’ve usually recorded my videos by just showing MS PowerPoint slides and talking. 

However, when you are doing welcoming videos, webinars, thank you videos or such. It’s best to show your face and upper body. This will make you more of a person and creates a better connection with the student.

Just be your confident self, no need to act, or be something that you are not. People will spot these things, and that creates mistrust between you and the other person.

Worksheets and checklists

While online courses are passive and students are only there to learn new things, it’s not a bad idea to include some worksheets and checklists in the course.

Worksheets are meant to activate the student to do something with the content you are teaching. Rather than just consuming content and not taking any action, a lot is left on the table.

Many of us like to us consume content, but when it comes time to take action, we back away. It’s natural. Work means either a small or large amount of pain, so we don’t like to do that.

Rather than just handing a worksheet and telling to fill out the sheet, you could infuse a story with the worksheet.

I’ve had an online course where a worksheet was given but rather than just saying to do the work. The instructor said why it’s crucial to do the work and what were the consequences of NOT doing the work. 

When you give the student a small “warning” of not completing the worksheet, then you are covering your own base. And that’s a good thing. 

It’s good because, if the student fails with your course, you can always check whether the student actually completed all the necessary things in the course.

There always has to be a reason why one would complete a worksheet and giving clear guidance on why it’s important, you are reminding the student to do the work.

We naturally avoid doing work that might make us feel pain, but when we know that there’s more pain coming towards us if we don’t do the work, then we probably do the work.

See how twisted we humans are. Just kidding?

Selling the course after selling the course

The heading might be a bit confusing, but let me explain. It’s a fantastic thing if you are able to sell your online course and get the income to your business.

However, it’s critical to know and analyze what happens after someone has made a purchase. Did he/she stay the course and actually completed the lessons and modules, or did the person bail?

How can you improve your course, if no one is completing it? How can you know if your course is any good if no one is completing it?

Completing a course is crucial to your business because, at the end of the course, there should be tangible results. Right?

To enhance the completion rate of your course, you could take a closer look at how you have named your lessons and modules.

Are the headlines something that creates curiosity? Or are the names bland and make the student skip the lessons, just because the topic seems unimportant?

If you are teaching, for example, social media marketing, and one of your lessons is retargeting. While you could name it as ‘Retargeting Basics,’ you could also name it as ‘The Outside-Of-The-Box Retargeting Methodology’ or something. 

The main point is that the lessons are sold to your students. You are actually selling the lessons and making sure the student takes the next lessons, and the next one and so on. 

That way, you are making sure that the student completes the lessons and gets results by going through the lessons and taking action after them.

While we do know that people can have a change of heart and goals might change in the middle of going through your course, it’s still in your best interest to do your best to keep your student engaged.

There is always that possibility that interests change within a person, and it’s only natural. It could be that the person found what he/she was looking for and can now continue further.

Accept this and move on, there’s nothing you can do at this point.

Small and easy to consume lessons

I was a bit hesitant even to write that headline. However, I believe the current trend is to create short and easy to consume lessons to keep your students engaged.

It seems like the world is heading to a state where people don’t have long enough of an attention span. While it could be true, I believe the thing is that people are impatient, which is another thing altogether.

Being impatient is that you are not willing to spend enough time to get something. With this in mind, it would make sense to create short and easy to consume lessons.

However, here’s another point of view. If your lessons REQUIRE a long video, then that’s what you have to do. Then you have to create a long video, no other way around it.

When you do this, you are also sending a message to your audience that your course is for the ones who have a long attention span, and have the patience to go through your course. 

This has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that you will get the right people to your course, the ones that are willing to do the work and are willing to spend time to acquire results.

The disadvantage is that people might not be in for your course, because of the seemingly too much work needed.

People want shortcuts and results with minimal effort. When the reality is that results are not attained without a massive amount of hard work.

By keeping your videos short and lessons easy to understand, you are creating an environment that supports that short attention span and that impatience of a person.

Just keep that in mind when thinking about the length of your lessons. What type of people is looking for? What kind of results do you want to give them?

Clear objective and path to success

This tip is perfect right here. The last tip was about easy to consume lessons and short videos.

When you keep your lessons short and sweet, you are also making sure your students don’t lose the objective of your course. They see clearly how and why the lessons are there.

If you have long videos, it could be that the student loses the sight and can’t connect the dots anymore. There’s too much in one lesson, and thus, the path becomes blurry.

Your course should always offer a clear objective and path to success and results. Keeping lessons short, you are making sure the course feels easy but also one that is going in a certain direction.

You can also remind the person in different lessons, why the lesson is important and how the student is making progress with the course.

Giving that overview on the course and showing where the student is currently and where is the end goal, will help them keep motivated to finish the course and get to the end.

If a student loses focus or can’t see the end goal, it’s more than likely that you will lose him/her and also lose future sales.

Personal stories and accomplishments

While this is very much related to stories. Accomplishments are a different thing. By showing what results you got with some specific thing you are teaching in the lesson, will help the student understand how the lesson will fit in the big picture.

Your results or your previous students’ results will show the student what can be accomplished with the lesson or why the lessons exist in your course.

Results shown during the training will motivate the student to keep ongoing. Some courses are tough and require a lot from the student, and when this happens, a drop in motivation happens.

Share your stories and explain how the thing you are teaching currently will help the student with their struggles. 

Become a person who has achieved what your student would like to achieve. Show your results to get the student excited and to feel like they can achieve what you have.

Giving small wins

Bombarding your students with lesson after lesson, while not giving them a chance to get a small win between modules or lessons, won’t yield long. 

I remember going through an online course, where I was asked to complete a certain task every day, and by doing that, I saw immediate results. It was fun, and it kept me excited throughout the whole course.

Making the student do small tasks and letting them see results from the completed tasks, keeps the excitement up and running. The overall experience gets fantastic, and you will have a happy student at the end of the course.

When you can give students small wins, they feel like they are making progress, and when that happens, they feel like the money they spent to get your course didn’t go to waste.

Imagine if your students didn’t get any results at all, would it feel like the investment was worth it?

Even those small wins can make or break the deal. The deal is here the experience with your course.

Modules that support each other

Just creating content for your course is probably not the ideal way to build your course. Every module and lesson should support each other and also create a continuum between each other. 

Where the last lesson ended, the next one should begin, and it should be tied to the last and to the next lesson. This creates a coherent experience where the student is able to follow the path easily and also see how things are connected together.

Creating a course is always about creating a complete experience and journey to victory. When the path is clear, and the lessons can be followed with ease, understanding is created, and a supportive learning experience is born.

Covering roadblocks and obstacles

Rather than just teaching what you know, you can always teach how you overcame obstacles and roadblocks in your journey to success. Remember that your student (not a customer) has different struggles, and one of the reasons they bought your course was to get a solution to the struggle they are having.

People don’t buy courses just to get knowledge; they want results. They need to find a solution to an obstacle they are having, and they want to get results with as little effort as possible. 

Remember the spot you were in before you got to your current situation. Your student is looking for that same path. To get what you have. You were able to overcome an obstacle in your past, and creating an online course to get past that obstacle is good enough reason to create an online course. Conquering that obstacle is also a reason people buy online courses.

When you are able to help people get past an obstacle or a roadblock, you are doing your student a good deed. You are giving them what they need and what they purchased.

Related: Who Buys Online Courses? These People!


Creating an online course might seem, at first, an easy task. While it is easy to create an online course, just throw in modules, lessons, some worksheets, and checklist on top of all. 

Creating a course that gives life-changing experiences, real-life results, accomplishments, and completed goals is another thing.

This list was created for you to keep in mind the most important aspects of efficient online courses. 

It’s all about the student, it’s all about guiding the student to get results and making a connection with the student.

You are not just selling your online course, you are also selling the learning experience, making sure the student goes through your online course.

It’s not enough to make them buy your course. That might have worked before, but the new age requires results, and you have to deliver those.

It’s not about you making that passive income, it’s about students getting what they paid for. They want, and more than anything, they need a transformation, a new beginning, a new and fresh start. 

Your online course can provide what they need, but you need to make sure the lessons and modules support that goal.

You have to make sure your online course is not just created for making money but for making a difference in ones’ life. Giving them a path from their current situation to their desired situation.

Juha Ekman

Hi there, I’m Juha Ekman. A few years ago, I started my online business selling online courses and digital products. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with learning, especially learning marketing, sales, and everything about passive income. It’s been quite a ride, and there has been a lot of ups and downs along the way. This is the site where I share everything I’ve learned.