With the online learning sector projected to generate over USD 100 billion in 2017, virtual education is in its prime. People feel a lot more comfortable spending money for educational purposes online than they once did, and this mindset shift has paved the way for 95% of American universities to start offering e-learning outlets, as well as for a variety of bloggers and professionals to begin adapting their content into online course format.

Online courses are helping to address the growing need for “just in time learning”. Let’s say, for instance, that you’re in the middle of building your website from scratch and can’t figure out how to implement a certain HTML code. There was once a time where you’d have to crack open a book to find out, or scroll those multiple forums online. Now, you can quickly type your query into Google and will be presented with dozens (if not hundreds) of free or paid courses that will be able to help you out in no time at all. E-learning is helping to fulfill our immediate learning needs by helping people achieve their goals and transform both personally and professionally!

Why create an online course from your book(s)?

As an author, there are two overarching reasons why creating an online course from your book(s) will be of benefit to your business.

Firstly – online courses provide an incredible amount of value to your reader. Your readers likely finished your book and were left inspired and wanting more – only to visit your website and be disappointed that there wasn’t any similar subject matter on it for them to consume. If your audience connected with you and your thoughts, they’ll want to go deeper and get to know you, hear your voice and learn more about what you have to offer. An online course allows you to interact with your readers and teach them what you mentioned in your book in a more personalized fashion. It will not only provide value in terms of content to them, but it will allow them to get to know you – making any of your future books or courses more appealing to them.
Secondly – online courses act as an incredible revenue stream for authors! While you might only earn $2.99, $5.99 or $10.99 from each book sold, you can price your courses at anywhere from $20.00 to $2000.00 depending on how much value they offer to learners. Essentially, you can easily eclipse your book sales by producing a well-executed online course and marketing it intelligently.

How to create an online course?

The cold, hard truth is that non-fiction authors have things quite a bit easier here – especially if their book is “how-to” themed or instructional to begin with. That being said, ALL authors can create courses from the content of their books with just a little bit of effort. Focus on what you’re good at. If you’re a fiction author, can you provide a course about character development or building a consistent tone of voice?

If you’re a non-fiction author who’s just written a book about gardening, you can easily transform that book into a course that gives your readers a hands-on approach on how to create the garden of their dreams. Use the content that you’ve already produced for your books. Chances are, with just a little bit of tweaking, you can easily create five to ten modules of educational content that can help teach your covetable skills to your audience.

When creating your course, keep in mind that people are busy! Between jobs or school and family and friends, you’ll need to break down your modules into bite size chunks for easy consumption. Consider opting for a course that’s five to ten modules long, with each module offering four to five videos. These videos should ideally be five to ten minutes long MAXIMUM, otherwise you’ll risk losing your audience’s attention altogether.

Engage your audience

Inserting an action point after each module is integral – worksheets, downloadables, checklists and other resources are all applicable here. These will keep people engaged, interested and coming back for more. It will also allow them to feel like they’re really getting something out of your course.

Online courses are a visual medium, so make use of them! If you’re teaching viewers how to develop a website, download a screen recording software and SHOW them how to do it. This allows you to bring your audience with you along the way, step by step and easily help them achieve their goals. You can publish courses in audio, PDF, e-mail or video format – or better yet, a combination of all of the above.

If you’re camera shy, don’t worry. You can record your screen and use your voice to guide your students. Alternatively, you can use PowerPoint presentations, interviews with other influencers in your niche via Skype and more. The options are endless. Your entire course can be done without your face ever appearing on camera if you don’t want it to!

What you’ll need

Once you’re done planning out your online course, which resources are required?

1. A good mic on your computer – We use the ATR 2100
2. A screen recording software – We use Camtasia for PC, Screenflow is a great option for Mac
3. A software to create online presentations – MS PowerPoint, Google Slides or Keynote
4. Video recording devices – An iPhone or a DSLR camera like Canon 60D will do the trick
5. Microphone for headshot videosRode smartLav mic
6. Interview software – Skype and Pamela audio recording software for PC and eCamm Call Recorder for Mac

Where and how to publish your course

If you have a sizeable enough following, you can publish on your own website in order to keep 100% of the profits generated from its sale. However, many authors can use the exposure that a course marketplace such as Udemy, Skillshare or Courseware Marketplace can provide. Granted, you’ll have to pay a commission from the sale of each course to these marketplaces and you won’t be able to price your course as high as you could on your own site, but these are great options for those seeking assistance to reach a wider audience.

For authors who really want to earn big, publish your course on your own site in order to charge more money. Make use of software such as Click Funnels, Teachable, Thinkific and Kajabi to put the finishing touches on your courses and deliver a high quality, valuable product to your audience. These softwares allow those who aren’t necessarily tech savvy to upload their videos, worksheets and downloadables easily into one neat final package.

Don’t overlook the power of marketing

Okay, you’re probably getting tired at this point. After all, you’ve put in a LOT of work so far. But there’s still one crucial step left: marketing. Nobody will see or find your course unless you market it smartly!

Send broadcasts about your new online course to your your email list, or put links to it inside your self published book. Do three free short videos as giveaways in your newsletters, then include links to purchase the full course. Create a Facebook group focused on the course’s content, or dedicate an entire section on your website to it. It’s all about finding creative ways to sell your course to the audience you’ve built up for yourself. Drip content to your clients slowly by producing one module, releasing it, creating the next one and repeating. If you’re short on time, this is a great way to create a course over a period of weeks.

All of that being said, every author’s course could benefit from additional marketing help. We’re a huge fan of joint venture partners! Target influencers in your niche and ask them to promote your course in exchange for 40% to 50% of the sales they generate. If you’ve created a course on parenting, do your research and uncover some of the best writers in your niche with an audience of over 5000 followers. In exchange for commission from your course sales and knowing that they’ll be delivering value to their readers, many of them are more than likely to agree to become your joint venture partner. In turn, this will widen your reach considerably and allow you to sell more.

Consider using the Affiliate WordPress Plugin to create unique links for your joint venture partners to share with their audiences, allowing you to be able to track who is selling what.

Remember, you don’t need to be a top level expert or author in order to create an online course. If you have a covetable skill, there’s an audience out there who will be hungry to learn from it. Work with what you’ve got! If you’ve written even just one book, you have enough content to rework into a course.

Below are just a few of the authors who have successfully launched online courses from their content.

  • 2Jeff Walker – he published his book Launch along with his course Product Launch Formula


As usual, we’re always available for questions and contents. Feel free to get in touch with us if you’d like to learn more about building an online course from your books. Good luck!

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  • Wow, what a great article! Thanks for the mention, it’s an honor 🙂

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