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6 Ways to Validate your Online Course Idea

Are you considering creating an online course? 

If so, then you are in the right place as this blog post is ALL about validating your online course idea.  

I’ve worked with so many online course creators that spend a lot of time and money creating an online course only to find out afterward that no one wants to buy it! I don’t want that to happen to you. Instead, I want you to be certain, without any doubt, that you are creating a course that people will buy.

It is not a good idea to create your course in a vacuum, all by yourself. Having created online courses for years, I have learned this the hard way. Once I figured out I needed to do a lot of research, and talk to my ideal students, the income I generated from my online courses increased exponentially.

Let's get this course party started, so I can help you validate your online course idea BEFORE you create it, okay?  I've got six great suggestions for you!

I’ve listed the most important course validation test first. I never recommend that someone create an online course on a topic where they don’t have experience AND have not already gotten results. Now, these could be results you've seen for yourself, or for others.  It is not ethical, and people will tell right away you are not a subject matter expert on the topic if you haven't already gotten results.

I am not saying someone has to have paid you for helping someone get results. There could be things you have helped family and friends get results for free.  The bottom line is that you have experience and results on the topic you want to teach online.

The second way to validate your course topic is to see if people are doing searches online about the topic. When you have a problem or are looking to achieve a goal, don’t you go online and search? I know that I do. I rarely do searches to just learn about a random topic. I search because I need help with something. It’s the same with online courses. People buy online courses if they have a problem or want to achieve a goal. They don’t buy them just to learn more about the topic. Few of us have time for that nowadays!

When you have your course topic in mind, you can validate your course by seeing if people are searching online using the keywords associated with your topic.

Google Keyword Planner
As you know, Google is the largest search engine in the world. Besides doing Google searches, there is a tool you can used called the Google Keyword Planner.  I learned about this when I was running Google Adwords for an e-commerce website I was running several years ago. This tool will give you historical statistics such as search volume data for your subject matter keywords and new keywords relevant to your subject. By using this, you can see if people are searching for the keywords related to your course topic.

Social Media
You can also take the same search keywords you have discovered and search for them on various Social Media Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

One way that marketers attract their ideal customers is by providing free content that interests them. This is called content marketing. So, the third way you can validate your online course idea is to see if there is a good amount of free online content on your course topic. There are a lot of places you can find free content. If you can find a good amount of free content online about your subject, then your course idea is likely a valid one.

Blog Posts
You can use Google Search to find blog posts written on the topic you are researching.  Type in your subject and then the word *blogs* after that and you will see if there are blogs on the topic. If you find relevant blog posts, see if there is a lot of interaction or engagement in the comments of the blogs. If you cannot find any blogs on your course topic that may be a red flag for you.

Facebook Groups & Pages
You can also search using your keywords on Facebook. If you find Facebook Groups and Pages on your course topic with a lot of followers, or members with a lot of content and engagement, this will help you determine if there is a market for your course.

You can do a search with your topic’s keywords on YouTube which is the world's second biggest search engine (after Google). There are millions of channels on all kinds of subjects. If there are channels on your course topic with lots of subscribers and videos with lots of views and comments about your topic that is a good sign that that you have a valid course topic. However, if you can’t find any YouTube videos on your course topic, then that is a big red flag. Also, on a side note - just because there is a lot of information online for free - even if that is the case, people will STILL buy an online course to have access to you, and to have the information presented in a very concise and organized format. Not everyone has the time to search and find random content, and they rarely get results that way either.

The fourth way you can validate your course topic is to see if there have been books published on the topic. You can easily search for books on Amazon. When you find the books, see how many reviews there are.  Check out what people are saying about the books to see how passionate they are about that topic and what kinds of questions they are asking. Again, if you can’t find any books on your course topic, that could be a red flag.

The fifth way to validate your online course is to see if there are already online courses on your topic that people are buying. If you can find other courses that is a good thing! If you cannot find courses on your topic, that means there may not be a market for the topic you want to teach online. 

Course Marketplace
An easy way to search to see if there are already courses in your niche is to search inside Course Marketplaces such as Udemy. These are websites that aggregate and sell courses that subject matter experts write. They share in the revenue earned from the courses with the instructors. 

You can search for your course topic to see if there are already other courses available. Once you find them, spend time looking at the course syllabus, and see how many students have enrolled. You can also see the reviews that the students have left for the course. When you are checking out these courses, keep in mind that yours will be different because you will bring your own perspective, style, and experience to your course.

The sixth way to validate your online course idea is to make sure you are very intimate with your ideal client. 

Identify your Ideal Client
You want to be clear about who your online course audience is. This is called your ideal client. Besides identifying them, you have to be able to find them, so you can offer them your course. If you can’t identify them or find them, then you shouldn’t move forward creating the course as you won't be able to sell it!

Talk to your Ideal Client
Once you have identified your ideal student, then you will want to actually talk to them! Yes, this will take more effort, but will be SO worth it in the long run! There is nothing better than getting direct feedback from your ideal student whether your course idea is valid. You will want to reach out to people in your niche that already know and love you, that are in your current audience or tribe, and people that do not know you so you can get unbiased feedback. Warning: Do not, under any circumstances ask your family or friends about your course topic! They will want to support you and will tell you your course idea is great, but they are not your ideal client, nor would they purchase it. If you move forward based on their approval, I am afraid you will have a false sense of security that your course idea is valid.

What to Ask your Ideal Client
Ask your ideal client what kinds of problems they have OR what kind of aspirations they are looking for related to your course topic. Ask them what is holding them back. What are they struggling with? The goal here is to get “inside their head” and document everything they say! Write their pain points, their fears, and their concerns. This is all very important for you, and you will refer back to your notes over and over as you create your course, and your marketing messaging and your sales page.

There are several ways you can communicate with your ideal client. You can set up a Skype appointment, or you can have them join you via Zoom. You can also do surveys via email. You can direct message them or ask them online through various social media platforms. I always recommend recording these conversations and documenting your results if you can as you will want to go back and listen to them again.

To summarize, I have provided you with six ways you can validate your course topic. Validating your course topic will help you make sure that your course is something that your audience wants and needs. You need not create your course in a vacuum. I would hate to have you complete your course, only to launch it and have nobody buy it! By following these six steps, you will have a highly profitable online course. 

Let me help you share what you know online to create predictable, recurring income while leveraging your time.  

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