How to Decide the Topic for Your First Online Course - Course Pursuits

How to Decide the Topic for Your First Online Course

So, you're ready to get on the adventure of creating and selling your own online course. 

Welcome to the gang of Online Course Creators. 

It's a fun ride with lot of things to learn.

The most important part, I believe is that you're able to help thousands of people around the world who you probably would never even meet but your online course could transform their lives.

That's the POWER you can have with your online course.

But I think you already know this and that's why you're reading this post. 

If you're unsure whether you should create an online course or not, read this. 

Now the question is - what is the ONE THING that you can teach in your very first online course.

If you're stuck and not able to decide the topic for your online course, you will find this post helpful. 

In this post, I've broken down the steps to finalize your online course into 4 steps and if you go through these steps, you'll have an online course topic that will be successful in long term


Step 1: Create a List of your Existing Skills

If you've multiple skills and not sure which one would be a potential course idea, then first thing you need to do it is - list down all your skills.

Pick up a paper or notepad and start jotting down. 

What is something you do in your day job ? 

Are you good at any of the skills you learned in your job ?

What are your hobbies?

What is something you love to do? 

What is a skill you had long time ago that you really loved to do but don't have an opportunity to do it now ?

What is something you always wanted to learn?

Dig deep & add these to your list.

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Step 2: Pick the TOPIC you're most PASSIONATE about

Once you've the above list of skills, then you need to shortlist to find a topic that you're really passionate about. 

Easier said than done. 

This is where most FAIL.

It's easier to list down your skills but when asked about your passion, it's not so clear to identify. 

You're not alone. ​

It's the problem with most.. including me.

So how to find something that you're passionate about ?

Here are a few tips:

Look at the first topic on your list and ask the following questions. 

  • Does thinking about this topic, makes you feel happy or joyful or energetic?
  • Would you continue to grow your learning in this topic, even if you're NOT paid for it?
  • Is it something you think about during your free time and is part of your future plans?
  • Does time seems to fly by when you're working on something related to this topic?
  • Do you always try to find what's the latest on this topic? 
  • Are you following any Blogs, Youtube channels & social media accounts that talk about this topic?
  • Do you try to experiment new things on this topic without someone asking you to do it ? 

If answer is NO for most of these questions, strike that option.  

Now repeat this for other ideas on your list.

Of all the topics that are left now, we need to dig deep to pick just one. 

Time to take some more notes and create another list.

Imagine you've a blog or a podcast and you need to create a list of topics for your blog articles or podcast. List down as many blog titles as you can think about the topic.

If you pick a topic and after writing 10 article ideas, you run out of thoughts - strike that topic. 

However, when you pick a topic & you just keep on coming up with ideas for articles then that's a good candidate for your final topic. 

For example, when I did this exercise, within 30 minutes I was able to write 200+ blog article ideas.

Only reason, I stopped my list at 200 was because I knew that I had found the topic I am most passionate about. 

I could have kept on going as so many ideas were flowing through my head.

If you follow above technique, you should have your TOPIC selected by now.

But this will not be your course topic. 

In next step, you will find that. 


Step 3: Find a SUB-TOPIC

After finalizing the topic, you must be thinking that you've found your course topic. 

Unfortunately that's not true. 

And if you plan to run with it, it might disappoint you later. 

Now go back to the list of articles ideas that you created for your TOPIC that you selected. 

Read that list. 

Do you see a pattern ?

Are there are any terms or sub-topics that repeat quite often in your list?

If yes, most likely these are the sub-topics that you're really good at.

Our sub-conscious mind usually tells us what we really want or think about. 

Now you can pick 1-2 sub topics here. 

Put them on a sticky pad or white board etc. where you can see it. 

Sleep on it. 

Come back to it next day and see if you really want to go ahead with this topic. 


Step 4: Research and Revise

Selecting a sub-topic doesn't mean that it will eventually be your course topic. 

It may or may not. 

And that is what our research will tell us. 

Now, you start the research with your sub-topic. 

Identify your target customer. 

Find out their pain points and desires. 

Course that solves a pain point has greater chances of success as compared to a course that is based on desire. 

Course that solves a pain point has greater chances of success as compared to a course that is based on desire. 

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Suppose you're in extreme pain and one person offers you a trip to Hawaii and other person offers you the pain medication.

Who would you pay ? 

If you said 'none', then I can't help you ( joking ). 

Most people would pay someone who solves their immediate pain. 

Once you've found the BIGGEST pain of your ideal customer, then find out how your sub-topic addresses that problem. 

Do additional research to find if there is already some discussion happening on your SUB-TOPIC - check blogs, courses, FB groups, twitter, Amazon books, reddit & other online forums. 

This is where you'll find the pain and desire of your target customer. You can also conduct a survey to find the same.

This research will help you determine if your sub-topic is really worthy of an online course.

If you don't see any positive results, then pick another sub-topic and start researching on that. 

Don't change the TOPIC you selected in Step 2. 

After repeating this exercise, you will be able to finalize your course topic.

Does this process look a bit too much ? In fact it is. 

But realize this, that is what others are also thinking. 

Nothing in life comes easy, you gotta work for it. TAKING ACTION is the main difference between a wannabe and a successful entrepreneur. 

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Let me know your course idea in comments and if you need any help with online courses, don't forget to join my free FB group.