Online courses, in my view, have always been a viable way to make money online. On the surface, of course that makes sense. Creating an online course is much more work than writing a blog post, but then again, it should be. Plus, you're going to create something ridiculously valuable, then you're going to charge money for it.
And! You're going to find your profitable online course topic. Right now. Today.
Think of the things you know that people turn to you in your daily life to teach them. That’s a fun exercise. Let’s do it together! Go grab a piece of paper (okay, or go to your Google Drive) and start a list. Write at the top “Things I know how to do better than my peers.” Set a timer for ten minutes and write.
For me, that list looks something like this:
Things I Know How to Do Better Than My Peers
- Create awesome slide decks (PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Drive, you name it)
- Find “just the right stock image” for any situation
- Create logos
- Create pretty websites
- Use Pinterest to drive traffic
- Design compelling pins that get clicked
- Start blogging
- Make money blogging
- Use blogging tools
- Write compelling (sometimes funny) content
- Design things in Illustrator
- Come up with the right font combinations
- Save half my income
- How to get more people on your email list
After about ten minutes, I was at a loss. Actually, this exercise is fascinating because it’s really hard to put on paper the things you’re good at doing, especially if you use the word “better” because you start doubting yourself. It’s useful, though, because it makes you think about the things that peers email you about. Anne, for example, is a whiz with spreadsheets. I can puzzle over something for 45 minutes, then ask her to look at it, and have it back in less than five, working and looking better than anything I could have done. Andrea is a coding genius — she’s self-taught and understands the inner workings of a website better than most people (even so-called programmers!), which is super impressive. I have half a degree in Computer Science and I only know enough to make me dangerous.
Your list will look somewhat (okay, vastly) different than mine. Once you have that list, take a good long look at it. Pat yourself on the back for being so smart in all those things! When you’re done with that (and I won’t judge you for how long that takes), start another list. Use the same Google Doc as before, but this time, add a heading, and call it “Things I am Comfortable Explaining to Other People.”
Here’s my list:
Things I am Comfortable Explaining to Other People
- How to start a blog
- How to design your pins for Pinterest
- How to effectively use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog
- How to get more email sign ups to your newsletter
- How to save half your income
- How to use blogging tools
When I did this exercise initially, I realized I could discuss blog tips all day every day, so I started this blog. Some things are easily explained (Two Quick Wins That’ll Make You Look Like a Professional Right Away), while some take a little more explanation (The Ultimate Guide to Using Pinterest to Drive Traffic to Your Blog). I love writing about things like that, and I love teaching other people.
So, now that you have your new list, your job is to take each bullet point and decide how you’re going to get your knowledge out there in the world. Will you write a blog post? An ebook? An online course?
Here’s how my list plays out (and you’ll see, I did this list experiment a long time ago, so below are places where I’ve turned my points of confidence into courses or ebooks where I’m teaching people. It’s helpful to redo this exercise annually as you learn new things.)
Things I am Comfortable Explaining to Other People
- How to start a blog: Wrote one blog post (How to Start a Blog) almost right when I started this site, then collaborated with Anne on an ebook (On Your Mark, Get Set, Blog!), which we then rewrote and had professionally edited, and are in the final stages of turning it into a book-workbook-course that will be out later this year.
- How to design your pins for Pinterest: Created a mini-course (How to Create Your Own Templates for Pinterest) that goes into getting your own templates made for Pinterest. Includes Illustrator files and Canva templates.
- How to effectively use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog: Anne and I created an awesome, in-depth, comprehensive course last year, that we’re repurposing into a quick, inexpensive, just-the-guts boot camp which will be released in February. I’ve also written countless articles on this site about Pinterest. Find them here: http://forprofitblogging.com/pinterest/
- How to get more email sign ups to your newsletter: I wrote a free 30-day course (#1000in30) that sends you an email a day for 30 days to help you grow your email list. That became an ebook (#1000in30 ebook) that isn’t free, but lets you go at your own pace without your inbox gumming up. There’s also a post about what to write to your audience (50 Ideas to Make Your Blog Newsletter the Best).
- How to save half your income: This one comes from my personal finance background, and was the first course Joe and I made together (Save50). It’s a self-directed go-at-your-own-pace course that goes into the mindset and the mechanics of saving half your income. We just finished updating it for 2017 and reopened it for registration.
- How to use blogging tools: That’s this site, for-profit blogging. This site came after I was in a mastermind group where every time we talked, I had some new toy I found online that everyone else on the call just had to try. They were gentle with me, when they said that maybe I should tell other people about all the things I keep finding, when I think their suggestion served two purposes: I was a lot quieter at subsequent mastermind meetings. It dovetails really nicely with Stacking Benjamins because one of our goals at Stacking Benjamins (aside from the primary goal of having fun) is to help people stack more Benjamins, and making money online is one of many ways you can have more money in your life.
So, what are you better at doing than your peers? What can you explain to others? If you’re stuck, let me know, and we can brainstorm together. Otherwise, you have a goal: start building your outline right now!
We’ll get into various course platforms in another post, which I have done extensive research on without finding one that really works the way I want. I’m still hopeful, though! Stay tuned.