How to validate your online course topic idea

  • If you have stumbled on this article, then chances are you are already planning to launch your online courses.
  • So, how do you make sure that your online course idea is profitable?
  • The first step towards building a successful online course is to do an online course idea “validation”. If you validate your online course topic idea, you will be going through the process of making sure that the course idea will sell well.
  • It’s an indication that there is a demand for the kind of online courses you aim at creating. The process helps you in becoming confident that your online course idea is needed by learners & will sell.
  • Validate your online course topic idea with a 4-part checklis
  • Open up a Word document in order to keep track of your findings.
  • Define the size up your target audience:
    If you have an idea of the kind of problem you are solving, then it won’t be a problem for you to define a transformation and quantify the people who would be interested in purchasing your online course.

Ask yourself questions like “who has this problem?”, “ Who would get benefitted from my course?”, “Who would be interested to learn what I am teaching? These questions are a good beginning. Here are a few ways to identify and size up your audience:


Create a simple survey using Google Form. Spread it across on your groups, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & other online communities. But, make sure it is relevant to them. You can take it a step ahead & purchase survey groups on SurveyMonkey. If you want to spend some money in this process, it would be a good place to begin.

Ask your respondents a brief set of questions which would help you determine the following:

1.    Are they interested in your topic?

2.    What part specifically are they most keen on learning?

3.    What kind of experience and learning outcomes are they looking at? Accompany your survey with a one-pager. Talk about your course, ask them to subscribe to your email list and to become a part of your social media group. Along with it, offer your course for FREE or provide a discount coupon in exchange for feedback.

Free mini-courses
One of the most popular and productive ways to validate your online course topic idea is to create a FREE mini-course on the subject. It could be the basics of the subject, just FREE first lesson or just a sub-topic that you cater to.

If you have a subscription of an LMS, you can host a very short course there or on your website directly. Alternatively, you can list them on Udemy for FREE, or film it and put in on your YouTube channel.

Just make sure it’s available on the public domain. Finally, solicit feedback from survey users. Find patterns in feedback and the response you receive. Build a group of learners that appreciate your course. You can use this mini-course to build your E-mail list and include them in your sales funnel too.

Research all channels for selling online coursesAt this point, you are in a decent stage to try and gauge the potential size of your course enrollments. Especially on all types of learning platforms that you are catering to. Take a look at other distribution channels like Amazon, YouTube, AudioPods etc. Look at how people are responding in the comments. A few popular channels are as follows:

●     LinkedIn & FB groups.

●     Online Community Forums like Quora & Reddit

●     Take a look at what is being shared on Buzzsumo and social media.

This will give you a sense of how popular your topic might be & where can you find your target audience.

Assess the Competition
Now that you have got a clear picture of what your learners’ look like, find all that you can about your competition. Find out how they are doing while keeping a track of their progress. Looking at your competitors would get you a fair idea of the sweet spot that your online course might succeed to fill. A sweet spot on your online course idea is the one where there is enough interest among the learners, but limited supply. You must strive at filling that gap and take advantage of it in terms of value creation & brand building.

Please note that, with this kind of information, selling online courses can be a little tricky. Hence, make sure that you know your competition in and out!

Now’s the time to carefully plan how you can use your mini course as a launching pad for all your future paid courses. This launch pad should give you a platform to upsell.

  While assessing your competition make sure you have answered these questions: Demand
Find out if competitors collectively have made huge sales?
What is the trend to be seen in these sales? Gap Analysis
Do a careful analysis of the marketing strategies being used by your competitors. Find the gap. Do you see a scope of doing something better? using? Is it working? Can you do better?
How is feedback of their learners? Do you see students doing active participation? If as a viewer, you can figure out a gap to work on, it would be magic.

Now that you have got your course topic ideas validated, you need to do some keyword research!

Keyword Research Ideas:

In order to gauge demand for a topic begin by making a list of related topic keywords, both narrow or wide.  You need to create a wider list because you need to find a related keywords list that has higher search volume than your chosen topic idea. Hence, you can use the ideas to work around your course topic and name.