Profitable online course ideas you can launch in 2021
Jump ahead<   Raise your hand if you thought the only profitable course idea is to teach others how to make money blogging… 🙋‍♂️🙋‍♀️ Here’s the thing: you can start and sell a profitable online course in just about any niche. But I get it—you're still skeptical—which is why I’m going to share tons of […]

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Raise your hand if you thought the only profitable course idea is to teach others how to make money blogging…

🙋‍♂️🙋‍♀️

Here’s the thing: you can start and sell a profitable online course in just about any niche. But I get it—you're still skeptical—which is why I’m going to share tons of examples of online courses so you feel inspired and excited to create your own.

And to top it off, I’ve also included concrete steps you can take to find profitable online course ideas (in your niche).

Whether you want to create your first or next course, this article will help you figure out how to find online profitable course ideas.

Let’s jump in!

50 online course ideas for creators

Profitable online courses ideas for 2021

You might still be wondering if online courses are right for your business or whether you can find a profitable course idea in your niche.

Earlier on, I promised real-life examples of courses (aside from the traditional learn-online-business realm) to show you that yes, you can create a profitable course in 2021 in any niche. Here are some examples straight from our ConvertKit creators.

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Travel

Even though many people aren’t making big trips right now, there are still options for you to create a profitable online course if you’re in the travel niche.

Plus, since courses can take a long time to plan and develop, you can use the time from now until it’s safe to travel to make sure your course is ready to go!

Kristie Wolfe created a course about running a successful AirBNB:

Online course landing page for running a AirBNB
Image via Kristie Wolfe

While this course teaches you how to become a travel agent:

Online course landing page for how to become a travel agent.
Image via The Travel Agent How-To Guide

Both courses are perfect examples of how you don’t need to teach about specific destinations but can still create an online course in the travel niche.

More profitable course ideas for travel:

  • How to travel with kids
  • Traveling with pets
  • DIY van life
  • Making money while traveling
  • Travel tips for specific countries/regions
  • Budget travel tips

Health and wellness

There will always be people looking to improve their health. If you are qualified to give health and wellness advice, people will be willing to pay to hear your expertise.

Take this course on grief, for example:

Landing page for an online course on grief.
Image via Six-Weeks of Help & Hope

Or this course on hair loss (for alopecia sufferers), which caters to a very specific niche:

Landing page for online course on hair loss
Image via Hair Loss 101

You can also create an online course that appeals to a wider audience, like this fitness course that was made for anyone who wants to get in shape:

Landing page for online for business
Image via Ultimate Athlete

It’s up to you how broad or narrow you’d like your audience to be.

More profitable course ideas for health & wellness:

  • Cooking for specific diets (celiacs, low-carb, vegan)
  • Nutrition for specific demographics
  • Yoga for different levels or people (beginners or post-partum)
  • Different types of dance (tap, hip-hop, ballet)
  • Specific fitness goals (bigger glutes, six-pack abs, toned arms)

Arts and creativity

People are always searching for creative outlets. If you have a creative skillset, you have something unique to offer.

Photoshop Wizardry is for beginner Photoshop users who want to learn to design a book cover:

Online course idea for photographers
Image via Regina Wamba

Another graphic design course teaches users how to use InDesign to make printables.

Course idea for graphic designers
Image via InDesign Course

Notice how the last two courses are both graphic design-related, yet they teach something completely different.

Another creative course example is this one that teaches you how to become an industry singer:

Online course idea for singers
Image via the Industry Singer 101 course

More profitable course ideas for arts and creativity:

  • Instrument specific (vocal classes, flute, piano
  • Songwriting
  • Musical skills (sight reading)
  • Photography and photo editing
  • Videography and video editing
  • Graphic design
  • Drawing and painting (charcoal, watercolor)
  • Art techniques (shading, realism, cartoon)
  • Sewing
  • Knitting/crocheting

Home and lifestyle

Home and lifestyle can encompass a wide-range of topics. Take this home organization course, for example:

Online course ideas for home organization
Image via The Elusive Follow-Through course

And if you have a passion for cooking, there’s an audience who wants to learn from you. This course teaches busy parents how to enjoy cooking meals for their family:

Online course for chefs
Image via the Seamless Kitchen course

And with fashion continually changing, it can be impossible to keep up! The Capsule Plan course helps women put together a capsule wardrobe to be in style all year long:

Landing page for an online course about styling.
Image via the Capsule Plan course

More profitable course ideas for home and lifestyle:

  • Home decor
  • Home improvement
  • Makeup
  • Parenting
  • Plant care
  • Finance and investments
  • Money management

Tech

Being technical is a handy skill many of us wish we had (and want to learn). If you are tech-savvy, consider teaching your audience a thing or two!

The DIY Website Starter Course helps people learn to build a WordPress website by themselves.

Online course about launching a website
Image via the DIY Website Starter Course

And this course will teach people how to build an app from start to finish:

Online course about building an app
Image via Build an App from Scratch course

More profitable course ideas for tech:

  • Analytics set up and use
  • HTML/CSS
  • Programming languages (Javascript, Python, C++)
  • Website backup
  • Website maintenance
  • Build a plugin
  • Improve website speed

Personal development

More and more people understand the benefits of personal development–after all, the more content you are, the better you’ll feel.

Chan Crawford’s course teaches her audience how to overcome obstacles and mental barriers:

Online course idea for coaches
Image via Chan Crawford

More profitable course ideas for personal development:

  • Networking
  • Career guidance
  • Manifestation
  • Achieving goals
  • Overcoming burnout
  • Overcoming mental barriers
  • Productivity
  • Meditation

3 simple steps to find online course ideas

Before you sit down to start your course, it’s important to generate ideas, narrow down those ideas, and validate them.

Let’s go through each step in detail, so you know exactly what to do for each step.

Step 1: Idea generation

You can generate online course ideas with or without a big audience. I recommend brainstorming five to ten different ideas, so you have enough to narrow down.

Google Analytics (GA)

If you have a website with incoming traffic, you’re in luck because your Google Analytics (GA) is a goldmine of useful information.

Your first step is to find your highest-performing content, or in other words, what your audience is already interested in learning.

Finding your most popular content is easy.

Along the lefthand side of your GA dashboard, head into Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

How find course ideas
Find your most popular content within Google Analytics

Here’s where you’ll get a glimpse of your highest-traffic pages.

Set your timeframe to see how your content performs over time. I like to view which pieces of mine have been popular over the last month, six months, and one year.

How to set up an online course
Set your timeframe

Viewing different timeframes can help you see which pieces bring in consistent traffic and which ones may just be anomalies (i.e., you had a piece go viral).

Once you apply the timeframe, you’ll be able to sort from most to least popular. Organize your unique pageviews in descending order.

How to use Google Analytics for course ideas

And there you have it! Now you know what your audience already wants to learn about (and might want to learn more about).

Find market gaps

With so many online courses out there, There’s a good chance someone’s already created a course (or resource) in your niche.

Which is ok!

In fact, you’re going to use that to your advantage.

Online reviews for your competitors’ products hold lots of valuable information. Often, a reviewer will leave a review and state what they liked and also what they wished they learned.

If your competition doesn’t have any place where you can read online reviews, head to Amazon, and search for ebooks within your niche. You’ll find a plethora of reviews to read.

Look for reviews that say things like:

  • “I wish I learned…”
  • “I wanted to know how…”
  • “This was missing…”
  • “I really like how…”
  • “This helped me…”

The good reviews can help you understand what your competition is teaching well, and the bad reviews will help you determine what is missing.

Answer the Public

Answer the Public is a great freemium tool you can use to generate tons of online course ideas in a matter of seconds.

To start, enter your niche (or broad topic) into the search and change the country to where your audience lives:

Answer the Public to find course ideas
Search your niche. Image via Answer the Public

Next, scroll down to view your data. For easier viewing, I like to change Visualization to Data.

Answer the Public
Answer the Public provides useful data. Image via Answer the Public

Answer the Public lists popular search queries so you can get a glimpse into your potential course takers’ minds to understand what they want to learn more about.

In our rock climbing example, there are many queries about rock climbing equipment. Online course ideas for this niche could center around the best rock climbing equipment for avid climbers.

FAQs

As a kid, my school teacher taught me that it’s good to ask questions because if I’m wondering something, it means someone else is too.

If you get the same questions over and over, there’s a high probability others in your audience are seeking the same information. Use your FAQs to your advantage and generate potential course ideas!

Ask your audience

If you don’t want to wait for your audience to ask you questions, why not go directly to them?

Ask your audience what their biggest struggles are with your niche or what they want to learn. And you don’t need a big audience to get big insight. After asking a handful of people what they want to learn, you’ll hopefully begin to notice patterns and trends.

Step 2: Narrow down your online course ideas

Alright! You’ve generated a list of topics, and now it’s time to trim the fat and narrow down your ideas.

There are three main questions you can ask yourself to knock some ideas off your list:

  1. Which course idea I have the most knowledge about? It goes without being said, but you know about the topic you create an online course on.
  2. Which course idea excites me the most? An online course can take anywhere from 25-500 hours–it’s a good idea to be excited over the topic so you don’t run out of gas. (PS–read our online course timeline resource so you can effectively map out your course creation.)
  3. Is this course evergreen or seasonal? Evergreen content doesn’t expire. Most courses will be evergreen, but some niches (like gardening) might only be relevant to your audience during specific times of the year. This isn’t bad, but it will limit your revenue if you can’t keep your course open all year. Pinterest Trends shows you whether or not certain topic ideas fluctuate during specific times of the year.

After narrowing down your list, you’ll have your online course idea! But before you create your course, you need to validate your idea (so you can be positive it’ll be a hit with your audience).

We’re going to discuss four easy methods to validate your idea.

Trends

Google Trends will show you whether or not your online course idea is increasing or decreasing in popularity.

For example, when we search for bodybuilding, we can see it has declined in popularity over the last five years:

A Google Trends search for “bodybuilding” shows its popularity is declining over time.
A Google Trends search for “bodybuilding” shows its popularity is declining over time.

If a course is declining in popularity, you should ask yourself whether or not there will be a demand for it in the future.

Survey

Surveys can be a quick way to generate useful insight! Google Forms is a free survey platform you can use to collect data.

For your online course survey, ask a variety of open and closed-ended questions. For example, “what do you know about topic X?”, “what do you wish you knew about topic X?, and “would you take a course on topic X?

You can survey your audience in a variety of different ways:

  • Send a survey to your email list
  • Redirect new email subscribers to a “thank you” page with a link to your survey
  • Post a survey to your social media accounts
  • Join relevant Facebook groups and, as long as rules permit, post your survey for members to complete

The ideal survey length is 6–10 minutes, so keep that in mind as you develop your questions!

Interviews

You can also ask your audience members, your email subscribers, or those who took your survey if you can speak directly with them. As a bonus, interviews also help you create your online course outline, so you’ll understand what content to include within your course.

Interviews tend to be time-intensive, and in the past, I’ve seen course creators offer their course for free (or at a discounted rate) to interviewees.

Live workshop/webinar

What better way to simultaneously grow your email list and conduct customer research? By offering a workshop or webinar, you can teach a free mini-course and gauge the interest based on those who attend.

Time to build your online course

Let’s take your newly-found online course topic from idea to reality in 2021! There are different online course platforms to sell your course, including ours (ConvertKit Commerce)!

ConvertKit Commerce lets you sell digital products without the hassle of building a website. I’ll show you how easy it is. To get started, sign up for a ConvertKit Commerce account and click Create a product in the Products tab:

How to set up a paid course in ConvertKit
Click “Create a product”

In three easy steps, you’ll have your online course ready to sell! First, fill out the information with your course’s name and price.

Setting up a product in ConvertKit
Fill out your product information

Secondly, upload your course files. (This is what your customer receives when they buy your course.)

Uploading a product in ConvertKit
Upload your product files

Lastly, choose the URL, which will be the landing page you use to sell your course.

Using ConvertKit Commerce for your paid online course
Choose your domain and create your product

You’re done! Your shiny new course is now ready to bring in students and sales.

Want to give it a try? Start using ConvertKit Commerce today!


The biggest problem founders and small business owners have is that they’re experts in their field and novices in what it really takes to effectively run a business. That’s what usually trips them up, sooner or later.

Don’t let that happen to you. Admit that you don’t know what you don’t know about business, starting with these 15 tips guaranteed to help keep you and your company out of hot water. Some are straightforward, others are counterintuitive, but they’re all true. And some day they’ll save your butt.

Always make sure there is and will be enough cash in the bank. Period. The most common business-failure mode, hands down, is course out of cash. If you know you’ve got a cash flow or liquidity problem coming up, fix it now. You can’t fire bad employees fast enough. You just can’t. Just make sure you know they’re the problem, not you ( see next tip ).

The problem is probably you. When I was a young directeur, my company sent us all to a week of quality training where the most important concept we learned was that percent of all problems are management problems. When things aren’t going well, the first place to look for answers is in the mirror.

Take care of your stars. This goes for every company, big and small. The cost of losing a vedette employee is enormous, yet précurseurs rarely take the time to ensure their top performers are properly motivated, challenged, and compensated. Your people are not your kids, your personal assistants, or your shrink. If you use and abuse them that way, you will come to regret it. Capiche ?

Learn to say ' yes ' and ' no ' a lot. The two most important words business owners and founders have at their disposal are “yes” and “no. ” Learn to say them a lot. And that means being decisive. The most important reason to focus – to be clear on what your company does – is to be clear on all the things it doesn’t do.

It boggles my mind how little most fondateurs value their customers when, not only are their feedback and input among the most critical information they will ever learn, but their repeat business is the easiest business to get. Learn two words : meritocracy and nepotism. The first is how you run an organization – by recognizing, rewarding, and compensating based solely on ability and achievement. The deuxième is how you don’t run an organization – by playing préférés and being biased.

Know when and when not to be translucide. Transparency is as detrimental at some times as it is beneficial at others. There are times to share openly and times to zip it. You need to know when and with whom to do one versus the other. It comes with experience.

Trust your gut. This phrase is often repeated but rarely understood. It means that your own instincts are an extremely valuable decision-making tool. Too often we end up saying in retrospect and with regret, “Damn, I knew that was a bad idea. ” But the key is to know how to access your instincts. Just sit, be quiet, and listen to yourself.

Protect and defend your intellectual property. Most of you don’t know the difference between a copyright, trademark, trade secret, and patent. That’s not acceptable. If you don’t protect and defend your IP, you will lose your only competitive advantage.

Learn to read and write effective agreements. You know the expression “good fences make good neighbors ? ” It’s the same in business. The more effective your agreements are, the better your relationships will be.

Far too many entrepreneurs run their business like an extension of their personal finances. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Construct the right entity and keep it separate from your personal life. Know your finances inside and out. If you don’t know your revenues, expenses, capital requirements, profits ( gross and net ), debt, cash flow, and effective tax rate – among other things – you’re asking for dysfonctionnement. Big dysfonctionnement.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Humility is a powerful trait for précurseurs, and that goes for new owners, veteran CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and everyone in between. More times than not, you will come to regret thinking you knew all the answers. Behind every failed company are dysfunctional, delusional, or incompetent business précurseurs. The irony is, none of them had the slightest idea that was true at the time. Even sadder, most of them still don’t. Don’t end up like one of them.

For every success you have in growing your market share, another business or other businesses will inevitably lose ground. Here are 11 quick and easy business tips to gain a competitive advantage over your rivals and insulate yourself from the threat of new entrants in the market.

Of course, we all want to spark business growth and increase revenue. But the way you do this in a sustainable way is to focus instead on the building of a loyal database of avid fans. Content marketing, paired with optimized website forms and éclairé email automation follow-up is critical to business success. This approach builds trust by giving away free value before asking for someone’s hard-earned money. Not an expert in creating optimized lead generation pages on a website ? No worries, use a trusted tool like Leadpages to make it happen.

Like it or not, folks out there aren’t searching for your brand, they’re just looking to solve a problem or find a particular type of product ( unless you run Starbucks or Adidas ! ) Don’t list all the benefits your product brings. Focus on the solutions. Explain to the customer in simple, straightforward terms how or why your product can help them or assist in the attainment of their goals. Consider FedEx’s iconic slogan : When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. This was a clear example of addressing widely-spread anxiety about the reliability of delivery services. Run through some market research to profile your target customer. How does your product or service – and your delivery and and price point – solve other people’s problems and make their lives easier or more pleasurable ?

Dropping prices doesn’t necessarily raise sales, for instance ( though it will definitely squeeze margins ). If you position yourself as a premium brand, then your customers aren’t necessarily value-driven in the first place, and cutting prices could even tarnish your brand. Consider this case study from Robert Cialdini’s seminal book ‘Influence : The Psychology of Persuasion’ : a jeweller sold out of turquoise jewelry after accidentally doubling, instead of halving, the price. The inflated price tag lent the product an unwarranted cachet ! If you are a de haute gamme brand, there are ways to optimize your pricing without lowering prices. For example, offer the quality-conscious customer an ‘exclusive’ benefit that your rivals do not or cannot provide. If you are at the value-driven end of the market, on the other hand, don’t assume slashing prices means incurring a loss. Low pricing can help you rapidly onboard a heap of new customers who may also buy other items in your site and return again. Context also counts for a lot with pricing. The best way to sell a $5, 000 watch, for instance, could be by putting it next to a $10, 000 watch. Think strategically when it comes to deciding any price point.

Yes, it sounds obvious, but it’s so very important ! Whether consciously or not, people are more likely to buy a product if they like the sales assistant who’s attending to them. While the employee’s personality obviously has no bearing on the price or your product’s ability to serve their needs is irrelevant. Friendly customer-facing équipe will always attract more sales. Be rigorous in hiring people who are genuinely cheerful, friendly and outgoing. Make sure your training program teaches them to adopt a consistently friendly approach that puts customers at ease and feel like a priority.

Say you’re a bricks-and-mortar store and you’re getting a rush of customers as closing time approaches… why not close up an hour later ? While this may cause disgruntlement among équipe, solve this venant by getting creative with rosters. Monitor customer footfall throughout the day and week to identify your busiest periods, and équipe people accordingly. You can also reduce headcount during quieter periods to offset the higher costs and longer sérieux hours created by your extended opening hours. It’s a win-win !

Even in the web age, some customers will always prefer to contact you by phone rather than mail or Facebook. While many online companies with tight margins eschew manned phone lines altogether, it’s worth giving customers the option of having a voice-to-voice conversation with your brand. By all means, slash the time and cost spent responding to queries by funnelling customers to standardized, pre-existing responses on your webpage ( i. e., FAQs ). But if their query isn’t listed in the drop-down menu of FAQs, then don’t make them click more than once more to find your phone number. Put it front and center on your web page, particularly if you’re a retail offering. ‘Live chat’ bots are an inexpensive way of offering real-time communication, too.

Why not give your happy customers a voucher with their purchase to redeem on your products and services ? If they love what you do already, they’re only going to love you more for this. It’s good for you because : It guarantees they will return to your store again. People hate to waste freebies ! When they return to your store to redeem their voucher, they may buy other items, too. If your operates online, then the freebie could be strategically timed to coincide with a special sale. Oh, and guess what ? Chances are customers who have received vouchers or freebies won’t stay quiet about it either, so you could enjoy some positive buzz on social media.

Local businesses can arguably connect with their unique communities with much greater authority than any global chain. A local retailer, hair mobilier or gardening company can sponsor a kid’s sports team and offer deep discounts for OAPs at the same time. Some cinemas feature special ‘sensory’ screenings where parents can bring kids with autism ( who would normally be overwhelmed by busy, noisy environments ) to enjoy a movie in a relaxed, stress-free atmosphere. This reflects well on them and also guarantees them a loyal customer niche. Whatever you choose to do to support your community, make sure it authentically fits with your brand offering and journey to date.

Social media is a great medium through which to build a solid relationship with customers – just don’t forget what ‘social’ actually means ! Soul-less corporate shop-talk won’t work on Twitter. Try to give your brand some ‘personality’ when you write updates or posts. This can bring its own risks, évidemment. But if you get it right, the benefits can be très grande. Develop a tone of voice that aligns well with your brand identity. Seek to inform, help, entertain or amuse. And most importantly – given the dire PR consequences – don’t patronize, try too hard to be funny, or tweet after a few alcoholic drinks !

Sometimes it’s better to be a master of one discipline than a jack of all trades. Admittedly, multiple revenue streams do spread your risk : if one falters, others can take up the slack. Nevertheless, consumers often associate ‘specialists’ with higher quality products or services than generalists. And with good reason, too : specialists typically invest all their resources into perfecting a single product or service. So what should you specialize in ? to state the obvious, it should be something in which you excel. You could also pick something with rising or recession-proof demand which is resilient to technological change in which you possess a competitive advantage over your rivals or where there’s an obvious gap in your local market. Own it, whatever you do.

Don’t ever get too satisfied with your business. You can always improve – and improve you must ! Don’t get me wrong : without the odd moment of smug satisfaction, what’s the point ? Do relish in the successful launch of a game-changing product or take pleasure in positive customer feedback. But don’t let your customers hear you banging on about it time after time ! Be alert to the common element that has led to the downfall of countless hitherto thriving brands : complacency. Imaginative, nimble and innovative start-ups often do better than big market précurseurs that just got lazy. You may be the disruptive innovator today, but tomorrow you could be the complacent market leader with a tired model. So try to be humble and always strive to improve. Seek inspiration from other fondateurs, from books and from seminars. The moment you think ‘mission accomplished’ is the same moment you become vulnerable to being usurped.

There are lots of ways in which you can improve your business, and not all of them are complicated ! Try out the above tips or integrate them with your existing strategies, and let me know how you go in the comments below. Guest Author : Faye Ferris is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Dynamis APAC Pty Ltd offices in Sydney. She develops the DYNAMIS stable of brands and their expansion into the Asia Pacific region as well as BusinessesForSale. com, FranchiseSales. com and PropertySales. com. If you have an interest in partnering up with Faye or advertising on any of these websites in the APAC territories, please do not hesitate to contact her on faye@businessesforsale. com.

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