Here’s What Entrepreneurs Get Wrong About Adding Digital Courses to Their Business

For anyone doing business online, digital courses seem like the natural path for growth. 

For one, online education is a massive market — already valued at $100+ billion, and on track to reach $325 billion by 2025. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that pie, am I right? 

But it’s not “just” about the income potential. Online courses are a very appealing business model. You generate revenue sharing the things you love and excel at — your valuable skills and knowledge — with the world! It’s a satisfying, rewarding way to make a living. 

Well, in that case, if digital courses are so awesome… 

…then how come so many entrepreneurs get burned on them?

And more importantly: if you want to incorporate online courses into your business, how can you avoid the same outcome?

Let me put on my detective hat, whip out a comically large magnifying glass, and investigate!

Image shows a confused cartoon man holding a laptop, surrounded by pictograms of a Play button, an open book, and a green button with a cursor over it.

 

The #1 problem with the online course landscape today

 

If I had to sum up the biggest issue with digital courses, it would say that:

There are too many of them… and there aren’t enough of them.

I know this sounds confusing, so let me elaborate. When I say there are “too many” courses, I specifically mean the ones that:

  • Teach low-quality material, packaging and presenting it in a poorly structured and unfocused way
  • Don’t meet an existing demand from potential students — their creators just picked whatever topic they assumed people might want to learn
  • Don’t generate much revenue, or add any strategic value to an entrepreneur’s “core” business. They’re an expensive distraction, not an asset

Those are the kind of courses that make even lifelong learners go, “Ugh, not another one!” They are everywhere, and they’re a big reason people find it hard to get excited about online education.

And honestly, who can blame them?

On the other hand, there aren’t enough digital courses that:

  • Deliver transformation — as in, help their students create valuable, results in their lives, instead of just “getting information” on a topic
  • Fill an existing gap in the market, teaching people the skills they already want to learn and are willing to pay for
  • Drive long-term business growth — not only with sales, but by attracting more customers, boosting business credibility, extending customer lifetime value, etc.

Even now, after the market has expanded and matured, these valuable, transformative courses are still few and far between. And the world definitely needs more of them!

This is where you come in… if you choose to.

Because you’ve read this far, then you’re probably interested in creating an online course for your business. And that’s great! Like I said, we need more life-improving, needle-moving, business-boosting digital courses in the world.

So, to start you off on the right track, I’m going to share a few key mindsets that will help you on your journey… 

…and also show you how to get clarity on what type of course you should create. Sound good?

Read on.

 

1. Online courses take work, lots of it

 

I think online marketing “gurus” did everyone a huge disservice when they hyped up courses as this low-cost, low-effort path to making passive income. As someone who’s in the process of creating 2 courses of her own, let me tell you something…

There’s nothing “passive” about it!

Doing market research, planning out your course content, creating the content, figuring out a course platform, producing marketing and sales assets, launching… all this takes time, energy, and more than a little bit of creativity on your part. This isn’t something you can do over a weekend, trying to fit course creation into a busy schedule of Netflix and Facebook.

And I didn’t even mention what happens after your course launch. Fielding questions from potential students, interacting with people who already bought, gathering feedback, dealing with tech issues if they come up, using people’s input to improve your course… Phew!

Now, I’m not saying any of this to scare you and put you off of creating your digital course. I enjoy creating my courses, and I think you will, too. I just want you to have clear expectations going in — this will take work, and time, and dedication.

 

2. Your future digital course needs to be a fit for your audience

 

Too many entrepreneurs approach course creation from a place of, “What do I want to teach?” As a result, they pour their time, money, and energy into creating something that nobody actually wants to buy (ouch!).

If you want to avoid this mistake, you need to understand that your online course is not about you. So don’t start your journey by focusing on your passions and areas of expertise — you’ll get to those later!

Instead, ask yourself, “What do my potential students want to learn?”

Think about your existing audience. What do they struggle with on a daily basis? What problems are they already paying to solve? Where is the market failing them?

And then, look at where those answers overlap with your existing skills and knowledge. What expertise can you bring to the table to help your potential students solve their challenges? That’s where you’ll find potential topics for your digital course — or maybe even a few of them!

This approach might seem backwards, but it will actually deliver better, more consistent results for you. It’s always easier to start with a specific target audience in mind and develop solutions for them, rather than pick a solution and try to find people who need it.

But your students’ needs aren’t the only thing you need to consider…

 

3. Most importantly, your course needs to fit your business

 

Don’t build a course just because that’s what all the “cool kids” are doing. If you’re going to invest time and energy into it, better make sure it fits your business model and supports your long-term goals!

Whether you want to:

  • Create a course as a more affordable alternative to your high-ticket service…
  • Fully replace your 1-on-1 client work with a premium one-to-many product…
  • Support an existing offer (e.g. software or physical tech) with a robust course…
  • “Test the waters” in a new niche or market by launching a digital course for it…

You can! But you need to be 100% honest with yourself about why you’re creating your course, what your long-term vision is for it, and how it impacts your business trajectory in the future.

Now, I know this is a lot to ask. How do you even know what type of course is right for your business if you’ve never created one before?

Well, don’t worry — because I know something that will help!

 

“What type of online course should I create?” Find out the answer in 2 minutes (yes, really)

 

If you’re serious about adding a digital course to your business, but you don’t know where to start, take this free quiz from my good friend Amy Porterfield:

Learn what course you should create — based on YOUR goals, audience, and business level

Amy is a legend in the online education space. She’s built multiple 7-figure businesses, and helped thousands of entrepreneurs build a life and business they love — with the help of digital courses.

She also inspired me to start building two courses of my own! And if Amy can pull not one, but two course ideas out of me, she can help you too. Take advantage of her free quiz today and find out what kind of course will take your business to the next level.