How to Validate Your Online Course Topic

How to Validate Your Online Course Topic

Creating an online course takes time and hard work. There's nothing worse than doing all of that work and launching your course to the sound of crickets. This course will help you test the financial viability of your topic before you begin the content creation process.

LessonsTimePDF Action GuidesBonus ResourcesInstructor
13 lessons2 hours, 33 minutes9 PDF action guides4 bonus courses, 2 spreadsheets, 7 videosNate Johnson

Course Summary

This course covers the steps which make up what we feel is the most important component of the course creation journey; validating your chosen course topic to ensure that it will be financially viable before you invest long hours toward the production of your course.

When we created our first online course back in 2010, it took two of us each around 200 hours of time and work to complete the production of the content, a website buildout and all of the associated student resources, and launch and market the course. This is about the equivalent of 10% of the average employee's entire work year. That being said, we obviously don't want to spend this time on a futile effort.

In How to Validate Your Course Topic, we show you how to determine whether or not your course is likely to "fly" (aka "make money") based on the topic you've chosen. This will included taking a look at a few key questions we can ask of our proposed course...

  • We'll look at whether or not our course would solve a burning paint point for our students
  • We'll evaluate how important it is to our prospective customer to solve that problem
  • We'll examine the market we'll be competing in to ensure non-competitive entry into that market
  • We'll create a unique selling proposition (USP) to set our course apart from other offerings
  • We'll determine what value our course provides and what we might charge for that value
  • We'll look at other offerings in our niche to gather research on what products our prospective customer is paying for

The Risk of Not Knowing

Once again, we feel that this is one of the most critical phases of the course creation process. If you breeze past this phase and just jump right into creating your course with no confidence that people would actually be willing to pay for it, you're taking a huge risk. If we're going to commit a large amount of time to course creation over the coming months, we want to be certain that this is the topic we should focus on. After all, there are likely a number of niche sub-topics we could choose from to make our offering unique.

And this course not only helps you discover confidence in your topic and avoid wasting countless hours in the event that you might not find a market. Even if you have a proposed course topic that you're fully confident in, How to Validate Your Online Course Topic also lays an important foundation in understanding who you'll be selling your course to and how you can frame your marketing efforts in a way which makes prospective customers more likely to understand the value of your content. In turn, this all leads to more effective marketing efforts which produce more customers in less time.

Course Outline

  • Validate_Course_Topic_Icon_1_50px

    Lesson 1: Introduction

    In this video, we introduce the topics that we’ll be covering within this course.

  • Validate_Course_Topic_Icon_2_50px

    Lesson 2: How to Find Out If Your Topic Solves a High-Priority Problem for Your Customer

    We must ensure that the solution our course is offering is a priority for our prospective customer if we want it to sell. So in this video lesson, we provide some framework for evaluating the priorities of your intended audience.

  • Validate_Course_Topic_Icon_3_50px

    Lesson 3: How to Find Out If Your Topic Solves an Urgent Problem for Your Customer

    If our course is not solving a problem which is urgent to our ideal customer, it’s going to be difficult to convince them to purchase it. In this lesson, we look at how to analyze problems which require urgent solutions so that we can enter our niche with the best chance of success when marketing our course.

  • Validate_Course_Topic_Icon_4_50px

    Lesson 4: How to Find Out If Your Topic Solves a "Risk-Reduction" Problem for Your Customer

    What happens if our customer chooses to ignore the problem, our course, or finding a solution? In this video lesson, we determine if we can market our course as a solution with potentially negative consequences for not enrolling and gaining the knowledge within it.

  • Validate_Course_Topic_Icon_5_50px

    Lesson 5: Discovering Our Competition and Determining How We Stack Up

    This lesson is all about differentiating our course offering to minimize the impact of any other competing products in our space. We’ll be looking at five examples of how we can find a “blue ocean” to launch our course into in order to make competition irrelevant when we launch.

  • Validate_Course_Topic_Icon_6_50px

    Lesson 6: What Is This Solution Worth to Our Customer?

    In this lesson, we’re going to work toward the first steps of determining an initial ballpark price for our course by asking three questions related to our topic.

  • Validate_Course_Topic_Icon_7_50px

    Lesson 7: Discovering the Ideal Customer for Our Course and Where We'll Find Them

    We outline 14 potential questions you can use to “get inside the mind” of your ideal customer to understand more about who they are and whether or not they would make an effort to purchase, prioritize, complete your course, and value the outcome.

  • Validate_Course_Topic_Icon_8_50px

    Lesson 8: Workshop - Crafting Our Course's USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

    What makes your course different from other courses which offer a similar learning outcome? In this lesson, we discuss some examples of great USPs and then we move into the process of how to craft a USP for your course.

  • Validate_Course_Topic_Icon_9_50px

    Lesson 9: What Will It Take to Create This Course?

    Because creating an online course involves such a significant amount of time up front, an important part of the topic validation process is assessing whether investing your time in this project makes sense or if you could pursue other topics or opportunities with higher upside potential.

  • Validate_Course_Topic_Icon_10_50px

    Lessons 10-12: Workshop - Micro-Testing Our Course Topic in the Real World

    In these lessons, we’re going to use a process called “micro-testing” to answer a very important question which is the crux of validating the viability of any product idea…will it sell? This is going to lead to the collection of data we’ll be able to use at the end of our testing to get an idea of the level of interest in our topic.

  • Validate_Course_Topic_Icon_11_50px

    Lesson 13: Course Wrap-Up - Making Our Final Decision

    By now we’ve fully vetted our prospective course topic with a thorough analysis of its potential as a business. And that’s a huge step toward creating a successful, profitable course.

Bonus Resources

In addition to the 13 video lessons included with this course, you'll also have free access to the following bonus resources:

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Introduction to WordPress Course

This is an introduction to managing a WordPress website for beginners. Learn everything from installing themes and plugins to adding pages and posts.

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Course Creation for Beginners Course

The Simple Course Creation for Beginners course is an introductory step-by-step walk-through of the entire course creation process to help you off to a great start with your course.

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Build an Online Store with WooCommerce Course

This online course includes everything you need to get your online store up and running on your WordPress site using WooCommerce to manage the store.

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Building a WordPress Site with Beaver Builder

This course will give you a great foundation for building your WordPress website with the powerful, flexible page builder, Beaver Builder.


9 PDF Action Guides

This course includes 9 downloadable PDF action guides covering key learning concepts and checklists to guide you through required action steps.


2 Spreadsheets

This course includes spreadsheets available for both Microsoft Excel and iWork Numbers to help you track important research details throughout the course.


Bonus Video: Lesson Types & Pace

This bonus video lesson discusses the types of lessons you'll encounter within Simple Course Creation as well as the framework we used for segmenting content.


Bonus Video: Discovering Your "Why"

Creating a course requires a lot of time and energy. In this video, we help you discover your primary goal for creating your course to stay motivated along the way.


Bonus Video: Using Action Guides

Our detailed action guides help you retain key learning concepts and provide actionable checklists to help you make effective and efficient progress.


Bonus Video: Using Bonus Resources

This video discusses some of the types of supplemental resources we've included within our courses and how they can be used for additional study.


Bonus Video: Effective Time Management

Before you can sell your course, it needs to be finished. This video will help you find opportunities to create productive windows to work on your course.


Bonus Video: The Tomato Timer

This time management technique is one we've used many times to make our creative efforts as productive as possible.


Bonus Video: Course Intro

In this free bonus video, you'll meet your instructors to find out more about who's behind Simple Course Creation.

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Meet Your Instructor


"Welcome to Simple Course Creation. We're thrilled that you're here! Since 2012, I've dedicated my career to helping aspiring digital entrepreneurs create passive income through online courses. Our team has worked with over 20,000 course creators through the years and we've distilled the lessons we've learned into the Simple Course Creation catalog that you now have access to...all designed to help turn your idea for an online course into income.

Ready to get started? Then let's do this!"

Nate Johnson

Co-Founder, Fly Plugins, WP Courseware, & Simple Course Creation