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Thinking about designing a course? Get started with this intro guide

Ready to take your own piece of the pie? We cover all you need to know in this guide

a laptop and a cup on a table

As an expert in a specific field, designing your own course can be an excellent way to diversify. Not only can it open up a new line of profit for your business, it can connect you with new audiences, and help you find more fulfilment in your work. 

If social media’s anything to go by, there’s definitely a demand for this stuff. From seasoned make-up artists offering to teach the tricks of their trade, to psychologists offering courses to overcome specific life challenges – the possibilities are vast. Ready to take your own piece of the pie? We cover all you need to know in this guide.

Tip: Ticket Tailor is the best-loved ticketing platform for businesses, creatives and educational institutions. Check out how we can help you scale your business with seamless course ticketing >

The basics – what are the options for creating a course?

Online, offline, pre-recorded or live? Written content, videos, or audio files? Interactive or solo-learning? Courses really do come in all shapes and sizes, and which approach you choose will depend on what’s right for you and for your audience.

Let’s take a closer look at some of your options:

Pre-made courses vs live and interactive courses

Do you want to teach your students live, and interact with them? Or do you want to go contactless with a premade course that students can go through at their own leisure? Both are totally viable options.

Premade courses

  • You could design a range of course materials including downloadable PDFs, videos and audio files, and sell these as a package for students to go through in their own time.
  • There’s some fantastic course creation software out there that can help you create robust, authentic materials – check out iSpring Suite, Podia, Kajabi, and LearnDash
  • This approach means there’s no limit on how many people you sell your course to – but you’ll potentially charge less as you won’t personally be delivering live content.
  • You can still recommend that students go through the course to a set schedule – for example, to complete a certain amount of sections per week. 
  • It can be a nice touch to offer some sort of interaction to students – for example, you could invite them to a Facebook group, Whatsapp group or forum where they’re welcome to ask you and other course members questions. Or you could even offer a one-on-one video consultation with them to kick off the course. 

a person standing in front of a group of people in a room

Live or interactive courses

  • Running a course with live and interactive elements online will require a robust platform that supports all your needs – check out Udemy, Skillshare, Teachable and Thinkific.
  • Or you could go down a more traditional route and run your course entirely in person. You’ll need a venue, which could be anything from a village hall, to a college or even your own home. 
  • The amount of attendees you can get for your courses is more finite than with a pre-made course – but you can probably charge considerably more. 
  • You’ll need a reliable ticketing or event registration platform to manage attendance to your live classes (whether online or offline).

Content format – what’s best to go for?

The world’s pretty much your oyster when it comes to creating your course materials. Thanks to the software we mentioned above, there’s no shortage of tech to help you design something super professional and impressive.

But if all that feels a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. There’s nothing to say you have to use fancy software to design your course. A simple set of phone-recorded videos with basic PDF documents could do the trick just as well. As long as the quality of the content you’re delivering is there, you don’t need to go all-bells-and-whistles if you don’t want to. 

Think about what kind of delivery method will suit your teaching style, and your audience best. Are you a charismatic, confident and clear public speaker? Opting for lecture-style content sounds like a good shout for you. Or are you better able to communicate through the written word? Providing plenty of reading materials for your attendees feels like a winner here. Other delivery formats can include podcasts, animated videos, and interactive workshops.

The best bet is to start playing around with formats, and see what feels natural and most productive. 

Do I need any qualifications to run a course?

You don’t legally need specific qualifications to design and run most courses. It can help to be a member of a professional body, though, and attendees will definitely want to see some proof of your training or credentials. That might be having had your work published or recognised in some way, being a qualified health professional (for example, a nutritionist), or simply being able to show off your creative skills (for example, your own photography or artwork). 

Alternatively, you might already be a social media guru with thousands of followers – say, for your make-up or hair styling tutorials. If you’ve already got a big following, it’s a reasonable assumption to make that there’ll be an appetite for a course designed by you! Why not try running a social media poll to gauge interest before diving in?

Should I protect myself with insurance?

Whenever you’re offering advice in return for money, there’s a possibility someone could be unhappy with this advice and bring legal action against you. For example, if you’re a fitness instructor, and someone claims they were injured because of exercises you recommended, they could decide to sue. 

With this in mind, it’s important to protect yourself with the right insurance when running a course. It’s wise to take out public liability insurance if you’re dealing with members of the public, which protects you if someone gets injured or their property damaged because of your business. 

Professional indemnity insurance can be a good idea too, as this protects you if advice you give leads someone to bring legal action against you. 

Doing a quick internet search will throw up loads of business insurance options – so you can shop around for a good deal.

a person holding a camera

How do you design and structure a course?

The course design process will vary depending on what you’re teaching. But every course should have:

  • A clear structure – a course should be broken down into parts, with learning outcomes for each section.
  • Goals and objectives – participants should be very clear on what they’ll learn or achieve by the end of the course.
  • Plenty of resources – you’ll need to create lots of rich content, whether that’s video, written, visual (graphics, charts and animations) or all of the above.

If you’re running a course with live or interactive elements, it can also be really helpful to include time for assessment and feedback. 

Using one of the platforms we mentioned in the first section ☝️ will give you lots of inspiration for course design!

How do I manage course attendance?

You’ll need to get set up with an event registration platform to sell tickets to your course. 

Tip: Ticket Tailor lets you set up a customised box office page in no time, with tons of easy-to-use tech and tools that make selling tickets to your courses a doddle. You can either set up an event page, or embed a widget into your website. (Don’t have a website? Try our free web-builder Flyah.) Plus, our pricing is some of the cheapest out there – we only charge a small flat fee per ticket, unlike other platforms which charge a percentage of your ticket prices. Find out more >

Running a course can be a really lucrative way to grow your business – and thanks to social media and all the great tech out there, pretty much anyone can give it a go. Ready to take the plunge? Go for it, we say! 💪 Good luck! 

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