The 10 Steps To Creating A Successful Online Course, Coaching Program or Membership

The 10 Steps To Creating A Successful Online Course, Coaching Program or Membership

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The 10 Stages of Creating A Successful Online Course, Coaching Program or Membership

**Originally published in November 2016, Last updated February 2024


So you’re thinking about creating an online course, coaching program or membership subscription?

Good on you for the generosity of shring your knowledge with the world!

In this artilce, qualified Teacher Trainer and experienced Course Creation Coach, Sarah Cordiner, will walk you through the 10 main steps of creating an amazing course, coaching program or membership that your learners will LOVE.




Gone are the days when you could just ‘promise’ your prospects that you are worth investing in – now you have to PROVE it.

And there is no better way of demonstrating your expertise, than by creating an online course.

By teaching your topic, you are leaving no shadow of a doubt that you know what you’re talking about, you’re good at what you do and that you are an expert in your field.

The online course is now as essential to any entrepreneurs and experts toolbox, as any other commercial asset, lead generator or marketing method; and shifts the owner into a higher level of credibility than their competition.

One of the fastest and most impactful ways to get your knowledge out to a global marketplace, making a bigger impact and making more money, is to download that knowledge lying dormant in your brain and turn it into a lead generating, money making, impact creating online course.


In this article, you’ll find an overview of the 10 major stages of online course creation.   

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the things that need to be planned, prepared for and executed to create a successful online course,  it provides you with the ‘stratospheric overview’ of the major milestones so that you know what to expect and what the journey will look like before you get started.

1.Choose The Right TYPE of Course & The Right Commercial Model

Creating a successful online course, coaching program, or membership is an exciting journey that can transform your expertise into a thriving online business.

The first step in this journey is crucial: deciding the type of course that aligns with your preferred delivery style and how you enjoy and show up best with your customers; what your business goals are, who your audience are and what experience they want – and importantly, what your overall business model and customer journey looks like.

The biggest failing point for most course creators comes at this very first stage – not knowing that there are many different ways to package up and deliver your knowledge to others.

They all have very different price points, very different delivery methods, demand different levels of tech and even very different kinds of marketing.

Your personal teaching style and preferences play a significant role in determining the course format.

Whether you thrive in one-on-one coaching sessions, enjoy the dynamics of small group interactions, or prefer creating self-study materials for a more hands-off approach, there’s a format that suits your style.

Don’t just create a course for the sake of adding another income stream to your business – carefully and strategically design it into your entire business ecosystem so that it can dramatically grow your business and your bottom line.

I go into the details of this in the video at the top of this post, and even more so in my Concept To Course program, but here is an overview of the main ways that you can package up your knowledge and expertise:


Different types of courses and knowledge packaging:

  1. Lead magnets
  2. Online workshops / webinars
  3. Challenges
  4. In-person workshops
  5. Authority flagship course
  6. Coaching and mentoring
  7. Coaching Program
  8. Membership Subscription Academy
  9. Conference / Multi-day training event
  10. Bootcamp / Immersion Program / Retreat
  11. Consulting
  12. Done for you services



Choose what works for you and which end of the market you plan to service

Identify which course type excites you the most and aligns with your vision for your business. This will be your “hero product,” the centrepiece of your offerings that you’ll direct your audience towards (even if you choose to have multiple offerings).

Are you aiming to create courses that are hands-off and automated?  This means you’ll likely be selling ‘low ticket, but high volume’.

Do you plan to create intimate coaching experiences?

Do you have lots of different types of content and creativity that would lend itself perfectly to a membership that you can curate a raft of training resources for?

Do you want to create super VIP, exclusive transformational experiences for a very select few?

Do you like to do a bit of everything??


This is where you need to think very carefully about what end of the market you want to service, how you want to work every day, and the type of marketing and operations you plan to offer.

There’s no point creating an immersive coaching program, if you hate doing one-on-ones, hate getting into the intimate hand-holding with your clients and don’t want to be heavily involved in the delivery of your program.

You are going to struggle to sell high-ticket VIP experiences, if you don’t have high-ticket level sales and marketing processes.

You can’t make millions from low-ticket programs, unless you are willing to get in front of a LOT of people – which means a new way of showing up publicly in the world….. and so on.

This critical stage is about strategy, lifestyle, business planning and ensuring that you are setting up both yourself and your students for success in your structure and operational set-up.


Want help strategising the best course type, packaging and customer journey for you? 

Book a one-on-one call with me HERE and I’ll help you formulate the best plan for your business.




2. Pick the Perfect Course Topic

The second step for creating an online course, coaching program or membership, is to pick the perfect topic for YOU and your business.

Your course topic must be something that you LOVE.  

If you are not passionate about your topic, it will be obvious if you don’t love your topic and will make your training about as engaging as a cardboard sandwich.

Don’t feel like you have to teach a university level profession.

Think about your skills, talents and life experiences that you have been through…. Cooking your favourite dishes, interior design, writing non-fiction, overcoming the death of a loved one….  The list is endless.

In short, if you love your topic, you are good at your topic and you have experience (formal or life) in it, then you have a topic that will work for you.

Usually, your magic topic is something that you are already doing all of the time, every day.  Something that is so automatic and natural to you that you don’t even realise how ‘special’ your skill set is.

I always say to my clients who are at this earliest stage of course creation and are trying to choose a topic, “Don’t ask ‘what should I teach?‘, instead ask ‘What do I DO?‘”



  1. Ensure Your Course Idea has High Market Demand

Hands up who wants to spend weeks of their life creating a course, for absolutely nobody to buy it?  

Nope.  Didn’t think so.

Once you have picked your online course topic, the next step is to conduct a number of market research tests to see if it has market demand or not.  

Many experts and course creators make the mistake of thinking that if there is a lot of competition in their topic area, then their course idea won’t fly.  

But actually, this shows that there is a high chance of there being a strong market demand for that course idea and is therefore well worth investigating further.

I provide numerous market-testing strategies in my ‘Concept To Course‘ program but the main three things you want to be checking for are:

  1. Are people talking about it?
  2. Are people asking questions about it?
  3. Is it trending in Google search?
  4. Is there a gap in what the competition are offering?

If your answer to the above three questions is ‘yes’ and your idea is similar but different to what is already out there, then you have a course idea that has a chance of being a best-seller.

In the video at the top of this post, I share with you a couple of tools that you can use to check the market demand for your course idea.


4. Select and Gather your Course Content

Can you believe that we don’t start gathering content for our courses until stage FOUR?!  Most course creators jump straight to this step, and wonder why they get stuck or don’t succeed in the long run…

GREAT courses simply answer people’s questions and get them the outcomes they crave.

To create a course that people love, all you need to do is ascertain what your specific audience’s biggest questions are about your topic, and what they most desperately what to get done.

Then give it to them as clearly and succinctly as possible.


This is the stage where Edupreneurs, experts and course creators start to risk falling into ‘The Hole of Eternal Procrastination’.

The main reason we get stuck here is often because of the sheer volume of information we have in our heads or all around us in books, on our hard drives, in our notepads and so on.  

The art at this stage is not just about what we should include in our course, but what stuff we need to leave out.

This is where the research you will have conducted in the market testing phase and your learning outcomes, now come to serve you again.  

As you are sorting through your piles of content, throw out anything that does not directly relate to achieving a learning outcome.

Secondly, make sure that every learning outcome has content aligned to it.

Only include content that answers your audience’s burning questions, or fills gaps not met by your competitors.


Create Magnetic and Compelling Learning Outcomes

The next part of the ‘content’ process is to get really clear on what will be IN your course and what your students will get OUT of it.

This part also helps guide you on what content needs to be in your course, what you need to leave out of it, and even SELLS your course for you…

Many Edupreneurs underestimate the importance of learning outcomes.  If you don’t do this for your online courses you could severely risk your reputation and your bottom line – let alone make the course creation process a frustrating one.

Would you hand over your money to someone for a product you don’t understand and you have no idea what it will do for you?  Of course not.

Just because you know what your course will give your students, it does not mean that they will know.

If your students don’t know HOW your course is going to help them, they are unlikely to enrol in it.

Learning outcomes clearly explain, with measurable verbs, what the learner will be able to do, know and feel by the end of your course.  

What skills will they be able to demonstrate?

What new knowledge will they have obtained?

What feelings will they have moved away from or to?

Having clear learning outcomes also ensures that only the RIGHT students are joining your course – which means higher completion and satisfaction rates and lower refund requests.

I have a FREE guide on how to create magnetic and compelling learning outcomes HERE.


  1. Structure Your Modules and Course Plan

This is the stage where you now take a look at all of your content and start grouping together your similar themes, tips and ideas into modules and then ordering the lectures within those modules into the most progressive and logical manner so that they form a flowing sequence of lessons.

There are a number of techniques that I used to conduct this grouping process which you can get in my Concept To Course program ‘Concept To Course

This is when your course outline starts to come together.

Did you know that as a qualified curriculum developer, I can help you create your course outline, and even turn your books into a course outline FOR YOU?


  1. Determine the Most Engaging and Effective Delivery Methods for Each Lesson

Now it’s time to decide on the best way to deliver your content.

You need to be aware of the different principles of adult learning, learning preferences and all of the different ways that you can deliver your training to really make sure that your training is as engaging as possible.

Will you have videos, reading content, activities, audio content?

What type of visuals will you have?

Will you have community learning areas?

You need to make sure that you have a balance of visual, audio and practical methodologies so that everyone is engaged and provided with the optimum learning experience.

My recommendation for making your course as engaging as possible, is to ensure that at least 70% of your course is delivered via live or pre-recorded videos.

Resources like PDFs and downloads should only be SUPPORTING and supplementary content, NOT the method of delivery.

In my Concept To Course and Legends Lab programs, you’ll learn how to film and edit your course videos for the best and most professional learner experience.

7. Create Your Course Description and Sales Page

Your course sales page is where leads and prospects turn into paying customers.

If this page doesn’t clearly explain what your course offers, the outcomes your learners will get and who the learners are – then your course will not sell.

You could have the best course in the world, but if you do not use the language that your target audience are using to define their problems, desires and exactly what they getl; then nobody is going to buy it.

You can get ai to help you with the basics of this, but if you want to maximise the conversion rate of your course sales page, come and grab my Course Sales Page template in my Legends Lab.


8. Filming, Recording and Editing your Online Course

This is the production phase.

By now you should have a thorough course plan, all of your content together and know exactly how you are going to deliver each element of your online course.

Now it’s time for the fun part – getting on camera.

Of course how you deliver your training is entirely dependent on what your audience will prefer to engage with and what method delivers your learning outcomes most effectively.

However, the most effective method of delivery by far is video.

Luckily, it’s a lot easier today to create high quality video content with limited resources and at a very affordable price.

You can use your mobile phone, or a 4k webcam to record your videos, and video filming and editing tools like Descript are excellent for high-quality production and easy editing.


Different ways to film your training videos:

  1. Talking head videos
  2. Screen share and talking head
  3. Green screen
  4. voice-over slides/screen


To learn how to film and edit professional training videos, come and join my Legends Lab!

9.Setting up your course platform and course tech

To successfully sell training and be able to do so professionally and at scale, you’re going to need some tech.

It is essential that any successful course business has:

  • A website or sales page to detail what the course is about an enable online purchase
  • A payment gateway for the payment transaction- and one that allows for one-off purchases, payment plans and subscriptions
  • A ‘LMS’ portal for all of your training to be stored and for students to access their material – this should also host all of your video content without the need for you to pay for separate video hosting
  • An email marketing system so that you can send registration confirmation, check-in emails and ongoing communication with your students
  • An appointment booking system for students to be able to book free or paid coaching calls with you

Without these basics in place, you’ll be left doing a lot of unnecessary admin work manually, will lose sales and create a poor learning experience.


The good news is, that today you no longer need to get all of these tools from separate places, as there are now exceptional all-in-one platforms that cover it all in one place!


There are four very different kinds of platforms to host, manage and sell your courses, coaching, memberships and training from; and it is important to understand the key differences, pros and cons of each of these before you pick an individual platform:

  1. online course marketplaces (like Udemy)
  2. learning management systems (like Thinkific)
  3. website plugins (like LearnDash)
  4. All-in-one platform (Like Tekmatix)


Watch the video at the start of this article to learn the major differences, however I strongly recommend an all-in-one platform to have all of your tech in one place without complex integrations and significantly reducing your operational costs by eliminating the need for multiple different tech tools and subscriptions.

Tekmatix is the most awarded and feature-rich all in one course creation and business platform on the market.

See more of the Tekmatix features and demo videos here:


10. Launch and Ongoing Marketing

Now the real work begins!

Too many Edupreneurs make the mistake of thinking that once the course is complete, they now have an income stream.

The launch and the marketing is a whole other topic

  • What kind of launch will you do?
  • Will you run a beta group?
  • Will you run early bird discount promotions?
  • Do you have a content marketing plan that will sell your online courses?
  • Will you run ads?
  • Do you have a list to market to?
  • Can you partner up with influencers?
  • Will you run an affiliate program?
  • How will you use social media?


The list is endless.

Make sure that you have at least an 18-month marketing plan for your course and remember that the second you stop marketing is the second you stop selling.

My Legends Lab includes my full ‘Visibility & Course Marketing’ Blueprint, as well as entire sections dedicated to helping you get seen, stand-out and make sales.



So there you have it – a ‘birds-eye-view’ of the major milestones in online course creation.

Hopefully, this bigger picture will help you know what to expect as you start on your course creation journey.

If you have any questions, you can email me on

Why not get yourself set up for success by joining my ‘Legends Lab’; a coaching membership dedicated to helping experts become stand-out leaders in their field of expertise through highly practical, action-oriented training designed to make you shine.


Join The Legends Lab: BECOME A LEGEND



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