Starting your own online school may sound overwhelming, but I’m here to tell you it’s doable if you break it down step-by-step.
The key ingredients every online school needs are:
- An engaging teacher (that’s you!) with expertise in the topic students want to learn
- Easy-to-follow video lessons and course materials
- A user-friendly e-learning platform to host your content
- Promotion through social media, SEO, and good old-fashioned word-of-mouth
The demand for quality online education options continues to rise rapidly post-pandemic. But the competition has increased too.
The key to standing out is targeting a specific audience and niche where you can provide more value than anyone else.
For example, don’t just create yet another virtual tutoring company for high schoolers.
Consider a narrower specialty like SAT prep for students striving to attend Ivy League colleges.
If you’re thinking outside the box, create a course SPECIFICALLY for entrepreneurs looking to build their own courses and make six figures or more a year.
Once you’ve carved out your niche, craft lessons that get results for students.
Help them truly master in-demand skills so they rave about your virtual school to others.
The technology side is easier than ever today.
A platform like Teachable allows you to create courses with video lessons, quizzes, and community forums without advanced technical expertise.
So don’t be intimidated!
Starting a profitable online school is very realistic in 2023. Alright, lets diving into how to start an online school!
Reasons you should start an online school
With the right strategy, starting a successful online school can be an incredibly rewarding pursuit. Unlike a traditional brick-and-mortar school, an online learning platform gives you the flexibility to teach students worldwide without geographical restrictions.
The upfront investment is also far less than leasing a physical classroom space and facilities.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased demand for online education as students seek flexible and remote learning options. Whether you offer academic courses, creative skills, career training, or even a niche hobby class, people are flocking to the internet to level up their talents in 2023.
So, what are the main advantages of launching your online school? From the ability to scale globally to less overhead costs, here are the top reasons you should start an e-learning business:
- Reach students worldwide with lower geographical restrictions
- Save significantly on expenses like leasing a physical facility
- Flexible format allows students to learn anywhere, anytime
- Recurring passive income opportunity once courses are created
- Ability to scale students exponentially with an online model
- Grow authority and personal brand as an online educator
Now that you know the major upsides, let’s shift our focus to what kind of school you want to create.
Defining the type of online school you’re creating
Launching an online school is only half the battle – you need to strategically define what kind of learning platform you’re providing and who your target audience is. Without outlining this first, it’s easy to create courses that never find an audience.
Before you market your online classes or create detailed course outlines, step back and clarify the bigger picture vision:
- What is the primary focus or niche for your eLearning business? Academics, job skills, hobbies?
- Who can most benefit from the education you’ll provide? Kids, working professionals looking to upskill, retirees exploring passions?
- What formats work best for your teaching style and content? Self-paced videos or live virtual classes?
- Will you incorporate opportunities to interact, like course community forums?
- How will set yourself apart from your competitors in your specific niche? Unique teaching methods, better student outcomes, or more affordability?
Once you know precisely who you’re serving and why learners should choose your school, the messaging behind your courses writes itself. And you can develop the perfect student avatar to market your classes directly to those most likely to enroll.
Defining these basics upfront prevents wasted effort and ensures you build courses ideally suited for your target students from day one.
Selecting which online courses you’re teaching
When deciding which online courses to teach, it’s tempting to tackle every topic under the sun that piques your interest.
However, a jack-of-all-trades approach won’t give students confidence in your expertise or abilities as an instructor.
Instead, reflect deeply on a specific field or skill set where you can provide uncommon value as a teacher.
What niche could you dominate that aligns with your natural talents and interests?
Perhaps you have years of experience as a software engineer, yoga teacher, or homeschool parent. Leverage that specialized insight.
Start by developing one kickass introductory course focused explicitly on your niche.
Pour your energy into creating binge-worthy lessons that arm complete beginners with a solid foundation while still proving engaging for intermediate learners.
Pay attention to the supplementary questions your initial students ask. Use those signals to steadily build a sequenced curriculum spanning from fundamental to advanced topics under your niche umbrella.
This focused approach is far more compelling than a disorganized array of classes. You establish yourself as a definitive expert teacher within your specific scope of knowledge.
Your school wins loyal enrollment from students who know precisely the caliber and style of education you provide.
Time/Day for Your Online Classes
One major advantage of running an online school is freedom from restrictive class schedules. Unlike traditional learning models, online training delivers education on the student’s time – not according to set dates or meeting times.
That flexibility enables busy working professionals, stay-at-home parents, travelers, or anyone with an irregular routine to skill up without disrupting other life commitments.
Some instructors still assume live virtual sessions at fixed times are needed, similar to webinars. However, requiring everyone to consistently log in together is often impractical.
Instead, embrace asynchronous, self-paced learning with recorded lessons. Let students train incrementally when it suits their lifestyle. Then, build community through discussion forums and optional chat sessions.
By catering your course delivery to varied schedules with flexible access, you remove barriers for students to progress smoothly. Rather than depending on hastily scribbled class notes, they can review materials multiple times at their convenience.
Online School Examples
The beauty of launching an online school is the ability to cater your elearning platform and school model specifically to your skills, interests, and audience. Beyond mimicking traditional education, thousands of entrepreneurs are creating niche course platforms, generating impressive income.
For example, become the go-to instructor for fledgling entrepreneurs by sharing your real-world experience launching successful startups. Offer systems to identify product ideas, conduct market validation, and handle logistics like legal and accounting.
Or teach the soft skills needed for new coaches and consultants to attract ideal clients, structure powerful sessions, and maximize their backend sales funnels.
The possibilities span far beyond standardized course subjects to creative niches like mixology techniques to captivate next-generation bartenders—music production and editing skills to equip aspiring DJs and YouTube stars. Even weekly gardening and urban farming classes help hobbyists and professional landscapers grow their capabilities.
The platform revolution makes it easier than ever to sell online training aligned with your innate talent stacks while transforming your students’ capabilities, confidence, and future opportunities.
How To Start An Online School in 2023: 7 Easy Steps
Dreaming up genius course ideas is the easy part. Transforming those visions into smoothly run online academies is when the real work ignites.
But fret not; I’ve boiled down starting a thriving online school into seven manageable milestones so you can confidently navigate implementation:
The TL;DR Launch Sequence:
- Step 1: Establish your “genius niche” and specific audience
- Step 2: Research competitors and craft standout lessons
- Step 3: Map your course curriculum and create a course outline
- Step 4: Record videos and compile materials
- Step 5: Seek feedback and refine through a free trial period
- Step 6: Choose an intuitive course platform to go live
- Step 7: Spread the word through promotion channels
Now, let’s explore how to methodically check off each milestone to kickstart an online learning dynamo this year. With the right combination of well-planned courses, targeted marketing, and a user-friendly platform, your school can positively impact countless aspiring students.
The first step is to determine what unique value and insider perspective you offer budding learners in your area of expertise.
Figure Out Your Genius: What Are You Teaching?
Uncovering your “genius niche” establishes the foundation to attract enrolled students once you build your online school’s website. Rather than attempting to sell scattered courses on assorted topics, identify the specific realm only you can provide unmatched value teaching within.
Here are some things you can explore when targeting your “zone of genius” course creation:
- Fields you have hard-won skillsets or credentials in
- Subject areas you inherently geek out on reading and learning about for fun
- Topics you can explore conversationally for hours without losing steam
Look for the Venn diagram overlap between your natural talents, academic training, and nonstop conversational intrigue.
That crossover is likely directly tied to your zone of genius suited for developing kickass online courses.
For example, a software engineer with a penchant for testing emerging apps and blogs regularly about user experience design has clear potential to teach how to code mobile applications.
As your experiences and passions shift over time, so can the subjects your school focuses on.
By isolating that initial course area, you can dominate the market, ensuring a higher chance of loyal student sign-ups right out of the gate.
Do Your Research And Teach Better Than The Competition!
You’ve dialed into the online course topic that perfectly aligns with your true desires and expertise. But before lights, camera, and action, you must investigate what educational heroes (aka competition) are already doing in your niche.
Dissect their school model, course outlines, catchy marketing, and student reviews.
Essentially, deconstruct what current course creators in your field do well while highlighting gaps where you can provide more value.
Don’t be afraid to invest in their courses to inspire new ideas. DON’T COPY THOUGH! I don’t think I need to explain the legalities of stealing someone else’s digital assets.
Survey actual students to uncover recurring friction points and challenges around learning your niche that courses today fail to solve.
Craft content and community support purposely designed to ease those frustrations.
Brainstorm creative assignments and insider tips only your real-world experience can convey compared to textbook theory regurgitation.
Rather than publishing basic courses to simply make a quick buck, empathetically build the elite training you wished existed when first mastering this subject yourself.
Soon, fellow pioneers will excitedly buzz about your straight-to-the-point lessons and recommend your school/course instead of the competition.
Create An Outline For Your Course
Before filming hours of online lessons or launching fancy marketing to start that money-making machine…slow down and strategically map out your course curriculum itself.
Resist the urge to wing lessons week-to-week without an intentional spine holding the entire program together.
Approaching course creation haphazardly risks disjointed topics, confusing students, and leads to potentially harmful reviews. NO THANKS!
Here are some key insights to focus on when crafting your outline before launching:
- Specific learning objectives for students to complete
- Prerequisites detailing what baseline skills or gear are needed when enrolling
- Logical sequence of major themes and topics to cover each module
- Estimated length per lesson/section
- Interactive elements like group discussions, quizzes, or worksheets to incorporate
- Grading methodology and criteria to pass (if applicable)
Invest time upfront laying this detailed groundwork for a cohesive A-to-Z course flow.
Imagine you were just starting out and had no clue how to tackle “whatever your course is about.”
Put yourself in the student’s shoes to help you create and include everything needed to succeed.
This guide on how to start mapping your curriculum prevents backtracking later.
The idea is to include as much necessary information as possible and utilize feedback from your students later to further improve.
Test If Applicable
This may only sometimes apply depending on the curriculum.
For example, if you’re teaching entrepreneurs how to build a six-figure income in 90 days or less, it might be challenging to create a test around that.
The only tried and true way to see if they accomplished this is by seeing if they accomplished it (yes, redundant but accurate).
However, if you are running a “school” type curriculum where you can test their knowledge, I would highly encourage you to include tests and quizzes where applicable.
Platforms You Can Use To Create An Online Course
Finding the right digital platform to host and sell your online courses is pivotal after investing so much sweat and tears into your content creation.
Hundreds exist to choose from, so how do you know which elearning software distributor matches your launching goals?
Consider your tech skillset and desired functionality like student portals, automated grading, and seamless payment processing.
Do you want an app to accompany course materials, too?
Fortunately, many touted learning management systems require zero coding or advanced coding.
Examples like Teachable, Thinkific, Skool, and Kajabi offer comprehensive tools and plug-ins to manage an online school right from your LMS dashboard.
You can publish gorgeous courses, customize branding, run social ad campaigns, and more without lifting a technical finger.
Decide how much functionality is valuable.
Before learning how to start implementing a platform and selling your online curriculum, though, sign up as a student for classes in your niche on established ones.
Dissect navigation, student experience, and intuitive factors for both instructors and learners so your school’s adoption flies fluidly from day one.
Promote Your Online Course
Getting the word out about your shiny new online school is equal parts art and science.
Sure, you could spam strangers with slick marketing emails, but genuine human-to-human warmth sparks deeper connections and referrals.
Start by identifying influencers, bloggers, and leaders in your niche who might organically vibe with your school’s mission.
Reach out, explaining why you admire their impact to build rapport.
Offer personalized value before ever pitching your courses. Nurture these relationships.
When appropriate, collaborate on podcast interviews, guest articles, and co-hosted webinars, expanding each other’s audiences.
Ensure this exposure provides tangible takeaways for their followers rather than coming across as overly self-promotional.
That’s authentic marketing fueled by relationship capital and reputation, not messaging and blasting the masses.
And, of course, you can always utilize social media channels such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.
When is the best time to start an online school business model?
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” This sentiment certainly applies to starting your online school, too.
Sure, it would have been ideal to establish your digital education platform before the pandemic sparked mass migration to virtual classrooms.
You need not worry if you’re just starting to build your school’s foundations today.
Demand still far exceeds availability for specialized, quality online courses across endless niches, from programming to mixology. Learners want subject matter experts sharing tactical skills that actually improve careers and lives with engaging community support.
Unlike shortsighted models focused exclusively on profits, build your web presence and course catalog completely focused on transforming students with the knowledge they crave. Let income flow naturally from delighted graduates eager to share your school’s gifts.
Yes, launching earlier may have provided a first-mover advantage. However, entering a market aligned passionately with your purpose almost always pays dividends long-term.
So whether your school website launches today or a few years from now after perfecting the curriculum, seize the opportunity to enrich aspiring minds. That’s the heart of education, regardless of medium.
Now let’s get creating the first few foundational courses and community hub delivering immense value to hungry learners in your niche!
There is no shortage of people looking to improve their skills, expand their expertise, or acquire new talents.
The key is discovering marketing opportunities, having a passion/desire to teach said skill, and capitalizing on it!
Now that you know HOW to start an online school, all you need to do is act on those skills.
Get out there and start creating!