How to Validate Your Next Online Course Idea

Have you ever questioned the feasibility of an idea for an online course or its potential appeal to your audience? Have you ever struggled to come up with an interesting topic for your audience? If so, you have come to the right place!

Ideas are just the starting point of the online course creation process, and it is crucial to recognize that the beginning sets the tone for every action.

While many online course creators hope that their ideas will be well-received, it is important to acknowledge that only a small fraction of these ideas are truly worth pursuing. The most effective way to determine the potential success of an idea is through validation.

In this article, you will find this three-step process of validating an online course idea incredibly useful whenever you are looking to create one.

What is the Validation of a Course Idea?

Idea validation is an essential stage in the creative process, along with inspiration, framing, prototyping, and validation, regardless of the creation at hand. When it comes to online course creators, idea validation is a confident and systematic approach to gathering evidence using various methods and channels. This approach allows for making fast, informed, and risk-free decisions about the online course topic and content.

The validation of an online course idea begins with an initial concept and culminates with a paying customer. The process of validating an idea involves testing its practicality in the real world before releasing the final product, such as an online course, or offering a specific bundle of courses.

Why is it Important to Validate Your Online Course Idea?

Presenting your learners with meaningful online courses is what you must do as an online course creator. You have the ability to demonstrate to your learners what they need to know about a topic, or how they can improve a skill, through a specific online course you have created for them. This effectively showcases your expertise in that specific topic and enhances your credibility with your target audience.

As a course creator, you hold a significant responsibility to your audience, whether they are paying customers or not. Your task is to develop a strong online course subject from scratch that offers value to your learners.

Course validation is precisely the process you should consistently perform when creating an online course to bolster your online course idea. No matter how skilled you are, whether you are a professional, entrepreneur, or business, it is crucial to always consider market research, Google Analytics, search engines, and various communication channels that we will discuss later in this article to gather invaluable insights relevant to your online course idea.

Course validation will assist you in making an informed decision about improving your online course idea, creating an innovative online course, or establishing the process you will follow to implement a course topic and the content you will include.

Having an established process for transforming your generated ideas into action is vital.

Think of course validation as the bulletproof vest, the armor that you must put on your online course idea to safeguard it from attacks.

Indeed, with a simple Google search, you can find an abundance of processes for validating an idea. We have chosen to simplify the process for you, narrowing it down to the essential 3 steps you need to take, and customizing it specifically for online course creation.

The Step-by-Step Process for Validating Online Course Ideas

Step 1: Define your learners’ pain points

In order to successfully validate your course, the first crucial step is to ensure that the topic you have chosen perfectly matches the challenges your learners are facing. Even if you haven't decided on a specific topic yet, identifying your learners' pain points will enable you to establish a range of potential topics for your online course.

There are numerous sources and tools available, both paid and free, that can provide valuable insights into your learners' interests, concerns, hobbies, and the difficulties they may be encountering.

Ask Your Customers - Surveys

Asking your learners about their needs, desires, and challenges is a highly effective approach to uncovering your next online course concept.

You have the option to utilize an online survey tool such as Google Form or SurveyMonkey to carry out primary market research with a select group of individuals from your customer base.

Ask Google - Keyword Trends

Many times it's not easy ⎯ or you don't want ⎯ to go around asking your learners questions about what they would like to learn or what difficulties they want to overcome, and so on. However, tools like Google Trends can come to the rescue.

Keyword trend tools, as the name suggests, track what terms people are searching for and translate this into predictions. With these tools, you can refine your search results by time period and location, giving you a quick overview of the relative popularity of search terms.

Keyword trend tools provide helpful insights into how various search terms have changed over time. They also allow you to gain a snapshot of evolving trends within a certain period, which can be valuable for generating content ideas and finding inspiration.

💁 For example, if you are in the healthcare industry offering courses for physical therapy and you are looking for your next online course topic, you can use Google Trends to quickly search for the trend of the subject "physical therapy."

Take a look at the results and pay attention to the "Related queries" section, where you can find what other things about physical therapy users have searched for. You can also sort the results by specific metrics, such as the most popular search queries or the queries with the biggest increase in search frequency since the last time period.

Ask Internet - Online Research

Primary market research to identify your learners' pain points is excellent, and it may not always be feasible.

In addition to the available content trend tools, you can also:
- Take a deep dive into analytics,
- Check out the competition, and/or
- Use secondary market research public resources

You can employ these methods or a combination thereof to obtain valuable insights into your customers' desired learning topics or their current challenges.

Step 2: Analyse the raw data

After compiling all the information from the multiple sources discussed in Step 1, confidently generate a shortlist of online course topics.

The tools mentioned in Step 1 provide more than just raw data to inform your decision on which course topic to plan next. This is a positive indication, as it saves you from performing data analysis from scratch.
Now, the challenge is to consolidate this data and create a curated list of course topics that align with your online school's objectives and drive course sales.

Follow a lean, resource-optimised data analysis approach where evidence reduces risk and facilitates decision-making.

These tools are specifically designed for business owners and entrepreneurs, enabling them to gather insights on products and efficiently organise and manage ideas for improvement or development. Remember, as course creators, your online courses are your products. Your aim is to create your very own minimum viable product (MVP)!

In your comprehensive assessment, you must approach the task with confidence and focus on multiple checkpoints for validation:

- Ensure that the course topic resonates with and appeals to your intended target audience.
- Evaluate the potential value that each of the course ideas can bring to your online school. Consider whether your course idea addresses a specific problem for your learners.
- Assess whether the specific course idea poses any risks to your eLearning business. It is for you to determine what constitutes a risk in relation to your eLearning business.
- Identify and address any bottlenecks that may hinder the implementation of the specific course idea.
- Determine the market viability of the course idea. Will the target audience be interested in purchasing an online course on the specific subject?

During the analysis of your raw data, your goal is to identify the most critical assumption related to the specific course ideas you listed, so be sure to start with the most significant assumption.

You can begin with an assumption that you think will most likely occur, but you can also choose to begin with an assumption with the most negative outcome or the lowest expected value. Start by outlining all your assumptions about your course ideas and prioritise the one that’s most likely to succeed.

Step 3: Course prelaunch

Now that you have carefully selected your options and have undoubtedly determined the online course idea that you will confidently implement for your next online course, it’s time to proactively proceed with a soft launch. This strategic move will undoubtedly enable you to collect valuable feedback and enhance the quality of your course even further.

What does it mean to prelaunch and pre-sell your online course?

Pre-launching entails confidently promoting your course and gathering the email addresses of potential students. This crucial phase involves raising awareness and priming individuals to make a purchase once your course is launched.

The process works by confidently generating excitement and encouraging people to subscribe to your mailing list. In fact, this method is the optimal way to introduce a product. By building anticipation among your audience, you create the necessary suspense that motivates them to opt in and ultimately purchase your online course.

Going a step further, you can also confidently pre-sell the course by making it available upfront. This approach serves as an excellent means to assess the course's profitability and even finance its development.
To pique interest, confidently offer early bird registrations for your upcoming online course with a special early price. This will allow you to gauge the level of interest and determine the price that potential customers are willing to pay. Additionally, you may even generate revenue from these early sales, which can be utilized to enhance the quality of your course.

How to Successfully Pre-launch or Pre-sell Your Online Course

To ensure a successful pre-launch or pre-sale of your online course, make sure you have the following elements prepared:
- Your online school platform
- A well-designed website, sales page, or landing page
- A comprehensive and engaging introduction for your online course
- Seamless integration with a reliable payment gateway.

Follow these steps confidently to effectively pre-launch or pre-sell your online course.

Keep in mind that you can prelaunch your online course either as a whole or just a module of it, to your entire audience or to a smaller group of your audience. You can also decide to prelaunch just a free first lesson.

There is no definitive rule or universally recognized best practice for determining your approach to the prelaunch and pre-sale of your course. You must test and optimize based on your specific audience and the industry you are targeting. Whatever path you choose, it is essential to inform your audience in advance, ensuring they understand what to expect from a prelaunch or pre-sale.

Here are a few ideas to inspire your pre-launch or pre-selling strategy for your online course:
- Free sample course: Consider offering a bite-sized module or section of your online course as a pre-launch offer. This serves as an introduction to your course. Create a small sample version of the online course and gauge interest. Charge a reduced price compared to the complete course to filter out individuals who solely seek free products without any intention of making a purchase.
- Pre-registration: If your online course is hosted on a self-hosted platform like LearnWorlds rather than Udemy or other online course marketplaces, you can ask your audience to pre-register. Particularly if you already have an email list of learners or prospects, you can communicate pre-registration through your regular newsletter.
- Micro-learning: Develop concise pieces of information that can be delivered through videos, articles, ebooks, audio clips, or any other content format that meets an immediate need for your audience related to your course topic.


Now you possess all the necessary information to confidently validate any course idea you have and to uncover course ideas that resonate with your audience, in simple, straightforward steps. You are now prepared to create your online course.

Keep in mind that you have the freedom to choose which tools and approaches to utilise in order to validate your course idea. Integrating different tools and methods can lead to significant gains.

Moreover, depending on your business and market, certain ideas may hold more significance than others. However, what truly matters is that for each stage of the validation process, you should select at least one approach to gain a greater sense of confidence in your final decision.

Ultimately, you have paved the way for a triumphant launch of your online course, capable of growing and contributing to your eLearning business revenue. And why not? You have established the foundation for a consistent passive income in the near future.

By consistently following the steps detailed in this article, your initial online course idea will flourish into a thriving course business.