Find an online course idea

Need an Online Course Idea in 2023? Ask These 10 Questions.

Coming up with an online course idea is hard. Either there are too many options or not enough.

I recommend picking an online course topic in phases.

➡️Phase 1: Brainstorm the heck out of stuff you love and know.

➡️Phase 2: Come back to it the next day and refine the list.

➡️Phase 3: Come back to it AGAIN and highlight the stuff you can’t stop thinking about.

Refine, refine, refine.

In this blog post, I’ll share with you the Phase 1 part — brainstorming.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to get the wheels turning for your online course idea.

Question #1: What Have You Overcome in the Last 5, 10, or 15 Years?

You’re a different person than you were yesterday.

And you’re definitely different from who you were five years ago.

To answer this question, try thinking of where you were five, ten, or fifteen years ago. What did you overcome?

Find online course idea 2022

For example, did you overcome getting through a divorce? Healing after a miscarriage?

Did you leave your 9 to 5?

That’s exactly what Jorden Makelle did after she left her 9 to 5 and started a freelance writing business. Now she sells a course on exactly how she did it!

Or maybe you’re like Kelan and Brittany Kline of The Savvy Couple. They successfully paid off $25,000 in student loan debt and started a blog about it.

This, of course, led to online courses that now help people take control of their time and money.

The point is, everyone has been through something. And everyone has overcome something.

What have you overcome?

Maybe this is something you can teach. And maybe this is EXACTLY what someone else in your shoes wants to learn.

Question #2: What Software or Online Tool Do You Use ALL the Time?

An easy go-to online course idea is to teach on a software, tool, or program you use daily.

There are courses out there on how to use Gmail, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Zoom.

Find an online course topic

You might think the tools you use every day are used by everyone. And that everyone knows them like you.

But you’d be wrong.

Think about all of those people who could have used a Zoom course during the pandemic!

Is there a course you could teach on the platforms you use every day? Even if it was just a basic 101 course?

For years, Elizabeth Goddard taught people how to use my favorite email marketing platform, ConvertKit.

I’ve even seen courses on Google Sheets. (I’d take that one!)

Here’s a short snippet of tools I use every day that I could definitely teach on. Maybe you could teach some of these too?

➡️ Gmail

➡️ ConvertKit

➡️ WordPress

➡️ GSuite

➡️ Slack

➡️ Adobe Acrobat DC

Question #3: What Do People Ask For Your Help With?

Do people ask you for help often? Or maybe they call or text you for advice on a particular subject.

Find an online course topic

Everyone is knowledgeable about something. 

For example, if there’s a problem with our house, I call my stepdad.

He’s Mr. Fix-It and could probably teach a great course on how to do electrical wiring or how to build a wood shed.

If I tear a blanket or lose a button on my shirt, I call my mom. She can sew anything.

If I want to wear something crazy and unique to a theme park, I call my sister. She’s crafty and can whip up five outfit ideas in five minutes.

What do people go to you for? 

Since I’m a proofreader, people usually send me their emails or resumes to review. I find typos!

Maybe you’re good at giving relationship advice.

Maybe people call you when they can’t figure out why their chocolate chip cookies taste bad.

Someone always calls you for something. What is it?  

If you can’t figure it out, ask your friends and family straight up: what do YOU think I’m good at?

What do YOU think my strengths are?

The answers might stir up some great course ideas you never thought of before.

If you’re still struggling to find your unique strengths, check out the Strengths Finder book by Don Clifton. You’ll gain amazing insight into what you’re good at!

Question #4: What Aspects of Your Day Job Could You Teach Online?

If you’re over 18, you’ve probably had a job.

Even if that job was working at Starbucks, you could teach people how you got a job working at Starbucks.

(Or maybe how to make the perfect macchiato.)

Think about what aspects of your day job you could teach someone.

If you worked in accounting for 15 years, you’ve definitely got something to teach.

If you were an admin for some pretty high-paid people, teach people how they can do the same.

Steven Applebaum, for example, trained dogs for years before starting Animal Behavior College. There, he generates $1M in revenue per month teaching people how to work with animals.

Lucas Chevillard, an email strategist at Airbnb, teaches email marketing based off of what he learned at his day job.

I worked at an online advertising company for nine years, so I know a thing or two about online advertising.

If I was super interested in that, I could probably create an online course on online advertising basics.

What did you learn at your day job? There has to be a skill that you learned there that you could teach someone!

Especially if you had to train people on the job!

Question #5: If Money Wasn’t an Issue, What Kind of Work Would You Do?

How to find a course topic

Let’s say you won the lottery and spent a few months shopping and traveling. What would you do afterward?

Eventually, you’d get bored of buying yourself things. So what kind of work would you do day in and day out?

Usually, we put off doing the things we love because we have to make a living.

But ask yourself: If money wasn’t an issue, how would I spend my time?

For me, I would write fiction novels. Thrillers!

I love reading and writing. Maybe there’s an online course in me about that.

Graham Cochrane had a passion for recording and mixing music in his bedroom studio.

He took that passion and turned it into an online education company called Recording Revolution that now earns $100k/a month.

Maybe there’s a course in YOU about what YOU love doing.

What would you do if money wasn’t an issue?

Question #6: If You Were Invited to Speak to an Audience for 20 Minutes, What Would You Talk About?

I love this question. I ask my students this question in Course Copy Essentials, too.

Because usually, a few things immediately come to mind.

Twenty minutes isn’t very long. But I’m sure if you gave yourself twenty minutes, you could come up with something general that you enjoyed.

Could that be an online course?

Try typing out a speech you would give on your favorite topic. Can you picture it being even longer than twenty minutes because you have a lot to say?

That could be an online course topic!

Question #7: What Books, Movies, or Shows Are You OBSESSED With?

This might sound unrelated, but it’s not.

If you are a diehard fan of a movie, book, or show, chances are, you can create an online course around it.

There are courses out there on Star Trek and how it influences culture and technology.

There are even Hogwarts Courses that have been created by Harry Potter fans.

Even if you just love binge-watching Netflix, could you create a course on how to find a great movie or show on Netflix?

I personally have trouble trying to find something good to watch when family is over.

Is that a problem people have that you could help with?

(Just did a search for ‘Netflix’ on Udemy — there are courses there!)

I’m just brainstorming here, but the possibilities are endless.

Start Googling some of your favorite books, movies, or shows.

You know a TON about them. Is there anything people want to know about those topics that you could teach?

Question #8: What Do You Love Doing on the Weekends?

This question relates to the “if money wasn’t an issue” question.

What do you do in your spare time? This can unlock some great, unique online course ideas.

Find course topic through hobbies

Do you craft, like my sister? Do you sew, like my mom? Maybe a course in one of those categories would serve you!

Do you like to explore the city? Maybe a course on how to successfully navigate your city or find the best places to eat or drink!

Do you play video games? Teach someone how to MASTER your favorite game!

Jacques Hopkins loved playing the piano. He even procrastinated on creating a side hustle business because he couldn’t get away from it.

He decided to take that passion and create a course called Piano in 21 Days. It now brings in $30k in revenue per month for him.

Your favorite weekend hobby could be a 100k+/year course idea and you’d never know it.

Question #9: What Do Your Parents (or Grandparents) Struggle With, That You Can Do Easily?

So many people struggle with technology. Especially since the pandemic.

Do your parents struggle with Zoom? (There’s a course for that.)

Does your grandma have trouble texting? (There’s a course for that too.)

These seem like relatively simple things that you would think everyone knows how to do. But often, they don’t.

If your parents or grandparents struggle with something you know how to do, you can bet they’re not the only ones.

Is there a good online course idea in there somewhere?

Question #10: What Are Your Peers Doing That You Wish You Could Change?

We all have that one friend (or friends) who we wish we could really help.

Maybe they make horrible dating decisions.

Maybe they can’t hold down a job.

Maybe they make enemies wherever they go.

And sometimes you might think, if I could just sit them down for a few hours and give them a good lesson or two, they might be able to change.

What lesson would that be? What could you teach them?

This could expand to things like religion or politics too, as long as you’re nice about it. ????

But think about things you wish people knew so their lives could change for the better.

Does anything come to mind?

It Takes Time to Find Your Online Course Idea

Don’t give up on yourself if you can’t come up with something right away.

Remember the phases I mentioned in the beginning:

➡️Phase 1: Brainstorm the heck out of stuff you love and know.

➡️Phase 2: Come back to it the next day and refine the list.

➡️Phase 3: Come back to it AGAIN and highlight the stuff you can’t stop thinking about.

Refine, refine, refine.

And most important of all, once you narrow your idea down to something that you think might work, take action!

Marie Forleo taught me that clarity comes from engagement, not thought. You can’t think your way to the right answer.

You must take action.

Use the questions from this post to help you brainstorm. You've got this!

Monique is an online course proofreader from sunny Los Angeles. She creates info products related to writing course copy, like her flagship course, Course Copy Essentials. And she loves helping course creators look good in copy. You can find her curled up with coffee and a good book when she's not proofreading course content and absorbing everything related to online learning.