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AP 0825: How Do I Determine If My Niche Is Right for an Online Course?

AP 0825: How Do I Determine If My Niche Is Right for an Online Course?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 825 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: Hey. What’s up everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 825 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always, I’m here to help you by answering your online business questions, five days a week. We have a great question today from Sarah. But before we get to that, just want to give a shout-out to Design Crowd. It’s a website that helps businesses crowdsource custom graphics from over a half million designers worldwide.

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Sarah: Hi Pat. My name is Sarah Dalziel. And after skimming through your AskPat podcast, I noticed that although there are several big deal with online courses and hosting courses and things like that. There was one question that I still had that hadn’t yet been addressed. So my question is, how do you determine if your niche is a good niche to design an online course for and how do you go about designing an online course? So thanks for considering my question.

Pat Flynn: Hey Sarah. Thank you so much for the question. This is fantastic because I had just recently launched my brand new course Smart From Scratch, and I have another one in the works right now. So a couple questions here. First of all, how do you know or decide if your niche would be well served by developing an online course? Well, the last thing you want to do is just develop a course because you think it’s something you would need.

You want to make sure that it is something they need. And what I would do is actually start talking to people in your audience. A lot of times they’ll give you hints and clues asking for more information about something that perhaps you had posted about before or shared on a podcast or whatever means that you have currently of producing content. They’ll often say things like, “I wish I could dive deeper into this,” or “I want more information about that,” or “I’m loving what you’re doing. Please keep going.”

Things that hint that they want more in-depth information. That’s the first thing. Now, obviously you can provide more in-depth information in a book. And actually, a book is a great idea to test your idea. Now, I wouldn’t actually even go as far as spending the months that it’ll require sometimes to write a book. I would create something short related to that topic that you’re interested in talking about, and almost giving them a taste of what an online course might be like or the kinds of information that might be in there.

So that will give you a good idea, almost validation, as to whether or not that is something people would be interested in. And then, you should go as far as to collect interest for a course literally telling people. If you get to that point and it’s still green-lit, I would set up a landing page either using Leadpages or just either creating one on your own site. And collecting email addresses from people who want to come on to a webinar with you to learn more about a potential course and more about information about whatever it is that they’re looking to get.

That way, you can decide really quickly. Well, if you don’t get any signups, well then, you’re not even at the point at which you would begin selling the course yet. You have to figure out, okay, well, what’s the topic that I need to share or how do I share that message in a way that’s compelling. That’s going to be your initial round of validation after just the topic in general. But can you get people to sign up for a webinar, for example, or to download a free giveaway related to that thing?

Then at that point, you can run a beta program. So even before you create your online course, you can get people to buy into your idea and literally buy. That’s the best way to do it. Because sometimes you can ask people and they’ll say, “Oh yeah. I totally be down to get access to your course.” And then you build the course, and then, there is no sales. And then you go back and say, “Well, what happened? You said you would buy.” “Oh, I I was just being nice.” You don’t want that.

You want people to actually pay upfront. This is what I talk about in my book, Will It Fly? People will pay upfront. You can have it be a limited release. Maybe there’s only 10 spots. And if you can’t fill in those 10 spots, then there’s definitely no way that you’re going to fill in the 100 spots. And especially with the compelling offers that come with launching early to a founder’s group. I did this with my course set Smart From Scratch. I’m doing it with future courses too.

And it’s great because you can also get paid upfront before you even build your thing. And if you don’t get anybody to buy in, well then, you wouldn’t worry about wasting time, right? That’s what this is about. So really it’s all about letting your audience decide for you if developing an online course is the right way to go. And if not, then you have to find other means of solving your problems. Now, in terms of designing your online course, there are a lot of different things you can do.

You could use websites that will offer WordPress plugins, that give you access to the ability to create login, username, password-protected related pages on your own site that you have already. So you can censor in pages as having sort of only access to people who pay. There’s great ones like Zippy Courses or WP Wishlist. But I am currently using a tool called Teachable, which is great because it’s almost plug in, play, and ready to go for you.

So the technology is already set up to help you create your own course. It’s laid out in a way that’s very easy to, not only consume as a student, but also produce as a course creator. Where literally you just create lessons as you go and drop it in videos and text modules. And if you go to Will It Fly? my companion course, if you have access to that or Smart From Scratch, you can see Teachable, or just go to

There’s a lot of great examples of what a course might look like there, whether it’s a free course or a paid course. And so that’s what I would use. It’s just nice because it’s already set up for you, you drag and drop the videos that you create. Now, in terms of actually … even before you get to the technology piece, you want to make sure that you have the content ready for the course, obviously.

And the number one thing you can do is brainstorm using Post-It notes or some exercise, sort of the equivalent of that. And that allows you to explore what should the modules be. Modules being the sort of larger groupings of videos and lessons. And then, also, what the lessons will be. So it will walk people through from whether at when they buy the course to where you want them to go at the end. What are the modules? What are the lessons? How does it breakdown?

I love using Post-It notes because you can just put all your ideas about a particular topic down and begin to organize them, and create hierarchies and groupings, that then become those lessons. And then, what I love about the Post-It notes idea is that, with one lesson per Post-It note, you can literally pull out a Post-It note and just focus on that one in terms of the creation of it, and the videos, and the worksheets, and downloads, and quizzes if you want to include those things which Teachable allows you to do.

So that’s what I would recommend. And Sarah, hopefully, that gives you some good information to get started with. I want to thank you so much for your question and also send you an AskPat t-shirt for having your question featured here on the show. And for those of you listening, if you have a question that you love potentially featured here on the show as well, all you have to do is head on over to and you can ask right there on that page. Thanks so much. I appreciate you and here’s a quote from Gary Player that is just … It’s the truth, right? “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” So keep working hard, guys, you will get luckier as you go. Cheers. Take care, and I’ll see you in the next episode. Bye.

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