July 3, 2023

How to Design an Online Course From Scratch

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Online courses serve many purposes. 

Brands and corporations use online courses to help consumers better get to grips with their products. 

Learning institutions use online courses to help children and adults learn new skills. 

HR teams use online courses to help employees get to grips with company rules and training.

Put simply, online courses are useful for a wide range of people and organizations. And they don’t just exist for the good of the customer. In fact, 42% of businesses claim that online courses have improved revenue. A further 72% of businesses believe eLearning gives them a competitive edge. 

By empowering your customers through tailored content, you can help build trust in your brand. Plus, with the US online learning market set to grow by $12.81 billion by 2024, there’s never been a better time to throw your hat in the ring.  

If you want to create an online course, but you’re new to course creation, the process can seem overwhelming. Business owners fear hiring specialist video editing equipment or video editor just to make a passable course. 

The reality is there are tools that help you create professional and engaging online courses. Even if you have no experience. 

More on those later…

That’s why we’ve created our ultimate guide to course creation to talk you through the steps you need to take and the tools you should use to take them. Let’s dive in.

How to plan the content of the course

First thing first - it’s time to plan. You’ll need to think about your target audience, the purpose of the course, and the topics you want to cover. An online course typically has multiple videos, each covering its own topic in depth. 

The topic of the course should be something you know a lot about and can create engaging content around it. The target audience will generally match the target audience of your overall business or organization. 

The purpose of the course will be to inform those who sign up about a particular topic. However, you can create a precise objective to steer the course in whatever direction you want it to go. 

Let’s say, for example, you’re creating an online course about yoga. 

Rather than just saying that the reader will ‘know about yoga’ by the end of the course, set a more tangible objective. This could be something like, by the end of the course, the user can practice five yoga poses. The more tangible, the better. This will guide the course’s content. 

Not only will you need to plan the overarching topic, but the sub-topics, too. Think of the yoga example. Here’s how the content layout for an introductory yoga course could look. 

Topic: A Guide to Yoga for Beginners.


  • What is Yoga?

  • The Benefits of Yoga

  • Downward Facing Dog

  • Child’s Pose

  • Mountain Pose

  • Cat-cow

  • Tree Pose

  • How to Practice Yoga from Home. 

The course aims to show users how to be able to practice five key yoga poses from home. The target audience is beginners interested in trying yoga. The course is concise while covering everything it sets out to in its object. 

So, now that you’ve established your course’s remit, what next?

How to define the format of the course

Whatever the content of the course, it has to be one thing. Engaging.

Failing to make your course engaging will cause learners to switch off, leave poor reviews, or be put off your product or service entirely. That’s why you have to give serious thought to the format of your course. 

Many online courses are dry, with a list of texts that at-home learners are supposed to read and remember.  But here’s the thing. Studies have shown that people can recall 65% of visual content three days after they see it, compared to only around 10% for written content. 

If you’re uploading a load of documents and hoping that will keep your audience interested, you might want to re-think your approach. 

So, how does an engaging online course look? We’re glad you asked. 

Using video to create an online course

Consider, for a second, the type of users that sign up for online courses. Typically, they’ll be taking part in an online course alongside either another education course or even a full-time job. That means they want information as quickly and concisely as possible. 

Creating an online course using video allows you to unleash your creative streak. Using visuals, such as animation, you can make the course more engaging and hold the viewer’s attention. 

Combining two different ways of learning to help images stick in the learner’s mind is key to a successful strategy, and with video, you can do just that. By creating a video containing visual and audio content, you’ll double the subscriber’s chances of retaining information. 

You could do this using a voiceover, including words on screen, and so on.

Plus, you can add a more personal touch by including a video of yourself alongside the clips and slides, explaining what the viewer sees. 

Sure, not all course creators will want to show their emotional side. It means being vulnerable and putting yourself out there, which isn’t for everybody. However, it’s worth thinking about, especially if you’re a business or organization.

Consumers are increasingly keen to buy from brands that feel human and authentic. 

Another way to save time on course creation is by avoiding tools that require in-depth video editing. Let’s face it, not everybody is a whizz with video editing tools, so if you can find something more simple to put your clips together, you’ll save valuable time. 

Luckily, there’s a tool that allows you to do all of the above. Read on to explore how it works. 

How to record the course using Tella

Tella is one of the easiest screen recording, presentation, and video creation tools on the market. We would say the easiest, but we don’t want to toot our own horn. Oh, go on then!

You can make an online course video in just three simple steps once you’ve downloaded Tella. You can try the tool for one week entirely free of charge. Plus, there’s the option to download a Chrome extension, MacOS app, or Slack extension. 

We’d recommended creating the course content slides elsewhere before importing them into Tella. 

Step 1: Record 

Start in the Tella recorder. Choose the slides you’ll be presenting by importing them directly or producing a screen recording of the presentation. When you’re ready, press ‘Start recording.’ You can then record a clip for each topic in your lesson or course. 

Step 2: Customize

Here’s the fun part. Once you’ve recorded the clips, you can play around with them until they’re to your liking. Trim the clips so they start and end where you want. Add more clips if necessary. 

There’s even the option to add a custom background and your own engaging video layout. Remember, as well as wanting your videos to be informative, engagement is key. The more intriguing visual content you can include, the better. 

Step 3: Download and share

When you’ve finished editing, simply click ‘Finish. Download your online course and publish it to your course platform of choice. Repeat the process for each lesson you produce. 

For more information on how Tella can help you to create polished, professional, and engaging online courses, click here

Want to see an example of creating an online course using Tella? We’ve got you. Watch our demo video here.

How to publish the course in Udemy

Udemy is an online course hoster that makes the process of publishing an online course quicker and easier than ever. It’s home to tens of thousands of courses, making it a go-to site for online learners. 

Plus, it’s easy to upload to, allows for quick feedback, and payments are handled through the Udemy platform. With speedy access to feedback, you can easily re-record lessons or topics to add more information or make them more interesting. And with Tella, customizing them couldn’t be easier. 

Step 1: Publish the lectures

Once you’ve created the lectures for your course using Tella, publish them. This is easy by simply clicking ‘Publish’ on the right-hand side of each lecture. 

Step 2: Publish all the lectures together

To publish the entire course, click ‘Publish Course’ on the left side of the Curriculum page. 

Step 3: Select your URL and category

At this point, you’ll be prompted to set a course URL and select the category in which you’d like the course to appear. 

Step 4: Upload the course to Udemy

Finally, click ‘Publish this Course’ to upload your course to Udemy. Once that’s uploaded, you can move on to the final stage - getting your audience to your course.

Promoting the course

Once you’ve created and published the course, your work doesn’t end there. After all, you need students! 

The final step to complete the course design process is promoting your work. While reaching as far and wide as possible is a good strategy, consider where your target audience spends their online time. Socially conscious Gen-Z consumers, for example, are best targeted using TikTok. 

Bear in mind that having an online course can, in and of itself, be a marketing pull. Whether you’re selling a product or service, you can help your customers better understand a particular topic. This creates trust and rapport between you and your audience. 

And if your online course helps to promote your product - even better.

Tips for creating an engaging online course with video content

Our insights into making an online course your audience wants to sign up for. 

  • Keep it consistent. Using one background or layout for one video and a different one for another looks unpolished and unprofessional. Instead, stick to one layout for each video. 

  • Create an emotional connection. Including clips of yourself talking adds a human element many online courses lack. 

  • Keep the lessons relatively short. Not only do students appreciate the conciseness, but it’s more likely to get you subscribers, too. Many people who sign up for online courses lack the time for a full-time course. Keeping each lesson short makes it more accessible for those with limited time. 

  • Check the demand for your topic. While knowing your topic inside out is key, if the topic you choose is too niche, you might find there isn’t sufficient demand. Check how high the demand for your topic is by typing a query into Google and seeing how many resources appear. 

  • Offer a free mini course to drive engagement. To attract potential customers to your course, offer them a free taster with a few sessions or an introduction video. Once they see how helpful the content is, they’re much more likely to sign up for the entire thing. Plus, they won’t want the FOMO of missing the rest.

  • Check out Tella’s YouTube page. We have many videos exploring topics to help you create a killer video using our platform. You can find out how to use our extensions, create side-by-side screen and cam recordings, and even add speaker notes

  • Use subtitles. Audio, visual, and written content together make for a triple whammy of retaining information. However, including subtitles doesn’t just help students better remember the content. It also makes your course accessible to people who are hard of hearing. Fortunately, Tella transcribes your words automatically. That way, you won’t have to manually upload your own subtitles.

The no-fuss online course creation strategy that doesn’t break the bank

Many organizations avoid creating online courses. Whether that’s out of fear of having to pay for expensive tools and use complicated equipment. The truth is, creating an online course doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive, or time-consuming. 

If you use Tella to create your online course in one week, it’s free. Hosting your course on a platform can cost up to $300 a month, but you’ll generally be able to find a much cheaper option.

Ready to get started with your online course?

With the right approach to creating engaging and professional content, you’ll reach your goals in no time, with no fuss. What could be better?

Sign up for your free trial of Tella today and get started on your simple online course creation process.

Tella — Screen recording for creators

Tella — Screen recording for creators