How to create an online course in South Africa


More and more people in South Africa are turning to the internet to try and supplement their income by creating online courses. In this post, I am going to walk you through, step by step, how to create an online course. 

The online learning industry has exploded in recent years with more and more people doing paid and freeonline courses to gain knowledge and improve their skills.

The flip-side of that coin is it has never been easier to create an online course today.

There are a handful of things you need in order to get up and running and I’ll discuss them in more detail below. 

But, in a nutshell, this is how to create an online course in South Africa in 2020:

  • Validate your idea for your online course
  • An audience to sell your online course to
  • The course material that will make up your online course
  • The technology stack you’re going to use to deliver your online course material

Let’s start with the idea validation part of creating your online course…

Finding the big idea for your online course

How to figure out the big idea for your online course

Validating your idea is the first and most important step in creating your online course.

What you think your target market wants and what they actually want are often two very different things.

The thing I like to look at when I’m thinking of creating an online course is if there are any existing online courses around the same niche or topic.

A simple Google search should yield some answers. Another place to look is a platform like Udemy.

If there are no online courses around the topic I’m thinking of, I become very wary. The first question I ask myself is “Why hasn’t anyone built this online course already?”

If there are lots of courses around the topic that shows me that there is a level of interest in the online course I am wanting to build.

Another great place to look is on eCommerce platforms like Amazon and in the South African context, Takealot. 

I head over to the books section of those online stores and search for the topic I am thinking of creating a course around. Again, lots of books on the topic is a great sign.

How to use a survey to validate your online course

I find that so many online course creators miss this step in the process. What we are doing is finding a market to serve, asking them what they want and then giving it to them.

So step one of this validation process is finding the market.

This is step two, asking them what they want.

There are lots of tools you can use to gather these answers. I’ve used Survey Monkey and Typeform in the past but I’m currently using Google Forms.

I literally only use one question in my survey and the question is this:

What is your number one question about _____?

Let’s say I was thinking of creating an online course about fly fishing for Yellowfish in South Africa (This is actually a thing), my one question would be:

What is your number one question about fly fishing for Yellowfish in South Africa?

Maybe I was thinking of creating an online course on how to get your house off the Eskom grid so that you’re not affected by load shedding. This would be the question:

What is your number one question about how to get off the Eskom grid so that you’re not affected by load shedding?

After they’ve answered that one question I like to also ask them for their name and email address so that I can follow up with them once I’m ready to launch my course.

Where to find an audience for your online course

Where to find an audience for your online course?

Finding people to answer your one question survey is the first step in finding customers for your online course. I like to get at least 100 answers so that I can pick up some sort of pattern in the answers

If you already have an audience this is super easy. If you have access to a database of people then all you need to do is send them a link to the survey and you’re good to go.

All you need to say is the following (I’m going to use my fly fishing example again):

Hi there,
I know your time is valuable so I’ll get right to the point. I’m in the final stages of putting together an online course called “Fly Fishing for Yellowfish in South Africa” and I want to make sure I haven’t left anything out.
Would you let me know what your biggest question about fly fishing for Yellowfish is?

I then send them to the link of the one question survey.

If you don’t have an existing audience, then I’ve found the easiest place to find potential students for my online course is to hang out where they hang out.

Look for online forums on the topic. Facebook groups are also a great place to find your target market. Don’t spam these groups but just hanging out on those platforms will give you ample opportunity to ask your one question.

I’ve also had great success running Facebook ads to a landing page that asks the one question. 

This is quite an advanced strategy does take a bit of technical knowhow and some money to invest upfront and can really fast track your results.

How to structure your online course

The best bit of advice I was ever given was to start with the end in mind. What is the transformation or result your online course will give your student or customer once they’ve completed your online course?

The answer to that question needs to dictate how the course material is structured.

What I then do is dig into the answers of my one question survey and group those answers into various subcategories. 

Let me show you what I mean…

How to structure your online course

Hypothetically, these might have some answers to my one question survey:

  1. Where are the best places to catch yellowfish?
  2. What flies are best to use?
  3. Do I need a permit to catch yellowfish?
  4. What seasons are the best to catch in?
  5. Do I need a floating or sinking line?
  6. Can I keep the fish or do I need to catch and release them?
  7. What fishing rod should I use?

In this case, I would group the questions under the following categories:

  • The gear you need to catch Yellowfish
  • Where to catch Yellowfish
  • Legislation surrounding Yellowfish

Those categories will end up being the modules within my online course. Each module will then contain several lessons that then teach the content. 

Using the same example once again:

Module 1The gear you need to catch Yellowfish

  • Lesson 1 – The flies to use when catching Yellowfish
  • Lesson 2 – The best line to use to catch Yellowfish
  • Lesson 3 – The best fishing rods to catch Yellowfish

Module 2Where to catch Yellowfish

  • Lesson 1 – The best places to catch yellowfish in Summer
  • Lesson 2 – The best places to catch Yellowfish in Winter

Module 3Legislation surrounding Yellowfish

  • Lesson 1 – The legal ramifications of catching Yellowfish
  • Lesson 2 – The permits needed to catch Yellowfish
  • Lesson 3 – How to apply for the permits

The best platform to host your online course

As I mentioned at the start of this article, it’s never been easier to create an online course in South Africa today. Most people, however, get stuck on the technical side of creating an online course and that is where their online course idea dies. 

There are many possible options to host your online course. It’s actually very overwhelming when you get started creating an online course. 

The platform that I wish existed when I got started creating my first online course is Teachable

Teachable is a very easy to use platform that is an all in one platform that you can use to host, market and sell your online course. 

You are able to offer both free and paid online courses using Teachable and you are also able to sell in various currencies, including the South African Rand.

This is just a general overview of how to create an online course in South Africa in 2020. In future posts, I will be digging into this topic in more detail in the coming weeks and moths. I’ll also be showing you exactly how to build an online course on Teachable in various video tutorials that I’ll be uploading to my YouTube channel.

If you have any questions about generating an income online in South Africa today feel free to be in touch via Facebook or Twitter

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