A successful online course starts with great content

And it’s all about the design and planning you put in!

So, you’re planning on developing an online course and sharing your knowledge with the world. That’s amazing news! Well done. We’re so glad you’re here.

As online course creators, we’re here to make the process of building an online course as easy and pain free as possible. So today, we’re going to run through the key principles to creating your online course content.

And honestly, it’s not all that overwhelming when you’ve got some guidance.

“Good content isn’t about good storytelling. It’s about telling a true story well.”

― Ann Handley


The first vital step before you create your content

Before you create your content, you should have:

  • Researched and know who your target audience is
  • Determined the direction of your course.
  • Decided on the outcomes you want your participants to achieve.

Our top tip: When you know your audience, deciding outcomes becomes easier. You should know their pain points and have determined how your course topics will help ease these.

The next step is to plan your course curriculum outline

This part becomes so much clearer when you’ve worked out the outcomes as above. You have the end game in your mind and can work backwards.

Start by making a list of the course modules that will address the main topics you outlined – topics that lead towards the desired outcomes you have for participants (ie. those pain point squashers).

Under each module, list the lessons you’ll need to cover the learning points (break it down).

Keep in mind how long you want the course to take (ie. hours, days, weeks, months) and the delivery style (eg. self-paced, group or cohort-based, blended learning etc).

Our top tip: Focus on your end goal and work backwards. This helps you to keep focussed on what you want your course to achieve. This quick video from Thinkific is worth a watch on this topic.

Now the fun part – creating your course content!

Now you’ve mapped out your lessons and modules, it’s time to bring your content together. This is meant to be fun!

Many of you will already have content in various places (blogs, ebooks, videos, workshops etc) so it’s a matter of tying it all into one neat little package. You can always create additional content to add that extra edge, but don’t reinvent the wheel if it’s already rolling.

Online Thinkific Courses can accommodate:

  • Video scripts
  • Presentation slides
  • Audio
  • Text
  • PDF
  • Multimedia
  • Prepare resources as PDF guides, checklists, worksheets and other supplementary materials
  • Quizzes and course survey

Here are some important steps to follow:

  • Be consistent – ensure all your modules and lessons have a consistent formula, even down to the naming conventions. Consistency makes a great user experience – your learners will get to know where to look for resources etc if you follow a consistent curriculum design.
  • Know the various ways your course platform can present learning material. We have outlined the types of material you can use in your Thinkific course above and you can also enrol in our FREE student walkthrough here.
  • Determine the best method to deliver each lesson (eg audio, video, pdf, text, presentation, multimedia).
  • Make lessons bite-sized. Better to create multiple lessons that address a topic than create learner fatigue.
  • Map it out – we usually suggest mapping out content in a word or google document first (proofreading is a must)
  • Now its time to transform your content into the lesson type (eg video, audio etc).
  • Upload your curriculum material into the course player.
  • Beta test by viewing the course as a student (enlist the help of a trusted colleague for an additional opinion).


Our top tip: Think about the most engaging way to deliver your content and how to balance it to capture all the different learning styles (eg. Auditory, Kinesthetic, Read Write learner and Visual). Involving the student through discussions, quizzes and workbooks is a great way to develop interaction.

“The art at this stage is not just about what we should include in our course, but what stuff we need to leave out. Remove anything that doesn’t relate to achieving a learning outcome. Your content should educate, share your brilliance and knowledge, answer your audiences burning questions, or fill the gaps not met by your competitors.” – Thinkific

What comes next for building an online course?

The ‘how and the why’ is covered in our next blog – make sure you check it out.

If you’ve got an idea for an online course, or if you’ve already got training material that you need to change to suit an online course, CloudXS Digital is here to help you. We’re Thinkific experts and know all the ins and outs of setting up online courses that work. You come up with the content; we’ll make it look amazing online! 

If you’d like more information about how we help you build online courses, please visit the website

And if you haven’t already, please download your free copy of our online course planning template

Alethea Tuitahi

Alethea Tuitahi

Online Course Designer & Founder


Alethea specialises in creating beautiful, conversional, student focusd online courses. Allowing course creators to deliver their course or program to the world… sans tech frustrations and problems. Need help building your online course? As a Thinkific specialist, Alethea is here to help! Book in a free call here.

Disclosure: Some of the links provided in this blog are affiliate links. I only promote services that I personally use and love. I will be paid a small commission if you use this link to make a purchase.

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