How to launch a successful online course for free

Written by
Maria Grigore
February 24, 2023

Launching a successful online course can seem challenging, but the steps to success are not that complicated. Even more so if you’ve been creating free content for a while.

Online courses have become a popular way for people to share their expertise, knowledge, and skills with a global audience. They offer a flexible, convenient, and cost-effective way for learners to acquire new skills and advance their careers. However, creating and launching an online course can be tricky, especially if you're working with a limited budget. The good news is that you don't need to break the bank to create a successful online course. In this article, we'll share with you a step-by-step guide on how to launch a successful online course for free.

Step 1: Identify your niche and audience

The first step to creating a successful online course is to identify your niche and audience. This involves determining the topic you want to teach and the people who are most likely to benefit from your course. To do this, you can:

  • Conduct market research to identify gaps or opportunities in your niche, but don't spend too long on this and move to the next step - testing material
  • Provide valuable content to them and validate that you can get some engagement with it. Once you have a collection of free content on Instagram, Tiktok, Youtube, or other content platforms you know which content resonates. This content and the topics you discuss there will form the core of your course.
  • Analyze your competitors' courses to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and unique selling points

By understanding your niche and audience, you can create a course that meets their specific needs and stands out from the competition - but the best way to do it is by testing bits of content on platforms like Tiktok, where content spreads quickly, to see how

Step 2: Plan your course content and structure

Once you've identified your niche and audience, the next step is to plan your course content and structure. This involves outlining the topics you want to cover, the order in which you'll present them, and the resources and materials you'll use. To do this, you can:

  • Create a detailed course outline that includes the course objectives, topics, subtopics, and learning outcomes.
  • Consider breaking your course into Chapters, which will help students to focus and find material when they want to revisit it.
  • Try to make each lesson visual, add a video, and supporting summaries in text and images.
  • It may be beneficial to begin the course with the root cause explanation and progress towards the outcome and practice. For instance, if teaching a course on social media marketing, you could begin with a lesson on the fundamentals of social media and then proceed to the techniques and practices of the subject.
  • Choose the tools and software you'll use to create and deliver your course (e.g., YouTube, Zoom, Google Classroom, Moodle)

By planning your course content and structure, you can ensure that your course is engaging, informative, and easy to follow.

Step 3: Create your course content

Once you've planned your course content and structure, the next step is to create your course content. This involves developing the resources, materials, and media you'll use to deliver your course. To create your course content consider these steps

  • When designing your online course, it is important to consider your goals and objectives. Decide what you want your students to gain from the course and how they will be able to use the knowledge they acquire. By making sure your content is in line with your objectives, you can make sure your course is both productive and pertinent.
  • A few helpful questions to ask: What do you want students to retain after completing your course? What competencies should students demonstrate upon the completion of your course? What resources and materials will be necessary for students to use during your course?

When you do this part of planning, move to the next set of steps:

  • Write scripts or outlines for your video lectures or presentations
  • Develop slide decks, infographics, or handouts to support your course content
  • Record, edit, and upload your video lectures or presentations. Don't worry about fancy editing software - you can record using your phone in good lighting and use free editing apps like Capcut to edit your videos. Our tip - record videos in shorter cuts and join them together.

Step 4: Build your course website or platform

Once you've created your course content, the next step is to build your course website or platform. This involves choosing a hosting platform or website builder and uploading the course and the course sales materials. To build your course website or platform, you can choose a free hosting platform like Pensight.

  • Personalize your page with more information. Videos is a quick way to give a comprehensive intro to what you're all about.
  • Start uploading the course in chapters and lessons
  • Decide on your course [ricing. Your course most often should be in the “impulse buy” price range. There is a huge amount of trust and credibility needed if you want to sell a course that costs $1000. Make it easy for your clients to make the purchase without much thinking or feeling guilty about the spend. Sweet spot is often $70-$130.

By creating a professional and user-friendly course website or platform, you can attract more learners and improve their learning experience.

Step 5: Market and promote your course

Now that you have created your content, it’s time to promote your course. Have it ready in your link-in-bio, or wherever you centralise your content and use your followers as your primary source of promotion. Ask way less than you give - for every 5 posts that provide value, you can make an “ask”. Once per week ask your audience to buy your course and on those days you will get significantly more attention, but you shouldn’t overuse it.

  • Create a compelling and informative course landing page that highlights the benefits and features of your course
  • Use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to reach your target audience and share your course content
  • Reach out to influencers, bloggers, and reviewers in your niche and offer them a free preview of your course in exchange for a review or promotion
  • Participate in online forums, groups, and communities related to your niche and share your expertise and insights
  • Offer a free or low-cost trial of your course to entice learners to enrol and experience your course
  • Create urgency. Provide 20-50% expiring discounts (“24 hours only!”) or limit to the first X number of customers. You can also do it by providing extra value for a limited time. E.g. “The first X people who purchase the course will get a 30min live video Q&A with me”.
  • Make sure you deliver value. After the launch, you need to keep track of your progress and make sure to collect feedback from your users. This will help you make necessary improvements to your course and increase its success. Track how your users progress through the course and their completion rates (very easy to do that on Pensight), and reach out to the users to get their direct feedback with a simple email.
  • Collect testimonials. Pensight helps you do that by automating that step on Pensight - testimonials help you sell on more and you can reuse them on social media when promoting the course.

Read more here on social media marketing for coaches and course creators.

Step 6: Deliver and manage your course

Once you've enrolled learners in your course, the next step is to deliver and manage your course. This involves using a learning management system (LMS) or other tools and platforms to deliver your course content, assess learners' progress, and provide feedback and support. To deliver and manage your course, you can:

  • Use free LMS platforms like Moodle, Open edX, or Canvas to deliver your course content and assessments
  • Use communication tools like email, chat, or forums to interact with your learners and provide feedback and support
  • Create quizzes, assignments, or assessments to test learners' knowledge and skills
  • Monitor learners' progress and provide timely feedback and support to help them succeed in your course

By delivering and managing your course effectively, you can ensure that your learners are engaged, motivated, and satisfied with your course.


  1. Do I need to have prior teaching experience to launch an online course? No, you don't need to have prior teaching experience to launch an online course. However, it's essential to have expertise, knowledge, or skills in your niche that you can share with your learners.
  2. Can I create and launch an online course for free? Yes, you can create and launch an online course for free by using free tools, software, and platforms available online. However, you may need to invest time and effort to create high-quality course content and market your course effectively.
  3. How can I make money from my online course? You can make money from your online course by charging a fee for enrollment, offering premium features or services, or creating and selling additional products or services related to your course.

To start with, you don’t need to worry about complicated email sequences, integrations, expensive software, detailed audience segmentation, or abandoned cart emails. These things could help a little, but you don’t need them to start and be successful. Focus on delivering high-quality course content, building a professional and user-friendly course website or platform, and marketing and promoting your course effectively to reach your target audience.

Check out Pensight, which can take care of hosting and the rest of the logistics if you want to launch your first course.

Read more here on how to acquire organic clients for your coaching business.

Find out how to use hashtags as a life coach and which ones to use

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