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Top Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make in Creating an Online Course

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By Tracey Lewis-Stoeckel, M. Ed. of Tracey Teaches

I was recently asked to talk about the top mistakes that entrepreneurs make in creating an online course, so I started making a list of the most significant errors that I have seen. And then, I took to Google and asked the universe what they thought the top mistakes in course creation were. 

Let me tell you, I got a serious case of writer’s cramp jotting down all of the responses I received.   

Course creators make a lot of mistakes. 

These mistakes not only can result in refund requests and dissatisfied customers, but one thing we know about the buying public, and course consumers, in particular, is that people talk about their bad experiences. 

A mistake can do more than cost you the price of the course in a refund, it can cost you future course revenue. 

Have you ever taken an online program that didn’t deliver the results you were paying for? How many people did you tell? Exactly!

The sad thing is that these mistakes are entirely avoidable. 

You want your course to be great (do not read that as perfect, because that isn’t what we are talking about here). 

You want your audience to consume your program, get results, and be raving fans for you, your brand, and your future offerings. 

I can help you do that. 

Let’s start by looking at the top four mistakes that course creators make when creating an online course.

creating an online course



The first mistake I see course creators make is not creating a course. 

I know what you are thinking, how can I possibly be making a mistake if I haven’t done anything? 

Well, not starting is the ultimate course creation mistake.

You likely are so worried about making a mistake that you are holding back from even getting started. 

Meanwhile, your audience is waiting. 

And if you let them wait too long, they will go looking for what they need from someone else. 

Yep, by not offering the solution to their problem, you are giving them an open invitation to shop elsewhere and give their money to someone who is not you. 

I hope that stings a little bit. 

Even the best of us suffer from imposter syndrome and procrastinate about putting our product out in the world because we are afraid it isn’t good enough. 

Perfection is a myth, and if you avoid these top mistakes, there is absolutely no reason why you should not be delivering the course that your audience is craving. 


Mistake number two that business owners creating online courses make is not knowing their audience or ideal client. 

There are so many course gurus out there who talk about choosing a topic for the course you are creating. They say to choose something you want to teach, something that you know about, or something that interests you. 

There is so much more to creating an online course than merely picking a topic out of the air. 

You can have a passion for a subject, know it inside out and backward, feel confident about teaching it, and launch your course to crickets because it isn’t what your audience wants or needs. 

That’s not what any course creator wants.   

What is your audience craving? 

What problems do they have that you can solve with your course, e-book, or workshop? 

How can you deliver the solution that will save them time, help them increase sales, or improve their customer experience (just to name a few things your audience is likely craving) if you aren’t clear on what problems they are having? 

Before you create your course, you need to be absolutely sure that it solves a problem for your audience, and this may be obvious, but the pain your ideal client has must be severe enough that they will be willing to pay you for the solution you offer. 

How do you do this? 

By knowing your audience. 

Pay attention to the questions your ideal client asks you. Listen when they talk about the struggles that they are having. And when all else fails, ASK THEM! 


Mistake number three is not knowing how to teach. 

Now I don’t expect that entrepreneurs creating online courses will have a degree in education or a teaching background. 

You don’t have to have a PhD to create an online course. 

What you must have, though, in my opinion, is some knowledge of education theory and adult learner psychology. 

Without a working understanding of how people learn, I don’t believe that the majority of people can effectively teach in an online format. 

Most people can walk someone through a how-to lesson in-person, answering questions and giving additional instruction as needed. 

Teaching online is not the same as teaching in a classroom or providing how-to instructions. 

You need to know how to grab and keep your learner’s attention, how to reinforce specific ideas, how to incentivize, and how to make sure that what you are teaching “sticks.” 

This isn’t hard to learn, and is what I teach with my free and paid content, but I feel that building an online course without this knowledge will not be as effective as it needs to be for most course creators. 

Now there are exceptions to every rule. 

I know some really incredible course creators who have hired me to audit their online courses and I could find very little to criticize, and maybe you are one of those individuals. 

This is the exception, though. 

Most course creators really benefit from some basic lessons in how adults prefer to learn. 

I really believe that if you want to create online courses that bring your audience back craving more, you owe it to yourself to have that information. 


The last mistake I want to talk to you about today is about pricing your online course. 

I really believe that one of the biggest mistakes you can make in marketing your online course is pricing it too low. 

We have all heard the adage, “you get what you pay for.” 

People are accustomed to paying for quality, and they expect to pay more for something worth more. 

Pricing your course too low can be a big flashing neon sign that your course program isn’t worth the investment. 

Another reason that pricing your course too low is a huge mistake is that people are less likely to commit to completing it. 

Think about it the last time you paid under $10 for something. Did you put a great deal of value on that thing? Probably not. 

But if you have ever paid for a flagship course, mastermind, or high-end workshop or conference, you bet your bottom dollar you are committed to gleaning every last drop of goodness from that experience. 

After all, you paid dearly for it. Am I right?   

Pricing your program can be one of the most challenging parts of creating your online course and launching it. 

You certainly don’t want to overcharge and price yourself out of the market. 

Still, you need to also recognize that pricing too low alienates potential customers just as much as overpricing will, and you deserve to be paid for your expertise and the curation of knowledge in your program.


Again, the full list of mistakes that people make in creating an online course is a long one. 

I have only highlighted just a few that I think are most important here. 

You can find out more about the rest of the mistakes course creators make by following me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/traceyteaches, and by subscribing to my podcast or Youtube Channel entitled Tracey Teaches. 

If you want to learn more about how to create the course that your audience craves, you can check out my program by that name here.


Tracey Lewis-Stoeckel, M. Ed. is an online course consultant and coach with nearly a decade of experience in creating online courses for adult learners in both higher education and corporate environments. She works with online business owners who are creating great educational content for their audiences in the form of courses, e-books, workshops, and more; by helping them understand how education theory and learner psychology are necessary parts of any educational product. You can learn more about Tracey at http://www.traceyteaches.biz, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/traceyteaches or by subscribing to her podcast or Youtube Channel entitled Tracey Teaches.




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