How can you know whether your online course or group program has the potential to make money? After all, nobody wants to make a course that launches to the sounds of crickets.

Let’s look at the following three descriptions of courses or programs to see if we can identify why they aren’t ready for prime time.

  1. An online course that helps new managers be better leaders with my S.E.R.V.E. method.
  2. A course teaching yoga online to busy professionals
  3. A group coaching program about how to manage adult ADHD

At first glance, these might seem like good ideas. However, something is missing.

There are two essentials I look for any time I hear an online course or group program pitch to determine whether or not it’s a viable idea.

I discussed the first essential for a profitable course or program in my previous newsletter.

A clear definition of the intended customer

At least the three ideas listed above indicate something about who the course is for. It’s a good start.

The Missing Essential

We must ask the following question to uncover the second essential element that will make these promising course ideas.

What highly desirable OUTCOMES will the course help the participant to realize?

Course creators put too much emphasis on the topic or methodology when designing a course. While your methodology might be exceptional, it’s not why someone enrolls in your program.

Your intended customer won’t invest valuable time, money, and energy to learn a topic or your signature method.

They’ll invest in a course or program to remove pressing pains and realize their aspirations.

Here’s an idea for a course that has legs.

“My course teaches professional digital photographers automated systems and efficient workflows that allow them to work less and make more money.”


  • Make more money from each hour of work
  • Deliver client projects faster (which allows you to charge more)
  • Make room in your schedule to take more clients (if you want)
  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Stop feeling exhausted and behind

A Framework for a Profitable Course Idea

Now we have our formula for a profitable course idea.

  1. A clearly defined intended customer
  2. A clearly defined set of outcomes they desperately desire to achieve.

The Framework in Action

Let’s redo the course descriptions from the beginning of this article to make them more viable.

  1. A course that helps new managers get the most from their team, retain their best talent, and confidently make decisions with proven leadership skills.
  2. A course that helps busy professionals to relieve stress, increase performance, and stay healthy with a simple yoga practice.
  3. A course that helps adults with ADHD prioritize, plan their life, and reach their most important goals so they can feel confident and in control of their life again.

Can you see how these course ideas are more compelling once the outcomes are clear?

There are five types of outcomes your customers will happily invest in. I’ll share these in my following newsletter to help you uncover the outcomes that will most inspire your intended market to enroll in your programs.

You can join the conversation about this newsletter here on LinkedIn.

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