This is a comprehensive guide to creating a profitable online course, based on my experience developing 6 courses over 7 years, which have been taken by more than 25,000 students and generated well over $1 million in revenue.

It introduces my 4-P model for developing a course, referring to the 4 main stages of Planning, Preparation, Production, and Promotion. This doesn’t include the actual running and delivery of the course, which is a whole different topic and depends a lot on the format you choose.

This guide also assumes you want to create a profitable, self-sustaining course. There are a lot of excellent reasons to create one, including learning, personal fulfillment, fun and experimentation, and simply to share what you know. But the level of preparation and effort I’m recommending in this guide is aimed at those who want to make a business out of it.

Here is a Table of Contents of the 36 specific steps that I use in my own course development. Under most of them I’ve included multiple examples of what it looks like in my own courses or those I’ve learned from. I’m sharing them in their full, messy glory because this process is inherently messy. I hope it gives you some guidance and ideas for your own course creation.

Table of Contents


What are your personal objectives for this course?

Create a master course outline as the centralized reference for the course

  • BASB v1 Planning
    • Headings:
      • To Do’s
      • Planning
      • Objectives
      • Brand design
      • Research
      • Content Outline
        • 1. Title slide
        • 2. Unit 1
        • 3. Unit 2
        • 4. Unit 3
        • 5. Unit 4
        • 6. Unit 5
        • 7. Unit 6
        • 8. Unit 7
      • Content to add
      • Sales page
      • Promotion
      • Logistics
      • Videos
      • Community
      • Activities
      • Final Project
      • Followup

Who is this course for?

What’s the transformation they’re seeking?

How is this different?

Which ideas or phrases have resonated with your audience?

Possible titles and subtitles

Write/design the course pledge or promise

  • BASB: You will learn how to capture, organize, and share your ideas and insights using digital notes, with a systematic approach and tools that you trust to support creative breakthroughs in your work

Which sources do you want to review for inspiration and ideas?

Who do you want to talk to?

Start collecting v1 course material in a dedicated notebook

Start collecting material for future versions in a dedicated notebook

  • Evernote notebook “BASB content”

Schedule first live cohort and begin recruiting beta testers


Hire videographer

Create a promotional plan

Write follow-up emails to be sent after each live session

Create a checklist for conducting live sessions


Produce the core course content

Identify the learning objective of each module

Write out personal stories

Design exercises

Create case studies and walkthroughs

Create a pre and post-course evaluation

Create post-course feedback survey

Create “next steps” module

Create public FAQ document

Design onboarding process


Hire course manager

Create landing page

Identify potential partnerships

Write a version of the course curriculum for sharing

Pre-write and schedule social media posts

Create free content and bonuses

Write introductory email sequence

Create promo kit

Schedule guest sessions/interviews and announce them

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