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Course Creation

How to Choose a Profitable Online Course Niche (That’s EASY to Sell!)

I want to tackle a question I get all the time from people who want to create an online course: How do you pick a profitable niche? 

Because in an online world that’s noisier than ever and in an online education industry that’s projected to hit nearly $3 billion dollars a day by 2028… carving out your unique space is more crucial than ever. 

Your Niche defines EXACTLY what you do AND EXACTLY who you serve and is the first — and most essential — choice you need to make when creating your online course OR any business online.

So, if you’re ready to dive in and discover your first — or even next — profitable niche… keep reading or watch the video above!

Why Your Niche Matters

Let’s talk about why a niche is so important and why it’s such a roadblock for so many people who want to create an online course. 

In a world where everyone can teach something, the key to standing out is not just what you teach but how you tailor it to a specific group of people. 

A niche helps you cut through the noise, connect with the right audience and establish yourself as an expert.

It’s NOT just about broad generic appeal — it’s about depth of appeal.

After all, how can you know WHAT to offer if you don’t know WHO you want to offer it to? 

How can you get students if you’re not sure EXACTLY WHAT you’ll do for them? 

How do you know what to say on your sales page, your social media and in person if you haven’t defined what you do and who you serve? 

You can’t!

But choosing a profitable niche is something I see course creators struggle with over and over again… 

Their niche is either way too broad…

Or they choose a niche that doesn’t solve a specific and known problem for their target audience… 

And people simply aren’t going to buy something to solve a problem they don’t even know they have!

So, how do you avoid either of these 2 scenarios and find your profitable niche?

It comes down to these four steps.

Step 1: Make a Get Started Choice

The first step that MOST people overlook is understanding that you’re simply making a Get Started Choice… NOT a Forever, set-in-stone, let’s-get-married kind of Choice.

Because there IS no such thing as the RIGHT or WRONG niche when you commit to making a Get Started Choice and fine-tuning from there… 

So, BEFORE you do anything else, make this mindset shift and commit to just making a choice, knowing that it’s not set in stone and you can adjust or change it in any way later.

Step 2: Make Sure Your Niche IS at the Intersection of These Three Things

Next, you want to make sure your niche is at the intersection of three things: Your expertise, your passion and market demand. 

Let’s break it all down starting with your expertise…

Your expertise is what you excel at. Maybe you’re a whiz at project management. Let’s say you’ve been a project manager for a decade. Well, your insights into efficient team management and productivity hacks could form the backbone of a highly valuable course. 

Or let’s say you’re a yoga instructor. Your deep understanding of yoga and wellness practices could translate into a 30-day online course where you teach the basics of practicing yoga at home — each week you amp up the difficulty level… so at the end of your course, your students are confidently nailing a Crow pose. 

I always tell my students that If you’ve lived at least 20 years on this planet, chances are you’ve solved a problem or gotten a result in your own life that other people want and are willing to pay to have solved.

In other words, YOU have enough expertise to create a successful online course! 

BOOM!

Along with expertise, you need a healthy dose of passion. Because passion is your fuel — it’s what keeps you and your students excited and engaged. 

So, let’s say you have a knack for graphic design and you spend hours creating just for the joy of it. This enthusiasm is contagious and can inspire your students. Your course could be about ‘Unleashing Creativity in Graphic Design’ where your love for the subject makes every lesson vibrant and engaging. 

Or consider you’re passionate about sustainable living — this could translate into a course that not only teaches the concepts but also embodies your commitment to a sustainable lifestyle.

Now, here’s where I see far too many people stop… they’ve got the expertise and the passion… so they dive headfirst into creating their online course… 

But when it comes to actually launching… there’s zero interest.

Why? 

They forgot the critical third ingredient — making sure there’s Market Demand. This is where you align your expertise and passion with the market’s needs. 

You want to give your audience what they want — and are willing to pay for… NOT what you think they need. 

In other words, sell them what they want and give them what they need — which usually means getting MORE SPECIFIC.

How to Make Sure There’s Market Demand

Now, there are several ways you can easily and painlessly make sure there’s demand for what you want to offer… 

Check out tools like Google Trends or Answer the Public. You might find a growing interest in topics relevant to your expertise and passion. Let’s say you’ve been teaching mindfulness to corporations for years and you’re ready to translate that into an online course. You notice that ‘Mindfulness for Professionals’ is trending… that’s a good sign you’re onto something! 

Explore course platforms like Udemy or Coursera to see what’s trending and what gaps you might fill. 

These huge marketplaces that host thousands of courses try to appeal to everyone so they tend to be very broad and not results-based… so this is a tremendous opportunity for you to find a gap and fill it with a course that solves a specific — and known — problem for your audience.

Let’s say you hop on Udemy and see there’s a surge in interest in home gardening. You happen to have an expertise and a passion in this area. So, this might be a golden opportunity to create a course that goes beyond just content and teaches people how to grow beautiful and juicy tomatoes in 21 days… or whatever it happens to be. That’s just a quick example… I’m definitely not a gardener… lol.

You also want to look at social media… 

Check out LinkedIn for professional courses. Instagram for more creative, lifestyle-oriented topics and TikToks, Reels and Shorts for bit-sized tips, tricks and hacks that content creators teach their audiences. 

The other day, I was curious and did a quick search in TikTok for ChatGPT prompt tutorials… and there were a ton of quick tutorials with millions of views and tons of comments. So, if that happens to be your area of expertise… you know there’s a ton of interest out there, so imagine the possibilities with an engaging online course.

Now, one quick rule of thumb when it comes to market demand is to make sure there are at least 10,000 people on the planet who can be easily reached and who actually want what you have to offer. So don’t rush through this process… spend some time making sure there’s market demand. Trust me; this will save you so much time, money, and headaches.

Just look for the sweet spot where your expertise, passion and market demand intersect. That’s your niche!

Step 3: Validate Your Niche

After you’ve zeroed in on a potential niche for your online course. Now, it’s time to validate it. This step is crucial — it’s about making sure your idea resonates with your target audience before you fully dive in. 

Let’s break down each part:

First, you need to do some Market Research… which goes hand-in-hand with Market Demand. But with Market Research, you want to go much deeper into your audience’s fears, pain points, hopes and dreams.  

Conduct surveys using tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. Ask questions about their challenges, what they want to learn and their preferred learning styles.

For instance, if you’re planning a course on digital marketing, find out if your audience is more interested in SEO, social media marketing or something else. 

Join forums like Reddit or specialized Facebook groups. Look for recurring questions or pain points. This will help you tailor your content to address real needs.

Let’s go back to the yoga example. If you search for “yoga practice everyday” on Facebook and filter by “Groups”, you can pretty much scroll forever… there are TONS of groups of various sizes… join and see what people are talking about and make note of those common themes. 

Okay, you might be thinking — “Marisa, of course, there’s a ton of groups for Yoga… Yoga’s super popular. But what if I have a serious or “boring” topic?” 

I’ve helped students discover their profitable niche in every industry under the sun… including the most serious or “boring” topics.  

I’ve had students successfully create courses that helped people with family members who were struggling with drug addiction. 

I’ve had students create courses that helped sexual assault survivors heal. 

I’ve had students create engaging courses that taught small business owners how to do their taxes. 

And if you do a quick search on Facebook for any of these topics and filter by groups… you’ll see that even serious or “boring” topics are full of people who NEED your help.

So, don’t let the mindset that your topic is “too serious” or “too boring” stop you from getting your life-changing course into the hands of those who need it most!

You’ll also want to take a look at who else is teaching in your space. 

Let’s head back to Udemy and Coursera. Go ahead and do a quick search for similar courses — you might even add the word “free” in your search. Look at the course outline… even watch a few of the training videos. What are their strengths and weaknesses? 

I guarantee you’ll find plenty of opportunities because these marketplace courses tend to go very wide and shallowly cover every aspect of a particular topic.

Courses here are mainly just information dumps… that do nothing more than overwhelm their audiences. 

Let’s say you’re a digital marketing expert who’s helped small business owners grow their businesses. And you find that most digital marketing courses on Udemy are far too broad — going very wide but not deep into any one strategy. 

You happen to have a love for email marketing for small online businesses. Your unique selling point could be offering a course that’s tailored specifically to small online business owners who want to get their first 1,000 email subscribers. 

Remember, competition indicates demand, but differentiation is key.

Step 4: Beta Test

Finally, we have possibly THE most overlooked aspect of choosing your profitable online course niche: Beta Testing. 

This is where you test your course idea in a small, manageable format. 

One effective method is to teach a tiny part of your proposed course live on a platform like Zoom. For example, if your course is about ‘Effective Communication Skills for Managers,’ host a free 45-minute webinar covering a specific aspect like ‘Active Listening Techniques.’ Gather immediate feedback from participants — what did they find most valuable, what needs improvement and what additional content would they like to see. 

This feedback is gold. It allows you to pivot and refine your course BEFORE investing more time and resources into fully developing it.

Create a Mini Course

Another way to beta-test your concept is by creating a mini course. 

Think of a mini course as a small part of your larger idea. It should address a big concern, solve a specific problem or deliver a quick outcome — without giving away your whole course. 

You use your mini course to position the value of the bigger transformation you’ll deliver in your full course!

So, what exactly is a mini course? It’s a short course, typically ranging from 1 to 3 hours in total length, designed to deliver value and establish your expertise. The goal here is two-fold: to provide actionable content that benefits your students and to gather insights on how your full course might be received.

Let’s talk specifics:

You want to aim for around 1 to 3 hours of total content. This can be broken down into smaller lessons, each focusing on a specific aspect of your topic. 

For instance, if you’re an expert in time management, you might create a 2-hour mini course titled ‘Timeboxing for Time-Strapped Entrepreneurs: 4 Essential Techniques to Shave 2 Hours Off Your Days Now’…

The goal of your mini course is to solve a specific problem or address a particular need within your broader topic. It’s about giving your students a quick win — something they can learn and apply immediately. This not only showcases your teaching style but also builds trust and interest in your more comprehensive offerings.

You can test it for free or even charge a very small amount — say $9. I usually use mine as lead magnets now.

Let’s say your expertise lies in personal branding for entrepreneurs. Your mini course could be ‘Crafting Your Personal Brand Story in Five Simple Steps.’ Or, if you specialize in health and fitness, a mini course like ‘7-Minute Daily Exercises to Kickstart Your Healthy Lifestyle’ would be a great way to introduce your holistic health program.

Remember, the key with a mini course is to focus on quality over quantity. Every lesson should be packed with value, designed to leave your students wanting more. Use the feedback from your mini course to fine-tune your content, teaching methods and course structure. This is an invaluable step in creating an online course that truly resonates with your audience.

You might even consider creating an expiring mini course where you give your audience a specific time frame to complete the course — like 5 days — or else it “expires” and they lose access. But if they complete it within that time frame… they get to keep the trainings for life. The benefit to this approach is that you incentivize consumption… because often people will keep putting off something if they know they can always access it.

Your Next Step

Whew… there you have it! We covered a lot!

We talked about how to validate your niche so you can create a course that truly resonates with your audience. 

We talked about using marketing research so you can understand your audience’s needs and how to use competitive analysis to find your unique testing. 

Then, we dove into beta testing so you can refine your idea into something powerful.

Remember that you’re making a Get Started Choice… so you can — that’s right — get started!

You’re not making a Forever, set-in-stone, let’s-get-married kind of Choice… 

The world NEEDS what you have to offer… so it’s time to stop trying to make the perfect choice and start making it happen!

If you’re ready to really zero in on your profitable micro-niche… join my super cheap (less than the cost of a typical movie ticket) 5-day Profitable Micro-Niches Mini Course

This is your opportunity to discover the niche that’s not only perfect for you but also profitable. Click here to enroll and start your journey to creating a course that doesn’t just educate but truly transforms lives. 

Let’s do this together — I can’t wait to see you inside the Profitable Micro-Niches Mini Course!

Now, go out there and Live Your Message. 

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