50+ profitable online course ideas you can launch in 2021 (and how to find your ideal course topic)

Commerce Courses
14 min read
In this Article

Raise your hand if you thought the only profitable course idea is to teach others how to make money blogging…

🙋‍♂️🙋‍♀️

Here’s the thing: you can start and sell a profitable online course in just about any niche. But I get it—you're still skeptical—which is why I’m going to share tons of examples of online courses so you feel inspired and excited to create your own.

And to top it off, I’ve also included concrete steps you can take to find profitable online course ideas (in your niche).

Whether you want to create your first or next course, this article will help you figure out how to find online profitable course ideas.

Let’s jump in!

50 online course ideas for creators

Profitable online courses ideas for 2021

You might still be wondering if online courses are right for your business or whether you can find a profitable course idea in your niche.

Earlier on, I promised real-life examples of courses (aside from the traditional learn-online-business realm) to show you that yes, you can create a profitable course in 2021 in any niche. Here are some examples straight from our ConvertKit creators.

Start selling within minutes

As a creator, you deserve to get paid for your work. ConvertKit Commerce is ready-made to help you sell digital products.

Get paid with ConvertKit Commerce

Travel

Even though many people aren’t making big trips right now, there are still options for you to create a profitable online course if you’re in the travel niche.

Plus, since courses can take a long time to plan and develop, you can use the time from now until it’s safe to travel to make sure your course is ready to go!

Kristie Wolfe created a course about running a successful AirBNB:

Online course landing page for running a AirBNB
Image via Kristie Wolfe

While this course teaches you how to become a travel agent:

Online course landing page for how to become a travel agent.
Image via The Travel Agent How-To Guide

Both courses are perfect examples of how you don’t need to teach about specific destinations but can still create an online course in the travel niche.

More profitable course ideas for travel:

  • How to travel with kids
  • Traveling with pets
  • DIY van life
  • Making money while traveling
  • Travel tips for specific countries/regions
  • Budget travel tips

Health and wellness

There will always be people looking to improve their health. If you are qualified to give health and wellness advice, people will be willing to pay to hear your expertise.

Take this course on grief, for example:

Landing page for an online course on grief.
Image via Six-Weeks of Help & Hope

Or this course on hair loss (for alopecia sufferers), which caters to a very specific niche:

Landing page for online course on hair loss
Image via Hair Loss 101

You can also create an online course that appeals to a wider audience, like this fitness course that was made for anyone who wants to get in shape:

Landing page for online for business
Image via Ultimate Athlete

It’s up to you how broad or narrow you’d like your audience to be.

More profitable course ideas for health & wellness:

  • Cooking for specific diets (celiacs, low-carb, vegan)
  • Nutrition for specific demographics
  • Yoga for different levels or people (beginners or post-partum)
  • Different types of dance (tap, hip-hop, ballet)
  • Specific fitness goals (bigger glutes, six-pack abs, toned arms)

Arts and creativity

People are always searching for creative outlets. If you have a creative skillset, you have something unique to offer.

Photoshop Wizardry is for beginner Photoshop users who want to learn to design a book cover:

Online course idea for photographers
Image via Regina Wamba

Another graphic design course teaches users how to use InDesign to make printables.

Course idea for graphic designers
Image via InDesign Course

Notice how the last two courses are both graphic design-related, yet they teach something completely different.

Another creative course example is this one that teaches you how to become an industry singer:

Online course idea for singers
Image via the Industry Singer 101 course

More profitable course ideas for arts and creativity:

  • Instrument specific (vocal classes, flute, piano
  • Songwriting
  • Musical skills (sight reading)
  • Photography and photo editing
  • Videography and video editing
  • Graphic design
  • Drawing and painting (charcoal, watercolor)
  • Art techniques (shading, realism, cartoon)
  • Sewing
  • Knitting/crocheting

Home and lifestyle

Home and lifestyle can encompass a wide-range of topics. Take this home organization course, for example:

Online course ideas for home organization
Image via The Elusive Follow-Through course

And if you have a passion for cooking, there’s an audience who wants to learn from you. This course teaches busy parents how to enjoy cooking meals for their family:

Online course for chefs
Image via the Seamless Kitchen course

And with fashion continually changing, it can be impossible to keep up! The Capsule Plan course helps women put together a capsule wardrobe to be in style all year long:

Landing page for an online course about styling.
Image via the Capsule Plan course

More profitable course ideas for home and lifestyle:

  • Home decor
  • Home improvement
  • Makeup
  • Parenting
  • Plant care
  • Finance and investments
  • Money management

Tech

Being technical is a handy skill many of us wish we had (and want to learn). If you are tech-savvy, consider teaching your audience a thing or two!

The DIY Website Starter Course helps people learn to build a WordPress website by themselves.

Online course about launching a website
Image via the DIY Website Starter Course

And this course will teach people how to build an app from start to finish:

Online course about building an app
Image via Build an App from Scratch course

More profitable course ideas for tech:

  • Analytics set up and use
  • HTML/CSS
  • Programming languages (Javascript, Python, C++)
  • Website backup
  • Website maintenance
  • Build a plugin
  • Improve website speed

Personal development

More and more people understand the benefits of personal development–after all, the more content you are, the better you’ll feel.

Chan Crawford’s course teaches her audience how to overcome obstacles and mental barriers:

Online course idea for coaches
Image via Chan Crawford

More profitable course ideas for personal development:

  • Networking
  • Career guidance
  • Manifestation
  • Achieving goals
  • Overcoming burnout
  • Overcoming mental barriers
  • Productivity
  • Meditation

3 simple steps to find online course ideas

Before you sit down to start your course, it’s important to generate ideas, narrow down those ideas, and validate them.

Let’s go through each step in detail, so you know exactly what to do for each step.

Step 1: Idea generation

You can generate online course ideas with or without a big audience. I recommend brainstorming five to ten different ideas, so you have enough to narrow down.

Google Analytics (GA)

If you have a website with incoming traffic, you’re in luck because your Google Analytics (GA) is a goldmine of useful information.

Your first step is to find your highest-performing content, or in other words, what your audience is already interested in learning.

Finding your most popular content is easy.

Along the lefthand side of your GA dashboard, head into Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

How find course ideas
Find your most popular content within Google Analytics

Here’s where you’ll get a glimpse of your highest-traffic pages.

Set your timeframe to see how your content performs over time. I like to view which pieces of mine have been popular over the last month, six months, and one year.

How to set up an online course
Set your timeframe

Viewing different timeframes can help you see which pieces bring in consistent traffic and which ones may just be anomalies (i.e., you had a piece go viral).

Once you apply the timeframe, you’ll be able to sort from most to least popular. Organize your unique pageviews in descending order.

How to use Google Analytics for course ideas

And there you have it! Now you know what your audience already wants to learn about (and might want to learn more about).

Find market gaps

With so many online courses out there, There’s a good chance someone’s already created a course (or resource) in your niche.

Which is ok!

In fact, you’re going to use that to your advantage.

Online reviews for your competitors’ products hold lots of valuable information. Often, a reviewer will leave a review and state what they liked and also what they wished they learned.

If your competition doesn’t have any place where you can read online reviews, head to Amazon, and search for ebooks within your niche. You’ll find a plethora of reviews to read.

Look for reviews that say things like:

  • “I wish I learned…”
  • “I wanted to know how…”
  • “This was missing…”
  • “I really like how…”
  • “This helped me…”

The good reviews can help you understand what your competition is teaching well, and the bad reviews will help you determine what is missing.

Answer the Public

Answer the Public is a great freemium tool you can use to generate tons of online course ideas in a matter of seconds.

To start, enter your niche (or broad topic) into the search and change the country to where your audience lives:

Answer the Public to find course ideas
Search your niche. Image via Answer the Public

Next, scroll down to view your data. For easier viewing, I like to change Visualization to Data.

Answer the Public
Answer the Public provides useful data. Image via Answer the Public

Answer the Public lists popular search queries so you can get a glimpse into your potential course takers’ minds to understand what they want to learn more about.

In our rock climbing example, there are many queries about rock climbing equipment. Online course ideas for this niche could center around the best rock climbing equipment for avid climbers.

FAQs

As a kid, my school teacher taught me that it’s good to ask questions because if I’m wondering something, it means someone else is too.

If you get the same questions over and over, there’s a high probability others in your audience are seeking the same information. Use your FAQs to your advantage and generate potential course ideas!

Ask your audience

If you don’t want to wait for your audience to ask you questions, why not go directly to them?

Ask your audience what their biggest struggles are with your niche or what they want to learn. And you don’t need a big audience to get big insight. After asking a handful of people what they want to learn, you’ll hopefully begin to notice patterns and trends.

Step 2: Narrow down your online course ideas

Alright! You’ve generated a list of topics, and now it’s time to trim the fat and narrow down your ideas.

There are three main questions you can ask yourself to knock some ideas off your list:

  1. Which course idea I have the most knowledge about? It goes without being said, but you know about the topic you create an online course on.
  2. Which course idea excites me the most? An online course can take anywhere from 25-500 hours–it’s a good idea to be excited over the topic so you don’t run out of gas. (PS–read our online course timeline resource so you can effectively map out your course creation.)
  3. Is this course evergreen or seasonal? Evergreen content doesn’t expire. Most courses will be evergreen, but some niches (like gardening) might only be relevant to your audience during specific times of the year. This isn’t bad, but it will limit your revenue if you can’t keep your course open all year. Pinterest Trends shows you whether or not certain topic ideas fluctuate during specific times of the year.

After narrowing down your list, you’ll have your online course idea! But before you create your course, you need to validate your idea (so you can be positive it’ll be a hit with your audience).

We’re going to discuss four easy methods to validate your idea.

Trends

Google Trends will show you whether or not your online course idea is increasing or decreasing in popularity.

For example, when we search for bodybuilding, we can see it has declined in popularity over the last five years:

A Google Trends search for “bodybuilding” shows its popularity is declining over time.
A Google Trends search for “bodybuilding” shows its popularity is declining over time.

If a course is declining in popularity, you should ask yourself whether or not there will be a demand for it in the future.

Survey

Surveys can be a quick way to generate useful insight! Google Forms is a free survey platform you can use to collect data.

For your online course survey, ask a variety of open and closed-ended questions. For example, “what do you know about topic X?”, “what do you wish you knew about topic X?, and “would you take a course on topic X?

You can survey your audience in a variety of different ways:

  • Send a survey to your email list
  • Redirect new email subscribers to a “thank you” page with a link to your survey
  • Post a survey to your social media accounts
  • Join relevant Facebook groups and, as long as rules permit, post your survey for members to complete

The ideal survey length is 6–10 minutes, so keep that in mind as you develop your questions!

Interviews

You can also ask your audience members, your email subscribers, or those who took your survey if you can speak directly with them. As a bonus, interviews also help you create your online course outline, so you’ll understand what content to include within your course.

Interviews tend to be time-intensive, and in the past, I’ve seen course creators offer their course for free (or at a discounted rate) to interviewees.

Live workshop/webinar

What better way to simultaneously grow your email list and conduct customer research? By offering a workshop or webinar, you can teach a free mini-course and gauge the interest based on those who attend.

Time to build your online course

Let’s take your newly-found online course topic from idea to reality in 2021! There are different online course platforms to sell your course, including ours (ConvertKit Commerce)!

ConvertKit Commerce lets you sell digital products without the hassle of building a website. I’ll show you how easy it is. To get started, sign up for a ConvertKit Commerce account and click Create a product in the Products tab:

How to set up a paid course in ConvertKit
Click “Create a product”

In three easy steps, you’ll have your online course ready to sell! First, fill out the information with your course’s name and price.

Setting up a product in ConvertKit
Fill out your product information

Secondly, upload your course files. (This is what your customer receives when they buy your course.)

Uploading a product in ConvertKit
Upload your product files

Lastly, choose the URL, which will be the landing page you use to sell your course.

Using ConvertKit Commerce for your paid online course
Choose your domain and create your product

You’re done! Your shiny new course is now ready to bring in students and sales.

Want to give it a try? Start using ConvertKit Commerce today!

Start selling within minutes

As a creator, you deserve to get paid for your work. ConvertKit Commerce is ready-made to help you sell digital products.

Get paid with ConvertKit Commerce

Dana Nicole

Dana Nicole is a freelance copywriter and online marketer who loves to write result-based content for SaaS and B2B clients to help them become an authority in their niche. When she’s not working, you can find her enjoying a warm cup of tea while reading a good book. Dana shares her adventures on Instagram - @dananicoledesigns.

The future belongs to creators

ConvertKit helps creators like you take their projects from idea to reality. It's never been easier to build an audience and grow a business. And you can do it all for free.

Launch your next project