Online Course Creation That’s Profitable And Doesn’t Suck

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If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s no one around to hear it. Does it make a sound? If the product of your online course creation made you thousands but the completion rate is low, does it still count as a success or impact?

This is similar to my position on boastful course sales without course completion.

There’s a difference between making sales and creating a course that is crafted to be completed and make an impact.

In this article, we’ll talk about some ways to improve your course completion metrics to ensure you’re not just selling sunshine on the timelines.

Why people aren’t finishing your online course creation

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Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

When I first quit my job to start my business, I was still teaching e-commerce at a local college. When that position came to an end, I wanted to repackage that material into something that could be provided for an online audience.

In order to do that I researching online courses to see what it would be like to create my own.

I quickly found out that most of them lacked any structure to push people to be accountable to completion. This led me to research the average completion rate for online courses. I found out that it is only around 15% yet the market reached an astounding $198.2 Billion in 2022.

There are several reasons why people aren’t finishing your course.  Some of the reasons may have absolutely nothing to do with you, while other reasons may place the blame squarely at your feet.

While most of this article will focus on what you, as the course creator, may be doing wrong…

Reasons that have nothing to do with you:

  1. Lack of Time: People have been biting off more than they can chew from the beginning of time. Your course may be exactly what they need and the price point may have been perfect, but the timing wasn’t. Before purchasing your course, they were probably balancing too much. But convinced themselves they’d find time to do it.
  2. Not Enough Motivation: People are either intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. In other words, they’re either internally driven or externally driven. Although their motivation may have nothing to do with you, directly. There are some factors that could help. Such as; creating a community, supportive environment, and gamifying your content.
  3. Burnout: In today’s landscape, users don’t want FOMO. Even if that means enrolling in so many courses that you can’t even do one. Burnout is real. Even for online courses.

Sometimes there’s really nothing you can do when it comes to course creation. Shameless Plug–if you find you struggle to complete courses check out my article How to unlock your next level with an accountability coach

Reason 1: Your online course is not actionable

If you want the secret to online course creation, ensure your course is practical.

Are you just spewing knowledge without providing examples? Or are you actually showing them how to use their skills in real-life situations?

Begin with learning objectives. Well-defined objectives align your vision with the student.

Audit your content. Is your content vague and filled with jargon? If so, it’s already a problem. Users need clear and concise communication as it will help them apply it to the real world more easily.

Make it interactive. Remember when you were a kid you ran to books with pictures? The same content applies here. If your content isn’t interactive, students aren’t engaging the way you need them to.

Don’t be afraid to share your own strategies and tips that they can’t get anywhere else. Hearing your experiences gives students an idea of how to use their newfound skills outside of the course.

Reason 2: The material is not in-depth enough or too in-depth

If people are paying top dollar for your course, then it needs to meet and exceed the expectations you set in your offer.

When you’re considering online course creation, you should consider how you can over-deliver but not to overwhelm your audience. Finding the right balance of enough detail, and comprehensive and sufficient exploration of the topic is the key to success.

Then on the flip side, your course may be too in-depth. You really shared all you can about your expertise but it’s too much. Learners are left feeling overwhelmed.

So how do you strike the balance that your course is just enough? The first answer is to know your audience. If you know them well enough, then you should know if they’re beginners or experts. Then you’ll know how deep or how surface-level your content should be.

Next, start with the basics. When you’re brainstorming, think of concepts that should be the foundation and then build from there.

Consider offering tiers for your online course. If your target audience has various levels of expertise then serve them all. But at different tiers and maybe pricing as well.

Test the course before offering it to the public. Address any concerns of simplicity or complexity before introducing it to the general public.

Reason 2.5: Your course is too long

While longer courses offer in-depth knowledge, they can also affect completion rates.

This goes back to reason number 2. While there are so many benefits of a long course such as comprehensive learning, in-depth knowledge, and course value.

Long courses require a lot of commitment and if your audience is already busy balancing life and work they may not complete your course. Or while they may not drop out completely, they may get fatigued and place completing your course on the back burner. With hopes to get to it someday.

If you want your online course to be profitable and of value, consider offering flexible options. This allows users to complete it at their own pace but within a reasonable time limit.

Or dividing your course into manageable modules. This addresses the length and makes it feel shorter than it is.

Reason 3: You’re not addressing differences in learning styles in your online course creation process

When it comes to online course creation, there are four learning styles to consider. They are visual, auditory, read/write, and Kinesthetic.

Visual learners may need video tutorials and graphics to understand the material while auditory learners may want to listen to the course on the go on their daily commute. Read/Write learners benefit from slideshow or story based structures for them to take note while kinesthetic learners need real-world application of the material to better complete it.

Most people may not know what their dominant style is until they sign up for an online course and realize they are having trouble focusing.

Your failure to address various learning styles means that your course is not catering to the diverse needs of your audience.

For example, most online courses are video courses. Some providers provide transcripts while some do not. If your audience is more a read/write type of learner, they may attempt to push through but they will eventually give up.

Or if your course is heavy on infographics and data, your audience may learn better by story. This isn’t to say you should cater to one learning style. But rather incorporate various learning styles and preferences.

Reason 4: The outcome isn’t impactful enough

Emotions affect purchasing decisions. Buyers go through a whirlwind of emotions before deciding to invest in an online course.

If your online course doesn’t promise transformative results then there’s a chance that buyers will skip it.

If your course promises extraordinary results then the outcome should reflect that.

If it doesn’t, then it’s time to revisit your promises and the intended outcomes.

Reason 5: Your price is too low so they bought it out of FOMO instead of for immense value

People sometimes price their products and services out of fear. It’s okay, we’ve all been there.

But that fear is costing you your course completion rate. Yes, people signed up and you reached your intended goal. But people bought your course out of FOMO and not because they thought it’d change their lives.

People who purchase things because of FOMO are sometimes not fully committed to the learning journey. They are interested, yes, but not enough to finish the course.

Their lack of interest causes them to also lose interest quickly and never complete the course.

Now that you know fear takes you out of alignment with your vision, you can adjust. Focus on providing value and engagement within the course. Watch how the magic unfolds.

Reason 6: No Clear Roadmap

Roadmaps are helpful in online course creation. Some people know where they want to go but they need to know how to get there.

A course with no clear roadmap is a course with significantly lower completion rates.

Learners need to know what to expect and how to make progress. Skipping this frustrates your learners.

If your course doesn’t have course objectives, module breakdowns, assignment schedules, reading materials, support, grading and evaluation, and progress tracking, your completion levels will suffer.

Learning should be fun, not frustrating. Having a clear roadmap enhances the learning experience while increasing your course completion rate.

Reason 7: It says the same thing every other coach is saying

Not only will this reason impact your course completion rates but it can also affect your sales.

Sounding like everyone else will not gain you brownie points. If you do manage to make the sale, learners will be discouraged by the lack of differentiation, the perceived value, and the lack of relevance.

To combat this, be intentional about your personal brand. Share viewpoints that are different from the norm. Don’t be afraid to stand out, this is how your tribe will find you.

Having trouble finding your brand voice? Read: How to scale your personal brand – the ultimate brand development guide

Make your case studies available so that potential learners can speak to past students. Anyone can conjure up a screenshot, but what makes you different is your authenticity.

Your experiences are learned experiences and not just page one of Google. You’ve helped people achieve what you’re promising and you’re consistently demonstrating your value.

Your focus should always be on growing your brand.

Reason 8: The material doesn’t get to the concepts fast enough

Get to the point. I can’t stress this enough. When people make the decision to buy they are already familiar with you. They’ve more than likely followed you for a while, interacted with you and something about you convinced them to take the next step.

Skip the long introduction and get to the concepts. Chances are if your course is a high-ticket course, no one just randomly purchased it without social proof.

Remember that in today’s landscape, everyone has a short attention span. Create your online course with that in mind and engage early.

Reason 9: Bad editing

Don’t skip the edits in your online course creation process. Yes, you can edit it yourself but it’s always good to have another eye take a look at your course.

Courses with mistakes, even small ones tend to discredit your credibility as a creator and coach. Some learners tend to get preoccupied with errors and lose motivation to continue beyond the mistakes.

To avoid frustration, create an editing strategy. Invest in editors, test your course materials on a small group of people for usability errors, and create a quality control process.

Reason 10: There’s no community to hold them accountable to complete it

At the beginning of this post, I said sometimes people lack motivation for various reasons. Their lack of motivation may have nothing to do with you but you can do something to help them stay motivated.

A community is more than just a group of people doing the same course, it’s also an accountability group.

In today’s landscape as a course creator you’re fighting with so many external factors and the biggest one is keeping your learner interested.

A community makes an online course feel less like a solo journey and more like a collaborative learning journey.

For learners who are easily demotivated, a community can help them feel more engaged and connected to other learners. Which helps them stay the course.

Reason 11: The platform you’re using doesn’t illicit enough dopamine upon completion

We’re not just competing against people with more or less content. When you realize people just have short attention spans, you look for ways to capture it.

Gamifying your course means focusing on the experience your audience has when going through your course. When dopamine is released, it helps people retain information longer.

How you gamify your content is up to you. But you can include certifications, progress bars, and badges. Any gamification edit that is going to help learners associate positive emotions with your course.

One platform I love and use is Xperiencify. I love it for several reasons including; that it increases course completion rates because everyone loves games. It hijacks dopamine loops to surprise and delight students. You can create social proof with the platform. It offers a variable rewards experience that excites and it has features for a community. It also allows automations which makes life easier.


Understanding why learners don’t finish courses encompasses various factors. From content depth to learning styles and community support.

Balancing content depth, pricing, clarity, and engagement is key.

Building a supportive community and choosing platforms that encourage completion is essential.

By addressing these challenges, online educators can boost course completion and make a lasting impact on learners. Which of these insights will you implement to empower your students?

Ready to turn your brand into a household name?

Book a Dream Builder session today.

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Tirzah Moneé

Tirzah Moneé is a Certified Coach and Entrepreneur with over a decade of experience, passionate about transforming mindsets and helping high performers achieve purpose-driven goals.

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