Creating an Online Course

How to Write Content for your Online Course? - Step-by-Step Guide with FAQs & More

Table of Contents

Creating content for an online course isn’t hard, however, creating content for an online course that’s engaging is definitely challenging. 

If you want a successful online course, you’re going to have to write content that’s impactful, engaging and useful. 

In this post, we’ll guide you on how to write compelling content that is informative and will keep your students engaged.

Understanding Your Audience

When gathering information and creating an outline, you will have seen countless posts online from members of the community. 

You may have also conducted interviews with your peers. 

All of these techniques help you step into the shoes of your target audience and understand their troubles. 

It’s important not to lose sight of that when writing content as well. Ensure that whatever content you write serves to solve the burning questions that your audience has.

Pay Attention to Your Tone

When creating an online course, it’s very important that you compose your content in a way that’s engaging as well as useful. 

For example, while you may have a lot of knowledge about your field, if you overload them with content, they will not respond to it well. 

Hence, you really have to pay attention to your tone and how you impart your wisdom within your online course. 

Your content should be:

  • Clear: It should be written in simple language so it’s easy to understand and implement. 
  • Concise: It should not be littered with irrelevant information or data, should be to the point and as short as it can be. 
  • Urgent: It should invoke the sense that students will miss out on important information if they choose to skip a certain section or not pay close attention to it. 

If your content has these three things, it’s sure to be engaging and effective. 

Secondly, let’s talk about personalization.

Personalize Your Content to Engage Your Audience

You want to avoid being “that” instructor at all costs. 

You know the one: The one that lists off theory, facts and statistics without providing any practical application or activities for it. 

Sometimes, course content can be dry but you should strive to make it as fun to learn as possible. 

Try adding some personality into your content by: 

  • Giving real-life examples to supplement the tools/techniques you are teaching 
  • Designing interactive activities and quizzes to keep your students engaged 
  • Telling small stories or anecdotes about how you came up with the technique you’re teaching, etc. 

All of these techniques will make your content more personalized and human. 

As a result, it will be more impactful for your students, increase their retention and help you create loyal customers.

Don’t Overwhelm Your Students

We’ve mentioned this in several other posts but it needs reiterating: 

Avoid cramming too many ideas into your online course. 

The best online courses deal with just one problem, skill or technique. 

If you cram too much content into one course, your students will be easily fatigued and they might not even want to continue your course. 

Take steps to creating content that is bite-sized and easily digestible (puns intended). 

You can do this in a number of ways: 

  • Make use of headers, bullet points, tables, etc. 
  • Provide the majority of the information via your audio narration. Written content on the screen should just reiterate the key ideas. 
  • Break down large paragraphs and sentences into smaller ones. 
  • Break the constant onslaught of text with graphics such as video clips, infographics and attention-grabbing images. 

Balancing your content between graphics and text is one of the key techniques you need to master in order to create an effective online course. 

Do you feel there’s still a lot more information you can add to your online course? Refer back to your course objectives. We explain how below. 

Keep Referring to Your Course Objectives

When creating your course outline, you will have defined some course objectives for your course topic. 

Course objectives define what you’re trying to achieve with your online course and what your students will be able to do once they finish it.

It’s a very good idea to keep referring to your course objectives in order to determine whether or not the course content you’re writing is essential or not. 

If the course content you’re writing doesn’t do anything to serve your course objectives, you should consider it to be irrelevant information and remove it. 

Course objectives can be a great way of weeding out irrelevant information and keeping your course content concise and clear.

If you still feel that there’s more content you can add but it would be at the risk of making your course content too overwhelming, you can add it as an additional resource at the end of your lesson.

Presentation is More Important Than You Think

Smart course creators take special care when deciding what type of fonts and backgrounds to use. 

The psychology of colors and fonts is a huge topic that you can learn about as it can play a huge part in determining whether or not your course content is engaging or not. 

For example, would you want to go through an entire online course when the slides for it look like this:

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Of course, you would not. Hence, it’s important to take time and strategize what the “look” of your online course will be. 

If you don’t want to spend too much time on this, that’s okay. 

However, you should at least ensure that all of your content is clearly readable and ordered in a way that makes sense to the reader. 

Course slides that are engaging and easy to read are often ones that have contrasting color schemes with a font that is clearly legible. 

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An example of a well-designed, simple course slide

Create Headlines to Entice Learners

Your headlines are valuable tools that you can use to not only retain readers but also to pull them in further. 

Your headlines should be concise just like everything else but they should also tell your students exactly what they’ll get in the section below that heading. 

In summary, explain the value of the section below with its headline. 

Once you create a headline, you can test out its effectiveness by going to the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Headline Analyzer

It will give you a sense of what type of emotion your headline is evoking and will also give you a percentage that tells you how effective your headline is at evoking that emotion. 

We personally use this tool all the time and try to aim for above 30% on all of our headlines.

For more information on writing content for online courses, you can check out our in-depth guide content writing guide.

Review and Edit Your First Draft

Once you’ve written down your course content in its entirety, it actually helps to take a few steps back and leave it for a few days. 

Come back to it with a fresh mind and then read your course content out loud or have a reading tool read it out to you. 

You’re not looking for grammatical errors or typos here (although, if you do find them, you should fix them). What you’re looking for are interruptions in flow, awkward sentences and/or segues. 

Your course content should be “conversational” meaning it should sound like you’re having a conversation with the reader. 

If it sounds too robotic and/or monotone, you should go back and fix it. 

Writing course content that isn’t conversational and just provides facts and theories is a surefire way to put your students to sleep.

Apart from fixing the robotic tone, we mentioned earlier about awkward sentences and interruptions in flow. 

When your students are reading through your online course, you want them to be completely absorbed and engaged. 

Awkward sentences can break that engagement and bring your students out of focus. 

Hence, it’s essential that you review your content and fix all flow issues you can find.

Take More Time Than You Think You Need When Writing Content

According to many established online course creators, writing content for their online course is the stage on which they spend the most time on. 

This is because even when they think the content for their course is finalized, they still take steps to refine and make it the best it can be. 

While it may be tempting to move on to the next step of course creation, we have to urge you to resist that temptation. 

Do a couple of more read-throughs of your content; Maybe have some friends or colleagues read through it and have them point out any flaws they may find. 

Take as much time as you need to perfect the content for your course because this is one of the most important steps that will determine whether your course will be a success or not. 

Some Great Tips for Content Writing for Online Courses

We’ve gone over some of the essential factors you need to have in mind when creating an online course, now let’s look at some general tips you can gain value from: 

  • Avoid technical jargon: Only use fancy terms when they’re absolutely necessary and define them clearly whenever you first mention them.
  • Re-focus your learners by including “quick tips”: These can be efficient ways to solve a problem or a trick that makes a process simpler. They’re a great way to grab your students’ attention. 
  • Refer to your course outline more than you think you should: It’s always a good idea to do this to ensure you’re not leaving anything out. 

For more tricks on how to create compelling content for your online course, check out our post on the best content writing practices for online learning.

Tools You can Use

There are an enormous amount of tools out there that you can take advantage of to make your course the best that it can be. 

Some great tools that course creators can use are:

Microsoft Office

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Microsoft Word is a word processor that is used by a wide majority of professionals and course instructors in many different fields. 

Its interface is iconic, instantly recognizable and something that its competitors try to emulate all the time. 

You may have already used Microsoft Word to create your course outline and now, you can utilize it to write the actual content for your online course too. 

Microsoft Word has a bunch of great tools at its disposal such as a spell-checker and great text formatting tools which you’ll need to compose your course in a logical way.

We wrote a  comprehensive review of Microsoft Word and whether it’s the right tool for course creators that you can also check out. 

We’ve talked a lot about Word but let’s talk about other tools in Microsoft Office

Excel is great for developing graphs that you can include within your online course and Powerpoint is the tool you’ll use to actually compose slides for your lessons. 

The great thing about all these tools is that they’re all synced with each other. 

What does that mean?

Well, let’s say, you created a graph in Microsoft Excel and include it within your slides on Microsoft Powerpoint. 

Now, suppose you want to go back and change some of the information in that graph. You can make changes to it within Microsoft Excel and they will automatically show up within your slides on Powerpoint.

Google Docs

Google Docs is a complete office suite that provides essentially the same functionality that Microsoft’s Office suite does. 

While it’s true that Google Docs don’t provide as many features as Microsoft Office does, the fact of the matter is that as an online course creator, Google Docs will still provide you with everything you’ll need. 

Furthermore, one big edge that Google Docs has over Microsoft’s Office suite is that it’s completely free and easily accessible by anyone. 

As an online course creator, these are definitely a set of tools that you should look to use to create content for your online course.


Grammarly can be a great tool to get if you’re worried about typos and/or grammatical errors in the content for your course.

It does a great job of identifying all sorts of errors and even gives you suggestions on how to fix them. 

Furthermore, it has options on whether you’re writing in American, British, Canadian or Australian English. 

If you’re working on Google Docs, that’s even better since Grammarly also has a Chrome extension that you can make use of. 


Quetext is considered to be one of the best plagiarism checkers on the market right now. 

Plagiarism is something that is never tolerated in online courses and it’s definitely something you should take steps to avoid. 

Oftentimes, you may not even intend to plagiarize but you may do it subconsciously. 

Quetext will help you ensure that all the content within your online course is original and not plagiarized. 

It utilizes Deepsearch technology that pulls information from 35 billion websites, 20 million books, and 1 million journals and checks it with your content for plagiarism. 

What’s great about it is that the report it provides once it’s done checking is highly detailed and can help you fix all plagiarism issues in your online course. 

We highly recommend that once you create content for your online course, you should definitely pass it through plagiarism checking software. 

No one is going to want to buy an online course that has plagiarized content in it, so it’s your job to ensure that does not happen. 

We wrote an in-depth review of Quetext that delves into whether or not it’s an appropriate tool for online course creators that you can also check out. 

Wrapping Things Up…

If you create online courses without putting special thought into what your writing sounds like to the reader, you’re going to end up with a course that doesn’t sell and isn’t useful to your students. 

Hence, do your research. See how other established creators within your field write content for their course(s) and learn from them. 

Lastly, keep everything we’ve told you in mind when writing content for your courses. 

Let us know in the comments if we missed out on anything. 

Are there any tips or tricks you’d like to share that can make content writing for an e-learning course easier?