Newsletter #24

Is Your Course Idea Good? This Test Has a 100% Success Rate

written by

Jon Morrow

published

Many people come up with an idea for a course and then just sit on it. They wait and wait because they aren’t sure if anyone will actually buy the course.

If that’s you, this issue is exactly what you need to get unstuck.

It’s the process we use internally to test if a course idea is good or not. Every time we use it, the course eventually makes $1 million or more. It has a 100% success rate.

And that’s because it gives you an objective measure of what the market wants.

Let’s dive in.

The Real Secret to a Successful Course

After creating nine courses that went to over $1 million in revenue, I’ve learned an important lesson:

Selling a course is easy when people already want to buy it.

All your marketing needs to do is help them trust you. It helps them see that you can actually deliver on what they already want.

For instance, let’s say you notice a lot of people buying courses on “How to Train Your Pet Parrot.” You decide to create your own parrot training course. If you do a good job, you probably won’t need to convince people that they want to train their parrots. They already want that! You’ll just need to show them that your course is a great way to do it.

The opposite is also true. If you find yourself trying really hard to make people want your course, that’s a sign you’ve probably already lost. You’ve likely chosen the wrong course topic or idea.

Like if you’re trying to sell an “Underwater Basket Weaving” course, and you find yourself saying things like “But don’t you see? Underwater basket weaving is the next big thing! It’s going to be huge!” then you’re probably barking up the wrong tree. People don’t want it.

What People Want

Imagine there are two groups of people:

  1. People who really want what you’re offering
  2. People who don’t care about what you’re offering

Many new course creators make the mistake of trying to get people to move from the “don’t care” group into the “really want this” group. They think that’s the job of marketing. 

But they are wrong. 

Marketing isn’t about changing what people want. It’s about helping the people who already want what you’re offering to trust you and feel good about deciding to purchase.

Let’s go back to the parrot training example. If someone doesn’t have a pet parrot or has no interest in training their parrot, no amount of marketing is going to make them want to buy your parrot training course. They are firmly in the “don’t care” group.

Your marketing efforts are better spent on reaching people who already have pet parrots and want to train them. They are your target market. They are the ones you can help.

So if marketing isn’t how you get people to want your course, how do you figure out what people want in the first place? 

How to Know What People Really Want

The best way to know what people want is simple: look at how they spend their money. What people say they want doesn’t matter nearly as much as what they actually buy.

Think about it like this. I might say “I want to get in shape.” But if I’m not willing to pay for a gym membership, or a fitness course, or even a pair of running shoes, do I really want it that badly? Probably not.

Actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to spending money.

The opposite is also true. If you see a lot of people buying fitness courses, gym memberships, workout gear, etc., you know for a fact that there is demand. People want to get in shape!

Based on this, here’s the best way to know if your course idea is a good one: 

Find out if people are already spending money on similar courses. 

If you can’t find any other courses on your topic, that’s usually a bad sign. Most people think an idea with no competition is an undiscovered goldmine. But more often than not, it just means there isn’t much demand.

For example, if you can’t find any other courses on “Underwater Basket Weaving,” that’s probably because there isn’t a big demand for learning underwater basket weaving. It’s not some untapped market waiting for you to come along.

On the other hand, if you find a bunch of other courses on your topic and they seem to be making good money, that’s a clear green light. It means your course idea has legs. There are people out there eager to buy!

Like if you see lots of popular, high-earning courses on “How to Train Your Pet Parrot,” that’s a good sign. It means there’s a healthy market there. People want to learn about parrot training and are willing to spend money on it.

I’m simplifying a bit, of course. If you’re advanced, there are some other factors to consider. But if you’re just starting out as a course creator, sticking to topics with proven demand is the safest choice.

Trying to be the first to market with a course topic is really difficult. It requires a level of skill that most beginners don’t have yet. You’ll likely struggle to get traction.

Imagine trying to sell the first ever course on underwater basket weaving. You’d have to first convince people that underwater basket weaving is a thing worth learning. Then you’d have to convince them that you’re the right person to teach it. That’s a tall order!

It’s much easier to enter a market where demand is already established. 

How to Find Out If Your Course Idea is Profitable

Okay, so we’ve established that the best way to know if your course idea is a good one is to see if there are other similar courses out there making money. But how do you actually do that? 

It’s easier than you might think.

Using AI to Find Similar Courses

One of the easiest ways to find courses similar to your idea is to use AI tools like ChatGPT, Claude, or Gemini. These tools have a vast knowledge base and can quickly give you a list of courses in your niche.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Open up your AI tool of choice
  2. Type in a prompt like this: “Please give me a list of courses on [your topic] that sell for over $500. Answer from your existing knowledge, not from a web search.”
  3. See what the AI comes up with! If it offers you a bunch of courses from Udemy or another cheap platform, tell it, “I’m specifically looking for courses over $500 from independent sellers.”

For example, let’s say your course idea is “How to Start a Profitable Online Boutique.” You could ask the AI: 

“Please give me a list of courses on starting an online boutique that sells for over $500. Answer from your existing knowledge, not from a web search.”

The AI might come back with a list like:

  1. “Boutique Breakthrough: How to Start a Thriving Online Boutique” by Emily Thompson, $997
  2. “The Online Boutique Blueprint” by Sarah Davis, $1,497
  3. “E-commerce Queen: Start a Profitable Online Boutique” by Jessica Brown, $797

And so on. This gives you a quick sense of what’s out there and what price points these courses are selling at.

Of course, the AI’s knowledge isn’t perfect. It might miss some courses, or even make some up! But it’s a great starting point.

Estimating a Course’s Revenue

Once you have a list of similar courses, the next step is to try to figure out how much money they’re making. This will give you a sense of how profitable your course idea could be.

One quick and dirty way to do this is to:

  1. Find out what company is selling the course
  2. Look up that company on LinkedIn and see how many employees they have
  3. Estimate that the company makes around $150,000 in revenue per employee

So let’s say you find out that “Boutique Breakthrough” is sold by Emily Thompson’s company, Online Boutique Inc. You look up Online Boutique Inc. on LinkedIn and see they have 5 employees. 

5 employees x $150,000 = $750,000

So you can estimate that Online Boutique Inc. is probably making somewhere around $750,000 per year. 

Now, this is a very rough estimate. Some companies make more per employee, some make less. And not all of that revenue is coming from the course. But it gives you a ballpark idea.

If you see that several companies selling courses similar to your idea have dozens or even hundreds of employees, that’s a good sign. It means there’s a lot of money to be made in that niche!

On the other hand, if most of the companies are tiny or even solo operations, the market might not be as profitable.

Competitor Research is Key

I can’t stress this enough: researching your competitors is one of the most important things you can do as a course creator. It’s how you take the guesswork out of choosing a course topic.

Too many people skip this step. They come up with an idea, get excited about it, and dive straight into creating the course. Then they’re disappointed when it doesn’t sell.

Don’t make that mistake. Take the time to see what’s already working in your niche. Use that information to make smart decisions about your own course.

For example, let’s say you do your research and find out that there are already 20 courses on “How to Start a Profitable Online Boutique,” and many of them are selling really well. That’s a clear sign that there’s demand for this topic. 

You might decide to go ahead and create your own online boutique course, knowing that there’s a good chance it will be profitable.

Or, you might decide that the market is too saturated and you don’t want to compete with all those other courses. In that case, you could look for a different angle or niche down further. 

Maybe you create a course specifically on “How to Start a Profitable Plus-Size Online Boutique” or “How to Start a Profitable Online Children’s Clothing Boutique.” These are more specific niches where there might be less competition but still plenty of demand.

The point is…

When you do your research, you can make informed decisions. You’re not just guessing or going with your gut.

Your gut will have you second-guessing yourself for eternity. I’ve done it myself.

Take time to do your research. It’s always worth it.

Or if you’d like us to have one of our researchers put together an even more detailed feasibility study, go here.

Just make sure somebody does it! You’ll save yourself tons of time and make lots more money.

Jon Morrow
CEO
Profitable.me