Want to build an online course, but you’re not sure what it should be about?
Maybe you have some ideas, but you feel pulled in different directions?
Or do you feel that your online course idea has already been done to death, and you’re searching for a way to stand out?
Then this post is for you.
Today, we want to get your mental gears spinning and help you to consider course ideas that might never have been on your radar before for 2023. We’re talking about weird, wacky, quirky, original, different and interesting course ideas that can help your brand stand out from the crowd.
If these 6 course creators can do it, then so can you!
Sure, we’re taking a lighthearted approach to these courses, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t respect the value to the right audience, or the effort invested by these entrepreneurs.
These online courses have been created and shipped, which puts these course creators miles ahead of most people, who like to dream and talk about launching an online course.
... and some of these online courses will be generating thousands of dollars in revenue.
Sometimes the craziest ideas stand out from the crowd, or resonate with a small but incredibly passionate audience. Let’s take a look at some extraordinary online courses from around the web…
Disclaimer: We came across these courses on social media. We’re not endorsing them, we haven’t tested them, and they’re not built using Thrive tools. This list is simply to help you open your mind on what's possible.
Do you want to get fitter? While jumping over park benches?
Now’s your chance....
Parkour Fit is a 30-day online video course offered by pro-parkour athlete & Hollywood stuntman, Ronnie Shalvis.
The course aims to give people of any skill level a full body workout and an introduction to parkour.
Parkour Fit normally costs $80, and it includes over 50 parkour techniques, a mobile app, and 24/7 email support.
Why We Love It
The general fitness niche feels extremely saturated.
It feels like almost every idea has been done before and, if anything becomes too popular, countless competitors pop up for their slice of the pie.
So the only ways to differentiate your online fitness course are:
- Build a hugely recognizable brand
- Build on celebrity status (which most people don’t have)
- Ruthlessly specialize
- Create a hybrid crossover
Parkour Fit does both 2 and 4.
First, Ronnie Shalvis has a hugely popular parkour and free-running YouTube channel with 1.4 million subscribers. That’s on top of his Hollywood stunt work that includes small indie studio productions like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Second, Ronnie combines his love of Parkour with an intensive full-body workout fitness goal.
So yes, it’s kind of strange to get fit by going over trash cans and benches instead of jogging around them, but that’s what makes this online course stand out and it appeals to a passionate real life audience who share Ronnie’s love of parkour.
Do you love horse riding? How about channeling your Chi at the same time?
Do horses even have Chi?
Let’s find out...
Jenny Pim offers an online course combining her love of horses with her great passion for Tai Chi. Yes, that means harmonizing your internal energy with that of the horse you’re sitting on.
One thing is very clear: Jenny has put in some serious work to write, shoot and launch this online course. Her Equestrian Tai Chi for Riders course costs $495 US, and includes over 120 technique videos in addition to other written resources.
Why We Love It
At first, the merging of two such different activities – horse riding and Tai Chi – feels like it shouldn’t quite work. After all, not only do you need a strong belief in the alternative concepts of Chi, Dantians, and internal energy, but you’ll also need a horse.
Chances are, most of us are not in Jenny’s target demographic.
However, once you consider this from the perspective of her intended audience, it actually starts to form a compelling product.
Just like riding a bicycle, effective horse riding is really just a physical synergy between rider and horse. The more experienced and skilled a rider is, the more closely connected they are to the horse, until both learn to anticipate commands as a single entity.
So, if you also believe in the esoteric, why not apply this to an emotional, mental and spiritual connection?
Coming back to online marketing, Jenny Pim does something very effective with her online course. She says “This is who I am and what I believe, and I make no excuses for that. If you’re interested in learning more, I can help you. If not, that’s OK too.”
Plus, and this is purely my opinion, online courses like this offer a great alternative low-impact physical and meditative activity for horse owners, regardless of the spiritual aspect.
Not all courses need to appeal to everyone to be successful!
Next up, Yoga on a skateboard.
Want to reverse the effects of aging, but you don't have a time machine or a cosmetic surgeon?
Maybe you just need to wiggle your face a little...
Sometimes it’s not clear what’s an online course versus a membership site.
- Is offering a library of videos just a membership?
- How about if the videos are released one each day?
- Or is this now a course, or only dripped membership content?
Face Exercises calls it a course, so we’ll roll with that for now.
Face Exercises offers their online course material on a freemium model: you can access 1 lesson a day on their iPhone app for free, with the option to pay $9.99 US each month to unlock everything on demand.
With specialized facial workouts and over 30 exclusive exercises, Face Exercises understands the value of bite-sized, easily consumable course content. Each lesson is a quick, repeatable video for customers to follow along with at home.
How bite-sized? Here’s one of their free demo lessons (each workout features multiple exercises)...
Why We Love It
You don’t need to write thousands of words, or shoot a 10-minute video for each lesson of your online course. The size and depth of your lessons should be defined by the online learning needs of your audience.
In the case of Face Exercises, the clue is in the name. It’s far easier for people to commit to a short, repeatable exercise on their phone, than to ask them to sit through a long video extolling the virtues of pouting in the mirror.
Face Exercises teaches course creators a good lesson that value isn’t always the same as depth of content.
If your audience benefits more from quick, accessible ‘lessons’ then that’s what your content creation should give them.
Do you enjoy both sketching and causing people intense pain? Have your heart set on becoming a tattoo artist?
Oscar Akermo from Rihanna and Lebron James’ tattoo studio, has you covered...
Oscar’s Tattoo Master course offers 45 training sessions that guide his customers through every aspect of becoming a tattoo artist, from artistic concepts and development, to finding clients and managing a tattoo studio.
It costs $995 US, putting this online course at the high end. However, this will automatically turn off those who don’t view it as an investment into their future career, helping to focus his marketing and reducing refund requests.
Why We Love It
To make money as an artist, you need to do one of 3 things:
- Work like crazy, exchanging your time for money
- Position yourself as an exclusive (expensive!) artist for high paying clients
- Find a way to break free of the 1-to-1 client-customer relationship
Oscar chose to go the third route, transitioning from 1-to-1 client servicing, to 1-to-many teaching via his online course. This allows him to break the link between his time and effort, and the income he can generate through his craft.
Online courses are one of the most accessible ways for coaches, artists and consultants to scale their income beyond the hours they work. You can too!
Launching a course also builds your authority – we naturally assume that course teachers know what they’re talking about, so this can help you to charge higher rates for your art commissions in future.
Do you eschew the popular claim that many physical conditions begin in the mind? Perhaps you believe they start in your feet instead?
Here’s the perfect online course for you...
The Foot Collective (TFC) offers an online course designed to “deliver a practical understanding of the importance of our feet, why they become problematic, how to restore them, how to strengthen them, and how to maintain function long term through optimal footwear and lifestyle choices.”
The content is available in 2 different tiers: a 6-hour collection of training videos for $79 US, and a smaller 2-hour course for $25 US.
Personally, I think these prices are on the low side for the amount of content and value they offer, but as long as TFC are happy with their online course pricing, that’s all that matters.
Why We Love It
The Foot Collective’s online course is a lesson in niching down, and then down again.
- Running and athletic fitness
- Lower back pain and hip impingement treatment
- TFC ➔ “Restoring functional, pain free, and resilient bodies starting at the feet”
TFC could have focused on posture, or leg problems, or even just foot injuries, all niches that offer a tempting balance of audience size and specificity, but they didn’t. They chose to create a sub-niche, and they own it!
TFC’s online course is so fanatical about feet, that it starts to rub off on potential customers.
Everything is just so infectiously positive... the TFC brand, the course sales page, the professionally produced video, the glowing testimonials. They did a great job communicating the benefits and value of their online course.
Finally, they also spell out exactly what’s included in the course, lesson-by-lesson, and back it up with no questions asked money-back guarantee.
Have you always wanted to backflip? Do you only have 30 days?
I bet you can guess where this one is going...
Lucas Ball’s online course promises you’ll be able to backflip in a month, and somehow practice this skill safely at home. This is a bold claim that grabs your attention. If you’ve always wanted to backflip, then this course seems like a perfect path to achieving it.
What’s more, it’s priced at only $30 US, thereby removing the objective of price entirely for most people. I mean it’s not pennies, but for $30 US, you could choose to buy a video game, buy some new clothes, go to a restaurant, or learn to backflip.
The sales page leads with a professional 2-minute video of Lucas doing exactly that – backflipping – so there’s no question about the teacher’s skill either.
Why We Love It
Lucas Ball’s 30 Days to Backflip does something that the other online courses in this post don’t. While they focus on a journey to a long-term transformation, Lucas’s course gives you a single outcome and a defined timeframe.
Backflip. 30 Days.
When you buy this course, you know exactly what you’re getting, and how the results should be measured.
Not every course needs to be some epic journey of self-discovery or personal development, or to promise a career’s worth of skills in “only” 60 videos. Often it’s better to offer a clearly defined result in a reasonable timeframe.
It’s natural to want to share all your knowledge and experience when creating your first online course. But creating a magnum opus risks investing tons of time on something that lacks a clear direction or a tangible result for your customers.
If you’re building your first online course, and you value rapid implementation, then be like Lucas and choose one compelling result that you can offer through your lessons.
Profitable Niches for Online Courses
Just because a course idea is interesting, doesn’t mean it has the potential to make money for you as a course creator. And while making money often isn’t the only reason for creating an online course, it’s definitely somewhere at the top of the list.
So how do you know if you have a profitable course idea?
How can you make sure your audience is willing to pay for the value found in your course topic?
While you can’t guarantee you’ve chosen a profitable course niche, you can certainly increase your chances during the course creation process...
Understand your audience’s needs
Don’t assume you know what your audience is looking for. Take the time to speak with them, both individually and a group, and really try to put yourself in their shoes before you create an online course.
It’s a great idea to collect the actual words they use when describing their needs and goals, so you can frame your course topic in those same words, and hopefully connect to other, similarly-minded customers.
Review the competition
Profitable online course ideas usually have competition, especially where there’s considerable demand across a large audience.
It’s well worth reviewing the competitive landscape and social media for your online course idea, to identify who else is serving the same audience with a similar product.
If there’s no competition, it can mean that your course topic might struggle to generate meaningful revenue. If you discover many competing courses and their digital marketing around the same course idea, it can indicate your audience is happy to pay for a solution.
Don’t take this as gospel however. There’s plenty of opportunity to discover an untapped course topic that can help you to earn an income online.
Launch a minimum viable product first
This is probably your best tool to avoid investing too much time and money into launching unprofitable online courses.
A minimum viable product (or MVP) is a much smaller version of your course idea, that proves – or disproves! – your theory that people are willing to pay for the full course.
Your MVP doesn’t have to be a small course; it could be a paid ebook, workshop webinar, pack of online resources, or even a consultation call. However, it must be closely linked to the problem you’re hoping to solve with your course idea.
If you find it hard to convince your audience to buy your MVP, you may find it hard to sell them the same solution or topic within your course.
How to Find the Perfect Online Course Topic for You
There are 5 factors you should take into account when searching for a course topic that works for your personality and business goals:
A needful audience - Is there an established audience with a real life need of your course topic? Don’t make the mistake of building a course that no-one wants. Try to combine data from real audience conversations with quantitive market research data, such as from Google Trends and social media.
Potential to generate revenue - Does your course idea have the potential to generate money, either through intensive launch campaigns, or as an evergreen source of passive income? If not, you’re not creating a business.
Your expertise - Are you confident in your ability to explore and teach your course topic? You don’t need to be the foremost expert on your topic, but you do need to know more than the average audience member. It’s far easier to create your first course on a topic you know well.
How well it fits your existing business - Which course ideas complement your vision for your online business? It’s no use building a course on sewing if you own a landscaping blog. However, don’t limit yourself too much – you’ll probably discover your audience has a broad range of related interests (homesteading, building a shed, a harmonious relationship with neighbors etc.)
Your passion, personality and personal development goals - And finally ask yourself, how excited do you feel about a particular topic? Do you want to put hours into building a course on your topic?
If you can tick off 3-4 of these factors, you may have an online course topic that’s worth pursuing. If you tick off all 5, what are you waiting for with course creation? It’s time to take action!
How to know if a course idea is good - or bad?
A lot of first-time course creators get wrapped up in trying to build the most valuable and helpful course possible. It’s natural to want to launch your best online course to an appreciative audience.
However, this approach misses a powerful secret of creating a great product: iteration and improvement.
Try not to think of your course as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Instead, think of the current version of your course as just one point on the scale of bad-to-good.
Unlike launching an old-school course in a book or video, you’re able to constantly make improvements based on your target audience feedback! With each enhancement, your course will become better than it was before.
Don't get too down if you can't immediately think of online course topics that work for your business. Give yourself more time to brainstorm your audience, expertise and passion, whether that's digital marketing, feng shui, personal finance, real estate, career guidance, arts and crafts, graphic design, weight loss, or pet care – I'm almost certain that you have some great ideas just waiting to be discovered.
Why are online courses so popular? How do they work?
We’ve covered this in great detail across the Thrive blog. Here’s some helpful resources to get you started on why online courses are such a valuable addition to your online business:
- How To Launch Your Online Course - Unique Tactics That Work
- How to Sell Online Courses from Your Own Website
- How Many Ways Can You Use Online Courses To Grow Your Business?
Online courses offer a way to scale your knowledge, so you can continue to help your entire audience (present and future) using the same product.
Once you dial in your course topic for your target audience, it will continue to sell even while you sleep, helping you to build an online business that generates almost passive income well into the future.
How Can YOU Make a Remarkable Online Course?
This post is more than just a collection of quirky online course topics. It should make you think about what’s possible for your next (or first) online course.
Our goal with these courses was to show that the list of potential topics is endless, and that as long as you can find a small group of really passionate people, you can make money selling an online learning experience.
So what are your next steps for choosing an interesting topic for your business?
Start by thinking about everything you want to teach your audience. Make a big list, and don’t exclude anything yet.
Then ask yourself these questions:
- Can you combine any course topic ideas, like the Equestrian Tai Chi example?
- Can you create a way for people to learn and practice activities at home, like Lucas Ball's 30 Days to Backflip course?
- Can you narrow down a topic to connect to a smaller but more passionate audience, like Ronnie Shalvis’ Parkour Fit course or The Foot Collective?
- Can you identify a topic that will help you achieve your goal of breaking away from 1-to-1 sales, and instead enabling you build your authority, charge more for your art, and create 1-to-many products?
Don’t be afraid to shelve some online course ideas for later if it helps to focus your course content on a clearer outcome for your audience.
And if you're interested in building your first profitable online course in 2023, there's no better way for a bootstrapped solopreneur to craft an online-course based business than with the tools found inside Thrive Suite for course creators.