Now that we have a first list, our next step will help us significantly start to narrow it down.
For our purposes, we'll only want to stick with an idea where we can find a large and active online community that has expressed questions about your topic.
In the discussion area below, include links to active online communities you've found for your ideas. For example, I've found a few active communities on the topic of marketing for startups, otherwise known as "growth hacking" here:
Once you start researching, you'll notice some of your topics have really engaged groups online, while others don't.
Given that I've found some large and active communities, I now have a few clues that show me this topic has a market.
Lesson 2: Background
The typical process I've seen folks go through, is they'll randomly pick on a topic from their list, immediately write out an outline and start developing content–putting everything willy nilly they know about the subject, and being absolutely sure to include the advanced stuff.
This is simply NOT the right way to start this. Let me explain.
Let's say the topic you've tried to be specific about from our last lesson is “learn how to become a professional photographer". Your first outline might go something like this (with my comments after each outline heading):
Theoretical Photography Course Outline
I. How to properly use the settings in a professional camera
But wait..which camera do we chose? Should we cover every setting, or just the main settings someone should use?)
II. How to optimize your camera lighting
(Conrad comments: Hold on! Do we talk about indoor or outdoor lighting? Do we focus on special effects or just creating beautiful photography? What does beautiful photography mean exactly, isn't it in the eye of the beholder?)
(Conrad comments: Hmm..wait where do we end the course?)
If you read my comments, you might get my drift..
Starting an outline now is a recipe to second guess. You'll start to realize you've just assigned yourself a massive project and overanalyze. This type of project is destined to not be finished. It's hard to stay motivated when you don't even know what's valuable in the content you're creating and is actually exactly what happened with me, the first course I tried to create.
The challenge when we start this way, is we have it all flipped.
Instead of thinking about choosing your subject, research and find a specific online audience.
Once you can find an audience online, the exact questions of WHAT and HOW you should create your content become obvious.
Researching our audience now does a few important things. First, we're able to see early on if there's an active market for your course idea online. This prepares us for testing and promoting your course later on.
Second, once we find that audience we're going to open a line of discussion to figure out exactly WHAT content to create for them and how to structure it.
Now let's go into how to do this with the hypothetical example of developing a photography course. In our previous lesson, we might have set our first idea as “How to become a professional photographer".
So, how do we do the research to find the online communities and see if there's initial potential for this idea?
I started with a google search for “professional photography community" and found this site:
Perfect! This article just gave me a list of communities. Looking through it, I find Photo.net and immediately see what looks to be a "community" section.
In our next lesson, we'll go through this tactic as well as a few other things you can do once you have a list of communities like this one.
You can use this online tactic, ways to figure out demand in person or ways to figure out your topic from your own email list or social media followers (if you have an audience already), find as many of these types of online communities as you can now.
After your personal or professional interest, let the size and engagement of these communities online be a guide for prioritizing one of your profitable ideas.
Here are places you can try to research where your audience hangs out online right now. Search for your topic on these websites:
You might already find that you're a lurker, active member or owner of one of these communities. That's GREAT. Do you know if there are others like it? List those in the discussion as well.
If you can't find anything in these places, I'd seriously question whether there's a market opportunity for your course. If this is the case, don't be discouraged! Now you can be more prepared to think about your next best idea while also thinking about whether there's an online audience for it.
Are you still totally convinced that there should be a market for your topic, yet you can't find an online community? One way to prove me wrong is to try to create your own online community. When you start a group, can you get people to join you?