Get Started with Online Learning Products: Choosing a Topic

Online learning products are one of the hottest digital downloads in the world and their growth rate shows no signs of slowing down. The global demand for online education is high and Canada is no exception.

Two-thirds of adult Canadians bought digital products, spending $8.1 billion from July 2017 to June 2018, according to Statistics Canada. Total spending on ebooks (most popular), audiobooks, podcasts, online newspapers and magazines reached $0.7 billion. While more recent Canadian data is scarce, global reports show astounding growth in digital downloads and online education.

Typically, online learning products are ebooks, special reports, whitepapers, podcasts or videos. You might use one, some or all of these formats.

For example, you could:

  • Offer a free whitepaper download to build your mailing list.
  • Sell an ebook to establish your level of expertise.
  • Offer a podcast for branding.
  • Use a combination of formats in an online course you’re selling.

“We are seeing a dramatic increase in online course creation across every single industry right now – everything from business and marketing to personal development and fitness,” says Andrea Merson, the director of marketing at Thinkific.

Information products are relatively easy and inexpensive to create. Then, you’ll benefit/profit from the same digital download over and over again. If the topic is “evergreen” (long-term interest and relevancy), you’ll be able to benefit from them indefinitely with little more than the occasional update.

Choosing the Best Topic for Your Learning Product

It will come as no surprise that your learning product must offer excellent information on a topic with enough demand to ensure ongoing benefits. But how do you come up with a winning idea?

The following starting points will help you identify the best topics for your particular business, and put you in the right frame of mind to come up with more.

Start With a Solution to a Problem

Do you see the same question being asked repeatedly among your customers or peers? Are they facing a challenge you’ve already overcome? The problem doesn’t necessarily have to be in your niche, it just has to arise in your target market.

If your product, service or affiliate partner offers a relevant solution, all the better. Just remember the resulting info product has to provide value, first and foremost. It isn’t a brochure or sales presentation.

Start With What You Know

Choose a topic you are very familiar with and have advanced knowledge in. Your experience is worth something and you can benefit from using it to guide others. Whether info products will be your main source of revenue or if you’re using them to enhance, compliment or expand another source of revenue, your knowledge within your niche is where the best digital products will come from.

Start With Your Business

Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) can set the stage for relevant topics. Setting your business apart isn’t only about attracting consumers in general, it’s about attracting the right consumers. The same should be true of your digital learning products. The process can also inspire new ideas to further serve your ideal customer.

Start With Your Ideal Customer

If you haven’t identified your ideal customer (avatar or persona), get on it as soon as possible. It will guide many of your sales and marketing activities so it’s well worth the effort. Once you have a good grasp on who your ideal customer is, you can better suit their needs with content and deliver it in their preferred format.

Start With Competitive Intelligence

We conduct competitive intelligence to find out what’s working for our competitors, and to get ideas from niches unrelated to ours. However, the real secret to competitor research isn’t to do the same thing they’re doing. Your goal should be to do it better. MUCH better.

One way to do that is to determine which needs they’re not meeting and fill those voids. Do consumers have a specific concern or question that isn’t being addressed? Make sure you’re the one who fulfills that need.

You’ll also find fantastic ideas if you do more general research and determine market demand. Begin with people and websites you’re already a fan of. If their strategy works on you, there’s a good chance it will work on others. What information products or digital downloads do they have the most success with? Can you try something similar for your niche?

What’s Next?

  • Write an outline for your information product, including the topics you’ll be covering and the order you’ll teach them in. This exercise will inadvertently tell you if you have enough to say/teach on the topic.
  • Gather any existing material you’ll use, such as your past webinars or blog posts, interviews, or Private Label Rights (PLR) content.
  • Gather all of your reference materials, including books, websites and case studies.
  • If you don’t already have a website, you’re going to need one with shopping cart integration for automated downloads. Read the Top 6 Ecommerce Platforms for Digital Product Downloads for more tips and suggestions.

Online education can be a business on its own, featuring and proving your expertise. Digital products can also be used to compliment an existing online or offline business, bringing in subscribers, website traffic, leads, clients or sales. Additionally, they can be developed to generate multiple streams of income. The demand is high and the business benefits are unbeatable.


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Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on, and, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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Donald McClean

I’m drawn to videos but I hate being on camera. LOL Maybe I’ll stick to ebooks or podcasts.