How to find a Video Course Topic

Before you can record a video course, you need to find a topic. Finding the right topic is not easy. We compiled a list of tips that help get started:

Talk about Your Expertise

A good starting point is to identify a domain in which you are experienced. Usually, this is your job or hobby. Choosing a topic from this domain makes it easy for you to create a course. You know the context of the topic that you will talk about, so you don’t have to learn tons of new things first. Additionally, you will feel more comfortable talking about your domain, which makes you a better presenter.

Looking at your expertise is a good start, but often it is still too vague. Here are a few suggestions for narrowing down the topic further:

Explain a Problem you solved recently

First, look at the problems that you had to solve recently. Try to find a problem that is difficult and occurs frequently. If you faced the problem more than once, chances are high that your colleagues faced it too. Ask yourself: Would you have paid to learn how to solve the problem?

If yes, your colleagues are probably willing to pay for it too. If no or no good courses exist on the topic: congratulations, you have found a great topic to talk about!

If you wouldn’t pay to get a solution to the problem, your colleagues might still be willing to pay for it, but chances are lower and it might be better to evaluate other course topics. Try to find a problem that was a real pain for you to solve. The bigger the pain, the higher the probability that somebody pays to learn how to solve it.

For example, if you are a software engineer and recently had to integrate with the payment processor Stripe, you could create a 1-2 hour course about how you created the integration in your programming language. If you’re working in sales, you could create a course about your cold outreach method or how to handle difficult client calls. If you work in customer success, you could explain how your support flow works

Explain the Problems that were hardest for You to solve

Another approach to finding a topic is to identify a topic that you found hard to solve. On the path to becoming an expert, one often faces problems that are much more difficult than the rest. These hard problems can be official, common, or personal.

Official Problems

Official problems are topics that almost all experts in your profession have struggled with. These problems are just part of the regular career path and everybody needs to overcome them. Usually, plenty of learning resources exist for them already and they are widely known and accepted.

Examples of official problems are topics like:

  • How to pass Algorithms & Data Structures 101
  • The Complete Guide to the California State Bar Exam
  • How to prepare for the Truck License C

Unless you excel at these problems and have some domain authority on the topic, creating a video course about them probably won’t make you a lot of money. You might have to compete with existing resources often created by experts with many more years of experience and tons of domain authority on the topic. However, your video course can still succeed if you bring a personal perspective into it. If you can use your personal experience to provide a more approachable learning resource, you might succeed.

Common Problems

Common problems are topics that some experts in your profession face, but they are not part of the official career path. They occur if an expert has to solve a specific use case that they weren’t taught about during their education. These problems are the most frequent ones and they are a great pool of course topic ideas.

Examples of common problems are topics like:

  • How to integrate with Stripe using Java
  • Basics of Criminal Law for Minors
  • Invoice Regulations for Business Transactions within Europe

Common problems make great course topics because they are frequent but difficult problems that are costly or time-intensive for students to solve by themselves. For example, software engineers who have to integrate with a payment processor can spend a week figuring it out by themselves, or they can pay $50 and watch a 1h video course. Often, their choice would be the video course.

Personal Problems

Personal problems are topics that you struggled with personally. These are the problems that were hardest for you to solve. They are often also official or common, but not always. If you ask 10 people to learn the same 10 topics, every single one will struggle with a different topic and every struggle will be different. This personal experience makes a video course potentially very valuable for students who come from a similar background or context as you.

Examples of personal problems are topics like:

  • How I became a successful software engineer despite being a high-school dropout
  • How to get a law degree while being a single parent
  • What you need to know as a manager with a disability

Personal problems can be great course topics, but you have to be careful not to make them too niche. Try to make the topic general enough so that many people can relate to it, but specific enough so that only the right people will relate to it.

For example, the topic How to get a law degree while being a single parent could have been more specific as in How to get a law degree while being a single father of 2, one girl and a boy, 2 years apart. But that would have narrowed down the potential customer group unnecessarily. Instead, we kept the topic general enough to apply to both mothers and fathers of one or multiple children by saying: as a single parent.

We could have made the topic more general by saying: How to get a law degree as a parent, but then we wouldn’t have targeted the subgroup of potential customers that can relate to our personal experience the most (single parents). That’s why we should keep the course topic as general as possible but as specific as necessary.

Don’t overcomplicate

Whatever topic you choose: Keep it simple.

You will be surprised how long you can talk about a “simple” topic already. Overcomplicated topics require a much longer course, make it harder for you to break down the topic into digestible lessons, and might overwhelm the student. That’s why simpler is better if you choose a course topic.

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