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Creating Your First Online Course for Under $200

So you have decided to create an online course for your audience. First off let me say congratulations! This is a big step in using your product or service to generate truly interested followers. While it may not be easy, building a course for customers to learn and gain information is critical.

Before you start recording yourself you are going to need some basic materials. This post will walk you through all the hardware/software requirements necessary to create your first online course. Relax, take a deep breath, get some popcorn, and let's do this!

Hardware Requirements

Do you want to know the best thing about living in a digital world is? (Besides watching hours of Netflix and Redbox movies) You most likely have all the tools you need right at your fingertips to create an online course. No sense breaking the bank on fancy equipment. Here is the list of hardware you will need, and probably already have.
  • PC/Laptop/Phone (with webcam)
  • Webcam (if you don't already have one)
  • Mic to record sound (optional)
As you can see, most people have laptops or phones they can use to record themselves. If your PC/laptop comes with a webcam, chances are it also records sound. If you live in a quiet place or have access to a private room you probably don't need a mic.

So that's it. These three things (computer, webcam, mic) are all the hardware you will need to get started. Let's dive into the fun stuff now--software!

Software Requirements

This is where things start to get a little complicated. Depending upon the type of project you do, you may need more or less of the software listed below. If you wanted to record your face only, you technically would not need any additional software. I'm going to assume you want to not only record your face but your screen as well. Here is what you will need:
  • Presentation software (PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides, Zoho Docs, Prezi)
  • Screencasting software (Camtasia, Jing, Camstudio, ScreenFlow)
Let's break this down a little further and dive into the pros and cons for each piece of software.


PowerPoint (Windows, Mac): PowerPoint was first released in 1987. Obviously, it has come a long way since it's original launch. The newest updates allow you to create, edit, and share powerful presentations across multiple devices seamlessly.

Pros: PowerPoint is very easy to use and easy to learn. Updates now occur automatically. You can access presentations from OnDrive. PowerPoint has apps that allow you to connect presentations directly to Camtasia, which saves a crap ton of time.

Cons: PowerPoint is pricey. You can buy the entire Office Suite for $150, or you can pay $100 a year to subscribe.

Keynote (Mac): Keynote is a direct competitor to PowerPoint but on the Mac.

Pros: You can be a lot more creative with Keynote than with PowerPoint. Visual effects, cinematic transitions, and special effects powerfully blend your charts, tables, and clips into a cohesive presentation.

Cons: Collaboration can be difficult at times because you need to have a mac or the iCloud Drive. Updates are hard to complete because you may need to have a complete computer software update before you download the app.

Google Slides (Windows, Mac): Google Slides is an online presentation platform ideal for collaborators.

Pros: This service is completely free. It's very easy for multiple people in the same business to work together on the same project. A simple interface means Google Slides is easy to learn and easy to use.

Cons: Because of the simple layout, you may not be able to design a visually deep presentation. You have to have internet connection to work and collaborate on a piece.

Prezi (Windows, Mac): Prezi is another online presentation tool you can use to build powerful presentations.

Pros: Hands down the most in-depth tool you can use to create visually appealing presentations. At only $7 a month, Prezi is very affordable. Everything can be saved in the cloud, allowing other users to collaborate.

Cons: Difficult to learn initially. Takes time to get used to the layout and controls, which are completely different than other presentation software.


Camtasia (Windows, Mac): Camtasia is a simple way to record your screen and your webcam on different layers.

Pros: Works on both Windows and Mac. Simple to learn and use. Allows you to record animation, music, and captions. Connects simply with PowerPoint.

Cons: Camtasia is a bit pricey at $199. It can take some time to learn the ropes if you have no experience recording video.

Screenflow (Mac): Screenflow is a simple tool for Mac users to record and share your screen in a video.

Pros: You can add slides from PowerPoint or Keynote to your presentation easily. You can publish videos to Youtube, Wistia, or Google Drive.

Cons: Costs $130, which is less than Camtasia but still a little pricey. Only works with Mac computers.

So there it is the only hardware/software requirements needed to record your first online course.

I would love to hear from you in the comments below. What hardware/software do you use to record video? What is the most difficult part of deciding which tools to use? What is holding you back from creating your first course?


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