Heights Platform Do you Need a Certification to Start Selling Online Courses?

Do you Need a Certification to Start Selling Online Courses?

5 minute read

Impostor Syndrome - the fear of being seen as a fraud or not being good enough to teach others - is extremely common among online course creators.

If you are considering starting your own online course, you are probably asking yourself questions like:

Am I experienced enough to teach?

Will people see me as an expert?

What if I don't have any certification or experience teaching?

It is completely normal to experience self-doubt as a business owner and online course creator.

While being the top in your field or having multiple certifications surely can help you, most of the time, it is not a necessity.

Today, you will learn why certifications are not mandatory when it comes to selling online courses and how you can make up for the lack of diplomas or experience while gaining the trust of your audience.

Do you Need a Certification to Create an Online Course?

The simple answer is NO, you don't need any special certification, nor is there any experience required to create your own online course.

As long as you are knowledgeable about a topic and can help others achieve a certain result, you have what it takes to start selling online courses.

Certifications are great to build trust among your audience and can help you to be seen as an expert in your niche, but this doesn't mean that you need them to be successful.

In certain situations, not being an expert in your field may actually be your competitive advantage. In our blog, we have previously talked about seeing the value in what you teach and how being self-thought can help you when selling online courses.

It is clear that in order to teach something to someone else, you need to know something they don't. But how big should the knowledge gap between you and your students be?

If you are an absolute expert in your niche and the knowledge gap between you and your students is high, it will be harder for you to closely follow them in their learning experience and level with them.

On the other hand, when the knowledge gap is small, and you have recently learned the same things that you are teaching, you are able to better assist your students and answer their questions, as what they are learning is still fresh in your memory.

That said, the most important step is to effectively communicate your abilities to potential customers and convince them to trust you even without any certification.

Let's see how you can do this below.

How to Create Trust and Be Seen as an Expert?

Creating trust among your audience is an essential step in generating your first online course sales with or without certifications to show off.

If you have tangible experience or certifications, it may be easier for you to be seen as an expert. However, the points listed below can help any creator in gaining the trust of their audience:

#1. Offer Free Content

Generating free content in the form of videos, blog posts, podcast episodes, and more is a crucial step in building trust among your audience.

In 2021, this is a step you cannot afford to skip. Free content creation is not only a way to become more popular on social media or rank higher on Google.

While it can definitely help you increase online visibility, in the case of online course creators, it provides your audience with a tangible example of your teaching style. It offers them a sneak peek into your online course.

If potential customers can get value from your free content, they will be highly incentivized to want more and therefore purchase your online course.

We have recently written an article on how to find the balance between generating free content and still offering value in an online course: Why Creating Free Content Won't Hurt Your Online Course Sales [Plus How to Do it]

#2. Give Out a Free Mini-Course

A mini-course, as the word suggests, is a smaller, more condensed course that creators usually offer for free or at a low price with the aim of convincing leads to purchase a more expensive and more complete online course.

Like offering free content, a mini-course will increase your audience's trust in you and offer them an example of your teaching methods.

On top of this, creating a mini-course can help you to beta test your content and validate your idea, without wasting financial resources and time. You'll get a better understanding of what your audience likes and will get insights on how to improve your full-length online courses.

If you want to learn more about validating your course idea, check out this article from our blog: How to Pre-Sell Your Online Course and Profit Before the Launch.

To build a loyal customer base and create trust, you need to offer something in return. Creating a mini-course is a great way to create value for your audience in a time-effective way while validating your idea and increasing customers' trust.

#3. Explain Your Background

If you are worried that potential customers will not trust you as their mentor because you don't have enough certification or academic experience, simply explain to them what qualifies you to teach them.

How did you learn about the topic you are teaching? How much time have you spent learning? Do you have any projects to show off?

You might not have certifications hung on your walls, but you surely went through a learning curve before starting your online course, so let your audience know about it!

You could explain this on your website or online course page or offer a FAQ section, or simply ask potential customers to send you an email with their questions and doubts.

#4. Show Off Your Social Proof

In the digital world, social proof is far more effective than any certification you may have.

The bandwagon effect is a social psychology concept where people are influenced to do something if they see other people doing it as well. The same concept applies to social proof: a potential customer who is considering purchasing your online course will feel reassured by seeing glowing reviews and testimonials by other people.

Social proof is a crucial aspect when it comes to conveying trust. If you already have any reviews from past customers, make sure to add them to your website and course page.

If you wish to learn how to collect reviews easily, don't miss this article from our blog: 7 Quick Tips to Collect Reviews Easily and Increase Social Proof in Your Online Course

#5. Offer a Refund Policy (Money Back Guarantee)

More times than you think a well-structured refund policy can have a positive impact on your online course sales.

Your refund policy should be lenient enough to communicate a feeling of security to potential customers visiting your site.

Consider offering a 100% Money-Back-Guarantee or a similar refund policy when you are creating your online course. To the eye of a potential customer, a lenient refund policy offers security and communicates your confidence in the product.

We explain all about creating a refund policy that can impact your sales in this article from our blog: How to Create the Best Refund Policy for Your Online Course

#6. Be Clear on Your Value Proposition

Do potential customers know what to expect if they purchase your online course? Make sure that your value proposition is clearly indicated on your website and landing pages.

Your lack of certifications will not be an issue if you are able to solve your customers' problems effectively. So simply explain what your online course is about and what goals students can expect to achieve upon completion.

Make sure that your online course landing page effectively communicates the details about your program, its value and any results it provides to its students.


As an online course creator, you technically do not need any certification in order to be successful.

While certifications can help you convey trust and be seen as an expert, there are plenty of ways to achieve the same results.

Offering free valuable content, creating a mini-course, show off your social proof, setting up a solid refund policy or simply being clear with your value proposition. These are all the ways you can use to increase the level of trust toward your online course.

Are you looking for a platform that helps you create powerful online courses? Check out why Heights Platform is a great solution for entrepreneurs looking to start their online business.

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