Learning is hard. When it’s boring, we’re even less likely to make any progress. But sometimes, the unexpected happens. We find an entertaining teacher, and learning becomes fun and easier. It’s true in school and in online courses.

I will show why a boring course can damage your content business. I also will give you practical solutions to create an online course entertaining for your audience.

Boring #OnlineCourses can damage your content business. @SamueleOnelia has ideas to keep that from happening. #ContentEntrepreneur #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

Too few students complete online courses

According to a Columbia University study, only 15% of students in massive open online courses complete them

This is painful for everybody, particularly for the content entrepreneurs behind those courses. Their audience didn’t achieve the promised result. Perhaps the students might think they have spent too much to have participated so little in the course. Either way, they will feel disappointed. And they won’t be eager to buy new stuff from those content entrepreneurs.

Painful stat for online course creators: Only 15% complete them, according to a Columbia University study. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

What’s the main reason for all this abandonment?

I think it’s because the courses are boring. They become a drag. The audience gets distracted. They stop.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to end this way.

How to make your online courses not boring

At school, most of my teachers were boring. But every year, I had one or two who made the lessons entertaining. They all had different teaching styles, but they did have some factors in common. They:

  • Split problems into smaller topics.
  • Gave clear instructions.
  • Guided the class to some kind of quick improvement.

The same elements are foundational in making an online course fun.

Keep your online courses short

Long courses that target enormous problems may sound like a good marketing proposition, but they are harder to create and students will never have enough mental energy to complete all those lessons.

Instead, target a specific problem and put only your best stuff in the course. Your students will complete it more quickly and gain a feeling of accomplishment.

Get students to complete your course: Target a specific problem and only put your best stuff in the course, says @SamueleOnelia. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

Offer clear guidance

Make it easy to understand how to navigate your course. If customers find what they need quickly, they realize they have control over the process and see you as an expert instructor. That’s relaxing and makes space for fun.

Give a quick win

Provide the students with a quick win. If they see or experience real improvement at the beginning of a course, they will be motivated to continue. And easy learning is fun.

Last year, I bought a course about web development for beginners. At the end of almost every session, there was an exercise. To pass it, I had to really understand the lessons. At the same time, completing them gave me a real sense of progress. Every time I got a positive result on those tests, I felt energized. And I couldn’t wait to move forward.

Caveat: Don’t try to trick your students. Putting a dumb quiz at the end of a lesson will only annoy the students. 

Bonus tips for engaging online courses

When you have the basics ready for your course, move to the advanced cool stuff that will motivate them to completion.

Reward students in your online courses

Give your customers some unexpected extra. Since it isn’t on the sales page, it won’t improve the initial conversions. But a gift will make the day for your students. And the benefits for you will be huge. Students will appreciate the bonus and be more committed to your content and probably your content business. They will be more likely to buy again.


Humor is a quintessential result of fun. If you can tell respectful jokes naturally, use them in your course. But remember, you’re teaching online and certain jokes work only face to face. Test a joke with a few people from your audience before using it in your course.


Storytelling is a helpful way to explain complex concepts. They help the students remember the main ideas of your course. And they sometimes make the experience funnier. As with jokes, you need a good balance. Too many stories become boring. They start to sound repetitive or useless.

#Storytelling is a helpful way to explain complex concepts in your #OnlineCourse, says @SamueleOnelia. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

Make it personal

The Brain Audit is a marketing book. But amid his copy and sales advice, author Sean D’Souza inserts a couple of Indian recipes.

While they are unrelated to the main topic, they highlight Sean’s passion for cooking. They work as a break during the reading, and they connect the readers to the author on a different level. In the end, Sean looks like a whole person instead of another marketing guru.

As with the story technique, keep these personal fillers short. Use them to break the tension of learning and create a deeper connection with your students. It also helps grow your personal brand as students will remember you in addition to the course.

Create a community

If you gather a community around your course, you multiply the potential sources of fun and interactions. Students will get to connect with other students. They can ask questions of you as well as each other, expanding their learning. The whole experience will become memorable. It also gives students a reason to stay connected long after they complete your course and possibly investment more time and money in you and your products.

Make it a game

You can gamify a course in many ways. It usually works best in association with a community.

That way, the game elements become part of the social interaction. When the students start to play, they will feel more invested in the whole experience. It also gives them a reason to interact.

Play to curiosity

Curiosity is a necessary element for fun. When everything in the next lesson is predictable, it becomes boring. The opposite is also true. When you feel too confused, the learning experience becomes boring.

Create a balance for your students. Talk about what they will learn in the next session, for example, in a way that piques their curiosity but still gives them a sense of direction.

Make your online course go from boring to engaging

Boring courses are bad for business. But these tips can help you create a course that entices your students to want to keep going until they complete it. They also can help you build a reputation with your students, who will come back for more and recommend your instruction to their peers. And that’s good for business.

About the author

In a previous life, Samuele was a pharmacist. He became a full-time content entrepreneur in 2017. He writes mostly about creating online courses, email marketing, and personal finance, both in English and Italian. Look at his site to find out more about his projects and contact him.