Episode 80

How to Choose a Name for Your Online Course

In this LMScast with Joshua Millage and Chris Badgett you’ll learn how to name your online course. This is a more important step than you may think. Just like the title of a book or an email subject line, your course title will determine whether students take an interest or pass you by.

Naming your course is not something you do in a hurry. You may want to wait until the course is fully developed before you decide what to call it. Your course title will represent what you’re going to teach, and you want this first impression to be captivating.

Factors you’ll want to consider include how the name sounds, how it differentiates your course from others, how well it defines your subject, and how it will resonate with your target market.

You may have a name that reads well, but say it out loud to see how it sounds. This matters because a reader is going to “hear” the name inside their head when they see it. Words that sound good together trigger interest in your course. And a title that sounds different from others suggests that your approach to teaching will also be unique and interesting.

It’s usually best to keep the title short, simple, and memorable. Kevin Rose’s Crowded Bar Technique may help. Think about trying to tell someone the name of your course in a loud, crowded bar. Would they understand what you were saying? Would they be likely to remember the name? If you still prefer a long, descriptive title, make it distinctive and specific to what you’re teaching.

Try making a basic concept sound totally new with creative wording and rebranding. Hook into people’s innate curiosity and make them want to find out what you are presenting and how. Or focus your wording on results students can expect through terms like “Learn,” “Double,” “Get,” “Make,” or “Build.” If you’re targeting a niche market, use insider language to grab the attention of learners who recognize it.

Your course title is a form of branding, so think beyond the single course to ways you might leverage your title into a series, a website, a marketing campaign, product lines, and beyond.

Try a few of these techniques before you decide how to name your online course. Take your time and allow the name to evolve as you develop your course. The title really is the last thing you have to do, but it could be the most important element in selling your course. And remember to try a demo of LifterLMS to see what our course development platform can do for you.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.


Joshua: Hello, Everyone. Welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Joshua Millage and I’m joined today with Christopher Badgett, and today we’re talking about something that’s really important, and that’s how to name your online course.

Christ, start it out for us. What are some tips that you have for the audience around coming up with a really attractive, engaging, and interesting name.

Chris: Awesome! Well this is a great question and just like writing a good email and writing a good subject line if you’re writing a book, that’s how important the title is. Naming your course is extremely important and it’s also much harder than it sounds. My first tip is to just take a moment, relax, the naming process is going to take some time. You might not even name your course until after you create it. That’s one way to do it. Let the name kind of emerge as you create your lessons. But there’s definitely some other rubrics we can look at as well.

Joshua: Yeah, I think one of the things I really like to do is think about how the name rolls off the tongue.

Chris: Yeah, say it out loud.

Joshua: Say it out loud.

Chris: You’ve got to hear it. It may sound great in your head and then you say it out loud and your like, “Oh, that doesn’t quite roll of the tongue.”

Joshua: Yeah, so a number of people will say, “Well most people aren’t going to be reading my sale copy out loud so does that really matter?” It does because you still hear it in your minds eye and in your brain. I like to choose alliteration, I think is the correct term, where you have two words that connect together, sound similar together, so for instance, the coaching coarse that we are running currently is called, “Course Clinic.” It just sits in your brain differently than, “How to Build a Great Course.” That sounds very generic to me.

Chris: So just to be clear, alliteration is like the first sound in both words, like “Coca Cola” or “LifterLMS.”

Joshua: Yes, we use this a lot, or something that kind of rhymes or flows together nicely. I have a product I manufacture, “Doorstops.” I know, it sounds really sexy, but one of the things, when I was naming that product was, making sure that it sounded great and it was fun and different than all the others. When you type on Amazon “doorstops”, it’s like standard hardware doorstop. When you get to mine it’s “The Beaver Dam Door Jam.” It’s totally different, it makes you stop for a second and go, “Why is that? How is that? It’s got to be different. The name, it’s got to be different, I’ve got to click on it.”

Chris: I think rhyming is good like, dam/jam, that’s always …

Joshua: Door/jam, yeah. It’s kind of fun. Those are things that I like to lay on. I love what, I heard Kevin Rose say it first, I don’t know if he’s the one who created this technique but he always called it “The crowded bar technique.” This is applying to start up names. You should model your course around this.

For him, if you were in a crowded bar, and it was really loud, could you tell someone who is standing next to you what your companies name was and could they remember it and spell it? For him, if you look at dig or milk or, now he has a new one, it was always very short succinct things. A lot of us don’t have hundreds of dollars that we can throw at URL’s like Kevin can, but I think it still rings true, you want something that’s so impactful that even, if we were in a crowded bar and I said, “Course Clinic,” you could remember that. It’s not something that would, how to build an online course course, it’s like, ah, it’s easily forgettable, where am I going, what URL, you’re like, “Coursecclinic.com,” boom, that’s where you go to check it out. It’s one of those things that I think, consider that technique too because it can be really powerful for creating something that’s impactful.

Another way is, you can actually forget this techniques that we’ve shared so far and actually go for a more longer form. It’s not my preference but I do see how people can do that. The key here is to not be generic but be specific in what you’re teaching. My buddy John, he has a course that’s “How to Connect with Influencers.” It’s not my personal preference on how to name a course, but you know exactly what you’re doing in the course. There’s no questions around that. There’s no if, ands, or butts on where to go to find that. You could type that in Google and it would come up.

Now, again, I’m using the example of, “How to Build an Online Course,” you type that, that’s so generic, you’re going to have a number of other things ranking. It’s not, yes I know what I’m doing but there are so many people talking about that I’m just going to be apart of the noise. “How to Connect with Influencers,” that’s a little different that you might a couple blog posts and things around that but it’s a lot less crowded so that’s another option.

I think Andrew Warner has a course on how to interview your heroes, so that’s another example of that style of naming and then you could also go with making something up. Taking something that you’re teaching and completely re-branding it. Derek Halpern does this with “Yes Engines,” What the heck is a “Yes Engine?” I don’t know, let me find out. It peaks the curiosity, but in reality he’s just teaching persuasion techniques and sales techniques but he’s not saying persuasion or sales techniques, he’s totally taking the concept and making it something new and calling it a “Yes Engine.”

There’s no one right way to name a course but these are ways that I’ve seen and Chris, we prefer the more short succinct, crowded bar technique/alliteration, but you can …

Chris: Put some curiosity in there like, “Course Clinic,” oh, I’m curious about that, what does that mean? If I can add another one it would be, this is a really popular one where the name of the course has the results and then the process in it. So, “Product Launch Formula.” The “Product Launch is the result and then “Formula” is the process, or use some other, “Result Blueprint.” That’s the name of the course or home study course. That’s really common and a couple of other pro tips is it’s really important to use the language in your naming that your ideal customer is going to use. Not too fancy and not too generic or fundamental. You want to use the exact words that your target market uses. For example, if you want to learn how to build amazing machines, expression is “jenky.” You don’t want something that’s all “jenky.” I mean if you that’s the word that people use you want to try to include that in your name or in the description.

Joshua: Exactly. You’re using a piece of terminology that only your market understands which is great because you want to use that to your advantage. You want to focus on that market.

Another one too, I’ve seen is the result based one, “Double Your Freelancing Tate.” The other ones, and actually I think this is really powerful, if you’re teaching something that revolves around a piece of software, or a brand name that already exists in the word, like learn Scrivener fast. Scrivener is a publishing tool or a writing tool, so learn Scrivener fast. There’s no question about what I’m going to learn in that course. That’s also very easy, you are out to find, “learnscribenerfast.com, so those are some other ones. “Get Ten Thousand Subscribers,” Brian Harrison’s course, “SEO That Works,” Brian Dean’s course. These are all very focused results based and they’re kind of creating a brand. That’s a great way to go to …

Chris: The brand is a great thing to. We both like “Bulletproof Coffee.” Dave Asprey, the guy behind that, he’s created a brand which often has a noun and an adjective associated with it so he’s always using the word bulletproof and then often uses the adjective upgraded, so everything, he has upgraded coffee. I think he’s a master of branding and it’s such a good example of a well crafted brand. The course could be generic, the name, but it would be “Bulletproof Whatever.” Whatever your adjective is that embraces your brand.

Joshua: This is good. Man, we’ve given a lot of idea seeds for people to munch on and figure out how they want to name their course. I’d love to hear from you if you can head over to our YouTube channel and leave us a comment on this video that would be much appreciated. You can always reach me at Jmillage and Chris you’re at Chris Badgett on twitter and we’re pretty active over there. Also, if you haven’t heard our Plugin, which was a hundred and forty nine dollars a year, is now free, LifterLMS. If you haven’t downloaded LifterLMS, you’re crazy. You should go download it, install it, give it a try and if you’re a developer, help us make it better. It’s an open source project now so we want to see people get involved from that angle.

Chris, any final thoughts for people who are interested and curious about how to name their online course.

Chris: Yeah, I’d say just head on over to Amazon.com, go to the non-fiction books and look at what the bestsellers are and how they’re titled. You’ll start to see good naming in action and also tag lines that go with. You can have a course name and then a tag line, just like you can have a book title and sub-title. Yeah, get some inspiration from the book publishing industry.

Joshua: That’s a wonderful tip, wonderful tip. All right, well thank you all for watching. We’ll talk to you next week.

Take the mess out of your head and find success on the web by getting your online course membership site project organized with this free simple worksheet