How to Create a Workbook: Tips to Enhance Your Online Course

Content creators and entrepreneurs know that online courses are one of the best ways to monetize the things they create. People are eager to learn from knowledgeable, successful creators. And, after courses and online teaching, do you know how creators monetize their content? Yup, it’s books. So today, we’re going to look at ways you can add workbooks to your online course.

Bringing a book into the mix is a great way to enhance the learning experience through interactive tasks, detailed explanations (that are easy to reference), and any other content that might apply. 

The Power Of Workbooks For Your Online Courses

Workbooks are a potent addition to your online course, offering more depth, explanation, or practice for your students. We all know that the best way to learn something new is by doing. A workbook presents your lessons in an interactive and self-driven way. 

That added value goes home with your students—the workbook serves as a reference for your students long after the course is over. If you think back to any courses you’ve taken, you’ll likely remember the notes you took as vividly as the actual lessons. Your students will be able to revisit and review concepts from the online course, solidifying their understanding and helping them retain your material.

Workbooks also provide an opportunity during the course for students to engage with the material through exercises, case studies, and reflective questions.

To maximize the benefits your workbook brings to your course, design is essential. You need to include the important concepts, details, and instructions your students will need to be successful. Remember that you’re an expert in your field; your students will be just learning ideas and strategies you’ve long perfected.

Create your workbook with the beginner in mind to ensure it’s accessible for everyone in your course.

What Goes Into Your Workbook

A workbook is a different kind of book than almost any other. You’ll need to take special care when designing yours to align with your course goals, provide a balance of text and graphics, and incorporate interactive elements. All of which need to be packaged in a professional-looking book. 

The first step is to look at your course curriculum. Most likely, you’ll want to organize your coursebook in the same way. Start with lesson one, move to lesson two, and so on. As you review your coursework, look for content ideas or graphics you can use for your workbook.

Because you want your students to use the workbook, you need to make it simple to digest. Use graphics to break up large blocks of text and include ample exercises or simple questions to reinforce the lessons.

Finally, because you’ve got space in a book that you won’t have in a classroom (virtual or in-person), you should look for supplemental information that will help your students. That might be a case study, prompts to keep the lesson going, or reference lists for further reading.

To recap, you should aim to include the following content in your workbook:

  1. Sections that follow your lesson plan
  2. Graphics, charts, and images that reinforce your lessons
  3. Interactive elements like questions or prompts
  4. Supplemental learning material such as reference lists

After you’ve amassed the content you’ll use for your workbook, it’s time to put it together and create a book.

Creating Your Workbook

Because workbooks will include a variety of content, you’re going to want an advanced page layout program to help you. I strongly recommend Adobe InDesign or Affinity Publisher. You can learn more about both of those here:

To create a new blank workbook,  you should start with a template that defines your margins and gutter. From there, consider different layouts you can template. For example, if you’re ending each lesson with a recap and a short quiz, make templates for those pages. Now you can recycle that template for each chapter.

After you establish templates for the contents, you can easily customize your workbook to fit the coursework. When you’re finished, you’ll have consistent formatting thanks to all those templated pages filled with the unique content you created for your course.

The first workbook you put together will take some time. You’ll have a number of decisions to make but once you’ve established the design, you can use that for all your future workbooks. Each successive book will be faster and easier to put together.

Workbook Printing Options

Your students will be using the workbook, so you need to balance cost and quality. To get the best value, you should utilize standard paper (usually 60#) and standard inks (generally Black & White).

Both options are the most cost-effective choices and provide the best experience for writing in the workbook. The heavier, coated paper will smudge if you write on the pages and premium inks will create pages heavy with the ink coverage.

Finally, you’ll need to pick the right binding options. Textbooks have historically been hardcover books with casewrap covers. You could go that route, particularly if you’ve created a longer workbook for your course.

The other popular option is coil binding. This allows your book to lay flat, making it easier for your students to use the workbook. I recommend using our pricing calculator to compare the options you have for your workbook.

Pricing Calculator

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Pricing Calculator

Check the pricing, format variations, retail pricing, and shipping

Using Your Workbook To Market Your Online Course

Yes, of course, you didn’t create a workbook to help market your class. But there’s no reason you can’t still use it as an enticement to draw in students!

Publishing a book is a big boost for your credibility and authority. Lean on that when you’re promoting your classes. Be sure prospective students know that the course includes a workbook. Maybe even make the workbook available for sale on its own for students who don’t have the time or funds to take the class, but still want to learn the material. 

Look for ways to use and repurpose the workbook to reach more students and expand your network. While classes are repeatable, they take time and effort to prepare and teach. Your workbooks give those students something tangible to take away from your course, ideally helping them remember and reference your lessons for years to come.

Paul H, Content Marketing Manager

Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he’s not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.


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