The Ultimate Course Creator Guide: Essential equipment and programs for creating online courses

Updated: Apr 8


Having launched 3 successful online courses 12+ times over the past 2 years, with over 200+ students inside them, I've tried all the tech you can imagine.

I'm also the kind of person who has to research every option before buying something, so I really have spent hours making sure I'm investing in the right equipment.



I now get lots of questions from my lovely Sewing Retreat community asking about the equipment I use.

So... here it is... my recommendations for equipment and programs for setting up your own online course for your creative passion.



If you're keen to know more about creating your own online course/s, whether that be sharing your passion of sewing, cake decorating, graphic design, photography etc. don't forget to come over to my new Instagram @sarah_rozelaar.



I share behind the scenes of my business and show you how to do exactly what I've done to create a life of creativity and freedom.

I also share lots more on this subject inside my in-depth course creation program, Passion to profit. Join the waitlist here to be first to know when spots open up to Passion to Profit 2.0.




This is part 3 of our equipment blog series.


You can find part 1, our recommended sewing equipment, here. You can find part 2, our recommended pattern cutting equipment here.



*** Anything I am recommending is because I love it, I've not been asked to recommend these products but if you decide to purchase anything using an Amazon link/affiliate link I will receive a very small amount as an affiliate but this doesn't cost you more at all and it helps us, as a small business, to grow ***



 

EQUIPMENT

3 Different Types of Tripods

I get a lot of questions about my tripods and I must say a tripod is a must-have piece of equipment.


I use each one for different reasons - to record tutorials for my courses, Instagram stories and so much more!

1. Flat lay tripod

* A flat lay is simply an image/video that's shot directly from above

This is the tripod I've had the longest. It's great for taking flat lay images, recording from above, hosting a masterclass and recording Instagram stories.

Pros: It's sturdy and perfect for hands-free recording and can even hold a DSLR if you have one (see my tripod phone mount below too). Cons: It needs a little weight added to the bottom to prevent it from falling over if using a heavier camera. I grabbed an old jewellery bag and popped a few stones in the bottom from my garden. The legs also take up quite a lot of room so if you don't have much room to use it, I'd recommend choosing one of the other tripods below.

>> Purchase my flat lay tripod here << (I recommend buying the phone mount below as the one they give you is quite restrictive in terms of angles etc.) 2. Foldable tripod with a desk clip This tripod is perfect if you have very little space and if you want to take it somewhere with you (I'm currently working from Bali and this is the tripod I've brought with me). You can clip it onto a table wherever you are so it's super easy if you're a digital nomad travelling the world or just in your creative space at home.





Pros: Very portable and sturdy. Can be used for overhead filming as well as for stories, reels and tutorials. Cons: Probably wouldn't hold the weight of a larger heavier camera. Works best with a phone/lightweight camera


>> Purchase the foldable tripod here << (I recommend buying the phone mount below as the one they give you is quite restrictive in terms of angles etc.)


3. Ring light tripod A ring light tripod has a place to mount your camera/phone with a light in the shape of a ring around it (hence the name). They are great if you don't get much natural daylight in the room where you record or during the winter months to turn the blue shade to a warmer shade when recording.

Pros: Great if you don't get much natural daylight or if winter is harsh where you live. Best for recording stories hands-free and reels and tutorials that don't need to be recorded from above. You can tilt it so it is above but the ring light may get in your way depending on how big it is Cons: They can be quite big and they're not great for flat lay videos and images. You can get smaller size ring lights than this but see what works for you, what you're recording and the space you have.


>> Purchase this ring light tripod here << (I recommend buying the phone mount below as the one they give you is quite restrictive in terms of angles etc.)


MUST HAVE PURCASHE - Tripod phone mount attachment

Again, super handy to have to be able to pop your phone on.


Most tripods will come with a basic one but they don't allow you to rotate your phone so this is really handy for getting more angles and hardly costs anything.


Any phone/iPhone should fit as they have a spring mechanism that locks in your phone. Just double-check on the description before buying. I have an iPhone 12 Pro that fits fine.


>> You can purchase the tripod phone mount here <<



 

Cameras



Let's talk cameras. Now, if I'm honest I've tried quite a few over the years and we're so lucky now that the quality of our phone cameras are so good that we don't really need to buy a separate one.



The phone I use: iPhone 12 Pro

I have always used an iPhone for my business. They're perfect for taking time-lapses, mini-tutorials, pictures for your grid and so much more. I also love that they sync with everything I own too (yes I'm an Apple lover).

Sophie here with a side note - "I changed to a particular android phone because the camera was amazing but when I started working for Sarah I very much missed airdrop and noticed the social media apps weren't as compatible with this particular phone too. You don't need an iPhone but these are just little things to consider that help make running your business from your mobile more seamless." 18 months ago the iPhone I had was so old that it wasn't quite cutting it though and so I purchased a new one having done a lot of research. I decided to go for the pro as I wanted the camera to be good quality and I love the zoom out feature too. This feature is really helpful for flat lays.


>> You can purchase the iPhone 12 Pro here <<

So.... this iPhone is what I currently use but here's what I've also tried so that you can understand why I don't use them anymore in case you're wondering.



GoPro

I don't really use my GoPro anymore but before I had my new iPhone it was perfect. They're not very expensive, the quality is really good and the zoom out feature is really helpful for recording flat lays and being able to fit everything in without a lot of space.

Pros: It's small and lightweight so great to use if travelling. It's also good quality and has a zoom out feature. I used to love this but most newer iPhones now have this feature too. Cons: It's another device to buy and remember to pack if you're travelling round to record or work remotely. It also needs a card to store files on. >> You can purchase my GoPro here <<


DSLR Camera

I also have a DSLR and this is what I used to use to take all of my photos as I've had it for years. Yes, you have a lot more options and settings to create the photos you want but I also find that means a lot more ways to create bad photos too. I've tried to learn how to use it properly but I'm just not sure it's my thing.


Also, if you're wanting to record videos using them, I know the Canon sound is terrible so you have to buy a mic for it to get better quality sound. So to be honest, I just use my iPhone. If you have a passion for tech and photography then they might be great for you. Choose the tech that works best for you and how you work.



I talk about camera set up, settings, storing your files and so much more inside my program Passion to Profit 2.0 where I show you exactly how to turn your passion into a profitable online course.

My laptop/computer that I recommend

There are so many laptops and computers out there it can be so hard to know what to buy but firstly I want to say that if you have your heart set on a non-Apple product, then skip this section as I'm an Apple person through and through.



My reason for always going for Apple is that I love that each device I have syncs with each other and they're made to be user friendly. I find them super easy to use and they last for years and years.



TIP: Check Apple refurbished on their website. My Fiancé and I always buy our apple products from the refurbished section on their website. It's often just Apple products that someone has bought, opened and didn't like the colour so sent back. Apple can't just resell these as brand new so add to their refurbished page. It also means they've gone through quality control twice which is an added bonus.


The options:

MacBook Air - the cheapest laptop option

I have an Air but I'd get a Pro next time as it can't quite cope with editing videos due to the processor and they don't have much space for files but I still love it. It's great for travelling with, super lightweight and if you're not editing videos all the time it's literally everything you need.



>> You can purchase the MacBook Air here <<


MacBook Pro - the higher end laptop option


This is what I'd get if I was getting a new laptop so that it'll cope with editing videos and have enough space to store the files that I need to access easily too.

>> You can purchase the MacBook Pro here <<




iMac/ Mac Mini - the higher-end desktop option


Last year I was trying to edit videos so much that I just needed to invest in my business to speed up the process and so I bought a Mac Mini and a screen. It's been a game-changer as it's so fast and there's so much space on it.


An iMac is another option that is fully built-in so the screen has everything inside it. The reason I didn't go for this is that I wanted to know I could take my Mac Mini with me and just attach it to a screen whereas there's no chance of me fitting a whole screen in my suitcase.

>> You can purchase the Mac Mini here <<

Accessories



Hard drive

If your laptop doesn't have much space on it then a hard drive is a must. I use this when I'm using my Air and I need to be able to access large video files (normally I just use everything in the cloud). I went for a solid-state because they're less likely to break if you drop it (and they're smaller) and I take it travelling so this is very important to me.


I use the Toshiba 2TB. I also recommend using Google Drive so if anything happened to your laptop or hard drive then it doesn't matter. You can choose what is actually on your laptop hard drive but still see everything else which is super helpful.

>> You can purchase my hard drive here <<



Wireless iPhone charger

If you're anything like me then your phone battery is always running low, that is why this is so useful. It's super handy to have and easy to use, all you do is put your phone on it. I keep mine on my desk and simply pop my phone on when it needs charging.


>> You can purchase the wireless charger here << (yes you are paying for convenience but it's so handy)


 

PROGRAMS AND PLATFORMS



*In normal terms, a program is a piece of software you have on your laptop/computer like Photoshop or iMovie. Whereas a platform is normally an online-based tool like Canva/Mailchimp etc.




Video editing programs




Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro is part of the Adobe programs and I love using it for editing videos. The way it works means that it's doesn't hold any actual video (aka GB's of videos) it just links them. This means if your laptop is a little old or slow it won't crumble under pressure so easily.


The only negative is the price but you can just rent it for the month you're using it when you're editing a lot of course videos and then when you're not editing course videos just use a free program.


>> You can purchase Premiere Pro here <<

iMovie


As I'm an Apple lover, iMovie is the other program I'd recommend for editing videos. It can get a little slow as it imports every video you are using. It can also be hard to find the normal settings and not the cheesy ones but I'm sure after watching a YouTube tutorial this wouldn't be too hard to work out.



Canva is now also starting to allow you to create and edit videos -see below for more information on Canva.


Design platforms/programs



Canva

We use Canva to create all sorts! It really is an amazing program. Sophie and I use it to create pins for Pinterest, Instagram posts and stories, website graphics, course graphics, course printables, YouTube videos and the list goes on.


I used to use InDesign and Illustrator but honestly, Canva is soo good there's no need to anymore and it's a lot cheaper (you can even use it for free) and easier to use than the Adobe programs.

>> Click here to check out Canva <<

Email Marketing programs



An online email marking program allows you to organise your contacts and then send emails at scheduled times, and/or to a specific set of people if required, and/or send an email because of an action. They also allow you to easily create website pages to allow your customers to sign up for your services/emails without you needing a full-blown website.


I talk about email platforms, how to use them and even what to write in your emails inside my program Passion to Profit 2.0 where I show you exactly how to turn your passion into a profitable online course.



Active Campaign We use Active Campaign to create and send out emails. It's super in-depth and one of the leading platforms in the industry due to its abilities, especially with automations.

It's very expensive but worth it if you're further along your business journey.

>>Click here to check out Active Campaign <<


Mailchimp

We used to use Mailchimp which is great if you're just starting out and starting to grow your business. I got to the stage where I just needed something with more options so I moved to Active Campaign but this is what I recommend to anyone starting out as it's a lot cheaper and does what you'll need at the beginning.


>> Click here to check out Mailchimp <<



Online Course platforms - to sell and run your courses on


Yes, you could host your courses online for free with a workbook and then unpublished videos on YouTube (this is how I started) but... This is a very clunky way to do it and you might as well take the hard work out of it. (I wish I'd known this when I started).


Course platforms create a streamlined setup for you and your students including payments, signing up, viewing the course etc. They also mean that you and your student automatically agree to regular terms and conditions with every student who signs up. This offers you both protection should either party need this (think of it as if you're growing and you will grow)



Podia

I run all of my courses on Podia. It's easy to use and allows you to hold your courses, memberships, coaching etc. all in one place whilst being supper user friendly for yourself and your students. You can also send emails from it (but they're quite restrictive) and create sales pages with it (all my course sales pages are done on podia). >> Get a free 14 day trial on podia here << There are lots of other course platforms out there like Kajabi, Teachable, Thinkific but this was my favourite and the best value for money in the long run. I talk about the different options in more depth inside my program Passion to Profit where I show you exactly how to turn your passion into a profitable online course.



Google Drive

I literally have everything on the cloud which means if I ever broke my laptop etc. I'd still have all my work. Having watched a company I used to work for literally lose everything, this was so important to me and I really recommend using it too. Google drive is my favourite but there are other options out there too like iCloud etc. It has also meant that my VA, no matter where she is, can access everything she needs too and I literally just pressed one button to do this!

3 ways to help market your passion

1. Instagram

Instagram is great for sharing stories, videos, tutorials, tips & tricks and everything in between. It's a great free platform to reach, find and nurture your clients/students/customers.


This is the main place I use to share about my creative passion - pattern cutting. Now I've created a new Instagram, @sarah_rozelaar where I'm showing you how to turn your creative passion into profitable online courses.

You can really build relationships here and find amazing tips, like-minded people and SO MUCH MORE!


3 top tips to share your passion with the world and start attracting those ideal clients:

  1. Work out who your ideal client is - likes, dislikes, ultimate desire related to your passion, struggles and what is putting them off trying

  2. Share content to help them get to their ultimate desire related to your creative passion

  3. Create reels to reach your ideal clients (reels = reach right now on Instagram)


I talk about how to work out who your ideal client is, how to magnetise them and so much more about attracting your future students inside Passion to Profit.


I've seen many people with a smaller amount of followers making a huge success from their passion. So, keep sharing and connecting with YOUR target customer.

>> check out my NEW Instagram here <<

2. Pinterest

Pinterest is an amazing platform to share your products, tips and tricks as well as blog posts and more.


It's a platform where you can create digital pinboards and also click on the pins which will take you to a website too or to buy a product. How many times have you headed to Pinterest for outfit inspiration, garden ideas, interior colour palettes, Halloween costume ideas and basically anything and everything you need inspiration for? I've created so many pinboards including my slow fashion wardrobe inspiration board.

As well as using Pinterest to find inspiration, I use it for my business too. We upload new pins every week full of tips and tutorials about sewing and pattern cutting. People can click on these pins which will allow them to read and discover more. It's a great platform to use to find your target customers and direct them to your Instagram/blog/website and so on.



>> Head over to my Pinterest here <<

3. YouTube

We use YouTube to share more tutorials, as well as longer sew along video tutorials. It's a great way to attract ideal clients and show your expertise in your niche.



>> Visit and subscribe to my YouTube channel here <<

 


Do you have a creative hobby?


Would you love to be able to make money from teaching others your skills?

Would you love to live a life of creativity and freedom?

  • Freedom to set your own schedule

  • Freedom to live anywhere in the world

  • All whilst sharing your craft with people all over the world?

This is all possible for you and I want to show you how because I promise you it's possible... I'm just a normal person who's made their dreams come true and you can too!

In just 2 years I've gone from a product-based business to now an online course business.


You too could:

  • Not trade your time for money whilst sharing your creative passion with students all around the world.

  • Be location independent aka work from where you want in the world

  • Set your own schedule to work around your desires, family and lifestyle

Come over to my other Instagram page here to learn how to create a profitable online course (just like I have with my pattern cutting courses) whilst living a life of creativity and freedom.


Happy creating, Sarah xxx


P.S. I know how hard it can be starting to turn your passion into profitable online courses, so please don't hesitate to drop me a DM with what your creative passion is and where you're at in starting/building your biz. I can then share a few tips as to how to get started or how to grow your business so that it works for your deepest desires.