Even before the pandemic, the online education market was poised to reach $350 billion by 2025. You can imagine how that figure changed as 1.2 billion children all over the world switched to online education.
Whether you want to share years of experience and knowledge online or simply want a way to monetize your skills, selling an online course is one of the best ways to make money online.
In this piece, we’ll look at why creating an online course can be lucrative and how much revenue it can actually bring. We’ll also provide a step-by-step guide to creating and promoting your online course.
This is a guest post from Eduard Klein. Be sure to check out his bio at the end of the article!
Why Should You Create an Online Course Business?
There are many reasons why creating an online course is a lucrative option.
Let’s say you’re a pilates instructor. Your live classes require your presence for each session. Your income is based on how many classes you take per week.
If you create a pilates course and sell it online, your class brings you money all the time, even when you’re not actively involved in teaching the class.
2. Bigger audience
Your local classroom is limited to where you’re based, but an online course gives you access to students all over the world.
3. Easy to manage
In a world where online learning is easily accessible, there are more tools than ever for instructors to build and promote an online course from scratch. With a learning management system, they can handle marketing, development, hosting, and sales for their course with ease.
How Much Money Can You Make With a Course?
Your income from selling an online course depends on a few factors.
1. Price of your course
This is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. The price of your course depends on the value of the skills you provide.
According to Podia, an average course costs about $199.95 to $200. While the least expensive course costs $8, the most expensive course costs $1,497.
Udemy for example has a lot of new student deals and flash sale days where they sell their courses between $9.99 and $19.99.
2. Number of Students
The more students take and recommend your course, the more sales you’re likely to make, and the higher your income will be.
How much effort are you investing in promoting your course? Ideally, you should spend as much or more time promoting your course as you do create it.
Even though online learning is on the rise, it also means there’s more competition among course creators and it’s difficult to stand out.
How Much Revenue Can You Earn If You Teach Online?
Let’s take a look at the money made by top schools on Teachable.com.
The platform categorized schools in terms of total income produced since their formation.
The biggest batch of schools (39.4%) earned between $25,000 and $50,000. The second biggest batch consists of schools that have sold more than $75,000 in online courses.
A Few Examples of Successful Online Course Business
Want to know what a successful online course business looks like?
Here are some examples.
This is an online course made by Ryan Robinson. It teaches students about successfully growing a blog. It costs $297 and made $3,053 in December 2020, as per Robinson’s recent income report.
Vishen Lakhiani has built a $40 million USD business with online courses. His platform, Mindvalley.com allows users to participate in courses on topics like wellness, entrepreneurship, and leadership.
Anastasia Blogger sells online courses about making money from blogging and generating traffic from Pinterest. As per one income report, she earned $15,000 from her courses in one month.
4 Simple Steps to Create your Online Course Business
We’ve seen the benefits of creating an online course.
Now we’ll share a simple 4-step method to successfully launch and promote your online course.
1. Choose your niche/topic
Start by listing down possible niches for your courses and researching your business idea. Write down your interests, hobbies that may make for a profitable online course, and your specialties. Also, think about previous work experience that you want to turn into an online course.
Once you have a list of possible niches, it’s time to narrow down your list based on income potential.
To find a niche with maximum earning potential, you’ll need to do some research.
Here are some ways:
A quick Google search should reveal which topics in your list are most popular among students. Look for websites, blogs, communities, and other online courses on your topics.
If you don’t find a lot of results, it means it may not be popular among learners.
Use a keyword tool, like Google AdWords Keyword Planner, to search for the keywords related to your topic.
Try to find popular terms people are searching for. If you see more than 10,000 searches every month for your “chief” keyword and 50,000 searches for the connected keywords, then that means that the niche is popular.
Even though you’re creating an online course, don’t skip offline research entirely. If various magazines and publications cover your niche, it may have high-profit potential.
Take a look at social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, to track conversations around your niche. This might help you to understand the size of your audience.
2. Create Your Course
Once you’ve found a profitable niche, it’s time to get down to business.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to building your online course:
Choose a Course Title
Deciding on a specific niche is one half of the process, the other half is actually picking a suitable topic for your course. For instance, if you’re creating a course in the content marketing niche, there are dozens of topics and sub-topics you could cover. Content strategy, distribution, promotion, management.
Having a specific focus for your course will help you better define the benefits and structure of your course.
Here’s a great example of a title for an online course for dog owners:
Define the Learning Outcomes
How will students benefit from your course? Having a clear idea of course learning outcomes helps you better sell the benefits and value of your course.
Research and Structure Your Course
You may be an expert on the topic you’re teaching, but to help students learn best you’ll have to add lots of additional information, examples, and case studies to your course.
Once you have the basic material for your course ready, you’ll also need to decide on a course structure that’s easy for students to follow.
Finally, you’ll also want to include a few learning exercises for students to test their knowledge.
Produce Your Course Content
The next step is to write, film, record, and edit your course content.
If possible, start out with a small preview of your content, take feedback from prospective students, and make modifications accordingly.
If you’re not confident in front of a camera, I highly recommend using a teleprompter app like Bigvu (that I use with my iPhone).
It’s showing the text on the screen below your camera, so you can read and keep your eyes on the camera. A lifesaver!
3. Launch Your Course
Hosting your course on an online course marketplace such as Udemy might give you access to an existing audience. However, you’ll be competing with a lot of other online courses.
On the other hand, if you use a dedicated online course platform, you’ll have complete control over structuring, promoting, and selling your course.
Some popular platforms launching an online course include LearnWorlds, Kajabi, Thinkific, Teachable, and Podia.
Here’s what to consider when choosing an online course platform:
- Ease of use. Does it have a welcoming, simple interface, or is it too overwhelming?
- Hosting and domain. Does it allow you to create a course website and use your own domain name?
- Course editor. Is it easy to use? Can you easily add existing videos and text to it, or do you have to start from scratch?
- Tests and evaluation. Are there options to add quizzes and assignments?
- Course format. Does it offer multiple content types such as video, audio, live chat, live webinar, etc?
- Marketing and promotion. Does it allow you to create landing pages? Set up email marketing campaigns?
- Referral and affiliate marketing. Does it allow you to offer incentives to others to promote your course?
- Payment interface. Are payment options built into the platform?
4. Sell Your Course
You’ve created and launched your online course. Congratulations!
Your job is far from done though. Now you need to spend most of your time selling your course.
In this section, we’ll cover three tried-and-tested ways of successfully selling an online course.
Create a Sales funnel
A sales funnel helps you target prospective students for your course and turn them into paying learners.
Here’s the basic idea: you drive relevant leads to your course sales page, you send them nurturing content such as blog posts, ebooks, and videos, and you compel them to buy your course.
Here’s how to create a good sales funnel for your online course:
Target the right audience
It’s no use trying to sell a course on strength training course to someone with no interest in fitness whatsoever.
Thus, it’s important to promote your course landing page to the right people.
Create a Landing page
A good landing page to generate leads must give students all the information they need about your course. This includes course content, benefits, and pricing.
You could also use different landing page copy, based on how the customer shows up on a landing page. For example, you might want to have a different landing page for those who show through a social media post, compared to somebody who came to through a link in an email.
Split test your landing pages
Use a service like Clickfunnels to split test and A/B test your landing pages. This will help you decide which is most effective in getting sales.
Advertise your landing pages
Use a few different ad types to reach different types of customers. Some of these include PPC ads on Google, social media ads, and banner ads on blogs.
Create a Webinar
Webinars are a great way to promote and sell an online course.
Take a look at some reasons why you might invest in creating webinars for your course:
Here are the reasons why webinars are a good way to promote your online course:
Live trainings are better than most social media platforms for building trust because you’re actively interacting with the viewers.
Even though everyone who attends your webinar may not become a customer, if you consistently keep adding value to their life, they may eventually convert.
Professional webinar software makes it easy to set up and promote your webinar to thousands of people. This helps you get your course in front of more people.
Build an email list:
Webinars help you grow your audience by getting their email when they sign up. This way you can send them promotional offers, free content, and add value so they eventually purchase your course.
Here’s how Mindvalley uses 60-minute masterclasses (automated webinars) to sell their courses:
Promote your course
In this section, we’ll delve into several ways to promote your online course and maximize sales.
Pay-per-click ads on Google help you cash in on users who are already looking for courses on a specific topic.
Example of PPC Ad:
You can create a short preview of your course as a promotion on YouTube. Alternatively, you could also partner with YouTube influencers in your niche to promote your course.
Example of YouTube Ads:
Social Media Ads:
Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow you to promote your online course to the right audiences, based on their interests, age, and other factors.
For the promotion of B2B courses, you can use LinkedIn ads. If you’re promoting a course for the younger generation, you might use Instagram promotion strategies and ads to grab attention. Finally, on Twitter and LinkedIn you’re likely to find a mixed audience, so it’s best to target your ad properly.
Create a Blog:
A blog helps drive traffic to your website, and thus, sell your online course.
For instance, on his blog, Ryan Robinson frequently shares tips on how to create a blog and a blog post structure. This in turn drives traffic for his paid course on blogging.
If you don’t have time to write blog posts on a regular basis, a good option is to outsource your content writing to freelancers. There are various freelance job sites where you can find reliable writers and bloggers.
Many bloggers create listicle article like this one about the best eCommerce classes:
Reach out to them and ask for a mention in their post. It works best if you’re able to offer them an affiliate provision if they refer to your courses.
Influencer marketing can help your sales grow because of the effect that influencers have on their followers. According to MuseFind.com, 92% of Millennials trust a social media influencer more than the most famous celebrity. If you’re unsure of how to get started, here’s a good list of platforms.
Affiliate marketing helps you bank on the popularity of other bloggers and creators to sell your course. Affiliates promote your course on their website, and for each sale, they receive a commission. You can find affiliates through affiliate networks such as Shareasale and Clickbank.
Create and publish an ebook based on your course topic. Use it as part of your sales funnel to generate leads, then promote your course in that ebook.
This is great to build your email list and a good way to let readers get a glimpse into your course content. If interested, they may buy the full course too.
Social Outreach & Outbound Prospecting
This method of promotion works best if your course is aimed at professionals. You can reach out to professionals on Linkedin with automated tools like Expandi and give them a quick introduction to your course. Here’s a guide on how to find and engage leads for free.
You could also drive organic traffic through Twitter, by regularly engaging with your audience. You can also use Twitter automation tools to consistently post content and build an audience.
You can generate traffic through Pinterest by using the right keywords and using pins properly. According to Statista, 77% of Pinterest users are female. On the other hand, some of the most popular niches on the platform include fashion, designing, arts & crafts, fitness, and writing & content creation.
Remember, here’s Anastasia blogger’s course on how to get traffic through Pinterest:
Building an online course can be a great way to supplement your income, use your skills to help others, and even build a full-fledged business.
As we’ve shown above, top course creators earn a sizable income from their courses, and most of it is passive income.
We hope this guide serves as a good starting point for your online course creation journey.
Eduard Klein is an International Digital Growth Marketer, Blogger, and Entrepreneur with a global mindset. He guides people through the process of starting and growing a digital business, and to ride the wave of digital technology and marketing without getting swept away.
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.