Selling online courses is a great side hustle — or a full-time career — for those who are passionate about a particular subject. Once you’ve created a course, you basically have two options: you can publish your course via a platform, or you can sell online courses from your own website.
There are platforms, or marketplaces, specifically dedicated to online courses. And because of the popularity of e-learning, there are more platforms available than ever before. These platforms, such as Teachable or Kajabi, allow you create a course through them and then host it on the platform’s site.
But not everyone wants to go through a giant platform. If you already have a website you own or have created, you can add your course directly to your site without going through the trouble of selecting a hosting provider.
Benefits of selling online courses from your own site
There are numerous benefits to selling a course on your own website instead of going with a big platform like Teachable.
To begin with, you can charge exactly how much you want for your course and you get paid right away. You don’t have to provide a “cut” to another platform and you don’t have to wait for a payout.
On your own site, you’re in total control of the look and feel of your course. It can be an extension of the brand you’ve created on your website through your blog, online store, or other content you provide.You have full control over the colors and customization you want.
But the control extends beyond your look or brand. With a platform, the prices can be raised at any time, which either cuts into your profits or you must pass on this cost to those taking your course. The platform can change the rules at any point as far as publishing or content, and you have to react to comply.
Lastly, if the platform decides to change the experience for the student in some shape or form, the student may not like it and choose to go to another platform.
The bottom line — if you want to remain in control at all times, then publishing a course on your own website is the way to go.
But there are a few challenges too….
Before you get started with loading a course on your website, you should be aware of a few potential pitfalls you may encounter, versus going with a big platform such as Udemy. This isn’t to discourage you, but it’s important to consider all aspects of where you host your course.
When you go out on your own, you don’t have a large community of support. Most hosting platforms have Facebook communities and online forums so you can ask questions on a variety of topics. Plus there’s a customer support phone number or chat bot you can reach out to for technical support.
Lastly, everything is up to you when you host your own course. This means you have to handle the customer service aspect, respond to messages, and figure out how to fix a “bug” when something goes wrong on the technical side. Sure, you’re keeping more money in your pocket, but you have to put in more time and effort to keep your course running.
Before you launch a course on your own website, you’ll need a website that’s up and running before you launch your course. If you need help setting up a website and blog, check out our tutorial to get you started.
Your site doesn’t have to be award-winning with all the bells and whistles, but you should be comfortable in using the technology. There can be a big learning curve when you’re first starting with your online venture, but it won’t take long to figure out how to make changes to your site.
Creating your course
The other critical component when you’re learning how to sell courses form your own website is creating the actual course!
You may be convinced you want to offer an online course on your site, but perhaps you’re wondering how you create the course itself. Fortunately, there are services available offering this so you don’t have to create a course from scratch.
When you create your own course, you’re creating the outline, the content, the questions, and the quizzes. You may even choose to throw in a completion certificate for your students. You’ll want a template that offers you all the choices to fit the goals of your course. You can do this by adding a plugin, or going online to find a template.
Install a plugin like LearnDash
If you’re using WordPress for your site, you’re in luck because WordPress offers a plugin you can install to build your course. A plugin such as LearnDash (Learning Management System) can provide everything you need to create an awesome course.
With this plugin you can:
- Build your course with a drag and drop feature
- Add quizzes and tests
- Send automated emails
- Setup a payment gateway (so you can get paid!)
- Create course progress information for your students
- Setup forums and create a community for students
- Certification on course completion
As you can see, a plugin has many of the same capabilities you’ll find on the big-named platforms. You can read our full review of LearnDash here. But there are multiple plugin options with WordPress.
Work with online course-builder templates
If you’re not interested in installing a plugin or you don’t have a WordPress site, there are other options available.
There are multiple websites where you can create your course using one of hundreds of templates available. You can customize your course to include quizzes and certificates and other features. Sites such as proprofs.com or AdobeSpark are two examples of sites where you can build a course from scratch.
Look for a site that offers you the features you need. Features such as:
- Customer support
- Marketing support (email campaigns, newsletter development, community forums)
- Ability to add quizzes
- Support for videos, pictures, or other mediums
- Incorporating surveys
- Drag and drop for easy creating and editing
- Priced within your budget
Once you’ve created your course, you copy the embed code of your course and paste the code into your website’s HTML editor. If you’re intimidated by this step, look for a course creator that offers step-by-step instructions for embedding the code, as well as customer support to walk you through it if necessary.
The making of a great course
No matter what site is hosting your course – either a marketplace or your own website – you want your course to stand out. And most of all, you want users to gain valuable information and walk away learning something new.
Naturally you want to create a course centered around a subject matter you know a great deal about. But you don’t have to have a PhD either! You can bring further value to your coursetakers by conducting research on your subject.
You can bring additional value by drilling down to a niche topic. If your course is too broad then it likely won’t offer the knowledge users are looking to gain.
Once you’ve narrowed down your topics, it’s time to figure out your target audience. Who benefits the most from your course? What problem are you helping them solve? Understanding who’s likely to take your course will benefit you later down the road when you’re marketing your course too.
Another success factor when creating your course is choosing the right mediums. You can teach your course through:
- Pre-recorded videos
- Recorded lessons
- Text-only lessons or articles
- Live lessons
- Group sessions
- A combination of one or two, or all mediums
Creating a course doesn’t have to be too difficult. But as you can tell, it takes a bit of thought beforehand in order to create something meaningful.
Marketing your online course
Since you already have your own website, it’s important to build on the existing strengths of your site, but then draw in new potential customers. You can do this by:
Email marketing: Create an email campaign to the readers who are already subscribed to your site. Send a series of announcements leading up to the launch in order to build excitement for your new course.
Be a guest: Ask to guest post on a blog with an audience you think could benefit from your course. Being a guest on a podcast is also a great way to let people get to know you.
Facebook Ads: Investing in Facebook ads is a fantastic way to reach your target audience. If you’re unsure where to start with a campaign, check out our beginner’s guide here.
Popup on your site: Add an overlay to the landing page of your website advertising your new course. If they can’t buy it right now, offer visitors a chance to join the waiting list.
Social media marketing: Develop a Pinterest strategy by creating pins geared towards your target audience. Generate interest and excitement through Instagram by featuring your course in stories and posts.
As you can see, none of these ideas need a big up front investment. You likely are already active on social media channels and your website. Use what you have and create an entire marketing campaign. You’ll have new registrations for your course in no time!
The bottom line
Learning how to sell courses from your own website is as easy as working with an established platform. The best advice is to have a game plan in place before you launch your course. This includes a solid marketing plan too.