How to get started selling online courses
Selling an online course comes with a ton of benefits for you, plus it’s a great way to teach a skill you know well and connects with an audience.
First, you’ll want to research your target audience. What do they want to learn about? Then break your course idea into sections to help facilitate learning. Research and build out each section and create your course. You could do anything from text-based to live sessions.
Once you have a product to sell, you’ll need to launch the course and make some sales.
What is an online course?
An online course, or e-course is a class taught online. They are a convenient way to learn new skills.
We no longer live in a world where you have to sit in a two-hour lecture twice a week to learn about what a class is teaching. If you want to learn a new language, or take up a hobby in french baking or watercolor painting, you can acquire these skills with an online course.
Online courses are offered in a variety of different mediums, from live lectures online to self-paced audio-only courses, interactive class groups, and more.
Students love online courses for their flexibility, convenience, ease of instruction, etc.
And while they are great for students, they are also great for course creators.
Why create an online and sell an online course?
Online courses are a way to communicate your message and gain an audience.
You’ll get the opportunity to gain more exposure for your brand, create a loyal following, introduce others to your products and start to build your platform.
Going the online course route is a lot less expensive than other, more traditional ways of teaching; such as, hosting a seminar, retreat, or teaching live in a workshop. And, through online courses, you have the opportunity to generate passive income in the future, forever!
Take the time to develop your curriculum, lesson plan, beta test, and finally launch your course. Then, once the course is live, you can keep it live on the internet for months or years (or forever) and continue earning passive income indefinitely in the future!
According to this source, experts are saying e-learning could reach $325 billion by 2025!
How to get started with selling online courses
You’ve settled on the fact that course creation is something you want to pursue.
These are the steps you’ll follow to get started:
- Define your target market
- Decide on your course topic
- Finalizing your draft and setting goals
- Creating course content
Defining your target market
To kick off the process, the first thing you should do is identify your target market. Your course should seek to solve a problem for the audience you’re serving.
You will be helping your customers with a burning pain point they have, helping them accomplish a goal.
When thinking about your target market, consider things like:
- Where they work
- Where they live
Answering these questions can help you get a more intimate picture of who your core customer is.
Where to find your audience?
There are many places to find your audience:
- Facebook groups
- Twitter and other social media
- And, other places
Consider joining these communities. Be helpful, provide value, ask questions, answer questions and participate. People will start to take notice and this is a good base for starting to reach your target market.
Once you have a good idea who your target customer is, poll them!
These places like Facebook groups and subreddits are perfect for polling.
It’s harmless enough. You’re just asking a question. And because you’ll be known in the group, you’ll get some responses, which will help you with creating your course.
You may already have an idea of what your course topic is. Before you dive into your outline and the course creation process, talk to your customers.
Solidify the fact that they need help in this one area that your course will help them with.
You can do this by email, posting a poll in a Facebook group, talking one-on-one to customers via social media, etc.
Then, move onto selecting your course topic.
Picking your course topic
Keeping in mind that your course will be problem-solving, finalize your decision on the topic you’ll be teaching.
If you still need help here, think about what people always ask you about. What kind of help do people reach out to you for? What are you an expert in? How can you help others?
Finding your course topic should be relatively easy. This part of the process shouldn’t be a struggle but if it is, think about the questions above which should help you hone in on your course idea.
Next comes research.
In the research process, you will thoroughly research your course topic. Look at material online, your competition, your personal knowledge of the subject, etc.
It’s a great idea to start by thinking of your course topic as a whole then breaking it into sub-niches so you can really get detailed in your course outline, covering the topic from all angles.
It helps you conduct very thorough research as well.
Outlining your course curriculum
Outlining means you’ll break your course topic into sub-categories and start to map out the structure of your course.
Think about this from the student’s perspective.
You want to create an easily digestible course format where students can navigate through the course in a logical order.
Finalizing your outline and goal-setting
In this step, you will be polishing your final course outline and starting the goal-setting process.
When setting goals, you want to identify what your objectives are for your course:
- Teach your students “the skill”
- Achieve 70% course completion rate
- Be able to reply to 100% of student feedback/questions within 48 hours
These are just some examples.
When setting your own course objectives, make sure they are measurable and trackable so you can check in on your progress to ensure you’re meeting these goals.
Creating your course content
Now it’s time to create your course content.
This can be through a variety of mediums:
- Live lessons
- A combination of mediums
Figure out how you want to deliver the course material and start creating it!
After you decide how you will deliver the curriculum, make sure you have all the tools needed to create your lessons. Identify and fill any gaps in resources you may come across.
For example, if you want to create screen shares with students but have no screencast software then you’ll need to get that software.
Pricing your course
Pricing your course can feel stressful but it doesn’t have to be.
This is a common question among course creators.
Picking the right price is important. If you price too high, you may be missing out on a big part of your target market because the price makes the course out of reach for them. Pricing too low could mean customers may associate the lower price with lower value. And, it means less profits.
What’s the right price?
There’s no magic formula and your course price will vary depending on the industry, material, and other factors.
- Length: How long is your course? How much time was dedicated to its creation? Also, think about how long it will take for your students to complete the course. Longer courses can generally demand a higher course price.
- Instructor Expertise: Think about your background and expertise. Are you credentialed? Do you have a degree or years of experience in the industry? Are you an authority in the industry? All this can play a part in the price you set for your course.
- Competition: Look at the competition to determine how other courses are priced. Do they offer more or less material than your course? Customers will be comparing your course to others on the market so evaluating the competition is important.
There’s also this helpful online course price calculator you can check out, brought to you by Teachable.
There are many ways to go about a course launch from an informal one-time email to your subscribers to a more formal, multi-month long plan with a full team, income goals, and precise strategy executed.
In the end, you’ll make the choice on how you want to introduce your course to the public.
Regardless of the route you take, my advice to get the best results is to be organized and plan.
Even informal or small launches require planning.
Set some goals for yourself, whether it be an income goal or number of students you enroll. Check in on your results throughout the process and pivot in your plan, if needed.
Here’s a Laptop Empire’s podcast episode going over the three keys to a successful launch.
How to make money selling courses online
Can you make money selling courses online?
In fact, many entrepreneurs make a full-time living off the creation and distribution of their online courses.
A good way to challenge yourself during your launch is to set an income goal. Income goals are good because they are specific and measurable, which is essential for any strong goal. You can set that number, then review it throughout your launch to see how close or far away you are from that number.
Pros and Cons Selling Online Courses
Here are the pros and cons of selling online courses.
- Help your audience solve a problem: A big benefit of selling an online course is helping your customers with a pain point they have. Are they struggling to get better organized? Do they want to find a passion project to fill in a gap in their life? Are they interested in becoming a better cook or learning a new language? Whatever course you’re teaching, you are helping others achieve a goal they have.
- Unlimited income potential: People talk about course creating and how powerful it is for many reasons. Course creation is a lucrative business. It’s not a bad thing to want a piece of that pie. Not only are you helping others but you are getting handsomely rewarded for it. Want side hustle income? Or, an opportunity to earn full-time income with your course? Creating online courses can be the solution.
- Create an authority for yourself in your niche: Make a name for yourself in your niche. This is incredibly powerful for branding. You can become a bigger authority in your space and be seen as an expert. This can open many doors for you in the future and pave the way to some awesome opportunities.
- Gain clients: Creating courses is a good way for you to get more clients for coaching, consulting, etc.
- Time-consuming: Creating a course takes time. If you think it will take a week to churn out a quality course, unfortunately it will likely take a lot longer. If time constraints feel too overwhelming, check out this guide to creating a course in 20 minutes a day.
- Resource-intensive: Course creation demands a lot of your resources: time, cost, etc. But, it can be affordable, especially if you partner with a course platform like Teachable.
Not to mention, though not required, sometimes it takes a whole team to create a successful course launch. There are many moving parts to the puzzle and it can be a lot on just one person. So, consider the investment in people resources for your course launch.
- Investment in technology: This can be off-putting for some, especially if you aren’t tech-savvy. From the platform, you need to build your course on to the technology you’ll use behind the scenes to deliver lectures, record screencasts, etc. The whole process can be expensive.
- Targeted Customers required: Like many businesses, you’ll need customers in order to make your course launch a success. And, not just any customers, the right customers. Specifically, targeted customers that are looking for what you’re selling. This can be challenging to find and it can take some time.
Final Word on Selling Online Courses
Selling your online course can be quite an adventure. It’s not an easy process and it can take time and feel overwhelming at times but is it worth it? I think so.
The benefits far outweigh any drawbacks of course creation, in my opinion. If you have an interest in creating your online course, dive in, and do it!
The most important part is making sure your course helps your target audience learn something they are actually interested in. If you can do that, you’ll be selling courses before you know it.
To get started, we recommend checking out Teachable. They have some really helpful resources to start the process and hold your hand throughout your experience. Grab their free cheat sheet to kick off the process!