How to Make Money Selling Courses Online

Imagine you could earn money while you sleep and even make online courses your main source of income. Sounds tempting, doesn’t it?

If the idea of profiting from your knowledge has piqued your interest, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll guide you through effective techniques to help you get the most out of selling online courses.

To get started, you can grab your audience’s attention with enticing free content – it’s like a taster of the value you offer. Once they’re captivated, you can offer full access to your course behind a paywall, giving them a reason to invest. And don’t underestimate the power of satisfied customers – encouraging them to leave reviews or testimonials can work wonders.

In this guide, we share years of insight on how to turn your expertise into a successful online course business.

Start Making Money Selling Online Courses: 9 Steps

  1. Pick an course topic
  2. Verify your idea 
  3. Create your online course
  4. Set a pricing model
  5. Create your sales page
  6. Optimize your course sales funnels
  7. Promote your course 
  8. Increase your reach with e-learning platforms
  9. Upsell to boost profits

Step 1: Pick a Course Topic

The topic you choose will determine your potential earnings and guide how you design your course sales page.

When selecting a great course topic, consider demand first.

It’s a simple logic: When there is a high demand for your course topic, earning money becomes easier.

In general, the more precise your course’s focus, the higher the price. Here are some effective methods to find out popular course topics:

  • Keyword Research: Find out what topics people are searching for, how frequently they search, and how these patterns change. Once you have found a topic you like, you can check out related keywords to see what you should include in your course curriculum.
  • Top-Selling Courses on eLearning Platforms: Take a look at popular online learning platforms’ top-selling courses. By doing this, you can get a sense of what subjects learners are interested in. There are a number of notable platforms to explore, including Udemy and Coursera.
  • YouTube Insights: Check out trending videos on YouTube. Find out what topics people are most interested in.
  • Analyze Competitors: Look at your competitors’ content for fresh course ideas. Find areas in their content where improvement is possible. You can then offer your audience a more comprehensive resource.

If they offer courses, conduct thorough research, such as:

  • Check their website traffic to assess their course sales page visitors.
  • Determine their student enrollment.
  • Read reviews of their courses.
  • Invest in their course to gain insights into their content and sales approach.

Lastly, look at your Google Analytics and keyword ranking reports to see which subjects already rank well. You can quickly boost your organic traffic by creating courses on these topics.

Step 2: Verify Your Idea 

While you can do keyword research to see if a topic is popular, you can’t make sure it’s valid until someone signs up for your course. Remember, it takes a long time to create an online course. You don’t want to waste long hours on recording videos without returns. 

To validate an online course idea, you can either use:

  • Surveys: Surveys are an easy way to validate your idea. Make a survey for your audience to gauge their interest. You can even get them to contribute their own ideas, opening up a collaborative dialogue.
  • Pre-Sales Pages: Your course sales page is the link between you and potential students. To gauge customer response, make a preliminary version of this page. You’ll gain insights into the viability of your course idea by watching engagement and sign-up rates. You should write a description for the course, even if it’s not ready, and include a call-to-action (CTA) for people to sign up for updates or pre-purchase. Get feedback from your email list by sharing this pre-sales page.
  • Facebook Ads: Pre-sales pages let you test advertising campaigns to see how well a topic would do. In the beginning, paid marketing is often necessary for selling online courses. When a topic resonates with advertising, it sets the stage for course popularity. You can start by testing your pre-sales page using Facebook ads, targeting an audience that matches your topic. Keeping an eye on the visitor-to-conversion ratio. The more interaction and conversions the page gets, the more potential sales the topic has.

Having a valid course idea gives you confidence, so you can fine-tune your course creation strategy.

Step 3: Create Your Online Course

You can use a course builder to create an online course. Popular platforms include Thinkific, Teachable, Udemy, Kajabi, and LearnDash, each with its own set of features and pricing models.

You can use the chosen platform’s course builder to upload and organize your content. It also allows you to design your course pages to be visually appealing and user-friendly.

For platforms like LearnDash, you can access the course builder by navigating to the courses section of the LMS and selecting either an existing course or creating a new one. Once in the course, you can click on the “Builder” tab

Start by creating the basic structure of your course using modules or sections. These serve as the main categories or chapters of your course.

After that, you can ddd placeholders within these modules where specific content will later be added. Placeholders help you plan the layout and flow of the course before finalizing the content.

Within the course builder, you can add various types of content such as text, videos, links, quizzes, and assignments directly into the placeholders or modules you’ve created.

LearnDash allows you to drag and drop content items directly into the course structure, making it easy to organize and reorganize elements as needed.

You can also use the editing tools provided by the course builder to enrich your content with multimedia, interactive elements, and learning objectives.

To view the entire course structure at a glance, use features like “Expand All” or “Collapse All.” This helps in ensuring that the course flows logically and that all necessary content is included.

Once your course is complete, go through a final review to ensure all content is correctly placed and functioning as intended.

Step 4: Set a Pricing Model

To set the right pricing for your online course, you must keep a few things in mind:

  • Your Course Value: Assess the content quality, the expertise level offered, and the uniqueness of your course. Consider the results your course promises to deliver and how it enhances the skills or knowledge of your students.
  • Your Target Audience: Determine the financial capacity and willingness to pay of your target audience. This includes understanding their average income, professional needs, and how much they are willing to invest in similar courses.
  • Your Competitors’ Pricing: Research how similar courses are priced. Look at both direct competitors (similar content and target audience) and indirect competitors (courses that might be substituted for yours despite different content).

When it comes to a pricing strategy, your options include:

  • Cost-Plus Pricing: Calculate the total cost of producing and hosting your course, including platform fees, and add a markup percentage to ensure profitability
  • Value-Based Pricing: Set the price based on the perceived value to the customer rather than just the cost. This involves understanding how much improvement or change your course can bring into a learner’s professional or personal life.
  • Tiered Pricing: Offer different versions of your course at different price points. For example, a basic version without additional support or bonuses, and a premium version with one-on-one coaching sessions or extra materials.
  • Subscription Model: Charge a recurring fee for access to a broader curriculum or a learning platform rather than a one-time fee for a single course. This is effective for extensive courses with ongoing content updates.
  • Freemium Model: Offer the basic course content for free while charging for advanced features, additional resources, or certifications

You can implement psychological pricing strategies, such as pricing a course at $199 instead of $200. Such tactics can make the price appear significantly lower than it actually is.

Before finalizing the price, consider A/B testing different price points to see which generates more interest and conversions.

Step 5: Create a Sales Page 

After you have decided on your pricing strategy, it’s time to create a sales page. 

The purpose of this page is to introduce your course, let users know what it’s all about, and make it easy to enroll. You’ll have a lot more success selling online courses if you’ve got an engaging sales page. If the signup page is unattractive, it may discourage people from signing up.

To create an effective sales page for your course, follow these tips:

  • Make sure sections are clearly labeled and have links to important things like pricing and enrollment.
  • Use responsive web design to ensure seamless mobile compatibility.
  • Explain what students will receive upon enrollment, such as resources, certifications, or other advantages.
  • Describe key topics and subjects covered in your course.
  • Streamline your checkout process.
  • Use reviews and testimonials from students to substantiate the value and credibility of your course.
  • Provide a thorough course outline. Specify whether the content is delivered through videos, text, interactive lessons, or some other method.

With a high-converting sales page, you’ll be more likely to attract interested students.

Step 6: Optimize Your Course Sales Funnels

Once you have created a great sales page, it’s time to optimise your sales funnels.

Funnels are a series of steps that guide customers from awareness to conversion. The interactions they have with your brand are steps along this journey.

Here’s how to optimize your course sales funnel:

  • Segmentation: Develop multiple sales funnels to cater to different audiences. This makes sure each funnel aligns with its target group’s specific interests.
  • Retargeting: Not all visitors convert right away. You can retarget people who showed interest by using platforms like Facebook and Google. Potential customers will see these ads and be reminded about your course, so they’ll come back.
  • Email Marketing: You can communicate course benefits directly to students when they join your email list. Send out newsletters with promos and discounts. It’s especially effective to offer limited-time discounts.
  • Lookalike Audiences: When you start converting visitors into sales, keep track of your successful customers. Identify their common traits. You can use these insights to target similar people with ads. Facebook’s lookalike audience feature, for example, lets you target people who are similar to your converting customers. 

Step 7: Promote Your Course 

Having a sales page isn’t enough to make money. If you want to make money selling online courses, you have to use digital marketing. The goal is to drive traffic to your sales page and guide people through the sales funnel.

Here are a few digital marketing strategies you can use:

  • Blog Posts: Blogging can increase your traffic and establish yourself as an expert. Use the keywords you found in your initial research to come up with engaging topics. Optimize your posts for SEO to attract organic traffic and enhance your online presence.
  • Paid advertising: Use paid advertising to drive traffic to your sales page. You can reach your ideal audience with platforms like Google and Facebook that offer precise targeting options.
  • Guest posting: You can increase your authority by writing guest posts for reputable websites. By doing this, you’re getting referral traffic, which boosts your course’s visibility. The more guest posts you do, the more you’ll be seen as an expert.
  • Facebook groups: Create your own community. Engage your members with valuable content, tips, and discussions. It nurtures interest and builds a deeper connection.

You can also include these traditional digital marketing methods:

  • Appearing on podcasts
  • Engaging in Reddit forums and other groups
  • Establishing a YouTube channel
  • Sharing content on social media platforms
  • Designing internal ads
  • Hosting webinars

For more advanced strategies, consider offering valuable free resources like eBooks or mini-courses in exchange for users’ email addresses. This builds your email list, enabling you to send newsletters with offers and limited-time discounts. This can attract your subscribers to visit your sales page and convert.

Step 8: Increase Your Reach with E-Learning Platforms

In addition to selling courses on your website, you can also sell them on popular e-learning platforms. Using this strategy, you can reach a wider audience of students who are actively seeking out learning opportunities on these platforms.

Despite the larger audience e-learning platforms provide, you should be aware that revenue-sharing agreements may lower your profits per sale.

Take a look at these platforms and their revenue-sharing models:

1. Udemy

Udemy has a huge user base. If a student finds and buys a course directly through the Udemy marketplace without any instructor promotion, Udemy takes 50% of the sale, leaving the instructor with 50%.

The instructor can keep a much higher percentage of revenue when the sale is made through their own promotional efforts, like a unique referral link or coupon. Specifically, instructors get 97% of the revenue from their own promotions.

If a course is sold through Udemy’s paid ads, the instructor gets 25%.

2. Skillshare

Skillshare directs 30% of its total membership revenue to instructors each month. Your earnings depend on the percentage of total minutes watched by students across your courses. If your content constitutes 10% of total viewing time, you’ll receive 10% of the revenue pool.

While these platforms might yield lower profits per sale, they offer the advantage of reaching a broader audience actively seeking learning opportunities. This exposure can significantly bolster your course’s visibility and enrollment.

Step 9: Upsell to Boost Profits 

Upselling involves offering low-cost or free courses initially and then presenting customers with opportunities to invest in higher-priced courses, services, or products.

You can offer low-cost or free courses as entry points. These courses serve as effective lead magnets, attracting initial interest and encouraging potential customers to engage with your content.

After providing value through free or low-cost courses, seize the opportunity to upsell customers to more comprehensive and higher-priced offerings. The trust built during the initial engagement enhances their likelihood of purchasing advanced courses.

Many online courses also offer exclusive access to a private community to enrich the learning experience and foster connections among students.

Platforms like Teachable offer upselling features. It allows you to seamlessly present upsell offers to customers. For instance, you can add an upsell offer to your thank-you page, capitalizing on the momentum of a completed course.

Or you can simply use Facebook groups to create private communities for the purpose of upselling.

How Much Can You Make Selling Courses Online?

Selling online courses be a lucrative endeavor, but the amount you make depends on a few key factors.

First off, you’ll want to estimate your sales. Think about how many people might visit the page where you’re displaying your course.

Next, multiply that number by how much you’re charging for your course. Then, take that result and multiply it by the percentage of those visitors you think will actually buy your course (this is called the conversion rate).

Here’s how it looks in a simple formula:

  • Visitors X Course Price X Conversion Rate = Earnings

Example: With 1,000 visitors to your course page, a price of $100, and a conversion rate of 2%, your potential earnings would be:

  • 1,000 visitors X $100 course price X 0.02 (2% as a decimal) conversion rate = $2,000 in earnings

After making an estimation on your sales revenues, it’s time to subtract our business expenses. 

In our example, if your course sales have earned $2,000 but you’ve spent $500 on expenses, your profit would be:

  • $2,000 earnings – $500 expenses = $1,500 profit

The expenses you’ll incur depend on your investment in creating and promoting your courses. Typical expenses may include:

  • Hosting fees
  • Subscription to software
  • Paid advertising
  • Content creation

If you’re trying to minimize your costs, you might choose a course creation tool that charges a lower fee. Budget-friendly options include Learndash ($13.25/month), LearnWorlds ($24/month), and Thinkific ($49/month).

For your first course, don’t rely on freelancers. When you’re just starting out, it’s best to avoid spending too much money.

Read more: Best Side Hustle Ideas

Final Words

Overall, selling online courses can be a great business opportunity. It’s a simple and effective way of reaching learners worldwide and creating a steady passive income.

The key to success is building a strong personal brand. The foundation of trust is a solid brand. You should also make it easy for people to access and purchase your courses. It’s important to remove barriers for potential students.

Don’t be afraid to listen to student feedback. You can make your courses even better if you learn from your students.

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