Marketing yourself as an authority in your field is one of the best ways to sell products online, and a great way to do this with minimal costs is creating and selling your own courses.
In fact, online courses are one of the best vehicles for generating passive income while you're teaching or coaching offline or when you're busy with other projects.
This article will teach you how to create and sell online courses profitably if you’ve never done this before.
Disclosure: Although I receive affiliate compensation at no additional cost to you to support this site that compensation in no way influences my recommendations, which are strictly informed by my 10+ years of online business experience consulting for clients large and small. My aim is to always recommend tools that offer the best return for your investment (for more details, read my Affiliate Disclosure).
Can You Make Money Selling Online Courses?
Absolutely! In fact, instructors with two or more years of online teaching experience routinely generate 4 and some even 5 figures a month from a variety of online course hosting platforms.
Some have become so popular that they can even attract the attention of seasoned affiliate marketers with large email lists, which becomes an even greater revenue multiplier.
At the end of the day, there is a huge demand from the general public for online courses that can help them develop new skills and learn new hobbies from the comfort of their home...
...and they’d rather learn from experts rather than trying to figure things out on their own.
How Much Should You Sell Your Course For?
Online courses should be priced based on the intrinsic value they offer combined with your uniqueness in the marketplace.
This amount will vary depending on what you teach and how well you can market your expertise.
If you’re brand new to the online teaching space, you may have to start out with a free introductory course and then begin to charge once you’ve managed to build an audience.
Once you’ve developed an audience, then you’ll need to ramp up your price point as enrollment increases over time until you find your sweet spot.
So, say for example that you’ve developed a special technique that allows beginners to learn to play guitar in half the time than it normally takes.
You could test a price point between $20-$30 at first and, if the course continues to sell well after it's been released, gradually increase the price until your enrollment begins to decrease — that’s when you know you’ve reached the sweet spot.
Now, once you become more seasoned, you’ll be able to break into the low three figures per seat and as demand grows with word of mouth you’ll be able to move up the chain into the $299-$399 range and higher.
But this may take you a few years to achieve — you have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run. Also, the key is not just price point alone but price point times total enrollment.
A $79 course will attract a much larger audience than a $299 course. In the end, all that matters is the total size of the monthly check.
How Much Should You Expect To Make?
Clearly, this hinges on too many factors that depend on your personal circumstances, prior experience, years as an instructor, reputation, number of course offerings, size of captive audience (say, from your email list), and so on.
However, to give you an idea of what to expect let’s look at the statistics put out by one of the most popular online course hosting platforms, Teachable.
After looking at over 100,000 instructors on their platform in 2021, they found that approximately 40% of instructors who have been teaching on the platform a year or longer earn on average between $25,000 and $50,000/yr.
About 20% earn less than $25,000/yr, 15% earn between $50,000 and $75,000/yr and the remaining 25% earn more than $75,000/yr.
How to Sell Your Courses Profitably in 5 Easy Steps
The following five steps will provide you with a clear blueprint you can follow to market and sell your online courses:
Step 1. Find out what people are looking for in your niche
The first step is to figure out what people are looking for in your niche. Going back to the above example, if you’re a guitar teacher, “learning how to play guitar” may be too broad a niche at first.
Different people have different needs and it’s really hard to address all needs for all people all at once — like the old saying goes: Market to everyone and sell to no one.
So you need to specialize. For example, some people may be looking for shortcuts to learn how to play popular chords, others may be interested in learning how to play the electric guitar, others may be more interested in classic guitar lessons, etc.
Step 2. Create a compelling product description for your course
The next step is to create a product description for your course. This is composed of a headline designed to catch the attention of your audience followed by a brief blurb describing what’s unique about your course.
For example, depending on your guitar niche, you may try something like:
- Learn How to Play Blues Guitar in 5 Easy Steps
- How to Start Playing Your Favorite Guitar Songs Tonight (No Prior Experience Required!)
- The Complete Step by Step Course for Electric Guitar Soloing
Your blurb should expand on your catchy headline to add more meat to the bones, plus it should tell your prospective students why you’re qualified to teach the course.
For example, you could say that you’ve been playing guitar for over 20 years and teaching for as long, or that you’ve played on the road for <enter a number of celeb singer names here> for the past 15 years, and so on.
Step 3. Set up an account with a platform that sells courses
Next, you need to set up an account with a course hosting platform. These sites allow you to create a virtual “school” that will host all of your courses.
Here's some of the most popular options on the market:
- Teachable: A solid, reliable and well supported platform with intuitive course creation tools and a well designed, highly customizable sales funnel
- LearnDash: Ability to drip course content over time, easy user registration setup, ability to package your courses into bundles for increased profits
- LearnWorlds: Unlimited courses and sales funnels, mobile friendly, robust affiliate marketing tools, built-in community with social-networking features
- Thinkific: Best free plan for beginners, no transaction fees, fully customize to match your brand, supports quizzes, surveys, prerequisites and student discussions
- Kajabi: Track lesson progress, view grades and get detailed analytics, drip lessons over any time period, easily create quizzes to test your students
Step 4. Stand out from other courses
To differentiate yourself from your competitors, consider offering bonuses or freebies to people who purchase your product.
If you know someone else in your niche (who isn't even in direct competition with you) offer to collaborate with them on something special for students that opt-in for both of your courses.
Here's some ideas:
- An eBook that includes relevant content that complements your main method/course theme
- A tool or cheat sheet that students can reference later
- Exclusive access to a private Facebook group where students can directly communicate with you and other students, ask questions, hold office hours, etc.
- Offer premium coaching sessions at a deep discount for anyone who purchases multiple courses from you
- A free bonus course for graduates of your paid courses
Step 5. Promote your course on multiple channels
The first place to promote your courses is on your own website. Make sure you make your course front and center and give it high-traffic real estate. Also, make your teacher bio easily accessible.
The second place is your email list.
If you’ve been growing an email list over time and have been building a strong relationship with your audience through a drip campaign, then you have an ideal captive audience to promote your course to.
They already know you, like you and trust you, making them ideal sign-up candidates for your online courses.
The next channel to promote your course is social media.
If you regularly post to various networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, depending on your audience, then leverage this social media presence to promote your new courses as well.
Finally, most online learning platforms will have a course review feature where students can leave their feedback about their course experience.
But, don't let your reviews just sit there. Take advantage of this feature by answering them in a timely way. Engage with your students by thanking them and addressing any comments or concerns they may have.
Student reviews are one of the most effective promotion tools in your arsenal because of the power of social proof.
Get Ready, Set, Go!
There are many ways to make money selling online courses, but it all starts with finding out what people want in your niche. Once you know that, the sky's the limit.
The above five steps will help you get started on your path to creating an online course that people in your target audience will not only sign up to but also share their positive experience with others.