People go online to get the answers they need. If you’re wondering how to train for a marathon, you go online. Want to learn Mandarin? Google it. Curious about the environmental impact of producing meat? There’s a course for that.
While people used to read books for information, now society craves content that’s available with the click of a button. That’s where online courses come in. If you can think of a topic, then there’s probably an online course on it.
There are three aspects of online learning that appeals to everyone getting started in the industry: ease of use, global accessibility, and the rise of collaborative learning.
1. Ease of use
Convenience sells. It’s why there are same-day shipping services and voice-controlled remotes. Similarly, online courses are extremely easy to use for both the educator and the student.
For educators, all you need is your brain and access to the internet. If you’re not an expert in a certain area, don’t create a course about it. You must create a course within your area of expertise.
There are many tools (we’ll get into that later) and resources available to help you make the course once you’ve outlined what you’d like to teach. Simply record videos, and upload your content to get started.
For students, all they have to do is sign up and commit to participating.
2. Global accessibility
Your audience can be anywhere when you create an online course, which is a major perk considering most in-person classes can only serve the geographical area in which they are teaching.
With online courses, people from all over the world can tune in and learn about your area of expertise. The more people that take your course, the more money you’ll make.
3. Collaborative learning
Remember the days when you’d have study groups for your coursework? Collaborative learning is just that, but for professionals. This type of learning is centered around coworkers connecting with each other, sharing knowledge.
At G2, we had our copywriter create a course for our content marketers on direct response copy techniques. He shared his expertise with our team, and now the entire organization can re-watch and reuse that online course.
How much can you make selling online courses?
As with any business, it depends.
If done incorrectly, you can lose money. If done correctly, you can make a lot…like six figures.
There are many factors that determine how much you can make when selling an online course. As with any business, the greater the demand and the fewer competitors you have, the better your business will perform.
How do you make an online course profitable?
Making an online business profitable is a daunting task, but with the right combination of skill and knowledge, you should be on your way to making money.
There are several aspects of online courses that will impact your profitability. Keep these in mind from start to finish so that you can make the most of your work.
The price of the course: This should go without saying, but you want to make sure your course is priced correctly so that you can acquire customers and also make money. Consider looking at the prices of competing courses to make sure you’re competitively priced. If you’re priced too high, people will take another course; if you’re priced too low, you won’t make as much profit.
Your personal brand recognition: If you already have a strong following on social media, that audience will work to your advantage.
Your level of expertise: People will know if you’re pretending to be knowledgeable in a specific area. Stick to teaching within your area of expertise.
The quality of your content: Create videos, interactive content, podcasts, and social media posts to make your online course stand out.
The course topic: If there’s not a group of people looking to learn your area of expertise, don’t expect them to take your course. Choose a topic that’s in high demand or trendy.
SEO: Make sure when people are searching for a course, yours is one of the first to show up on a search engine.
How to create an online course
Before you start to sell your online course, you must make sure you’ve created the best online course.
If you follow these in order, you’ll be one step closer to earning a profit. But the work doesn’t stop here.
Making the first sale in any business can be tricky. The online courses market is flooded, so your content needs to be engaging, valuable, and stand out from the competition.
How to sell your online course
Now for the important part. You’ve put all the time and effort into creating an online course, so you should reap the benefits of profiting from it.
Below are six steps to follow to ensure you sell your online course or courses to as many people as possible.
1. Choose the right platform
There are many different platforms to upload your online course onto. If you’re choosing to host your course on an online course provider, you’ll already have an established audience.
However, keep in mind these course providers are not free. They take a percentage of your earnings, which can be unattractive to some.
2. Create a landing page
If people are going to spend money on your online course, then just having a quick pop-up to buy isn’t going to cut it. If you want to gather email addresses to sell your course, then it’s crucial that you set up a landing page.
Landing pages give you the ability to pitch your course to a potential customer. The goal of a landing page is clear, to sell your online course. Without an online course, this offer might get lost on your website or another site.
All your landing page needs is a snappy headline, sub-copy that addresses what pain points your course will solve and what value it can bring to someone, and a call to action for them to buy or download.
If you have an impressive background in the area of the course, include a short bio as well. When people start loving your course, ask them for testimonials and display them on the landing page, too.
3. Develop a sales funnel
After you’ve created your landing page, it’s important to map out your potential buyers’ journeys using a sales funnel.
The first step in the funnel is building awareness. Awareness is built when people first find out about your online course. This is likely because they have a problem and your course can provide the solution to them.
After awareness comes the interest part of the funnel. When people are interested, it means they’ve come to your landing page and have done some research around your online course.
From there comes the decision-making process. In order to help people make the decision, you can give nudges with email marketing, create valuable content for them to read, or you can remind them of your course by posting on social.
The last part of the sales funnel is action, which is the moment the shopper clicks ‘buy.' Make sure the buying process is seamless, otherwise it can be a barrier that prohibits people from following through with the purchase.
Now that you understand the sales funnel, you need to bring traffic into your funnel using marketing tactics like email marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing.
4. Consider email marketing
Using the list of emails you get from your landing page, create a highly-targeted email marketing campaign. When done right, email marketing has a high ROI (return on investment).
As previously mentioned, gather email addresses from your landing page. Then, use all of those emails to develop your email marketing campaign. Newsletters are very successful because they contain information and leave room for a call to action.
You can also give your email subscribers exclusive offers and discounts toward your course to keep them interested. But always offer value like content before offering a deal. The less sales-y your emails, the better.
Don’t forget to have catchy subject lines so that your email doesn’t sit unopened in someone’s mailbox.
5. Write compelling content
Develop a content marketing strategy so that you can provide more educational value to your target audience. Not only will content help your SEO, but it’ll also make people feel like you care about their education.
Write blog posts about your area of expertise so that people can see proof that you truly know what you’re talking about before taking the course. Then, share your blogs on social media.
6. Leverage social media
If you aren’t already active on social media, it’s time you start. Building a social media presence will help you share your expertise and entice more people to take your course. Make social accounts dedicated to your online course and post engaging content regularly.
Don’t just use social media to get new customers. Use it to keep current learners engaged and loyal. Share unique knowledge within your area of expertise covered in your course.
Facebook can be used to create a community of people to discuss your online course and engage with you. Use Twitter to post updates and relevant articles. LinkedIn is great for courses that cover job-related topics.
Education is power
Online courses help people further their education, and with that education comes more power to grow and participate in society. After you decide which area of expertise you’d like to share with the world, create your online course.
The work doesn’t stop there, however; you must work hard to sell your course. By choosing the right platform and marketing your online course properly, you’ll be able to make money by selling your online course.
Professional development should be an important part of every company. Learn about the five key benefits of online learning platforms and how they can help your team grow their skills.
Deirdre O’Donoghue is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2. She brings her passion for research and creativity to her writing. In her free time you can find Deirdre fostering puppies or exploring the Chicago foodie scene. (she/her/hers)