Selling Courses On Your Website in 2021: The Ultimate Guide

Jan 4, 2021 | eLearning Industry

As the literally hundreds of self-help books on the shelves of your local bookstore can tell you (if you read between the lines) one of the easiest ways to gain passive income is to sell knowledge. How to start your business, how to overcome anxiety, how to lose weight, how to be successful… If you know how to do something, you can sell online courses from your own website that cover the topic. And the ease of setting up a website for yourself, whether using a content aggregator, a semi-custom Learning Management System (LMS) or a from-scratch LMS build means you have the opportunity to do this without a publishing deal: all you need is a website, a marketing plan, and some knowledge to spread.

 

The Type of Knowledge You Have Determines How Successful Your Course Sales Will Be

Before you start selling the valuable knowledge in your noggin, you should look at the existing courses that are out there doing what you hope to do. Compare a few success stories with what your goals are, and that will help you decide how to proceed.

 

Sell What You’ve Learned Through Experience or Practice

When it comes to selling courses online, there are typically two types of knowledge you can sell: something you have learned through years of experience others do not have, or something you’ve learned from years of practice others have not done. In either case, you are selling both the information you’ve gleaned and your expertise, which you’ll combine into your lesson plan.

 

Examples To Give You A Jumping Off Point For Selling Online Courses

The ways to sell what you know online are legion, but here are some examples of people who are doing it best.

Kathrine Kofoed- Plant-based weight loss for life

Kathrine uses her killer Instagram knowledge and her personal experience getting healthy and switching to a plant-based diet to inspire her clients to sign up with her.

Alec Steele- Blacksmithing for beginners online course

Alec combines his extremely successful Youtube channel with his skill as a smith to sell a world-class skill few people today are able to get without apprenticing at a forge or trade school.

The Maker’s Mob- A collective of talented makers sell lessons in woodworking, crafting, and more.

This group of successful makers have bound together to sell content that helps anyone learn valuable life skills that use their hands and a few tools.

Howard Schultz Masterclass- An education on business from the founder of Starbucks

This course relies on the notoriety and name recognition of its instructor and the company he created to convince customers to buy-in and learn from him.

Neil Patel- Marketing Guru & Entrepreneur

Neil sells his expertise as a marketer to businesses and individuals alike, offering to train you in his methods or to use those very methods to boost your business.

These are just a few examples, but it should be enough to show you that in order to be successful selling your course, you need to be enough of an expert that you can convince others to pay to learn what you know. If you cannot do that, you won’t sell courses on your website with any degree of success.

 

Outline Your Course Curriculum Before You Start Selling

Knowing what you’re going to teach is the first step, but next you need to know how you’re going to present the information. You could write a book or a whitepaper, but most of the successful online courses tend to rely on video in some way. This topic is too large to cover in this article, but we have another post where you can read about the best ways to plan a lesson.

 

Learning Management Software vs. Marketplace Selling Options

Once you have determined what you know how to do and how you’re going to teach it to others, it comes time to sell it. There are basically three ways to sell courses online which we cover in depth here, but briefly they are:

  • An aggregation site like Udemy, Masterclass or Teachable
  • A semi-custom selling platform like Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCartel, Square, or another selling service
  • A completely custom built LMS that you control

Whichever option you choose to host your content on, know that having the content on the web and for sale is only the first part of a long battle. After that, you need to start marketing.

 

How To Define Target Demographics For Advertising & Marketing When Selling Online Courses

Putting eLearning content on the web and hoping it’ll sell is like putting a garage sale sign on your garage. Sure the few people who happen to swing by might see it and buy something, but if you really want to be successful, you need to hit the pavement and start putting advertising where the people are.

Now, “where the people are” will vary greatly depending on what you intend to teach. But if you are enough of an expert that you feel prepared to teach people what you know, you probably already know who needs your knowledge.

When determining your target audience, think about the largest group and the smallest group.

The largest group should be the biggest pool of people who have a common need: the information you’re selling. It could be craftspeople, or business owners, or women who want to lose weight without needing to exercise, or people who cannot afford trade school but still want to learn a new skill. Advertise to these people in a shotgun-blast style, with lots of ads that are cheap and easy to distribute, and easy to get in front of a lot of eyes. Think of billboards or the ads that play before a movie.

After you know your largest group, you want to find the smallest possible group that it is still fiscally viable to advertise to. This can often be through social media or an online forum site like Reddit. You want to spend a larger chunk of your advertising efforts reaching these folks, because their small, tight-knit community buying into your course can represent a veritable gold mine for you.

Marketing also involves establishing good branding for your course, establishing a social media presence, and search engine optimization.

 

How Much Should You Charge For Your Online Course?

Determining the price to charge for your eLearning content can be nerve wracking for some content creators. The worry is often that you’ll either charge too much and scare away potential customers, or not make enough money for the venture to be profitable. There are a few ways to deal with these concerns.

First off, offer some freemium content on your site, so that you can collect the email addresses and contact information of prospective customers. This allows you to include them in your marketing cycle. Even if they aren’t willing to sign up today, a sale or a perfectly-timed email can make them commit.

Next, determine what is the minimum threshold for profitability given the current number of customers. If you need to make $10,000 a month from the eLearning courses you sell, and you only average 10 customers, you would in theory want to charge $1000 for access to your courses. This isn’t a preposterously high amount, but it definitely changes who your client base is. If you know your prospective customers wouldn’t be able or willing to pay that much, it means you need to invest in marketing and increase the number of paying clients you have per month, OR you need to reduce the price of your content, or both. Knowing the price tolerance of your prospective customers is a big part of planning the price of your content.

 

Last Steps- Build Your Content and Upload It

Your final steps in the process are to actually create the content, and then to get it live on the internet so you can start selling it. It is a decent idea to design your eLearning content using the common standard for the industry, which is to use either SCORM or TinCan.

If you’d rather have someone else build out the content for you, there are services for that as well. Academy of Mine offers a “you plan it, we build it” plan that can help take your rough ideas and catapult them into money-making avenues.

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