Online courses are taking over the education sector. The eLearning market is projected to exceed $325 Billion by 2025.
The number of online course creators has been on a steady rise for the past few years, but now, with the advent of the coronavirus, it has grown exponentially as more and more people look to the online space to enhance their knowledge and skills.
There are tons of opportunities for anyone to carve out a piece of this lucrative industry for themselves as long as they have knowledge or expertise that an audience is willing to pay for.
Read the rest of this article to discover why online courses are a great revenue generator, as well as the steps you can take to create your own wildly profitable online course starting right now.
Why Online Courses are a Great Revenue Generator
The online education sector is flourishing. There are more people than ever before who are creating courses and getting paid for sharing their knowledge and expertise.
One of the reasons why online courses offer such great revenue generation opportunities is that they allow people to learn from anywhere, whether it’s in the comfort of their own homes, at the office, or even during their daily commute.
Online courses are flexible and move the complexities of having to commute to a physical classroom, which makes them perfect for today’s social distancing environment.
There are many reasons why you might consider this avenue as a means to generate revenue.
Here are the top benefits for creating and selling online courses:
- Generate Passive Income: You only have to create an online course once, but you can sell it over and over again to countless students, generating income on autopilot.
- Reach Wider Audiences: Online courses allow you to break geographical barriers and reach learners across the globe, many of whom you may not have reached otherwise.
- Work from Anywhere: You can create and sell your courses from anywhere in the world as long as you have your laptop and an internet connection.
- Easy Management: With a comprehensive LMS (learning management system), you’ll have all the tools you need to control your entire online institute, including website management, mobile apps, marketing and engagement tools, etc.
- No Mundane Routines and Schedules: Online courses offer the flexibility of time. You can work when you want to, without being limited to the constraints of the 9-to-5 routine.
These are just a few of the many reasons why online courses offer such amazing revenue-generating opportunities.
But, the absolute best part is that you can get started creating your own online courses even if you have a limited budget.
There’s no material, extra costs, paperwork, etc. involved when it comes to teaching online. You don’t have to deal with manufacturing, shipping, or delivery costs.
All the aspects involved in creating, launching, marketing, and selling your course are carried out online, and by using an online course platform like LearnWorlds, Teachable, or Coursera, you won’t need to worry about designing, developing, or maintaining your course platform.
You won’t need to invest a lot of money to build your online course business. In fact, you can even get started for free! There are even platforms that will allow you to create free online courses (albeit with limited bandwidth).
But wait! Don’t you need experience to create an online course?
As an edupreneur (an entrepreneur who operates in the education sector), you will be responsible for the planning and successful operation of an educational service.
The good news is that you don’t need any special certification, degree, or license to create an online course.
Today’s educators come from all walks of life, and not all of them work for accredited educational institutions – yet many are making a full-time income online.
How much can you make?
Well, it depends on a few factors, such as your course price, audience size, and conversion rate, but there are course creators who are making 6-figure incomes from their online course sales.
In fact, the majority of online course creators are people who managed to identify a specific niche where they have expertise or experience and then figured out how to package their knowledge into the course that they sold commercially in order to be able to benefit from their hard-earned skills.
If you have any specialized knowledge that other people could benefit from, you too can create and sell online courses to start generating revenue from what you know.
If you are still not sure whether or not you should create an online course, just answer the following questions:
- Do you have specialized knowledge that you can use to help other people overcome obstacles or achieve goals?
- Are you good at figuring out ways to help people finish tasks or solve problems?
- Can you share your professional or personal experience in a way that helps others learn from your failures or successes?
- Are there a lot of people who have expressed interest in your industry or profession?
- Do you have the skills to build or make something that other people might like to use?
- Do you have an interesting hobby or vocation that other people might like to explore with you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you have something to share with the world. More than that, you have knowledge, passion, skills, or experience that you can monetize by creating an online course.
For people who don’t have the time or knowledge to create their own online course, there are private label rights (PLR) courses. These are courses that someone else created. They sell these courses to be used by someone else. That someone could be you.
However, PLR courses are something you have to buy, so if you don’t have much disposable income, it’s probably best you find a little extra time in your schedule and start teaching the world something new. It only takes 5 steps.
5 Steps to Creating Your Own Wildly Successful Online Course
Below is a step-by-step guide to help you create an amazing online course that your audience will be eager to get their hands on.
Step #1: Choose Your Niche
Finding success within the online venture comes down to being able to choose the right niche. You must choose a topic that you (and your online learners) will stay passionate about.
There are enough people interested in the topic for you to be able to build an audience. However, the niche should also be narrow enough so that there isn’t too much competition.
Some niches are more profitable than others, and that’s yet another thing to consider when choosing your online course niche.
Here are a few examples of niches around which online educators have created profitable online courses:
- Cooking and baking
- Personal development
- Beauty and fashion
- Graphic design
These are just a few of the countless interests that make for extremely lucrative online courses.
In reality, people can teach others how to do virtually anything online – including some ridiculous topics such as this course on “The Art of Walking”, offered by the Center College in Danville, Kentucky.
This just goes to prove that with the right marketing strategy, you can sell ANY course online.
Step #2: Choose Your Online Course Platform
The right platform can be the difference between a successful and profitable online course or one that never gets noticed.
When choosing an online course platform, you need a solution that offers the following features:
- Customizable Design Options: Today’s users are savvy and demand expertly designed courses with interfaces that are easy to navigate. If you can’t provide that for your customers, you will likely lose them.
- Built-In Marketing Tools: Many course platforms include built-in features so you don’t have to integrate third-party marketing tools and apps to help you build an audience and sell your course.
- Various Content Media Types: Most of the best-performing courses online are those that have different types of media, visuals, interactive elements, etc. to help enhance the learning experience.
- Course Release Flexibility: You also want a course platform that gives you the flexibility to choose how you release your course, whether you release every part of it at once, or if you slowly drip the course to your students’ accounts.
- Ecommerce Functionality: Selecting a course platform with ecommerce functionality will allow you to better sell your course as well as any digital or real-life merchandise — which is a great way to expand your brand’s reach while creating a new revenue stream.
Some online courses teach various coding, gaming, or other computer skills. While online course platforms may be helpful for building courses around these topics, it may be better to select from some of the best streaming software like OBSstudio or OneStream to complement your courses.
Streaming software often allows both live broadcasting and screen streaming. Using these services is a way to teach students live while you show them what to do on your screen. You can do anything from teaching HTML formatting on WordPress to building empires on Minecraft.
Step #3: Outline and Build Your Online Course
Your next step is to create an outline for your course. This will help ensure that your knowledge is organized and flows perfectly once you start creating the actual course.
Outlining involves structuring your course and then filling in the blanks so that you have a very good idea of what you’re going to teach, as well as how you’ll teach it.
Follow these steps to create a course outline:
- Identify the main learning outcome.
- List all necessary skills required to achieve the primary learning outcome.
- Create course modules from the skill checklist.
- Develop learning goals for each course module.
If you find yourself having trouble creating a course outline, you can search for online course outline templates to make your job a little easier.
Once you’re done with the outline, it’s time to start creating/recording the content for your online course.
Your lessons can be text, video, podcasts, webinars, etc. Choose whichever media type will help you get the message across and answer the questions that need to be answered.
You can either create content from scratch or recycle old content that you’ve already created. Either way, make sure that your lessons are effective and engaging to make them worth your students’ time and money.
For instance, if you researched and created your own top-performing content related to the topic, why not incorporate it into your course?
Just make sure to add new, relevant material so your students get tons of value from each lesson.
Step #4: Launch Your Online Course
Once your course content has been created, it’s time to launch your course. Keep in mind that much of your success will depend on how easily students can find your course, which is why it’s important to have a strong marketing plan in place before launch day. You should think of it in advance.
To get the right marketing plan, you may need a marketing proposal to receive help from a specialist. When it comes down to choosing between a traditional marketing approach or something more digital, what really matters is your audience’s needs and desires as they pertain specifically towards this particular service being offered by you.
For instance, you might consider the following promotional content well in advance to make it easier for students to find your course on launch day and beyond.
- Blog post announcement
- Social posts
- Email blasts
- YouTube promotions
- Podcast interviews
- Digital advertisements
- Influencer marketing
- Course affiliate programs
… and so on.
If you can get the initial launch phase right, you’ll be able to set your online course up for success and profitability in the long term.By the time launch day comes, you will (hopefully) have a ton of eager students who can’t wait to get their hands on your knowledge.
Just remember that the more channels you create, the more you’re going to have to manage. While it’s important to use multiple channels to reach potential students, you need to practice good channel management. Perhaps start with email marketing and Facebook. Once you have a good conversion rate through those, you can diversify into other channels.
Don’t start too big too fast — or you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed and undervalued.
Step #5: Market Your Online Course
This final step isn’t something that you can do once and be done. It’s an ongoing process that you will need to maintain for as long as you want to generate income from your course.
But, the good news is that most of the hard work comes at the beginning. Later on, you can set up your marketing and sales funnels to run on autopilot.
For now, you must put systems in place to get the marketing engine running, and the more effort you put in at the beginning, the more revenue you are likely to generate from your online course (provided you follow a strong marketing strategy).
Having said that, marketing your online course is something that is highly specific to you, your background, your product, and various other factors. It also depends on things such as your current network, personal preferences, and so on.
For example, some online course marketers prefer email marketing while others would rather focus on social media, while others have developed entire courses as lessons which you receive in the form of a weekly newsletter.
You might prefer to use Facebook Live or YouTube ads, or even focus on marketing your course to your blog.
But, to get the best possible results, it’s a good idea to create a diverse marketing strategy that focuses on getting to your target audience via different channels.
Here are a few ideas for marketing your online course:
- Paid Traffic: If you have the budget, it’s a good idea to advertise so you can get your course in front of relevant people in the quickest time possible. Paid traffic allows you to take advantage of existing audiences which saves you a lot of time and effort trying to build up demand for your course via other ways, such as SEO, social media, email marketing, etc.
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Quora. These are just a few of the many social media platforms where you can begin to generate free traffic and leads for your online course. But you need an effective social media marketing plan, otherwise, this will eat up much of your time without accomplishing much if you’re not careful.
- Search Engine Optimization: SEO is a way of attracting people to your online course who are interested in the same topics and could benefit from the information you provide. In most cases, SEO involves creating a blog where you can regularly publish search-optimized content that points people toward your product.
- Guest Blogging: Guest blogging is all about providing high-quality content on other blogs in your niche. Aside from the many SEO benefits that you get from guest blogging, being seen on different authority blogs in your niche will expose you to brand-new audiences and boost your credibility and authority, which makes it more likely that you will get more students interested in your course content.
- Affiliate Programs: Affiliate programs are among the absolute best ways to market your course because you get to make sales with zero effort. Other marketers do all the work to get your course in front of your target audience, and you only pay them if they make a sale. It’s a win-win situation that will help you increase sales without having to spend more money or energy on your marketing.
Don’t forget to keep your students engaged.
According to recent statistics, only about 5-15% of students who start an online course actually finish it. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure that your online course material is engaging.
You also need to find other ways to keep students motivated throughout the whole experience. This can be on social media, on your blog, YouTube channel, or anywhere else.
Whatever extra motivation you can provide your students with will help them keep moving forward towards achieving their goals.
The more students you can help to attain their goals, the more successful you will be as an online course creator.
Older students will not only come back to buy future courses, but they will also tell their friends and connections about your course and how it helps them, which results in more potential buyers for your course.
I hope I’ve convinced you that online courses are great revenue generators. Just keep in mind that this article (particularly the 5 steps to creating an online course) was just a bird’s-eye-view of what’s necessary for creating a successful online course.
You can use this article as a resource – a helpful first step – toward your journey to success as an online educator.
So, are you ready to take the first step toward creating your first online course? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Ron Stefanski is a website entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online business. You can learn more from him by visiting OneHourProfessor.com