Online Learning is a growing market, but with all the competition, finding your way toward earning a profit off an online course can be difficult. In fact, many would-be educators wonder if it’s even possible.
Well, we believe it is. To get you started, here are 7 proven ways to capitalize on online learning.
1. Charge upfront For Online Learning.
A one-off fee at the beginning of a course is usually the easiest for learners to understand—and the easiest to implement. We’re used to paying for courses up-front. It’s easier to justify, and it’s less intimidating than an idea of a recurring payment that never ends.
First day fees also make it easier to sell more online courses later on. When learners pay a monthly subscription, they may hesitate to pay more because they feel they’ve already paid their dues. An up-front fee makes it easier to set expectations about what users are paying for.
2. Offer the Course for Free, then Charge for Certification.
This model was used successfully by Coursera to earn over $1 million in their first year. It seems counterintuitive because companies giving the “valuable” part of the course away for free just for some days. But this can have several advantages for several reasons:
- Builds trust. Learners can sign up for your course without worrying if they’re making a good decision or not.
- Companies get an email list of interested people to market to.
- Certification has professional value—and that’s something people will always pay for.
Given those benefits, charging for certification only could be the easiest way to sell courses online.
3. Charge a Subscription.
As mentioned earlier that people are used to paying for education up-front, as a tuition fee. But that’s not entirely true. Most of us are willing to pay recurring fees for ongoing lessons—music lessons, private tutoring, sports—so long as we believe we’ll continue to gain value from those lessons over time.
This applies to online learning as well. Students hesitate to sign up for a subscription course if they think of their course as a once-and-done program. But creating an ongoing learning program that will keep your learners coming back indefinitely takes a lot more commitment from both you and your learners.
4. Use a Tiered Payment System for Online Learning Services.
Companies don’t have to charge the same fees for every service. If companies operate on a subscription model, they can have some levels be free, but then charge for “premium” functions. Similarly, companies can offer free or reduced-rate introductory courses and then start charging more once learners get into advanced material.
5. Pre-Selling the Courses.
Pre-selling is a great idea for several reasons:
- You don’t have to guess about what your learners are interested in.
- You avoid the sunk cost fallacy because you aren’t tempted to keep dumping resources into a course that won’t sell.
- Companies can use a free pilot lesson to test their idea and build up a subscriber list.
- You’ll have ample motivation to get your course made, without wasting energy anxiously wondering if it will work.
- You don’t have to be shy about this, either. If you have an audience, go ahead and poll them about what course would be most useful to them. Then set up a fundraising campaign. If you don’t meet your goal, then don’t take the course.
6. Sell your Online Learning Services for free—then Funnel it into a Product or Service.
Here’s another way to make money off of “free”: use the course as part of a sales funnel for something else. Maybe someone has a side business selling a line of products. Create a course on how to use them. Or maybe someone has written a self-help book: offer their course as a free perk to anyone who purchases it.
Better yet, use an online course to sell consulting services. You can set up a scheduling system online and hold private sessions with those who need one-on-one training.
Similarly, if you already have a significant online presence (you’re a blogger, you sell a successful product, you’re an online consultant), creating an online course is a natural extension of your business model. Using a platform to sell an online course is an easy way to make money off the thing the company is already doing.
7. Sell Course Licenses.
Finally, sometimes we can create content and sell licenses to companies that don’t want to create the course themselves. They handle the technical details, marketing, and customer service management. All we have to do is create the course and collect the annual licensing fee.
You’ll still have to market your course to the businesses and institutions who might want it, and you’ll have a longer sales cycle. But you’ll also get to charge more, and it can remove some of the management tasks from your schedule.
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