How to Sell Online Courses
Selling online courses is a powerful way to grow your business. Some studies project online learning will top $390 billion in revenue by 2026. Yet, there are a lot of organizations and individuals competing to sell their courses. To beat the competition, you’ll need to develop a thoughtful strategy for promoting your courses and building your customer base.
What do online courses teach?
Online courses can teach any topic that people are interested in – particularly subjects that people see value in paying to learn about. These courses can be less technical, such as an introductory class on photography. They can also be highly technical, such as how to set up data analysis and build dashboards for marketing analytics software.
Why teach an online course?
Online courses can be a lucrative source of revenue. However, you will have more success teaching on a topic that you possess expertise on or are passionate about. There are several reasons to create and sell online courses, such as:
- Grow awareness for your brand. Some organizations will sell courses with the goal of promoting a product or service along the way. This is a win-win scenario because participants learn a new skill and you create a platform to highlight your offerings..
- Build a business on teaching skills. Some organizations specialize in simply providing training and education for various disciplines. This is not much different than a traditional university, with the exception that the course material is likely more specialized. This would be similar to vocational training or continuing education for professionals who need additional industry related training.
- Cultivate loyalty with your target audience. Offering online courses is a great way to establish your organization’s thought leadership in a respective discipline.
Whether you are a business or an individual, these are a few key reasons to consider offering and selling online courses.
How to start selling your courses
There’s more to selling a course than just creating a good curriculum. You need to think about how to go about promoting the class and beating your competition. Here are a few items to consider as you start selling your online course.
Define your audience
In the world of online learning, defining a specific focus is key. Identify a niche audience who will benefit from your information and target that group. Once you find out what makes your ideal customer tick, it becomes easier to market your course. Ask yourself a series of questions to create a buyer’s persona:
- What does your audience do for a living?
- What’s their age range?
- Is there a specific demographic for your content?
Use language and examples that appeal to this specific group (or groups). Speak to your audience using a style and tone they can relate to.
Find the competition
Who is your competition and what do they have to say on the subject? You don’t have to be an industry leader to succeed. However, you will want to offer something unique that they do not. Burger King, for example, has a simple business model; “Find a successful McDonald’s restaurant, and build a Burger King across the street.” Try and leverage the success of your competition to help your own business.
One quick way to find out what’s working for your competitors is keyword research. Use search engine keywords that you would probably use to find your own training course. A little research might reveal your idea is already saturated with courses, or that your particular approach to the subject has the potential to succeed. Don’t forget to observe the messaging your competitors use. What is their unique selling point, and can you describe yours? What kind of price range does the competition charge? Conducting thorough research into your audience and your competitors is critical to craft a compelling message.
Entice potential customers
Raising awareness for your training courses is a matter of good marketing tactics. You’ll first need to identify channels to help you reach potential customers, this can include digital and offline platforms depending on your business. You’ll need to create promotional content to share, such as a simple graphic with details about your course. You will also likely want to build a web page to direct potential customers to learn more about your course.
Once you’ve created your content, you can leverage tools to help target specific audiences. This could be social media platforms, such as Facebook, or it could be more direct advertising with Google Ads. With Google Ads, you can create simple search ads that direct people to your website, or you can create display ads that will leverage images or videos to attract potential customers.
The keyword research you performed while studying your audience and competition are essential in this step. What keywords will potential customers use to find you? How are they finding the competition? Are you hoping to appeal to a wide range of customers, or would you prefer to narrow down your audience with highly targeted advertising? Perhaps listing your course on an existing training site is a better use of your money. There are lots of platforms that already exist with listings of niche-specific courses such as Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursea just to name a few. These platforms are potentially a good place to start hosting and promoting your course. A strong support web site and advertising on social media are also good ideas.
Your course material has value, but price yourself realistically or you won’t sell many courses. Offering a lower price than your competitors is a great way to attract potential customers. You may even consider offering first-time discounts to get people interested.
Many business models are at break-even or even a loss at the onset, so don’t be surprised if you aren’t making a profit right away. Offer a solid product at a fair price and get it in front of people who need it. Customers are willing to pay more for something unique, so consider pointing out value that your competition lacks.
Buy The Right Tools
You’ve built your training curriculum and now are ready to start selling the courses. How are people supposed to register? At some point, you will need a registration management system to facilitate the actual registering, learning, and tracking for courses.
Systems, such as Learning Stream, handle everything from collecting payments to sending out certificates when customers complete the course. Ideally, you want a system to handle as many steps of the process as possible, so automation can take over time-consuming administrative tasks. Offering a seamless registration process is especially important for online learning, as it gives people an idea of what to expect from your course.
Create an Engaging Experience
Once your potential customer is at your website or landing page, make sure the experience is positive. Keep the fluff to a minimum – make it easy to scan and locate what they are looking for. Descriptions should be accurate and informative, and all photos should look professional, clear and accurately represent your topic. The pathway to purchase should be clear and easy with only a few clicks from start to finish. You want to avoid any “buyer’s remorse” and leave a positive impression when finishing the transaction. Collect only necessary information, whether charging a fee or not, to build trust. A happy customer is far more likely to become a return customer, which results in recurring revenue.
Selling courses online is a great way to generate income in our tech-savvy world. Book a demo today to see how Learning Stream can help you sell and manage your courses.