How To Sell Online Courses
March 2, 2022
Online courses are a cost-effective and convenient way to learn a new skill or develop current knowledge on a topic. So it’s no surprise that the worldwide e-learning market is projected to be worth $325 Billion in 2025. That’s another great thing about online courses – you can reach anyone in the world.
We don’t blame you for wanting a slice of this market. But a large marketplace often means high competition, meaning you need to offer something special to sell online courses. In this guide, we’ll fill you in on the first things you need to do to sell online courses.
A guide to selling online courses
You can sell online courses with success in 7 steps!
- Choose a subject that sells
- Research your competitors
- Create your course
- Set your prices
- Add value to your online course
- Find a booking solution
- Market your course online
1. Choose a subject that sells
You could put all your efforts into creating a new exciting course, but if there’s no market for it, you won’t sell many. The first step to running a successful online course is to choose a subject that sells. Some popular topics that you should consider are:
- Computer repairs
- Machine learning
- Cyber security
- Software programming
- Business & marketing
- Digital marketing
- Social media marketing
- Website design
- Interior design
- Home workouts
- Weight loss
- Presentation skills
- Media training
- Language skills
- Starting a coaching business
- Content creation
- Podcast hosting
- YouTube video editing
- Personal development
- Conflict management
- Organisation skills
- Social science
- Social psychology
Don’t be afraid to drill down to one specific niche. Not only will this help you convey your expertise and value, but it will make you stand out from generic competitors.
2. Research your competitors
Researching your competitors will help you to clarify the popularity of your chosen topic area. If you can’t find any obvious competitors, take it as a sign that your course won’t sell, and have a re-think.
To find competitors, see who else is profiting from teaching the topic whether that be through podcasts, books, in-person seminars or online courses. Make note of things that are working well for them. This can be anything from course content to their marketing approach. Have they created a community around their course? Do they offer informational newsletters to keep users interested? Have they seen success with a referral scheme?
3. Create your course
Creating your course is the most exciting part of all. After careful planning, this is where you’ll see your vision come to life! Here are the top things to consider…
Plan your modules
It can be exciting to race into creating the content. But behind every great online course is a concrete pan. Things to consider are:
- How many hours long will the course be?
- How many modules will be included?
- What will be the format of the lessons? E.g. video content, text documents, workbooks?
Ideally, modules should be no longer than one hour, as users’ attention span will fade. These modules can be broken down into short lessons to help attendees work at their own pace. We’d recommend including video content where you can since people love it! 91% of educational institutions agree that video increases student satisfaction – that’s a stat you can’t ignore.
Shoot your content
Before you shoot your content, you need to gather all the right equipment. Although smartphones have advanced and can produce high-quality video, professional tools will take your online course to the next level. Since you’ll be charging customers for your course, they need to see that they’re getting their money’s worth.
Firstly, invest in a quality HD camera and editing software. Using smooth transitions and overlaying text on the screen are some of the most important features when editing your online course.
Before you hit record, you need to make sure that the lighting is good and everything you need is in shot. It’s also a nice idea to use a green screen as this will help you add images and graphics to the video. Write a script for each lesson and place it next to the camera so it feels like you’re talking directly to your audience.
Test, test, test! There’s nothing worse than shooting hours of content to find that you were out of focus or the lighting was bad. Film a short clip to test that the sound and picture quality is up to scratch and make any necessary adjustments.
4. Set your prices
To sell online courses, you need to get the pricing structure right. An appealing model will help you attract and retain customers.
There are two routes you can take – a subscription model or take a one-off fee for your course. On a subscription basis, customers will pay a monthly fee to access your course content. Whereas a one-off fee will often be more expensive.
A subscription is beneficial because it is convenient. When you think about it, so many things are on a subscription basis these days. Netflix subscription, Apple Music subscription, you can even have meal boxes delivered weekly. You may find that this method of payment is favoured by course attendees, and it’s the recommended choice for hosts. Subscriptions provide a guaranteed stream of income on a regular basis, whereas the number of one-off payments you gain won’t be consistent from month to month.
As more people subscribe to your online course, you’re able to create a community. This encourages customer loyalty and allows you to suggest extra online courses without it feeling like a sales pitch. Therefore, you have more earning potential.
One-off fees will offer you a large initial payment that isn’t possible with a subscription. However, it can be hard to consistently sell the required amount of courses to turn a profit every month. This is why this model should be approached with more caution.
If you plan to sell one online course rather than a series of related courses, a one-off fee may be best suited to you. As you can’t recommend extra materials or modules to customers after they’ve finished the course, there would be no incentive for them to subscribe.
5. Add value to your online course
Adding value to your online course means you can raise its price and drive more sales. Examples of adding value include bonus resources and upselling other products.
Ideas for bonus materials include:
- Partner with other industry experts to create exclusive insights
- Case studies, reports, templates
- Extra lessons
- Bonus material when you refer a friend
To justify the added value of these bonus resources, they need to be worth the extra money. So you should spend the appropriate amount of time perfecting these materials, or else you’ll have some unhappy customers.
Upselling involves offering extra products during the purchase process. They entice customers to spend more at the last minute and are pretty easy to sell. Two types of upsells to get you started are:
- Coaching – you can offer many variations of this high ticket item: monthly webinars, one-to-one video calls or even face-to-face coaching.
- Live group training – detailed class workshops with the opportunity to engage in discussions
If you choose to add bonus material, you shouldn’t compromise the length of the basic version of your online course. There’s nothing more frustrating than buying a course riddled with gated content. Remember, it’s a bonus after all – the quality of your online course should still remain high.
6. Find a booking solution
To sell online courses at scale, you need a booking solution. Asking prospects to email you to secure their place on the course isn’t convenient for you or the customer, and this can create a barrier to sales. Especially as your business grows, the increase in data will be difficult to manage. This is where a course booking system comes to the rescue!
With an online booking system, customers can browse through the courses you offer, book their place, pay their fee and even access the course. Better still, they can make these bookings 24/7 so you can make money while you sleep. When you promote your course on social media, you can embed the live booking link in your post and profile. The system is updated in real-time, so you don’t need to worry about double bookings for any one-to-one lessons.
As you sell more and more courses, you’ll want a way of tracking performance. This can help you identify which course topics are most popular, and which are generating little return. BookingLive generates detailed reports to give you the information you need to monitor and improve your online course. It can help you spot trends to increase your upsells too. For example, you may find that most people are booking one-to-one lessons after 6pm. From this insight, you could offer more coaching appointments at these times to meet customers’ needs.
7. Market your course online
There are many strategies for marketing your course online. We’ll talk about three methods here but you can learn more in our blog on how to sell tutoring services.
The aim of social media is to get the word out about your course whilst building your brand. Show off your personality in your posts, as this will persuade people to opt for your course over competitors.
The social media platforms that will help you sell your online course are Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram. Although the best platform for you will depend on the type of course on offer. For example, if you’re running a drawing course, Instagram is best suited for showing visual content and videos. You could share photos of attendees’ artwork or post a reel of how to draw a certain scene step by step.
Whereas Linkedin may be preferred if your course is aimed at corporate clients. This would apply to courses about business and personal development. Here, you can network and build connections with industry professionals who may want to enrol their employees on your online course.
Remember to include the live booking link in your posts to make it as easy as possible for customers to sign up!
Email marketing is another channel to take advantage of – it can help you build your online community and continue to share useful content. To give people an incentive to subscribe to your emails, you can offer exclusive deals and early access to course content. When you’ve collected enough contacts in your database, it’s time to send your first email.
Things you could include in your email marketing campaign are:
- Interviews with industry experts
- Latest industry news
- Video content
- Promote your latest blog
- Discount codes
- Early access to your new course
This may all seem complex, but Mailchimp can automate your email marketing campaigns. The perks don’t end there – Mailchimp can be integrated with your BookingLive software so all booking confirmations go straight into your mailing list. You can also design beautiful emails and track their performance with the integration.
The purpose of your online course is to provide valuable information. And there’s no better way of showing off your skills than creating a blog. Here, you can share your expertise on topics and your opinion on industry news to give customers a taste of what they can expect from your course. Blogging doesn’t have to be time-consuming either. Set yourself a goal of writing one blog a month and build momentum from there.
If your online course is going to be health and wellness related, check out our blog on how to promote a fitness class for more advertising tips.
BookingLive: Find out more
We hope you now feel prepped to begin selling online courses! If you’re still on the hunt for a comprehensive booking solution, BookingLive may be ideal for you. Contact us or book a demo of our software so you can see the benefits for yourself.