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How to Sell an Online Course? (8 Most Profitable Niches)

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How Much Money Can You Make Selling Online Courses?

Many people wonder how to sell an online course for a wide variety of reasons, including: 

But, how much can you make when you sell an online course? This can vary a great deal, a popular online course could earn anywhere from $0 for a free course op to $50,000 or more every month. Many course creators earn $1,000-$5,000 per month and the best online course creators can earn much more.

What Online Courses Sell Best?

Like an aspect of online commerce there are courses that are more popular and lucrative than others. 

Some profitable niches, include:

  1. Education.
  2. Career Development.
  3. Computers and Technology.
  4. Health Advice.
  5. Business and Entrepreneurship.
  6. Arts and Crafts.
  7. Content Creation.
  8. Personal Development.

Steps to Sell An Online Course

If you’re interested in how to create an online course to share your skills and provide training there are a number of steps to follow that will make the process far easier. Let’s take a look at each step in a little more detail before you begin:

Step One: Choose the Course Topic

If you’ve got this far, it’s likely that you already have a topic in mind for your online course. However, if you’re struggling to find a niche it’s a great idea to take a look at your own life and ask yourself three key questions, they are:

  1. Do you have expertise in a certain skill that other people need?
  2. Have you ever solved a problem for someone that other people could not solve?
  3. Do you find that your friends, family and colleagues ask for your help with certain tasks?

Answering these questions should help you to determine good possibilities for an online course that you could create to help people. 

Step Two: Ask Your Audience

If you already have a following on social media or other platforms you can always ask your audience what they would like to learn. Creating a simple survey of topics that you’re interested in covering can be very helpful. You can share this via your email list and/or the usual platforms to gather opinions. 

Consider a poll on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms and ask your audience directly. When you interact with your audience in this way it often attracts interest from other people that may purchase your online course.

Step Three: Build Your Own Knowledge

Perhaps there is a particular topic that you would like to become better at yourself and you know that other people are in a similar situation. If this is the case, you could throw yourself into that subject, become an expert and share that knowledge in an online course format. 

If you’re not sure if this is a viable option, conduct some preliminary research to see how long it might take to become an expert. This may be faster than you think if the topic is a niche subject that you’re already interested in learning more about. You could even explore what courses are already available on Udemy.

Udemy Summary

  • Udemy markets your courses for you
  • Passive income opportunity – you create and publish your course once and it sells for unlimited times
  • Leverage the base of over 35 million online learners Udemy has
  • Udemy gives you insights into your target market

Step Four: Thorough Course Research

Once you’ve decided on a subject for your online course it’s time to carry out some thorough research. This can take place on and offline, start with what you already know and then consult academic and professional resources. 

Take a look at your competition. If there isn’t any, congratulations you picked a great niche. However, in most cases there will be other free and paid materials to teach your subject online. 

But, if you dig a little deeper you can often find sub-topics and lesser known categories where your course can dominate. This will take time, but the effort will pay off later because you will have a very clear idea of what your online course will cover.

Step Five: Create a Course Outline

Each of the categories and themes will need to be divided into sections. Each section needs to occur in a logical order that makes sense when you look at the entire course.

The course can be ordered in a number of ways, such as: 

  • Difficulty, 
  • Chronologically, 
  • Logically. 

The key thing to bear in mind is that each section should take the student from one learning experience to the next in a natural fashion. 

If your online course is a self-directed learning experience that has a looser structure, the exact order of each section may be less relevant. In this particular case you may only need an introduction and a good navigation system to find each category. 

Step Six: Setting Goals and Objectives

When you look at how to create an online course for free, it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of what you are trying to achieve. For this reason, it’s a great idea to write down your learning goals and objectives for each online course you create: 

  • A Learning Goal: This is a general statement that defines the nature of the training course and what it will teach the student. 
  • A Learning Objective: This is also referred to as a “Learning Outcome” and it defines what the student should be expected to be capable of when they complete your course.

Once you’ve defined these clearly you will find it easier to market your course. Prospective students will understand what the course covers and how it can help them. This will make it easier for them to make a choice in whether they should invest in your online course. 

There are three key ways that setting learning goals and objectives can help. They are:

  1. You can organize the course materials easily.
  2. Communication with students is simple and they can evaluate their own progress.
  3. It’s easier to align a learning objective with evaluation tools.

Setting the learning goals and objectives for your online course will simplify your course creation and implementation.

Step Seven: Create Your Content

This is the meat and potatoes of your course. The lessons, activities and learning tools that you create can be written, audio, video or a mixture of all three. 

An experienced trainer will be able to create many of these resources themselves. However, if you’re launching your first online course it’s likely that you will be repurposing some of your older content into a new format. 

A typical example would be a blogger that wants to create an audio or video course based on their written articles. 

This is a great way to start and if you don’t have the skills, you can always outsource certain tasks. Creating unique content does take longer, but if the niche has evolved a great deal it may be necessary.

This is a great way to start and if you don’t have the skills, you can always outsource certain tasks. Creating unique content does take longer, but if the niche has evolved a great deal it may be necessary.

Step Eight: Pricing Your Course

When it’s time to set the price of your course there are six key factors that you need to consider first, they are:

  1. Competition: If there are lots of courses offering the same training how does your course differ? Do you need to offer more or set a lower price to compete?
  2. Course Length: If your course is long and it took a great deal of effort to create this should be reflected in the price.
  3. Authority, Credibility and Branding: If you have a great deal of pull in your niche you may have respect and generate trust in your products. This would mean that you could charge more for your course and people would be prepared to pay a premium for your training. But, if you’re just starting out the price must be lower because you lack authority, credibility and branding. For now.
  4. The Value of Outcome: How drastic is the change that you are offering your students? If your course can have a major impact on their life it should be worth more.
  5. Create and Income Goal: How much money are you expecting to earn? You need to calculate your earnings, don’t undervalue your time and be realistic.
  6. Create Your Pricing Strategy: If you have a solid financial plan you will find it easier to establish your goals for each course and how much you expect to earn.

When you consider pricing models there are two main choices, there are:

  1. One Time: The student pays for the course upfront on using an installment model to get access to your training.
  2. Recurring: The student pays for the training on a regular basis (weekly or monthly) to access regular training.

In most cases the recurring pricing model is the most lucrative option but it only works for a larger niche which evolves constantly. If you have a narrow niche topic to teach the one time access model is more appropriate.

Platforms to Sell an Online Course

1. Thinkific

(Fees: $49 per month)

Thinkific is a great platform. It features a comprehensive software solution that allows you to create, market, deliver and sell their online courses. This is an attractive option because Thinkific doesn’t charge transaction fees on their free or paid plans. 

However, you can’t offer your course for free because the payment processor (Stripe, PayPal and others) always charge a transaction fee. 

Thinkific has a $49 per month basic paid plan that is a significant step up from the free option. 

If you go with an annual membership the monthly costs drops to $39 per month which is a great investment if you want to create multiple online courses.

2. Teachable

(Fees: $39 per month)

The Teachable platform was started by a team that left Udemy after frustration with how the platform was run. Office politics aside, Teachable is a great resource if you want to share your online course with the world. 

As a creator, you can:

  • Create your course, 
  • Gather student data, 
  • Sell your course 
  • Control every aspect of your branding 

All of this is in a single location. The Teachable plan is available at $39 per month but this drops to $29 per month if you go with an annual payment option. 

At the lowest tier of membership, you will pay a flat 5% transaction fee on every course you sell. If you step up to the next tier, the transaction fees are waived. Every plan includes unlimited access to students and courses.

Teachable Summary

  • One-stop-shop platform helping you create, market and sell your online courses
  • Website customization opportunity – you have your custom domain and can choose your website template that matches your course look and feel
  • You can offer different payment options (Stripe or PayPal account)
  • Course completion certificates are offered on the Professional plan & up

3. Click4Course

(Fees: $79 per month)

Click4Course is a relative newcomer to the online course field. But it’s a solid alternative to established platforms, such as Teachable, Udemy and Thinkific. 

One of the most interesting features is that you can configure a site for internal training. You can create a login screen or set it up as a standard online course with a catalog. 

If you want to try Click4Course, they have a 30-day free trial. You don’t need to submit your credit card information to start. 

If you like the platform, the monthly fee is $79 but this drops to $65 if you pay annually. Unlimited learners pay a 10% processing fee for every course sold on Click4Course. The is a more expensive alternative to other online course platforms. But it tests very well in surveys and certifications making it a popular choice with students.

4. Learn Worlds

(Fees: $29 per month)

LearnWorlds has a lot of traction at the moment. The company has positioned itself as a premium learning platform for dedicated students. Part of the attraction is the emphasis on interactivity and a suite of social learning tools that complement the course content. LearnWorlds has made a great deal of effort to create optimized sales pages for courses.

A 30-day free trial is available without a credit card. If you like the platform the pricing is very competitive. 

LearnWorlds costs only $29 per month or $24 if you go with the annual starter plan. The company charges $5 per sale. If you move up to the next tier, there are no additional fees to be paid on each course sold. 

LearnWorlds is certainly a different option. The team offers a variety of services to help creators to upload, develop, customize and convert their learning content. This is one of the few learning platforms that supports SCORM and it’s an excellent resource for online course creators.

5. Udemy

(Fees: 50% commission)

Udemy is a well recognized online learning platform that seeks to democratize education for anyone with an internet connection. The online courses are presented in a straightforward manner with video, pdf, slide and other support. 

You can easily link to other platforms such as YouTube videos to share part of their course and generate interest. 

The Udemy marketplace has useful promotion tools and it’s free to use. As a creator, you pay a 50% fee on each course sold via the Udemy platform. 

If a course sells due to your own marketing efforts you keep 97% of the money. Udemy simply charges a 3% transaction fee. 

All Udemy courses are charged in $5 increments from $20 up to $200. This may be too restrictive for some course creators.

How Much Should I Charge for an Online Course?

Most online courses are priced at around $50. But when you price your own course you need to factor in the time and resources you invested. It’s tempting to price a course at a lower price point to drive sales.

However this is not a sound strategy. It can be intimidating to set a price to share your skills and knowledge online. Just remember, this barrier must be overcome to become successful.

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