Do you want to learn how to sell online courses?
As an expert on a certain topic, you have undoubtedly acquired tons of valuable knowledge that can greatly benefit other people in your industry.
But instead of sharing your knowledge for free, you can package it in the form of an online course and sell it to interested users.
Thankfully, with the myriad of tools available to entrepreneurs today, mastering how to sell online courses has never been easier.
Whether you are creating an online course for the first time or want to improve an existing online business, this post will inform you on how to sell online courses and make a profit.
Why Do You Need to Know How to Sell Online Courses?
The eLearning market has grown exponentially over the last few years, making online course creation an attractive way to generate revenue.
This is because people are constantly investing in their education and for most, online courses are a great way to fill knowledge gaps.
That said, for you to make a profitable online course business, 90% of your work will involve selling and marketing your course. It's only by promoting yours that you will get people to buy from you.
Keep in mind that several factors affect how profitable your course material will be. These include:
- Brand recognition
- Level of expertise
- Size of your audience
- Training content
- Audience income level
- Market size
- Your marketing skills
A strong personal or brand recognition comes in handy when learning how to sell online courses. For instance, Dorie Clark adds the logo of the publications that have featured her to improve her credibility.
Image via Dorie Clark
Some professionals who make a profit by selling online courses include:
YouTubers are using their video content to design online courses. For example, Sunny Lenarduzzi has an online course titled YouTube for Bosses where she teaches YouTube marketing in detail.
Image via CourseRanks
Bloggers are also monetizing their content with affiliate links and banner ads. Danny Iny rebranded his popular Fireside Marketing blog to Mirasee and started selling online courses to monetize his marketing knowledge.
Image via Mirasee
Podcasters are increasingly abandoning sponsorship deals and learning how to sell online courses. John Lee Dumas created an online course on podcasting to monetize his knowledge.
Image via Podcasters’ Paradise
Authors are also learning how to sell online courses to supplement their book revenues.
Dorie Clark, used the success of her books to create several online courses on personal branding.
Image via Dorie Clark
Coaches and Consultants
Coaches and consultants are also scaling their operations by mastering how to sell online courses. Mari Smith provides consultancy services on Facebook marketing.
Image via Mari Smith
Other professionals who have embraced selling online courses include athletes, fitness experts, dancers, and software developers.
Step by Step Guide on How to Sell Online Courses
Now that you know the benefits of selling online courses and what to expect, the next step is learning how to create your own online course and sell it to your target audience.
Below are the steps you need to follow to grasp how to sell online courses.
Create the Online Course
Here are the easy-to-follow steps when it comes to creating an online course.
Choose a Course Topic
The first thing you need to do as you learn how to sell online courses is to come up with a topic for your online course. The best option is always to highlight your expertise.
Renowned leadership expert, Simon Sinek used his expertise to launch several courses targeting individuals who hold leadership positions in organizations.
Image via Simon Sinek
Investing in a skill is another great way to decide on the topic for your online course. Deanne Love, the founder of HoopLovers, has a passion for hula-hooping and always danced in the park to practice her moves.
After numerous inquiries, Deanne realized that she could create an online course to teach people around the world her moves.
Image via HoopLovers
Other ways to find a topic for your online course include:
- Get audience feedback through surveys – Send a list of your course ideas to your contacts and ask them to choose a topic.
- Get the opinion of your social media followers – Ask your social media followers to share the topics that interest them.
- Think about the issues that people ask you to help them with – Do people approach you for help on a particular issue?
The next thing to focus on as you learn how to sell online courses is to conduct research.
To ensure that your course adds value to your users, conduct your research by:
- Reviewing your own material. Do your videos, blog posts, and published books have enough content to create a profitable online course?
- Studying your competition. Review their online courses to identify the gaps you can fill to make your course much better.
- Reviewing educational material to collect information for your course. Find academic and professional publications in your niche to build your knowledge in that subject area.
Design Your Course Outline
Course outlines give your users a preview of what they will learn when they sign up for the course.
The image below shows the outline of Dorie Clark’s Women’s Leadership course. The course has 6 sections that help women leaders make a positive impact in the organizations they work for.
Image via Udemy
Create the Course Content
Next on how to sell online courses is to create actual content for your course. Always strive to keep the production quality high. To start, you will need:
- A good quality camera – to record high-quality videos for your online class.
- Proper lighting – to provide enough light when recording videos. Lighting rings are an affordable option to consider.
- Editing software – the best video editing software allows you to combine, edit, and enhance your videos. Most are easy to use and free.
- A green screen – to add the right background to your videos.
- A script – to stay on point as you shoot.
Choose Where to Host Your Course
Learning how to sell online courses comes down to choosing the right hosting platform.
The available options for hosting include:
1. Online course platforms
The best online course platforms support course creators by providing hosting services and marketing.
Self-hosting a course on your website is another way to avail content to your audience. Though expensive and more technical, it gives you more control over your course.
Deane Love hosts her courses on her website hooplovers.tv.
Image via Hooplovers
3. Online Course Marketplaces
Online learning marketplaces like Udemy can also host your course at a fee. Such marketplaces allow you to customize your page when you publish your course.
However, they have a lot of rules and may take up to 50% of the revenue you make.
Decide How Much People Will Pay for Your Course
Another factor to focus on when learning how to sell online courses is how much will you charge for your course?
Consider the following when determining the cost of your course:
- The length of the course – How long is the course and how much effort did you put in developing it?
- Competition – What are your competitors charging for similar courses? Should you charge less to get more people or a higher price and provide more value?
- The value of the course – What will users gain after going through the course?
- Your audience’s level of income – How much do your potential customers earn and how much will they be willing to pay for your course?
- Brand and credibility – Do you have the credibility to gain the attention of your target users? How much do they respect your authority on that subject?
Next, determine how to structure the payments. You can opt for:
- One-off payment – It’s a simple and most straightforward payment structure where learners pay a one-off fee to access your online course.
- Subscriptions – Learners pay small recurring payments to access your course. These can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly payments and users are denied access when they miss a payment.
- Premium – With a premium plan, learners pay extra to access exclusive content.
As you learn how to sell online courses, consider offering free content.
Deanne Love of Hooplovers has a free course for her target audience. The 30 Day in Flow course provides daily hoop tutorials and a playlist to help learners focus.
Image via Hooplovers
Create a Sales Page
The next thing you need to do to master how to sell online courses is to create a sales page. Other than describing your course, a sales page is a powerful marketing tool that persuades learners to enroll for it.
For this reason, you need to ensure your sales page is well designed and contains all the information learners need to motivate them to sign up.
That said, sales pages are mostly designed to suit what you are after as far as the sales of your online course are concerned. For instance, you can choose to go with either of these two pages:
Lead generation sales page: This type of sales page utilizes CTAs to collect lead data such as email addresses, names, and phone numbers.
Here is an example of a functional lead generation sales page by Digital Marketing Institute. As you can see, this lead capture form is quite short, but still provides enough context for personalized nurturing down the funnel.
Image via Digital Marketing Institute
Click-through sales page: This sales page on the other hand features a single button as the call-to-action point. Here is an example of a click-through sales page offering users a sneak peak at Moz Pro’s dashboard.
Image via Moz
As far as your sales page design goes, you can choose to hire a web designer to handle the technicalities of it. Or, you can go with ready-made sales page templates that are easy to customize.
Subsequently, to create the perfect copy, it’s paramount to understand your target audience, what they are seeking and how to convince them. Essentially, you need to address three components to create an effective sales page.
Here are the things that should be present on your sales page to make it compelling.
A Great Headline
A good online course sales page has a catchy headline that gives learners an idea of what the course is all about.
Use these headline writing tips to create a compelling title that grabs the attention of your visitors and motivates them to keep reading.
The Opening Story
Next, present the problem your audience faces and the cost of not solving it. Show readers that you understand their pain points by explaining how you also faced the same problem in the past.
This serves as a unique selling point for your course. Dorie Clark’s online course the Rapid Content Masterclass has a great opening story where she explains why she created the course.
Image via Dorie Clark
She explains the problems writers face when writing blogs or articles and how she also experiences the same problems.
After stating the problem, introduce your solution – which is your online course. Briefly explain what your course teaches and how it solves the problems your users face.
After stating the problem, Dorie Clark shares how her course helps learners improve their writing.
Image via Dorie Clark
Just as Deanne Love does in her hula hooping online course, list the bonus materials included in your course.
Image via Hooplovers
Add testimonials from past learners describing how the course helped them. Testimonials give you the social proof you need to convince learners to buy your course.
The last thing to include on your sales pages as you learn how to sell online courses is the pricing. Inform visitors how much they will pay for the course and the payment options available to them.
Once your sales page is ready, you are now set to launch your online course and start selling!
Marketing is essential for any business and your online school is not any different. It is the perfect way to increase your course’s visibility and thereby gain more visitors hence potential customers.
Needless to say, the profitability of your course solely lies in your sales and marketing efforts. The best way to ensure effective sales and marketing when learning how to sell online courses is by utilizing a sales funnel.
Essentially sales funnels are multi-step processes that help convert your website’s visitors into buyers. The illustration below does a great job at explaining what a sales funnel is and how it works.
Image via business2community
The illustraction actualizes your marketing efforts and takes prospective customers through these steps:
Step 1 – Awareness: This is when potential learners first become aware of your course. This is a chance to get your course a ton of attention, especially if you are new in the market.
Step 2 – Interest: The next big step is to nurture the interest of your potential customers. Nurturing leads’ interest will make them explore your course in detail.
Step 3 – Decision: At this point, a well-designed and scripted sales page will help your visitors make a purchasing decision.
Step 4 – Action/Purchase: This is when your potential buyers click on the “buy” button. Some of the factors that help users complete this purchase phase include your trustworthiness and the ease of your checkout process.
Drive Traffic to Your Sales Funnel
The effectiveness of your marketing efforts dictates how much traffic you will bring to your sales funnel. Here are tricks to incorporate into your marketing efforts to bring more traffic to your sales funnel.
Firstly, it's crucial to create course content that your target audience will find valuable. This way, you have a better chance at attracting more people to your sales funnel.
You can do this by maximizing organic traffic by creating podcasts, blogs, or even a YouTube channel.
What’s more, you can invest in paid traffic, especially when you are working with a budget. This includes anything from YouTube Ads, Google Ads, and Banner Ads to Facebook Ads.
Remember, SEO and organic traffic are long-term strategies, that need months to gain traction before you can start reaping the benefits.
Leverage Your Network
Another effective way to drive traffic is to call upon your close contacts. Utilize your network of co-workers, business partners, friends, family, or previous students to give product reviews, referrals, and even conduct interviews highlighting your offers.
Utilizing Creative CTAs
Call-to-action points are instrumental in marketing because they mark the beginning of the sales funnel function. Here are things to keep in mind to ensure you get your call-to-action points right:
- Identify and understand your target customers
- Talk to your audience in their language
- Prioritize your audience’s wants and needs
Since CTAs are about encouraging your target audience to take action, it helps to incorporate powerful action words in your CTA points. These include words like:
In this example, Hulu uses the bundle offer to encourage potential subscribers to take action. The “get the disney bundle” gives the impression the you are getting a good deal when you buy a plan.
Image via Hulu
Creating offers is another marketing tactic to maximize when learning how to sell online courses. It brings potential buyers closer to making the purchase decision.
When paired with an effective sales strategy, you can implement offers in form of:
- Seasonal offers
- Course bundles
The image shows how discounts can be used to attract customers to your online courses. The original price of the course is $109.99 but students can get it for only $17.99 if they buy within the next 5 hours.
Image via Udemy
While discounts are a great way to increase your short-term sales and promote new courses, it's advisable to uphold premium pricing.
Utilizing Lead Magnets
Not every customer is ready to buy upon landing on your page. This is where you enlist lead magnets to help push them further down the sales funnel.
Essentially, lead magnets are the first step towards your sales funnel. They may be free gifts you offer your visitors in exchange for their email addresses.
Examples of lead magnets you can use include:
- PDF downloads
- Free courses
Note that lead magnets should solve a current problem, while providing valuable information, and demonstrating your expertise.
Essentially, a newsletter is an email packed with informative material to your email list. It can be about a new article on your blog,or information about your new course.
It is a great tactic to drive traffic to your sales funnel by informing your users about the existence of a new course that they might be interested in.
Social Media Marketing
This is another digital marketing channel you should consider when learning how to sell online courses. The catch with social media marketing is identifying which social media network your audience is likely to be found.
Popular social media networks to consider include:
LinkedIn is the top professional network and is perfect for raising awareness about your online course to professionals in the corporate world.
Here, you can use search engines to optimize yourself and gain exposure for your brand. And thereby, establishing yourself as an expert in your niche.
Facebook offers an online environment where you can profitably connect with your audience. For instance, you can use your account network to attract traffic to your course.
Similarly, Facebook Ads are also effective because they are based on specific interests, affiliations and behavior. What’s more, they collect contact information like email addresses, which you need for your email marketing.
Here is a great utilization of a Facebook Ad campaign by LSE to market their 10-week online certificate course.
Image via Facebook
The ad goes further to reassure potential users that they will earn on-demand leadership skills around their schecule.
Instagram is an effective marketing channel to make money selling online courses to a younger audience. That said, it's crucial to provide great content to attract your audience since hashtags and visuals dominate Instagram.
In the image below, Udemy has published an amazing poster and caption to advertise its course titled “Selling in the Virtual World”
Image via Instagram
You can also boost your Instagram posts with money to maximize the quality and effectiveness of your media.
What’s more, you are spoilt for choice with business tools like shoppable instagram posts. Or, ways to drive more traffic through videos on IGTV and Instagram stories.
YouTube is rapidly becoming popular for e-learning practices thanks to its efficient way of transmitting educational content. With YouTube, you can create a series of tutorials or a channel promoting your online courses.
Similarly, you can upload your webinars to keep your audience up to date with your activities.
Email marketing is another worthy consideration when learning how to sell online courses.
To start, you need to have an email list. Luckily, you can use all the tactics already mentioned in this article to build one. One effective email marketing strategy is sending out newsletters.
Note that success in email marketing depends on the quality of your messages rather than the quantity. Knowing this, focus on choosing and developing your marketing tactics carefully.
Pre-launch Your Online Course
A great sales strategy should begin before the initial course launch.
After preparing your audience through blogging, social media and email marketing, consider selling your course before the initial launch.
Pre-launching your online course follows the idea of letting the world know about your ideas from the first day you create the course. Here are things to keep in mind when pre-launching your course:
- Jump into it: The sooner you start promoting your course, the more people will hear about it.
- Encourage feedback: Allow your audience to decide which features are the most promising and which ones are not before launching.
- Make it a deadline: Set a deadline for your leads to anxiously wait for your brand’s new release.
- Improve the final result: In case you pre-sell, use the money earned from pre-launching subscriptions to improve the quality of your final product.
Needless to say, blogging matters a ton when you are figuring out how to sell online courses. For instance, a blog helps you build brand authority and positions you as a leader in your niche. In doing so, blogging helps:
- Prepares your target audience for your product launches
- Support your social media strategy
- Brings inbound links to reinforce your SEO efforts
Employ Offline Tactics
Offline strategies are also important when it comes to knowing how to sell online courses. Here are some ways to promote your courses offline:
Whether it's your event or not, always carry business cards with a catchy call to action. Network with new people and examine the opportunities available to you.
Industry-related events are the perfect places to meet company representatives who you can pitch your services to.
Speak About Your Courses
Your social circle of business contacts and friends is a great space to promote your new online courses. Let them know about your product, your target, and how to buy it, for referrals!
Phone outreach is a great offline marketing strategy. Ideally, have industry contacts you can reach out to.
Once you are out of warm contacts, proceed to cold outreach. Simply find companies that are potential clients, find the right person, and initiate contact.
Q1. Is selling online courses a profitable venture?
A. Yes, it is. There’s a huge demand for knowledge as individuals of all ages seek online courses to fill knowledge gaps. Learning how to sell online courses opens up new income streams for you.
Q2. How do I choose a topic for my online course?
A. Deciding on a great topic is crucial as you learn how to sell online courses. Besides leveraging your expertise and skills you can:
- Get feedback from your audience through surveys
- Running a poll on social media to get the opinion of your followers
Q3. Where can I publish my online course after creating it?
A. You have 3 options when it comes to hosting your online course. They include:
- Self-hosting your course on your website. This is expensive and more technical but it gives you more control over your content.
- Publishing your course on online course platforms. Such platforms allow you to upload pre-designed courses or create one from the site.
- Online learning marketplaces like Udemy. The sites allow you to customize your page. However, they take a huge portion of your revenue.
Q4. What should I consider when deciding how much to charge for my online course?
A. Setting the right price is vital as you master how to sell online courses. It affects your profitability, the quality of your work, and your target audience.
Consider the following to ensure you have the right price:
- The length of the course
- The price set by your competitors
- The value of the course
Q5. How can I structure the payments for my online course?
A. There are three ways you can structure payments for your course. They include:
- One-off payment – Learners pay a one-off payment to access your online course.
- Subscriptions – Learners pay small recurring payments to access your course.
- Premium – Learners pay extra to access exclusive content.
Q6. Which equipment do I need to create my course content?
A. Creating course content is easy once you know the topic for your online course. To create the content, you will need the following equipment:
- A good quality camera – To record high-quality videos for your online class.
- Proper lighting – For when recording videos for your online course.
- Editing software – To combine, edit, and enhance your videos.
- A green screen – To add the right background for your videos.
- Script – To stay on point as you shoot the videos
Ready To Start Selling Online Courses?
If you are an expert in a particular subject or possess a valuable skill, then learning how to sell online courses is a great way to generate more revenue.
Luckily, we have shared everything on creating online courses and how to sell courses online. You can now join other entrepreneurs who make money selling digital products.
So, what are you waiting for?
Create your first online course and let us know how many people sign up for it.