How to Monetize Online Courses

According to research by Coursera, a leading online learning platform, the number of students taking online courses has exceeded twice the pre-pandemic levels. This rising trend continues in 2022 and shows no signs of slowing down. As the burgeoning eLearning landscape attracts more and more learners, many individuals and businesses are using this opportunity to monetize their expertise and set up eLearning businesses.  

eLearning businesses are online platforms created to impart specific knowledge or skills to learners remotely. The great thing about an eLearning business is that it can attract learners from around the globe and the course content can be monetized, which means that the potential for revenue for this kind of venture is considerable. 

All you need is niche-specific knowledge or skills, a desire to share it with the world, and a well-equipped learning platform to support your endeavors. Whether you’re educating customers about your philosophies, processes, products, or anything in between, you may have what it takes to develop your own eLearning business. 

But like any other business venture, creating online courses comes with its own set of challenges. Apart from being intimately familiar with the subject matter, you will need to find a well-equipped hosting solution,  know how to structure the content to keep learners engaged, and use the right marketing strategies to reach and expand your audience.

Given the seemingly complicated nature of setting up an eLearning business, we have come up with a strategy for all those looking to make the most out of their online courses. So without further ado, let’s dive in:

1. Take a Look Within


To begin, take stock of your knowledge, skills, and any other assets. It’s important to ask yourself some key questions. What is something specific that you know? Can that knowledge or those skills be translated into online content that a distance learning student can grasp virtually? Does your content resonate with a certain audience? Can your content address any specific pain points that add value to your online course? And most importantly, what will set you apart from your competition?

No matter what you’re teaching, be it day trading, guitar lessons, or coding, it’s important to come up with answers to all these questions. Once you’ve figured out your strengths, and know what you’re doing, it is possible to move forward with more confidence. This model has been employed by numerous influencers and product gurus on YouTube who’ve developed their own reputation as industry experts and trainers by offering curated, targeted content through the video-sharing platform.

2. Do Your Research


Next, do some market research. Figure out the competitors in the market and make a detailed inventory of their eLearning: identify their course outlines, assessment types, enrollment figures, and pricing strategy, if you can. Knowing what is up for offer in that market can serve as a guide on both, what to do, and what pitfalls to avoid.

Another aspect of the research–perhaps one of the most important aspects–should address the audience. Find the target audience and determine who they are and whether there are enough learners out there who would be interested in your online courses. From there, analyze the demographics, psychographics, and financial well-being of those audiences. 

For example, if they’re a younger demographic, it may be likely that they would be able to navigate online tools with ease but would they be able to afford it? It is also important to take a detailed look at the feedback the learners leave on your competitors’ courses and aim to incorporate what they feel is lacking. You don’t need to go far to see what your customers are interested in: their reviews and comments outline their feedback and expectations in their own words.

3. Get Creative


Next, comes the task of actually creating the content for your online courses and content. Break down your subject matter into modules and lessons. If there’s too much content, consider making a series of courses so that you gradually build on concepts. It is important to determine how in-depth each lesson should go and whether the learners can retain the information provided in each lecture without being overwhelmed. 

Where possible, try to incorporate the latest eLearning trends into your lesson planning. Include a variety of teaching mediums, such as videos and podcasts. You might want to ensure that there are timely assessments to judge how well the learners retain information, but these assessments should be made engaging, for example by gamifying small quizzes or creating healthy competition by leveraging leaderboards. Don’t forget to employ microlearning techniques to give students little tidbits of information without overwhelming them.

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Additionally, consider employing the right course authoring tools for this stage. If you’re already planning on using an LMS platform for your online courses, look for those offering built-in authoring tools or integration with said tools. You may be able to find sandboxes, trials, or freemium solutions that allow you to start designing your courses. It is also possible to find stand-alone course authoring platforms but make sure you don’t overspend on your budget! 

4. Define a Pricing Strategy


A big challenge that many eLearning businesses face is assigning the right value to their online courses. Pricing goes a long way in determining the value that learners ascribe to your brand, your ROI, as well as your future in the business. While it is important not to undersell yourself, it is equally important to not make the courses unaffordable for your target audience. 

Another point to note is that although it is imperative to study competitors and their pricing strategy to get a feel of the market, don’t base the value of your online courses entirely on the competition. Ultimately, the course should be priced based on the effort it took from you to create it, plus the value your content will bring to the learners’ lives. Remember: there are numerous pricing models, so after looking at your competition and doing a cost analysis, you can start to identify what would work best for you and your audience.

5. Find Hosting Solutions


Now that things are shaping up, it’s time to determine where you want to host the online courses. One option is to host them on your own website, via plugins or online learning software that can be integrated. This allows complete control over the UI, content delivery, and payments. On the downside, complete control also means you would be responsible for marketing the course yourself, and ensuring that the website has enough bandwidth to sustain a large number of students. 

Furthermore, using solutions that aren’t specifically designed for eLearning may actually mean you’re compromising on user experience, reporting, or other critical features. On top of that, you may need to hire technical experts who can incorporate the UI and branding of your choice.

Another hosting solution involves the use of online marketplaces like Udemy or Coursera. These kinds of solutions provide the greatest convenience to course authors since all they have to do is upload the course and let the marketplace handle the rest. From marketing the course to collecting payments, you can rely on the existing infrastructure of such platforms to do the hard work for you. 

Obviously, this means giving up a significant amount of control over the way your course is managed. Not to mention that you’d be competing with similar courses from multiple authors hosted on the same platform. You may also encounter revenue sharing so keep in mind that convenience comes with its own set of costs. 

A blend of both options above can be found in Learning Management Systems. LMS platforms are built to plan, administer, and deliver eLearning content. There are several different types of LMS out there and based on your selection, there are several advantages that LMS can bring to your eLearning Business. By paying either an upfront or a monthly subscription fee, you can access or create your own dedicated learning platform with a fair degree of control and ownership over the way you present your content. 

Apart from that, the platform can provide detailed reports on users as well as online discussion forums for learners to connect. Many LMS platforms can also be integrated with eCommerce and marketing applications that can further aid you in your eLearning business journey. As we mentioned earlier, some LMSs may be equipped with course authoring tools, further proving to be a useful investment for those wishing to monetize their online courses.

6. Incorporate eCommerce 


At this point and especially as you evaluate the best LMS option for your business needs, we recommend taking a second to focus on the eCommerce options available to you. However you choose to host the eLearning business, incorporating the right eCommerce integration can make things seamless both for you and your customers. By integrating different regional payment gateways, it is possible to access a global audience without having to worry about learners facing payment complications. 

You may also incorporate accounting software to further automate business processes and thereby circumvent the need to hire accounting experts. A good eCommerce solution will build confidence and trust with your users, ensuring that you don’t have to save your users’ payment credentials or put you at any risk of hosting sensitive financial information.  

It is possible to leverage eCommerce integrations to create specific pricing strategies for different courses, including bundles, free trials, or discounts. From the learners’ perspective, reliable eCommerce integrations can guarantee secure payment methods and the use of Single Sign-On to prevent the hassle of multiple logins. Nowadays, LMSs can support best-in-class global payment gateways, including Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, and more. Additionally, integrations like Shopify and WooCommerce can boost sales and enhance user experience.

7. Market Your Courses


As we get closer to the finish line, there’s one last thing worth paying attention to. You spent a considerable amount of effort developing materials, finding a hosting solution, and choosing eCommerce integrations. After all this effort, you may have the perfect online course on your hands, but it is of little use to you unless you find people willing to enroll in it. Marketing is often the most neglected aspect of running an eLearning business. This is why marketing an eLearning business is as important as all the steps that went into creating it.

To this end, use all means available to share information about your business with learners all around the world. It’s not enough to rely on word-of-mouth marketing tactics or simply having a worthwhile product to generate interest in your eLearning business.You’ll need to leverage social media platforms and come up with a content marketing strategy to share things like blogs, infographics, posts, and guides to attract interested students.

Build out your audience and utilize email marketing to directly reach out to potential customers. For the emails sent, check the email deliverability to avoid further problems in getting the right information to the right people.

If you’re using an online marketplace to host your courses, then they may be doing the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing. On the other hand, if you’re using an LMS platform, it is possible to integrate a CRM platform with it, to keep on top of your sales and marketing efforts.

8. Circle Back


At this point, you should be reaping the rewards of all your hard work. But take note that in order to sustain the eLearning business you’ve worked so hard to set up, you must keep improving and revising your strategy. This means ensuring that the content is always up to date and reflects any latest developments. You may also want to consider simply offering a steady stream of new content to your existing audience to give them a reason to keep coming back to your platform. 

Also, keep revising the pricing, marketing, and eCommerce strategy as new technologies emerge in the market. Lastly, remember to reuse and repurpose your courses for newer audiences and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Monetize Your Online Courses with Edly

There is little doubt that the right time to invest in an eLearning business is now. The global eLearning market value surpassed USD 315 Billion in 2021 and is projected to grow with a 20% compound annual growth rate. Given the reliable growth of the industry, eLearning businesses can expect a steady increase in revenue. But the success of an eLearning business lies in the value that the online courses bring to customers. This is why it is important to carefully do your research and construct your eLearning business strategy.

Want to monetize your online courses? Look no further! Edly’s best-in-class eLearning Business solution provides you with a well-equipped platform to author and host your online courses. Our industry-standard frameworks also help you easily incorporate eCommerce into your platform. The platform comes with support for PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, CyberSource, and regional payment gateways, as well as a built-in course authoring suite and marketing site branded for you and your business, letting you simultaneously, focus on course content while having all the tools needed to build our your eLearning business. For more information on our platform’s features, feel free to contact us!

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