How to Monetize Your Open edX-Powered eLearning Platform

Creating online learning opportunities has become a profitable venture now more than ever. In 2023, the revenue from online learning platforms is projected to reach $2.85 billion. With learners from all age brackets and a variety of industries turning to eLearning, now would be a great time to invest in an Open edX-powered eLearning platform. When deciding how to monetize your eLearning platform, many questions can come up.

For example, should you charge your learners up-front, or is it more helpful to have some content available free of charge? What type of content should be gated, and is it useful to provide add-ons on top of the material already available? Do learners like to invest in personalized courses? The list goes on.

The answers to these questions can change depending on the kind of audience you’re creating content for. For example, corporations looking for training programs can make bigger purchases and often look for personalized content. On the other hand, individual learners lean toward courses that come with low-cost or free resources. 

Other factors, like the industry you’re targeting, can also influence your choice. It is important to consider all your pricing options before making a decision. Let’s take a look at some of the different ways you can monetize your eLearning platform!

How to Monetize Your Open edX-Powered eLearning Platform 

Charge Upfront

One of the most straightforward ways to monetize your courses is to charge your learners upfront. This means that before being allowed to enroll in a course, the learners would need to pay the course fee. They would have the option to peruse the course outline and summary before they make their decision. 

Charging upfront can be a tricky move, but if you are determined, it can make for a great source of revenue. The best way to get your audience to invest in such courses is to provide plenty of information that learners can look through to get an idea of the effectiveness of your course. This includes reviews or testimonials from your previous learners and the industries where the learners could apply their knowledge.

The more convincing you are and the more value your courses can create for your students, the more likely students are to invest in your course. 

Course Bundles

Following the upfront pricing model, you can take it up a notch by creating course bundles. By studying what courses your current students are buying together or enrolling in in succession, you can create learning pathways that are most popular among your audience.

Offering the course bundles at a discounted price is a great way to get prospective students to consider investing in your Open edX platform. Having purchased a bundle, they stay with your platform for much longer. If they feel that your course materials deliver what they promise, your students are likely to stay loyal to your platform and become repeat customers.

You can complement this strategy further by turning your bundle into a program or curriculum where the first course is a prerequisite that unlocks the second course, which unlocks the third course, and so on. 

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Paid Certificates

One of the most popular models you can use to monetize your Open edX platform is via paid certificates. The idea is to make the course content available to everyone for free. If, at the end of the course or upon registration, your learners feel the need to get an official certification for the course completion, they would need to pay. 

While it may seem counterintuitive to make your content available for free, the returns from this kind of pricing model have the potential to outweigh any of the models we’ve discussed above. The reason why is pretty simple. Free content is more popular and much more likely to reach a wider audience. If you have high-quality content that teaches your learners the skills they need, they are likely to pay for a certification in order to have an official record. 

This kind of model is even used by prestigious online learning platforms like edX.org and Coursera, as well as by universities like MIT for their open learning and continuing education programs.

Gated Premium Content

If you’re unsure about leaving all your content freely available, consider creating some gated content. In general, you learners should be able to access free basic content, but if they want a more detailed look, or access special materials, they must pay to access them.

Examples of gated content may include detailed notes, more difficult problem sets, additional quizzes, or even one-on-one feedback with the instructor. These are materials that are not necessary for course completion, but serious learners would feel compelled to invest in these resources to get better quality materials.

Monetize eLearning platform in this way, and you get a decent compromise between making all or none of your content freely available.


Free Introductory Module

If you prefer to keep even more content behind a paywall, consider making a few modules of your course freely available. For example, by offering the first module of your course, the first course in your program or curriculum, or maybe the first month of classes for free, it is possible to give students an idea of what to expect with the rest of the course. If the learners like the content, they may be inclined to pay for the rest of it.

While this may be a good way to ensure revenue, this model is less popular than paid certificates or gated content. Students generally tend to avoid investing their time in partially available eLearning content, no matter how high quality it may be. So if you’re considering this model, take your time to do some research beforehand.


Another monetization strategy to consider is a weekly or monthly subscription. This is especially useful for courses where updated content is added on a weekly or monthly basis. In order to access the latest materials, learners would have to continue to subscribe to your eLearning platform.

This is a great way to ensure long-term, repeat customers. In order for this strategy to work though, you must ensure that your learners get new, high-quality content. Usually, corporations or educational institutions have the resources to spend on subscription models, instead of individual learners.

Add-ons and Personalization

Other ways to monetize eLearning platforms include selling add-ons to courses or offering to personalize them. Add-ons may include adding materials that are complementary to the learning content and are marketed in such a way that learners feel the need to invest in these add-ons to get a more holistic understanding of the concepts.

Personalization, on the other hand, involves editing course content in a way that specifically addresses a particular organization. A simple approach could mean incorporating an organization’s color themes or logo within the materials. A more involved approach may alter content, for example, to include commonly experienced challenges in the organization. Usually, corporate training programs leverage these kinds of models.

Get the Help You Need 

The right pricing model can make or break your eLearning business. With the right plan, you can make your content accessible to a variety of audiences. If you’re unsure about what would work best for your course, it would be best to ask an expert.

Edly is an expert in integrating e-commerce options and payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Cybersource, and more into Open edX-powered platforms. Our SaaS platform includes support for payment gateways and monetized courses: each option discussed in this blog post is available with Edly Elite and Edly Enterprise out of the box!

No matter how you choose to monetize your eLearning platform, it is important to ensure that you provide your learners with the best online learning experience. Edly can help you build the perfect LMS, customized according to your needs. Get in touch today for more information about our services, or try our platform for free!

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