By Kelly Forst July 23, 2021
Discover the benefits of creating and selling an online course, as well as practical tips for successfully promoting your course to boost sales.
As a business owner, you’ve probably accumulated a lot of valuable industry knowledge over the years. What you might not realize is that people are often willing to pay good money for that type of knowledge. Have you ever thought about creating and selling an online course to share your expertise with the world?
If not, then you could be missing out not only on some profits — but on the opportunity to become an industry leader as well.
Benefits of selling an online course
There are many benefits to creating and selling an online course, regardless of the industry in which your business operates. For starters, these courses can often serve as marketing tools on their own; they spread awareness of your brand and help you reach a larger audience of potential customers and clients.
Meanwhile, online courses are easier (and cheaper) to create than you may realize. There are plenty of platforms that make setting up your online course a breeze — and many of them offer free trials so that you can get a feel for the platform and its features before you commit.
You can even sell an email course or challenge if you want to deliver course participants lessons via email.
An online course is also something you can work on in your free time and from just about anywhere.
Last but not least, an online course can help you generate some passive income; many course creators can bring in anywhere from $1,000-$5,000 a month on course sales alone. Once your course is created and available for purchase, you can continue to earn profits on each purchase indefinitely.
Should your business create and sell online courses?
If you have industry knowledge that you’d like to share with the world, then you can (and should) create your own online course. However, there are some other criteria that can make you and your business great candidates for digital course creation.
- You want to build your reputation within your industry
- You want to generate a passive income
- You’re driven to help and inspire your audience through education
- You want to use the course as a marketing tool to attract and engage your audience
Of course, you’ll also need to be willing to set aside the time and put in the effort to create a course that stands out others in your field. This isn’t easy for everybody, so it’s something to consider before you dive in.
How to sell online courses: A step-by-step guide
So, you’ve decided that you want to create and sell your own online course, but you’re not sure how to create an online course to sell. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can follow to get started.
1. Decide on your subject matter
The first step is figuring out what your course is going to cover.
This is completely up to you, of course. However, as you contemplate options for your course’s subject matter, it’s important to consider what your audience will find most interesting.
In fact, you may even want to conduct some audience research (such as a poll or survey) to gauge interest for a couple of different course topics. From there, you can move forward knowing that the topic you’ve chosen is one that will be legitimately useful to your audience.
2. Create your online course
Once you know what you want to cover, it’s a good idea to create a general course outline. This outline should cover “big picture” topics that your course will cover, as well as ideas or concepts that may stem from each topic.
From there, you can begin crafting your actual course content. Ultimately, it will be up to you how you want to present your course — though most online courses these days rely heavily on video. But incorporating some other forms of media into your course can make it more dynamic and useful to different types of learners.
In addition to creating your actual course content, you’ll want to come up with lessons and assignments for your students to complete as well. PDF is often the best format for this — but again, you can play around with your options and decide what works best for you.
3. Decide how to deliver your course
How do you want your audience to consume your course? Via email, a course platform, a PDF? Something else entirely?
It all depends on the experience you want your course participants to have. Using a medium like email to deliver your course can make it easy for consumers to consume and know exactly what they need to complete that day. Or, you can use email to send course reminders or check in occasionally.
You can also use a platform like Thinkific to host your course and provide a platform for your students to review the material.
Once you decide the medium to deliver your course, it’s time to begin marketing.
4. Promote your online course
Once your course is completed, it’s time to publish it and make it available for purchase.
No matter how informative your course may be, it’s not going to sell itself. Chances are, you’ll have to do a fair amount of marketing if you want your course to be successful and profitable. Fortunately, there are many simple yet effective ways to promote an online course and encourage more people to purchase it.
The simplest way to publish your course that keeps you in control of all profits is to simply sell online courses from your own landing page.
Using a landing page template like the one below, you can create your own landing page to easily promote your course, collect payment and automate the delivery of the material.
A dedicated landing page for your online course should include a precise call-to-action to purchase the course and get it delivered via email today. Landing pages are not only effective, but are great for SEO and could help more potential customers stumble across your course online.
Email is another great tool for promoting your online course. If you already have an established email list, use this to your advantage. You can send out emails before your course is even available to create hype and generate interest.
You might even consider offering an “early-bird” discount to those who purchase ahead of time. Once your course is live, email is a great way to continue marketing your course to your subscribers with special discounts.
Social Media Marketing
Don’t overlook the effectiveness of social media when promoting an online course, either.
Use your existing social media accounts on popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter to generate excitement about your course before it launches. This is a great way to target a large audience of your existing followers with the potential to reach even more people through shares and other exposure.
When marketing your course on social media, don’t overlook professional platforms like LinkedIn, either. When most people think about social media, they think about platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, a professional network like LinkedIn is suitable for promoting an online course to people who are specifically within your industry.
Other Marketing Strategies to Sell Courses Online
Social media, email, and landing pages will probably be your best bet when it comes to promoting your course online. However, some other possible promotion tools to consider include:
- paid advertising (on Google or other search engines)
- blog posts on your business blog (for informational and SEO purposes)
- YouTube promotional videos
- third-party websites and influencers
- affiliate programs
- webinars and podcasts
- pop-up ads on your own website
5. Collect and consider feedback
After your course has been on the market for a few weeks, or even a few months, it’s a good idea to start sending out surveys to those who have purchased and taken your course. This is a great way to collect some valuable feedback so that you can get a better idea as to what people have found helpful about your course and what could possibly use some improvement.
Once you’ve received some feedback, take some time to assess it and make revisions to your course as you see fit. This will require you to set aside some additional time and resources; however, making these revisions can pay off if you’re able to improve your course, boost its ratings/reviews, and encourage more people to purchase it.
Of course, as more changes and innovations occur within your industry, it’s also a good idea to update your course material to ensure that everything is up-to-date. These small efforts will not go unnoticed and will ensure that the information you’re providing to your paying customers is as accurate and useful as possible.
Selling digital courses: the bottom line
Creating an online course can be a great way to start generating a passive income while also boosting awareness of your brand and establishing yourself as a thought leader within your industry.
And while it will take some time, persistence, and motivation to create a digital course, doing so can help you share your knowledge with others. Meanwhile, by following some basic marketing and promotion strategies as outlined here, you can help your course content reach as many people as possible.