The Online Course Market Can Be a Genuine Revenue Stream — But You Have to Consider This

If I asked you what were the positives to come out of a global pandemic, I’d imagine your list would be rather brief. In my case, however, I’m a recidivist optimist, and I’m always looking for a silver lining, no matter how dark the cloud.

The silver lining in this case, as you might have guessed, is the rise of remote learning in the form of online courses during 2020. Yes, the pandemic has shifted this market along briskly, but the global e-learning market is no flash in the pan — it’s grown 900% since 2000 (the fastest in the education industry), and is predicted to surpass $243 billion (with a b!) in revenue by 2022.

Now the obvious benefit to the public at large is the democratisation of education — anyone can learn anything, in their own time, in their own home. It truly is a wonderful paradigm shift in global educational access.

The other benefit, to capable and accomplished people with a certain set of skills (I’m looking at you,) who want to share their knowledge with those willing to learn.

And you won’t be doing it out of the kindness of your heart — rather, by creating your own online course, you will be providing yourself with a legitimate revenue stream, all while sharing what you already know.

There are several ways the revenue model can work:

  • Upfront course fee
  • Tiered payment model
  • Pre-selling
  • The course is free, but charge for certification
  • The course is free but is then funnelled into a product or service
  • Selling course licenses
  • Membership model

Right about now, you might be thinking about what course you could sell to start raking in the cash, whether it be how to trade stocks, or darn socks — after all, there is an education niche for everyone.

However, there is more to consider.

If you’re like me, you always want to do your homework, and you definitely don’t want to oversell or under-provide for your impressionable clients, or in this case, students.

With that in mind, here are six things you’ll need to consider before you look to create a proper revenue stream with your own online course.

Things to Consider Before Starting Your Own Online Course

1. Define What You Are Offering

Marketing veterans will know the quote from the founder of Revlon Cosmetics, Charles Revson,  “In the factory, we make cosmetics, in the store we sell hope.” It’s that emotive aspect that will most likely sell your course, by offering empowerment for that individual.

However, with an online course, you’ll need to take it a step further. What exactly are you offering as an outcome at the end of the course, beyond the feel-good aspect?

Will they have built their own boat? Created a fully functioning app? Or will you give them Google Ads Certifications?

The ultimate goal of your online course is to help guide them through that transformation process. Definite what you are offering and both you and your students will have a clear understanding of what to expect.

2. Cater to Different Learning Styles

It’s a fact of life —  not everyone learns the same way. So you can’t expect to just spout off your knowledge in a way that you understand, and expect everyone else to understand it.

I’m not saying you can’t inject your own personality or teaching style, but you will need to have some awareness that people will have varying needs in their education.

A good way to diversify things is by offering different learning tools — mixing it up with things like quizzes, user activity triggers, rewards, and encouraging messages. They all go a long way to making this accessible to a wide spectrum of people.

Above all, keep it simple — if you can’t explain it simply, as they say, you don’t understand it well enough

3. Are People Going to Actually Want Your Online Course?

While there is likely an educational niche for everyone, some will be more lucrative than others. The best way to find out what niche will be the most successful is to well… ask people.

The simplest way would be to have a browse around sites like Buzzsumo or Quora and see what people are asking about in your field.

You can even take it a step further by creating what’s called a smoke test, which involves creating a simple but enticing landing page website that outlines what you propose to teach. Advertise that page wherever your potential students hang out online and tell them you are trying to figure out whether it is something people would be interested in learning about.

Once they click through to your landing page, you’ll ask them to join your email list for further updates. Follow up by offering the course in an email newsletter — if you get more than 5% clickthrough, you have a viable course!

4. Be Genuine in Your Efforts to Help Your Students

Because you’ve read this far, I know you’re not just looking to sell some snake oil online, and you genuinely want to provide something of use to your students.

Initially, this will mean attentively answering every question, every email, helping your students as best you can.

However, your ultimate goal should be to create a self-sufficient community of learners that can support each other.

Start a Facebook group or other social media group, and ask questions, start discussions, and otherwise initiate interaction between your students. From here they will foster their own relationships, and lean on each other when you can’t be available.

5. Are You Willing to Constantly Adapt?

Some people might promote online course creation as a set-and-forget passive income solution. However, if you want your course to be truly successful in the long run, you’ll need to continuously adapt to changing learning environments and subject matter.

Your students will change, the internet will change, and so will the online education market as a whole. Everything is dynamic, and you will need to commit to being relatively fluid with how you provide your course.

Be warned, this is not a 100% passive income solution, so be prepared.

6. The E-learning Platform Itself

The biggest choice you will have to make is how you will present your course to your students. Luckily, being a billion-dollar industry, e-learning has created its own industry of online platforms designed to help course providers reach and educate their students.

Each platform has its own pros and cons, specialities, and pricing.

Now honestly, if you are serious about looking into creating your own online course, this is really a whole other topic on its own.

To find out more about the online course platforms available, and which one might be best for your (and your future students), you can check out the best online course platforms to get started.

Conclusion: Be a Class Act

The e-learning industry really is a multi-billion dollar industry, and there really is revenue to be made by forward-thinking course providers.

But, like anything in life, you have to do it properly. Always have your students in mind, and keep focused on providing deliverables.

As an online course provider, you have the opportunity to not just make money, but to also expand your reputation as an expert in your field. The last thing you want is to provide a sub-par course that actually diminishes your reputation.

Overall though, if you get the six things we’ve discussed right, there you really will be able to help people achieve their goals, all while creating a tidy revenue stream for yourself.

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