Are you thinking of creating an online course? Here’s how to publish, promote and sell online lessons and courses. Find out what you need to structure the lessons, organize an action plan and put your time and know-how to good use.
It is impossible to ignore the growth of the e-learning market, for which a turnover of over 300 billion dollars is expected by 2025. Distance learning is now part of our professional habits (and not only), and this represents an opportunity to seize if you are planning to create an online course.
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Creating an online course: is it really worth it?
To answer the question, we must first contextualize some numbers. According to the Observatory created by Docebo, the market for platforms dedicated to distance learning is worth 7 billion dollars globally, which becomes 180 billion if we consider – in addition to containers – the content’s value. Hence the estimates of dizzying growth speak of a turnover of 287 billion by 2023.
For professionals, company managers, and consultants, these are tempting numbers that offer an opportunity not to be missed. Provided you have the know-how to share, content to communicate, and above all, a clear goal to pursue.
Regarding the objective, you will have to decide whether the sale of webinars and online courses is considered a source of profit for its own sake (if the customer base is large and consolidated enough) or if you want to use e-learning lessons as a driving force for marketing (to build relationships with the public and give value to your brand).
How to organize an online course: the importance of content
Identifying the content and target audience are two essential steps that take time to plan and study. Content that sells is the most desirable because, without a market, the idea is doomed to failure.
For this reason, one of the first occupations must be to take a look at the reasons that push people to buy courses online:
- Desire to acquire professional knowledge for career opportunities
- Continuous training
- School / academic preparation
- Learning a new skill/discipline
Driven by these motivations, customers look for specific topics proposed by experienced people who are able to communicate their skills.
In summary: content that sells must position itself in a market niche, within which an interested public can benefit from quality content that is of value, well structured, and well communicated.
For the target audience, your online course must represent an exact answer to what they are looking for, driven either by the need to solve a problem, the desire to entertain themselves, the ambition to train professionally, etc.
Create online video lessons: technical tips
To maintain a high level of content quality, the production of video lessons is crucial, which must be perceived by the public as professional products from every point of view. This means investing in your time to study scenography, write the screenplay, work on post-production, etc.
Having said that, let’s review what you need to make your video lessons:
- HD Camera: A digital camera or smartphone can also work as long as they have a high resolution for videos. In any case, a support tripod will be required.
- Professional lighting: avoid the front lights that create the annoying flash effect; better to place one light on the right and one on the left, at least 1 meter from the camera. For the type of light to use, you can think of a led ring light or a studio lighting kit.
- Editing software: they exist for all levels of preparation and for all budgets, from the pro ones to the cheap and intuitive ones that allow you to create videos with royalty-free music, graphics, background images, etc.
After setting up your mini studio, proceed with a test recording in order to adjust the sound and images.
How to sell an online course: distribution and price
Once the first lesson of your online course has been created and produced, it’s time to distribute it. In truth, this phase and the next of the promotion are fundamental in the organization plan, and you will need to know in advance how to act to intercept your audience.
These are the three possible options for publishing an online course:
- Use your website: This is where you will publish and sell the online course, thus connecting it to your brand professionally and personally. NB For WordPress, some plugins can be integrated into the site and allow the management of online video lessons.
- Use an online course platform: these are tools, such as Life learning or Superprof, already designed for the purpose and with different features ranging from video hosting to promotional marketing. Among the main advantages: are ease of use and speed.
- Use a hybrid system: this is an intermediate solution between Self-Hosting and the pre-built platform, for example, Teachable. They typically have monthly, or annual paid plans, and most pay their dues directly, including through PayPal.
At this point in the process, you will also need to determine how much to charge for your online course and how. Initially, it is common to proceed by hypothesis and trial because it is only when you have been creating and selling online courses for a long time that you will be able to determine a fair market price. Online courses, in fact, can cost from a few euros up to over € 2,500 depending on the topic, audience, and expertise. Keep the following parameters in mind when proceeding with pricing :
- costs to create, host and promote the online course (depreciation of equipment, time costs, hosting costs, etc.);
- competitive market prices;
- income level of the target audience, i.e., what do you think the spending budget might be?
Finally, propose secure online payment methods for your course, which can be chosen from the following:
- reduced monthly fees plus registration fee;
- single lump sum payment for access and use of the entire course;
- payment plan in installments (for high costs) with a discount if paid in a single solution or with the early booking formula (for example, reserved for the first 10-50-100 subscribers).
How do you promote an online course?
Your online course planned, built, and published must be promoted. This is a necessary step in a process that should end with the sale. To implement this action, it is advisable to proceed with what Jeff Walker, the online sales guru, calls the seed launch.
To sow with a view to selling your online course, you could start by sending free lessons, or portions of them, to a sample of your audience selected from interested friends, mailing lists, and followers on social media. The goal of this test is to assess the public interest and measure the feasibility and value of your idea.
Then you will move on to the actual sales phase that cannot ignore the following channels:
- page on the website dedicated to informing users and converting them into customers;
- social media – pages, stories, hashtags, groups – to engage the public and create a community that wants to stay updated on upcoming news;
- mailing list with a list of profiled names for lead acquisition.
Create online courses: follow and repeat.
Follow your customers and repeat the plan if successful. Here is a strategy that optimizes the investment over time and feeds the virtuous circle that began with the creation of the online course and passed from publication and promotion to the longed-for sale.
First, make sure your students are satisfied and have achieved the goal that prompted them to purchase your course online. How? For example, by asking them to fill out a feedback form via a survey via Instagram, other social media or online platforms, or via email. Their answers will help you improve the product. Not only that: satisfied students have a better chance of being loyal and repeating the experience and are encouraged to tell it and share it with friends and colleagues. Remember: word-of-mouth marketing remains one of the most effective methods of selling.
Keep in touch and encourage the users of your online course to review the content, providing news of updates that will keep the quality high and at the same time provide a plus to existing customers by increasing customer satisfaction and, once again, hopefully, generating shares.
You may also want to create a new online course, perhaps related to the one already published online. The refined techniques can be applied widely, as long as the principles of professionalism of production and the value of the contents are taken into account, adequately communicated by a brand (you / your company), and recognized by the reference public as an authoritative source in the sector.