How to create and sell online courses
Creating and selling an online course has a lot of moving parts. It’s difficult for all of them to come together and when you realize that the euphoria of creating and selling a course turns to a grim realization.
How are you going to manage all of this and create a successful, thriving course that brings in the numbers?
Even if you somehow created the course, how are you going to make it easy for people in different countries to finally purchase the course with so many different currencies and payment options?
Let’s go about it one step at a time.
Creating your First Course with Kajabi
I like Kajabi because it ventures to be the all-in-one platform that does all of the heavylifting to help you create a course from scratch.
This heavy lifting starts by helping you create a website. It makes total sense right? If you’re creating a course you need a place where people are going to see that course and buy it.
You need a website. And yet most online course platforms make it a pain to build a functional site.
How do you create this landing page or website you send people to?
On Kajabi in the tools section there’s a little option called landing pages. Click on that and you will be able to create a landing page from one of the many templates available.
Click that and you’re inside the landing page creation section. Click on +New landing page.
No need to freshly code a design. Choose from any of the conversion optimized ready to deploy templates. Breeze through the list to get hold of something you love.
Click the template and preview it to see if you’re going to like it. If not click on the button that says keep browsing to find more templates you can use.
Click on get started and the theme will get installed in a few seconds.
It sounds simple but that’s about it.
You are now on a custom dashboard that you can edit. You can see the site theme plus the editing tools to change the picture.
Set the course’s landing page and drag or drop elements to the page.
Add from images, or call to action buttons, countdown timers, even blog posts here. But don’t get ahead of yourself and pull in all possible elements.
The new landing page is part of your sales funnel. This can be used to sell course, ebooks and membership sites.
You can click on the products link from the left.
Create the product title, then the description. Fill in the placeholder for starters. You can always come back change things later. The placeholders will give us a raw structure on which to build our courses. Next, add a thumbnail image for people to get a taste of what they’re going to get with this course next.
Add in more details to modify the page a bit more. But let’s get the taxonomy straight first. The “posts” are the lessons you create and the “categories” are the groups your lessons fit in.
Creating new lessons is easy.Just click on the + New post button to add a new lesson. Easy-peasy.
The content and course information is to the left. This you can edit. The outline on the right for easy navigation. With the outline, you can jump to different sections of the course and start editing them.
That’s not to say Kajabi doesn’t have any flaws but the tool makes plenty of things easy for you. That’s where the tool shines.
Now that we know the ins-and-outs of Kajabi let’s go further. Choose a platform where you get a lot of flexibility.
Here’s the step-by-step process to create the course:
What goes into an online course?
Choose a subject line
Step 1: Think of ideas
For the course or for the course go old-school and write down any ideas that you might have.
Keep writing everything that’s related to your course.
Think of all the subjects that are going to build interest in what you’re going. Think of your ideal audience. Think of the imagery and visuals you’re going to use.
Do some research and keep a track of those links. Source a few quotes.
Once you’re done, you should have a good list of ideas to use.
Step 2: Create an outline
Before you step into creating a course, it needs an outline. You can plan the outline ahead of time for the entire course. So that once you’re ready for creating the course you don’t have to think about what you want to add and what you want to remove.
A rough outline will have
- Course title
- Chapter headings
- Briefs around headings: What you’re going to add to those headings.
They need to include key points you want to cover.
Step #3. Begin the research phase.
Research takes time. But nothing is as integral to creating a good course. I’d say buy a few of the current courses in the market to inform what you want included in yours.
Search engines are great help for secondary research. Just plug in parts of your outline one-by-one and you will get additional information.
Make sure you copy paste useful information from each result with a link back to the original site.
You’re not stealing content. Just replace or rewrite the content in your own words.
Step 4: Create a few rough drafts
Don’t be too worried about quality. What you want to do is get information on a page as fast as possible. You can always come back and polish this.
At this stage, speed is of essence.
Write plenty of content. I’ve been writing for 10 years now and I still delete 40 to 50% of what I write when I edit. There will be plenty of text that’s not right, or things that don’t make sense with where your course is heading.
At this stage you can use the inbuilt voice editing functionality on Google docs or use the Dragon dictation tool. That way you won’t be slowed down by your keyboard strokes and get content even faster.
Step 5: Edit these drafts
These rough drafts are just that—rough. Spend a few days away from the draft and take a fresh dig at it. Now, you’re ready to clean up the whole thing.
Another useful thing I picked up over the years is reading aloud the draft to me. Read it loud. Read it a few times. Include links and images and read it again and then hit the publish button.
Click save when done.
Dont’ forget to add your call to action buttons in the course.
Create a good lead magnet
The revenue you start generating from your course will come on the back of the email list you’re building.
Eventually, the bulk of your revenue should come from the contact list that you’re constantly building. With email marketing you will be able to nurture the list you built. The list building might take weeks or months. And when you’re ready with the course, there’s very little doubt about the quality of the content they’re going to get.
Here are a few of the most common lead magnet ideas to start with:
Free email courses are similar to blog posts you create and give away for free. They tend be slightly more indepth and more private.
Free email courses cement your authority around a subject and it creates a sense of credibility in the mind of the audience. You’re consistently giving away information they can use and benefit from.
If you do this regularly, more people want more from you and will eventually be ready to pay to get the information.
The email content you create depends on a large part on the audience you’re targeting. Long form content is great when you’re writing for people who read that kind of information. You don’t always need images or visually rich content. Don’t switch to something that you are not.
A research shows that people who use videos grow revenues nearly 50% faster than those who don’t use videos. The videos tell the audience who you are and gives life to the content. Create an informative and engaging video as a lead magnet to ge those emails
You can also give away checklists that are an additional way to convey value. You’re taking long form content and getting the actionable bits of the content and reformatting the whole of it into a checklist.
It’s like a shortcut for the people who want the information but don’t like to do the hard work of going through the entire email.
You can also build trust and engage with others in this manner.
Why should you create and sell courses online?
There’s a niche for courses online because people are willing to learn what others can offer them in terms of expertise.
Online courses are a massive way to make money.
be made! Online courses and e-learning are a massive opportunity:
- The complete e-learning market is going to be worth around $325 billion by 2025.
- E-learning generated more than $46 billion in sales.
- Course consumption has risen globally and experts feel this will go on.
Selling courses can be a great source of passive income when you have a customer base you can rely on.
The online course is a marketing tool and builds up connections with your clients. Use the course to display your brand. Show them how you’re better than competition.
Build big relationships with people and watch their loyalty as well as advocacy for the brand growing strong.
Almost anyone can create and sell courses
Come with a good subject line
A lot of online entrepreneurs don’t really succeed because they fail to identify a market and build a product catering to that market.
To understand which courses people it’s important to understand why they buy courses in the first place.
- To get knowledge for a new career. Say a programmer who wants to start clay modelling
- Getting a certification to boost career opportunities
- Continuing their education
- Want to learn a new skill and be adept at the same.
No surprise that almost all of the best-selling courses mill around careers. Here’s a list of such career-related courses you can start with.
- Business and entrepreneurship
- Health and fitness
- Personal development
In arts and crafts there’s always the possibility of selling online. A course geared towards teaching people how to sell on social media is going to make a big impact.
Create your online course
Here’s the full guide you can use to create online courses:
Go for a specific subject
The more specific and niched-down you are, the better it is going to be. Figure out the subject you’re going to teach.
Here are the tips that go into this:
- Choose a focused and niche-relevant topic rather than a broad topic. The more focused it is the easier it comes to convey why you’re an expert.
- Develop expert knowledge. Being an expert means you might have to develop higher than average knowledge.
- Know who your audience is and what they’re looking for.
Get the right gear
Just like figuring out what you’re going to create a course on is important, in much the same manner, getting the right equipment is also key.
The courses should be much better than you’ll normally create with a YouTube channel.
- A good camera. You can always shoot with an iPhone but professionally done videos use Canon or Sony cameras.
- Lighting. Get professional lighting. Lighting rings make you look professional. At the same time they don’t cost much.
- You can purchase a full studio lighting kit off Amazon.
- Editing software that helps you create decent videos. You might want to opt for something like Adobe’s toolsets or use Final cut pro.
- Add royalty free music, graphics and subtitles with most video marketing tools.
- Most cloud-based editors come at a modest $10 to $20 a month.
- A green screen lets you replace the background for any image and adds other images and graphics you want.
- Apps like teleprompter lite turn your laptop or phone into a teleprompter so read the script when looking into the camera.
It doesn’t necessarily mean you always need a professional set up. Invest in quality equipment.
How to get started using the equipment
Now that you have all ready, let’s start with the videos. At the start put the green screen on the wall behind you. Pull the screen tight. No wrinkles needed. Set up the camera with a tripod in front of you. Once you set that up it’s your mini studio where you can simply start recording. Start with a test recording to ensure that you look great and your sound sounds good.
Remove shadows by adjusting the lights properly.
Choose where you want to host and sell courses online
The online course you created so painstakingly needs to live somewhere. You need a hosting for the course and place to make it easily accessible for your learners.
There are three options to host and sell your online course.
- An online course platform should meet the needs of the course creator who starts from video hosting to marketing.
- Self hosting: Host on your own server and sell courses directly from that plac.e
- This gives you a great deal of freedom in hosting your courses.
- An online course marketplace like Udemy lets you host courses and markets them for you but takes a 50% cut on the revenues as well. Also you get little control on the pricing of the course.
Types of online course platforms
A course platform lets you build and sell your course. Here are examples of such platforms.
- Standalone platforms
- Get up and ready with all the things you need to host the course plus provide support and educational resources.
- Standalone platforms have marketing but is limited.
- Good for solopreneurs
- Don’t want to create marketing automations.
- WordPress plug-ins/themes
- WordPress is another platform where you can hack together a course platform by using multiple plugins.
- Also you need to know either coding or technical skills
- Get reputable plugins because others may not be able to take the stress and fail on high-traffic.
- Great for course creators who have a site that gets plenty of traffic.
- The all-in-one platforms are great because they provide everything necessary to create and sell courses.
- WEbsite builders, automations, hosting and community management are some great features.
- Some platforms Like Kajabi don’t take an transaction fees. Transaction fees eat into your profits.
Set up a price for your course.
How much should I charge for my course? Answering this question is critical to understanding one thing: your target audience. It’s generally a guessing game and even may take two or three trials for you to understand what it takes.
You can create and sell courses and you will know what your customer value is going to be.
Online courses can cost upwards of $100 to $2000 or $5000. Most courses are under $197.
- The money you spent creating hosting and marketing the course.
- How much do competitors charge
- The target audience income level. How much will they spend on the course?
- You can choose a one-time pricing
- Low recurring fees each month
- Have a payment plan that splits the payment over 3 to 6 months.
Understand the target market to structure your payment. Will they be able to bear a high cost. Is it a group willing to buy if they can’t spend too much at the start.
Increase the value and the price of the course
The price you charge is a function of the value you provide.
- Offer bonuses
- Offer upsells
Include bonuses in your digital course
Most online courses offer bonuses. You can build a strong bonus by building relationships with other content creators and include that content as bonus.
You can create supplemental products and leverage that relationships
Offer referral bonuses to students and invite friends to classes.
Include upsells in your digital course
Another way to make money off your course is to give additional products when they’re ready to purchase. These are upsells.
Upsells are a purchase opportunity.
- Coaching. Offer one-on-one coaching or meet up people in person. Coaching is high=priced.
- Another thing to do is offer group training with more specialized training.
If the products are relevant to the course it must appeal your market.
Test-launch your online course
A test launch is ideal to figuring out if and when the course is ready for the public. Test the course to see if there’s anything you to work on before launching it fully. Think of it as a soft launch that shows you if there’s a market for your product. The launch list will be small containing about 100 emails. Or may be launch the course on Facebook.
The seed launch helps with a number of things
- Improve the target market
- Uncover any questions you didn’t uncover
- Get a real feel on what the market needs and is willing to pay for that.
The important thing here is you need not create an entire marketing sequence for this.
Offer a free trial to get this small list.
- It can be a segment of your email list
- Followers on social media channels and
- Leads acquired on networking events.
You cannot sell courses with the seed launch. The goal is to understand the interest in your audience and to see if the idea is going to be valuable.
Market and sell your online courses
Build it and they may not come might be true for online courses. Just because you have something that answers a need doesn’t magnetically attract people to the same. You need to present the course before people. For them to come you need a strong relationship with your target market. This translates to trust wherein they purchase and engage with your business.
Here are just a few ways to market and sell courses online:
- Create and optimize your website. The online course must come with its sales page where you can inform and encourage customers to check out the course.
- Start your blog or create marketing videos on YouTube. Additionally participate in discussions on Facebook groups as well
- Boost your social media presence. There are billions of social media followers. Build your brand on the channel
- Email is a powerful marketing channel. Use all means to grow your email list.
- You’re not alone. Partner with other entrepreneurs to sell the course. Reach out to all who you like and want to partner with.
Online Courses Success Stories
Here are few online course success stories you’re going to love:
Chris the man behind the Course: Create Awesome Online Courses, created a course on how to create a course.
Here are ideas and inspiration that will help you.
At the time of the launch the list size was mere 50 people. It’s now 500.
- What is your total revenue generated so far?
The revenue generated so far is $35000
To develop the course, he understood what realtors wanted and gave them tricks to developing their business while undercutting the learning curve.
He used his 22 years in real estate.
It’s for anyone who’s been in the real-estate business for less than 5 years.
Marketing is the key to sell your course. People like the idea when the course creator talks them about the course.
Here’s another success story.
This guy was searching online for another income stream. People made real money blogging and selling digital products. They weren’t just earning a side income. They were living the dream.
He set aside the doubts and wanted to forge a similar path.
The course was for people who wanted to learn how to do things faster. The best way he figured was doing all things himself and learning how to do things.
The blog wasn’t overnight success but it added to his skillset. His lightbulb moment was when his daughter asked him to tie her shoes. It was obviously difficult to teach her and his research online helped him find the simplest way using which she was able to tie her shoes in 5 minutes flat.
Recorded a video with the step by step instructions and posted it later.
The piece went viral, finding 800,000 shares. People used the tutorial from all over the world to help their own kids. They were grateful too.
You could help and teach people to make a living.
His first course was LearnScrivenerFast.com?
This started with him reading blog posts on Scrivener a word processing program which is like M.Word on steroids.
You can use the tool to both research and create content for the blog. One article was from Michael Hyatt that taught him plenty. THe comments on the post was what really shoed him the light of the day. There was a lot of passion around the program.
People were commenting and mentioning things they struggled with and how they didn’t have enough time to figure all of that on their own.
Reading the comments, he thought of creating something that answered this.
There was another thing. If it didn’t work, he could get practice around creating courses.
He spent the next few months creating an online course. On a tiny budget.
On WordPress. He would jump into conversations on Twitter on Scrivener whenever he got a chance. He found people to launch the product to as well. And found how much people would pay.
He built the course piecing together several lunch breaks in his corporate office.
With an hour everyday and consistent work he was able to finally finish the course and it was really getting crazy at times.
But since he found the time and could spare only that much, he was able to put in everything he could and got the income he wanted.
He networked with influencers, commented on their blogs, did social media marketing and anything to grow the word for his course.
Michael Hyatt tagged him on Twitter with a question and he dropped everything else to help Michale.
He was also sent a link to the course and he got back with positive comments and a tweet about the course. That resulted in 20 sales.
The true purpose of influencer marketing woke up inside him at that moment.
The connections led to webinars and these online webinars showed him teaching Scrivener for an hour and the course at the end.
Webinars are scary but he was able to hold out on his own. The first webinar resulted in 25000 in sales in a single afternoon.
So he started doing more of those webinars and resulted in 40000 in sales from the webinars alone. You got search results on Google and media mentions and influencers linking to that product and so on.
He quit the job and did the work he enjoyed doing most.
Helping thousands of writers with Scrinever he got emails with questions on how to build a course. He coached a bit and helped people but ultimately he needed a way to help people create a course from scratch and put the information together on this site.