What are Online Courses?
Online courses are essentially online tutorials, primarily created with video content, audio, and supplementary documents. If you have specific knowledge in a certain field, starting a business creating online courses could be a good way to monetize your expertise. Customers are able to access your content through a Learning Management System (LMS) by paying a one-time or monthly fee, giving them access through a login and password.
To create your own online course, an LMS allows you to organize all your content into a format that acts like an online classroom. This allows a customer to watch your videos, see the progress they are making, download documents, take quizzes online, engage with other students, etc.
There are standalone LMS systems that contain everything you need to get your online course business off the ground including an integrated payment system that allows you to charge for access. These LMS systems usually charge you a monthly price to maintain your site. The downside to using an all-in-one LMS system is that you don't actually own the website, but it's much easier to use and quicker to set up.
The other option you have is creating your own website with an LMS add on. This allows you to maintain control over your website and your LMS. Most LMS plugins charge a one time fee to use their software on your website. You get more freedom and control over your LMS but it also requires a bit more knowledge and time to set up.
Creating an online course business is very versatile. We've seen courses created for a wide range of topics like financial analysis for startups, online sales funnels, training for faith groups, fitness courses, yoga, eating healthy, social media marketing, and the list goes on. If you have valuable expertise in almost any arena, you can most likely create online courses that customers would be willing to pay to get access.
How Does it Work?
How Do You Make Money?
Online course creators typically charge a one-time or monthly fee for content access. Many course providers offer multiple courses with varying price points usually ranging from beginner courses at introductory prices to more advanced in-depth courses for a premium price.
One of the aspects that make online courses such an appealing business model is the evergreen nature of them, meaning you create the content once and it now exists permanently. You also own all the content you create so you can repurpose it however you want. Once the content is created you can sell it online 24/7 even while you're sleeping for years down the road.
It does take time to create your content but the payoff can be enormous. Not only do you own the content, but you can also sell as much as you want without much incremental costs associated with each new customer, similar to computer software. In the software world, it doesn't matter if you have one customer or 1 million customers, the cost remains the same to build the software but once finished, you can sell as much as you want without much-added costs.
What Are The Pros & Cons?
- You own your content
- Once the content is created, you can sell it 24/7
- Digital products have very little incremental costs with each new customer added
- It takes time to create your content
- Large sunk-cost in time if it doesn't attract customers
- Requires a level of experience and credibility to sell well
Estimated Startup Cost
Starting an online course business costs a little less than $600 give or take - that's if you plan to host your own website and purchase your own LMS plugin for your website. If you opt to create courses via an all-in-one package, it'll cost a bit more. The only other things you'll need are some tools to create your content. If you want to save on cost, you could use your computer's internal mic and video recorder. If you want to step up the level of professionalism, getting a decent video recorder and mic could make a world of difference in quality.
Key Activities as an Online Course Creator
An online course business typically centers around creating long-form content (content that's long and more educational), usually in the form of videos, audio, and documents. While creating your content, you'll spend time marketing your courses. Once the content/courses are created and after your initial launch, most of your time will shift to managing your customer base and updating your content as things progress.
Start Creating Online Courses
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By David Siteman Garland
The #1 program in the world for turning your expertise & experience into a successful online course & dream business used by over 5,000 of my students who have successful courses on every topic imaginable.
The 8 step process to be successful with online courses (including the 4 ways to launch your online course)
The simple “Will it sell?!” test to find out if your course will sell (quick and easy!)