Want to sell online courses? Do you have a course all set up but just don’t know where to start?
Online courses are an increasingly popular way to improve your reputation and make money online. They are used for marketing purposes, to offer certification training, and simply as a medium to share your expertise with others.
The global online learning (eLearning) industry was valued at $250 billion in 2020. It is expected to reach over $1 trillion in 2027. Economic and social trends make this rise essentially inevitable.
So, let’s explore the options currently available to you if you want to create online courses. We will go over how to create, advertise, and sell online courses using the best practices and tools.
What are the benefits of online courses? Why should I create an online course?
Online courses are simply modulated educational materials distributed over the internet. Their applications are formal/certifiable education, job/hobby training, and marketing. Courses can teach students about seemingly limitless topics.
Benefits of selling online courses
Selling online courses carries similar yet subtly different benefits for businesses vs individuals.
Businesses typically launch online courses for a simple reason: they are good for sales.
If you run a business with a product or service that can be bolstered with a course, setting one up online can help. They provide lessons and engagement that provide greater value to customers. This can be for high-ticket items with complex use cases. It can also help you sell less expensive items surrounding a specific activity.
On top of value for the customer, course content can be great for brand awareness. Being a business that people make purchases from is great. But being the customer’s trusted teacher puts you in a higher category within your industry. Thought leadership is an increasingly important position to have, especially for B2B businesses. Course creators are naturally analogous to thought leaders.
In terms of marketing benefits, online courses work as an excellent lead magnet. That’s why they are often used as the offer presented on a landing page. Meaningful online courses ease leads into your funnel, providing valuable, converted customers. Of course, this requires the course creator to follow up their course with digital marketing’s best practices for optimal results.
Last but certainly not least, training materials provide both internal training and thought leadership under the right circumstances. Internal applications of online courses include onboarding and training.
Of course, you don’t need to run a business to reap the amazing benefits of online courses.
For individual professionals, entrepreneurs, and marketers, simple courses can make a big impact. As with businesses, they are great for your (personal) brand. They also help you convert a personal skill or hobby into a passive source of income!
As a hobbyist or enthusiast, online courses can also help you build a community. There are no limits on what you can share with the world.
How to create an online course
The first step is always choosing your platform. There are many existing platforms on which you can create your own online course.
Some of the most popular platforms for course creators include:
After you choose a platform, you need to have an online course. These platforms normally offer tools to assemble your online course, after which you host it on the platform. This makes them fairly complete solutions for course creation.
However, they also have their drawbacks that you should be aware of:
- You don’t have complete autonomy over your course content.
- You’re working within a limiting framework.
- These platforms are normally compensated through a cut of your sales.
- The main features are standardized, and applying a brand that stands out can be difficult.
- You’re just hosting one more course in a sea of thousands of other courses.
If you don’t want to use a popular course creation platform, course builder tools provide an alternative. There are a few course builder tools, such as Moodle, where you have greater autonomy and customization. However, these builder tools are still somewhat limited. They also require some level of coding knowledge and thus take longer and come with a risk of setbacks.
Lastly, you can create your own course on a CMS. For that purpose, there is no replacement for WordPress, which is the most popular CMS and powers over 40% of all websites.
Sell courses online through WordPress
WordPress is a great choice because it offers the ultimate level of flexibility for both:
- Creating your own custom website
- Creating a uniquely designed online course
WordPress is easy to use for all kinds of course creators. Marketers, businesses, and school departments use it for its simplicity and versatility.
How to create an online course with WordPress
Let’s go through a step-by-step crash course in WordPress online course creation.
Install WordPress and WooCommerce
WordPress is a CMS, and WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress. Creating an account and setting up a site with each of these platforms is as easy as going to their homepages and completing the account creation process.
Add the Sensei LMS Plugin
Sensei LMS is a plugin for anyone who wants to launch a course on WordPress. It’s most commonly used by:
- Small businesses
We would recommend the Sensei LMS plugin for its customizability and overall utility. The plugin enables you to create highly customized lessons. You can incorporate multimedia formats, combining videos, slideshows, image galleries, and more for better explanations of concepts. Ultimately, the Sensei LMS plugin provides a complete and holistic approach to online learning.
Customers have continuously praised the Sensei LMS plugin for several key features.
Slick learning themes
The plugin comes equipped with a distraction-free theme designed for your site’s “Learning” section. It’s meant to fit in well with any existing theme.
Ease of course setup
You can easily set up a complete course within the Sensei LMS plugin. Adding lessons is as easy as adding blog posts to your website.
An important part of this ease is the seamless addition of your videos, slideshows, and several other multimedia formats. All you need to do is create a course outline with the plugin’s modules and the lessons it will have. Sensei LMS automatically creates blank draft posts for the lessons you list on the outline.
Scheduled “drip” content
It’s easy to schedule a content “drip” campaign. Just select the lessons you want to be delivered and specify when. For example, you can “drip” out one lesson on the same day every week, or whatever other schedule makes sense for your course.
Quizzes and grading features
Quizzing and grading your students is an important part of online courses, and Sensei LMS makes it easy. Test formats include any mix you want of:
- Open-ended (long-form answers)
- File uploads
Of course, seamless compatibility with WooCommerce makes monetizing your courses so much easier. You can actively sell your course using WooCommerce’s built-in functionality.
How Sensei helps you sell better
We’ve gone over course creation, but Sensei LMS helps you both create and sell.
To help you sell better, Sensei LMS enables you to:
- Set up secure payment options for students.
- One-time payments, subscriptions, and memberships are all supported.
- Manage students on a dashboard, evaluate their grades and progress, and more.
- Set content schedules.
- Automatically create new courses out of multiple blog posts.
- Create awardable certificates to distribute upon course completion.
Selling courses online: best practices
Trying to maximize the effectiveness of your online courses?
Online courses can be very simple or very complex. We’ve already covered all the must-dos. Following the best practices will help you maximize your success. So, here are some more tips we highly recommend you consider, starting with the most obvious.
Create engaging content
Content is king!
No matter what plugin you use or what tips and tricks you’ve heard about, there are no shortcuts to good content. So, having informative, meaningful, engaging content to share is your first responsibility. This is the part people are spending money on, so make it count!
The good news is that you don’t need a pricey production team to make your content count. You probably don’t even need expensive equipment and software if you don’t already have it. If you’re passionate about what you’re teaching, remembering to place quality above quantity is one step that can make a huge difference.
Experiment with different pricing models
There are many different ways you can price your course. Pricing models are based on business models, so it’s worth it to put some thought into which one makes the most sense for you.
One-time payments mean each student sends you a single payment. In return, they get unlimited access to your course.
If you’re making a short course, a one-time payment may make the most sense. It can also be a good choice when you offer simple tutorials or when you’re offering less than 10 lessons. It’s the simplest pricing model and can be complemented with discounts and loyalty rewards for those who make repeat purchases.
Subscription-based models are good when you’re offering any long-term service. Likewise, a long-term course where students must have access for many sessions may make a subscription model more viable. Examples include language courses, digital art courses, and other long-term courses.
After determining that a subscription model is the right choice, it’s time to think about the other details. Most subscriptions are paid for either monthly or annually. But you could opt for a middle ground, offering monthly OR annual rates, with discounts for those who pay annually. In addition, you can incentivize customer loyalty through “long-term loyalty” discounts or other rewards.
Membership-based models are similar to subscription-based models. The difference is that they add a new premium layer.
When you create exclusive content only available to members like digital goods stores or member-only sites, this is a good option for you. To entice new members to sign up, you could offer free trials.
Use email marketing tools
Email marketing tools like Mailchimp enable you to utilize email marketing campaigns. You can send automatic or even “drip” emails to subscribers to keep them engaged. At the same time, you can use these tools to email leads so you can draw in more subscribers.
Email marketing is a versatile tool for lead generation and engagement. They are a relatively inexpensive way to maximize your reach. These tools also help you build an email list if you don’t have one yet.
Landing pages are an important part of any marketing funnel. They are the pages where customers can take meaningful action. In this case, a landing page is where you will pitch your course and where readers can opt to sign up for it.
You can use social media platforms to share your landing page and other content related to your course. You can take advantage of your organic reach on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Then, if you want, you can use digital marketing to reach new audiences.
If you want to make full use of a landing page, make sure your calls to action (CTAs) stand out from the rest of the page. Have a copywriter use the best copywriting practices, such as the best use of power words, split testing, pattern-breaking, and more to maximize conversions.
Sales funnel tips
You want to get as many qualified leads into your sales funnel as possible. To do so, there are several good digital marketing practices you can use:
- SEO-optimize your website to improve your organic traffic from search engines.
- Use paid Google ads.
- Use social media advertising, such as Instagram, LinkedIn, or Facebook ads.
- Use email marketing campaigns (focus on cart abandonment and lead nurturing).
- Gain referral traffic from:
- Alumni students
- Business partners
- Other collaborators
In their totality, these practices will maximize your course’s reach. Just remember to use the individual best practices and hire the right professionals for each step you engage in.
Selling online courses is already popular, and it’s only getting more profitable. If you have plans to launch your own online course, there is no better platform for it than WordPress. You simply have the low cost, customization, ease of use, and plugins you need to create the best result possible.
Speaking of plugins, the Sensei LMS plugin helps you create whatever kind of online course you need. You can create an entire online training academy with it if you’d like. Or, you can create internal training resources, a niche gardening course for your friends, or any other kind of course you want to offer the world. Sensei offers all this utility but keeps the process timely and easy while maximizing your opportunities for profitability.