Want to be a successful instructor?
Do you know what Ramit Sethi, Dan Lok and Jon Morrow all have in common?
They all started from scratch, dreamt big and pursued their goals!
Today they have multiple business interests, but a big chunk of their revenue comes from selling online courses.
Or how about this photographer? He earns over $1 million per year from teaching online.
If you want to sell online courses but aren’t quite sure how to do it, we’re going to make it easy.
There are so many options out there, but you need to know the ones that are most effective.
So get yourself ready, kick back with your favorite coffee and let us show you how to sell an online course!
Typically, you have two primary ways to create and sell courses online.
- Selling online courses with your own website
- Selling online courses with third party platforms
Let’s check out a few big names in the industry before we jump to the how to part.
WP101 is the one-stop resource for anyone wanting to build a WordPress site. The site offers easy to follow video tutorials and guides to learn how to use WordPress.
WP101 covers a wide range of topics, from the basics of installing WordPress to more advanced features like customizing themes, adding plugins, and optimizing your site for search engines.
Whether you’re a business owner, blogger, or someone who wants to build their own website, WP101 can be a valuable resource.
The platform was started by passionate Shawn Hesketh over 14 years ago with the aim of making WordPress easy for everyone.
Udemy is one of the most popular eLearning platforms around. It provides a space for educators to share their knowledge and expertise with a global audience.
You can create courses on any topic you can imagine.
Whether you want to teach coding, guitar or mathematics, Udemy has a huge student base to support your efforts.
You get the tools to create your own courses and use an affiliate program to spread the word.
The good thing is that you don’t have to build your own website or deal with payment processing. Udemy does everything for you.
If you have a strong creative side and an artist within, Skillshare can provide an audience.
When learners subscribe to Skillshare, they gain access to the entire course library, including yours.
It allows learners to explore and try out different courses simultaneously while giving you increased exposure.
On Skillshare you can engage with instructors and students in a number of ways. This can build a sense of community and let you establish yourself as an expert in your field.
The platform offers revenue sharing opportunities for course creators.
As your course gains traction and attracts more students, you have the potential to earn more income.
Now we have shared a few examples to get you inspired, let’s learn to create and sell online courses.
Offering online courses on your own website gives you much more control.
It requires more work on your part, but you control everything and don’t have to share any profit!
Let’s explore some of the main advantages.
Here are a few advantages of selling through your own website:
- You’re the boss: The first benefit is that you’re the boss of your business. This means you have all the powers to run the show however you want.
- Branding: Selling courses from your own website means you have complete control over your brand identity. Your website design is in your hands and you can shape it in any way however you want.
- Flexibility and customization: Give students a great learning experience by customizing website layouts and adding features to suit your teaching style and learner preferences.
- Direct relationship with learners: You’re in a better position to communicate with students through chats, emails or phone. When they enroll and provide you their contact information, you own the data. This lets you have more ways to build a strong relationship.
- Pricing and revenue control: The most important aspect of having your own website is financial independence. You decide what price you want to set and how you want to receive payments. You can set multiple payment plans, offer discounts, and create a number of subscription options.
- Higher profit: Selling courses on your own website eliminates fees and commissions third-party platforms typically charge.
- Upselling and cross-selling opportunities: You can sell additional products and services on your website in a more creative way. For instance, you can offer students a one to one consulting service when they buy your career guide
- Data and analytics: Knowing everything that’s happening on your website helps you strategize accordingly. You can scan through analytics to know how students are interacting with your site. This will allow you to make a business strategy that works.
- Scalability and growth potential: Businesses are meant to grow. You can add any number of courses and market them creatively when you’re in control.
- Easy integration with existing business: If you already have an established online presence, it’s much easier to integrate it with your website.
Let’s not ignore the fact that you are more in control of adding payment methods to your website.
Offering a diverse range of payment methods is crucial for the success of any online business!
So we know the benefits of using your own website, what’s the cost?
It’s the right question to ask before building a fully functional online course website.
Here is what you need:
- A domain
- Hosting (a higher shared plan is recommended)
- WordPress theme
- LMS plugin
- Membership plugin
Price per year
1st yr discount
Domain registration (Namecheap)
Web hosting (Hostinger)
Free or $47
$199 / Free
$199 / Free
SureMembers (For managing members)
SureCart (Selling memberships)
We love to build WordPress websites!
Follow these steps to build your own website in just a few minutes.
The first step when you plan to build your own website is to secure a domain name.
Trust us it’s nothing complicated!
Just like your house address, a domain name is your business address on the internet.
For instance, Our domain address is https://suremembers.com/ which you use to access our website.
To buy a domain name, you need to register it through a domain registrar.
If you want to deal with a single service provider, you can also register your domain name through a web host.
Next, you need a web host so your website appears on the internet.
A web host stores your website files and makes them accessible on the web. When someone types in your domain name, the host sends the page associated with that name.
For this tutorial, we are going to use SiteGround for our online course website.
Because it’s fast, reliable and ideal for any project.
On the SiteGround website, choose a plan of your choice. For starters, we recommend the GrowBig plan in WordPress Hosting.
You can choose whichever you want depending on your requirements.
This plan offers features that are good for growing websites.
If your courses get early attention from the audience, GrowBig has enough of everything you need to smoothly manage your website.
On SiteGround, the purchase process starts with asking you about the domain name.
You can either register a new one from here or use an existing domain.
If you haven’t registered a domain yet, this is where you get one.
Once you are done with the buying process, log into your SiteGround dashboard to install a WordPress site.
Inside the dashboard, follow these steps to install WordPress:
- Choose the CMS: Click on the Websites tab and select WordPress on the next screen as your preferred CMS
- Create login info: Next, choose your login credentials. Make sure to set a strong password
- Choose plugins: SiteGround offers to install a few plugins. It’s optional. You can ignore them and proceed. You can always install plugins later
- Make sure everything is correct: Review your information to make sure everything is correct. Double check everything and press the Confirm button
- Wait for a few seconds: Your WordPress site will be ready for you in a few seconds
Congratulations! Your WordPress site is installed and ready to use!
Inside your dashboard, you can access WordPress themes repository from the Appearance > Themes menu.
It’s a good place to choose from thousands of free themes.
Let us make it easy for you to select the best one.
Our choice is Astra.
Because Astra is one of the best WordPress themes you can use and is suitable for any type of website.
It’s fast, fully customizable, secure and compatible with all popular plugins.
Here is a video that explains how to create a professional looking website with Astra.
When it comes to choosing an LMS (Learning Management System) plugin, we have plenty of options.
Let us help with our three top picks:
All three learning management systems are top rated and have a unique set of features that makes them an ideal choice.
We’ll use LearnDash for this tutorial because it offers all the essential features we need for an online course website.
You can get in four steps:
- Purchase the plugin from its website
- Log into the dashboard area
- Download the file
- And install it on your website
You are all set to create your first course.
But wait a minute. Don’t you want to give your website a professional look?
Aside from the benefits we discussed earlier, Astra has one more reason to love it.
It lets you choose a template of your choice from over 240 professionally designed website templates.
The good thing is, you can use most of the templates with the free version. Not just that, you get tons of pre-made templates for your online coaching business.
While the free version has all the essentials covered to create a killer website, premium takes things to a whole new level.
To access the template library, we need the Starter Templates plugin.
You can install it from the Astra dashboard (Astra > Dashboard > Starter Templates).
Once installed and activated, the import wizard will walk you through choosing a page builder and a template.
You can use different filters to narrow down your search.
We will choose Online Courses for our test website.
And why did we choose this template?
It comes with pre-designed essential pages and works perfectly with LearnDash LMS.
That means, you don’t need to do much. Just import the template and start creating your courses.
Note: If you want everything to work like a charm, make sure you install the LearnDash LMS plugin before importing the template. Otherwise, Astra might skip creating those must-have pages.
If you want to handle memberships like a pro, act like them!
You need to:
- Get a membership plugin
- Set a flexible pricing strategy to maximize your profits
- Name your membership levels that look professional
SureMembers is the absolute bomb when it comes to being user-friendly and getting the job done right.
It’s hands down one of the most powerful membership plugins for WordPress. It won’t drain your wallet either. It’s a win-win!
With SureMembers, you get all kinds of cool stuff.
It offers flexible content restrictions, a nifty drip content feature, a checkout process you can customize however you want, and an interface that’s super user-friendly.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. SureMembers gives you a whole bunch of other awesome features too!
Checkout this video to learn everything about SureMembers.
Linking memberships to courses helps you organize everything on your site.
You need a robust solution for receiving payments. Your course website isn’t complete without one.
To do this, you have a number of WordPress plugins such as WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads and SureCart.
All three are fantastic choices depending on the nature of your online business. But SureCart is the go to solution for all business types.
We love it for a number of reasons.
Here are just a few:
- Multiple payment methods: SureCart is a beast when it comes to power. It supports multiple payment methods and integrates like a charm with all the big payment gateways and processors.
- Speed: SureCart is a cloud-based solution that lets you create stores, save products, and handle all your eCommerce stuff on their servers. But guess what? Your customers won’t even know it because it all shows up on your website
- For any eCommerce store: Whether you run a blog or massive eCommerce store, SureCart can easily handle every aspect of your project
- Integration: SureCart integrates seamlessly with most WordPress themes and plugins
- Customization: With SureCart you can customize checkout forms, carts and customer dashboards any way you want
- Powerful combination: SureCart works perfectly with the Astra theme, Spectra page builder, SureTriggers and SureMembers
- Security: The plugin offers inbuilt security tools to keep your data safe all the time
If you want to know about many different features SureCart offers for an online course website, this video is a great resource.
Now, you have everything your website needs to create and sell courses.
It’s time to create your first course and start selling it!
Follow these steps to create your first course:
- Go to the LMS > Courses menu and press Add your first course button to enter the course editor
- Get familiar with Course Page, Builder and Setting area tabs
- Enter relevant information under every tab. You can use text, images and videos
- Use section headings, lessons and topics inside the Builder tab to sequence your course properly
- You can also use LMS > Lessons and LMS > Topics menus to add or edit your course content
Don’t forget to publish your course once everything is finalized.
Need help? Here is an in-depth tutorial on how to create an online course website.
LearnDash LMS and SureCart make it super easy to sell your courses and memberships.
It may sound complicated but it’s really not
We have a quick video tutorial to explain how you can sell courses and groups with SureCart.
Having your own website is our preferred method, but you shouldn’t rule out the benefits a third party platform can offer.
A platform such as Udemy can be a great option for starters and professionals.
- Access an existing audience. You can take advantage of a wide range of global audiences. Just create yours and make it accessible to the millions of subscribers
- Easy course creation: Inbuilt course creation tools simplify the whole process. Third party platforms offer a number of options to create or edit video content without a hassle
- Get assistance with marketing: Platforms have robust marketing and promotion strategies. You can use built-in tools and features to promote your online courses from the beginning
- Build credibility: Reputed platforms maintain high quality standards. It helps establishing trust with potential learners who may be reluctant to try a course from an unknown website
Regardless of what type of course you want to offer, there are plenty of online course selling platforms for monetizing your knowledge.
Here are some of the reputed names that cover almost every genre.
Udemy is like a marketplace for online courses that serves millions of learners worldwide.
With over 2 million courses, it’s a one stop shop for learners on almost any topic.
As a course creator, you have tons of options to test your metal.
Whether you have expertise in programming, music, marketing, or even cooking, you’ll likely find an audience for your course.
Thinkific is another popular platform that works closely with course creators (individuals and companies) to help monetize courses.
No matter if you are a company like Shopify or an individual instructor, you can easily sell courses and make money on Thinkific.
You can deliver content in a number of different formats such as video, PDFs, quizzes, and more.
Thinkific currently works with over 50,000 active creators who earn hundreds of millions of dollars each year from direct sales of their courses, memberships and community participation.
If there’s any marketplace that is all about technology, it’s BitDegree. It connects you with an audience that seeks everything tech.
Anyone can teach there and it’s free to join the platform.
If you have a passion to teach programming, web development, cybersecurity and blockchain, BitDegree can fulfill your dreams.
The platform uses blockchain technology to let instructors deliver high quality courses.
Instructors can generate income in multiple ways such as paid courses, course bundles and token based rewards.
Most popular platforms such as Udemy charge nothing initially.
You can join them, create a course and publish it, all for free. There is no cost upfront.
But that doesn’t mean there is no cost at all.
Udemy works on a revenue sharing model.
Here is how you share revenue with Udemy:
Course price – applicable taxes = net amount
37% of the net amount is the instructor’s share. The rest goes to Udemy.
Note: Applicable taxes vary depending on your country of residence. There’s also a 30% fee imposed by Google and Apple if the sale came through iOS or Android.
For instance, if your course is priced at $59, the buyer uses an Apple device and there is 5% tax applicable.
$59 – [$5 + $17.70 (Apple fee)] = $36.30 (net amount)
Your share is: 37% of $36.30 which becomes $13.43.
If your sales come through your marketing activity such as Google Ads, Udemy will share with you 97% of the net amount.
In such a case don’t forget to add in your advertisement cost.
According to Udemy, you should get your payment within 45 days of the end of the month in which sales occurred.
Starting with Udemy is a simple process. You just need to sign up as a teacher.
Use this URL https://www.udemy.com/teaching/ and press the Get Started button to sign up.
This will trigger a quick setup wizard to walk you through an assessment process.
The wizard will ask you the following questions:
- What kind of teaching have you done before?
- How much of a video “pro” are you?
- Do you have an audience to share your course with?
Based on your skill level and knowledge, select the right options on each page and press the Continue button.
You will get access to the user dashboard after the process is complete.
It’s an intuitive interface that allows easy navigation.
Hover your mouse over the left panel to slide out a menu bar. You can use this area to perform administrative tasks.
Press the Create Your Course button to create your first course.
This will initiate a 4-steps wizard to walk you through the process of building your course.
Here are the steps:
- Step 1: Choose the type of course you want to create
- Step 2: Select the title of your course
- Step 3: Choose a category for your course
- Step 4: How much time can you give per week to create your course
Once you are through with this, the setup will take you to the course editor.
Here you can plan your course and create the content.
One important aspect before publishing your course is to set the right price which takes us to the next section.
Creating a high quality course means lots of hard work.
Set the price too high and you could lose sales. Set it too low and you won’t cover your expenses.
Here are some actionable pricing tips to consider:
Charging a higher price just because your course is extremely lengthy isn’t the right way to look at it.
Ask yourself, if your course can be shortened and still deliver the same value?
For instance, if you can deliver something in 3 hours, charging a higher price just because you turned it into 7 hours isn’t justified.
Your students will expect a certain amount of content and quality for the price they pay.
Balance content value and course length before setting your price.
Pricing your course based on what your competitors are changing isn’t always a good strategy.
You need to set a price based on the value your course offers to your students.
For instance, your course can offer much more value than a similar titled course from a competitor.
Similarly, if you don’t find a competitor offering a course on a topic your course explains shouldn’t incline you to offer it for free.
What do you promise to students after they are finished with your course?
Tell students what they will get:
- If your course will save them time
- If your course will save them money
- If they are going to get a promotion
- If they are going to get a job
- If they are going to make more money
Quantify the value of the outcome you will help people achieve. This will give you a solid foundation on deciding a price for your course.
If you’re not sure which price is right for your course, don’t worry. You can always experiment with multiple price points.
It takes time to test different prices as you have to analyze at every stage.
For instance, if you start with a $25 price tag and are able to achieve 500 sales, that’s a good response.
But with a little maneuvering if you get 200 sales at $125 in a similar time span, that’s even better.
Don’t be shy to experiment until you achieve an optimal price for your course.
Are you popular in your niche? Do you have tons of experience and expertise in the topic you want to teach?
Are people waiting anxiously to achieve something through your online course?
These are some of the important questions you need to factor into your strategy at the time of deciding on the price.
If you have been speaking at seminars, featured in the media, published a book or received an award, you have a strong credibility.
You already know what you are promising through your course. It would be easier for you to set a better price for your deliverables.
Don’t always offer your course at a giveaway price. Someone will always be able to compete with you on price but it’s harder to compete on value.
So you’ve finished creating the course that only you can create. Should you sit back and wait for the sign ups to roll in?
Of course not!
It’s as crucial to promote your online course as it is creating a masterpiece.
Here are some proven strategies to use for promoting your courses effectively:
- Build a website: The most effective tool is to build a website or at least a dedicated landing page for your course. We strongly recommend you have a captivating course page to turn visitors into students
- Use social media: Social media is a free source of traffic. Use it to connect with the most relevant audience. Engage with your fans to build a bond. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or LinkedIn can be very effective
- Offer freebies: Lead magnets are a great way to get the attention of potential students. Offer them free guides, mini courses or industry reports in exchange for their emails. This will deepen your relationship with them
- Paid ads: Run paid ads on social media to attract a wider audience. This is effective to get an early response. Distribute your budget on multiple platforms such as Facebook, Google Ads or YouTube to optimize promotions
- Email marketing: It is one of the most successful tools to sell online courses. If you do all the above you will likely have a rich email list of wannabe students. Use email to educate them and deepen your relationship
Although these are the most effective strategies to reach a larger audience, there is much more you can do.
Here are more ways to promote your online courses:
- Implement SEO on your website
- Create a YouTube channel
- Try influencer marketing
- Use the power of podcasts
- Affiliate programs can multiply sales
- Guest posts are long lasting
- Run your events
- Promote your courses through PR
Depending on your course type, target audience and business goals, you can begin with a few of these methods.
Gradually you can expand your influence and connect with larger audiences.
Selling online courses can be your ticket to making some serious money.
You can start off as a side gig, but you can also turn it into a full blown empire.
It may sound easy but it requires real hard work and the right strategy.
Plus, to run it your way, you should have absolute control over every aspect of your platform.
Fortunately, this article talks about the most effective strategies to help you build your knowledge empire from scratch.
We’re talking all the popular tools and techniques that’ll have you creating and selling your online courses like a total pro.
If you are planning to launch an online course, we’re all ears!
Share your story in the comments section. We can’t wait to hear it!
Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may receive a small commission. Read disclosure. Rest assured that we only recommend products that we have personally used and believe will add value to our readers. Thanks for your support!