Market & Sell

How to Sell Online Courses: The Ultimate Guide for 2024

15 min

Selling online courses is one of the best ways to monetize your knowledge as a creator or create a secondary stream of income for your business.

With the growing knowledge economy, creating and selling an online course is a big opportunity at the moment. The entirety of the e-learning market is expected to reach $319 billion by 2029 (Source: Elearning Statistics, LearnWorlds), and it is without a doubt a booming market.

In this article, we are going to go through the steps you need to follow to get a course from the ground and start generating sales.

But, first, let me introduce LearnWorlds!

LearnWorlds is the best online course platform to create & sell online courses. You can start creating your courses with the 30-day free trial today, and I will show you how you can sell more courses by using its advanced features and marketing tools:

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Is it Profitable to Sell Online Courses?

Yes, selling online courses is a very profitable way to increase your income.

There are three primary reasons you might want to sell an online course, and they can lead to very profitable businesses:

Monetize your audience: You are a creator and want to offer a product to your audience. You might already have revenue from ads, an e-shop, or subscriptions. An online course is an additional revenue stream.

Elearning Business: Your primary business is selling online courses, training, coaching, or educational products. If you are reading this, you are probably looking to increase your sales or take your business from offline to online.

Side-income: You have a full-time job or business and want to get some additional money or a passive income stream. An online course is an ideal way to monetize your expertise and create a new revenue stream.

How to Sell Courses: The Complete Guide

Let’s get deeper into how to sell online courses with this guide designed to skyrocket your course sales. This guide not only lays out a straightforward path to success but also applies to various other digital products.

Pro Tip: This guide works for more than courses though. You can follow the same instructions to sell other digital products.

Choose a Topic

Finding the topic for your course shouldn’t be a struggle at all. Surely you have several course ideas to choose from, but you need to choose something you

A graph showing the intersection as a diagram of a course idea having the 3 elements of know, love, and need.

If you don’t already know what to teach, then consider these questions:

Are you considered an expert in a topic?
Have you solved a problem others are struggling with?
Do your friends, customers, and colleagues ask for your help?
Are you an expert on a specific software or method that others want to use?

You can also:

Get your audience’s opinion: if you have an email list or social media following, prepare a survey with a list of potential course topics, asking your audience to pick their favorite. This should help you decide which one is most in demand in your network.

Invest in your expertise: if there is a subject that you ‘own’ and have expert knowledge on, whether you have received professional training or spent years practicing, that could be an excellent place to start.

Research: wondering if your course will attract an audience? Browse course marketplaces and relevant social media groups to see if there are already any courses offered, registration numbers, reviews or testimonials, and comments in the groups. This should give you a good idea of the popularity of your topic.

Watch our webinar with Olivier Schmitt, the owner of L’Académie des Créateurs, to get inspired:

Pro Tip: It’s important to write a high-converting course title, be sure to check our article guide on that.

Create Your Course

Next is creating the course content.

If you already have a course ready, skip this step!

Creating the content of the course is where many new course creators fail, as it’s one of the hardest steps of the process.

To move fast while creating a course is to have a set outline and deadlines for milestones.

We recommend reading our guide on creating online courses for a complete walkthrough of the process. Here, we will go through some quick steps to help you get ready for marketing your course:

Set Your Learning Goals & Objectives

First, you need to define your learning goals and objectives clearly. Learning goals are the general statements that you create and define what your course is all about and what it can do for your students.

🎯 Learning goal example: Improve your English.
▶️ Learning objective example: Identify false friends between English and Spanish. Use all the tenses correctly. Enrich your everyday vocabulary.

Your learning goals and objectives will define the next steps of online course creation.

Create a Course Outline

Then, write a comprehensive course outline. This should help you divide the course into modules and add the content strategically to create a smooth learning journey for your learners. A course outline includes the following:

Create the Content

Next is the actual content of the course. Reusing old content is always a good starting point, especially if this content isn’t publicly accessible.

Popular types of content you can use:

Choose a Course Platform or LMS

There are many choices out there to host your online courses. If you already have a website, a WordPress LMS plugin might look appealing, but more seriously course creators will use a learning management system.

We do suggest LearnWorlds as the best all-in-one option to create and sell online courses. And, you can start building your courses with a 30-day trial:

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But, let’s go through the main options you have along with their pros & cons:

Online Course Marketplaces

These are large websites with an audience looking to purchase an online course. Udemy and Skillshare are two popular course marketplaces you can explore. Publishing your course there means less work, as you only upload your course material and some supporting information.

The downside is that you still need to do marketing and promote your course to win clients, and while they are free to host your course, they take a big percentage of your earnings.

WordPress LMS Plugins

If you already have a website, adding a plugin is the easiest way to go. There are many LMS plugins like LearnDash and WPLMS. Those plugins are usually very customizable, and cheap, while you can add functionalities.

Be careful with plugins though, they come with hidden costs on servers, maintenance, and having a good developer on-site to help you implement them, as they don’t always play well with other plugins.

Self-hosted LMS

Learning management systems like LearnWorlds, Thinkific, and lighter course platforms like Kajabi, Podia, or Teachable are better all-in-one solutions offering both the course creation and marketing with less need to manage the technology. The downside is that you might need to connect them with your website and have a monthly cost.

Pro Tip: Read our comparison of LearnWorlds vs Teachable vs Thinkific vs Kajabi to understand better the differences, pros, and cons of the platforms.

AI-Assisted Course Creation – Fast Forward Content Production

Consider using AI course creation tools to produce your content much faster. AI can help you with developing the outline, refining the content, expanding content, and helping you cover weaknesses, whether that’s your marketing copy or a video script.

Here at LearnWorlds, we have created an AI Assistant pre-programmed with instructional design knowledge to help with your efforts. Take a look at what it can do to speed up the process of creating a successful online course.

Build a Course Sales Funnel

The absolute best way to sell a course is by creating a sales funnel. The sales funnel is the process of guiding someone through a series of steps to buy your products.

The most important ingredient here is your course sales page and a process to get your prospects to go through the hoops you need to convince them. And, like a good recipe, a course sales funnel requires some ingredients:

Always remember, the golden rule is to give value first, educate, and then sell!

In this sales funnel, we will be focusing on a lead magnet and an email marketing sales funnel. We will be mentioning a few other methods to sell online courses as well towards the end of this section.

You can also watch our recorded webinar on building complete sales funnels for online courses:

The Offer & How to Price a Course

Your offering is the most important part of the funnel. It is a combination of the value of your course, or Unique Selling Proposition (USP), and the pricing of the course along with any offers (discounts) you may have.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Your USP is what your potential customers are getting out of the course. For educational products, that’s the knowledge, skill, or outcome.

Consider whether you are offering:

All of the above should be evident in your value proposition and clear across your marketing message, ads, and website.

Pricing a Course

The price of your course is one of the most important aspects of it, and that’s why we have written the ultimate guide on course pricing.

Before you decide on the price, consider this: The price of your course is not a fixed point. You can change, test, discount, and experiment with it. But, always start with a high price. The value of knowledge is incalculable and you should value your expertise.

Your ideal result is a few students paying a high ticket price for your offering. Fewer clients mean you can invest more time, and quality in their education, and make sure they see results.

Diagram on Online Course pricing with different levels.

Consider also alternative ways of pricing a course. You might have a set price a recurring subscription, or a different structure. Those will affect how you price and how you sell:

Lastly, consider the following factors that affect the price.

Course length & content: think about how long your course is and the content it offers. A 2-hour course that consists of video lessons with AI voice-over can’t be compared to a 5-hour course filled with videos from a real instructor and tons of supporting material and resources.

Speed of results: is important. Everyone can self-study or look at almost any skill online, they are coming to you to achieve a result, and the faster they achieve it, the more your students will be willing to spend.

Competition: are there any other courses offering the same classes as you? If so, how much do they charge? Are they more established than you? You don’t want to stray too much from the average pricing, but if you’re competing against giants you need to set a competitive price to get the ball rolling or differentiate yourself with a premium offering.

Value & impact: your course price should reflect its value and potential impact on learners’ lives. What is the purpose of your course? Will you teach your audience how to knit and pass the time or will you teach them how to close lucrative sales pitches and skyrocket their career? The bigger the potential impact and transformation, the higher the price.

Brand, credibility, and authority: your price should be worthy of your expertise and authority. How powerful is your brand? Do people already know and trust you? Then you should be able to set a higher price than the competition.

Market demand: if the market demand is low, this means that the need for your course is not urgent, therefore people won’t be willing to pay a lot. And unless you’re an authority figure, it’s going to be pretty hard to convince them otherwise. If it’s high, stay within the average range. If demand is high, and few others offer the same material, then it’s your opportunity to charge high!

Cost & quality: this is a purely practical consideration, but if you’ve made quite an investment to build your course, then this should be reflected in the price. Besides, if you’ve invested in professional video, software, graphic design tools, and a course creation platform, this automatically increases the quality of your course.

Certificate: are you awarding your learners with a certificate upon the completion of the course? A certificate validating their knowledge & skills offers multiple benefits for the learners, and an accredited certification, even more, justifies a price pump.

Desired revenue: setting an income goal helps to calculate total earnings. How much are you looking into getting out of this? Be realistic with your expectations, but don’t undervalue yourself.

The Course Landing Page

The purpose of a landing page is to be the ultimate destination for your visitors to turn into buyers. As an entrepreneur, you need to master the skill of convincing your audience to buy.

A landing page has a few important elements that convert visitors into buyers:

example of an online course landing page template
Example of a Course Landing Page Template by LearnWorlds.

LearnWorlds comes with ready-made templates for landing pages, and all you have to do is fill in your information, and your USP, and talk to your target audience. With LearnWorlds’ website builder capabilities, you don’t only build landing pages, but whole websites for your online course business.

Your audience expects to find your value proposition here. In short, you need to explain “What’s in it for them” and then “Why should they join”.

Keep in mind that online learning is an intangible good, and your landing page is your packaging. The better your sales page, the better your conversion rate – how many visitors will end up purchasing.

Be sure to check our video with Martin Grief’s landing page roasting, to understand how to improve your website for better conversions.

Be sure to read our complete guide on writing a course landing page, check out the examples here, and if you are looking for more, you can check Course Masters for tutorial courses on selling & marketing your online courses.

Lead Magnets

Now, let’s get a step back and talk about leads.

Leads are people who have shared their emails and often their first names with you. It’s how you build email lists.

Getting someone to sign up for your email list is not so simple, and that’s why a lead magnet is required to help your digital marketing efforts.

A lead magnet is usually a reason for someone to offer their email in exchange for value. While oftentimes it’s a piece of content like an ebook, other times it’s a webinar, demo, or a discount code.

Some popular and very effective lead magnets are:

Your purpose is to push people through ads or social media marketing to download a lead magnet, so they join your list. This is the beginning of your sales funnel.

Some good examples of lead magnets for courses can be:

Getting Traffic to Lead Magnets

There are many ways to get traffic to your lead magnets. We will go through a few ideas to help you with lead generation:

Social Media Marketing: If you have an audience on social media, add a link-in-bio towards your lead magnet, or promote your link-magnet through a post. I am doing that with LinkedIn, here is an example of promoting my lead magnet here.

Advertising & Paid Ads: The fastest way to sell and grow your email list is performance marketing or PPC. Running ads to your landing page for direct purchases or to a lead magnet is the best way to get quick sales. But, if you don’t know what you are doing, you might waste a bit of your budget there.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Many consider SEO as “free traffic”, which could not be furthest from the truth, but it’s one of the best ways to attract traffic. Writing a blog and optimizing your SEO can help you get discovered and attract cheap recurring traffic without spending tons in advertising for course marketing. We even have an SEO guide for course creators to help you out.

Affiliate marketing: Connecting with influencers and paying them for referrals is an expensive way to grow your business, but you only pay for results. Consider using LearnWorlds’ affiliate features to build your affiliate program and invite influencers to sign up for it.

Guest blogging/podcasting: At your first steps as a course creator, guesting in podcasts, vlogs, or even writing guest posts in other publications is a great way to attract attention and bring traffic to your website. Push them to download a lead magnet and join your sales funnel!

Email Sales Funnel Sequence

The best way to sell a course is through email marketing automation. Email is one of the most powerful marketing channels, and after you have built an email list with a strong lead magnet, you can start selling to your audience.

To help you move faster, we already have an email sequence to sell your course. Combine that with the rest of your marketing strategy and content marketing efforts on social or through your own website for the penultimate results!

An email course email sequence diagram.

You can download these email sequence templates we have prepared to launch an online course. All you need to do is choose your favorite email marketing software and set the sequence to automatically go to anyone who downloaded your lead magnets:

Marketing Activities to Support the Funnel

Fuelling up the funnel is important, as the name suggests, a high volume goes in, and a lower volume comes out.

Visualization of the online course sales funnel.

Here are the main channels to get more traffic for your funnel:

Performance Marketing: Running ads either on Google Ads, Meta (Facebook, Instagram), or other popular networks is a great way to attract visits to fill up your funnel.

Organic SEO: Working on SEO, writing articles, getting backlinks, and improving your website can get organic “free” traffic to your offerings.

Cold outreach: Cold calling, emails, or even social outreach can bring you the first high-valued customers. Consider reaching out to your audience, and if you are offering a B2B course, calling your prospects and setting up a meeting is the way to go!

Organic Social: Posting on social media, maintaining a community like in a Facebook group, or being an industry influencer is a great way to get branded visits back to your site. You can even participate in several communities, helping others, and promoting your course.

And, if you are wondering which social media to use to promote your course, watch this video:

A few specific activities you can do to promote your course:

Offer a free course: Create a mini-course and offer it for free. It’s the first touch of your audience with you as a course creator and a great way to get more leads to your lead magnet.

Collaborate with Influencers: Run a sponsorship, cross-promotion, or giveaway with influencers in your area of expertise to advertise your courses.

Guest in podcasts/webinars: Show up where your audience is as a guest. Any podcast or webinar host will allow you to mention or promote your product at the interview in some way, or offer a link in the description of their page to your website.

Offers: Seasonal, one-off discounts, bundles, and coupons for special occasions go a long way to promote your course and get some customers into the door.

Free trial (subscriptions): If you are selling a membership or a community with a subscription payment, offer a free trial for the first week to allow people to give it a try. Trials with a credit card that auto-charges after the trial period is over are the best.

Pre-sell your course: Don’t wait to have the course ready. You can pre-sell the course to test whether people want to buy it. Adam Enfroy has a great guide on how to presell a course:

After You Sell a Course

Your work is not finished at the checkout.

Selling a course is only the beginning. Now, you need to deliver an exceptional learning experience through your course material and your after-sales service.
Keeping your students happy means many opportunities for upselling, such as offering additional:

Most course creators approach their business as a sell-and-forget digital product. The opportunity here lies in exceeding expectations and touching base.

This will allow you to get a customer to become a loyal fan, share your course with friends & family, or get a positive review which will bring even more customers.

Conclusion

Looking ahead to the future, creating and selling courses could be more than just an online business you started a couple of years ago. Years from now, if you are committed to it and truly believe that you can make a strong impact through teaching your favorite subject.

What’s best about creating your courses, however, is that you can share your expertise but also equip others with your unique vision and inspiration.

To offer your perspective on current industry issues that could help shape future trends. This, along with your ‘digital’ signature right below it, would be difficult to get out of people’s heads, and the legacy you leave behind will be by far bigger than what anyone’s expecting from you, or as a matter of fact, for yourself!

Now, how awesome would that be?

Get started with your first online course today, using LearnWorlds’ 30-day free trial.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I sell my courses online?

Selling an online course requires you to build a repeatable process. For this, you need to follow these steps:

1) Choose a Topic
2) Create Your Course
3) Build a Course Sales Funnel
4) Decide on a Price
5) Create a Course Landing Pagep
6) Promote a Free Lead Magnet on your Audience
7) Prepare an Email Marketing Sequence with an offer
8) Sell the course

How profitable is selling online courses?

Online courses are very profitable if you already have an audience, and they don’t need shipping, manufacturing, or other costs. You have unlimited products to sell at any price you want.

How do you monetize online courses?

You need to build an audience first, either on social media or an email list through a lead magnet. After that, you can monetize your online course by selling to your audience.

Where is the best place to sell my course?

Setting up an online course platform on your own website is the best way to go, as you don’t need to split your revenue with any marketplace platform like Udemy or Skillshare. LearnWorlds is the best online course platform for this purpose. Selling on your own rather than on a marketplace is the most profitable way.

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Nick Malekos is a Senior Digital Marketer in LearnWorlds. He is a results based and well-rounded Digital Marketer with years of experience in the education industry, writer and digital literacy trainer.