How To Create and Sell Courses Online

Ultimate Guide

This is the most comprehensive guide to create and sell courses online.

If you are looking for help with course idea, creating course, pricing or marketing your course, this guide covered all above and many more.

This quide has a step by step process from choosing and validating the best course idea, course creation roadmap, marketing and selling it profitably.

Without any further ado, let’s jump right into our main topic.

Why you should create courses?

Online education has become a massive industry and it only growing. According to the Stratistics MRC,  Online Learning Market is expected to grow from $176.12 Billion in 2017 to $398.15 Billion in 2026.

You might have thought that this huge growth would be made by highly funded corporations or big companies with 100s of employees.

But the good news is that the growth made so far is mostly by the individual entrepreneurs, speakers, authors, consultants & Coaches, Youtubers and bloggers with limited resources who recognized the power of creating courses and selling them online.

Professionals from many offline and online industries built businesses and generated massive sales by online courses.

Now the most amazing part of creating and selling courses is that it’s not limited to the professional projects or work-related tasks, your next course can be about your hobby or something you love the most.

Courses around hobbies or sports are equally popular and even Pet care & training courses have hit the ceiling with sales and profit.

Still not sure about why you should create an online course? let’s take a look at some real examples of course creation success.

How individual professionals successfully launched courses?

Courses have become a quick way for professionals to earn money, promote their services and help students globally with their knowledge and skills.

Dog Trainers

Dr. Ian Dunbar a Vet and dog trainer created multiple courses on dog training and dog behavior and has 100s of thousands of students all over the world and 35+ thousand students only on Udemy.

Web & App Developers

A web development course creation success story is Angela Yu, a developer who created courses around web and iOS development and has over a million students all over the world.

Game Players 

Jordan Gilbert is a CS player who created courses about his game playing skills and generating a passive income from those courses.

Our list of course creation success stories is not limited to only the professionals who already had great success in their business before launching their course.

There are also people who started with courses when they were almost broke and tried the course creation as a last hope.

Doll Clothing Business

Jason Miles from Liberty Jane Clothing is another great example of course creation success. Jason and his wife Cinnamon had a small business selling doll clothes but that business didn’t grow enough to feed the family.

In 2008, they decided to create and sell an online course around that business and just by 3rd launch of their course they hit $100k in sales.

In 2016 their course generated $950k and in 2017 the sales almost got doubled and they generated 1.5M Est. in sales.

Courses are now an ultimate way of marketing any type of business in almost all industries.

Courses for growing a service-based business

Sunny Lenarduzzi is a digital marketing expert and she creates courses on teaching digital marketing to entrepreneurs.

Her courses generate millions in sales and also help promote her marketing services.

When you create a course on something you are experienced in, you are recognized as an authority figure in that field and people consider you an expert.

They will learn from you and also would love to hire you or recommend you to others. 

Courses to market a tool or software

The power of online courses and using them as a marketing medium also attracted big organizations as well. Companies like MOZ and SEMRush started online courses to promote their marketing software subscription.

If you have a software or tool, you can also use courses to market and sell your software. MOZ is a well-known Search Engine Marketing tool to analyze and build marketing campaigns.

They have courses about SEO and Google Adwords and they use those courses to attract people to buy MOZ subscription.

Courses for affiliate and referral marketing

There is another opportunity to earn extra money with online courses.

If your course involves tools, books, or resources you can join those resources’ affiliate programs and make extra money as a commission on the sales generated by your students.

This is another great marketing model where course help not only with the course sales but also with affiliate earning without any extra effort.

Now that you have recognized the power of online courses, let’s move to the real meat and potatoes and start with our step by step guide.

Chapter 01 – Picking your course idea

Your course idea or the topic about which you want to create your course. There are several approaches to get started with course topic.

Let start with the the most effective way and talk about the goals you want to achieve by creating a course:

  • You want to create course around your passion?
  • You want to make money by creating course?

If the answer to both questions is “YES”, that’s great because when your passion is involved in making money, the chances of success are high.

If you just want to create a course because you are passionate about your topic, that’s also amazing.

In case of making money by courses without thinking a lot about your passion, you might be interested to know what markets to enter. Research has shown that some markets are more profitable than others.

Creating a course or product in those markets has higher chances of success and more profit.

These 4 markets are most profitable than others:

  • Making Money
  • Relationships
  • Health and fitness
  • Hobbies

Need this list?

When you are done with above homework on choosing a market for your course, let’s jump right in to the next step to finalize the course topic.

Match the course idea and your strong skills

Let’s brainstorm your next course idea that matches your passion and/or skills.

Think about the work related queries your teammates regularly come up with and know that you are the ONLY one who can help.

Do you get “Help Me” calls from your family and friends about something? Are you good at home décor, how about pets care, maybe you are a helping parent to your kids or a helping partner to your spouse?

Have you been through any unusual life experiences and taught yourself some skills to get out of those tough situations. You might have gone through a breakup or a relationship ending and recovered by learning some techniques.

Here is a list of questions you can ask to yourself and brainstorm your course idea:

  • What people reach me to seek my help in work life?
  • What people mostly seek my help within my personal life?
  • What topic people often ask for my advice?
  • What am I good at in sports and games?
  • What skills and expertise do I possess?
  • What jobs and projects I have done successfully?
  • What good or bad experiences I have been through?
  • What transformations I have been through in past?

Want above mindmap to brainstorm your course idea?

How to choose the winner from many course ideas?

After brainstorming your course idea, you might have a list of more than 2 or 3-course ideas. To identify the most profitable course creation idea from your list, start filtering out the ideas based on:

  • Level of interest and passion
  • Skill level and expertise
When you are good at something and you love doing it, you will put your heart to  teach it to students and never get bored.

“A successful course launch is always a combination of Passion aligned with Expertise”

By this point, you will have a good course idea that you would like to pursue for your course launch. Now you need to lab-test your course idea before investing any further time or efforts.

Chapter 02 – Validating Your Course Idea

What if you invest 200 hours in creating a course and it turns out that people are not interested in it.

Your online course was about solving a real problem but people are not bothered by that problem and niehter motivated enough to solve it.

That’s where the course topic validation helps us pick the right and profitable course topic. In this chapter, we will explore the most effective validation techniques.

Ask your friends

Ask your family, friends, co-workers about the experience they have with [Your Course Topic] and what part of it they struggled the most.

This technique is good to collect some basic data because your friends and family may not be in an intense need of the solution your course offer.

Run a survey or poll

To take some deeper insights and data you will need to find people who are in pain with that problem and looking for a solution. Ask them some open-ended questions and also deep dive into their pain points and what specific problems they would like to solve.

They can tell you exactly:

  • What they experience [Your Course Topic]?
  • How much they are bothered by the [Problem your course solves]?
  • How much they are willing to solve this problem?

Pre-sell your course

Pre-selling your course is one of the most effective ways to validate your course idea. When trying to enter a new market to create a course, you pre-sell the course and check if people are willing to pay for that course.

This technique gives you a solid signal of profitable course idea. To pre-sell your course, you need a simple sales page and a checkout page with your course details.

In next chapters, we will also learn how to create a conversion-friendly sales page.

After creating the sales page you run traffic to your sales page or if you already have a list of prospects, drive them to your course sales page.

Search Online for similar courses

Let’s now start with another most effective validation technique. Go to Amazon to check for the courses and books similar to yours and see those books sales and buyers reviews.

Online marketplaces are also a great place to validate the course idea. They have multiple courses on one topic and hopefully, your course topic is also covered.

Udemy is your greatest ally in this validation process. This will help you with tons of REAL and proven data along with millions of students from almost every city in the world and that’s a goldmine of information you will get for free.

Go to Udemy.com

Hover on the categories

Now take a look at the categories and find the category in which you think your course falls in.

I want to explore “Marketing”

I am thinking about to validate “SEO Training” topic, so I am going to “Search Engine Optimization” and then click “SEO”

And BOOOM!

You can see that more than two million people paid to learn “Search Engine Optimization”.

Now take a look at the courses below and see how many people rated on the courses.

If you scroll down this page, you will see that 531 courses are live on Udemy to the date which means people are creating courses on this topic. This is another green signal of a course success around this topic.

You might think about why someone would create another course on “SEO” when there are already 500+. Well, the more competitors in a market the higher the success rate is.

I personally won’t enter a market where I don’t see a competitor. Competitors are not always bad. You learn by their mistakes and follow them in what they are doing good.

We are not done with Udemy yet and will get back to it in our next chapters in this guide. There is a lot of amazing data to be uncovered and worth thousands of dollars and countless hours if tested via the paid traffic and survey technique.

SEO Course is our today’s winner because:

  • Experts are creating courses about it.
  • Students are interested in it and paying for it.
  • Students are not only paying but learning and completing it which shows them motivated about the solution or the outcome this topic brings.

And remember “SEO” is a topic under “Marketing”. Marketing is a sub-market of “Money Making” market which is one of those 4 markets I mentioned above.

Chapter 03 – Planning Your Course

Now that our course idea is validated, we are ready to start with-course title and course content plan.

We will start with the course title and learn how to come up with an online course title that sells.

Your course title – Clear, Targeted, Result Oriented

“Astrological Love” first published in 1982 and sold 5 thousand copies. It then republished with the same content and same author in 1998. This time it sold 2.5 million copies and became New York Times bestseller.

Only the change made was to its title from “Astrological Love” to “How to Satisfy a Woman Every Time and Have Her Beg for More

You can clearly see the difference between both titles and how they contributed to the failure and success of a book.

A simple and easy formula to create a title like above is to follow these rules:

  • Clear – It should tell what it’s about
  • Targeted – Who is this for
  • Result Oriented – Clearly describe the outcomes

To get some more ideas on how to find a best title for your course, open Udemy, run a search and get some ideas from bestseller courses.

Once you have learned how to create a compelling title for your course, the next step is planning your course content. What you should include in the course and how to organize it.

Plan Your Course Like a Pro

Most course creators start by putting all the information about the topic and arrange it with course modules & lessons, and finish 10 hours of video content with a bunch of PDF worksheets.

It might sound good to have 10 hours of video but in reality, it is not a course, it is JUST information stacked together without any goal in mind.

Start from the End

Start planning your course with the end goal or outcome you promise that your students will get from your course.

An expert approach to define a precise outcome for your course is to start with the user which in our case is the student.

We will create a Student Avatar and that will answer a few vital question like who is your ideal student, what are his challenges and pain points?

Create a student avatar

Student’s avatar (Buyer Persona) is crucial to understand their current situation and how your course will fit in their life as a best solution.

To help you fully grasp the idea of creating Student Avatar and why it is important, I will create a student avatar with you. We have “SEO Training” as an example course.

I need the answers to these questions:

  • What is my students’ current situation (before taking the course); their fears, challenges, and pain points?
  • What change will he experience after taking the course?
  • What are students’ goals when it comes to SEO Training?

Let’s head back to Udemy, our data goldmine. Open the courses page where we left above and from the list of courses, open a bestseller or most rated course:

Just take a look at the number of reviews:

Almost 6 thousand people have shared their thoughts about this course.

From my experience with traffic, ads campaigns to surveys, collecting the survey data and compiling it, I can say that this data worths hundreds of thousands of dollars – if not millions.

Scroll down to the “Student feedback” section and I would like to start with the 1-star reviews first:

Look what I got, many of my above questions answered in just one shot:

Don’t only look for the short reviews; go for the long ones as well. They are sometimes the most insightful reviews packed with great feedback.

Just like this one:

I hope you got an idea of what I wanted to show you.

Just to keep our focus on our Students Avatar, I will get back where we left but you must play with this huge data mine a little deeper:

  • Go through all 1-5 star reviews and try getting answers of above questions
  • Check reviews for similar thoughts. A point with more people talking about is an honest thought and has a lot of weight.
  • You must look for the reviews with 5 stars as well and collect the information people liked the most in that course.

After I have done a little more research, I am ready to start building my Student Avatar.

As per above data we pulled, my Student Avatar or let’s call him John, is a freelancer who offers Facebook Ads and now he wants to train himself for SEO as well so that he can start offering it to his current and new clients.

Here is the detailed “Student Avatar” information we needed and gathered from our research:

  • His goals and values
    • Goals
      • John wants to grow his marketing and freelance business
      • He wants to add more skills to
    • Values
      • Professional Development
      • Providing value for his clients
      • Using “white hat” marketing principles
  • Demographics
    • Age – 25
    • Gender – Male
    • Marital Status – Single
    • Job Title – Freelancer
    • Level of Education – College Graduate
  • Challenges & Pain points
    • Challenges –
      • Grow his freelance marketing business
      • Keeping up to date with new skills
      • Keeping his marketing skills sharp while being CEO
    • Pain Points –
      • Fear of losing business to competitors
      • Fear of his freelance business falling behind in the digital marketing scene
  • Sources of information
    • Books – SEO for Dummies, SEO Like I am 5
    • Blogs/Websites – SearchEngineLand.com, SearchEngineJournal.com
  • Gurus – Neil Patel, Danny Sullivan
  • Spends time on LinkedIn looking for freelance marketing jobs
  • Possible Objections
      • Does your course contain updated and practical SEO techniques?
      • Does your course follow a step-by-step process to follow along?
      • Is your course easy enough for beginners to follow without any previous SEO experience or knowledge?
Want to start with your Student’s Avatar now?
Student-Customer-Avatar-PDF-Template

How Student Avatar helps with marketing

With Student Avatar, you will get useful insights that will help with course content, course outline, and marketing your course.

Let me give you an overview of the above avatar and how I will use that info in my course marketing.

I can see what John is looking for, his goals & challenges, pain points & possible objections about my course.

When I am creating an Ad for LinkedIn (because I know he hangs out there), creating an email marketing campaign, or a sales page to target John this is how the language will sound like:

  • Title – Need Practical SEO Techniques to Expand Your Freelance Business?
  • Title 2 – Want to learn SEO Techniques that ONLY work in 2019?
  • Description/emails/landing page copy:
    Are you tired of losing business to competitors, old-school SEO techniques, and training courses with no clear direction? Certify yourself with SEO Mastery Course that helps step-by-step with live projects.

We used the language that relates to our Avatar’s situation, answers his questions in our sales copy, and overcome the possible objections.

You can see how your Student Avatar helps with understanding the ideal customers’ needs, helping us create the course that meets their expectations, and result-oriented marketing language.

Course Content – Information or transformation

There are two possible cases when someone is buying an online course.

  1. They buy your course because it has:
    • 10 hours of video information
    • Colorful PDF worksheets
    • A virtual certificate
  2. Your course promised to bring transformation in their life:
    • From a state of fear to relax & calm
    • From nervous to confident
    • From broke to millionaire
    • From sad to happy
    • From Jobless to a high paying job
    • From no sales to consistent sales and profit

I am sure they will immdeiately buy and love the second course.

Your course must be laser-focused on a transformation and promise an outcome. Course content will help students achieve that outcome.

When you have defined that outcome; split that main outcome into smaller outcomes or make small steps to achieve that main outcome.

Make these smaller outcomes or steps your course modules.

Each module consists of multiple steps or lessons. All the lessons in a module – when finished – bring the individual smaller outcome or a little part of the whole transformation.

That outcome might be small but if measurable that students can experience the change, it will excite them to go on with it and complete it.

Put a measurement system like quizzes and tests after every lesson or module in place so they can self-assess what they have learned.

When start planning your course content, you don’t have to teach every bit of information about your course.

Many great courses are poorly rated just because they were too long. Students get bored with overloaded and unnecessary information so you should stay on point and share concise information.

One most important thing to make sure while creating a course is the pre-requisites for taking the course.

Define what level of expertise or knowledge about the topic is needed to start your course.

Beginners need more in-depth and detailed information but students with prior knowledge will need more updated and strategy based content.

A course built with beginners in mind might be boring for the intermediate and advanced level of students while on the other hand a course built for advanced level students will leave the beginners lost.

Course Medium – What medium should you pick for your course

There are several delivery mediums to pick for your course:

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Text
  • PDFs and Worksheets

Video Courses

Video is the most powerful format to create your content because people can see and hear the lesson so it grabs more attention and become highly engaging. There are types of video courses as well.

  • Talking head or classroom videos – You appear in front of the camera and teach the lesson just like a teacher does in the classroom or simply bring a camera to a live lecture and record the lecture.
  • Screencast videos – As names suggests, in this type students only see the screen where teacher run slides, presentation, or course outline and talks about the lesson.
  • Tutorial Videos – In this type of video, the trainer records his computer screen as well as his own video. You can call it a combination of Talking head and Screencast video.

To finalize the type of video for your course, take a look at the top professionals in your market and see how they offer their content and courses.

When going with video as your course medium, consider buying a professional camera and a separate microphone. Your laptop or smartphone might not be the best option in creating a professional video course.

If you are on a budget and still want to use your phone for recording, you must have proper lighting and a separate microphone.

If you are going with Talking Head video format, practice the lesson once or twice before pushing the “Record” button. This will help avoiding mouth clicks and weird sounds like “hmmm” or “aaaaa”.

Once the video is recorded, trimming these sounds will mess up your video.

Audio Courses

Audio is the second most effective medium of information delivery. Picking the audio format for your course might need extra work if you have some visuals involved in your course.

A great example of audio in E-learning and marketing are podcasts and kindle books.

If you find professionals in your market who are creating successful audio courses, you might go with audio courses as well.

Just like video courses, a separate microphone will make sure your audio is high quality. Audio recording is easier than video and even less can work for your lessons because you can edit the audio later.

Text Courses

 eBooks or online guides are an example of text-based courses. They are less engaging than audio or video but their production is also easy. You can change your text anytime you like and put it available for your students.

PDFs and Worksheets

PDFs are mostly combined or packaged with above mediums but they can also be used as standalone courses in form guides, presentation slides, and infographics.

Just like text, PDFs are easy to edit and made available to students but they can’t beat audio and video in engagement race.

Chapter 04 – Creating your course content

Once you have your content planned and outlined, it’s time to start building your course content. To make your course content engaging, easy to follow and practical for your students these are a few pro tips.

Mindset mastery

One issue with a self-learning program is that a big percentage of your students won’t even bother to watch the introduction.

A few students will go through only the introduction video or first few videos.

Then there is small number of those who will actually go through the most of your course content and apply it to achieve the transformation.

You can maximize the completion rate of your course by helping them take action and giving them an overview of the reward they will get when complete the course and apply what they will learn.

You have to keep motivating them in every module about how close they got to the end goal or what they can do with the information they have learned so far.

Live project or case studies

If you have a live project or two that cover what you teach in your course, it gives your course an advantage over the other courses.

A case study or live project helps in building authority as well. This gives a strong signal that you are an expert in your field rather than just a trainer who might have learned from books without any practical experience on the topic.

Content should be well organized

Information that a course consists of is already available for free in some form on the internet. Then why people pay for something that they can get for free?

They pay for it because they are expecting it to be in an organized and applicable form. They want a hierarchy that is clearly defining the path to transformation.

Most of the free content is not easily digestable by an average person and they need a guideline to apply and a step by step process to get the end results.

An organized course does the job for them to define those steps in easy chunks.

Course Success Tracking

You should build a tracking system in your course to measure success. Tracking can be inside the course in the form of tests or self-assessment or by some external tools.

If possible, you should encourage your students to assess their skills and what they learned by external tools.

In our example SEO Course, I can ask them go and take a test on MOZ or SEMRUSH to see what they have learned is meeting the industry standards.

Community Help

Creating a students’ community is an amazing strategy to increase the students’ success rate. A simple community can be built in a closed FB group for students to access and share knowledge with each other.

In an E-learning environment, this is a great alternative to a classroom where students help each other and grow together as a team.

Gamification and Certification

Engagement is the key to students and course success. We love little rewards and words of appreciation. Adding completion badges or course certificates is a great way to engage students and perform better.

Giving a shout out in course’s FB Group about a student’s success boost self-esteem of all the students and encourage them to perform better.

Chapter 05 – Hosting your Course

When you have your course content created, you want to host your course somewhere online for students to buy and access.

Deciding the right option for you to host your course will affect on many things like your recurring costs, profits, course accessibility and even students satisfaction. 

So you have to be careful while choosing a course hositng service and make sure your course launch is based on a solid ground.

Let’s take an overview of the different course hosting services and their cons and pros.

There are 3 major types of course hosting types:

  1. Course Marketplaces
  2. Learning Management Systems
  3. Self-hosting your course

Course marketplaces

Course marketplaces is the E-learning model where you just have to create a good course and the rest is their headache. You still need to manage and support your students but most of the technical and marketing part is done on the marketplace side.

Course marketplaces pros:

  • You really don’t need to struggle a lot about the tech-side of course launch.
  • You can reach a big audience really quickly just by publishing course.
  • Course’s marketing is done by themselves, so you don’t have to chip a lot of money on ads and marketing.
  • You don’t need to worry about the course delivery issues because their systems are powerful enough to handle thousands of students learning at the same without any downtime.

Course marketplace’s cons

  • They keep a handsome cut from your course earnings up to 50% and in some cases %75 per sale.
  • You have to price your course with their terms and follow their price structure.
  • You can not advertise or promote your services or other courses that are outside the marketplace.
  • You cannot use student’s data for any promotional or advertising purpose.

To sum up the whole idea of course marketplaces, if you are happy with giving most of the control in their hands and are okay with sharing the profits, then course marketplace is a good option to start.

Learning Management Systems

LMSs are also popular these days to host your course. You can call it a “Done for You” model with most of the controls in your hands on a monthly subscription plan.

Here are a few Pros of LMS services:

  • They provide you with most the technical stuff already done like membership portal, course delivery, and checkout for course.
  • They also have website & sales pages creation tools available inside your membership portal.
  • Their content delivery systems are powerful enough to support thousands of students learning at the same time without getting down.

Learning Management Systems Cons:

  • Because they are built with a big amount of their audience in mind, they sometimes are unable to offer a custom feature for your course’s specific needs.
  • LMSs start at a low price but they offer limited features for those plans and you need to pay a few hundred dollars to access the maximum of an LMS.
  • Their website builders, sales funnels & marketing systems are basic and you will need to build website and sales funnels outside the LMS to maximize sales and marketing.
  • Few learning management systems also charge commissions on sales along with their fixed price structure.

Learning management systems work good if you are an established course creator or your course has monthly subscription so you don’t have to pay 100s of dollars. 

In the era of advanced marketing and competition, your students and sales data is a gold mine and if you are fine with sharing that data

If your course doesn’t need a customized and interactive experience for your students and LMS’s layout works for you, it can be a good option to get started with your course launch.

Self-hosting your course

Self-hosting your course is a course launch model where you have full control of everything from creating membership portal to marketing and sales funnels.

You can build your course membership, website, sales funnels, and marketing automation based on your business and course needs without feeling limited with someone else’s terms.

Course self-hosting Pros:

  • You don’t need to pay monthly payments for LMS or commissions on your sales like you do in a few LMS and most of the Course Marketplaces.
  • You can build your course portal exactly how your course needs.
  • You can build website, sales page, and course memberships in one place without paying any extra dollars to unlock full power.
  • With a lot of tools available, you don’t need to learn hard-coding for a customization task.
  • Once you have your course portal built, regular maintenance doesn’t need monthly dollars going out of your pocket as it does in LMS case.

Course self-hosting Cons

  • Self-hosting will need technicla knowledge of the tools like website, web hosting, Content Management Systems.
  • You have to keep your systems regularly checked and maintained to share an outstanding experience with your students.
  • You might need to educate yourself about tech and web skills if you are on a budget and want to build membership portal or market the course yourself.

Self-hosting is the best option for those who are looking for a personalized experience and don’t want the limitations on course pricing and course launch tools.

If sharing your marketing and students data irritates you and you want no one sneaking into it or selling it, self-hosting is the best option to keep it secret.

Self-hosting costs vary and depend on your needs. If you love learning new technologies or you already have web design or marketing skills, you can do it yourself and save outsourcing costs.

Chapter 06 – Pricing Your Course

**If you are planning to host your course on a course marketplace, then you might not have full control on your course pricing because of that marketplace’s pricing terms.

Pricing your course is a critical process with many things involved but I will share the tips I have learned from my experience and course launches I analyzed with my clients.

Mostly when you are launching your first course, you have a lot of fears that drive you to price your course at a low price: 

  • You might not consider yourself expert enough to price high? 
  • You want to beat your competitors with low price?
  • You are not a recognized and have no following? 
  • Your competitors are selling the courses on low price? 

I personally have been through all this when I first started but the good part is that most of these fears are just our not real.

Keeping above fears in mind, I will try to make it super easy for you by the tips and best practices for pricing your course on an optimal price which students will easily pay for.

Is pricing low a good idea?

Most people want to price low for many reasons so let’s take a look if it actually helps with your sales and business growth. Ideally pricing your course at a low price is a bad idea.

Before we get into the details about the problems with the low prices, do a little math on how you will acquire a student.

Once you are done with your course creation, the next step is to market and sell it online. Marketing needs efforts and money. Just assume that you have set your course price $50.

You run ads to drive traffic to your course, and paying $5 per visitor. After a little marketing campaign and sales, you find out that your conversion rate is 5% which means 5 out of every 100 visitors buy your course.

Number of Sales x Price of the Course = Total Profit

5 x $50 = $250

Because we are paying $5 per visitor, our total cost on 100 visitors is $500. As you can see that you are losing $250 in ads.

Now that you have gotten an idea of how course price is affecting your total revenue let’s take a look at some other scenarios when low price affects in negative ways.

Difficulty in marketing campaigns

As you saw in the above example, if your leads are costing you more money than the actual sale, soon you might not be left with enough money to invest in ads and marketing.

Low price = low value

Because valuable products are always sold on premium price, people take the cheap prices as a sign of cheap product.

So if you are selling on a very low price to get more sales, it will hurt your course’s reputation and backfires in sales and marketing.

Low price needs more efforts

When you price your course on a low price, you have to sell it to more people to generate enough revenue to maintain and grow your business.

Selling a course on $1000 to 4 people might need less effort than selling it on $142 to 28 people.

 

Low price loses the loyalty

Acquiring the students who love low prices will never guarantee in long term success. People who left someone else just for your low prices will soon leave you too when find someone else with lower prices than yours.

When is the low price good?

To achieve any of the goals mentioned above like out-performing the competitors by low price or increasing sales by ridiculously low prices are not suggested but it doesn’t mean that you should never try them.

Low prices or even giving away your course for free can be a great idea in some cases.

Lead generation

Selling your course on a low price or as a free giveaway also works when your goal is not the sales or revenue.

You are just building your list or generating leads for maybe another upgraded version of the same course or similar product/service.

Customers Training

To help your customers, you must go extra miles and create a course or training to solve their problem or train them.

You might give your course at a minimum price or free to your existing customer to help them use your service because that will ultimately help your business with more happy clients and more referrals.

Pre-launch or beta testing

You can also sell a course on a low price when in the process of testing your course idea or getting the feedback to improve the course for the actual launch.

You have learned how low price work in course launch. Also, you learned when & when not to try it.

Course as a bonus

If you launch a course and one of your existing courses can help students with your newly offered course, you can give that course as a bonus or free resource.

Or maybe you want to sell your new course on a higher price, adding an existing but relevant course will definitely help with adding value and attracting more people.

But it should be done only when your bonus course is relevant and has real value for the student. 

With the internet and tools people are getting smart so don’t use it as a marketing tactic to add fake value.

Now that we have learned a lot about low prices from different angles, let’s take a look at high prices, what they require, and when is the best time to try them.

Is pricing high a good idea?

We learned about the negative impact of low pricing on sales and client acquisition. But it doesn’t mean that pricing high will work like a charm. We will need to see it from about the main factors to think about when planning to price your course on a premium or relatively high.

High price brings high expectations

When selling a course for $1000, you must have a premium quality video produced in a professional studio or with a professional camera, proper lighting, and audio recording setup.

Students paying premium price won’t like the background noise or a creepy video shot by a smartphone.

They might also want to have professional support and experts’ team to help them with their course steps and questions.

High price needs more content

Content length mostly doesn’t matter when you are creating a transformation or results-oriented course but when pricing high, the course must have some amount of content that justifies that price and not gives the feel that they are ripped off.

A video course sold at $1000 should contain at least 5 – 7 hours content.

Best cases when you can easily price high

There are some cases when selling a course on a high price works best for you:

  • You are a recognized expert in your industry
  • You have a loyal and engaged list of followers
  • You have years of experience and a track record of success
  • Other learning alternatives are way more expensive

Price your course with the value in mind

You should price your course with the value of transformation in mind that your course will bring in a student’s life.

If your course can add a $500/month client in your student’s business, $1000-$1500 is not a big price.

Also, do not get scared with your competitors’ prices if they charging a low price for a similar course.

If your course brings the change that it promised, your course will be successful than your competitors.

Price your course based on your authority

As we learned above that if you are an authority figure around your audience and you are considered as an expert with successful case studies or have done your work for a long time, you can add it to your course price as well and sell it on a relatively high price.

What goals you want to achieve

We have already talked about this but we need to discuss again the goals you as a course creator want to achieve from your course.

Passion – You may want to pursue your passion and share the knowledge with as many people as possible.

In that case, your major goal is not earning money so you can price your course at a price where the course perceived value is not lost and it also attracts as many students as possible.

Making Money – If your goal is to make money, suggested price to start is $300 or more keeping the transformation, production quality and content length in mind.

As you have learned different pricing techniques and approaches from above, you might have thought that some courses can’t meet all above standards to be sold on a premium price. 

Let say some courses can’t have more than 2-3 hours content and stretching a lesson to add more hours will bore the students.

The good news is that you can increase the value of an existing course topic to increase the price. Now you will learn those techniques that industry leaders are using to add value to their courses and justify the high price.

Adding value to increase the price

We have already discussed above that adding just information to your course do not necessarily add value. And increasing the value is possible without bloating your course with unnecessary information.

Community Access

Experts offer different prices for a course. For a higher price, they offer community access along with the course which can be a group of experts and/or other students who can meet and interact with each other online.

Coaching Calls

Adding coaching calls to a base course can also add value to your course and you can sell it on a higher price. You can schedule weekly or monthly calls where you help students with Q&A session in group calls or one-to-one calls.

Payment plans

This is another way to increase the price of your course. Rather than a one-time full payment, you offer them a payment plan at a higher price and have them pay installments as a recurring plan.

Payment plans model worked even better in some cases because it helps students sign up on a low price. As a course creator it helps you with extra money which is added without any extra effort.

The best price point to start with

As you learned several techniques you can see both high/low price scenarios from an expert’s persepctive and better plan your course price. 

To find your best performing price keeping your goals in mind, you can test multiple prices and see which one works best for you.

One last tip that is tested many times on how to price your course like a pro.

After analyzing the data in our clients’ and own course launches, we have discovered that $200 – $300 is the best price to start with and test different price points from here. This price point is a perfect starting point for a course launch with average production quality, content and value.

If you are unable to decide a price for your course even after all the above techniques, just start at $200 and go up to test the best price for you.

Chapter 07 - Setting up a course sales funnel

To understand the sales funnels and how they work, let’s first take a look at how people buy a product or the “Customer Journey” from start to end.

Customer Journey is 3 or 4 steps buying path:

  • Awareness – When customers first interact with the product, know about it.
  • Engagement or Consideration – They start thinking about that product, get educated about the features of the product.
  • Decision – Once done with inspection of the product, they will either decide to leave it or buy it.
  • Ascension – If the customer buys and likes the product, they become returning customers and also tell others to buy your product.

This is how a simple sales process or Customer Journey takes place. Now the question is that how to take our customers through a buying journey and sell them our course. The answer is to create a “Sales Funnel”.

Let’s now learn about a sales funnel and how to use it to give your customer a smooth buying journey.

A sales funnel is an online marketing machine or system that, if well-developed, needs traffic at the top and brings sales and customers at the bottom.

On every step in our funnel our audience has a level of trust and buying intent towards our product.

Keeping each step of “Customer Journey” and our audience trust in us, we will learn about the marketing content that we will use on each step to increase the overall sales.

Cold Audience

Every marketing funnel starts with a cold audience or cold traffic. This is your targeted audience who has never heard of you or your product.

When you first target them, drive them to your blog posts, a free guide, podcast, or a valuable piece of content.

You should take them to a free but valuable content that can help with building a relation by quick solution to a specific problem or answer to a question.

Because you have already built your Student Persona, you know what their possible pain points would be.

In my SEO Training example, I know my targeted audience is struggling with business growth and increase sales by offering SEO as a service.

I can come up with a guide, a blog, or a podcast like this:

Ultimate SEO Guide for Beginners to Earn $1500 in Next 21 Days

The goal of sharing free content is to give them value and earn their trust. We want them to get back to us for more free content.

Warm Audience

Once your audience is engaged with your free content, they are most likely to step up and want to get something more valuable.

At this stage, they are not a cold audience anymore. A person coming back to your blog or website 3rd or 4th time to consume free content is nearly a warm audience.

We now want to build authority by some more high-value content which can be a mini-course or a video series.

Because they have already interacted with us, we can add some more steps before giving them access to the content.

We now would like them to opt-in with their email address to get access to this high-value content.

Why asking for their email address?

We want to put a seed in their mind that there is more high-value content is which is not completely free. 

Giving their email address in exchange of that content will shift their mindset from a “Free Subscriber” to “Email Subscriber”.

In the future soon, we will be moving them to the next step of our customer journey which is “Paid Subscribers”.

Their email address will also help build your email list and re-marketing campaign on the next stage.

Hot Audience

When your audience has started taking actions, engaged with your content they most likely trust you and ready to step up from a “Email Subscriber” to a buyer.

They might have already started thinking about your paid offer. This is the right time to offer them a paid product.

You will do that by creating a sales page that is ultra-specific about your paid offer and answers all the questions they as customers might have.

We will learn how to create a sales page for your course in a while. A sales page is the final part in “Hot Audience” of your funnel.

But if our hot audience does not take the offer right away, we will take them back in our warm audience and nurture them.

Loyal Customers

Those who took your paid offer are now your customers. This is the group of audience mostly businesses ignore or have no plans after selling a product.

They are the most valuable people in our business, our happy customers.

When planning your marketing funnel, never skip this audience or you will lose a good portion of low hanging fruits. You won’t need to pay traffic or conversion costs to upsell to yoru existing customers.

Helping your happy customers with bonuses and discounts on your future products is a great way to incentivize them and encourage them for referrals.

Selling to an existing customer needs a lot less effort than converting the Cold or Warm Audiences.

Creating Your Course Sales Page

To lay out the sales page design, we will split a sales page into its important elements.

Headline

Your sales page’s headline is the first element they will interact with when land on it.

Just like your course title, you should come up with a clear headline for your sales page that talks about the course, targeted audience, and results it brings.

Adding a few words as a sub-headline also help with describing the headline in more detail.

Problem

As we have already learned that people buy the outcomes and not the information so we start our sales page’s content with the problem our course solves.

You will address the problem and their pain points. To make the problem more realistic, you can add a student as a case study or your own experience and frustration you faced.

As we already know the pain points by the “Student Avatar” exercise, describing the problems will naturally direct their mind to a solution and make them think about solving that problem.

Your course as a solution

Now you will start demonstrating the course as the best possible solution.

You will try to convince them with the benefits of your course and if possible a step by step process of how it will bring the transformation.

Course Bonuses

As we already learned in “pricing your course” chapter, adding bonuses to your course add direct value to your course so mentioning the bonuses on sales page shows that value.

Authority Building

We always respect the experts in any industry and consider their claims credible. When opening your sales page, building authority increases the conversion rate.

If you personally are not that popular, affiliating yourself to a well-known expert or company also builds some level of authority and credibility.

Another way to build authority is to talk about the number of successful students, projects completed, or any other contribution to your industry.

If your bonuses have been sold at some price, adding those prices gives them an idea of the value in terms of the money they are saving.

Testimonials and Case Studies

Every marketer claims that his product is an ultimate solution but just a few succeed to make the promise come true.

Your ideal customer would love to know what previous students think and said about your course so testimonials build trust in the promise made.

When asking your students for a testimonial, a video testimonial will be more authentic and build ultimate authority.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

If you are aware of the common questions asked by your ideal customers, adding them on the sales page will help your prospects’s common questions and take them one step ahead in the decision process.

You can also get some common questions by looking into the reviews in Udemy and Amazon on similar courses and books.

CTA (Call To Action)

When you are done with above, you have to give them a clear direction to the next steps they need to take if interested.

Your call to action is mostly a button linked to your order form/checkout.

Make sure your CTA is clear and popping up on the page so they don’t need to struggle to find it.

Running Traffic to Your Sales Funnel

When you have your sales funnel ready, you need to run traffic to your sales funnel and start selling your course.

Traffic generation is a complete subject that you can learn by a comprehensive guide to generate traffic to your course sales funnel.

In this section, I will cover essential elements to help you get an overview of different traffic sources and techniques to run traffic to your sales page.

Organic or Free Traffic

Organic marketing is a free way to generate traffic to your website, blog, a podcast by search engines like Google or social media channels like Facebook.

Mostly organic marketing is a slow but effective process, in the long run, to generate consistent traffic without any extra cost.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is an organic marketing technique to generate traffic to your website for free.

Google is the largest search engine almost everyone uses it every day for different searches. Google reads through the millions of web pages and ranks them based on relativity and authenticity.

Google uses online robots or in SEO term “Google Crawlers” to read through every page on internet, follow the links on those pages and find new web pages.

Google analyzes a web page against hundreds of ranking signals and give it a score, based on that score this page shows up in SERP or Search Engine Results Pages list.

To start with SEO, you have to learn a few basic concepts about how major search engines like Google and Bing work, how to get your website ready for SEO before even starting SEO.

You also need to learn On-page SEO, Off-Page SEO, and 200+ SEO factors that contribute to SEO.

Because every search starts on Google with a few words like “Course Creation” or “Marketing Your Course Online”, these words are called keywords.

To run a successful SEO campaign, you also need to understand the importance of keywords, and different types of keywords like longtail keywords.

Yet organic marketing is free, you still have to invest your time and sometime a little amount of money to perform better in SEO.

Or you can hire and SEO expert for your course launch.

Blogging

To run free traffic to your sales funnel, blogging is another technique to drive free traffic. You can start writing content around your course topic and help your audience with free but high value content.

You can promote your blog by different online and offline promotional techniques. Social media, Guest blogging, and asking other bloggers promote your blog are some simple techniques to increase your blog following.

Optimizing your blog for SEO can help increase the visibility and traffic from search engines as well.

Podcast

Podcasts are popular these days for generating traffic, engaged audience, and promoting your products.

You can start a solo podcast with just you talking about a topic or invite a guest expert from your industry.

You can also join other podcasts as a guest and promote your podcast. This is an easy way to attract audience from another podcast to yours.

Youtube Channel

If you love making videos, youtube is a great place to start your own channel and start sharing videos to your targeted audience.

You might need to learn some optimization techniques to attract traffic.

But once you reach a few thousand subscribers on your youtube channel, you a handsome traffic stream to your sales funnel.

Social Media

To run free traffic to your website, social media is another great place to start. You have to create a page or social media account, connect with like-minded people or your targeted audience, and build a community to market your offer.

Because social media channels are built to connect people socially they interact with other people and not to buy.

When offering something to someone on social media we should design our offer that does not interrupt their social experience.

Paid Traffic or Marketing Techniques

Mostly the free marketing techniques need time and consistent efforts to be fruitful. You do not pay a lot of money but you need to be patient.

In paid marketing techniques, there is less effort or wait involved but more money is needed to feed your marketing campaigns.

You either pay to a Search Engine, a social media channel or commissions to an affiliate partner to promote and sell your course.

Let’s now take a deeper look into all these paid marketing techniques.

Google Paid Ads or AdWords

You might have heard of Google ads, in a typical scenario you go to Google and run a search and see a few results with little green “Ad” with them.

As you have already learned above in SEO that Google has a largest database of results for almost any search and they rank those results based on a score after analyzing the results against 200+ ranking factors.

The top results are the most authentic and relative ones in the list when a search is made. The reward of being on top in search is more visibility and traffic to those pages.

But with Google Ads, you can buy those top spots to run traffic to your website in a matter of minutes.

So if your website is not ranking on top in Google’s search results by SEO, you can still drive traffic to your website with buying that traffic by Google AdWords.

Google AdWords sells the traffic based on PayPerClick where you pay for every click made to your website.

Google is partnered with millions of other websites on the web to show ads on those websites in the form of banner images, text, and videos.

Running AdWords is also a detailed subject and need a lot of technical expertise, you can start it after learning all the technical terms or hiring an AdWords Expert.

Facebook Ads

Just like Google Ads, you can run Facebook ads to get traffic to your website or your Facebook posts and FB Page.

The difference between Google Ads and FB Ads is that Facebook only shows ads inside Facebook or Instagram while on the other hand, Google shows ads on millions of websites they are partnered with.

Facebook Ads work mostly the same way as Google Ads and they also need essential knowledge on how to set up successful ads on Facebook.

Affiliates or Joint Venture Partners

Affiliates or referral partners can also help reach a big audience in short time. Just like other paid marketing techniques, affiliates and JV partners also cost money.

But the good thing is that you are not paying upfront or for the number of visitors or clicks like Google or Facebook.

Your affiliates share your product with their audiences and when a sale is made by their traffic, they take a set amount from your profit as a commission.

In affiliate marketing, because most of the work is done on the affiliate’s end so you don’t need to worry about the traffic part of it.

Because you have to set up affiliate tracking to track sales and conversions for each affiliate partner, you might also need some knowledge about affiliate marketing.

Chapter 08 - Course Upgrade

When you launch your course successfully and students are joining your course, you have achieved a big goal but that’s not an ultimate goal.

Everything so far was to give your course launch the first throttle and start the engine. The next steps are vital to your course’s long term success.

There are a few key steps to take right after you have successfully launched your course.

Help Students succeed

Helping your students succeed with your course will grow a list of happy customers and also your course advocates.

Not all students learn the same way. Some students are self-learners and others need guidance throughout the course. Help both types with different learning approaches.

Try making sure your course is available in multiple formats. Students have their own learning style and taste, some learn through audios & videos while other love visuals or even text.

Having your course material available in different formats help every type of learner.

Engage them with the community and follow up on progress. Make a system where the successful students can be called out so others can get help from them.

The big issue with online courses is that students get busy in life and it takes forever to complete the course. You have to create the systems that keep the course in their mind and get them back.

Setting up email reminders is a way to follow up on course progress and remind them about the course.

Monthly group calls with students to talk about the course progress and question answers session can keep them on track.

A Facebook group of students is a great way to keep them progressing in the course because we all see our Facebook at least once a day.

Take the feedback

Students feedback is an important part of your course success in long run. You must include this in your post-launch to-do list.

Taking feedback in a survey form is a great way to collect the data that will bring you an organized form of feedback.

Use that feedback when creating the next version of your course. Yes, you can keep re-creating your course with all the REAL data and feedback you got from YOUR students.

Course upgrade

With most of the courses, there is a need to upgrade the course to an updated version to improve the learning experience and students’ success.

You can decide whether you need to come up with a complete new version of the course update or partial updates. These newer versions can be offered to the existing students at a lower price.

Good luck with your course launch

I hope you have learned the complete process of launching your course and enjoyed it. I would LOVE your feedback on this guide as well as any additional questions that you think were not answered here.

About Author

Najam Mustufa is a web designer, digital marketer, and course launch expert. He helps coaches, authors, entrepreneurs with course launch strategies, website design, membership sites, sales funnels, and digital marketing.

His design and marketing efforts generated several millions in sales in last 5 years. He is always excited about learning and testing course launch techniques, marketing and share his knowledge.

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