How to Set Up and Sell Your Courses Online

Written by Laura Farkas

Updated August 11, 2020

If you would like to be able to create a residual income without having to exchange your time for money, your best option is to create and sell online courses. No matter if you are a personal trainer, a language therapist, or a business coach; online content consumption is on the rise, and will continue to be for a long time to come. Many people, however, struggle with online course creation, and never get from the idea to the implementation. Below you will find a few tips on how to create a platform to sell online courses from your own website.

Courses Platforms vs. Self-Hosted Courses

sell your courses online

The first question that might come to mind when you first start thinking about the idea to create and sell online courses is whether you should use a third party. The simple answer is: no. While there are advantages of using courses platforms, such as Udemi, Thinkific, and Coursera, you are competing with loads of similar products, which can drive your price down. Not to mention that you will also have to enter a revenue share agreement.

What’s our suggestion then? You can still use plugins to build online courses, but you should always host your courses on your site. If you use WordPress, you will be able to ad a simple plugin to your existing site. However, if the sole purpose of the site is to sell courses, you will be able to use a specialist platform. We will list a few of them below.

The Best Courses Platforms on the Market

If you would like to create a coaching course, an educational series, or a course for your followers, you might want to use a freemium or premium course platform. We will review a few below.

Udemi

course platform Udemy

Udemi is one of the most popular course platforms out there for startups. It is really easy to use, however, you need to sign up for a pretty decent package to get all the integrations you need to make the most out of your course marketing. The good news is that you don’t need advanced web design skills to get started. Simply record the videos, add the descriptions, and start selling. Please not that you will not be able to host your courses on your site; everything is stored and listed on the website, so long term this is not the most cost effective solution to create and sell online courses. You also have to apply to become a premium instructor to sell paid courses online. However, you don’t have to pay a monthly fee, if you sign up for a revenue share agreement.

Teachable

This is one of the most popular platforms, and it addresses some of the issues Udemi has. It offers great tracking and marketing integrations, so you have more control over your leads and customers. As it comes with an integrated blog, you can fully optimise the site for search engines, which means that you can really make the most out of your profits long term. This is by far the most flexible package for beginners. You can buy the lifetime license or have a subscription. One of the notable features of this platform is the affiliate program integration.

Thinkific

This platform is great for those who are looking to sell courses online without paying for bespoke design. The course designer is the best feature, and the price of the basic plan is $49 per month. It is still much cheaper than hiring a web marketing expert, but you will still need to get some optimisation done. You can get started for free, and – after a while – once you have figured out how to sell courses, you might decide to upgrade to one of the three different packages. You might even want to experiment with building amazing sales pages and special offers, if you feel like you have the time and energy.

Learndash

By far, Learndash is the most affordable platform with the best value for money. You can buy the license and integrate the platform straight into your website. A great solution for those who would like to build multiple courses and look professional. The yearly license starts at $159 for one site, and – if you are a developer – you can buy a multi-site license, too. As this software is a WordPress plugin, you can own the content and control every aspect of your site, landing pages, and sales funnels. If you would like to drip-feed the content to your site, that is easily done through this amazing WordPress course plugin.

Kajabi

One of the most popular platforms for online course creation among entrepreneurs selling high ticket training programmes. Think about your popular “guru” type of internet personality who has a huge following, but doesn’t have a massive team to take care of the web development. The price of the platform reflects he fact that people are usually charging more for the courses created on Kajabi. The basic plan will cost you $119/month. The main advantage of Kajabi compared with the rest of the platforms is that it includes a built-in sales funnel. No need for integrating the platform with ClickFunnels or other platforms.

 

The Benefits of Integrated WordPress Plugins to Create Your Own Online Course

You might be asking now what are the benefits of WordPress plugin integrations in selling an online course. We will list these below.

  1. You can change everything on the site and change your landing pages at one place, integrate the courses in your existing funnels.
  1. Less competition.

You don’t have to compete with other course creators on the same platform. You can build your own audience and the traffic will go to your own site, so you can upsell different products while people are on your site

  1. Long term return on investment

While you will need to spend time and money to sell online courses from your own website, long term you will be able to keep all the profits. If you are in business for a good while, it is recommended that you learn how to create a course online and host it on your own site.

 

Funnels Designed for Selling an Online Course

course sales funnel

Of course, it is not enough to figure out how to build an online course; you also have to make sales. Without a sales funnel, this will never happen. You will have to integrate the course into a digital marketing system, so you can generate Awareness, Interest, Demand, and get people to take Action.

As a basic sales funnel to sell online courses, we recommend that you use the below funnel examples:

Webinar funnel:

  1. Create awareness of the issue through social media.
  2. Get them interested through a webinar. Use email marketing to follow up with people who showed interest, making sure that they turn up
  3. Follow up using email marketing and highlight the solutions they have been searching for
  4. Give them an irresistible offer that they simply can’t refuse
  5. Make it personal; follow up with a video or a free assessment

Engagement funnel:

  1. Create engagement and make sure that you are using interactive marketing.
  2. Offer something of a high perceived value to your visitors and get them to want to find out more
  3. Put them on an email marketing campaign for relationship building and nurturing so you can get a better conversion on selling your online course
  4. Give them an irresistible offer on the course. Offer the lower level course first, then right after signing up, give them the option to upgrade
  5. Follow up with emails to check on their progress and to upsell

The Free membership option:

This is a great way to selling online courses and gaining trust. You will offer something valuable before you would ask for the sale. We have just successfully implemented this sales funnel for selling courses in a training company/membership site

  1. Create a free membership option. This will create reciprocity and trust
  2. Get people to register as a free member (micro-commitment)
  3. Engage with free members through email marketing and regargeting
  4. Offer an upgrade and/or course to people who might want to get more content from you
  5. As long as you keep adding new free members, you are keeping your courses funnel full

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Create a Course

  1. Create a layout (skeleton) of your courses with chapters and lessons
  2. Prepare the chapters of the course
  3. Design the PowerPoints or write the video scripts
  4. Record your course using a camera stand, professional videographer, or a phone with a tripod
  5. Make sure that you have natural light in the room
  6. Keep the videos and content consistent
  7. Get your designer to upload your courses and descriptions
  8. Create the funnel and the landing pages
  9. Create a Thank You page and a welcome video for each course
  10. Ask for feedback (using incentives always helps)

 

Driving Traffic to Your Online Courses

 

It is not enough to figure pout how to build an online course; 85 percent of course creators make less than they spent on their development. You also have to figure out the marketing system or sales funnel.

Unless you are clear on how to sell online courses, you will not make any money. Creating a sales funnel for selling courses is essential. You are not likely to get a positive return on investment on any advertising channel unless you have a channel attached.

You should do your market research and make sure that you understand your potential clients’ pain points, so you can address them directly in your marketing to sell online courses.

More Help with Selling an Online Course

how to sell your course online

We hope that you have a better understanding of how and where to sell online courses. Any idea is only as good as the implementation, though. If you would like to have a chat about funnels for course creators, course platform, or membership site development that will give you profits on autopilot, get in touch with our digital marketing experts and we will be happy to assist you.

2 Comments

  1. Corina

    Thank you so much, Laura.
    You explain things in easy to understand terms.
    I will be contacting you shortly.
    I feel that you might be able to help me with my online presence and services.

    Reply
    • Laura Farkas

      Hi Corina, happy to have a chat. Please feel free to contact us when the time is right. Laura

      Reply

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