There are people making millions that teach online courses.
The subjects that these people teach can vary widely - from how to lose weight, play the guitar or even get a girlfriend. But what they are all doing is essentially teaching a person a particular skill or ability in exchange for money.
What I'm going to show you is why the most successful of these teachers choose to teach their skills via membership websites and the advantages of doing so.
The main options for teaching a skill online:
So let's look at the 3 main methods that people typically choose when teaching their skills to a mass audience:
1. Write An Ebook
- Ebooks on Amazon sell for a very low price and so to make enough money to replace your day job or grow a proper business then you need to sell a huge amount of books.
- There is likely to already be a lot of established books, authors and brands in the topic you will be teaching. This is the competition in your marketplace and this competition will make it difficult for you to stand out and sell.
- If you examine many of the successful teacher/training businesses then you'll see that these companies don't just sell ebooks. Instead they offer something more substantial when they teach online courses, offer a video course or some type of membership training program.
- Instead of writing an ebook, with just a bit more effort you can create an online course since converting an ebook into an online course can be surprisingly simple.
Because of all these reasons, many people usually choose to either create an online course or develop a membership website - as we shall see below.
2. Teach Online Courses
If you teach online courses it is perceived as being more valuable than an ebook.
There are many reasons for this, but because it is perceived as being more valuable, you can charge a higher price for an online course than you can an ebook.
So it is a better business choice to develop an online course over an ebook because you are likely to earn more money from it. In fact many authors release free ebooks to their customers with the intent of upselling them into their online courses and training programs.
A typical online course is usually created in the format of articles, email lessons, audio programs or video modules. Later in this course I'll show you how to develop content for an online course. But for now let's just look at the 2 main methods people use to sell their courses online:
So let's take a look at these 2 approaches:
These marketplaces can makes things easier for you, but you'll end up losing a lot of flexibility, control and money.
Advantages of online course marketplaces
- Ready-made marketplaces with active buyers
- They handle most of the technical side so you can focus on developing content
Disadvantages of online course marketplaces
- They take a cut of your profits
- Your course is listed right next to your competition, you could lose money because the customers choose someone else
- The platform owns the customers (not you). So Udemy owns all of the important customer data such as emails. Having an email list/buyers list is essential for a long term business.
- Because you don't own access to your customer data, it's harder to let your customers know about any future products you release and build a long term relationship with them via a mailing list (plus you're restricted with the type of message you can send to your own customers!). What happens if at a later date you want to run your own offline workshop?
- You can't set up a sales funnel for upsell/down sell/cross selling purposes.
- You're very limited in your pricing options (policies may change at any time, for example Udemy once had a $50 maximum price limit. They might change this again!)
- You can't set recurring payment options (which makes your business more stable)
- You can't offer free trials of your course (e.g. $1 trial for 7 days options for your course)
- Before your course is released you have to go through the platforms approval process. They might force you to make changes to your course content.
- Customers have limited interactivity with you (you're limited to simple messages instead of being able to create your own online community/portal)
As you can see there are a number of disadvantages to using a third party service to host your online course. That's why so many people decide to create their own membership website as we shall see below:
3. Create A Membership Site
Whilst there is slightly more work involved at the start, the longer term benefits are far greater when you host your online course as a membership site.
Advantages of membership sites
- You take all of the profits, so there is no middle men to pay or revenue share to give a platform
- You can charge a recurring income (e.g. monthly membership fees). This gives you more stable cash flow for your business.
- You own all of your customer data (name, email etc.) which is vital if you want to get the most lifetime value out of your customers and build a long term relationship with them
- You can set the price of your product to whatever you choose it to be (e.g. 10 day free trail, $39 per month, $2999)
- You can cross promote products as part of the sales process (upsells, down sells, cross sells).
- You can style the website to match your demographic and you can talk about any subject of your choice (in whatever manner you decide).
- Signing up to a membership website is perceived more valuable compared with just paying for a course on a platform that already has thousands of courses.
- You can build additional community features (messageboards, webinars) that make your website into a community portal
- Other people can promote your products and site when you integrate an affiliate program
Disadvantages of membership sites
- A membership website requires more up front work initially to set up
- You are in charge of promoting your website to your customers (which can be an advantage or a disadvantage)
- Whilst more profitable in the long term, membership websites require more initial upfront financial investment
Take Action Now
If you're wanting to make money from teaching a skill online, the most common options are to write an ebook, teach online courses or create a membership site. If you want control and profitability over the long term, then a membership site is best option.
- Continue with the next article where you'll look at how to understand your customer's needs with online market research.
Watertight Membership Site
The Online Course
You gain free membership access to: