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Did you know? The E-learning industry was valued at 399 billion dollars in 2022, and this value is expected to continue to grow from 2023 through 2032. 

There is a consistent and growing demand for online courses, as they are an easy and accessible way for people to upskill and increase their knowledge. This is a huge opportunity for experts in different fields to earn more passive income and establish authority in their niches. 

However, with thriving niches comes serious competition, so in this post, we will show you how to sell an online course legally and successfully. 

How to Sell an Online Course Legally 

This is a step-by-step guide on how to actually earn money from selling an online course. This guide is guaranteed to boost your sales and motivate you to publish and sell even more courses. 

You can sell an online course in five simple steps as mentioned below:

  • Assess your knowledge base
  • Choose a specific topic
  • Build your course
  • Market your course
  • Online course after-care

Let’s dive deeper into each step.

Step 1: Assess your knowledge base

Let’s assume you’re a business coach with in-depth knowledge of how to start and build a successful business. You may be tempted to create one major online course on “how to start a business” and call it a day. However, you may be selling yourself short.

Take the time to assess your knowledge base and see how you can maximize your years of experience and expertise to sell more courses. For example, you can create a course on “How to Start a Consulting Business” or “How to Scale Your Business Without Loss”.

By doing this, you have stretched your knowledge and created enough material that can be refined into multiple courses and, ultimately, more income. 

Step 2: Choose A Specific Topic

When selecting a topic to create a course around, be sure to choose one you really know, are passionate about, and are in demand. You don’t want to create an online course on a topic that no one is interested in. To help you choose a topic, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do people consider you an expert in the said course?
  • Is it easy for you to teach others, and have you done that in the past?
  • Have you solved specific problems on that course that many people struggle with?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can ask your existing audience for their opinions. You can do this by asking your existing email list or just posting on your social media platforms.

Make sure you research different course marketplaces to see whether the course topic is in demand. Doing research will also help you determine how to structure your course for maximum profitability. 

Step 3: Build Your Course

Many online coaches and content creators miss the most important part of this process: creating the actual course. A helpful tip is to start with a detailed and practical course outline and attach deadlines to each stage. Follow the steps below to build your course the right way. 

Set Your Course Goal and Objective

Your goal and objective are the statement you put out to define what your course entails and how people will benefit from it. 

For example, Course goal: How to launch an online coaching business

Course Objective: Simple, practical steps to start your business and start earning

Once you’re settled on your goal and objective, you can start creating your course outline. Not knowing your course goal and objective can breed confusion for the next steps. 

Create Your Course Outline

A great way to create a solid course outline is to think of your ideal audience. How will they want to receive the information? What structure makes the most sense for their learning process? Once you can picture this, start building a practical and straightforward outline and divide it into modules. A typical course outline would look like this: 

  • Course title and description
  • Objectives
  • Activities per module
  • Supporting materials
  • Assignments, tests with deadlines
  • Live sessions, if applicable

Breaking down your course outline into modules like this will help you add strategic information to each section and create a seamless learning journey for your audience. 

Create Your Content

Now, it’s time actually to create your course content. This stage is very important because you want to offer immense value. If you have old content that hasn’t been posted on public platforms, you can use that as a starting point. Your course content can be in different formats for each module, such as: 

  • Quizzes
  • Videos
  • Audios like recordings and podcasts
  • interactive pdfs
  • ebooks, etc. 

The key is to really know and study your audience groups and determine which formats they would respond to the most. You can take things a step further by asking them directly on your social media pages. It’s always better to give people what they want instead of assuming. 

Quick Tip: Use AI to supercharge your content creation process. AI can help you map out the headlines and develop and refine the content for a fraction of the time. 

Select A Course Platform

The next step is to select a platform on which to host your course. There are different learning management systems available for serious online course creators to take advantage of.

Most people use any of the popular online course marketplaces like Coursera, Udemy, or SkillShare. You can also host your online course on other platforms like WordPress LMS or Self-hosted LMS.

Some LMS providers are Docebo, eFront, Go Skills, Sky Prep, etc. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each course hosting platform. 

  • Online course marketplaces: Marketplaces like Udemy are great because they already have an existing audience in place. All you need to do is upload your course material for free. The only downside with this method is that you have to market your course to get sales. Also, even though you host on these platforms for free, they will take a sizable percentage of your earnings. 
  • Self-hosted LMS: Self-hosted learning management systems like Thinkific are great because they help you build the course and market it to your audience. However, you need to connect these platforms to your existing website and pay a monthly cost for the service. 
  • WordPress LMS: You can easily add an LMS plugin to your WordPress website and start selling your online course. A good example of a plugin is the WPLMS, as it is cheap and customizable. You can also add more functionalities whenever you want. However, you have to be careful when adding plugins to your website, as some plugins don’t mix well with others. To be on the safe side, employ a web developer to handle these implementations for you. 

Step 4: Market Your Course 

Now that you’ve created and hosted your online course, it’s time to tell everyone about it, and you do this through a sales funnel. A sales funnel is basically how you guide your audience to purchase your course.

You should start talking about your course weeks before it’s launched to build hype and increase audience excitement.

Share your unique selling point, which is what makes your course different from the rest, what you offer, and how this course will transform lives. If you have sold a class or course in the past, this is the time to share past reviews and build audience trust. 

Ensure your course is appropriately priced, and users can see the value upfront. On your landing page, share your qualifications and the results you’ve garnered over the years as a consultant. It is easier for people to purchase from proven experts than newbies.

Utilize platforms like TikTok, Linkedin, Instagram, and Twitter to share your expertise and lead others to purchase your course. 

Follow these steps to market your course
  • Create a landing page
  • Run paid Ads on Google and Facebook
  • Promote the course on Social media platforms
  • Run Facebook Ads
  • Talk about it on a podcast
  • Utilize search engine optimization
  • Use affiliate marketers
  • Email marketing

And many more. Be sure to capitalize on the platforms where most of your audiences converge and promote your course there.

Step 5: After Sale Care

If you want to continue building professional online courses that are successful, you will realize that your work doesn’t end after a buyer checks out.

After successfully selling your course, you need to continue delivering a good learning experience for your audience. Here are some steps you can take to take care of your audience and possibly even earn more after the sale.

Offer An Additional Course

If your audience loved the initial course, you can offer a follow-up course that is aimed at increasing their expertise and offering more value. You can convince them to purchase by offering a discount for this add-on course. 

Offer Personal Tutoring

Is a buyer ready to take the next step after completing your course? You can capitalize on this by offering personal tutoring services for a fee.

This could be one-on-one tutoring sessions that focus on helping the buyer implement all the information they learned from your course. It is also a way to solidify your position as an expert in the field. 

Offer Coaching

You can also offer group coaching services after buyers complete your course. It can be branded as a way for them to get a step-by-step guide on starting their business while adding your expertise as a business owner. 

You shouldn’t approach your online course as a one-time business venture but as a core part of your brand and position as a business owner. Be consistent in all your offerings, actively finding ways to offer more value and charge appropriately for it. 

Where to Sell an Online Course

With so many online course platforms to choose from, finding the right one may seem difficult.

We will explore seven of the most popular online course marketplaces: Thinkific, Kajabi, Udemy, Skillshare, Teachable, Mighty Networks, and Skool based on factors like:

  • Setting Up and Registration: How easy is it to create an account and get started?  
  • Course Types: What kinds of courses are best suited for each platform?  
  • Target Audience: Who are the typical learners on each platform?  
  • Course Demand: What topics are currently popular on each platform?  
  • Uploading Your Course: How do you upload your course materials and content?
  • Earnings Potential: How much money can you expect to make through each platform? 

1. Thinkific

Thinkific offers a unique approach, allowing you to create your own branded online school within their platform. 

  • Setting Up: Creating an account on Thinkific is simple. You can customize your logo and branding to create a cohesive learning environment for your students.  
  • Course Types: Thinkific caters to a wide range of courses, from academic subjects to professional skills and creative hobbies.  
  • Target Audience: Thinkific users are typically interested in in-depth learning experiences from passionate instructors. Focus on building a strong brand and establishing yourself as an expert in your field.  
  • Course Demand: Thinkific courses are popular across various areas, with a focus on professional development, creative skills, and business-related topics.  
  • Uploading Your Course: Thinkific provides a user-friendly platform for uploading your course content, including videos, PDFs, audio recordings, quizzes, and assignments.  
  • Earnings Potential: Thinkific allows you to set your course prices and keep 100% of your revenue. You can also offer subscription plans for recurring income.  

2. Kajabi  

Kajabi is a comprehensive online platform designed for entrepreneurs and creators to build, market, and sell their digital products and online courses. Here’s a closer look:

  • Setting Up: Creating an account and setting up as an instructor on Kajabi is straightforward. Just sign up and get a 14-day free trial to see if the platform is perfect for your needs. 
  • Course Types: Kajabi offers flexibility in course creation, allowing instructors to develop a wide range of content, from instructional videos and downloadable resources to live webinars and podcasts.  
  • Target Audience: Kajabi appeals to a diverse audience of learners, entrepreneurs, and creators looking to access premium educational content and resources. While pricing may vary for different courses and memberships, users value the platform’s comprehensive features and user-friendly interface.
  • Course Demand: Popular course categories on Kajabi span across business, marketing, health and wellness, personal development, and creative arts. You can capitalize on these high-demand areas by offering unique and engaging content.
  • Uploading Your Course: From video hosting and content delivery to customizable course layouts and branding options, Kajabi empowers instructors to create a polished and professional learning experience.
  • Earnings Potential: Kajabi lets you keep 100% of your coaching income while you pay a recurring monthly subscription fee to use the platform. 

3. Udemy  

Udemy is a well-established online learning platform with a vast library of courses on virtually any topic imaginable. Here’s a closer look:  

  • Setting Up: Signing up as an instructor on Udemy is straightforward. You’ll need to create a free account and complete a short profile outlining your expertise.  
  • Course Types: Udemy thrives on diversity. You can sell courses in almost any subject, from coding and business to music and photography.  
  • Target Audience: Udemy attracts a broad audience of learners seeking affordable, bite-sized courses on a wide range of topics. Price is often a major factor for Udemy users, so keep that in mind when setting your course fees.  
  • Course Demand: Popular course categories include business, personal development, programming, IT and software, and design. To stand out, consider current trends and identify gaps in the existing course library.  
  • Uploading Your Course: Udemy provides a user-friendly interface for uploading your course content, including videos, PDFs, and quizzes. 
  • Earnings Potential: Udemy operates on a revenue-sharing model. You earn a percentage (typically 3% to 63%) of the course sale price depending on various factors like promotions and how students find your course.

4. SkillShare

Skillshare focuses on creative skills and project-based learning. If you have expertise in design, animation, illustration, or other creative fields, Skillshare might be the perfect platform for you.  

  • Setting Up: Signing up on Skillshare is a smooth process. You’ll need to create an account and submit a short proposal outlining your course idea and expertise. Skillshare will then review your proposal and decide if it aligns with their platform.  
  • Course Types: Skillshare specializes in creative skills, offering courses in animation, illustration, photography, writing, and design.  
  • Target Audience: Skillshare attracts a community of aspiring creatives seeking to learn new skills and explore their creative potential.  
  • Course Demand: Popular course categories include illustration, design, animation, photography, and filmmaking. Look for trending topics within the creative realm to capture student interest.  
  • Uploading Your Course: Skillshare provides tools for uploading videos, project files, and class descriptions. Its format often favors shorter, project-based courses.  
  • Earnings Potential: Skillshare offers two revenue streams: a royalty-based model (you earn a share of the revenue generated by your students’ monthly subscriptions) and a referral fee for students who upgrade to premium memberships through your course.  

5. Teachable

Teachable offers a comprehensive platform for creating, hosting, and selling your online courses. It provides a user-friendly interface and a good balance between customization and ease of use. 

  • Setting Up: Creating a Teachable account is quick and easy. You can personalize your school’s branding and start uploading your course content.  
  • Course Types: Teachable accommodates a wide range of course formats, from video lectures to downloadable resources and live sessions.  
  • Target Audience: Teachable attracts a diverse audience seeking in-depth learning experiences across various fields. 
  • Course Demand: Teachable courses are successful in many areas, including business, marketing, personal development, and creative skills. Identify in-demand topics and cater to specific learning goals.  
  • Uploading Your Course: Teachable provides a user-friendly platform for uploading videos, PDFs, quizzes, assignments, and other course materials.  
  • Earnings Potential: Teachable offers several pricing models. You can choose a monthly subscription plan with transaction fees or keep 100% of your revenue by paying a higher monthly fee.  

6. Mighty Networks

Mighty Networks takes course creation a step further by fostering a strong community element. It’s ideal if you want to create an interactive learning experience that goes beyond just lectures.  

  • Setting Up: Setting up a community on Mighty Networks involves creating an account and outlining your course concept. They offer a free basic plan with limited features and paid plans with additional functionalities.  
  • Course Types: Mighty Networks thrives on interactive learning and community building. Courses often include live sessions, discussions, forums, and member-to-member interaction.  
  • Target Audience: Mighty Networks attracts learners who seek a more collaborative and engaging learning experience.  
  • Course Demand: Popular topics on Mighty Networks include business coaching, entrepreneurship, creative pursuits, and personal development.  
  • Uploading Your Course: Mighty Networks allows uploading videos, text content, and PDFs, as well as setting up discussion forums and live sessions.  
  • Earnings Potential: Mighty Networks offers several monetization options. You can charge monthly membership fees, sell courses within your community, or offer a combination of both.  

7. Skool

Skool is an innovative online learning platform that caters to both educators and students, offering a variety of tools and features to enhance the teaching and learning experience. 

  • Setting Up: Getting started on Skool is simple and user-friendly. Educators can easily create accounts and set up their virtual classrooms, while students can sign up for courses and access learning materials with ease.
  • Course Types: Skool offers a diverse range of courses across various disciplines, making it suitable for coaches of all interests. From ecommerce to business, music, and even arts & crafts, Skool provides a comprehensive learning environment.
  • Target Audience: Skool attracts a wide audience of coaches seeking to build growth-minded communities. 
  • Course Demand: Popular course categories on Skool include sales, business, personal development, tech, spirituality, etc. 
  • Uploading Your Course: Skool offers intuitive tools and features for educators to upload and organize their course content properly. Just sign up and start creating.  
  • Earnings Potential: Whether through one-time course sales, subscriptions, or donations, Skool provides various avenues for educators to monetize their expertise and contribute to the platform’s vibrant learning community.

Choosing the Perfect Platform  

The ideal platform for you depends on your specific needs and course content. Here’s a quick breakdown to help you decide:  

  • For building your own branded course: Choose Thinkific.
  • For a wide range of customization options: Kajabi is excellent.
  • For a large audience and affordability: Consider Udemy.    
  • For creative skill-based courses: Skillshare could be a good fit.  
  • For an all-in-one solution with diverse course formats: Teachable is a strong contender. 
  • For fostering a community-driven learning experience: Mighty Networks could be your perfect choice. 
  • For intuitive tools & features for your courses: Skool would be a great choice. 

Wrapping Up

A great way to earn more while sharing your knowledge and building more authority in your niche is to sell an online course. 

Once you assess your knowledge and know the specific course you want to sell, it’s easy to map out an outline, create the course, choose a hosting platform, and start selling. The steps in this guide will get you started, and in no time, you’ll be making considerable passive income!

Check out our ready-to-use, lawyer-approved, plug-and-play legal contract templates, so you can upgrade your client contract while staying Protected & Profitable™✨

Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you. Grab our FREE Legally Launch Guide to get the legal lowdown on everything in entrepreneurship, without the confusing mumbo jumbo. We’re serving it up straight and to the point. (Heads up: It’ll forever transform the way you view your client relationships!) Grab your copy now!

*The information presented in this blog post is for educational & informational purposes only. This should not be a substitute for customized legal advice from a licensed professional in a private setting. If you need legal advice, please consult with an attorney. This is not a law firm.

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