Can You Still Make Money with Online Courses in 2021?

Making money from online courses is easier than you think. Here’s how to make sure you have the right tools in your arsenal.

The last year or so has been a wild ride. But it’s also made a whole lot of room for new discoveries. And more than ever, creators, business people, and regular Joe’s the world over have caught on to the world of selling online courses.

Now, those people—and the people who hopped on the online course train long ago—are collectively wondering, “Can you still make money with online courses right now?”

The short answer: Yes. The long answer, we’re diving into below. Join us as we walk through the best way to make money from online courses and the easiest way to figure out pricing.

But first, let’s answer the burning question already in your mind: “Do I even have enough expertise to build and make money with online courses in the first place?”

How am I qualified to make money from online courses?

There are three main reasons that you—yes, you!—can and should charge a premium (meaning, at least $250) for your online courses. Even if you’re starting from scratch.

Because you’re offering people results or a transformational path.
If you can create a course that brings a certain group together with similar goals and motivations, and get those same people closer to achieving those goals, seeing results, and experiencing transformation, you can charge a premium for your online course. It’s all about whether or not you can deliver a set of results that those members wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.

Because you’re offering those results around a topic that’s important to your course members, especially during times of rapid change.
Whether it’s about their career, their health, their finances, or their spiritual practice, you’re covering a subject that’s super significant for your course members. And that’s huge for them.

Because you and your members will share stories and knowledge, giving them an experience they can’t get anywhere else.
Whatever you build is going to be unique because you’re bringing your own experiences to it—and so are your course members. Your course, then, is less about an overwhelming volume of content, and more about the knowledge and relationships that motivate your members to develop and stick with new practices.

TLDR: If the question is, “Can I still make money with online courses today,” the answer is YES.

Specifically, making money from course content comes down to three aspects: the path of transformation that you build for your course members, the way you structure your course, and how much you’re willing to charge for content.

Let’s explore each of those aspects, one by one.

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Tip #1 for making money with online courses: Define your Big Purpose

Part of the success of your online course (and your ability to make money on it) depends on how well you can define the path of transformation you’re offering to your course members. At its heart, your course is a journey for your course members to master something interesting together.

This is what we call the Big Purpose of your course.

Your Big Purpose defines who you’re bringing together, what your course members will do within your course, and the awesome benefits, results, and transformation they’ll get from joining you and completing your online course.

The best Big Purposes are specific and clear. So much so that if you showed it to a prospective course member, they’d immediately think—”Hey, that sounds like me, and something that I need RIGHT NOW!”

To give you an idea of what a Big Purpose looks like, here are a couple examples below:

We bring together aspiring horticulturists and gardening enthusiasts to learn about the identification, care, cultivation, and management of indoor and outdoor plants so that we can practice responsible and sustainable gardening, have a greater understanding of the science behind plants, and approach prospective careers in the horticultural field with confidence and experience. 

Or how about this one:

We bring together ambitious early- and mid-career professionals to learn and develop their productivity, communication, and self-advocacy skills, so that we can build thriving careers that facilitate fulfilled, balanced lives.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that your Big Purpose is a crucial element for being able to charge for and make money with online courses. More often than not, having a specific, defined vision for your course is the difference between a successful course that generates income, and one that, well, doesn’t.

Once you’ve defined your Big Purpose, you can start thinking about how you’re going to structure your content to best make money with your online course.

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Tip #2 for making money with online courses: Experiment with your course structure

Finding success and making money with online courses also means being willing to experiment with your course structure. And the good news is, there are a LOT of different ways that you can structure your course. Let’s take a look at a few options.

Pair your course with a community

One way to make money from online courses is to pair your course with a community. Why? Because community is the single most powerful tool you could have in your arsenal.

When you run your course alongside a community space, you open up the possibility for a phenomena called network effect. Network effect happens when each new member that joins your community brings additional value to you, your members, and your brand. And it’s something that only can happen when your members have access to each other and the chance to connect, collaborate, and navigate challenges together.

In other words, when you offer your course members a space to interact with each other—whether it’s about the course materials or your course topic—you’re really giving them the opportunity to get more out of your course. Learning alone is fine and all, but getting the chance to learn alongside a group of peers that have the same interests is more effective—and frankly, a lot more fun.

If you go this route, know that there are a lot of different ways to pair your course with a community: You can offer a free community with a paid course; a paid community with a free course; or a paid community with a paid course. The best practice here is to keep experimenting until you find what works best for you and your course members.

Bundle your course content

If you have a few different courses that build on one another, bundling your course content can be a great way to make money from online courses.

For example, if you have Course I priced at $49.99, Course II priced at $59.99, and Course III priced at $69.99, your members will have the option to pay for each course on their own, or a discounted bundle at, say, $149.99. That way, you’re giving them a $30 discount to ensure that they stick with your course material—and in the end, stick with you. 

You can also bundle your course content with access to an overall community or membership. Let’s go back and use our example for plant aficionados: Say you have an overall community, where members pay $24.99 per month for access. And say you have a course called Indoor Plant Fundamentals, for a one-time fee of $99.99. You could bundle the two together for a discount, which in turn, encourages your members to stick with your content, stick with your community, and stick with you.

Explore other avenues for monetization

Beyond offering a community space and bundled access, there are a few other avenues to explore for making money with online courses.

Consider offering access to paid virtual events—like guest lectures or live lessons. You could also create paid groups—like a mastermind group for your most motivated course members.

Beyond experimenting with your course structure and exploring different avenues for monetization, the next step for making money with your online course is the simplest one.

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Tip #3 for making money with online courses: Figure out the right price 

Figuring out how you’re going to price your online course can certainly be intimidating—we get that. But it doesn‘t have to be.

Seriously.

While there are plenty of factors to consider—the work you’re putting in, the value that your course members are getting, and so on—there’s one single thing to always keep top of mind: You’re using your experience or expertise to give your course members the tools to get results and transform their lives. 

That’s a super valuable thing, and it’s so important that you don’t sell yourself short.

Many a course creator has been where you are today, and many have made the same mistake: Undercharging for those results and that transformation. Below, we’ll give you the resources you need to avoid that very mistake.

Ask yourself what your course is worth

To get to your price, ask yourself a couple of questions:

Without your course, how else would your members get results? How much would it cost for them with those other options? Would they try one-on-one consulting? Books? The gym?

If your course member were able to build a new practice and get the results they wanted, what would it mean for them? How would it affect their quality of life? Would they be able to get a raise? Save money? Start a new career?

Think about 10 people in a small group coaching program for your first course. What price would make it worth it to them and to you? Don’t think about 1,000 people paying you out of the gate. Anchor on offering 10 people something valuable. Because at the end of the day, it’s easier to create a $500 course for 10 people than it is to get 1,000 people to pay you $5 each.

Keep it simple

If you’re starting from scratch, the best way to make money from online courses is to keep it simple. Instead of worrying about offering a bunch of different courses, start with one, and make it really good. Focus on getting your course members results and transformation with one strong course to start.

And charge a premium for it

As we mentioned before, charging a premium—at least $250—for your content is one of the best ways to make money from online courses. For example, you could start with a freemium community, where access to the overall community is free and your first course is $999. That way, as we mentioned above, you can build ONE course and focus on making it the absolute best.

The best place to make money with online courses? Mighty Networks

Can you still make money with online courses? A resounding YES! And your best bet is offering your awesome online course on a platform that grows with you.

Which is where Mighty Networks comes in.

With Mighty Networks, you can make money with online courses (and charge up to $10,000 for each one), build a thriving community that’s so valuable you can charge for it, and offer paid virtual events, groups, and more. And all of it is instantly available on the web, iOS, and Android—so your course and your community is always with your members wherever they go.

If you’re ready to start building, start with a free trial today.

Build your own premium course today

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