Ready to turn your expertise into a lucrative online business?
In this guide, we will show you how to start an online course business. You will learn how to create an online course, choose the right online course platform, market your courses, make your first sale, and so much more.
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Jump to a Section
Why Start an Online Course Business?
How to Start an Online School?
How to Create an Online Course?
Build a Successful Online Course Business
Create an easy online registration process
Secure payment processing
Integrate payment forms into your registration process
Find an online course management software
Choose Your Online Course Platform
Market Your Online Course Business
Why Start an Online Course Business?
Different entrepreneurs start businesses for different reasons. Many simply want to earn extra money in their free time while others do it for eccentric reasons like wanting to be the first to run a bird cafe.
Sure, it’s easier said than done and the risks are high, but the rewards are just too big that make entrepreneurship still worth pursuing.
In this section, we will talk about the 6 reasons why you should start an online course business today.
You can teach subjects you’re passionate about
Based on a 2004 study, passion (for work) alone has a significant effect on the growth of a company. If you are passionate, you’ll be more motivated to work harder and build larger social networks and capital. You’ll then have more income and sales to enjoy and invest back into your business for its continued growth.
However, not all passions offer lucrative business opportunities.
To find your moneymaker, “The $100 Startup” author Chris Guillebeau suggests creating a convergence graph. Envision the subjects you’re passionate about and what other people are willing to spend their cash on. You will find a good business idea where those two converge.
In summary, if you’re an expert at something and think other people would pay to learn it, then it’s a good reason to start an online school.
You can establish yourself as an expert
An online course business is an effective way to reach out to people who are looking to improve themselves. If done correctly, your satisfied students will be singing praises, and these can serve as your own proof of success.
From teaching classes online, you can branch out and pen pieces for authority websites in your industry, be a guest on podcasts, present at online or in-person conferences, network with other experts, get hired for consulting jobs, or even write your own book.
Not only will these things make you stand out from the competition, but also help you build a great source of pride.
You can build a sense of achievement
Sharing your expertise with the world is a noble goal in itself. But deciding to take the road less travelled by is no small feat. You will strive to run your online school and make all your students happy every day.
And as your business grows, so is your list of responsibilities. That’s why entrepreneurship is for you if you want to do something big and be recognized for it.
Having a sense of pride and recognition can increase your self-esteem. This, in turn, gives you greater happiness and more persistence.
You can use the Internet to your advantage
The Internet is the new land of milk and honey.
With advanced Internet technologies, it is now possible to hold all of your classes online. All you need is an online course platform or well-designed website to manage your lessons and students, which also means lower startup costs.
You can also leverage the internet to sell your courses, produce content, conduct surveys and reach global markets. Moreover, there’s a wide array of tools and applications that make starting an online business easier.
You can generate more income
The coronavirus pandemic has forced governments from 186 countries to shut down schools temporarily. As a result, more than 1.2 billion students have been displaced worldwide.
As such, people now look for alternative options, with online learning as their primary choice, where teaching is done virtually and on web-based platforms. It allows them to communicate with their instructors effectively through video meetings, document sharing, or chat groups.
Even before the pandemic, investments in education technology were already at an all-time high. In 2019, the investments reached a whopping $18.66 billion, up by $2 billion from 2018. A Research and Markets study also projected that the global market for online learning will reach $320 billion in 2025, showing no signs of slowing down.
This meteoric growth is due to trainers and businesses adopting new learning technologies to teach students and employees cost-effectively, especially during this pandemic.
Online courses are flexible, accessible to users via an internet connection, and more affordable than offline programs. Whether the goal is to invest in self-development, learn new skills, or pursue certifications for career advancement, people can now learn anywhere, anytime.
You can be part of a solution
Based on a study, online learning can increase retention rates up to 60% as compared to in-person settings with only 10%. Moreover, online learning is less time-consuming as it only requires 40% to 60% less study time than traditional classrooms. It’s because students can pace themselves, re-read the material, skip, or advance through the chapters whenever they want.
What do experts think about the future of online learning?
Instructors themselves expect a new hybrid model of education (offline and online learning) to emerge soon. In a WeForum article, Vice President of Tencent Cloud and Tencent Education, Wang Tao, believes that “the integration of information technology in education will be further accelerated and that online education will eventually become an integral component of school education.”
Another proponent of online learning, Professor Amjad from the University of Jordan, shares the same sentiment as Tao’s. Dr. Amjad has been using Lark (a video conferencing platform) to teach his students and says, “it has changed the way of teaching. It enables me to reach out to my students more efficiently and effectively, especially during this pandemic. My students also find it is easier to communicate on Lark. I will stick to Lark even after coronavirus, I believe traditional offline learning and e-learning can go hand by hand.”
Point is, even if the pandemic ends today there’s no guarantee that it won’t happen again in the future.
Luckily, online learning offers a sustainable solution to individuals, schools and businesses who want to move to online learning amidst and post-pandemic. They may want to stay productive while stuck at home, adapt to new styles of learning and working, or to learn in places that don’t put them at risk of contracting COVID-19.
Whatever their goal is, these new types of learners will create more demand for online course creators.
So, if you want to learn how to start an online course business, now is the best time to do it.
How to Start an Online School?
Starting an online school is just like any other online business. All you need is a course of your choice, business plan and marketing strategy for your product launch.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Choose your subject
To get started, decide what to teach. You can build an online school around popular business ideas such as follows:
- Career/life coaching
- Arts & crafts
- Online dating
Or, it can be a specialized program that caters to a very specific type of audience like:
- Software development
- Video editing
- Sexual harassment training
- Passive income
- Public speaking
- Leadership skills training
Choose a course that allows you to provide training and information on topics related to your skills. For example, if you’re good at photography and videography, you may want to teach people how to use Adobe creative suite. You can make relevant video tutorials and roll out one or two videos every week on your website.
To find out if your chosen topic is going to sell, search for other similar course creators and see if they’ve had success with it. If they were successful, then it means there’s a market who’s genuinely interested in your topic and willing to pay to learn more.
Name your business
At this point, you most likely have an idea what to name your business. We recommend picking a name that you can build around your brand. Consider names that best represent what your business is all about and how you want to be perceived in your industry.
If nothing springs to mind, use an online course business name generator to gather some ideas.
Complete all legal requirements
Depending on your business structure, you may need to obtain certain permits and licenses, register for taxes, and set up business accounting.
Establish a legal business entity
There are four ways to structure your new business – sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), and corporation.
Of the four, sole proprietorship is the most popular business structure as it costs nothing to establish one. However, it does not protect you from any liability for any debts that’ll be incurred by your business the way an LLC or corporation does. Therefore, if you failed to fulfill your financial obligations, creditors can go after your personal assets to pay off debts.
Apply for an EIN
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) allows the government to identify business entities for tax administration and reporting. However, only businesses with employees are eligible to apply for an EIN through the IRS. If you’re a single-member LLC or a sole proprietor without employees, then you do not need to get an EIN.
Open a bank account
A bank account and credit line dedicated to your business allows you to separate your personal assets from your company’s assets. It provides some degree of personal asset protection in case your company is found liable for fraud or debts.
Invest in business accounting
Develop a system for recording your sources of income, expenses, and other important financial records to keep your online school on track. Organizing your finances is an efficient way of observing the growth of your business and missing any of your financial obligations. You can invest in a simple business accounting tool or hire the services of a registered accountant.
Secure permits and licenses
Check with your city clerk’s office for any information on local licenses and permits required to operate an online school in your area. You may also find local assistance from one of the organizations posted in the US Small Business Administration.
Create a business plan
Your business plan is the heart of your company. It guides you through each phase of building an online school, from creating a blueprint for how you want to structure, manage and grow your business.
Consider the following key elements when writing a business plan:
- Pick a template that works for you
- Write an executive summary and company description
- Perform a thorough market analysis
- Define your chosen business structure
- Describe your products or services and explain how they benefit your buyers
- Explain how you will attract and retain buyers
Build a remarkable brand
A brand is a logo, name, graphic design, or any other feature that makes you stand out from the competition. It represents what your business stands for and how you want to be perceived by your customers and competitors – the go-to expert.
To create a strong brand, be strategic and consider questions like:
- What do I offer?
- How do I want to be perceived in my industry?
- Who is my target audience?
- Why should they sign up for my class?
- What do I stand for?
These questions will help you realize the motivations behind what you do and where do you want to be in the future.
Prepare for launch
There are two ways to approach this. Some course creators create a course first then launch it, while others roll out a beta course and then finalize it with their first group of buyers.
The latter is more popular because creating an online course takes time and there’s no guarantee it’s going to sell like hotcakes. This strategy is ideal for course creators who want to test the marketability of their product first. They typically work alongside their users to fine tune the course material, which means lots of iterations before they get to the final product.
Alternatively, if you want less work, you can build your program first and then promote it. Simply create your online course and then make the adjustments as you go based on user comments and suggestions.
Both strategies are tried and tested. It all just comes down to knowing which strategy will work best for your online school.
How to Create an Online Course?
Create your lessons
A lesson is the foundation of your online course. Often the most challenging part of the process, it requires great attention to detail, time and effort.
Many course creators spend at least one month creating their lessons. Others, especially the more experienced ones, have already mastered this process and can build a complete course within one week.
But you’ve got to start somewhere, right?
You can start either by repurposing your previously published content or creating one from scratch. If you have any pre-existing content, take anything that’s relevant to your course and include it in your lesson plan.
Next, do an in-depth research. However, don’t get too completely absorbed in making your lessons as flawless as possible. Keep in mind that you’re still in the process of creating a minimum viable product to satisfy your first group of buyers. You can always design and build the final version after taking some feedback into account.
Divide information into sections
Once you’ve collected all the information, divide it into modules or sections. You don’t want your students to digest your entire course at one go, which might discourage them to complete the whole thing, putting all your efforts to waste.
What you want to have is a program that allows a natural progression where students can feel like they’re succeeding. Create sections based on the different stages your students will go, such as from beginner, advanced to expert.
Break sections into individual lessons
Ensure that each lesson is only around 10 to 15 minutes to avoid exhausting your students. For optimal engagement, between 3 and 5 minutes seem to be the sweet spot.
James Schramko of SuperFast Business uses a simple lesson outline to maximize viewership and engagement. Each lesson aims to answer:
- What. What’s the lesson for today?
- Why. Why do your students need to learn this lesson?
- What if. Describe the consequences that come with skipping this lesson.
- How. Teach your students everything they need to know about the “how’s” of the lesson.
- Action. Create an activity where students can apply what they’ve learned from your class.
Write your script
Even the best public speakers prepare a script in order to give an excellent presentation. Write well-thought out examples and notes where a diagram might be placed nicely. This way, you will be able to explain a complex process properly.
Get your visual presentations ready
The most commonly used presentation styles amongst online course creators are live action and screen recording.
Live action videos are simple and easy to make. All you have to do is figure out the shoot location, what background to use, and any set props you might need, then film yourself. If you don’t want to go through all that effort, you can always film videos where you’re just sitting in front of a desk or background. However, if your topic requires items like showing how to bake wedding cakes, then you may need to have a kitchen as part of your set and location.
As for screen recording or animation, this presentation style takes longer to make than live action. You need to gather all the visuals necessary and then create a presentation before you start recording the audio. If you don’t have any technical know-how, you will most likely need to hire an animator or graphic designer to do things expertly.
Determine your budget
Below are some of the expected costs that typically come with online course business:
For course creators without employees:
A sophisticated online course offering typically costs $21,000. It includes a budget for course material production, in which one hour of video takes 240 hours to create which costs $10,000, website development ($5,000), and internet marketing ($600).
For course creators with chat support:
Ideal for masterclass and coaching types of courses that normally have international students, hence, the need to operate 24/7.
Aside from the startup and ongoing expenses, you might also find yourself in need of a round-the-clock chat support. Prices range from $100 to $199 per month, which already includes chat monitoring and response.
For course creators with co-instructors:
Online courses that are guided by multiple instructors like corporate training and MOOC have far greater technical requirements, such as follows:
- Video conferencing platform
- High-quality mic and webcam
If you have multiple instructors, you will also need to pay them $30 per hour on average.
Post-launch, you will also have to take the ongoing expenses into account. These include:
- A high-speed Internet connection for fast response times.
- A large bandwidth with lower latency for a seamless online experience, which normally costs $900 per month.
- Software subscriptions
- Internet marketing to promote and strengthen the web presence of your online school. Expect to spend a minimum of $500 per month for a basic internet marketing package.
- $1,000 to $2,000 budget for each new course.
Set your prices
The prices for solo course creators range from as low as $10 to as high as $499 per program, especially if it’s an online certification course.
You can also charge by the hour for one-on-one coaching. If you’re an expert who wants to teach a specialty course, you may charge more. Many go-to-experts in their respective industries can sell their online courses for above $1,000.
Other factors you need to think about when setting your course prices are:
- Course length
- Brand credibility and authority
- Value you provide
- Profit goals
Additionally, you may also consider these pricing models below for your courses.
- Free. Free courses are a perfect way to generate leads and provide a preview to potential members. Once they sign up, you can upsell to them the paid full version of the product and turn them into paying customers.
- One-time payment. This is the simplest way to offer your online course. As soon as your members pay, they can immediately enjoy the complete value from your course without having to wait weeks for it to happen.
- Subscription. It is ideal for members who want some flexible payment options. With a subscription plan, you unlock one lesson at a time and encourage students to become long-term active members of your community.
- Premium. With this type of pricing model, members expect to receive more exclusive content from you. It can be an extended course designed to help them prepare for a certification test.
Build a Successful Online Course Business
Learn how to start an online school that sells with these steps.
Build a website
There are two ways to build a website: build it from scratch with a web developer or buy a pre-designed template from a reputable content management system like WordPress. Either way, you need a professional website that can host your online classes across all devices seamlessly.
When choosing a design, make sure that it reflects your brand. It also has to be visually appealing to attract potential buyers and build surface credibility. Based on a study, visitors form an opinion about a website in just 50 milliseconds. Your visitors basically don’t have time to think. It’s all visual impression and almost purely instinctive.
Aside from visual appeal, your web content also plays a crucial role in the engagement and conversion of your target audience.
Web content development
When building your website, make sure that it has 5 of the most important pages:
- Home. The front cover, the opening chapter, the hook – your home page is the first thing visitors see when they visit your website. Moreover, they only spend less than 15 seconds on the home page. Therefore, everything must be well-laid out. Place your headline (what your visitors look for) and a clear call-to-action button above the fold to capture their attention within seconds.
- About Us. This is where you introduce yourself, team members, and mission statements.
- Product/Service. A page where you highlight the features and benefits of your online course.
- Contact. Visitors use your contact details to reach out to you. Build a contact page that looks professional and easy to use. Include a phone number, contact form, business email address, mailing address, map, and so on.
- Blog. You can use blogging as a way to build authority in your industry, generate online traffic, and encourage engagement among your learners. Be sure to organize your blog properly (either by most recent or by most popular) and the information you provide answers the main concerns of your target readers.
Create an easy online registration process
The fear of “online form abandonment” is real. In fact, 80% of users have left an online form unfinished after beginning to fill it out. The reason? The form length is too long and poor website security. Unfortunately, 67% are most unlikely to return. Some do return although it’s usually for self-serving reasons, such as wanting to redeem a coupon or free access to a resource.
For this reason, it’s important that your online course registration process is secure and easy to use. To do this, make sure to:
Customize your online form. Build a form that is unique to a specific course. Meaning, only include the most relevant questions or fields and keep them short.
Build an intuitive registration process. Consider using form builder tools that have conditional logic abilities. These tools can update your form continuously to match with the registrant’s answers. They can also add another field if someone answered yes to a specific question, remove fields if they are no longer relevant, or send an automated email response to those who have completed the registration process.
Put an embedded registration form. Your registrants might feel a bit anxious if they’re sent to another web page in order to fill out your online form. This may then lead to the dreaded online form abandonment. Fortunately, you can embed your own online registration form on your website with just a single line of code. Not only will this make online registration quick and easy, but also give members some peace of mind.
Make it mobile-friendly. People are always attached to their phones. So, it’s only logical to improve the mobile responsiveness of your registration forms to make it accessible and usable to mobile device users.
Secure payment processing
Having a secure payment processing page is crucial for building customer trust and boosting sales. It is where potential registrants become buyers. It’s also where they put in their bank details and hand over their hard-earned money.
Therefore, you don’t want to give them a hard time completing a payment or make them worry about getting sent to an unknown third-party site to process their payment. This will only confuse them, and a confused customer never pays.
If you really want to make payments easy and secure for your registrants and increase your enrollments, you’ll want to have complete control over your payment process. Below are some tips that will help you achieve this.
Integrate payment forms into your registration process
Creating your own payment form allows you to customize it to the unique needs of your registrants.
For example, if your target audience expects to see a variety of payment options on your checkout page, you may opt to set up a payment method that accepts both credit/debit cards and bank transfers on any device.
It all comes down to who you’re doing business with. Additionally, with an online payment form integrated into your website, no-one will ever have to worry about handing their credit card details over to a third-party site they’ve never used before.
Provide Payment Plans, Recurring Monthly Payments or Auto-billing
Offer flexible payment plans and automated billing to give your registrants the option to either pay a dime now or get a free trial, and the rest later. Payment plans can help ease the financial burden of paying for everything at once while auto-billing allows you to receive payment invoices as soon as payment is processed.
Make account registration optional
More often than not, people forget their usernames and passwords. The last thing they need is another login detail to remember. Don’t turn away registrants, especially first timers, by letting them pay without requiring an account. Forcing them to create an account might kill your chances of converting them into a paying customer.
To make your payment process faster for everyone, give them the option to check out as a guest or as a returning customer.
Find an online course management software
An online course management software is an application for managing educational courses, distributing assignments, administering assessments to students, and facilitating feedback on student performance. It’s also designed to handle course registrations, payments, website tracking, and reporting.
Without a course management software, it would be difficult to build a successful online course business. It’s a major investment that needs careful selection, but with so many choices on the market, finding the right one for your business can be tough. Read on for some tips.
Define your needs and objectives. What kind of course or subject are you offering? What are your learning objectives? How many students will you have per class? What kind of result are you hoping to provide? Figuring out your learning goals will make it easier for you to find a software that can meet your needs and budget.
Consider your technical requirements. What type of content are you hoping to distribute online (e.g., live videos, documents, slide presentations, interactive activities, and so on)? You want an online course management software that can handle all your content and make it accessible to your students. You also want to invest in a user-friendly tool so that your staff won’t have a hard time updating your content.
Identify the features you need. Having too many choices can be confusing to an inexperienced course creator. Thus, it’s important that you know which features to prioritize. If you want a comprehensive online course management software, you might want to consider those that come with the following features:
- Registrations and payments
- User-friendly course builder
- Discussion boards
- Test capabilities
- Grading capabilities
- Email communications
- Reporting for payments and class attendance
- Filter tools
- Triggered by action email tools (e.g., welcome emails, onboarding, transactional, or retargeting emails)
- Automated discounts
- Automated user functions (e.g., alerts)
- Affiliate link functionality
Prioritize those features that will be beneficial in meeting your learning goals and objectives.
Consider the future of your business. Do you have any plan on expanding the business or just keep it small? If you want to grow big in the future, choose a virtual system that has the ability to adapt to your growing needs. It’s also a good idea to choose one that has cutting-edge technology because it’s less likely to go obsolete in the next five years.
Ask for a demo. Nothing beats real, first-hand experience. Ask for a demo or sign up for a free trial of the software you’re eyeing. This can give you an opportunity to test the system in a way that you’re planning to use it, exposing any potential issues that might come up before you go all in.
Increase online course registrations
With the demand for online learning on the rise, there’s never been a perfect time to cast your net into the market and gather as many customers as you can. Below are some tips to further increase your online course registrations.
Reach out to your previous students. As you promote your online course business, it’s best to give people an idea of what it’s like to be under your mentorship. To do this, consider asking your past students for genuine feedback and use their positive reviews or praises as your social proof. This will help create a positive impression on your brand and influence potential registrants to sign up.
We also recommend asking your past students about any improvements they would like to see in your future courses. This way, you will be able to provide them a better experience with your online school.
Offer discounts and tangible incentives. Incentives are benefits that customers gain as a reward for signing up or buying a product. These benefits can come in many forms, such as product add-ons, discounts, free informative content or merchandise, among other perks. You can offer incentives through online, survey, event registration or lead generation forms to boost conversion.
In fact, a 2015 report from Formstack shows that online forms with incentives have higher conversion rates with 35% versus survey forms (14%), event registration (11%) and lead generation (11%).
To determine which incentive to utilize, find out your registrant’s motivation. Do they want a preview to know if the course is really right up their alley? Will access to unique information solve their problem? Will discounts or coupons ease their financial burden? Whatever the reward is, incentives will surely increase your conversion rate and help boost sales.
Allow group registration. This feature is perfect for individuals who have an entire team to register for an event, making the registration process less time-consuming and tedious. One person can create an account, write the name of each member, and pay the fees on their behalf. With group registration, you can quickly fill up the seats and even increase your enrollment to 26%.
Regularly update your students. Make sure that they are prepared for the first class by giving them updates on the program. You can automate your email messages and sort the recipients based on the specific course they’ve signed up for to avoid sending generic emails, which might sound irrelevant to some.
Your updates can be about registration confirmation, course changes notifications, assignments, or reference materials. Keeping your students in the know is an effective way to encourage engagement and provide a positive e-learning experience.
Leverage data and utilize predictive modeling. Collect and analyze data on students who may want to enroll in your course. You can collect data through surveys, website analytics, transactional data tracking, digital marketing analytics, social media monitoring, and registration data.
Check out their education background, where they come from, psychographics, and so on. You can then utilize that information to identify which ones are likely to sign on, and thus, target them specifically during your marketing campaigns.
When building a successful online course business, you will invest in a lot of tools to maximize your potential. They might cost a fortune, but the long-term benefits are worth considering. Not only can they make your day-to-day operation easier but also help you achieve your business goals.
Choose Your Online Course Platform
Not all online course platforms are created equal. Some offer a full-range of features perfect for both private, SMBs and enterprise clients, while others are specifically designed for freelancers and smaller businesses. Therefore, choosing the right platform for your online school will depend on your specific needs and objectives.
To help you narrow down your options, and eventually make an informed decision, below are four of the best online course platforms on the market today.
Founded in 2012, Thinkific is a versatile platform that allows you to build, sell and manage courses online. You can make courses with videos, photos and/or downloadable documents to engage your students with interactive multimedia course content. It also provides support to your online marketing campaigns with its sales page builder and automation tools, albeit it doesn’t have a local online marketplace.
If you want to start quick with the basic tools then upgrade to a more comprehensive plan later, Thinkific is an excellent option. However, with several tools to choose from, you might need to go through a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to use each of them in your website. While you can count on phone support, there is no dedicated account manager to guide you all the way.
So, if you aren’t tech-savvy, you may want to consider choosing a simpler platform that also offers an account manager and live chat support.
- Lots of core features for its free plan
- No transaction fees
- User-friendly and intuitive interface
- Ability to customize courses to match your branding and pricing options
- Full access to HTML and CSS for developers
- Access to advanced marketing tools
- Phone support
- No marketplace to sell/market your course offerings
- No integrated email marketing and sales funnel builders, although it allows third-party integrations
- No live chat support
CourseStorm is a cloud-based class registration software designed for in-person and online training providers.
It is built to help instructors increase their efficiency and enrollment by simplifying their online admission and payment processes. It provides a quick and easy way to set up registrations, payment methods, generic and customized emails, and automated marketing, allowing instructors to focus on other equally important aspects of their business.
However, it isn’t flexible enough to allow several third-party integrations and certain pricing options for certain classes. It also doesn’t have as many features or tools as Thinkific, which is why it’s ideal for those who only need to put a simple online class registration in place.
- Quick and easy to set up classes
- Pay-as-you-go without any upfront costs
- Simple checkout process
- Top-notch customer service
- Customizable registration forms and mass emails
- Intelligent course recommendation engine
- Allows direct deposit payments
- No option to set an age limit for specific programs
- Takes 4% payment fees from all credit card transactions
- Limited third-party integrations
Used by over 7,000 organizations worldwide, Regpack is a robust online registration software for event organizers, academic instructors and trainers. It’s designed to handle online mass registrations for in-person and online events, classes and activities. It can also collect payments and help grow your enrollment with its extensive suite of features.
With Regpack, you can have customizable form builders, real-time reporting and analytics, secure payment processing, payment plans and auto-billing, communication tools, and discount automations. It also allows you to manage multiple events in a single account to reduce clutter and increase productivity.
What’s more, you can embed Regpack content on your website with just a single line of code. Therefore, students don’t have to click out of your site to access your events or courses.
However, Regpack’s pricing plan starts at $89 per month, which makes it a bit pricier than the other providers. But considering the top-notch functionality that will make registration and payment collection a lot less laborious, the price may as well be an exception.
- Easy to set up events and automated emails to keep registrants updated
- Customizable registration and payment forms for a smooth registration process
- Uses conditional logic to keep forms short and relevant to registrants
- Filter tools to make the student selection process more ideal
- Allows users to create discounts and promo codes
- Embed registration on a website with a single line of code
- Multiple payment methods, including eCheck payments
- Flexible platform that allows users to manage multiple events at once
- Proactive account manager for each client
- Doesn’t have a mobile app for check-in
- No native certificate printing options
ASAP Connected is an online registration and management system for schools. Like the other platforms, ASAP can handle class management, online student registration, among other aspects of an education program. But the similarities end there.
Marketed as a professional school management system, ASAP has a good number of unique tools for small and large-scale academic organizations. It offers ID cards for students, facility reservations, payroll, merchandise sales, event management, fundraising and donation drives, and business intelligence.
However, ASAP lacks certain technologies that other platforms have like conditional logic and automations. Little is also known about its pricing structure as it’s not posted on their website.
- Online school management system specialist
- Efficient features for both faculty administration and enrollment
- Supports fundraising events
- Allows users to sell school products and supplies online
- Branded event pages
- Internal and public facility reservations
- Facility and student check-in
- Undisclosed pricing structure
- Being a school management system specialist alienates other industries
When choosing an online course platform, it all comes down to what your business really needs. Pick the one that meets or closest to your preferred pricing plan, services and features.
Market Your Online Course Business
Now that you’ve got an amazing course to sell, the next step is to prepare a marketing plan to reach your target audience.
A good marketing plan describes how you will accomplish a specific goal using one or more marketing strategies. For example, if you want to have a successful product launch, you need to figure out which content, tools and software or channels you’ll need to execute your strategy and measure its success.
So whether you’re just thinking about ways to begin or looking to improve your strategies, we’re here to point you in the right direction.
We will cover the basic steps to creating a marketing plan for course creators. We’ll also include some tips you can apply to your own online course business to boost revenue and customer satisfaction.
Follow along these steps to learn how to sell online courses.
Define your mission and its KPIs
Build your marketing mission around your business mission. For example, if your mission is “to help junior supervisors build superior leadership skills for career advancement”, your marketing plan’s mission might be “to attract team leaders, educate them about the skills they need to get promoted, and convince them to sign up”.
To track your progress, you’ll need Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These are metrics that measure each of the elements of your campaign, such as website traffic volume or page views, engagement rate, conversion rate, and so on.
Create a buyer persona
A buyer persona represents your ideal customer. To identify them, look into your data and find out their age, gender, location, job, interests, and so on. Your buyer persona should be the most accurate representation of your potential and long-term customers.
Using the same example as above, if your course focuses on leadership skills development for junior supervisors, you’ll want to attract 25-35 professionals who are ready to take their skills to the next level.
Identifying who you’re trying to attract will help you target the right people. This, in turn, allows you to make the right choices for your marketing strategy and eventually get the highest ROI possible.
Build a unique brand
Branding is a marketing practice in which you create a name, logo or design that makes you both recognizable to customers and distinct from your competitors.
But beyond the graphic elements, branding is also about the user experience you provide. If you market yourself as an expert coupled with a visually-compelling website to boot, then your prospects naturally expect to receive top-notch learning experience from you.
So when building your brand, think about how you want to position yourself in your industry and be strategic about it.
Who do you want and not want to attract? How do you want to be perceived in your industry – as a specialist or generalist? What are your core values? What do you stand against?
Just be sure to stay true and authentic to your core values when answering these questions. 86% of customers say that authenticity is a major factor when deciding whether or not they want to support/like a particular brand. They expect brands to be honest and consistent in their messaging. And those who do are able to form long-term relationships with their customers.
Once you’ve established yourself as the go-to expert, you can get featured in various media outlets, build and expand your network, attract more members, and offer premium courses.
Know your competitors
While competition is proof of demand, it’s not something to stay away from. In fact, do the other way around. Keep your rivals closer to know what they’re doing and what kind of threat they pose to your business. By knowing these things, you’ll get to learn how they behave, anticipate their actions and stay on top of the competition.
To research your competitors, conduct a competitive analysis which involves the following processes:
Do a quick Google search and sort your competitors into different levels, from primary (direct competitors), secondary (may offer high or low-end versions of your course offerings) to tertiary competition (entities that don’t exactly compete with you but may be related to what you do).
Take a close look at their website and see how things are arranged. Is the website easy to use? Is the branding consistent across all pages? Are they trying to generate leads by building an email list? Where are the calls-to-action located? Do they regularly update their blog?
Figure out their brand positioning. This way, you can gauge the demands and expectations of the buyers.
Identify their best sellers, how much they cost and what the experience was like for the previous students.
Check out their pricing. This is one of the best ways to know how much your people are willing to pay for the course, which might work for your business as well.
Learn what their audience thinks about them. Scour the web and print media for customer reviews on your competitors to get the pulse of their audience. This way, you can find out their strengths and weaknesses and discover ways to use them to your advantage.
Observe their social media presence. Go to their social pages to see what engaging practices work and what does not work well for them. This will help you generate some new ways of interacting with your own followers.
Create video content for email and social media
With several promotional videos that go viral every month, it’s easy to see why video is very popular among marketers today. It’s easy to digest, versatile, engaging and can potentially give you a high ROI through various distribution channels. No wonder no other type of content can communicate as effectively as video.
In fact, a Hubspot study shows 97% of marketers believe that videos help their customers understand their products. Videos enable them to give customers an up-close look at their products or services so they can immediately see what they’re getting.
Videos can potentially increase conversions and sales as well. Based on a study by EyeView, adding a promotional video into your landing page can increase your conversion rate by 86%.
High-quality and well-optimized videos can also boost your SEO ranking. Since videos are both informative and entertaining, they’re a good way to encourage visitors to stay longer on your website. For Google, increased dwell time means you must have good-quality content that your visitors can’t get enough of.
Therefore, you’re more likely to rank higher on search so that more people can enjoy your content while using Google. And as your videos draw more attention, it can lead to more sharing on email and social media.
That said, videos are great for marketing goals related to educating people, building brand awareness and increasing sales.
How to get started?
First, create a video marketing plan. This includes identifying your specific marketing strategies, doing thorough competitive analysis, knowing your target audience and setting your budget.
Then, choose the right type of video for your email or social media marketing strategy. Here are some of your options:
- Product reviews or demos
- Live videos
To shoot high-quality videos, invest in a good video recording equipment. You might need to prepare:
- A DSLR or compact camera
- Video or photo editing software
- Set and props
Remember to keep your videos short. Lengthy videos for social and email will likely send your viewers to snoozeville. Besides, they’ll be too large for attachment. The ideal length for videos is two to three minutes, albeit make sure they’re interesting and informative.
For more impact, upload your videos on YouTube or Vimeo. These video streaming sites have millions of unique users so they are excellent sources of traffic and leads too.
If you want to direct your members to a video within your email, include the word “video” in the subject line. CRM solutions provider, SuperOffice, found out that including the word video increased their open rates by 6%! We reckon it wouldn’t hurt to test this yourself to see if you’re going to get the same result.
Publish blog posts
Videos may be taking over the Internet these days, but blogging still remains a key content marketing strategy. A report from Demand Gen reveals that 47% of customers read 3 to 5 written content before contacting a sales representative. Moreover, marketers who update and optimize their blog are likely to generate 67% more leads than those who don’t. Undoubtedly, blogging is as effective as video.
How blogging works is quite simple.
You write a lot of SEO-friendly blog posts to increase your chances of ranking higher on search. Ranking higher on search gives you that much needed exposure to reach new customers, which means more traffic to your website. More prospects interacting with your brand also means more people who are likely to fill out forms or call you, and ultimately more sales.
For example, you can create a free resource (e.g., eBook, blog series or mini-course) that you can share with your prospects in exchange for their email. This way, you can build your own email list and produce more content (informative blog posts or automated emails) that will do the selling.
If done correctly, this will bring your potential customers closer towards the final step of the conversion process – the purchase of your product or service.
How Regpack has Helped Businesses Like Yours Manage Their Online Course Business?
Designed to improve the lives of our clients, Regpack is a versatile online registration software that creates intuitive application processes with excellent payment gateway and customer support.
Our system helps businesses like yours handle laborious admin tasks to help increase efficiency and payment rate by 25%! With Regpack, it now only takes a few minutes to set up an event, create a seamless registration process across all devices, add multiple payment options and discounts, sort members, build an email list, send out mass emails and embed forms into your website.
Take our previous client, College Training, as an example. The fast-growing organization needed a system that would integrate payments into the registration process efficiently. With Regpack, they are able to keep all of their registrants where they want them in the process and let them progress through it naturally.
When a potential registrant asks about CT’s programs, they can easily reach the admins or begin the application. The admins will then examine the inquiries as they come in and sort them from the beginning with our filter tools, saving both parties time and money. And if someone wants to pay or get a refund online, they can simply do so without clicking out of the site, thanks to our integrated payment processing features.
Another example is Arkansas 4-H. The company wanted a flexible online registration software for their youth development programs.
Switching to Regpack has allowed Arkansas 4-H to customize registration forms and tailor all questions to the way they wanted them for their target audience. They are also able to manipulate the system to modify their own templates. The flexibility of our software allows them to have full control over every single field, line and question that they use.
By making it easier for our clients to build a registration process with an integrated payment gateway, they’re able to increase their efficiency and grow enrollment. They also have more time for other equally important aspects of their online course business.
Ready to automate your online registration and payment process? Call us on 855-377-7707 or click here to get a free demo.