Selling courses online can seem like a pretty daunting prospect. You have to first come up with a concept, then figure out how to get it online, then you actually have to market and sell it. Follow our tips below, and you’ll be well on your way to selling your course online.
First Things, First…
Since you’ve decided to sell a course online, chances are that you have a lot of your material already available in the form of a presentation or through some written material that you’ve already created. This is a good first step. Before you move ahead, you have to realize that an online course can differ from its offline counterpart. And if you do want to sell the course online, you should think about the online medium.
For online courses, typical mediums can include video, assessments, surveys, PowerPoints, and documents. So, start thinking about how your course can fit into this newer medium. Can you use any of your current materials, or will you need to create something completely new?
We recommend taking a long weekend to brainstorm ideas. Then, it’s time for action!
Create The Course With An LMS
An LMS or Learning Management System is probably the easiest way to create the course content. There are several really good LMS systems out there (we don’t mind saying that we’re one of them!). However, the best LMS is really just the one that works well for your particular needs.
…the best LMS is just the one that works well for your particular needs.
And, if you’re going to sell courses online, you want to make sure that the LMS is easy-to-use, integrates with an eCommerce platform, has solid customer support, and offers customization for your brand.
Most LMS offer 14-day or 1 month trials. Take advantage of this, as the only way to see if an LMS is for you is to just dive on in and see what the system feels like.
Easily integrating with an eCommerce platform is another must for your LMS if you’d like to sell courses online. In terms of popularity and ease of use, we personally recommend Shopify. And, using our Shopify ROI Tool, you can see what your ROI would be if you decided to use Avizr along with Shopify.
Solid customer support is also very important. There are two main factors to consider. First, your questions should be answered in a timely manner. Second, the customer service agents who answer your questions must be knowledgeable in their responses.
Some LMS companies tout their incredibly fast email response times (under 15 minutes!) or market the fact that they have phone support. All too often, these are companies whose phone support is disappointing because they outsource support and the support lacks the specialized training needed for them to answer a question.
On the flip side, you sometimes have to wait a week for some very knowledgeable email responses. And, that’s just way too long. According to Help Scout, the average of the largest 100 online retailers was 17 hours. We think that support requests sent during business hours require a response time within 4-6 hours.
Develop An Inbound Marketing Strategy
If you’re new to selling courses online, it’s important to realize that the online marketing landscape has changed into something very different than it was only 10 years ago. In the “old days,” to sell something offline, you would have needed a very large marketing budget. Television, newspaper ads, and billboard posters were some of the main ways to get your customers: marketing consisted of actively going out into the marketplace and bombarding the customer with your product.
When selling something on the internet, you’re faced with the fact that everybody is trying to grab everyone else’s attention with their own products. This makes the marketplace noisy and very(!) crowded, making it difficult for your product to stand out. With this in mind, the newer strategy that has been developed is to have your customers find you. The way to do this is by having your customers come to you through blogging and social media.
From a marketing standpoint, a blog is an invaluable way for you to draw customers to your site. For example, let’s say you’ve created a series of courses on “internet marketing” and you’d like to sell your courses online. After you create the course through an LMS, you could then start blogging about internet marketing. Topics could include “5 Tips on Internet Marketing” and “My Favorite Books On Internet Marketing,” in addition to some personal anecdotes related to internet marketing.
Writing these blogs tells Google and other search engines that you know a lot about internet marketing, and this in turn makes your search ranking go up. Then, when someone Googles “how to start internet marketing,” you’ll hopefully pop up as one of the top search results. The beauty of writing blog posts is that it doesn’t really cost you anything except for your time. This article has some great tips on starting your blog and a Google search for “how to write a blog” will give you lots of other tips.
One other piece of advice about blogging is to be patient. It can take 6 months or so before you begin to notice results. With this in mind, we recommend that you start blogging a couple of times a week even as you are creating your courses that you’re eventually going to sell online.
Is your online course something that your Facebook friends might be interested in? If so, then open a Facebook company page. Does your online course teach a skill that professionals would be interested in learning? If so, join LinkedIn. Whatever your social media strategy is as a way to help you sell your online courses, stick with a strategy for at least 6 months to see where you should put most of your efforts.
Selling a course online can be a very rewarding and lucrative experience. If you’ve decided to sell a course online, there are really two major pieces of the puzzle: creating the course and then marketing it. Once you have an understanding of the big picture, you can start diving in!