How to Sell a Course Online: 5 Marketing Tips

Before you start selling a course online, read this guide and learn how to create and market your class.

A laptop on a desk displaying a virtual class, one example of a course you can sell online.

Selling a course online is a lucrative opportunity for business owners, particularly solopreneurs. As a one-person business, you can entirely (or largely) create an online course on your own. You simply tap into your area of expertise and create content around the topic that potential customers would find useful. But before you get to creating your course, you might find it useful to learn how to create your online course and how to market it.

Should You Sell Online Courses?

This all depends on you. Online courses are an accessible way to enter the entrepreneurial field — that is, if you have the right topic to build a course around and the tools to create the class. If you want to try your hand at selling online content, ensure you are a subject matter expert and can speak on the topic with authority.

To start, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why do I want to sell an online course? If you're passionate about a specific subject, teaching or both, it can make creating a course easier than if you are not.
  • Do I have a unique angle that will help me sell my course? You want to avoid putting out the same content that already exists so you can stand out.
  • In what format will I deliver this online course? You might choose to sell a one-off class or multi-series course as part of a membership model. You can also opt for a video lecture, assignments, written content or something that incorporates a little bit of everything.
  • What tools do I need to create an online course? The type of course you create (for example a video course vs. a workbook) will dictate what tools you will need. From there, you can decide whether, for example, investing in a camera or grammar software is worth it.

These answers will give you a better idea as to whether you have the knowledge, desire and ability to create a course.

Did you know?
Online courses aren’t the only digital products you can offer. You can also sell a license to a photo, an e-book, a podcast and more.

7 Types of Online Courses

Your course can take shape in a variety of ways. Here are just a few:

1. Video Lessons

With video lessons, you have a virtual classroom where you explain concepts or demonstrate skills to your target customer. For example, if your goal is to teach a class on how to use a vintage camera, then you could talk about the parts of the camera, explain how to adjust the settings and even show errors you made at the beginning and how you have corrected them. You can sell one or a series of video lessons.

2. Written Content

Whether you create an e-book, a workbook or a series of articles, you can use written content to cover a wider range of information in an easy-to-understand way. You can break content up into chapters or include subheaders to separate chunks of text. You can even include images to demonstrate processes.

3. Interactive Courses

If you want to create a more dynamic experience, consider creating a course with quizzes and activities. For example, if you are teaching a writing class, you can task your students with writing a short story of their choosing and then encourage them to post it on a discussion board, where they can interact with others and receive feedback.

4. Webinar Course

Similar to a video lesson, a webinar course allows students to send in questions and participate in live discussions.

5. Audio Classes

If you don't want to appear on camera, consider an audio-based course, such as a podcast. This flexible type of class lets potential students listen to your lessons on the go.

6. Slideshow Presentations

As many people in the corporate world know, a slideshow is an effective way to present information. With a slideshow, you provide students with a visual format that they can refer to when necessary.

7. Subscription Course

With a subscription course, students can pay to access a library of courses over a set period of time.

You might find that one type of class is more appealing than another, but if you feel drawn to more than one, no worries. You can mix and match to create the perfect course that works for you and your prospective students.

How to Create Your Online Course in 8 Steps

If you're ready to create your online course, here's how you do it:

1. Find a niche.

The first thing you want to do is figure out what subject you want to teach. Think about where your interests and expertise overlap. To draw in an audience, you want to be able to sound like you have a deep understanding of the topic.

2. Research the audience and demand for the topic.

Once you know your topic, take time to research your audience and the demand. Knowing your audience will come in handy when it's time to organize your class. For example, if you want to appeal to someone who is more creative, you might want to pick a more interactive course.

When you can pinpoint what your audience likes and dislikes and what they want to learn, look into the demand. Use a keyword research tool or Google Trends to gauge if there is enough interest. It's difficult to create a profitable course if there's not already a built-in audience.

3. Choose the format and organize your content.

Decide the format of your course, whether it's video content, a downloadable audio file or a mix of different types. Knowing your target audience's preferences and considering whether you feel comfortable with a format (i.e., do you want to appear on camera? Do you want to write an e-book?) will help you arrive at the right answer.

After you pick the format, figure out how you will organize your content. Ask yourself these types of questions:

  • Are you offering a workbook that a student works on alone?
  • Will you have a live class and ask prospective customers to send in their questions?
  • Is the class broken up into several videos?
  • Is it one longer class where you encourage students to participate in a group discussion?
  • Will you create an e-book that features a step-by-step breakdown with photos?

To organize your content and create a course outline, think about what might help your students learn and what you feel comfortable producing. If you are creating a video course, you can use a storyboard to lay out your ideas and keep yourself on track. If you are writing a book or other piece of written content, you can follow an e-book template.

4. Pick your online course platform.

Once you know the direction you're aiming for, it's time to pick a platform. There are some online course creators that can help make the process easier. And there are others that offer plenty of flexibility. Noodle's Byte feature, for example, allows you to sell different types of digital content, meaning you can create PDFs, videos, audio recordings and more all in one place.

Not only should you find a platform that is compatible with your content goals, but you should also look for a service with a robust payment system. Noodle's simple and secure system lets you collect payments in more than 40 countries. Noodle accepts major credit card payments, Apple Pay and Google Pay. Additionally, you can sell your digital course as a one-off or accept a one-time payment for a suite of classes.

5. Establish pricing.

When you have found the right platform for you, set your pricing. You worked hard to create your content, so pick a price that reflects that.

6. Determine whether you need to collaborate with others.

While you can create many online courses on your own, you might need help to get to the finish line for others. Figure out if you need to work with an illustrator, photographer, editor or videographer to make your class a reality.

7. Produce and edit your content.

Now, it's time for the fun part: creating the content. Remember that the key is to help students, so aim to create content that is easy to understand and engaging. Once you have filmed, recorded or written your content, review and refine it. The editing process is always necessary. As part of this, you can send it to colleagues or friends who can provide feedback and help you make your offering stronger.

8. Launch your course and market it.

Once you feel happy with the editing process, it's time to launch your course. Simply hitting publish won't be enough, however. You also need to take time to market your product so it ends up in front of the right people.

How to Price Your Online Course

Pricing your online course is a balancing act. You want to set a price that is not too high that people will overlook it, but also that's not too low because you dedicated a lot of time and energy to the project.

A good strategy is to study your competitors. While you want to create content that stands out from theirs, you can learn a lot by looking at what they're doing. For example, if a competitor is selling a 30-minute video course on pottery that teaches students how to wedge and center clay on the wheel for $30, you can create a more comprehensive one-hour course that covers the same topics and add in more techniques, like breaking down how to create a mug or bowl, for $60.

Selling a Course Online: 5 Marketing Tips

If you want to make a profitable online course, you need to spend some time marketing your product. Here are a few tips:

1. Lean into SEO.

When you write the title of your class, you want to pick a catchy title but don't forget to add relevant keywords. Investing time in search engine optimization helps you rank on search engines. So pick keywords that your audience will be searching for. A keyword research tool can tell you how much monthly search volume a specific topic has and even related keywords that can make your content stronger. Since you only have so many characters in the headline and description of your video, you might also consider writing blog posts to drive traffic to your online course.

2. Create a freebie.

Here's the truth: People love free products. You can use a freebie, such as a companion guide or a scaled-down version of your course, to entice your audience. Wow them enough with your free product, and you can have a sale on your hands.

3. Adopt social media.

Social media marketing is a powerful marketing tool. You can use hashtags, short videos, stunning visuals and more to grow an audience on social media. Your accounts can then direct people to your online course.

4. Try email marketing.

An email list can help you sell a current or future course. Ask prospective students to sign up for your newsletter by offering them an incentive. For example, signing up will give them a discount on a course or allow them to bundle classes for a cheaper price. Being able to communicate with your audience on a regular basis gives you the chance to connect with them and build enough trust that they want to purchase more in the future.

5. Collect and post customer feedback.

Social proof, or evidence that your product is worth purchasing, is important because it shows your audience how your course has positively affected others. Post feedback on your social media pages, in your emails and in your product description. If you were iffy about a course and saw that people called it "life-changing" or "the easiest way to get good at photography fast," you would be able to see the value of the product.

Valuable feedback has another added bonus. When people provide their honest opinions, you can also learn how to create a better product.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

As a solopreneur, you want your business to look professional and trustworthy. With Noodle’s all-in-one platform, you’ll have access to AI tools that will make you look totally put together. Sign up for a free Noodle account today.