By Helene Caura
Have you, like me, been noticing all these big and small names creating online courses about everything under the sun (and making a living from it)?
- Fabienne Fredrickson teaches women how to attract all the clients they’ll ever want or need.
- Candice Coppola teaches individuals how to start a career in event planning industry.
- Bushra Azar teaches small business owners how to write convincing copy to “earn big bucks”.
- Ruth Soukup, six-figure blogger, teaches moms how to make money from their blog.
This is happening all over the world, covering all manner of topics, from how to use video software to losing weight and training your cat to use the toilet.
Platforms like Udemy are already hosting more than 30,000 courses … and counting.
Professionals in the learning field have noted this new need for skills in creating online courses and are already teaching thousands of people how to:
- Create Awesome Online Courses – David, Rise to the Top
- Get Your Brilliance Out of Your Head and Into the World – Jeanine Blackwell
- Your eCourse Secret Weapon – Kathryn Hocking
What's Going On?
There HAS to be a reason for this boom, I thought. Is it only because technology makes it so easy, today, to go digital?
I started to read and watch interviews with these trendsetters and found that some were making BIG MONEY.
- Nikki Elledge Brown went from being a park ranger to earning a six-figure income as a “communication stylist” in just 10 months.
- Nick Stephenson teaches authors how to improve their marketing efforts and build their platform, and made $130,208 with his first launch, in one week.
Are You Impressed … and a Little Bit Skeptical?
At first, I didn’t believe it – it just couldn't be possible! Must be marketing tricks to get us to buy their stuff.
I looked at more than 30 interviews and case studies.
I talked to course creators who found the time to answer my questions.
In the end, I surrendered.
It’s not just marketing spin. It’s real. Online courses are hot, and they’re selling very, very well!
Online Courses Aren’t Really New … Are They?
Distance or radio-delivered courses have existed for at least 70 years, but there’s something really new about the recent online courses that doesn’t compare with their forerunners.
I took my first distance course when I was 16.
I studied Mandarin. It was fun and I got great results; even though I never saw my teachers and only had audio tapes and printed books to study from. It worked so well, that when I met university students majoring in Chinese after their first year of study, I realized that my level was already better than theirs!
That language course was very well designed. It was effective in teaching me the actual subject, but it also taught me how to learn. It was probably the thing that first nudged me in the direction of learning design.
Since 2000, I have helped hundreds of corporate clients all over the world design and develop their e-learning programs, in every possible industry: I’ve done it all.
So I've been particularly excited by this new trend around private online learning that I’ve seen burgeoning these past few years.
I’m excited as a long-life learner type myself, and as a professional who helps people create online learning experiences.
Do You Want to Make Money While You Sleep and Have a Bigger Impact?
Learners are LOVING it, but what's in it for course creators?
These people are not geeks or early adopters of technology. They are regular, curious, ambitious people who want to:
- Make thousands while they sleep or enjoy their favorite wine (generating “passive revenue” is a big theme, front-loading the work all at once and then reaping the financial benefits for the years to come – and wine is often mentioned as well!)
- Serve more clients and make a bigger impact, so that more people can benefit from their (already well established) expertise.
- Have more time to watch their tomatoes – and their kids – grow.
- Work from their hammock over the summer, and then enjoy a second summer of leisure in the other hemisphere (that’s my dream too!)
Here’s What They Say.
“I'm an ESL teacher who teaches the same freakin’ material over and over and over. I trade time for money. I have hit the ceiling for my hourly rate; what can I do to earn more and have more clients? I think an online course could help.” — Diana T., ESL teacher
“I’m tired of trading my time for money. I want to offer programs that make a bigger impact, and be able to serve my dream clients, even if they can’t afford one-on-one time with me. I want to generate passive revenue.” — Melissa L., productivity coach
“I want to monetize my expertise. Currently, I feel like I keep repeating the same things over and over, and I don’t have enough time for what I’d like to work more on. I want a better work–life balance and I think an online course would help me achieve this. I want to be in the garden more often, with my tomatoes, you know!” — Shirley S., leadership coach
Why it’s a Logical Step for Coaches, Consultants and Experts to Create Online Courses.
They speak at conferences, fill their popular workshops, and sell their services at premium prices to companies who seek out in droves. They are doing well – very well – building upon their already successful businesses (most report a six-figure income prior to starting their online business).
They could just be content with what they already have, but they feel driven to share their expertise with more people, to make a bigger impact, and help their students grow, by connecting and supporting with each other; it’d be a shame if they didn’t. A waste of their talents and of the digital networking potential.
Why Would Learners Pay for Something that is Available for Free?
So, you’re telling me it’s not a good idea to sell online programs because nobody is going to buy them?
Well, hundreds of course creators would disagree with you, and they would have great arguments to help you change your mind, such as figures from their bank account statements and testimonials from their learners.
Think about the online courses or resources you have bought yourself. Could you have figured out how to learn all that for free?
Yes, of course, you could have.
But for the same reasons people pay to have a language teacher who teaches them grammar when they could find it themselves at their library or online for free, they pay for the convenience of online courses.
People Want to Spend Less Time Searching For and Organizing Information.
Above all, people are happily paying to gain the support of peers or of an expert through their journey. They want to be taken by the hand, feel they’re being taken care of.
This year, I bought a course designed to help me “dress true to my nature”. I also bought a course to have a flat belly (hey, don’t laugh, I’m a consenting victim of Western society, and working on it) and, last year, I bought a course to learn how to create an online business from scratch.
What e-courses did YOU buy?
We’re prepared to pay for someone who packages their expertise conveniently for us, facilitating our lives, and we’re prepared to pay to have access to their expertise, whether it’s in the flesh or digital.
And we pay a lot. Most courses sell for $300–600. They typically contain narrated slides, videos, personalized feedback from the expert themselves, and access to a community of like-minded peers. More sophisticated courses sell for $1,500 and even $10,000+…
But I’m Not an Expert.
You are an expert at something.
Yes, makeup, Minecraft, and aqua-yoga DO count as skills.
And if you’re not a total expert, you can become one very quickly. How? Put in the long hours and learn from your many mistakes or … enroll in an online course!
What is your expertise that some people can’t wait to benefit from?
But Somebody is Already Offering the Course I Want to Offer.
That’s great news! If someone already created the course you want to create, it’s a good sign.
Because it means that there is demand for this topic. If nobody’s already created it, chances are nobody will buy it. Don’t waste your time trying to create a need. Go where the fish are. Work with people who are already motivated. Successful course creators created programs they knew were going to sell even before they created them.
And you’re unique. Your course content might be very similar to your competitor’s, but the way you approach it, your tone, your self, is different.
It's Easier Than You Think to Create an Online Course. Stay Tuned.
I don’t want to travel back to a time when the Internet was science fiction and my local library the only window to the possibilities out there. Do you?
The coming years are just too exciting!
I want to experience the amazing online programs coaches, experts, and consultants in all sorts of industries, all over the world, have to offer.
I want to see your e-course!
I said “amazing online programs”, right? In my next article, I’ll tell you what it takes to design and develop truly awesome, efficient and profitable online learning experiences. I know how, and it’s easier than you think.
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Helene Caura is an elearning design alchemist. She is passionate about eating good chocolate and helping experts design super-efficient AND profitable ecourses (in that order). You can keep in touch with her at www.helene-caura.com