How to Make Money Online With Courses and Communities

How to Make Money Online With Courses and Communities

Over the last few decades, the online courses industry has grown by 900% and is only set to grow further.

Whether you’re an online business looking to add courses to your product offerings, or an expert in your field interested in starting your course, it can be hard to know where to start.

As more and more people look to the digital world to educate themselves, there’s plenty of opportunity to earn money through online courses, one of the best passive income streams around.

But how do you get started? Here, we’ll cover the basics of finding your niche, creating, growing, and marketing your course content, and cultivating a supportive and sustainable community.

Competitor Research and Niches: How to Find Your Place in the Market

The first step is to find your place in the market. How much work this first step takes will depend heavily on your background. 

You’ll want to consider which areas are the most saturated, what online courses are in demand, and what expertise you can offer in your course.

The Importance of Market Research

Through market research, you can gather crucial information, helping you find gaps in the industry and determine which layouts, tactics, and courses work and which don’t. 

To start your course as strongly as possible, you should conduct surveys, interviews, and focus groups to gain unique, qualitative insights. You can then leverage analytics tools to track quantitative metrics, helping you pinpoint the right way to start.

What Niche Should You Choose?

With your market research in hand, you can make informed decisions on which niche your online courses will fit into. 

When analyzing your data from any market research, consider factors such as competition levels, audience size, and monetization potential. 

You should also search for new or emerging niches where you can establish yourself as a leading authority. Some niches may make a lot of money for existing courses but be so saturated that it will be difficult to find a place for your new course.

The Next Step to Make Money Online: Developing Your Content

With your niche picked out, and a good understanding of the market acquired, it’s time to get to work.

Whether it’s online courses, workshops, webinars, or other digital resources, the backbone of your course is the actual content that customers will consume.

This means ensuring your content is informative, engaging, and actionable is the most essential part of course creation.

Once again, when using your market research, you should focus on addressing specific pain points or challenges your potential customers face.

To ensure that your content stays fresh and engaging, try using a mixture of different formats, such as video tutorials, written guides, quizzes, and interactive assignments. These will help make your course more eye-catching and engaging.

How To Create Compelling Educational Content

Along with valuable information and guidance, clarity and conciseness are essential for ensuring your message is easily understandable and digestible for your audience. 

Your course should break down complex concepts into manageable chunks and illustrate your points with visuals, examples, and real-life case studies. 

Tailor your content to your audience, and include interactive elements such as quizzes, polls, and discussion forums to encourage active participation among learners and build your community.

The Best Tools and Platforms for Course Creation and Management

Using course creation tools such as Canvas or Tevello can provide all the structure you need to get right into what counts—creating the actual course.

Through various course creation software, you can use valuable tools to organize your content, create progress-tracking features, and build digital spaces for your audience to join.

Of course, once it’s created, you’ll also need to manage your course and its many subscribers.

When managing and integrating your course into online stores such as Shopify, apps such as Tevello or Courses Plus are excellent choices. Tevello allows you to manage your course content and community forums all in one centralized location, making managing your courses easy and helping you sell your course directly on Shopify.

Top Tips for Structuring Your Course

Even with the best tools available, you will need to decide how your course will be structured.

Here are some key steps to follow when organizing your new online course:

Start with Clear Learning Objectives 

Before giving your users any content, define the goals and outcomes you want them to achieve by the end of the course. 

Using regular learning milestones will help you and your students track progress and encourage them to keep pushing for the next milestone.

Organize Your Content Logically

Think carefully about the most logical way to guide your students through new topics, starting from the easiest and slowly progressing to more complex ideas.

To divide the content into manageable sections, try creating topic-related blocks of content with modules, units, and lessons.

Mix Up Your Style and Teaching Methods

By using many teaching tools, such as videos, audio recordings, interactive simulations, minigames, and written materials, you can cater to all different learning styles and keep your students more engaged.

Provide Ongoing Support and Feedback

One of the most vital elements of any course structure is providing timely and useful feedback to your students throughout the entire course.

How To Build and Manage Your Online Community

With your content ready and your course constructed, all you need now is your community: the people on your course.

A thriving community, whether through discussion forums, social media groups, or dedicated online platforms like Tevello, will be the backbone of your success.

The Best Tools and Strategies for Managing Your Community

Choosing a robust and intuitive online platform such as Teachable or Tevello will help ensure you have all the digital spaces and tools you need to quickly and effectively foster an active community.

Providing built-in discussion boards, customizable certificates, and progress bars for your course, Tevello offers you everything you need to manage a thriving community around your course easily.

Monetizing Your Course: A Guide

With the eLearning industry set to reach a market value of $1 Trillion by 2032, there’s no doubt that monetizing your online course can be pretty lucrative.

But what is the best way to do it?

Some of the most common ways online course ideas are monetized are:

  • Subscriptions: Offer recurring payment plans to access course content or community features.
  • One-time payments: Charge a single fee for lifetime or limited-time access to the course material.
  • Tiered memberships: Provide different membership levels with varying access and benefits.

Other methods include:

  • A Freemium model: Offer a free basic version of the course, with premium features available for purchase.
  • Bundled packages: Sell multiple courses or resources together at a discounted rate.
  • Affiliate marketing: Partner with other businesses or individuals to promote your course in exchange for a commission on sales.
  • Sponsorships: Have sponsors pay to promote their products or services within your course content or community.
  • Licensing: Allow other organizations or individuals to license your course content for their own use or distribution.

Popular courses such as those from Harvard and Yale offer freemium models, with a free course but a paid certificate at the end of the course. In contrast, others like Open University’s Project Management: Beyond the Basics offer a one-off payment, allowing customers to access everything they need right away.

Subscriptions offer the benefit of recurring revenue streams, but require consistent new content and value to justify continuing payments, making it more difficult to keep subscribers.

One-time payments offer simplicity and immediate revenue and grant learners lifetime or limited-time access to the course content. They also carry the risk of deterring potential customers who can’t afford a large lump sum, especially if the price is high.

Tiered memberships fall somewhere in the middle. They offer different prices for different levels of access, providing more options for the customer and helping you net more sales.

Unfortunately, managing many different tiers of content can be pretty complex. You may also find far fewer customers purchasing the highest tier, meaning you must be sure it is still cost-effective.

Getting Your Course Noticed With Marketing and Promotion

Some of the best ways to grow and get noticed include using social media, content marketing, email campaigns, and partnerships to boost visibility and reach. 

You can also offer free taster sessions or snippets of course content to entice new users. 

The best marketing strategy will depend largely on your specific course and audience – a marketing course (one of the most profitable types) with a younger audience may favor social media campaigns.

Whatever it is, trying out new methods and measuring their effectiveness is the most surefire way to determine which marketing strategies work. Refer back to your market research for ideas.

The Best Ways To Scale and Grow Your Online Course

With a successful course and a growing community, the next step is scaling.

To scale your course and increase engagement, you’ll need strategic planning, continuous improvement, and diverse tactics for sustained engagement. 

These should include regularly refreshing content, consistently encouraging user-generated contributions to discussion channels, and employing gamification to maintain learner motivation through progress bars and certificates.

The best way to keep improving is to listen to feedback. Whether current or past students, run questionnaires and read reviews to see what the learners want to see or not see on your course.

If all goes well, you can start expanding into new markets. Whether this means more courses on related topics, selling physical revision materials, or going international with different languages, there are many opportunities to scale.

What’s Next On Your Course Creation Journey?

Creating and monetizing online courses and communities requires deep strategic planning, continuous improvement, and diverse engagement tactics. But with the right plan, you can create one of the best online courses to make money.