Creating an Online Course that Sells

salesjpgYou are probably like a lot of people in that you have a great idea for a course, but you are a little intimidated about the the entire process.

Some people think that the course creation part is the most difficult, and in some ways this is true. However, what is nice about this part of the project is that you are in complete control. You get to map out what the course will cover, start creating the content, and eventually package everything together.

The more difficult part of selling courses online is the selling part. Getting customers.

Some people are in a unique position where they can leverage their industry contacts to start generating their first sales, but this isn’t always the case.

While it is true that selling a course isn’t entirely in your control (sure you can control your marketing efforts, but the decision to buy rests with the customer), what is in your control is the ability to create a course that is worth buying.

How You Can Easily Create a Course Worth Buying

Assuming the content of your course is well-structured and in demand, there is one thing that you must do to increase the chances that your course offering is purchased. Actually, to be more specific, you have to answer one question:

What’s in it for me?

Find a good answer to this question and you will absolutely sell courses. Notice that I said “good answer” and not just “answer”. That’s because not just any answer will do. All else equal, the better your answer is, the more courses you will sell.

Answering this question on your own is a bad idea. You should certainly start with yourself, but then you should interview your target market to see what it is they care about. Gather the pain-points and wishes and then design your courses in a way that addresses them.

There are no easy-ways-out when it comes to selling a product, be it virtual or physical. You have to do the proper market research ahead of time so that you can intelligently position it. People hate being sold, but they love buying. Make your course worth buying by telling them what’s in it for them if they do.

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

One Comment
  1. Elena

    Hello, Justin!
    Thank you for another interesting and provocative article. Selling content is difficult; selling services is even more difficult , IMO; but when it comes to courses (educational content and service bundled together), things get even more complicated.
    To be honest, I don’t know where to start! In some situations people are equally interested in the knowledge and/or skills they acquirte, as well as a certificate – not a gamified badge but a real hard copy that they can safely include in their CV. That’s why they go to the traditional providers (unis, colleges, authorised training centres), which have been really lackadaisical about going online. But they have done so, and every day some new university courses pop up. A start-up can’t compete with that, methinks.
    It’s hard to compete with MOOC providers, too. Great value for 0 money! I have become a moocaholic, too; it’s hard to beat the buzz a well-planned and competently delivered MOOC can offer. It is just a different experience – but time and attention is a commodity, and just like an overflowing river, they flow in a predictable direction.
    My hunch is that we (educators, trainers, instructors) are difficult to discover online. I am not talking SEO, or, rather, not only SEO ; and I don’t want to blame this on students’ conservatism – after all, the earliest digital natives must have come of age by now. Maybe we need to take lessons from internet marketers? The question should perhaps be rephrased from “where have all the students gone?” (they had never been there, in the first place) to “how can we intrigue them to come”. Technology, design, neat tricks, conferences, that’s great stuff but something is not quite right. I am trying to understand what it is.
    Any thoughts, anyone?

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