Over the years I have seen people sell many types of courses. Of all the topics available, some of the most successful courses are those that teach to a specific niche software.
While it is true that you can sell a course on anything, not everything will generate a lot of income. There are many factors that go into the success of an online course. Just off the top of my head:
- Your unique selling proposition
- Market size
- Market presence
- Existing players
- Quality (relevance) of the course content
- Your ability to anticipate trends and market needs
- The systems you have in place to do business
And so much more.
Needless to say, if starting a success business was easy then everyone would be doing it.
It is easy to look at that list and get overwhelmed when thinking about everything that has to be done. Let me take this opportunity to simplify it for you: your business stands zero chance of success if there is not a market (and demand) for what it is you’re selling. Simple economics 101.
If you want to sell an online course but don’t know what to sell then consider creating a software training course.
Long before I started LearnDash I was a consultant setting up learning programs for Fortune 500 companies. The learning programs centered around new policies and software. Big software. Enterprise-level platforms. Things like Oracle Peoplesoft, WorkDay, SAP, and so on. And you know what? I was never short of work.
The reality is that software makes a perfect muse for your training program because of two very important concepts:
- The market is proven (people are using the software). Your market research won’t be too strenuous. The companies that produce the software already have a market so you get to just reach out to their target audience.
- Training demand stays consistent because of software changes. This is a great scenario for you since the easiest customer to sell to is one that has already purchased from you. As software updates come out you have an opportunity for additional revenue.
Contrary to what you might think you don’t need to be an expert in the software in order to train people. Take it from me. I once created training and delivered live training sessions on Oracle Peoplesoft’s Accounts Receivable modules. I am by no means an accountant or have worked in such a department. Still, with a little preparation I was able to create a training program that taught thousands of people.
Yes, you will need to learn a bit about the industry and audience profile so you can create relevant content, but there is no need to master the concepts. Being a good instructional designer means you have the ability to create a course on any topic!
How to choose profitable software for your training.
Picking your software niche will be the most difficult part. There are so many options to choose from, but not all are good options. For example, you can scratch-off the obvious choices from your list. This means no courses on any of the Microsoft products. That market is drained.
You can also eliminate massive enterprise platforms like the ones I mentioned previously. You won’t be able to compete with the billion dollar consulting firms.
Don’t try to think of software off the top of your head. Head on over to a resources like Capterra to rummage through all the various categories. Drill-down to sub-niches of the primary categories. You will see that there is broad spectrum of options to choose from.
Once you have picked a few options you need to start researching what kind of training already exists. It’s possible that the market may be saturated already with major players, so make sure you profile each of your prospective competitors. If there are no competitors to be found then eliminate that niche as well.
Here is an example of one company crushing it with this model.
If this sounds too far fetched then allow me to provide you an example: SolidProfessor is an online course provider specializing in training courses for engineering software.
Today they boast a massive course library but naturally this is not how they started. They started with a training program centered around one software platform (SolidWorks… hence their company name of “SolidProfessor”).
They are now a leading training provider in this field. What’s great is that each year they pump out new training based on the software updates that occur. They have a yearly membership of $490 or $49 per month. In a way they are kind of like a Lynda.com for their industry.
There is no reason why you couldn’t be the same for software in another niche!
Build an audience before you build your course.
Before you build your course it is important that you first build an audience for your course. For this reason I would suggest choosing software that is associated to a specific trade (like how SolidProfessor focused on the engineer).
You could purchase the software and start creating your training now, but a smarter, more economical approach would be to build an audience prior to your launch. This can be in the form of creating free lessons as a giveaway (and seeing how many people sign-up), starting an information YouTube channel on the subject, writing training “cheat sheet” articles on the software, or by finding someone to partner with who already has an audience in the industry you choose.
Going through the process of building initial interest will help you decide if moving forward with your course makes business sense. If you decide to then create your course then you will be in a better position to create meaningful content for it after creating all of the initial (free) content during the audience building phase.
Creating software-specific courses can be highly lucrative. As such, expect a greater commitment to content creation (both for the course and for marketing). The barriers to entry will be a bit tougher but there is plenty of opportunity out there to be had for those who are persistent.