Pricing Your Online Courses

One of the hardest things to do when selling online is to determine your ideal price. In fact, picking a price that maximizes your profit but doesn’t place you out of the market is more of an art than a science.

The same is true for when you create and sell online courses.

When I speak to people who are creating a course to sell, they often struggle with the best way to price their offering. I am by no means a pricing expert, but I have had the privilege to spend time with people who are quite successful selling elearning and I have learned some valuable insights through these conversations.

Usually the first pricing model people envision for their course is a monthly membership model. This make sense. There is something very attractive about receiving recurring revenue. You can simply focus on scaling-up in order to increase income.

However, this is an extremely difficult sell. Not impossible, but very challenging.

Think about it from your own perspective – how often do you willingly sign-up for monthly payments? Your monthly bills generally involve things like cable, internet, gym memberships, Netflix, and so on. People don’t mind paying for these items each month because they use them.

If you price your course for monthly installments, you better be sure people will continually use it.

There is a consumer mental block that you need to overcome when creating recurring pricing for your courses. Which brings me to the nature of a course itself.

Our entire lives, courses have been something that we understand as being finite in nature. From grade school to university, a course is meant to “start” and then “end”. In a traditional university setting, we pay to take this course just one time. Once complete, we then pay for other courses.

Keep this in mind as you build out your pricing strategy for your courses.

While it may seem disheartening to think you can’t as easily charge monthly fees, the up-side is that people are actually more inclined to purchase a course because they have done so in the past. It’s a lot less vague than purchasing “membership”. Because of this, it takes a lot less effort to sell a course at a one-time price.

If you’re first starting out, your goal should be to accumulate customers first. Once you create and sell your first course, then you can begin to formulate an offering that results in more consistent monthly revenues. Heck, you may even want to create your first course for free just to generate an interested buyer pool.

The point of this article is not to tell you that the membership approach is wrong for your elearning business. It could very well be the perfect model.

Instead, my intention is highlight some of the challenges you may face and to help you get started as quick as possible. Single transaction purchases for courses (at least initially) will allow you to reach profit quicker. You will find that once you start gaining momentum it becomes easier to create new offerings – perhaps at that point with a monthly payment schedule.

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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

2 Comments
  1. Aaron

    Hi Justin,

    not sure if this is the best place to ask, but I’ve just purchased LD and had a question about pricing for courses… is it possible to have tiered pricing? As in, multiple prices for the one course, and paying more unlocks other lessons or other exclusive content?

    In the first course we’re putting together, we’re wanting to offer value-adds for the customer external to the actual course (Skype sessions, etc) – but we’d like to charge for it once rather than have them pay for the course, and then pay a 2nd time (through a different system) for the Skype sessions.

    Can this be achieved in LD or via any addons? Cheers

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