Selling Courses? Do This First!

sell e-learningIf you are creating an online course, at some point you will think about the possibility of selling it. First, this is a fantastic idea as selling courses is a great way to earn some extra income (even a full-time income).

That said, too often people slap a price onto their courses and expect customers to come knocking down the doors – it just doesn’t work that way.

While you may be excited to start promoting your courses, there are some key foundation items you have to make sure are taken care of, none more important than clearly defining your unique selling proposition (or “USP”).

You probably are familiar with this phrase as it is present in most business courses. There is a reason. Simply put, it is what separates successful business from mediocrity.

But this isn’t a blog post on the value of a USP, instead, it is about helping you find a USP for your courses.

What’s In It For ME?

One of the easiest ways to define your USP is to put yourself into your potential customer’s shoes. Whenever anyone is shopping, they are in the “what’s-in-it-for-me” mindset. Effectively answer this question, and you have the foundation for your USP.

It’s not enough to just say that your course is “great” and that it is “convenient” because it is an online course. Guess what – so are all your competitor’s courses!

You have to get creative. Think about benefits of the course, not the features of it.

For example, does the course result in continuing education units for a specific profession? If so, make this known! Don’t just assume that people already understand everything there is to know about your courses and the benefits.

Defining your target audience is another key component to developing a winning USP. Who are the people who will want to purchase your course? What is their background and what is it that matters to them most? You should be able to answer these questions prior to even creating a website.

Resist the temptation to skip the market and customer research that is essential to product sales. Sure, some of the other business development activities appear to be more entertaining, but in the end you’ll be having more fun making money from course sales because you put in the due diligence ahead of time.

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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. Terry

    Justin is soooo right. After 16 years of running an LMS company I am still amazed that individuals create courses and think people will just find them on the Internet and buy them. First of all, just Google your area of knowledge or interest and see how much online content is already there. Second, check out the price people are selling any existing content for. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from writing about and instructing a subject they love, but if Google returns 50,000 hits and the content is free on YouTube, you might not expect to achieve even a part time income from the courses.

    • Hi Terry-
      Thanks for the comment. Your suggestion for a quick Google search is a great one (so simple, yet few do it). A thorough market analysis is needed in order to best position your USP, or even determine if the niche is too saturated in the first place.

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