How to make money from your online video course

Here, Fionnuala Bland investigates how you can take a slice of the online learning industry.

Forbes has valued the online learning industry at $107 billion. You want your slice. You have an idea for a video course that deserves the cherry on top.

But how do you get that slice? It seems so far away. Only the professional cake climbers can reach it.

You just need to get your grip on the stand, find the crevices only you and your course can fit and follow these steps.

1. Create and secure your website

Create your website easily using a content management system like WordPress. You can select and customise a template to fit your brand in an hour or two.

Keep your website safe by getting an HTTPS certificate. This proves you are who you say you are and that noone can intercept data passing between you and your visitors. It will secure your content from hackers and ensure visitors they can trust you, so they won’t be wary of paying for a membership. Secure your video classes from unauthorised downloads and plagiarism with encrypted streaming and watermarking.

Next, you need to restrict content from non-members with a signup form, which you can do easily with S2Member or GumRoad. These tools link to online payment services, so you can start making money. For more info, download your free tool guide.

2. Know your audience

I don’t just mean the basics. Dig for details. Know their lingo, their pain points, humour and hobbies. This will strengthen your understanding of the content they crave. Hubspot has a template to help you plan your research.

If you know your audience well, you can create video classes that really resonate with them. Shift Learning, note ‘plucking the right heartstring’ for your audience improves learning and memory.

Identify your audience’s routines to fit your course around them. Post your videos and emails when they’re most likely to be online. Make your lessons the perfect length to suit their lifestyle.

3. Be yourself

Videos give a face to your brand. Jon Ochs, entrepreneur and online course creator, uses video to build relationships with his subscribers. ‘Getting your face and voice in front of people repeatedly is powerful,’ he says.

Showing your face and voice strengthens your customers’ trust in you, so be yourself. Show the quirks people love about you and your audience will love you too.

4. Know your competitors

Having competitors is a good thing. ‘When you come up with an online course idea that has never been done before, that means one thing: there’s probably no one interested in buying it,’ says web traffic expert Derek Halpern.

Researching your competitors and following their followers gives you insight into your target audience and a better idea of how to model your business. Determine what your competitors offer and what sets your course apart from theirs, so you can play on it until you shine.

5. Establish your pricing plan

You can sell your course as a one-off payment, charge per module, per week, month or year. Check your competitors’ payment plans and decide how you want yours to compare.

Elearnhub points out the popularity of freemiums. This is when you give out free teasers but charge for the more in-depth content. Lure your audience in until they can’t resist paying for a membership.

6. Give away freebies

LearnDash note offering a free course with quality content builds your audience’s trust in you and establishes you as an expert in your topic. This makes it easier to sell future courses to the same audience.

You can test out what works and what doesn’t and build on popular topics to ensure your course’s success.

Grab this opportunity to learn more about your audience. Perhaps on the course sign-up form, ask your subscribers for their occupation and position, along with their name and email address.

Hubspot recommends to determine the amount you ask for by the value of the content and how badly your audience want it.

7. Build a mailing list

Halpern built his seven-figure business by converting his email subscribers to paying members. His emails get a much higher click-through rate than social media. The same piece of content received 300 clicks from Twitter and 42,000 clicks from email.

He suggests cutting the clutter from your website so there are fewer options to confuse your visitors. Pop email sign-up forms in the right places: at the top and on the sidebars of your pages, on your homepage, blog and about section. This makes it easy for your viewers to subscribe.

8. Keep your subscribers

Optimise your emails for opens and clicks by sending the right content to the right people at the right time. Send your subscribers quality and non-salesy content: tidbits and teasers of your classes. Keep them short, personable and relevant.

Categorise your contacts into different lists depending on how and why they signed up.

A Direct Marketing Association survey reveals marketers generate 58 per cent of their profit from segmented and targeted emails and 36 per cent from emails sent to specific target selections.

To target and segment your email lists, you’ll need an Email Service Provider. Automate your emails according to your segments and make sure to measure your open, click and bounce rates. This way, you can determine what’s working and what isn’t, so you can adapt accordingly.

9. Spread the word

Find the social platforms your audience and competitors use and join the conversation. Make yourself known. Share and comment on relevant content. Jump on trends and network with industry influencers.

According to Forbes, social media marketing raises brand recognition, loyalty and conversion rates. Post teasers and free content to your following. If you nail your networking, influencers might share your content, so you can reach their followers.

Fionnuala Bland is a content marketer at vzaar

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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