The 2018 Guide On How To Sell Your Courses Online - Part 1
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No Time Like The Present: 2018's Guide To Sell Courses Online

In 2018, it is easier than ever to sell courses online. It is also harder than ever.

It's easier because modern tools make it dead easy to create eLearning content and sell courses. It's harder because these are extremely competitive times, and most online educators are struggling to get traction.

If you're one of the latter, read this two-part article to learn what you've been doing wrong ― and how to sell your online courses in 2018.

1. Offer Your Courses In Several Popular Formats

Don't expect today's learners to sit at their desks to study text-heavy courses. That's, like, so 2010.

That's not to say that the single best way to sell online courses, or a dominant format, has emerged. Instead, there are several popular formats, each attracting a different chunk of the eLearning population (with some overlap too ― a learner, for example, might watch webinars at home, but switch to microlearning for their work commute).

To maximize your reach, offer your courses in as many currently hot formats as possible. Focus on delivery mediums with proven adoption and significant growth trends, and leave fads and yet unproven technologies to the early adopters.

For 2018, this means that you should focus on:

Avoid technologies media pundits love to promote, but nobody cares about (yet):

  • VR (doesn't have a sizable market yet)
  • AR (no good content creation and delivery options)
  • ΑΙ-based learning (a fad if we ever saw one)
  • Intelligent Assistants (leave it to Siri)

At the very least, you should embrace video in your courses. Video has seen exploding growth in the recent years and is only poised for further growth.

Learn how to shoot the video yourself (it's not that difficult), or collaborate with a videographer and turn your courses into a series of video lectures. You can also create videos by narrating your training content over simple animations.

After you have video covered, you could expand to microlearning. It's the perfect fit for the mobile-first world of 2018, and it gives you the chance to easily convert and leverage any existing training content you have, from Powerpoints to videos. It's also increasingly popular for both personal skills development and corporate training, so it's a good market to try to tap into.

Last but not least, to sell courses online today you absolutely, totally, 100%, need to be on mobile. And since it's 2018 already, this means progressing beyond a responsive "mobile-friendly" web page and offering your courses as a fully native mobile application experience.

For this, you'll need to invest in an eCommerce-capable eLearning platform that comes with accompanying native mobile clients. You'll want it to cater to both iOS- and Android-using learners, too (TalentLMS, for one, ticks all of the above boxes).

Takeaways

  • Offer your courses in as many currently relevant formats as possible
  • Avoid immature formats touted as the "next big thing"
  • Embrace video courses and microlearning
  • Invest in a native mobile experience for your courses

2. Raise Your Production Values

Content is king, yes.

But even the king must wear nice clothes and live in a beautiful shiny palace for people to take him seriously.

The same goes for your courses. It's not enough that your content is good. To successfully sell courses online in these ultra-competitive times, you must sweat the details, and this includes perfecting your presentation and packaging.

Sure, if your content is weak, you need to keep working on it.

However, if you already know how to create online courses that sell content-wise, then you also need to work on their presentation. In marketing speak, this is called upping your production values.

For text-based courses, good production values translate to:

  • No typos and misspellings
  • Good typography (font, font sizes, contrast, line height, etc)
  • High-quality photographs and illustrations
  • A beautiful eLearning portal theme
  • A clean-looking mobile version

Comic Sans headings and generic stock photos that you've "borrowed" from Google Images won't cut it, and are probably illegal to use.

For video, you'll want:

  • High-quality capture (your compact camera won't cut it)
  • Good lighting
  • Good sound (invest in good microphones)
  • Proper editing
  • Nice looking set (i.e. not a messy home office)
  • Proper color correction
  • Tasteful musical backdrops
  • Closed captions for the hard of hearing

Production values make all the difference between a professional looking eLearning video and one that looks like it was filmed with a potato.

To achieve a high-quality end result, though, you'll need to splurge for professional equipment and learn how to use it, or employ the services of someone that does. Thankfully, in 2018, it's both easy and cheap to produce high-quality content ― to the point that even teenage YouTubers manage it.

To learn how to shoot quality videos yourself, follow one of the popular (and free) film-making vlogs or register to a professional video course (and support your eLearning colleagues).

Here are some beginner-friendly video making vlogs and tutorials to get you started:

Takeaways

  • You need high production values to make your courses competitive
  • For text-heavy courses, focus on typography, web design, and illustration
  • For video, focus on quality capture, editing, and post-processing
  •  You can learn how to make quality video/multimedia courses yourself
  • … but you’ll need to invest in prosumer or professional level equipment
  • There are many free online resources for improving your production skills

3. Embrace Today's Marketing Trends

People can’t buy what the don’t even know exists. To sell your courses online, you need to tell potential buyers about them.

Many smaller eLearning businesses (including one-person shops) don't actively market their courses ― if at all. Often, this stems from a misguided belief that marketing is a clutch meant for mediocre products. And yet, even the most amazing online courses will not sell anything unless you manage to get the word about them out there.

To sell courses online you've got to put up your virtual billboards where your intended audience's eyes are focused on, whether that's Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, specific websites, or any combination of the above.

First, of course, you need to do your research, as what’s popular for one demographic might not necessarily translate to another. You might, for example, need to focus more on Snapchat and Pinterest, and less on LinkedIn and the Economist.

The appropriate marketing outlets for your eLearning ads change, not just with age but also with time (what was popular in 2015 will probably not be as popular in 2018). They also change depending on the region you're targeting. In Southern Asia, for example, WhatsApp is huge (over 70% market share). In Canada, not so much (less than 20%).

The tone and look of your marketing campaign must also fit the times. In 2018, for example, meme-based ads have been done to death, whereas a Casey Neistat-style video is still trendy enough for mainstream audiences.

Takeaways

  • To sell your online courses and subscriptions you need to market them
  • Stay in touch with popular culture and advertising trends
  • Avoid the snake-oil salesmen masquerading as "SEO" experts
  • Don't rush things without having a solid understanding of your target audience
  • Don’t blatantly copy what your competitors are doing
  • Read up on online promotion and digital marketing
  • … or, if you can afford it, hire a marketing specialist to help you out
  • Keep an eye on what your direct competitors are doing
  • Don't put all your advertising eggs into one basket (e.g. a single outlet)

Conclusion

Here concludes the first part of our series on how to build a profitable online learning business in 2018. Don't forget to check back next week for even more high-level advice and actionable tips on how to sell courses.

If you can't wait until then to start selling online training courses, go ahead and try TalentLMS today! It comes with all the tools you need to create online courses to sell, and rich eCommerce functionality to help you build, manage, and expand your eLearning business.

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An award-winning LMS for those looking to build online courses for any purpose in a few easy clicks, even with zero experience.
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