The 2018 Guide On How To Sell Your Courses Online - Part 2
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More Do's And Don'ts For Selling Courses Online In 2018

Today's web and social media landscape offers unique opportunities for online training businesses. It also offers some unique challenges, and requires a whole new approach on how to sell online courses.

In our previous article, we stressed the importance of offering your courses in several popular formats, raising your content's production values, and embracing today's marketing trends. In this article, which concludes our series, we are going to dig a little deeper on how to attract an audience and build your own brand.

4. Connect With Your Audience, 2018-Style

Marketing your product and getting the word out about your business is one thing. Connecting with your customers (existing and potential) is another.

To succeed in eLearning, you need to be doing both.

Whether you’re a small business or a single professional content creator looking to sell courses online, there's no excuse not to have a multi-faceted online presence in 2018. A dedicated website and blog is a prerequisite for any business looking to make money selling online courses—but it wasn't enough 10 years ago, and it isn't enough in 2018 either.

The essential online outlets for 2018 are:

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Medium
  • LinkedIn (if you're into corporate training)
  • Snapchat (still relevant for the teenager demographics)
  • Weibo (if you target China)

No big surprises here. These platforms are the 10,000-pound gorillas of the social space, and you should have a presence in as many of these as you can.

But don't just open an account and let it sit still. Post often. A post every two weeks is the absolute minimum you could do and still claim a somewhat active presence. That said, don’t spam your audience with multiple posts on the same day, and don't post when you have nothing special to say. Respect the rhythms and tolerances of each platform.

There are several desktop and mobile apps to help you manage multiple accounts and track your statistics across the board. Adopting one will make your social media marketing efforts much easier.

Of course, writing for so many platforms can be overwhelming. The secret here is reuse. Write your content once (starting with the definitive version for your main social media account or your own blog) and then extract the most interesting bits and repost them (with some slight rewording) to your different social media accounts.

Similarly for video: create multiple versions of the same video content to post across different outlets such as YouTube and Facebook. Re-edit them as needed to fit a particular medium and its constraints (e.g. regarding aspect ratios or time limits).

Effectively engaging with your audience goes beyond posting stuff you've written for them. It takes effort and honest interaction:

  • take the time to answer audience questions
  • politely listen to and respond to user complaints
  • keep track of customer suggestions and wishes
  • be open about any issues with your content/business/payment processing/and so on (e.g. a website outage)
  • give users a glimpse of your future content roadmap
  • offer your honest opinion on general eLearning industry developments

You also need to adapt your tone and message for your intended audience. It takes a different kind of social media presence to sell training to companies compared to what you’d use to sell courses online to individuals.

For example, whereas casual and humorous postings might help you attract individual learners, the same kind of posts can make you appear unprofessional to corporate decision makers.

Takeaways

  • build a rapport with your eLearning customers
  • have a presence in as many of the popular social media outlets as you can
  • … depending on your target market and its demographics
  • repurpose your social media content across different outlets
  • adapt your message to your target audience
  • write often (but only when you have something relevant to say)
  • don’t spam your customers with tons of messages
  • engage with your customers (answer questions, ask for suggestions, etc)

5. Give Stuff Away For Free

One of the best ways to make money is to give stuff away for free. No, seriously.

There's a reason "free" is one of the most common words used in ads: it works. By giving away stuff for free you are guaranteed to get the attention of even the most cost-conscious customers (in fact, especially theirs). The main idea is to use your free content as a hook, and get a big enough slice of your audience to buy into your paid courses.

You could, for example, offer the first few units of your course for free, but charge for access to the full course. Or you could offer past versions of your courses for free, but charge for the latest one (e.g. giving away your Windows 8 course to promote your Windows 10 course).

Competitions are another good way to gain publicity and attract potential customers for your courses. You can, e.g., ask people to register to your online contest for a chance to win one of your courses. Aside from the publicity, you'll also collect many email address of people interested in what you're selling that you can use to promote your courses.

By giving stuff for free you get people's attention (the word "free" itself acts like a magnet), you build up goodwill with potential customers, and you get your name and your courses out there.

Of course, there are lots of other things you can offer to people for free besides your courses.

You can, for example, publish original blog posts, podcasts, and YouTube videos that focus on the same topics as your courses do. This will get you a bigger audience and help establish you as an expert on those subjects. It's the exact same method many well-known bloggers follow: they establish their credibility through free content, and capitalize on it to sell online tutorials and other merchandise.

Marketing is key even for stuff you give for free. You should get the word out about your offers. Highlight your free stuff in your eLearning portal, inform relevant blogs and websites about your latest free offerings, and of course promote the heck out of them in your social media.

Takeaways

  • Giving stuff for free will help you build an audience
  • Your goal is to hook people to check out your paid content
  • There are several strategies that you can use, e.g:
    a) Give sample chapters of a larger course for free
    b) Make older courses free while charging for the latest version
    c) Run competitions where winners get a course or subscription
  • Running a blog will help you build a profile as an expert
  • ... which you can then capitalize to sell courses
  • Make sure that people get to know about your offers

6. Build Your Own Business And Sell Courses Online Directly To Your Learners

Sometimes, the problem is not that your course is not selling well. It's that you're not getting a big enough slice of your own sales revenue.

That might be the case, for example, if you're selling your courses through a third party that acts as a middleman—and gets to keep a big cut out of every sale. Five years ago, when building your own store was more difficult, such an arrangement would have been difficult to escape. In 2018, however, selling courses online has become much easier.

To gain total control of your eLearning business, invest in a modern eCommerce-ready eLearning platform. With an LMS, like TalentLMS, you'll be able to:

  • Quickly migrate any existing content you have
  • Easily create new content from within the LMS
  • Set your own prices and sell your courses online
  • Keep all of the profits
  • See detailed statistics about your users
  • Run special discounts, sales, and promotions
  • Offer course bundles and subscriptions

What’s best, in 2018, nobody needs to own a programming degree to know how to create an online business. Thanks to cloud-based SaaS solutions, you don't even need any servers of your own to start an online business and make money-selling online courses.

Merely opening an online account with TalentLMS, for example, will give you an easy-to-use, turn-key solution for selling online courses and subscriptions, with no installation required whatsoever.

Takeaways

  • by selling your courses online via a third party, you leave lots of money on the table
  • modern eLearning platforms make it easy to set up your own eLearning shop
  • you don’t need your own datacenter and programmers to host your business
  • … cloud-based SaaS eLearning platforms take care of the technical parts for you
  • … but not all platforms are equal—choose a cloud LMS with rich eCommerce functionality

Conclusion

So there you have it. A complete set of actionable tips and suggestions for building a profitable online learning business and growing your eLearning content sales in 2018.

To practice what you've learned here, take TalentLMS for a test drive today! You’ll get access to an award-winning LMS platform that grows with you, and comes with everything you need to create, deploy, and start selling your online training courses.

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