The 2 Secrets to Successfully Selling Online CoursesBy Larry Alton
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Online courses have never been more popular. Whether you want to get a college degree or learn how to draw, there’s an online course that can help you get where you need to go. But at the end of the day, there are really only two ways to be successful. Are you moving in the right direction, or are you destined for failure? It’s time to be honest with yourself and dissect what’s happening beneath the surface.
The Online Learning Industry is Booming
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the online learning industry is booming. In 2011, $35.6 billion was spent on self-paced e-learning around the world. By 2014, that number had scaled to $56.2 billion. Nearly a year later, the industry was valued at $107 billion. By 2023, experts suggest the industry will be worth more than $240 billion.
As an entrepreneur, if these numbers don’t have you drooling on your keyboard, then something is wrong. You should be able to smell the potential through your computer screen. You should get that excited feeling in the bottom of your stomach that says, “This is a major opportunity.” You should read stories like this one from entrepreneur Bryan Harris and think, “That could be me.”
The online learning industry is booming, but we’re just touching the surface. The problem is that a lot of savvy entrepreneurs and business owners are recognizing this and jumping into the market. As a result, the level of competition is growing and it’s quickly becoming more difficult to stand out than it was in the past. This is ultimately a good thing – because competition breeds superior quality – but it means you have to work harder to become successful selling online courses.
The 2 Secrets to Being Successful
Gone are the days where anyone could launch an online course, use some clever visuals, and make a few thousand dollars in a matter of weeks. Today, there are only two ways to be successful selling online courses. You either need a totally unique course idea that doesn’t currently exist, or you need a magnetic personality that people are drawn to. If you have both, that’s a home run.
1. Have a Totally Unique Idea That Doesn’t Already Exist
Search any popular online learning website – such as Udemy, Lynda, or Treehouse – and you’ll find that the same types of courses are published over and over again. Want to learn how to attract followers to your various social media accounts? You can pick from dozens of different courses with nearly identical curriculums. Want to find out how to take good pictures? There are hundreds of courses with the same basic principles.
If you try to launch a course in a saturated niche, you’re just going to blend in and putter along. What you really need is a totally unique idea that doesn’t already exist. The more specific you can get the better. Instead of a course about attracting social media followers, you could develop lessons on running successful contests to increase Instagram followers. Or, instead of a course on how to take good pictures, you could launch a course on how to take good product photography for selling handmade goods on Etsy. The more specific, the better.
2. Rely on Your Magnetic Personality to Differentiate Your Courses
The second secret to selling online courses is to have a magnetic personality. If you have a magnetic personality, it doesn’t even matter if the course content is generic. People will purchase your course just to learn from you. Your magnetic personality suddenly becomes the differentiating factor.
If you have a unique idea and a magnetic personality, the sky’s the limit. You can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars selling online courses. Not only do you have a specific topic, but the delivery attracts people. That’s a huge bonus!
Will You be Successful?
Do you have an original idea or a magnetic personality? If not, you’re going to have trouble being successful in this market. That’s just the cold, hard truth. The level of competition is so high that you simply can’t thrive if you don’t have a plan for standing out.
The good news is that you can put yourself in a position to be successful. You should constantly be viewing the world through the lens of a student/teacher. Any time you recognize an opportunity, think about it through the context of developing a unique online course. Does the opportunity exist? And, contrary to popular belief, you can shape your online personality to make it more magnetic. Study what other popular online figures are doing and use these same principles to create a personal image that’s enticing to others.
Nobody can guarantee that you’ll be successful in anything you do. However, if you’re able to leverage these two secrets, you should have no trouble making your mark in this rapidly growing industry.
If you want to get a jumpstart on prototyping early-stage products, like your first online course, check out our book, Designing UX: Prototyping. Once you’re ready, get in touch with us to see if your course would work on our Premium platform.