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Are you planning to create an online course? Maybe you’ve already started and realize there’s more to it than your first idea! Here’s what you’ll get from this post:

  • Where to start
  • How to design online learning modules that really work
  • How to make an online course attractive and engaging
  • How to make content accessible
  • How to deliver your courses to learners
  • How to sell and promote online courses 

Depending on the topic, your target audience, and the way you will be delivering the content to end users, courses can come in various forms. So first let’s take a look at some of the major types that you might be interested in. 

Types of Online Courses 

Before we go into detail, let’s divide all of them into two massive domains, according to the purposes of content creation. And these are the courses for corporate training and those for individuals that you can sell online.

For employee training

Of course, training depends on various factors, including the industry in which a company works, its size, and the inner workings of this organization. But, in general, we can identify five types of eLearning courses employees need to take. 

1. Onboarding courses

This kind of courses refer to the training you provide to new hires to bring them up to speed on the tools, processes, procedures, and regulations and help them feel comfortable in the new environment. An onboarding course typically includes information about the company culture, its history, values, and mission, as well as compliance information specific to your industry. Depending on the company, it may also include training for a particular job position, such as the basic knowledge that a novice sales rep or a marketing manager needs to have.

2. Compliance courses

As mentioned above, this kind of training can be a part of the onboarding process. Unlike all the other courses, these are mandatory and include the rules and regulations that govern a specific industry. They can concern different topics, such as work safety, basic first-aid, and business ethics.

3. Job-specific skills training courses

Just what it sounds like, these courses help employees master skills in the subject area related to their jobs and become even better professionals. For example, a graphic designer who is an expert in Photoshop can develop further by mastering other design tools, or an instructor can go further by studying various learning theories and new training techniques. 

4. Soft skills training courses 

Apart from the core job-specific skills, employees need soft skills to be able to do their job properly and interact well with their colleagues and customers. Such courses can be geared toward improving communication, leadership, problem-solving, time management, decision-making, work ethics, conflict management, and more. 

5. Product knowledge courses

If your company sells products or provides services to customers, such courses can benefit you greatly. They typically include in-depth information about products, like their features, benefits,  and costs, so an employee who’s completed the course has a full understanding of what the company offers, can speak about it confidently, and handle any queries posed by customers.

For selling online

Now we’ll overview the most common courses that are built by individuals with an intent to sell and distribute to the audience via specific online marketplaces like Udemy or iSpring Market. If this is what you’re looking for, here are four types of courses you may want to create:

1. Courses for leisure

These courses offer knowledge that people want for enjoyment or entertainment. The topics here may be quite varied: from painting and cooking to gardening and dancing. So, if you’re, let’s say, a talented baker or knitter, you can create tutorials and sell them online. 

2. Hard skills training courses

This is somewhat similar to the job-specific training courses we’ve already discussed. People take such courses for professional reasons – for example, they want to learn how to write code, build websites, or use particular software. The only difference is that they do this outside the corporate environment and choose courses on their own among the options available on the market. 

3. Personal development courses

With these courses, individuals gain an understanding of how to address their day-to-day challenges. They overlap with the soft skill training courses at some point and may cover such topics as time management, public speaking, and negotiation, but in this case, people typically take them to develop skills that will allow them to live a happier life rather than for professional goals. 

4. Coaching courses

Unlike the aforementioned course types, coaching courses not only include valuable content, but also imply some tasks that learners should perform, the feedback from the coach, and their support during the training. They might teach things like getting healthy (nutrition and fitness), cover business topics (business strategy, marketing), and touch upon self-development (emotional intelligence, confidence, and body language). 

A Walkthrough on Creating an Online Course

As you can see, the variety of online courses is quite broad, but no matter what type of courses you’re going to build, you should have a clear strategy in your mind of how to do so. 

This part of the article is a recap of a series of live webinars with Michael Sheyahshe, an eLearning expert with over two decades of experience. He provides a professional step-by-step approach on how to build online courses – the entire development process from setting the goals and defining the audience to publishing the content.

Watch this video guide or follow the steps below for complete instructions on how to create an online course.

Step 1. Do some prep work

Your course development process will only be as productive as your pre-planning. By taking the time to do some prep work, you’re troubleshooting problems before they have a chance to happen. Here’s what you need to do first:

Training goals and objectives

This doesn’t necessarily mean making a list of objectives that you can often see at the beginning of any presentation. This is about what results you want to get after your learners complete an online course. So, define the purpose of the course by answering this question: “What should a learner BE ABLE TO DO after finishing the training?” 

Training goals and objective

Useful resources

Targeted audience

Trying to create an online course for everyone is a wasted effort. You need to make it for a certain reason and a certain audience. Before you get started with training development, take a closer look at your prospective learners.

  • How many learners will you have?
  • What is their position? (Are they sales representatives, customer service agents, HRs, etc.?)
  • What are their demographic metrics and characteristics? (Average age, educational level, geographic location, computer literacy, devices the learners are using, etc.)
  • Have the learners received prior training in this area of expertise? How well do they know the topic?
  • Are there any learners with disabilities?

Learning platform

The next thing you should think about is how you’ll deliver your course to the audience. The way you will distribute the content will define the choice of the course format (video, SCORM, etc.) and the type of software you’ll need. 

If you’re focusing on corporate training, the easiest and most comfortable way to manage the learning process is with the help of a learning management system (LMS). It will let you automate a lot of functions like invitations, course assignment, and results tracking. 

If you’re going to become a successful course seller, opt for a platform that will enable you to host, deliver, and sell your courses to end users seamlessly and manage everything from building the course to marketing and payment processing. We’ll take a detailed look at such platforms further on in the article. 

Useful resources

eLearning authoring tool

This is the main tool you’ll use throughout the entire development process. If you’re new to course building, you’ll need choose a handy tool that will allow you to create eLearning modules as quickly as possible, while also meeting all your authoring needs. For instance, if you want to create interactive courses with quizzes, videos, and dialogue simulations, you need an authoring software that is a single set of tools under one roof that can cover a variety of tasks.

A great example of such a toolkit is iSpring Suite. Later in this guide, we’ll tell you how to build an online course with iSpring. But first, see what a course made with this tool looks like:

Useful resources

Step 2. Organize the work with SMEs and stakeholders

When developing an online course, you need to deal with both subject matter experts (SMEs) and stakeholders. Here’s what they are and how their roles differ:

SMEStakeholder

A subject matter expert (SME) is both the main source of information and the main idea generator for the online course developer. Their key roles include:

  • Helping define the learning objectives
  • Providing content on specific subject matter
  • Validating and refining the course material

Without subject matter expertise, the course is likely to be useless.

A stakeholder is any independent party that has an interest in a course’s successful development. There may be multiple players involved like:

  • Upper management
  • eLearning project managers
  • Trainers
  • Tech experts

The task of both course developers and stakeholders is to ensure that the project stays on track at all times.

For example, if you develop training courses for the sales team, you may have to collaborate with the VP of Sales, the CEO, HR managers, and admins. You’ll need to decide on the content together with the SMEs and meet the stakeholders’ requirements. However, no matter what your stakeholders say or what your content is, your true mission is to do what is best for your learner. And here is what that means:

Do what is best for your learner

Note: If you’re going to create a course with the intention of selling it online on your own initiative and you yourself are an expert on the subject of your course, you may not have SMEs and stakeholders to deal with. 

To learn more about SMEs, stakeholders, and the roles a course developer should perform,

read more here, or skip it to watch a video. 

Step 3. Create a course storyboard

After you’ve gathered all the necessary information for your online course, it’s time to map out the course or “create a storyboard.” A storyboard is a document, slide deck, or prototype in which the training developer lays out the framework for the course. In addition to the written content (we’ll discuss that in detail in the next step), it also includes all of the information in terms of photos, icons, charts, infographics, animations, or videos that will be used in the course. By the way, at this stage, it’s important not only to think of what media you’ll use but also to prepare all of the necessary assets.

Example of a storyboard in Word

Example of a storyboard in Word

This is what can be included in an eLearning storyboard:

  • Slide title/name
  • Screen text and elements (see next step)
  • Graphics and animation
  • Navigation
  • Branching
  • Audio narration script

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are some industry-standard methods for storyboarding that you can use as your foundation and adapt as required. To streamline the process, you can download the ready-made PowerPoint or Word storyboard template and customize them as desired. 

Note: If you’re going to include a large volume of information in your online course, divide it into short modules. This is what eLearners refer to as “microlearning.” A microlearning course can be a 5- to 8-minute lesson or a series of short standalone lessons that cover one topic or target one specific learning objective. Follow this rule: one lesson – one skill.

Useful resources

Step 4. Write a script

Now that you know the structure of your online course, you need to write a script. When done correctly, a script serves as the backbone of your course design and transforms the subject matter into something engaging. 

Very often, an eLearning developer has to deal with two types of scripts: an on-screen text and a narration script. Since there are different practices for writing them, let’s have a look at each of these types separately.

On-screen text

Here, we mean all of the text a learner will see on the slides. To make it really helpful, you need to consider the following things:

  • Add only core concepts to the slides. If you want to provide some additional information, you might record a voice over or support the text with images, infographics, and videos. 
  • Minimize the text on a slide. Eyes glaze over when they see large blocks of text, so try to make it as short as possible. Remove unnecessary words and break down long sentences; one line should have a maximum of 40 characters. Here, the main rule is one screen – one idea.
Minimizing the text on the slide
  • Make sure the content looks good on small screens. The text, as well as other content items, must be visible, whether a course is viewed on a tablet or a smartphone. Keep this in mind when creating a course and check how it looks on a smartphone at the end of the development process.

Narration script

Creating a narration script is about writing a text for learners to hear, not read. You may skip this step if you’re not going to include a voice-over in your course.

If you’re still planning to add narration, your primary task is to make a script that is listener-friendly. To do this, you need to turn it into a conversation. Your learners should feel like they’re dealing with an actual person. So write a script that has a conversational tone, without complex sentences or a lot of acronyms and jargon. You can use contractions, transitional phrases like “now that we…”, “let’s examine…”, or “let’s shift gears…”, and even slang. 

After your script is ready, read it aloud. You may find that you need to replace or remove some phrases to make the speech smooth and clear. If so, make any necessary touch-ups.

You can also check the text for readability in the Hemingway App. It will help you find lengthy complex sentences, passive voice constructions, and phrases that have simpler alternatives.

Checking the text for readability in the Hemingway App

To learn more about how to make an on-screen text and a narration script, read on. Watch a recording if you prefer video.

Step 5. Put the content together

After you’ve structured your course, prepared all the necessary media, except probably a voiceover or video (we’ll discuss how to record them in this guide too), and made a script, it’s time to put all the content together in a course. We’ll do this with the iSpring Suite authoring toolkit

iSpring is a PowerPoint-based tool, so if you already know how to use PowerPoint, it will be very easy for you to start creating courses there. Simply populate the slides with the text, images, and videos by following your storyboard. 

Creating a course in iSpring Suite

Useful resources

Step 6. Record or add audio and video

As mentioned, audio and video can serve as great assets to support the text on the slides. Plus, they can help you make your online course even more engaging. However, if you’re not going to record a voice-over or a video, feel free to skip this section and move to the next step.

Audio

Now that you have a narration script ready, you can record a voiceover. The question is whether you invite a professional voiceover artist or do it yourself. Whatever you choose, here are several tips to get the best out of voice over (VO) recording:  

  • Find the quietest place possible. If you don’t have a special recording studio, you can try to use different locations, like a tiny room, a walk-in closet, or even a vehicle in a garage.
  • Try to get as much recording time as you can with your VO artist on the same day, as a voice can change from day to day, and even from morning to afternoon.
  • Use a good-quality external microphone. Before recording, check if your microphone is properly set up and adjust the settings, if necessary. 
  • Prepare your voice for recording. Have tea with lemon before recording to get your voice deeper and ‘cleaner.’ Moisturize your lips so they don’t stick together and the words will form correctly when speaking. 
  • Make sure you create your narration script early in the development process to reserve time for edits. 

After your prep work is done, it’s time to record your VO and you can do this right in iSpring Suite. It has a built-in audio recorder that allows you to record your audio narration and easily sync it with animations and transitions on the slides. The tool also provides editing options like trimming audio, adjusting volume, removing noise, and even silencing an entire section.

built-in iSpring Suite audio recorder

If you are used to recording voice-overs with another tool or just need to add some sound, you can import an existing audio file with iSpring Suite. 

Importing an audio file with iSpring Suite

Useful resources

Video

With iSpring, you can also import or record a video. It includes a professional video studio that enables you to record your screen with webcam and audio. This tool has all the necessary features to make professional-looking videos. For example, you can delete unwanted fragments, add titles and captions, insert images and infographics, or create transition effects.

iSpring Suite screen recorder

iSpring Suite is perfectly suited for both making complete video courses and adding video fragments in specific places throughout your course. For instance, add a video to show your new hires how to use specific software, walk your employees through some work process, or explain an incorrect answer in a quiz. 

To get detailed guidance on how to record and edit audio or a video with iSpring, read more here. You can also watch this webinar recording:

Useful resources

Step 7. Add assessments and knowledge checks

Quizzes and tests are primary tools for checking knowledge in eLearning. They allow you to keep track of employees’ progress and let you see what has been learned and what has not. If you’re going to create a course to sell it online, assessments may not be your primary goal, but interactive quizzes can still drive learners’ engagement and help them retain new information longer, so it is certainly beneficial to include them in your courses. However, not all quizzes are effective. Good assessments are those which are properly integrated into the course or the entire training process, are relevant, and well written.

Many of the best instructional designers develop questions before the rest of the learning content and then build the content to answer those questions. 

You can create quizzes with the iSpring QuizMaker tool. 

iSpring Suite ribbon

It has 14 question types, including matching, sequence, hotspot, fill-in-the-blanks, and drag-and-drop.

iSpring QuizMaker question types

Here are a few tips on how to make your quizzes even more engaging and work for you even better.

Branching

Branching creates a non-linear scenario in your quiz that leads to another slide, depending on the learner’s answer. For example, when a learner answers a question incorrectly, you send them to an info slide to additional information, while those who answer correctly proceed to the next question.

Branching in iSpring Suite

Video and audio

With iSpring, you can enhance a quiz with audio and video. Add video/audio to the questions themselves; to the answers; or incorporate the assets into a branching scenario with info slides like the one shown below.

 Adding video to the questions in iSpring QuizMaker

Quiz design

To make the quiz look appealing and match the overall look of your course, you can customize your slide design. Set the font, change the layout, and choose a color scheme for the question.

Configuring quiz design in iSpring QuizMaker

When the quiz is ready, you can easily share it with your peers, colleagues, or other stakeholders to get feedback.

Note: If your reviewers don’t have iSpring Suite, you can publish your quiz to Word. This will produce a DOC file with all questions, answers, and their feedback on the quiz. Your stakeholders will be able to review the test right in Microsoft Word and send it back to you. 

Publishing a quiz to Word in iSpring QuizMaker

To learn more about making quizzes, read on or watch this video: 

Useful resources

Step 8. Create a dialogue simulation 

If you’re going to build a course for sales professionals and customer service agents so they can improve their communication skills, one of the best ways to do it is to create a dialogue simulation. This is an interactive exercise that imitates an actual conversation with a person and helps people master communication skills in a risk-free environment – without the risk of ruining a deal or damaging client relations.

iSpring Suite includes the TalkMaster tool that allows you to make realistic simulations quickly and easily. This is what a dialogue sim created with iSpring looks like:

The principal feature of a conversation simulation is its branched scenario, where each decision has consequences. It works like an actual communication between two people: say something inappropriate and you’ll anger your opponent; be friendly and polite and he’ll reflect your sentiment.

With iSpring Suite, you can build a dialogue tree – a well-organized structure that you can manipulate with one click.

Building a dialog tree in iSpring TalkMaster

To make a simulation more realistic, you can add backgrounds, characters for each scene, and add voice-overs. You can upload your own images or use the built-in collection of assets. A great way to save time on course development is to use iSpring Content Library, that offers a large set of characters of different ages, ethnic groups, and professions, and a huge collection of locations suitable for different situations.

iSpring Content Library

Read more here. If you prefer watching a video, we have one for you here:

Useful resources

Step 9. Apply UI/UX best practices

Even if the content is useful and interesting, the online course won’t engage learners if it looks sloppy and pale. To create beautiful eLearning modules, you should be familiar with the notions of UI and UX. Fortunately, if you’re going to create online courses with iSpring Suite, you don’t need to be a professional designer – it’s quite enough to know the main UI/UX practices. But first, let’s dive deeper into what these abbreviations mean and how these concepts compare. 

Simply put, UI (user interface design) is what makes an online course visually attractive. It uses the principles of graphic design and typography to bring the UX (user experience design) to life. UX refers to the way an eLearning module feels for a person – focuses on the learner’s experience, satisfaction, and usability. So, using the restaurant analogy, “UI is the table, chair, plate, glass, and utensils. UX is everything from the food to the service, parking, lighting, and music.” (Ken Norton, Partner at Google Ventures).

Difference between UX and UI

To learn about the basic principles of UX and UI and find out how to make an online course even more appealing for learners, read on or watch this video:

As mentioned, with iSpring, you don’t need to be a UX/UI guru. You can use the ready-made templates from iSpring Content Library, arrange various blocks like a title slide, chapters, and info slides in the order you want, and simply populate them with your text and images. It also includes ready-made icons and objects.

Ready-made templates from iSpring Content Library

Useful resources

Step 10. Ensure your content accessibility and mobile readiness

If you’re a government agency interested in training employees online, or any other business that aims to make its eLearning fully accessible for people with impairments, you need to create courses that comply with Section 508. This is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires that all electronic information be available for people with disabilities.

PPT accessibility

It’s convenient to prepare slides for your courses in PowerPoint since Microsoft itself offers ways to make your presentation accessible for learners. For example, you can use a screen reader, alt text, and built-in layouts for images. 

Microsoft also provides a built-in accessibility checker. When the checker is used, it shows a list of potential accessibility issues with suggestions on how to address them. The course creator can fix these issues to make the slides more accessible to people with disabilities.

PowerPoint accessibility checker

Section 508 compliant content in iSpring Suite

Though the Microsoft Accessibility checker is a great option, with iSpring Suite, you can make courses accessible to individuals with a visual impairment even faster and easier. To create accessible content, you don’t have to develop a separate version of your course, master a new tool, or even invest your time in checks – you just build a course in the respective editor, as you always do, and tick a single checkbox. 

Here’s how a course slide looks in different modes:

Mobile readiness

Courses created with iSpring Suite play well on any device, including PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones. However, before publishing the content, ensure that it displays perfectly on each device type. You can do this in a few clicks by using a Preview mode.

Preview mode in iSpring Suite

When finishing a course, you may also need to think about how extensive the content you’re providing is and if it is compressed to the level that the learners’ device can readily process. You can choose presets that adjust files for various levels of image, audio, and video compression. This will help you find a balance between file size and quality.

For additional guidance on how to boost e-course accessibility, read more here or watch this video:

Step 11. Publish your course

Now that you’ve planned, designed, and developed your eLearning content, it’s time to pull it all together by publishing your course.

iSpring allows you to publish content in several ways: to My Computer, to iSpring Learn LMS, to other LMSs, and to YouTube.

iSpring Suite publishing iptions

The format you’ll publish your course to will depend on your goals and the platform from which you’re going to distribute it. For example, if you’re going to showcase your course in your blog, choose HTML5. If you’re planning to upload it to your LMS, find out what eLearning formats it supports (SCORM, xAPI, etc.). If you’re aiming to sell courses online, check out the formats that your selling platform accepts (video, PDF, or maybe even SCORM if it’s a highly progressive platform).

Publishing an eLearning course for an LMS

To get detailed instructions on how to publish an online course, read more here. You also can watch this webinar:

Useful resources

Following Michael Sheyahshe’s recommendations, you’ll be able to create an outstanding online course or assessment. To get a recap of the entire series, read more here or check out the video:

Now that you know how to create effective and great looking courses, we’re ready to move to the next stage – and this is how to deliver courses to your end users. 

As we’ve already mentioned, if you need to distribute the content to your employees, you can easily do this with an LMS. To delve deeper into corporate training and how to implement eLearning in your organization, refer to the following articles:

Continue reading this post if you’re planning to run an eLearning business. In the next part of the guide, we’ll share insights on how to sell and promote online courses successfully.

How to Sell Online Courses

In case you already have a website, a blog, or even a social network account, you can start selling online courses using your existing tools. However, you may face a lot of challenges along the way. Dealing with payments, marketing, and keeping track of sales are just a few. That’s why using a platform that is specifically designed for selling courses and can handle all these tasks may be a more reasonable solution. 

Now, we’ll cover the capabilities of such a platform in greater detail and take you through the entire process of selling courses online.

Step 1. Choose a selling platform

Despite the fact that all the platforms have much in common, they also have unique features that can impact your choice. Here are some key questions that will help you look at each platform with the perspective of “Is this right for me?”

  1. Should I have any technical skills, and how much time will it take me to set up the platform?
  2. Does this platform support the format of the courses I already have (e.g., video, audio, SCORM courses)?
  3. Does it have any promotion tools, e.g., allows for coupons, discounts, freebies, etc.?
  4. What other tools will I need to connect to make it all work? Do I need a separate video hosting, email service account, or shopping cart software?
  5. Does the selling platform have a powerful reporting system so I can track client activity, marketing campaigns, and sales revenue?
  6. How does the platform handle payments? Does it allow for instant payments to be made directly to my account?
  7. Are there any hidden fees? Does the platform charge transaction fees?
  8. Does the software allow for white labeling or having custom branding features?

If you want to start selling courses to individuals or organizations immediately, without any technical headaches, you can try iSpring Market.

An example of the iSpring marketplace

An example of the iSpring marketplace

iSpring Market is an intuitive platform that allows you to set up a marketplace in a matter of minutes, upload ready-made courses, or assemble simple courses from various existing files (videos, audios, presentations, reference documents, etc.) and start generating organic traffic on search engines like Google in a few clicks. The platform has great reporting capabilities, so you can monitor both learner progress and activity, as well as comprehensive sales and revenue data.

Step 2. Create a sales page

When creating a sales page on your platform, it’s important to consider two things: it should provide comprehensive information on your course and look appealing to your audience. 

Here’s what you need to include on your sales page:

  • A course name. It should be clear from the name what this course is about and who it is created for, i.e., “A beginner’s guide to product photography.”
  • A detailed description of the course. There should be an opening story where you define your audience’s problem and demonstrate that you understand their current pain or frustration and the solution – how your course will help your learners resolve their issues. There also should be an outline of the benefits that your course will provide your learners – it’s better to list them with bullet points (between 5 and 10 points is a good amount). In the description, you may also want to specify the duration of the course and outline the contents. 
  • The author’s biography. Your bio is a great way to showcase your credibility as an instructor. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should provide formal credentials (from a college or university, for example) but you need to prove that you have the knowledge and experience to teach your topic to the audience.
  • Price. This part is typically taken care of for you by the platform vendors with purchase buttons that are automatically added to the page. You simply need to specify the price. 

As mentioned, the appearance of your sales page is equally important. So, finally, use a pleasant color scheme and upload high-resolution images to support the text.

An example of a sales page on iSpring Market

An example of a sales page on iSpring Market

Step 3. Upload you courses

Whichever platform you use, each file is treated as a standalone course by default. But some platforms, such as iSpring Market, let you assemble several files into a course or a “learning path.” For example, you can sell a SCORM course authored with iSpring Suite alone or combine it with tutorial videos and PDF manuals into a single course. 

iSpring Market also makes it easy to create chapters for each predefined “juncture” in the learning path and use these junctures to track learner progress, set course completion dates/conditions, open access to the next chapter, and even issue certificates.

Step 4. Define the price

Defining a course’s price is one of the most difficult decisions a content creator has to make. Charge too much and you’ll have to reduce your price after a while (and it looks really bad when you do this) to get at least a few sales. Charge too little and you will devaluate your content, thereby greatly limiting your potential income. 

So, how do you establish “a reasonable price”? The simplest way to do this is to find similar offerings and compare their prices. Your task here is to determine a general pattern and stay within the boundaries you’ve defined. If you continue to develop in creating and promoting online courses and brand yourself as a thought leader in a specific industry, you’ll be able to set prices without such regard to your competitors.

To learn about principles, strategies, and the dos and don’ts of pricing your online course, read our complete pricing guide

How to Promote Online Courses

As you know: “No marketing, no sales, no business”. So, now that your course is ready to hit the market, you need to concern yourself with how to reach your target audience. There’s an enormous number of ways to promote a course, and here are just some of the most effective ones:

Start a blog

If you learn basic SEO and write blog posts where you share your expertise regularly, you can build a devoted audience, some of whom will undoubtedly want to buy your course. Running a blog may seem a long-term marketing strategy, but it is one of the most tried-and-true ways to promote online courses. Eventually, your tribe will find you.

Boost you social media presence

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube are perfect platforms for building and engaging with your target audience. Publish relevant, thought-provoking posts and videos while providing backlinks to your course selling page for interested audiences. You may also leverage social media to create and enlarge your communities.

An example of a YouTube channel

Your content should be valuable and drive interest in your courses

Use email marketing

When you have the emails of individuals who have expressed interest in your course topic and who have given you permission to communicate with them, you get great power over your eLearning business that other marketing channels cannot provide. You have full control over your ability to communicate with your potential buyers. To build your email list, invite people to sign up on your blog through social media and elsewhere. Send regular emails with useful and engaging content that corresponds to the information presented in your course.

An example of e promotional email

Emails can also provide incentives to purchase your courses

To delve deeper into marketing, check out these 25 ideas that will help you promote an online course.  

How Much Money Can You Make?

It all depends, of course. Your income can vary from zero to infinity. For example, Tomi Mester earns more than $10K per month on his online course for junior data scientists and Nick Stephenson earned $130,208 from his course on marketing in the first week.

There are a lot of factors that will influence how much you can earn by selling online courses, like the price of your course, the specificity of your industry, and the size of your niche. But keep in mind that creating and selling online courses can be quite profitable if you’re able to provide great content and reach your target market.

Okay, let’s imagine that you’ve already built a course, put it for sale, and even sold a number of enrollments. How will you find out exactly how much profit your eLearning initiatives are earning you? This where it’s worth addressing the ROI methodology.

How to calculate ROI of producing online courses

ROI, or Return on Investment, is a performance measure that shows the ratio of what you invest and get back as a result. The idea of calculating ROI is to convert both the costs and benefits into dollar equivalents. This can help you make a valid comparison and see how successful your eLearning business is:

The ROI formula looks like this:

ROI formula

In the matter of selling a course, ‘Benefits’ stands for the monetary value generated by a course and ‘Costs’ are all the expenses incurred in the development, implementation, and promotion of the course.

A positive ROI means that the course has paid off, and a negative ROI implies losses. For example, you’ve invested $3,000 in your course and, as a result, earned $9,000. 

ROI = (9,000 – 3,000)/3,000*100 = 200%

So, for every dollar invested in the course, you’ve gotten $2.

To look at how to measure ROI in more detail, read our article on ROI methodology

To Sum Up

That’s it. We hope these basic instructional design processes and course selling guidelines help you develop better, more engaging, and more effective e-courses and successfully run an eLearning business. 

If you still haven’t checked how easy and fast it is to build learning content with iSpring Suite, get a free 14-day trial. Also, try out iSpring Market for free and make your first sales even before the trial period ends.

About the Expert

Michael Sheyahshe, Technologist at alterNative Media

Michael Sheyahshe is an artist, author, developer, and technologist at aNm. He has over 2 decades of experience in the design and development of interactive media, tools, simulations, and games for the global market, utilizing various e-Learning methodologies.

Specialties: serious games, 3-D modeling, 2-D design, layout, illustration, simulation, instructional design, and augmented, virtual, and mixed reality.

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