You have probably heard a lot about people who create online courses, and market and sell them online. It’s a huge business, but is it right for everyone?
What should you know about creating online courses, and more specifically how to do so using a learning management system?
In this series of articles, we’re covering what to think about before you create an online course, what to keep in mind during the creation process, and ultimately how to market the course you create. We start with the basics and go from there. It should also be noted that here at eLeaP, we cater primarily to the needs of businesses.
What we’ve found, however, is that an increasing number of businesses, including small organizations, are creating employee training content and then eventually marketing it to external audiences. Many of the tips and much of the information in this series of articles can be applied to businesses who want to boost revenue by selling employee training.
What Is a Learning Management System (LMS)?
Before we go into what to consider when it comes to creating an online course, you may be wondering what an LMS is. The term LMS is in the title of this article, and it stands for “learning management system.”
It’s thanks to the availability of modern learning management systems that so many people have been able to earn money from creating an online course.
So what is a learning management system? It’s a software platform you can use to relatively quickly and easily to build an online course. Learning management systems pave the way for online or e-Learning to take place.
Learning management systems allow people not only to create custom courses using authoring tools built into the software but also to deploy the courses and to track student progress.
Basically, a learning management system can serve as a library of learning content. If you’re creating courses for employee training, or to market to people, they’re provided with login information and a password, and they can access the courses from anywhere.
So, to sum it all up, a learning management system is one of the ways people can build and deploy courses to an audience.
Now, onto the other topics at hand—namely, should you create an online course?
The Basics of Online Courses
If you’re not familiar with online courses already, you may be thinking of distance education programs delivered through colleges and educational organizations. That’s not what we’re talking about as far as using a learning management system to create this particular kind of course.
What we’re talking about in this case are courses created with one purpose in mind, which is to make money. You’re creating content that can provide value to the audience, and they’re paying for that. Some people do also use courses as a giveaway to get information from website visitors or to entice people in other ways.
Customers or users can sign up for courses anytime they want in most cases because there’s no need for them to start and end within any specific time frame. The content included in online courses can include video, audio, PDF files, live instruction, or a combination.
In many ways, an online course can be pretty similar to a webinar, but an online course is much broader than a webinar because content can be delivered in a combination of different formats.
What Are the Benefits of Creating an Online Course?
It can sound like creating an online course is a lot of work, and it is. So what are the benefits for the course creator?
- You’re creating a revenue stream for yourself. Much of the work is done once the course is created, and then it becomes a fairly passive revenue stream. Of course, you have to interact with your customers, answer questions and tweak content over time, but the amount of work required once the course is released is pretty minimal. Some of the best course instructors who sell multiple courses or who have a really popular course can make six figures from this revenue source. Does that mean you will? No, but it is always a possibility.
- A lot of people use courses as part of a larger sales funnel. They create the course and then rather than selling it, they use it as a way to bring in prospects. Of course, you can charge for a course and still have it be part of your sales funnel. For example, the course might be a stepping stone for more expensive products or services.
- You don’t need to invest a huge amount upfront in creating a course. A lot of online businesses do require some pretty substantial initial investments, and you may not have the ability to fund a new business. Creating online courses doesn’t have to be expensive.
What Are the Downsides of Creating an Online Course?
So it’s not always the best idea for every person to create an online course. There are potential downsides, and you have to weigh them against the benefits of creating a course carefully. Some of the cons of creating an online course can include:
- Do you have the skills to deliver value to your audience? The competition for online courses is massive, and you need to have the ability to stand out and deliver something that others can’t or to do so in a unique way. It can be tough to really hone in on how to deliver value, and you might not be ready to delve into course creation just yet.
- It also can take a lot of marketing to sell an online course. We’ll talk more about how to do that in a later post, but you have to think about the work it’s going to require. Also, while the initial development of the course may not cost that much relatively speaking, marketing it can. You’re likely going to have to pay for the majority of your advertising, and these costs can rise quickly.
- There’s this misconception that creating online courses is a way to make money quickly and it’s not. It takes a lot of work to create courses, and it’s time-consuming. Are you ready to invest the time needed to make a good course?
These aren’t the only pros and cons of using a learning management system to create online courses, but they are some of the most fundamental considerations to keep in mind.
Continue reading our next post to learn more about the specifics of creating a good online course, if you think this is right for you.