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How to create, sell, and profit from an online course in 2019

Chapters

  1. Who should create an online course?
  2. How to come up with ideas
  3. Planning your content
  4. Creating your course
  5. Pricing & packaging
  6. Product Launches vs. Evergreen Sales
  7. Online course marketing
  8. Writing sales pages

The pitch: pricing and packaging


Well done! By this point, your content is complete and the course is nearly ready to ship.

There are just to critical steps left: naming and pricing your course.

Getting these right can make or break your course sales, and yet many creators pull both of these elements out of thin air.

We’re not going to do that. There are best practices for course naming and pricing, and you can use them to set yourself up for course sales success.

Naming your course

The name is the first thing that anyone who encounters your course will see.

If you get it right, it will pique their curiosity, draw them in and make them eager to learn more.

If you get it wrong, they’ll move on and ignore your course.

We’ve seen thousands of course titles.

We’ve studied which ones sell and which ones sit on the shelf.

And we’ve found three things that all of our top-selling course names have in common:

  • Great course names are targeted. The name makes clear exactly who this course is for. “Knife Skills 101: Learn To Cut With Confidence” is a better name than “Knife Skills”, because it tells the prospective student what level of skill the course is geared toward.
  • Great course names are results-oriented. The name conveys the result that the student can expect by taking the course. “Knife Skills 101: Learn To Cut With Confidence” is also a better name than “Knife Skills” because it tells the prospect what outcome they’ll see at the end of the course.
  • Great course names are unambiguous. The name doesn’t use fluffy language or jargon that confuses the prospect and makes them think hard about what the course is really about. “Knife Skills 101: Learn To Cut With Confidence” leaves no question as to what the course is about.

Here are some other great examples of course names that are targeted, results-oriented and unambiguous:

Pricing: How to Pick The Optimal Price

Pricing is a deep, complex topic, but you don’t have to make it one.

We recommend a simple model of goal-based pricing.

What is it that you want out of your course?

  • Do you want to reach the highest number of people? If you just want to reach as many people as possible (for example, if you’re using the course as a lead generation tool), then offer it for free. If there’s no barrier to enroll, you’re likely to see more signups.
  • Do you want to make the highest total number of sales? Then price your course low enough to make it a “no-brainer” for as many people as possible, which is something under $30 depending on your niche (look at competing courses for some benchmarks).
  • Do you want to earn the most total revenue? This is where you get to charge the big bucks. For most creators, it’s a lot easier to earn $1,000 selling a $1,000 to one person than by selling a $20 course to 50 people. Go high with your pricing, and test to see what the market will pay for.

You’re not setting your pricing in stone, and you can — and should! — always try different pricing as you grow your online business.

In fact, trying to get pricing perfect can be one of the biggest obstacles to the most important part of creating your course: actually selling it!

Here’s what Dan Bader told me

When I was starting out, I had so many concerns around finding the "perfect" price for my courses. Am I charging too much and no one will buy my products? Am I charging too little so that I'll never be able to turn this into a viable business? There's just so much advice out there—tiered pricing, "trip wire" products, articles about "pricing psychology", and all kinds of shady "black hat" influence tactics. It's worth reading up on this stuff, for sure. But it's also easy to go overboard with this. To procrastinate. And to never launch anything...

For me a big realization was this: you don't have to get it 100% right from the start. It's totally okay to experiment. If you price to high or to low for your initial launch, so what? You can always launch again, experiment with the pricing structure and improve your products over time. There's no quick fix or "magic" trick that will help you figure out pricing from the start.

I now make a point of supporting my courses and books long-term to make them more valuable over time. The initial product launch and pricing is just the start of that journey. So yeah, just pick a price and then experiment. With digital courses and books nothing is set in stone, and with a long-term strategy the bulk of your revenue isn't going to come from the 1st launch anyway.

Dan Bader

Dan Bader

Should you offer a money-back guarantee?

One of the most common questions we see about course pricing and sales is whether creators should offer a money-back guarantee for their course.

For a definitive answer, I turned to course creator and online copywriting guru Joanna Wiebe:

We offer a 60-day money-back guarantee because the #1 question we get when we're launching a course is whether there's a guarantee or not. Sixty days means people don't have to rush through the content or panic when, a month after purchasing, they haven't even had time to do more than peruse the curriculum. (Our guarantee requires that you show us your completed homework.) That said, I've heard that some very successful course creators don't offer MBGs, so I assume it can work. But for our audience at least, it appears to increase conversions when we give folks 60 days to take the training, start implementing it and see how it works for them.

Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe

So the answer is: maybe.

Not the most satisfying answer, but it gets to an important truth of being an online business owner: every business is different. Every audience is different. Every course is different.

The only way to know if something works for you is to try it and see.

In the next chapter

Product Launches vs. Evergreen Sales

Should you sell your course with a big launch? Or leave it out as an evergreen product?

Jump to chapter 6