There has never been a better time to join the growing eLearning industry. Online learning and training have become an essential part of every online business. The whole e-learning market is expected to exceed $300 Billion by 2025, including both individuals and corporations spending more and more on online learning. But there's always something to learn when hosting your online course.
I'm here to walk you through the process of hosting your online course.
Self-hosting vs Marketplaces
Creating an online course is a fundamental part of being a successful online instructor. Creating an online course successfully, which you think is a masterpiece, call for a treat. Now, where do you treat yourself?
After creating an online course, you cannot keep it to yourself. Of course. But a real biggie comes when you need to establish a suitable platform to sell your course. There are predominantly two platforms to make your sales. One is self-hosting, the second is marketplaces. After creating their courses, creators often find it mind-boggling to choose what is best for them. Both the platforms have their share of pros and cons. Hopefully, this piece of the element will make your decisions wiser. Things are changing dramatically in the landscape of the e-learning industry. One needs to be on their toes and make themselves aware of the future uncertainties and how one would face them.
Book yourself for a couple of minutes to understand what could be your online course requirements to make reasonable sales decisions. Let us start with the pros and cons of self-hosting, respectively. I would also suggest some of the popular platforms under respective categories.
Pros of self-hosting
There are numerous benefits of switching to self-hosting. As a community, it’s important to make sure people know when this is a good idea. Not every site can switch over. Here are some advantages of self-hosting that should be considered.
- You own the email address of your students - Email marketing from time to time has tremendously become a significant part of transforming your business into a well-leading brand. One of the primary tasks while starting your online course is to reach out to the target audience. Well, in this case, you know who you are targeting to send lots and lots of luring emails to get them on your platform officially.
Collecting email addresses from the targeted audience is a whole different procedure. But after receiving all of them, you do not want to stand a chance of losing them to someone else. Therefore you own your students' email addresses to increase your course's profitability by either word of mouth or by collecting more emails from already existing students.
Can you read more about email marketing in my post called Build an email list in 7 easy steps for Course Creators?
- Charge as much as you want - When you are a self-host, you can charge as much as you desire for your online created course. You may charge based on value. Generally, people charge 15k for a course. That means you may charge $1000 for an hour's course or a lecture. Now that seems to be an urge to immediately have it on your platter. You may also set payment modes according to your convenience. Give an option of subscription at your own will. You can keep all the revenues generated to yourself except the credit card processing fee. That means you are going to save 100% of what you sell. Say no to intermediaries.
- Customize according to your will - When you are a self-host, you are your director. In that case, you have already decided on customizing your look for the course, from determining your logo to branding and packaging, collaborating with similar people working in the same domain, getting detailed information on competitor analysis, appointing your affiliates for marketing, creative heads to design the entire structure for sale and many more people to manage similar activities.
- Premium joint ventures with premium courses - Joint ventures to promote your course should witness that your course is premium enough to make a good turnover at the sales on your course. They will take you sincerely only if they see promoting your course as a worthwhile investment of time and money on their websites.
Cons of self-hosting
Now that we dive into the advantages of self-hosting, let’s talk about a few of the cons. I think you should understand both sides before making your decision, right?
- Hosting fees - If you are a self-host, you will be charged a recurring monthly fee, plus you are being charged additional transaction fees. At an early stage of your business, the prices are minimal, but as you grow with thousands of students, you will spend more on email marketing automation tools, which can get more expensive from time to time.
- Market yourself - Self-hosting is typically starting a mini start-up where you need to build marketing and sales pipelines, known as sales funnels. It is to attract and convert prospects into leads and leads into customers. You may also have to gather a suitable audience to buy your course. With absolute truth, marketing is the most critical yet tedious task to sell your course. But with the right strategies and persistence, you will surely hit the ground running.
- Lack of credibility - When you self-host, know that unless you are a representative of a leading brand, most people out there in the market won't trust your product, and it becomes questionable after a point of time as to why they have to trust you or your online course. From marketplaces, there is filtering, and incapable online instructors are easy to spot because of their ratings and reviews.
Now let’s look into the pros and cons of the marketplace
Selling on marketplace sites is different from selling on your own site. While there are both pros and cons to each, it really depends on your business needs. Each marketplace has its own form of metrics and can help you grow in unique ways. I’ll give you a breakdown of each below.
Pros of marketplace
The marketplaces are an excellent tool for selling items and services. Here are some of the best benefits of using a marketplace for your business.
- Marketing is done right - By a long shot, the most significant advantage of facilitating your course in their marketplace is that a ton of your deals will be legitimately determined by the marketing they do for you. Since their income relies upon the number of students they bring to the stage, they are generally genuinely adept at showcasing and burning through many shillings in SEO improvement and are paid to promote each month.
- Enormous Student Base - A built-up online course marketplace has just done a bit of work by pulling in several thousand, even if not a massive number of potential purchasers. On account of their course proposal motor, your course gets an opportunity to have appeared to a large number of profoundly focused purchasers who are looking for your course theme in a particular marketplace.
- A well-supported student community - The marketplace has a personal stake in ensuring their educators are upbeat, so they stay. To accomplish that objective, they give a ton of free assistance and access to enormous educator online networks where everybody is encouraged to rouse and enable each other to succeed.
- Built-up Marketplaces Have Credibility - A few marketplaces have been around for a considerable time and have built up a reliable brand and validity. These are the critical components to assembling trust among potential purchasers who want to buy from a known brand rather than from a moderately obscure free vendor.
The Cons Of Selling on Marketplaces
Selling on marketplaces can be a game-changer for some companies. It allows anyone to get an online store up and running with very little time and effort. But bigger scale sellers might be missing out on the control that comes with creating your own store. So let’s look into some cons of selling on marketplaces.
- No Access To Your Student Email Addresses - The most significant resource you have as an online course maker is your students; however, your students don't have a place with you on a marketplace. They have a position with the markets. This makes it challenging to scale your business outside the market since you can't build up a relationship with your students on your terms.
- Nothing is under your control - Consistently you are dependent upon the marketplace guidelines and predetermination. The marketplace chooses how frequently you can convey to your students, what you can advance or not when you message them, the amount you can charge for your courses, and to what extent you have held onto getting paid. On the off chance that you don't keep their guidance, you can move out and lose access to every one of your students for the time being.
- Marketing isn't free - Fundamentally, the marketplace goes about as a partner, and they can keep half or a more significant amount of each deal they produce. Now and again, if an agreement comes utilizing the above-listed organizations as one of their outsider offshoots, the educator gets the chance to keep 30% of every transaction.
- Your Brand Gets mixed - The leading brand that a marketplace has an enthusiasm for advancing is its own, not yours. You might be permitted to watermark your recordings and wear a shirt with your organization's logo; however, that is the extent that which you'll get the chance to advance your image. You'll additionally not have the capacity to modify the vibe of your course pages; thus, consistently, your students will be presented with the marketplace logo and plan decisions. It could be said; that when you are in a marketplace, you have to recollect that you are working for them and not the opposite way around.
How to get your First Students?
After creating your course, the first thing you think of is selling your course. You need to follow the sub-elements coming up your way. A significant aspect you should focus on is marketing and doing marketing. There is an acronym that defines marketing in the best possible way:
A-I-D-A: ATTENTION, INTEREST, DESIRE, ACTION
Marketing is all about grabbing the attention of your target audience. People are going to be interested to see what you have to offer them, it is going to build desire within them, and then the final call will be to take action and buy your product. Being literal enough on what it takes to do marketing, let us move on to one powerful way of getting your students. It does strain your energy, but if you have reached the tactic and suitable machine to handle, then you win the jackpot for life.
What is a Funnel system?
With hardships comes ease. This precise marketing technique is used by all top instructors called the "webinar funnel".
A funnel is a set of strategies to build trust over a series of steps, so people are more likely to buy. If you intend to multiply what you are gaining right now from 10 to 100, then get serious about building a funnel. Let’s look into the process of funnel building.
Driving Paid Traffic
Paid traffic is when any customer visits your website once paid for advertising promotions. Platforms like search engines, media networks and social media sites are the most commonly used platforms for paid advertisements. The other popular platforms you can undoubtedly rely on are Youtube, Google AdWords and Facebook. These two social networking platforms are the ones that generate the most traffic.
You can read more about the 8 Ways to Get Views and Reach People on YouTube in one of my previous blogs. The objective of paid traffic is to acquire customers to keep your business growing substantially. The more you are willing to spend to reach your customers to avoid drying up your business, the better chances you have of managing your business, at least at the break-even point.
Tips on Paid Traffic
Remember, the aim of establishing paid traffic is to build a healthy relationship through the inception of your business. Hence, target your ideal customer. Selling your course is the ultimatum of understanding the critical points of your audience. Every coin has two sides of the facet. As much as paid traffic has, i.e. if you are trying to benefit from it, you perhaps will have drawbacks from it.
The Advantage of Paid Traffic
If used well, there is much more you can obtain from paid traffic. One of the significant benefits is deciding on your expenditure to get direct paid traffic. You know how much you have invested in creating your course to spend on promotion. Decide on the maximum amount you would want to spend for the day on certain types of advertising like 'pay per click'.
You may also opt for a keyword search engine to cautiously drive targeted traffic.
The Disadvantage of Paid Traffic
It's unnecessary for a person who visits your website to buy your product. It isn't obligatory to do so. Poor design or not so organic content might trigger a consumer to leave the website immediately. If it did, chances are bounce rate would increase rapidly, leading to lower google ranking still being charged for every visit.
Getting visitors is not sufficient; you need to convert the visitors into leads. The very purpose of landing pages is to convert visitors into leads. To do that right, you need to know some facts about landing pages and how they work. When a visitor clicks on your website, there is a form that captures its necessary information such as email IDs, your name, and your preferences—giving a straightforward way for your prospective visitors to buy your product.
How do Landing Pages work?
In simple terms, there are merely four steps to creating a visitor into leads. Once a person sees a call to action, they visit your website and end up on a landing page with a form. As soon as a person fills out that form simply knowing the buyer's persona, the visitor turns into a lead. The leads database you have determined is then segregated with what visitors have opted in the form. You then market your product or a tip based on their preferences or what you know about them.
Through landing pages, you can also dispense a few freebies such as a brief overview of your course in the form of a pdf, report, ebook, a mini-course and in exchange for the freebies, they are going to give you their email addresses. You may then resume a considerable amount of follow-ups. Soon after bestowing some freebies, you can direct them to a webinar where you give any information or valuable tips on your product. A webinar is clearly like a live presentation, pitching your sales at the end. Once it is at the edge of consumer satisfaction, go ahead and sell them your course.
This is another way of driving targeted traffic to your website; it takes a little extra time from what it does in paid traffic. Nothing unusual, though. If you are not in a hurry to market your product or are off budget and would want to take it slow and steady, then go for a free traffic scheme.
Free traffic is purely your blog; you get searched and found through social networking sites and youtube. Your visitors will fill in an opt-in form where you collect their email addresses. Now, your email list is the holy grail of your online business. You can look for MailChimp, AWeber, convert kit and active campaign to collect the email IDs. Once you have sufficient email addresses, start warming them up to a valuable sequence to follow up with different content in each mail. The max number of trials you can give is 3-4 times.
Other relevant content could mean a video, a pdf file, a short post, etc. In the end, please direct them to a free webinar and sell your product. Therefore, this is one side of the funnel through free traffic.
People will always throw around terms like “hot” and “trendy” when talking about online courses, but the truth is that these courses are still fairly new. More importantly, who knows what tomorrow has in store for the industry? For example, it's likely that in 2022 there will be a lot more choices among course platforms. Currently, most platforms focus on one thing (open enrollment, monetizing videos, focusing on instructors) and that's why you see so many big names trying to dominate different aspects of the market. My point is: don't get too caught up in the hype.
Focus on finding an online course platform that fits your needs today, and figure out how you want your company to develop in the future.
There are a million variations to this, but the above-listed ways are the most effective. So dive in, experiment with different options, and have fun!