In this article, you’ll find insights into how online course creators are able to earn thousands of dollars a month, the factors that affect those earnings, and strategies that can help boost your enrollment numbers and improve your income.
- The MOOC industry is worth $16.8 billion
- $74 – $140 is the average price of an online course
- Average online course developer in the U.S. earns $23.51 per hour
|Online Course Business Model||Average Monthly Earnings (U.S. Only)|
|Side hustle||$1,000 – $25,000|
|Part of larger business||$40,000 – $120,000|
|Entire business is online course||$40,000 – $1,000,000 +|
The Online Learning Market
|Year||Online Education Market (8.2% CAGR)|
Over the last decade, online learning has evolved from a niche segment into a global industry that’s changing the way that people learn.
Today, the entire online learning industry is estimated to be worth anything from $200 – $400 billion, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
This incredible growth is being fueled by the monetization and digitization of education, a growing need for workers to retrain and upskill, the rising costs of traditional higher learning institutions (colleges and universities), and the relatively low cost of online learning courses.
Courses that allow anyone to sign up for them regardless of their education levels are referred to in the industry as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). This specific part of the industry is worth an estimated $16.4 billion to the global economy. Its predicted value by 2028 is more than $85 billion.
|Year||MOOC Market Size|
This means that the MOOC industry is expecting growth of more than 400% over the next 5 years.
Factors That Influence Earnings
Courses that are well-designed, informative, engaging, and up-to-date will attract more learners and command higher prices. By contrast, courses with sub-par content can struggle to gain interest.
Your choice of subject matter can have a significant influence on your earnings potential. Highly specialized and in-demand niches typically lead to bigger audiences and higher earnings.
Likewise, choosing an over-saturated niche or a niche with little existing demand will likely negatively impact your earnings potential.
|Niche||Monthly Search Volume (U.S. only)|
|Business & Entrepreneurship||186,000|
|Arts & Crafts||147,000|
|Wellness & Stress Management||129,000|
|Writing & Content Creation||108,000|
|Beauty & Makeup||103,000|
|Computers & Technology||78,000|
|Coming of Age & Career||64,000|
Marketing & Promotion
Good niche selection and high-quality course content are useless if your audience doesn’t know you exist or where to find you. That’s why effective marketing and promotion are another key influence on growing your audience and earning potential.
Making good use of marketing channels like social media, email marketing, content marketing, and paid adverts will raise your course’s visibility and improve enrollment rates.
Your pricing strategy is another key factor you should strongly consider. Strategies differ from one course creator to the next, with some opting for a low-cost course in order to attract more enrollments, while others set premium prices for highly specialized skills.
Experimenting with different pricing models such as one-time payment, subscriptions, and tiered pricing is key to finding the right balance between profitability and attracting an audience.
The reviews and testimonials of past learners will be a key way for potential students to assess the suitability of your course and decide whether to enroll.
We know that most people read at least 3 reviews on their enrollment journey, so make sure you encourage satisfied learners to share their positive experiences with others.
Your course conversion rate depends on a variety of things like subject or topic, price, marketing, and more. If you’re interested in an industry-wide average, then between 2%-5% is typical. Some of the best-converting courses available today have conversion rates of up to 10%.
|Low Conversion Rate||0.1%–1%|
|Mid-Range Conversion Rate||2%–5%|
|High Conversion Rate||6%–10%|
Diverse Income Streams
Online course creators have access to multiple income streams with different revenue potential. Courses can be sold individually or through a subscription model, upselling, add-ons, affiliate marketing, and licensing.
Once a course is created and published, it has the potential to generate revenue in perpetuity. The industry refers to many of these types of courses as “Evergreen.” They require very little effort to maintain and can be a consistent source of income over time.
Ultimately, the revenue that you can potentially generate boils down to one simple equation.
Revenue = Audience Size x Conversion Rate x Price of Course
All the factors we’ve discussed directly contribute to one or more of the variables in this equation.
If you’d like an estimate of your potential earnings then you just need to plug in your (estimated) audience size and course price and then calculate it across the 3 conversion rate ranges.
Here are some examples with different course prices, conversion rates, and audience sizes
|Audience Size||Conversion Rate||Price of Course||Revenue|
If you are curious about profit potential, then you’ll need another equation.
Profit = Revenue - (Production Costs + Marketing + Other Costs)
To put your earning potential into perspective, here are a few real-life examples of course creators and their earnings.
Austin Church (Tennessee) – Freelance Cake – $1,000 per Month
Gabriel Kramer (Utah) – SI Certs – $60,000 per Month
Stuart Draper (Idaho) – Stukent, Inc – $500,000 per Month
Maximizing Your Earnings
Whatever business model you ultimately choose for your online course business, you’ll want to maximize your earnings. There are a few simple things you can do that will boost your enrollment numbers.
Consider whether people enrolling in your course will need access to any other information or resources to effectively study. Handle those potential objections ahead of time by providing them for free.
We love receiving something for free, especially when we’ve just paid for something. Include a free download that’s made available the moment your students enroll. It could be an overview of the course contents, useful templates, guides, or anything else you think they will get value from.
It can be easy to forget that not everyone has access to a reliable (and fast) internet connection. Make your course content available offline so that students can access it whenever they want to.
Host live events online or in person. Some of the most successful course sellers ever regularly hold in-person meetups with thousands of people paying for the pleasure of seeing their teacher in real life.
Instead of large live events, you can also offer private coaching sessions to small groups or individuals for a premium price.
Find other experts in your field and invite them to be guest teachers. These can be marketed as separate courses and as add-on content for existing learners.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, selling online purses can be profitable. The earnings potential depends on factors like niche selection, course quality, marketing, and engagement.
The most profitable online courses are typically for the most in-demand skills of the day. Some current examples are digital marketing, cybersecurity, finance & investing, and digital transformation.
Yes. Expertise in your subject matter and effective content delivery can compensate for any lack of teaching experience.