Video Monetization

How to Sell Online Courses: From a Creator’s Experience

By Mike Keenan
14 Min Read

Learn More about Video Monetization

How to sell courses online

You know your stuff as a creator. No doubt. Whether it’s yoga poses, baking cakes, or teaching dance moves, few people have the knowledge and experience that you do.

But turning that knowledge into an online course that makes you bank? Now, that’s a tough one.

Successfully selling an online course isn’t some secret club only a few creators get to join. It’s totally possible for you too, with a little planning and a lot of passion. 

This article is your roadmap, filled with tips and examples of real-life creators selling courses online. 

Let’s get into it!

Is selling online courses profitable?

There’s a lot of chatter about online courses being dead, or a lot of work for no money. 

While it’s true that courses are not the most profitable or scalable way to monetize your educational content…

There’s still a big opportunity in selling courses online as a creator.

The elearning market was valued at $399.3 billion in 2022, and is expected to grow at a 14% CAGR between now and 2032, reaching over $1 trillion

Since the pandemic, online learning has seen a sharp increase in interest across topics like cooking, fitness, wellness, and entrepreneurship.

From my experience selling Creative Class, we saw an 800% ROI from our last drop this spring (the course sells for two weeks, twice a year). 

Online courses are also a good business because:

  • Low cost of entry. You can make an online course with very little cash upfront. It’s more of a time investment. 
  • Sell anywhere. You don’t need to set up a booth at a Farmer’s Market to sell courses. You can sell them right online from the comfort of your home.
  • Easy to customize. You can share your knowledge on virtually any topic and differentiate yourself from competitors. 

Courses can be sold one-off or part as a membership, which can give creators recurring revenue. In a membership, you sell access to various classes for a flat monthly or annual fee. Memberships can offer higher revenue growth over time.

Here’s a comparison between a $299 online course and a $15 monthly membership fee.

Uscreen chart comparing revenue growth projections for courses vs memberships

Memberships are more successful than one-off products because of recurring revenue, compounding growth, and member retention. 

You in? Ok, let’s look at how you can create an online course.

How to sell online courses, step by step

  1. Choose a niche course topic
  2. Create a killer course
  3. Decide where to host your course
  4. Set a price
  5. Improve the value of your course
  6. Upload your course content
  7. Organize your library
  8. Market and sell your online courses
  9. Refine and improve your course.

1. Choose a niche course topic

Your niche is the main subject of your course. Put simply, it’s what you’re going to teach about. 

Your niche gives purpose to the topics you want to teach. And filters out the noise on topics that don’t interest your audience. 

Problem is: Picking a topic is tricky. 

In the creator world, a niche topic is a well-defined segment of your market. It applies to a specific group of people.

Let’s look at an example. Imagine you have a YouTube channel focused on dance. Many of your followers are new to dance and love hip-hop. 

You might teach a beginners’ course about:

  • Foundational steps and moves like the two-step, running man, or cabbage patch.
  • Terms and lingo common in hip-hop dancing, like “pop” and “lock”.
  • Basic conditioning to build strength and flexibility. 

RedWall Tutorials, which teaches online dance classes, has an entire section of video courses for beginners on its membership site.

A screenshot of RedWall's pay per view events hosted using Uscreen,.

Your niche acts like a filter. It helps you identify the course most relevant to your audiences. But what makes a good niche?

Tick these three boxes when deciding:

  • Expertise 
  • Audience interests
  • Profitability

Expertise

You don’t need any formal qualifications to start. Your course can be about something you love that comes effortlessly to you. 

Or about life experiences that have made you the person you are today. It can also come from your professional background and accomplishments. 

Audience interests

What problems does your target audience face? What topics do they want to learn about? 

Pay attention to what people talk about in the comment sections online. Chat with them in the community section of your membership website. Poll them through your email newsletter.

You may find your audience wants a class about Memphis Jookin. Or another specific dance style that you can teach.

Profitability 

Profitability is an important consideration if you want to monetize your creator business. Some courses are more profitable than others. 

Understand your course’s profit potential by looking at two factors:

  • Monetization Models: Will you sell the course standalone or as part of your membership? Not every course is compatible with every monetization model. For example, an advanced animation course may be suited for a one-off sale. On the other hand, a series of beginner yoga courses may work best under a membership model. 
  • Competition: The more competitive your niche, the harder it can be to sell your course online. That’s because you’re fighting for the same people’s attention. Identify your rivals and see what they are offering. Consider how you can do it better.  

Once you’ve chosen the topic for your course, you’re eager to start creating. 

2. Create a killer course

The most successful online courses solve a problem or provide relevant information for an audience’s needs. 

Here are a few universal tips we’ve learned while developing courses for Peak Freelance. 

Pick an engaging title

For courses, titles are important. If your title isn’t engaging, people won’t be inspired to click on it. Your primary topic should be present in your course title. 

Let’s look at an example. 

Say you created a fantastic course on urban gardening. It covers everything:

  • Selecting the right plants
  • Urban planting techniques
  • Pest control
  • General plant care

You could go with a title like “Urban Gardening Course,” but it likely won’t stand out in your market. 

Something more compelling, like “Master Your Green Thumb: Urban Gardening Techniques for Spring Season,” is more effective.

It instantly tells your audience:

  • What they will gain (becoming a master)
  • What the course contains (gardening techniques)
  • A sense of expertise (for spring season)

When choosing a title:

  • Identify core benefits: What will someone gain from your course? Incorporate this into your title. People are more interested in the benefits and outcomes of a course than just the creator behind it.
  • Keep it concise: While making your title informative is essential, it should be brief. Keep it short and easy to understand.
  • Test your title: Run your title by a few people to get feedback. You can also do A/B tests by creating multiple landing pages with different titles to see which performs better.

Organize your course content 

Now you want to put yourself in the shoes of your students. Come up with the contents of your own course outline and divide it into lessons.

💡 PRO TIP: Identify the student’s desired end state and work backward from there. If a student wants to become an expert classical guitarist, how can you logically get them there step by step?

Content and lessons in your course vary depending on the type of course you create (mini-course, multi-video course, masterclass), as well as completion time and cost. 

Once you figure that out, break down the course into lessons. 

Here’s an example of what they might look like:

  • MODULE 1: Introduction to Classical Guitar
  • MODULE 2: Basic Music Theory and Reading Sheet Music
  • MODULE 3: Beginner Guitar Techniques
  • MODULE 4: Intermediate Guitar Techniques
  • MODULE 5: Exploring the Classical Guitar Repertoire 

Then, create more specific lessons that go into detail.

MODULE 1: Introduction to Classical Guitar

  • Lesson 1: Origins and Evolution of Classical Guitar
  • Lesson 2: Anatomy of a Classical Guitar
  • Lesson 3: Renowned Classical Guitarists and Their Impact
  • Lesson 4: Classical Guitar vs. Other Guitar Types

MODULE 2: Basic Music Theory and Reading Sheet Music

  • Lesson 1: The Language of Music: Understanding Music Theory
  • Lesson 2: Reading Sheet Music: The Basics
  • Lesson 3: Introduction to Scales and Chords
  • Lesson 4: Time and Key Signatures in Sheet Music

MODULE 3: Beginner Guitar Techniques

  • Lesson 1: Left Hand Techniques: Fretting and Chord Formation
  • Lesson 2: Right Hand Techniques: Basics of Fingerstyle Guitar
  • Lesson 3: Learning Basic Scales and Chords on the Classical Guitar

MODULE 4: Intermediate Guitar Techniques

  • Lesson 1: Advanced Fingerstyle: Arpeggios and Alternating Bass
  • Lesson 2: Slurs: Hammer-ons and Pull-offs
  • Lesson 3: Expressive Techniques: Vibrato and Muting
  • Lesson 4: Mastering Tremolo on Classical Guitar

MODULE 5: Exploring the Classical Guitar Repertoire 

  • Lesson 1: Melodies from the Renaissance: Early Guitar Music
  • Lesson 2: Harmony of the Baroque Period
  • Lesson 3: Beauty of the Classical and Romantic Eras
  • Lesson 4: Modern Pieces: Classical Guitar in Contemporary Music

Determine the course format

Next up, decide how you’ll present your course. 

For intensive, higher-priced courses, video is great to keep students engaged. It’s also amazing for portraying ideas simply. 

But, the best course format is the one that works for your target audience. Ask prospective students what course medium they find most engaging (we still bet it’ll be video!).

Regardless of the format, aim to keep each lesson between 10 and 15 minutes and create actionable and focused content. 

3. Decide where to host your course

As you scale your creator business online, you need an online course platform that delivers content, and grows and evolves with you. 

Online course platforms help you create and distribute content, so you don’t need to manage it all yourself. A platform stores your videos, manages your enrollments, and provides communication tools for students. 

When students try to access your course, the platform delivers it to them.

A screenshot shows Consider The Dog's online course content for dog lovers.
Example of online courses sold on Consider the Dog’s membership website

The online learning platform market is projected to reach a revenue of $58.45bn in 2024, with China and the US pushing the most growth. There are so many platforms to choose from. But how do you know what’s best for your online business? 

Uscreen is an all-in-one membership platform for creators. It’s perfect for scaling your creator business with immaculate video delivery and marketing tools to sell your courses.

Think of using Uscreen like building your own Masterclass. You can host all your courses there, and students can access video lessons on any device on an ongoing basis. 

With Uscreen, you can also:

  • Create your own course storefront.
  • Upload and organize your videos with ease.
  • Distribute your content with OTT apps on TV and mobile devices.
  • Make your content downloadable to watch offline.
  • Accept worldwide payments.
  • Use live streaming to reach audiences on any device.
  • Track subscriber growth and churn.
  • Grow your sales with affiliate programs and referrals.
  • Own your audience.
  • Take advantage of integrations with Mailchimp and Google Analytics.

Some other top contenders include:

  • Podia: You can use Podia to sell digital products like online courses, PDF downloads, and coaching programs. Sign up is easy and there are no transaction fees. It’s a good option for new creators who haven’t sold courses yet.
  • Kajabi: Kajabi is a platform for entrepreneurs who want to sell digital products and courses. It offers a ton of built-in tools for building sales pages, email campaigns, and more. 
  • Thinkific: Thinkific is another course platform that lets you build a branded course website. It offers a user-friendly web builder and engagement features like quizzes, surveys, and discussion forums.  
  • Teachable: Anyone can sign up for Teachable and create a course fast. It’s a good platform for beginners selling standalone courses, and takes two steps to sign up. 
  • LearnDash: If you’re a dedicated WordPress user, LearnDash is a good online course plugin. It acts as a Learning Management System (LMS) that hooks up right to your WordPress website. 
  • Udemy: Udemy is the largest marketplace for selling online courses. Essentially, you create a course on their website and then launch it through Udemy’s catalog. You don’t control the branding or layout of your site, but you can get a lot of eyes in front of your course without doing any marketing. 

Case Study: How BackBody Increased Their Revenue By 189%

upsells and annual subscriptions

4. Set a price

It’s easy to slap a price on your course and call it a day. But, as a strong believer in getting paid your worth, I say… why limit your earning potential? 

Knowing if you’re charging enough is important. But making sure your bottom line is healthy is also key. Creating an online course comes with all kinds of costs, depending on how you’re set up.

These include:

  • Content creation costs: Time spent writing scripts, recording videos, creating graphics, and other content used in your course.
  • Software and hosting costs: Any platform subscriptions or tools for content management and creation are also included. 
  • Marketing and advertising cost: This includes any expenses related to promoting your course, like social media ads, email marketing software, SEO, and content marketing.
  • Payment processing fees: Most payment platforms charge a fee per transaction.
  • Taxes and business fees: Depending on your location and business structure, you may pay for taxes, licensing fees, and other business-related expenses.

So, what’s the easiest way to price your course? 

Start by setting up an income goal. Then, use our online course pricing calculator below to determine a course price. 

You just need to input the following information:

  • Monetization model: Will you sell courses under a membership or one-off?
  • Revenue goal: What is your income goal for the course?
  • Audience size: What will be your audience size at launch? Subscribers on YouTube, email lists, and social media can all be included in this number.
  • Estimated conversion rate: What’s your average conversion rate? If you don’t have one yet, try between 1 and 3%.
  • Development costs: How much did you spend to make the course?
  • Payback period: How soon do you want to see a return on your investment? 
  • Average price of competitor courses: How much do people spend on similar courses?

Plug these numbers into the calculator and it’ll create a price course for you. 

💡PRO TIP: Offer potential customers the option to either sign up for a membership or buy courses one-off. It helps diversify your income and reach more people. You can cater to different learners who may not be ready to pay a monthly fee, but want to learn from you. 

Magic Stream, a brand that teaches online magic classes, sells both through its website. You can buy a one-off course for $9.00. Or, access the full library of courses for a monthly or yearly subscription.

Screenshot from the course membership run by Magic Stream, with options for a one-off payment, monthly subscription or yearly payment
Example of Magic Stream’s pricing structure

5. Improve the value of your course

At this point you’ve designed your course, the price is right, and you’re almost ready to launch! 

But, before you hit publish, consider some ways to improve the value of your course.

Create a community

Make a dedicated space where students can gather and connect. Surveys show that when members feel connected to a community, they are more likely to renew their membership. 

Members can create posts about their experiences and support each other. They may also discuss your course offerings, which you can use as feedback to grow your online course business

Community posts for an online course business.
Members in the BTRIBALFIT community always share motivational posts.

As a course creator, you can have meaningful conversations with students and answer questions. Engaging with students directly can improve loyalty and retention.

Offer personal interactions

Students want to interact with you when they can. Provide some level of interaction like Q&A sessions and live streams. This adds a personal touch to your course and can increase its value.

A screenshot shows how an online course or membership business can launch live events and communicate with their members.
Example of creator Aggie C. streaming through Uscreen

With Uscreen, you can also:

  • Create a pre-registration page that makes it easy for members to sign up. 
  • Engage your audience through live chat during a stream.
  • Collect donations at live events.

Make courses accessible

Ensure people can access your course on multiple devices like phones, tablets, and smart TVs. 

With an OTT platform like Uscreen, you can stream video courses across 7 major streaming services like Apple TV and Roku

You’ll get your own branded app to create professional, intuitive learning experiences for students anywhere in the world.

A screenshot of Uscreen's OTT platform solutions ranging from TV, Tablet, mobile apps and more.

Showcase student testimonials 

Displaying students who’ve benefited from your course can make it seem more valuable. Ask for success stories from past students and display them on your website and social media.

6. Upload your course content

Once you have created enough videos to start selling your tutorials, you’ll need to upload them to the course hosting platform of your choice.

If you’re using Uscreen…

We’ve designed the uploading process to be as quick and easy as possible. All you have to do is drag and drop the videos into the “Content” area of your Uscreen dashboard:

a screenshot of the Uscreen platform's content upload window

You can upload your tutorial videos quickly and securely from any browser, or you can sync with your Dropbox account to upload directly from there. (Here’s how!)

All of your videos are automatically optimized for both desktop and mobile device viewing. After all, 59% of website traffic comes from smartphones. You want to be prepared.

We do recommend compressing your videos and optimizing your file sizes. You can find the most current uploading guidelines in our Uscreen Help Center guide.

7. Organize your library

The next step is organizing your content. A well-designed content library creates a good viewing experience and gives your course a professional look. 

Here’s an example of how your courses can look…

Notice how yoga brand Humming Puppy organizes content by modules like “DYNAMIC HUM” and “MELLOW HUM”. 

An organized structure helps students find what they want to watch quickly and easily.

A screenshot of how online course's content library can be organized using Uscreen.

With Uscreen, you can organize your video content around 4 components:

  • Catalog: your full library of video tutorials, displayed by categories.
  • Categories: the individual topics you’ll cover.
  • Collections: groups of videos that address a specific pain point or skill.
  • Videos: the individual videos that make up your course.

How you choose to organize these will be down to the course you’re creating and your audience’s needs. 

8. Market and sell your online course

Your business needs students to thrive. To get customers, you need to market your online course

The goal here is to build relationships with potential students and encourage them to buy your course or sign up for a membership. 

Here are a few ways to market your online course:

  • Create a beautiful website. Your online course platform will have templates to design a professional website that makes sales. With Uscreen, you can customize your own website colors, images, fonts, and CTAs using a drag-and-drop website builder.
A screenshot of Fader Pro's online course website built with Uscreen.
FaderPro’s website built on Uscreen
  • Promote your course on social media. You likely already have a following on social media. Be vocal on YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, and wherever to promote your new course and drive traffic to your site. 
  • Create sales funnels. Build your email list and capture lead information through giveaway funnels. Give people a taste of your content by sending discounted offers for the first month of their subscriptions. 
  • Run refer a friend campaigns. Give fans a custom referral link they can share with friends and family. When the referee signs up and pays for their subscription, the referrer gets a month free.
  • Send abandoned cart emails. Encourage potential students to come back with a customized email. You can set up a three-part email automation sequence in Uscreen with a discount offer to incentivize the sale.
Three-part email automation sequence in Uscreen with a discount offer to incentivize the sale.
  • Offer a free trial. Let people try your membership website for a limited time. A free trial helps convince them your content is a good fit, and can improve course sales. 
Sqadia offers a 14-day free trial for new members.
  • Reduce churn. Find out why students cancel their membership. If people are canceling because it’s too expensive, you can offer a discount to stick around. You can set up a win-back email series in Uscreen to recover lost subscribers automatically.
A win-back email series in Uscreen to recover lost subscribers automatically.

9. Refine and improve your course

Re-evaluate your content regularly with a critical eye. Look for areas where you can improve your course. 

Maybe you need to simplify a complex topic, or add more interactive elements to improve understanding. 

Customer feedback is critical here. Use surveys, emails, or course reviews to collect feedback from your students. Then, make the necessary changes to your course. If you’re using Uscreen, you can easily update your course materials in the dashboard. 

Sell profitable online courses through Uscreen today

Selling courses as a membership builds meaningful connections between you and your fans. Building out a sucessful online course idea takes work, but if you can swing it, you can make a predictable and stable income.

With Uscreen, you get all the tools you need to create, design, and market your video courses online. No more chaos managing different platforms and systems. 

Ready to go? Start your free trial with Uscreen and make more money selling courses online. 

It’s simple with Uscreen.

Build, launch and manage your membership, all in one place.

Selling online courses FAQ

What is the best platform for selling courses online?

The best platform for selling courses online varies based on specific needs. Uscreen helps you sell memberships for your video course content, for example. While a platform like Coursera is best for academic courses. 

What are the pros and cons of selling courses online?

Pros of selling courses online include global reach, scalability, and generating consistent passive income. The cons include high competition, regular content updates, and technical skills to manage certain online platforms. 

What is the best way to sell online courses?

The best way to sell online courses is by establishing a strong personal or brand presence. You want to take advantage of different marketing strategies like SEO, email marketing, giveaway funnels, and social media marketing. 

What does it take to sell courses online?

To sell courses online, you need to have an in-depth understanding of a subject. You also need to create engaging and high-quality content and know how to use different online platforms. Marketing skills are also to promote your course and earn sales. 

Should I copyright or trademark my course?

Deciding whether to copyright or trademark your online course depends on what aspect of your course you’re aiming to protect. Copyright protects original works of authorship such as videos, written materials, and graphics, making it well-suited for the content of your course.

Trademarks, on the other hand, protect brand identifiers like names, logos, and slogans. If your focus is on safeguarding the course’s content and ensuring others cannot legally use or distribute it without permission, copyrighting is the appropriate choice. To protect the name, logo, or branding elements of your course to distinguish it from competitors, consider a trademark. For a more detailed exploration of copyright protection for your creator content and online course, check out our guide on Copyright Protection for Creators.