online course business

There has been no better time to build an online income stream and turn it into a thriving full-fledged business. One kind of online business that has been growing in demand is an online course business.

By 2026, the worldwide market for online courses, training, and education will be worth over $450 billion. Even after that, the chances of this growth slowing down are very slim. Millions of people purchase online courses every day, whether it’s for help in their studies, job, or business. People really want to upgrade their skills and knowledge to open doors to better job and business opportunities.

Due to rising demand, many entrepreneurs and subject matter experts have begun to create various digital courses and sell them on different platforms to share their knowledge. Thousands of users join the online course platforms to sell their courses and make money.

Among those running an online course business are well-established organizations, individual freelancers, employed workers doing this in their free time, aspiring entrepreneurs, and even students.

Landing page of GDC Consulting describing the online coaching they provide

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

Starting an online course business is viewed as a viable way to build an additional revenue source. It is seen by many as a means to earn passive income, because selling online courses does not require you to work on the courses on a daily basis. All you need to do is build a mechanism to run your online course business, and then create every course that you sell just once. Unless you need to upgrade your courses from time to time, you don’t have much work to do on your past courses. But you do keep getting revenue from them if people keep buying them over a long time.

Many organizations and individuals even create free online courses. This is done to provide training to an organization's internal staff to establish his authority as an expert in his field and penetrate the market. Most people who sell online courses do so as their primary source of income. They build it up as their primary business model, and sustain it as their main source of revenue.

In recent years, many freelancers and organizations have been able to build a successful online course business. Others are also in their struggling phase to utilize their expertise to create and sell online courses.

Landing page of Connected Women stating its unique selling proposition

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

If you are interested to know how to start an online course business, read this post until the end. We will be going through the steps you need to take to do that.

Whether you operate in the real estate industry or financial services, you would observe that most of the industry income is generated by the minority of the people operating in the sector. The same applies to the online course business industry. Creating an online course is not the only thing you need to do in starting an online course business. It is just one of the steps in the process.

Steps in Building an Online Course Business

Let’s discuss the steps you need to take for starting an online course business.

1. Decide What to Teach

The first step is that you need to identify your area of expertise and interest. Look into yourself and figure out what you are best at. What are your specialized skills? Which industry do you have the most exposure and experience in? What are you passionate about? What would you like to teach? What kind of topics interest you the most?

Combine your personal and professional life experiences, and list down all the topics that come into your mind that you think you are knowledgeable about. Keep brainstorming and create a long list. Then filter out to keep only those that interest you the most. You may take a few days to narrow down to a specific niche or course topic, and that’s okay.

A website built on Strikingly selling online courses on mindset shifts and stress management

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

2. Prepare a Business Plan

Once you have decided what to teach, you need to develop an online course business plan. A business plan is essential because it will help you lay out all the possibilities, opportunities, risks, and budget requirements. You might want to include your estimated sales forecasted for the first year of starting your online course business.

3. Identify a Specific Niche

Creating and selling online courses for just anybody and everybody doesn’t cut it. You need to be specific. You need to think and decide clearly who you will be targeting. Some newbie online course creators do not identify their specific target niche and assume that their course will appeal to everybody. That’s a mistake and should be avoided. If you think like this, your course will actually appeal to nobody.

For example, if you are a yoga expert and want to teach yoga to others, you can narrow down your audience to women who practice yoga to get back in shape after a pregnancy.

A website built on Strikingly selling fitness coaching services

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

4. Validate the Market Demand

The next step is to validate the demand for your selected topic in your selected niche. The last thing you want as a course creator is to spend days and weeks, or even months, creating an online course, just to find out that nobody wants to enroll in it after its launch.

For validating the demand, you can conduct a competitor analysis. Research your competition and find out about the people or companies selling online courses on topics close to yours. If others are competing for the same topics, it means demand is there. Then ask your audience if they want to buy a course on that topic from you. This is part of your market research and is critical before starting your online course business.

5. Create the Online Course

This step is to actually create the course. If this is the first time you are building an online course, you would need to learn the basic structure of a typical digital course. Split it up into different modules, include quizzes, and add videos to explain concepts. Make sure you create high-quality content that people feel is worth buying.

Once your actual course is ready, you might want to create a course trailer too. The trailer will play a role in promoting your course and highlighting its key features. It will identify the problem and tease the solution that your audience is looking for. It will be available for people to watch before they buy and enroll in your course.

This is the main step of starting and running your online course business.

6. Promote Your Courses

There are various ways to build an audience and promote your digital course. You can use one or more of these.

Social Media Marketing

This means you make posts describing your course and provide links to it on various social media sites.

Content Marketing

This means you write articles to promote your course and publish them on your own blog or as guest posts on other people’s blogs.

Publicity and PR

This refers to getting in front of your existing audiences and speaking about your course. The current audience could be your email list, your social media followers, or your blog readers.

These were the steps that could help you build a successful online course business. You can then run this business third-party e-learning platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, Thinkific, or build a website where you can sell online courses directly. Developing your own website could be a simple process if you use a competent website-building platform to do so.

Use a Strikingly Website to Promote Your Online Course Business

Strikingly is a website builder that allows you to create a complete website in just a few hours. We allow you to add different sections to your site, including a Simple Store. Through this Simple Store, you can actually sell your online courses and collect payments from the students.

Screenshot of Strikingly editor showing how to add a store section

Image taken from Strikingly

You can use the powerful Membership feature in our Pro Plan to sell online courses. This feature will allow you to restrict access to your course page to only those who buy certain membership items from your site. These will be your course students.

This means you put up your online course for sale on your website, and then build a page on the site that’s only visible to those who buy that particular course.

To do this, activate multi-pages on your website. Go to ‘Settings’ and then ‘Membership’. Click ‘Manage Members-only pages’.

Showing how to activate members-only pages on a Strikingly website

Image taken from Strikingly

You can then add pages to upload your courses, and set each page to ‘Set as members-only’.

Your courses will be added as products.

Showing how to add products/courses in the Simple Store on a Strikingly website

Image taken from Strikingly

Since online courses are digital products and do not need to be shipped, make sure you check off the shipping options in your store.

Showing the shipping options in the Strikingly editor

Image taken from Strikingly

Once you have added your online courses as products, activate the membership feature on your website, which will enable your users to register for an account on your website.

Showing how to activate membership on a Strikingly website

Image taken from Strikingly

This year and the next are a great times to establish your online course business. When you sell online courses through your website, you will have complete control over your customer data, any changes you want to make to the course content, payments, and website analytics. It’s a great feeling to be the owner of your own business, and we at Strikingly love to see our users achieve that kind of financial freedom.