E-learning is in high demand right now. If you are an entrepreneur who designs online courses, this is your time to shine.
The only issue is, there are many like you on the market, and with all the hard work and time that goes into building and promoting quality online learning material, target revenues are not that easily met. Not to mention that the current health crisis that has taken a toll on many of your prospects’ finances.
The situation is somewhat paradoxical so what you need in order to be successful is to be tuned in to customer demands, be flexible and find just the right way to set up shop and present your ‘merchandise’ in today’s highly dynamic online market.
Setting up your e-learning online shop
I’ll go through four different versions of presenting your e-learning business online, beginning with a model suited for when you are just starting up and ending with a complex one for when you have several courses and feel you can expand further.
Make free courses available to potential clients
The key to all marketing efforts is to have a solid list to direct those endeavors at. One of the best ways to get the necessary information about the individuals who might be interested in what you are offering is to ask for it in return for something that has value. Giving away whitepapers, resource guides, and featuring powerful calls to action on your site is important.
And a free online course is a super effective way to get really good leads while building trust with your audience. By posting your course for free you not only establish credibility with your potential customers but also demonstrate the value of your products.
It’s also an awesome way to improve your SEO as links from social media and other websites to your free online materials will improve your standing in Google results.
It will also greatly help with prototyping as you’ll get a better view of what your audience is interested in and what learning styles are predominant among them.
Offer online courses on demand
This is a simple, straight forward setup. You make your materials available for learners to purchase and access them at their own leisure. It can be a more extensive online course or a series of modules (much preferred by today’s digital native audience) and your effort once the products are launched goes solely toward the promotion and the eventual customer service issues.
This manner of doing business has several advantages. First of all, you don’t have to invest more time and effort in personalizing learning experiences for your customers – they simply pick out what is of interest to them and complete the course when they are ready to do so.
You’ll also get precious feedback on your work and see how well it does on the market. You will see what is most appealing to the target audience and what is not in great demand at that time. This will help you map out your next entrepreneurial steps.
Read more: How to get feedback for your online course
Add yourself to the offer
This is another way to go. Apart from making available your already built learning modules, you can include some personal sessions in which you provide feedback and coaching to the learners. This format is especially useful if you happen to be a coach or consultant providing customer services to your existing customers.
The trick is to figure out what works best for you – offering one on one coaching sessions that you charge more for (but will bring on fewer clients) or opting for group coaching sessions at lower premiums (thus having the chance to take on more customers). Before choosing this frame, it’s best to poll your network and see if there is enough perceived value in such an approach.
The benefits for you are clear: you can grow your business by adding the consultant component, you get first-hand feedback by personally interacting with the learners and you can offer greater customization (at a bigger price, of course).
Build a membership site
Building a membership site works when your topics are of great interest and learners are asking for more than what’s already in your courses. With a membership site, people pay a monthly or annual fee for access to all the educational content you produce and post.
While this means a lot more (and necessarily consistent) creative input for you, it’s also a great way to create a continuous and predictable revenue stream for your business.
Besides this financial perk, this setup allows you to truly build a community around your courses and this will eventually work towards establishing you as an authority in the field. This is always a plus for potential customers who are undecided about closing a deal.
What’s also great about this model is that it allows you to diversify your portfolio and try your hand at workshops, podcasts, professional interviews, coaching sessions, and numerous other learning formats.
Online courses are no longer the future but the present of learning. With digital natives growing into adulthood, the demand for quality e-knowledge will only grow so it’s a great time to develop your e-learning business. With good market insights and tips (as featured on this blog) and your personal creativity, success is guaranteed.
Raluca Cristescu has over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.