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I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!

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How Much Money Can You Make Selling Online Courses

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Online courses and money – if you’re in the online or digital marketing world you may have wondered if it’s truly possible to make money from an online course. Today I’m breaking down how much money course creators earn, the different income levels, and the results you can expect to see when you launch an online course. 

Setting Expectations

Before we get into the money talk, I want to be clear that there is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all income for online courses. Online courses are like the field of dreams, just because you build it, doesn’t mean people will come. Course creators make all different types of income. I’ve worked with clients who earn millions of dollars a year from their online course (yes it’s absolutely possible) and I’ve also worked with lots of clients who make a couple thousand dollars a year from their course.

Income varies and typically grows over time. The longer you’ve had your course, the more likely it is to make more money. Audience size, your marketing budget, running ads and so many other factors play into your income.

The Four Income Levels of Course Creators

1.  Smaller Course Creator – $5,000 to $10,000 a year

Typically this course creator still has a lot of one-to-one services in their business. They might have recently launched a course or have a smaller audience.

This level is where most people start out! You might even make less when you first launch your course. The good thing about this level is that you’re starting somewhere and it gives you room to grow!

Plus the beautiful thing about online courses is that when you stick with them they grow over time and compound so the first year you run your course you might have 5 people join and then the second year 15 and the third year 30. The growth usually happens exponentially and picks up the longer you have your course.

2. Middle of the Road – $30,000 to $100,000 a year

Course creators at this level typically have been in business for several years and have been running their course for years. They have brand recognition and a decent-sized audience that they can launch to regularly.

It’s also common at this level that your expenses are going to start growing. You probably won’t be able to fully sustain your course yourself and might need to consider hiring a team to help you manage marketing your course, engaging with students or updating lessons inside of the course. 

 3. Major Money – $100,000+

This third level of income is where you’re making some major, major money. Typically course creators at this level have been in business for over five years and they have a large audience on their email list and social media.

At this level, you’re also probably running ads for your course and having very high-level launches that involve lots of moving parts and pieces.

4. Making No Money – $0

Sometimes people launch a course and they don’t make any money. It happens and there is no guarantee that launching a course is going to be profitable instantly. For most people, it’s something that grows over time and the first launch might only have a few people who join.

That’s ok though because there are so many things you can do to increase the profitability of your course. It’s also really important to note that sometimes people at this level are actually making money from their course, but they end up spending so much money that they don’t get to keep any of the money they earn.

Reasons Course Creators Don’t Make Any Money with Their Course

  • Spending too much money on advertising
  • Overspending on team or contractors to help support you with your course 
  • Constantly changing your mind and changing different elements of your launch, changing the name of your course or constantly editing what is inside of the course – this confuses people and they become unsure of exactly what it is that they are buying
  • Not talking about your course! Sometimes people have a course and they forget to tell people it exists. Make sure you’re regularly sharing about your course
  • Not testing your technology regularly and double-checking that there isn’t a broken link or checkout page somewhere

While there is no guarantee of how much money you can make from your online course, there are some really simple ways you can increase the profitability of your course.

How to Earn More Money with Your Online Course

1. Check your software costs

Software is expensive and if you can find a cheaper alternative you can easily take home more money from your course. If you’re not sure which software to use you can take my free quiz to help you determine the perfect online course software for your business.

2. Raise the price

Changing the price of your course isn’t always the answer, but it might be! It’s often easier to add value to your course and sell less of them at a higher price than more at a lower price. There are a lot of factors that go into pricing so before you raise the price make sure the value of your course matches what you’re charging.

3. Don’t give into “shiny object” syndrome

When you want to make a major change to your course like the title, the lesson structure or the overall promise of the course give yourself a couple of months to test how things currently are before you make the change. A lot of course creators (especially brand new ones) fall into the trap of constantly changing things about their course and it starts to confuse their audience.

4. Focus on how your course helps other people

Your course should solve a specific problem for people. Vague online courses make it hard for people to know exactly what they are getting when they purchase. Work on refining the promise of your course and making sure you deliver on that promise.

5. Make sure you’re dedicating time to growing your email list and audience

You need a way for new people to find you! Create new email opt-ins, collaborate with other business owners, speak on podcasts, etc… You can’t constantly launch to the same people over and over again and expect that your course will grow. Sometimes you have to go out and find the people who are the right fit for your course.

Final Summary: How Much Money Can You Earn with an Online Course

You can make $10 from your online course, you can make $10,000, $100,000 or even a million dollars – there’s no limit but there’s also no one secret formula. If you haven’t launched a course yet and you’re worried about if you can ever make money the only way you’ll ever know is to get started.

Take the leap and give your business another income stream.

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