Online Courses: Superstar Instructors, $140k Before Launching, Distribution

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🔍 Problem

Live lessons from world-class instructors are expensive.

💡 Solution

Online courses offer a similar learning experience for less.

Some courses add personalized feedback, community and certifications.

🏁 Players

Online Courses

Niche Platforms

General Platforms

🔮 Predictions

  • More courses will have cohorts, office hours and online events. Piracy is a problem. But these elements cannot be copied. See Makerpad memberships and Write of Passage cohorts.
  • Instructors will experience the superstar effect. The best will receive asymmetric rewards. Superstars will emerge in coding, writing, design and more. This already happened in China.
  • More companies will pay instructors to promote products. This is advanced content marketing. Kiley Bennett was against Skillshare’s revenue share model until a company paid her upfront to teach, using their product.

☁️ Opportunities

  • Start small.
    • Tweet, blog, hold a live workshop, write a book and make a course.
    • Each level validates your idea and builds a following.
    • Feedback from live workshops help you test your content and format. Find issues before you immortalize them in a book or course.
    • Make a mini-course before you make a signature course.
  • Have a clear goal linked to your course. Students should finish with a podcast, app, meal, painting, rental property, newsletter, job, affiliate marketing site, audience, Etsy shop or an online course.
  • Validate the course before you make it. Presell and let early students give feedback. Paula Pant had $140,000 in presales before she launched.
  • Add live elements to your course. Including cohorts, online events and office hours. These benefits can’t be pirated. Platforms such as Coursera allow free members to pay for graded assignments and certificates.
  • Offer certificates. These add value and cost you little. You’re impressed when you see Harvard, YC Alum and ex-Google. Signals carry weight. Offer something similar. See LinkedIn Learning Certificates, Udacity Nanodegrees, CXL Minidegrees and edX MicroBachelors programs.
  • Build courses for the same audience and leverage existing relationships. This lowers customer acquisition costs and boosts customer lifetime value. You can profitably outbid others in paid channels such as Reddit, Facebook and Google.
  • Provide value and grow your audience today. Building an audience allows you to use a platform like Podia. You’ll pay a flat monthly fee and keep the proceeds from your course. Udemy helps students find you but you earn 25% of the purchase price. A price that you might not control. And Skillshare may pay you less than that. That’s the price of distribution. So make your own.

😠 Haters

“What about free online courses?”
These exist. But not here. This report is for paid online courses. Platforms such as Class Central and Khan Academy are great free options.

🔗 Links

  1. Blogger Earns $140,000 from Beta Phase of Online Course — Find out how Paula Pant made $140k before launching her course. Her early students helped improve content for the launch.
  2. How to Make $2.5MM as a Solo Founder by Teaching What You Love with Adam Wathan — Find out how Adam Wathan made $100,000 in one day from a course for developers. And how he made $1,000,000 in one month by partnering with Steve Schoger on Refactoring UI. The duo delivered free resources for years before they launched.
  3. Launching an Online CourseNicholas Scalice interviewed Janelle Allen. She talked about why it’s important to validate before you build, how to launch and more.
  4. Tiago Forte — Organize Your Learning for Better Productivity — This time Janelle Allen did the interviewing. Tiago Forte shared how he got started, why his second course failed after the first succeeded and what he learned.
  5. The Economics of Teaching in an Online Learning Marketplace — This is a great overview of 7 platforms and when it makes sense to use each.
  6. Escaping the 9-to-5 Grind to Create a $3 Million Business with Joel Hooks of egghead.ioCourtland Allen interviewed Joel Hooks. Joel talked about how got started, what he’s learned so far and how to build a sustainable company.
  7. Income From Online CoursesDr. Mo offered ideas for nomad physicians to make money with online courses.
  8. Building an Online Course From Start to FinishPat Flynn earned $1 million from courses in 2017. He shared tips on how to get over the fear of selling, how to outline course content and a lot more.