“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”
💎 Why It Matters
Creators can stop trading time for money by helping students land their first software development jobs, get raises, launch businesses and more.
There’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be.
Online courses are bridges that help you fill these gaps.
You can find your way via trial and error.
Or learn from someone who’s done it before.
- Khan Academy • Free online classes for high-school students.
- Coursera • Courses, certificates and degrees from universities and companies.
- Egghead • Tutorials for intermediate and advanced developers.
- Masterclass • Edutainment from influential instructors.
- Maven • Platform for cohort-based courses.
- Udemy • Marketplace for self-paced courses.
- Lynda • Self-paced courses on software development, design, photography and more.
- General Assembly • Coding, data and design training programs.
- Podia • Sell courses, webinars, memberships and other digital products.
- Teachable • Offer online courses and coaching services.
- Kajabi • Host courses, communities, coaching services and more.
- Thinkific • Create online courses and membership sites.
- Gumroad • Sell digital products.
- Produced Services OS • Learn to build a productized service.
- The No-Code Beginner’s Course • Learn the fundamentals of no-code.
- Product Buffs • 5 weeks of hands-on product discovery coaching.
- Superpath • Courses and a community for content marketers.
- SQL for Humans • SQL lessons for developers.
- Notion Mastery • Use Notion in your life and business.
- OKO U • Training for “budtenders.”
- Find Your Niche • Find creator-market fit.
- Consulting Club • Learn to build a lucrative consulting practice.
- Freedom Business • Learn to build a sellable business as a solopreneur.
- Podcast Like The Pros • Learn to produce high-quality podcasts.
- More platforms will sponsor influential educators. Pat Flynn did a webinar for Copy.ai. Notion pays Ali Abdaal. Influencers give platforms documentation and distribution.
- We’ll see more “edutainers.” Famous teachers have always understood the power of storytelling. See Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman and Neil Degrasse Tyson. Barriers are falling. The best are rising to the top. There are new form factors like TikTok tutorials.
- There will be more interactive, adaptive platforms like Duolingo. They scale personalized, gamified, self-paced education with low marginal costs.
- Do it live the first time. Build fast feedback loops by consulting before making courses. Build the curriculum from questions, real-world struggles and feedback. Tyler Gillespie built a few productized services, mentored founders and now he’s building a course.
- Presell to reduce market risk. Marie Poulin used presales to get early feedback on the beta version of her course. Trust wallets over words.
- Base your course on an outcome. Use capstone projects. This is a forcing function to make sure your content is actionable. Launch MBA is based on the 12 startups in 12 months concept. Each project serves as social proof.
- Combine courses and communities. Get benefits of cohorts (accountability, peer-to-peer learning) at scale without high marginal costs. See all-in-one platforms like Kajabi.
- Build a value ladder. Help people at different stages and diversify revenue. Flavio does this with his blog (free), books ($), courses ($$) and bootcamps ($$$).
- Version your course. Paula Pant earned over $1 million from a “beta” course. She’s done multiple versions. Use new versions as launch events.
🔑 Key Lessons
- These are fragmented, micro-monopolies. There are many options and many winners. Course creators have pricing power. Feature parity applies to SaaS not pros.
- Markets are taking over. Colleges can’t keep up with talent needs. Companies like Salesfofce and Google take it upon themselves to train employees.
- Consider tradeoffs:
- Cohort-based courses are high-fidelity, boost accountability and have higher completion rates than self-paced courses. But students are kept at the same pace. Like classrooms.
- Self-paced courses let you move fast or slow. They are more financially accessible than cohort-based courses. But completion rates are lower. Communities can ebb some of these downsides.
- Interactive platforms adapt to you. They have high engagement and low marginal costs. You may need one-on-one support to fill in gaps.
“I don’t know enough to teach a course.”
What do you wish you knew 3 years ago? Teach that. You may be better than an expert because you don’t suffer from the expert’s curse. Or teach as you learn. This is what Tim Ferriss, Shane Parrish and I am doing.
“Most people don’t finish courses.”
The same goes for books and other form factors. Cohorts and interactive, adaptive platforms can help with this.
“Education should be free.”
It is. Get after it. Quality and cost aren’t always correlated. You’ll still have to pay attention.
“Course revenue is spiky.”
This applies to most digital products. There are ways around it: memberships, value ladders and evergreen funnels. Or embrace the spikiness with open and closed enrollment.
“Courses are just money grabs.”
You can find bad intentions in any market. How to avoid it? Time is smarter than we are. Be a late adopter and let the chicken come home to roost. How does this person’s reputation perform over time? Or look for reviews in unmoderated environments.
📁 Related Reports
- Presales • Reduce market risk. Trust wallets over words.
- Audience-First Products • Provide value for free. Build an audience.
- Paid Communities • Combine courses with communities for accountability and peer-to-peer learning.
- Personal Brands • Most courses are built around personal brands.
- Million-Dollar, One-Person Businesses • New tools lead to specialization, abstraction and smaller firms. Course creators can focus on core competencies.
- Digital Products • Courses are a type of digital product.
- Productized Services • Cohort-based courses are a type of productized service.
- Gamification • Interactive, adaptive platforms use gamification to engage and teach.
- Virtual Events • Cohort-based courses have live elements. Some self-paced courses have office hours and AMAs.
- Marketing Funnels • Build “side doors” for consistent sales.
- Lead Generation • Close high-ticket sales like cohort-based courses.
- Internet Challenges • See the power of challenges and capstone projects.
- Referral Programs • Learn to start and manage affiliate programs.
- Remote Fitness • See companies offering online classes with hardware devices.
- Who has a course? • The tweet behind this report.
- Create Your Online Course Template • A step-by-step process for creating courses.
- Interactive Course Platforms • A tweetstorm on new platforms.
Thanks to Miles Beckler (MilesBeckler.com), Tyler Gillespie (Productized.Services), Monika Birkner (Freedom Business), Farhaj Mayan (OKO), Jimmy Daly (Superpath), Max Haining (100DaysOfNoCode), Emmanuel Vivier (HUB Institute), Marie Poulin (Notion Mastery), Rob Hardy (Ungated), Sam Julien (SamJulien.com), Kimsia Sim (DjangoGreen.com), Jeremy Abraham (Spiffy), Vishal Srivastava (Trainedge), Ben Barbersmith (SQL for Humans), Rick Segal (CRAAG Angel Group), Guillaume Tessier (Ghost Posters), Craig Watson (Product Buffs), Emmanuel Simon (Idea Garden), Utkarsh Bhimte (Noggin). We had a great time jamming on this report.
📈 What else?
Trends PRO #0061 — Online Courses has more insights.
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- 24 Related Reports (📈 Trends Pro Exclusive)
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