A learning management system isn’t just for training employees. It can also be used as an additional source of revenue for your business. This is even more important now as many companies lose money after mass COVID-19 shutdowns.
eLearning gives you a way to reach learners during times when they may not be able to leave their homes. It’s a digital product that you can sell all the time – even once social distancing restrictions are completely lifted.
Federal data found that 6.3 million students counted in the United States took at least one online course during the fall 2016 semester. That was a 5.6% increase from 2015. With coronavirus limitations, even more people are flooding the internet to look for a way to expand their skill set and pass the time in 2020.
The knowledge and resources you put into training courses can be repurposed as a sellable product for consumers. There’s a lot of competition out there, so building a strong course catalog and knowing how to structure your subscription or payment options is a must.
Most modern LMS platforms offer ecommerce tools that can make this process much easier.
You need a game plan to follow. Get started by trying these methods with your LMS to build your learner base and become a leading authority in your industry.
Keep It Simple with Up Front Course Fees
Many internet users prefer one-time fees over more complex billing systems. Try offering a course with a one-time cost. This is appealing because it’s simple and easy to understand. The buyer knows exactly how much they have to pay to get access to the material they want.
This also makes it easier to market additional courses to your users later. If they pay for a subscription, then they may be hesitant to give you more money. The perception will be that they are already paying you for access, so why should they have to pay more? With a one-time fee, you can set the expectation that there will be additional costs for access to more classes.
Many LMS platforms support integration with trusted payment gateways like Paypal. Using a well-known service will help convince potential learners to buy your online courses.
Offer Ongoing Subscription Courses
If your eLearning products include multiple lessons, then you may prefer a subscription setup. This gives learners the ability to access your content on an ongoing basis or to access new material released later. Some users like subscriptions because they can unsubscribe when they won’t or can’t use your courses and resubscribe when they are ready to start again.
For you, it means a stream of revenue coming in each month. It can also lead to a longer-term commitment if users decide to stick around and explore more of your course catalog or other services.
Excite Learners with Pre-Sale Courses
Pre-sales can work for eLearning just like they work for video games and movies. The pre-sell is a good way to start generating revenue before release and to build excitement among your user base.
For you, it’s a way to gauge whether users see value in what you are offering. It can eliminate the urge to keep investing time and resources to increase the scope of the course when you may already have something that’s worthwhile. Pre-orders help you stay motivated while finishing your next course.
Remember that, unless your course happens to go viral, you will need to work on building a subscriber base. This will give you an audience to share upcoming release news with and will increase the number of pre-sales you receive.
Use Free eLearning to Sell a Product
You can use eLearning to sell another product. Your courses can act as a funnel to pull in potential buyers and direct them to the item or service you want to sell. This can work for just about anything if you get creative with it.
For example, if you sell a product, you could offer a free “how-to” course to go along with it. This should be something that will show the customer how to get more value out of the item.
Alternatively, you could create a course related to a service you offer. This could share information and encourage the learner to schedule a consultation or appointment with you.
It’s important to note that even when offering a free course, your material should have substance. The learner should feel like they didn’t waste their time. If it feels too much like an empty advertisement with no useful benefits for the customer, it won’t help your sales numbers.
Many LMS platforms offer video, slideshow, and simulation features. Use these to round out the material when presenting hands-on instruction like how to build or make something with your product.
Make Your Courses Easy to Find
If your target demographic can’t find your courses, then you won’t make money. You need to get your classes in front of the right people. If you have an established website, you could host them there. This is a good way to reach the people who are truly interested in your products or service.
That’s a good start, but also keep in mind that several third-party eLearning platforms could provide another source of traffic. Websites like Udemy can help you get found, but there is a fee for doing so. Udemy uses a revenue share system, so you will need to price accordingly. In some cases, Udemy can take as much as 75% of revenue when it directs a learner to your course.
If you bring the customer, then you may receive up to 97% of the revenue. In that instance, it could work as a hosting service when you don’t have a website to support your courses. As long as you bring the traffic in, you’ll get the majority of the payout.
No matter which hosting service you use, make sure you are aware of the royalty and fee structure before you begin.
Build Courses with a Well-Defined Outcome
Courses with well-defined outcomes are appealing. The learner knows what they will get out of it if they successfully complete the class. This could be a specific skill, a certificate, or something useful that will further the learner’s skill set.
Try to build courses that include well-defined outcomes. Make sure those outcomes are shown in course descriptions and when marketing your material. You can make content that’s more open-ended, but it can help to have at least a few that fall into this category in your catalog.
Experiment to See What Your Audience Likes
You may be surprised at what people want to learn. If you have the expertise, then chances are there is someone out there that’s interested in gaining the same knowledge. Think about different aspects of your business. Are there things that employees might like to know going into a job role that you could turn into a class?
Consider the skills you have developed or those that your best workers developed. Are there any topics within those skill sets that could work as a course?
For example, you could create a class that teaches users how to master a software program. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your online courses, even if it seems like a small niche.
Start with a Free Course Then Charge for Certificates
Customers need to feel confident in your business before they will pay money for a product or service. One way to do this is to offer a free online course. You could provide a limited amount of content at no charge, and then offer continued content or certification for a fee.
This is how popular eLearning platform Coursera operates. Users can join and watch eLearning videos for free. However, if they want to earn a certificate, they have to pay.
This approach earned Coursera more than $1 million in their first year online. Today, they collaborate with over 200 leading companies and universities, including IBM, Google, Duke University, Stanford, and Imperial College London.
Add Value with Premium Access
Premium access lets you give users both the free and paid experience. Include free options like access to a beginner course or a limited part of your catalog. Other more advanced or higher-value courses can be labeled as premium content and made available for a fee.
You can also encourage subscriptions or purchases by offering lower introductory rates for courses. As long as your course offers a good value, the learner will be encouraged to pay for advanced content. The reduced cost can help attract interest while your course content does the rest.
You Need an eCommerce-Friendly LMS
These methods can help you make money selling online courses. If you want to be successful, you need to have a reliable system in place to serve as the backbone of your eLearning business. Check out LMS.org to read LMS reviews and learn more about ecommerce features and payment gateways.