How to Develop a Profitable Online Course on a Learning Platform

Illustration of a online learning concept with a laptop and people sitting around
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Creating an online course has been a lucrative endeavour for many years.

Developing a valuable commodity, marketing it to the right audience, and optimizing conversions is a process that has allowed both new and experienced online business owners to flourish.

For all the success stories, though, many others have struggled to make sales. Online course creation can be a tough industry, with low barriers to entry encouraging course creators.

There is, however, alternatives to promoting a course directly from your website.

There are numerous learning and teaching platforms that sell courses across a broad range of subjects.

While you still need to market your product, these marketplaces have a large existing audience of interested learners.

Creating a quality course that appeals to the audience can lead to a consistent flow of easy sales, with a snowball effect taking place as positive reviews come in.

So how do you develop successful online courses?


Research a Topic

Ideally, you are already knowledgeable about a specific subject.

Look through the categories and find the closest topic to your expertise. You may not have any specialist knowledge, though, or have an interest in subjects that don’t get much attention.

Marketplaces usually list favourite topics within each category and show the most popular courses.

This information can be used to highlight items that are selling, with the potential to provide a different spin on an existing bestseller.

Depending on your budget, you can either research the chosen topic yourself or outsource the work.


Start Creating the Course

There is no definitive way to create a product, with course length and shooting style varying.

It can be a good idea to break up the format, though, including direct-to-camera segments, PowerPoint presentations, and screencasts all within a single course.

Person sitting by the table while a camera records him

You also have the option to include a quiz at the end of a section, ensuring students have understood the lessons.

While you might choose to outsource some of the research, make sure you check the information meets a high standard. Quality audio is essential, so invest in a good microphone.


Build a List

Building a list is a good idea for any online business, but it works particularly well for an online course.

You get to introduce your subscribers to some of your thoughts, before offering a complete course that goes into more depth.

You can start to build a list using a blog, publishing quality content and then promoting a newsletter. If you don’t have much time, however, then Facebook ads can offer some quick results at a manageable cost.


Set Up Your Instructor Page

Students don’t base their purchases on the product details alone; they also consider the information about the instructors.

Illustration of a table with a paper on it with the words "my story"

Spend time crafting an enticing instructor page, including a profile picture, a biography related to your expertise, and even some details about your personal life.

You also should link to your social media profiles, making it easier to grow your status as an expert.


Add the Course to the Marketplace

Online learning platforms have been constructed to make learning accessible and straightforward.

Rather than merely adding videos to your course, you can build a path that encourages learning and ensures the information is absorbed.

Split the class into different sections, separating videos into relevant areas.

Adding a quiz, exercise, or assignment at the end of each part will help students to retain the information they have learned.

There will inevitably be some recurring questions, so insert additional videos where required and update the Q&A section.


Popular Learning platforms


Screenshot of Udemy front page

Udemy is entirely free to use and has one of the most massive userbases of all the marketplaces out there.

With more than 12 million students it could be a goldmine if you create a high-quality course.


Screenshot of Teachable front page

Also completely free to use for instructors.

The userbase, however, is a lot smaller than Udemy (about 3 million students).


Screenshot of Thinkific front page

Thinkific lets you customize your design and grow your brand with little to no technical knowledge.

It is a big marketplace with over 25,000 course creators and millions of students worldwide.


Market the Course

There are many new courses added to learning platforms all the time, and as with most marketplaces, you’ll need some initial interest in your offering and some reviews to get the ball rolling.

You can leverage the list you built and gain some early sales among subscribers already warmed up to the idea of making a purchase.

A following on social media can also be useful. If you don’t have a list or social media following, you may need to invest in targeted ads to gain interest.

If you can ensure you break even from your ad campaign, paid advertising is one of the best ways to make consistent sales.


Online learning platforms is a good entry point for course creators looking to find an audience.

These platforms, already well established, has an existing audience and the mechanisms required to secure sales.

You may decide to eventually move on and take payments directly through a payment processor of your own. However, marketplaces make it easy to create and distribute a high-quality course, thereby letting you build a reputation as an expert in your field.