Online course creators can often make six-figure income by selling online courses, that is not that rare.
But the exact income will of course depend on the subject matter of the courses, the courses length, the popularity of the topic, the quality of the course, and the ability to grow a significant audience that is interested in purchasing it.
Depending on all these factors, the revenue might range from some extra pocket money at the end of the month, to a full living salary that replaces your 9 to 5 income, to several times that (a six-figure business).
This is of course not easy, otherwise everyone would be doing it, and it takes a lot of dedication and hard work, but it's perfectly doable.
In general, being an online course creator can be a profitable career, if you know well your topic, know how to create content on it and know how to find your audience.
In fact, knowing your topic very well is the hardest part! Knowing any subject better than most people that are also interested in it is not easy at all.
But if you do, then creating online courses on that subject will come very naturally to you, and it's not hard to do at all, compared to the years of learning that takes to master the topic that you are teaching.
How can online course creators make revenue?
There are two fundamental ways to earn revenue as an online course creator, after your first course is ready:
- selling your courses on your own website
- publish your courses in platforms and earn royalties
Let's start with selling courses in your own website, because this is the way that gives you the highest customer lifetime value. The idea is to create not only one course, but a catalog of related courses in a given niche.
For example, imagine the web development niche - you can create courses in a series of related technologies, that many students are likely to be interested in at the same time.
From there, you can publish your course catalog on your own website, following a mix of a subscription-based model, coupled strategically with one-time sales.
To understand exactly how to do this, you can check How to sell online courses? A complete marketing strategy
In summary, selling courses in your own website is crucial to build your brand, get the student's email and build a long-lasting relationship. On your website you will have the possibility of doing higher ticket sales, such as for example:
- course bundles, that can easily go for $89 or more
- discounts for yearly subscriptions at events like Black Friday or New Year, that can go for $99 or more
- lifetime access sales, that can go for $399 or more
- Company or team sales if applicable, can be in the range of thousands of dollars
All of these higher-ticket sales add up to your total revenue. Sure they will be less frequent than normal sales, but they sure add up over time, plus the subscription-based model is a great way of generating predictable revenue.
What about marketplace platforms?
Besides selling courses on your own website, I recommend that you also upload them to marketplaces platforms and generate passive income from there under the form of royalties.
Since you have the course ready, it would be a mistake to not leverage the possibility of making extra income from it, other then the one that you produce in your own website.
Unless your course is massive success on the marketplace, the reality is that royalties are typically less than what you can make on your own website, depending on the amount of traffic that you can get there compared to the traffic on the platform for that topic.
In general, if you want to make significant royalties in a platform, you will have to grow an audience and send traffic to your marketplaces courses.
So you will always have to build an audience to be successful at online teaching, no matter where you host your courses.
But if you send the traffic to your website instead, you stand a chance to make a lot more out of that traffic, due to the higher customer lifetime value that results from subscriptions and higher-ticket sales.
Also, on your website there are far less distractions than on a marketplace platform, where your students can be sent to other courses via email and the platform suggested courses feature.
It's just like when you are shopping on Amazon, and you start clicking on the suggested articles section. Ten pages into that rabbit hole, and the ods that you circle around to the first product that brought you there are low.
What is the best way to make a living teaching online?
I recommend a mixed model of self-hosting and marketplace royalties. Make sure to not miss out on platform royalties, but if you are building an audience, you might as well build it for your own website directly.
This mixed model is, in my opinion, by far the best chance that you have for making a living long-term, and making it all sustainable.
This way, you will be able to keep producing courses over time that you can continue to publish on multiple places.
To learn in much more detail about the differences between self-hosting vs marketplaces, I recommend reading Online course self-hosting vs marketplaces: pros and cons
Looking to become an online course creator?
If you are looking to learn how to become an online course creator, you can find everything that you need to know in our series of guides here at the Course Creator Academy - How to become an online instructor (start here).
If you want to ask other questions and interact with other like-minded creators, you can join us in our community, where either other instructors or our support team will get back to you.
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