Online courses are a natural fit for creators. When you have a lot of knowledge and first-hand experiences to share, creating an online course is a natural fit.
But before you venture into the online learning industry, it’s important to determine the costs involved in creating and selling online courses.
Everything from course development to marketing costs to any additional costs can add up if you aren’t aware of your options — not to mention the most important cost of all: your time.
Let’s break down all the costs of creating and selling online courses so you’re prepared as you enter the world of course creation.
Online Course Development Costs
The first budget consideration is the actual costs that go into developing your course content. Let’s go over everything involved in the course development process.
Course and lesson development
The reason you’re creating an online course is that you’re a subject matter expert. You have experience and insights that have changed your life or business and you want to share them with others.
This means that you already have all of the online course content in your brain — you just need to figure out how to transform that information into digestible learning material.
You can certainly create course outlines and lesson plans on your own, even without any educational training. You can also use free AI tools like Kajabi’s AI Creator Hub to generate complete course outlines, modules, and lessons.
But depending on how complex your online course is, you might consider hiring an instructional designer to take your course curriculum to the next level.
Instructional designers are trained to develop educational programs and modules — everything from building full courses to redesigning lesson plans to creating training manuals.
If this is something you want to do to level up the learning experience, then budget for an instructional designer in your online course costs.
According to Salary.com, the average salary for an instructional designer is $38 per hour.
If you want to go this route, figure out your course length and how much time you estimate it will take an instructional designer to complete the course materials. An instructional designer should be able to provide an accurate price based on their hourly rate and the project’s estimated hours.
It’s helpful to have an accurate estimate in mind before hiring someone so you’ll know whether or not you have the budget or if you’ll need to develop the curriculum yourself.
Once you have an outline of your online course, including a breakdown of each module and the lesson plans that fall under them, you can start developing the actual content that goes into each lesson.
Think about what type of format your audience would benefit from as well as what will communicate your content best.
To keep students engaged, online courses should include a mix of various formats including:
Each of these can be as costly or as budget-friendly as you need them to be. Several AI content creation tools can help you throughout the course creation process if you want to cut down on the time it takes to create. AI tools can help develop everything from copy to graphics, even online course videos.
Online course equipment
The next step when creating online courses is to invest in the right equipment. If you’re creating your first online course, you’ll only need to invest in these tools one time, making them a one-time cost.
If you want to create the content for your online course yourself, here’s the essential equipment you need to add to your tech stack:
- Webcam: If you’re recording videos of yourself talking, you need to invest in a webcam for your video content. Find one that you can set up on your monitor and position on your face. High-quality streaming webcams cost about $99 and up.
- Microphone: Crystal clear audio is essential if you’re teaching an online course. Invest in a high-quality USB microphone like a Blue Yeti. These can cost anywhere from $90 to $130.
- Video camera: While phone camera quality has significantly improved, it’s a good idea to level up your recording set-up with a professional video camera. This is also helpful if you plan to record your online course content away from your computer or desk. Look for one with 1080p video capture resolution and a glass lens.
- Video editing software: Recording is only half of the process — you also need to invest in a professional video editing tool to deliver your online course materials. Popular video editor tools include Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro if you’re a Mac user.
- Screen recording tool: If your online course includes explainer videos that require screen sharing, you’ll also need screen recording software like Loom. Loom is free to use if you’re just getting started.
- Lighting: Natural lighting is great, but that’s not always an option. To create your own light and reduce any shadows in your videos, upgrade your lighting. Start with a ring light that’s big enough to light up your face from every angle.
Online course platform
Naturally, you’ll need an online course platform to host your course. The best online course creation platforms are not just hosts for your content, but can also help with other parts of the process such as creating, marketing, and distributing your content.
Take an all-in-one course creation platform like Kajabi, for example. Not only can Kajabi help generate course outlines and lesson plans, but the platform also makes it easy to market your course and manage students.
When you use a platform designed for online course creation, you don’t have to worry about piecing together all of the elements like finding a hosting provider, selling your course, and managing payments.
Online Course Marketing Costs
You invested time and money to create your online course — now you need to let the world know about it.
Here are the costs to consider when it comes time to market and sell online courses.
Email marketing is essential to reaching your prospective students directly. If you already have an email list, you can let subscribers know about your new online course once it’s ready. You can even tease it before you launch it to generate buzz and increase pre-sign-ups.
If you don’t already have an email list, then you’ll need to get an email marketing tool and factor that into your total cost.
Several email marketing platforms are free to use if you’re just getting started. Mailchimp, for example, is free until you reach 500 subscribers.
While some of these tools may be free, it comes at a cost. For starters, you’re limited in the number of people you can reach. But you’ll also run into challenges when it comes to promoting your course.
The best solution is to use an all-in-one platform with email marketing built in. With Kajabi, for instance, you can create your online course and automatically set up email marketing to promote it within the same workflow. This saves loads of time and headaches.
No matter how good a course is, it’s hard to drive sales with organic promotions alone. You’ll likely need to spend $1,000 or more on advertising and other paid promotions.
To cover those expenses, set a price that’s a little higher than your first impulse. Your goal is to absorb those costs, so your profits stay high.
Factors that Affect Online Course Pricing
Let’s look at a few of the most important factors you need to consider when deciding on the right price for your online course.
Your time and experience
Your time and expertise are more important than hard costs when it comes to determining the price of your online course.
How much time did it take to develop the course? How many hours did you spend recording lessons, video editing, and creating marketing resources for the course?
Now ask yourself two questions:
- What would you charge a client for that much of your time?
- What did it cost you to learn this?
Did you have to pay for special training or get a degree? How many years did it take you to develop the knowledge or skill you’re now sharing in your course?Remember, you're not trading dollars for hours. You’re sharing information that’s unique to you and your experience.
The type of content in the course
Including multiple assets in your course is not only a more engaging way to learn, but it also increases the value of your course, allowing you to price your course higher if you choose.
Videos, workbooks, and templates are often included to make sure students with different learning styles can learn effectively. But multiple formats and resources can also make people feel like they’re getting valuable learning materials they paid for.
The online course outcome
When marketing your course, you’re selling an outcome, not a product. Ask yourself, “How will my audience benefit from this online course?”
Remember, your audience is looking for relief from some pain point. That’s where the value is.
When pricing your course, think about the time your students will save by not having to figure things out on their own. One of the factors affecting the value of your course is how much time your students will save by learning from you.
5 Tips On How To Price Your Online Course
Once you understand the costs involved in developing and distributing your course, you’ll have a better idea of how much to price your course.
Here are five tips for pricing your online course.
1. Know your market
Do enough research to be sure you’re solving a pain point your audience cares about.
Don’t get caught up in what others may be charging for similar courses. That can give you a reference point, but as we discussed above, your course’s value comes from:
Your unique experience and perspectiveThe transformation you deliverThe quality and purpose of your course
2. Communicate the outcome
If your online course delivers a measurable transformation, let people know. Use social proof to showcase how your course, products, and services have impacted previous customers.
Here are some strong outcomes that can encourage students to take your course:
- Career advancement
- Higher income potential
- Personal fulfillment
- Improved quality of life
- Better relationships
- Mastery of a new skill or hobby
3. Calculate your bottom line
How much revenue do you need? Do the math to figure out how many course sales you’ll need at different price points.
If your goal is to make $4000 per month and you’re only charging $20 for your course, you’ll need to make 200 sales per month.
If that’s not a realistic conversion rate, set your price higher.
4. Calculate your perceived value
Don’t automatically assume a lower price will mean more sales. A lower price can actually devalue your course, leading to fewer sales.
Evaluate the quality of your course and the positive results that you’re helping your students achieve. The higher the quality and the higher the value of your transformation, the higher your price should be.
Pro tip: Don’t fall into the trap of competing on price. Someone will always be able to undersell you. Instead, focus on the value of your outcome or solution.
5. Offer payment options
If you’re worried that people won’t be able to afford your course, instead of lowering the price, get creative with your payment options.
Here are a couple of ways to structure your payment options:
- Installments: Offering 3 monthly payments of $547 may be more attractive than a one-time payment of $1500. With this strategy, you can offer a discount to students who opt to pay in full. The ability to pay in installments will tip the scales for some students. The discount will motivate others.
- Tiered pricing: Tiered pricing is another alternative to lowering your price. Your basic price may include the course alone, but with each pricing tier, you add bonus content or additional resources.
How To Know if Your Online Course is Priced Correctly
It’s important to remember that there’s no formula or set standard for pricing an online course. Understand the value you bring to the table and be prepared to test.
You know something is off if you’re getting traffic but not converting. But don’t immediately assume your price is the problem.
Price should be one of the last things you “fix.” Start by testing:
- Targeting: Do you have the right audience?
- Messaging: Does your messaging address your audience’s pain point adequately?
- CTA: Is your call to action strong enough or too vague?
- Format: Is your online course format appealing to potential students?
- Your offer: Does your offer clearly communicate the outcome you deliver?
After you’ve analyzed these elements of your online course positioning and marketing, you can evaluate whether you need to adjust the price or not.
Creating Your Online Course With Kajabi
Ready to create, market, and sell online courses? Cut down on costs by using one platform to do it all.
Creating an online course comes with some costs, but your investment will prove to be worthwhile when you start seeing the results of your hard work.