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How to sell online courses when you have a small audience


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Every business needs customers to successfully sustain itself. This is especially true for people who sell knowledge products. Many knowledge entrepreneurs find success by converting their existing audience and network into paying customers. 

But, not everyone who could sell knowledge products has a huge audience. It’s totally doable to make money selling online courses even if you are starting with zero followers to your brand.

Here are 13 proven ways to sell online courses and overcome having a small audience. 

Remember that audience size  ≠  success

The first thing to remember is that size is relative. Some people or businesses have social media followings in the millions. But, that is no direct indicator of the company’s health or financial success.

Screenshot of the Becca Cosmetics Instagram account showing 3.7 million followers

Becca Cosmetics reached 3.7 million followers on Instagram and over 202,000 likes on their Facebook page. But, in February 2021, they posted that they would be shutting down in September 2021, after 20 years in business. 

On the flip side, many business owners have launched and operated successful businesses without a huge following...  Kajabi Heroes included.

A small audience of actively engaged potential clients who fit your target market can absolutely be sufficient to launch and build traction. You’ll just need to be intentional and switch up your approach. 

Marketing strategies to sell online courses with a small audience

First, let’s cover how you can market your online courses when you don’t already have a large pool of potential customers.

Invest in paid advertising

Using paid advertising can expedite the sales process. Subconsciously or not, we’ve all purchased something that we learned about from an advertisement.

By putting your offering in front of people who could convert, you can unlock exposure to people outside of your existing audience. Consider sponsored ads on social media, in email newsletters, or on relevant websites.

Many entrepreneurs hesitate to invest in paid ads. Some think they won’t work and it’ll be a waste of money. While that is possible, when done correctly, paid advertisements can have a fantastic return on investment.

AdEspresso by Hootsuite
benchmarks the cost per click of Facebook ads. They found it typically ranges between $0.32 and $0.49, depending on the time of year, demand, and country. So, even if you only want to risk $100 to advertise your course, you could potentially generate over 200 clicks to your website. 

shares the benchmark that their advertisers generate an average of $2 for every $1 spent on Google ads. That’s encouraging!

The good news is that on many digital advertising platforms, you can set a maximum budget, and get started with even a few dollars. That investment can still drive a meaningful amount of traffic in relation to your existing audience size. 

Ultimately, you could generate a positive ROI by using paid ads to sell your online courses.

Segment your audience 

Tailored marketing often performs better than mass marketing. Research has found an association between companies that segment their audiences and those that exceed revenue and lead goals.

Take the time to research your followers. Look for patterns or natural groupings. Check out our blog post on segmentation for more information.

Once you understand your customer segments, craft your marketing messages to speak to the deeper needs of these groups. Your customers likely have different motivations and needs. By addressing those unique needs, your message can resonate better.

Kajabi Hero Lacy Morgan of Denise Birdsong Photography Education advises, “Messaging is everything! Speak to the deepest desires of their heart. Build goodwill and have overwhelming social proof that your course is the missing piece.” 

And when a message resonates more, it makes someone more likely to take action. This could mean purchasing a course, sending the link to your course to someone else, or joining your audience via social media or email.

Use a lead magnet

Lead magnets are a way to attract new people and capture their information. Offer some kind of free download like a checklist, eBook or worksheet. 

The benefits of using a lead magnet are:

  • Collect new audience members
  • Establish yourself as credible
  • Give potential clients a sample of your content
  • Gives you a reason to promote something that has value to the audience

Obviously, the lead magnet will not bring you immediate sales, because it’s free. But, it brings new people into the sales funnel who could turn into paying customers later.

Kajabi makes it easy to distribute your lead magnets and free resources via our Freebie sales pipeline template. 

Focus on SEO

With great search engine optimization, you can connect with people who are looking for your content that don’t already know about your business. SEO is complex, but here are some starter tips:

  • Populate your website with compelling content 
  • Keep your website fast-loading
  • Blog on a consistent cadence
  • Get backlinks from websites with high domain scores

Learn more about improving your SEO using Kajabi. 

Pricing strategies to sell online courses

Pricing, and how it relates to sales, plays into human psychology and purchasing behavior. Here are some tips to use pricing to help drive online course sales.

Choose a higher price tag 

To hit your revenue goals more easily, you may want to go the route of charging more for your course. If you have a small audience, each opportunity to make a sale really counts. 

Think of how a luxury boutique clothing store approaches pricing. They aren’t trying to compete with the big-box store that makes thousands of sales a day. The boutique will make fewer sales, but accompanied by a higher transaction value, and often with better quality goods and a crafted customer experience. 

Think of how you can add value to your course to justify the higher price tag. Can you add additional modules? Can you commit to giving individual, detailed feedback on assessments

Perhaps you can bundle your course with other content, like eBooks, worksheets, or curated additional resources for your clients. 

This strategy may yield better results for some knowledge entrepreneurs than others. A higher price tag per course could be the right move if you’re in a niche market, there is a high barrier to entry for your expertise, or if there is more demand than supply for your course topic. 

For example, Kajabi Hero Helicopter Ground School is a good example of a course that comes in at a high price tag. It has a high price for a good reason: it takes a unique qualification to teach someone to be a helicopter pilot.

Screenshot of the Helicopter Ground School pricing, offering courses at $69 per month, $79 per month, or a one time fee of $1,295

Choose a lower price tag

The converse approach to pricing is to go the route of the big box stores. You could offer courses or other knowledge products at a lower price point, but sell more of them to hit your revenue goals.

Simply put, more people can afford your courses if they cost less. 

Wondering what a typical course sells for? For a benchmark, in 2020, Kajabi Heroes brought in over $800 million across over 15 million transactions. This resulted in an average transaction value of around $53. 

We’re not suggesting that you undercharge for your course. You deserve fair pay for your time and expertise. But, if you can create a course that fits a lower price point, delivers value to the customer, and makes sense for you to produce, it could help you make more sales. 

Sell a la carte

Kajabi Hero BarSecrets offers courses and resources for aspiring lawyers. Their courses can cost thousands of dollars. So, they offer a la carte options.

Screenshot of the BarSecrets website with three a la carte services, including grading and a study vault

This pricing option can help someone who wants to take a course get started for a lower cost. The $179 price tag also looks way more manageable after seeing that the bundle costs over $2,000. 

Offer more course topics

Another obvious way to make more sales is to offer more choices. By offering more options, it changes the buying decision. Instead of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a single offering, it becomes ‘which offering is best for me?’ 

Kajabi Hero Marty Schwartz of Marty Music is a great example of a knowledge entrepreneur with a variety of courses.

Screenshot of the Marty Music website showcasing six different guitar courses, including Soloing in the Style of Jerry Garcia, Essential Rock and Blues, and Beginner Acoustic Guitar

Marty offers over 20 courses on his website, ranging from acoustic and electric guitar and many different music styles. This means he can appeal to lots of different people who want to learn guitar. And, it shows his mastery of the instrument!

By offering more courses, you can cast a wider net. Then, you have a better chance of meeting the needs of the people who visit your course website page.

Offer courses as a supplement

If you have a small audience, you may find the best option is to offer online courses as a supplementary product to another business offering. You don’t need to go all-in on selling online courses to get started.

For example, Kajabi Hero Adventure Instead Academy is the knowledge commerce division of an elopement photography company. They sell a few courses for professional photographers in addition to their photography services for couples. 

This strategy can diversify and strengthen your existing business.

Strategies to grow your audience

It should come as no surprise that if you are going into business in any field, it’s worthwhile to put some resources into growing your audience. 

By working to grow your audience, your efforts could do double duty. They might generate immediate sales and attract followers who will stay engaged with you and perhaps convert in the future.

Let’s cover some specific ways that knowledge entrepreneurs can grow an audience.

Cross promotion

Cross promotion is a powerful tool because people trust personal recommendations from those they know or follow. So, team up with someone else in your network to share audiences. 

Ideally, you’ll cross promote with someone who has a relevant audience but does not have a competing product. This person may not even be a business owner themselves. 

While a large audience size helps, you don’t have to cross promote with someone with a huge audience. Someone that you know well, who can vouch for you, and can send you relevant traffic is much better than someone who could send lots of people that aren’t a fit for your courses. 

Pitch an exchange. For example, you’ll each make a social media post, blog post, or send an email blast that could drive traffic to the other person’s intended location. This could range from sending an email to thousands of people or making a quick post on LinkedIn. 

This benefits both parties in terms of more exposure at no financial cost, and could drive helpful backlinks. 

Just make sure to have something valuable to offer in exchange. 

Use certain social platforms for promotion 

Marketing yourself to the same people over and over will generate a finite number of sales. This is especially true when you have a small audience. 

So, choose to expend energy marketing your courses on platforms that share your messages with people outside of your existing audience. LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube all make content discoverable by people outside of your connections, followers, or subscribers. Those platforms’ algorithms incentivize organic content creators to post by rewarding them with exposure.

It can be harder to get exposure to new people on Facebook or Instagram. While both are great marketing channels, entrepreneurs with small audiences may find they are less effective to gain organic traction. 

Check out our blog post on free marketing methods for more detailed information. 

Leverage online communities

Joining a community with shared interests can help you find potential customers for your online courses. There are numerous online communities across Facebook groups, Reddit subreddits, and Discord servers. Whether you’re looking for local small business owners in your city or people with an interest in your niche, you’ll find people grouped together.

Screenshot of three Facebook groups: Florida business networking, California Small Business Owner Group, and Women's Small Business Support

Some groups will limit self promotion. Other groups openly welcome it. Be sure to follow the community guidelines and add value. 

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing involves getting your customers to evangelize your product and refer new customers in exchange for something - usually a referral fee. You can maximize your existing small audience by incentivizing them to share your course with their network.

From the perspective of the course producer, affiliate marketing is a great tool because you only have to pay for success. Plus, your customers’ networks may very closely align with your target market. This makes the referral traffic especially valuable.

You may want to set up your affiliates for success by providing them with swipe copy or graphics to promote your course. This can make it easier for them to post and help build your brand. 

Check out how Kajabi empowers you to start an affiliate program for your courses.

Selling courses on Kajabi

We hope this blog post has given you confidence that there are plenty of ways to overcome having a small audience and find success as a knowledge entrepreneur. 

One other critical key to success is using a platform that supports many areas of your business. On Kajabi, not only can you host and sell courses, but you can create a website and market yourself with email marketing. We also provide tons of marketing templates to help you spend less time on administration while providing a polished experience for your customers. 

Start your free 14-day trial of Kajabi and see just how easy it is to sell your online courses.

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How to sell online courses when you have a small audience
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