How to teach online classes and earn money from home in 2020

One of the best new career paths is to make money teaching online. People who teach online courses not only have the freedom to work from wherever they are, but can also generate a healthy income while doing so.

Think, for example, about the last time a question occurred to you. You likely pulled up Google and found information to help answer your question.

Those searches take place millions of times each day. Sometimes the freely available information online doesn’t satisfy consumers’ lust for knowledge.

That’s why people who teach online courses have become such valuable contributors to online commerce.

Teaching online classes allows you to share your knowledge about subjects that interest and inspire you. Whether you’re a musician, chef, personal trainer, nutritionist, carpenter, or something else entirely, you have valuable skills that you can share with the world.

Best of all, people are willing to pay for the knowledge that’s inside your head. Let's go through how to teach online classes and earn money right from the ease and comfort of your home.

Ways to teach online 

Once you've decided, "I want to teach online and earn money," the first step is choosing the right method. You can teach online courses in several ways, depending on your subject matter and comfort with online teaching technology.

Evaluate the subject you aim to teach, and consider the most effective way for students to receive the information. Ask questions like: 

  • How did you learn this knowledge or skill? 
  • Were there written materials that you could print out? 
  • Did you watch videos that helped guide you? 
  • And most importantly: did this type of teaching benefit you, or do you think there's a better way to learn?

Also think about your target demographic. Are you teaching teens or young adults, who increasingly learn via elearning gamification? Or are you teaching older adults, who may have less familiarity with newer technologies? 

Consider that you can implement a hybrid approach to your online lessons. Perhaps you create a YouTube channel and offer links to additional material within a PDF workbook. 

Or maybe you create your own online course, complete with quizzes and infographics.  

Whatever you decide, make sure that your chosen medium is appropriate for students who want to learn online. 

Next, figure out how you want to deliver your course to the world. For instance, some professionals sell courses from their own websites, which gives you the ability to customize and control the students' experience. Just make sure you have the technical know-how to monitor and optimize your site.

Or maybe you partner with an online course marketplace that will do most of the heavy lifting as far as hosting the course goes. Only thing is, you don’t have access to marketing tools or control over where your course lives in their marketplace.

You’re probably better off seeking out an all-in-one platform that lets you host your online course while you market and promote it.

Kajabi, for instance, lets you push your online courses live while also allowing you to: 

You don’t have to visit multiple websites or launch several tools to accomplish all of those tasks.

Since creating an online course can represent a serious time investment, you don’t want to waste precious minutes learning how to code, install plugins, or set up merchant accounts. If you use a medium that already exists, you can hit the ground running with your first course.

Try Kajabi free for 14 days

Benefits of teaching online

If you love the idea of setting your own hours and developing your own products to make money teaching online, entrepreneurship might fit your personality well. 

Make no mistake: when you learn how to teach online classes and earn money, you become an entrepreneur. You get to decide how much you charge for your courses, what material you include, and when to release your material.

With this freedom comes tremendous opportunities to earn money. You might spend weeks or even months building a solid online course, but you can sell it over and over again without having to perform any more work, other than responding to your customers and helping them through the material.

Plus, you can let your creativity run wild. Many online learners have grown tired of stale, repetitive information. They’re not just looking for answers to problems or ways to create things; they’re also looking for an interesting approach to the material.

Incorporate your unique personality, background, experience, and approach to online learning in your course. You might be surprised by how quickly you develop an online following.

Of course, the benefits of online classes aren't limited to just your own experience. When you teach online courses, you also deliver tremendous value to your customers. As an entrepreneur, you’re creating a product that your customers can use to their own advantage. 

Some students might decide to find work in a new industry, try a new craft, or build something with their bare hands. Others could use your course material to inspire a different lifestyle.

The possibilities are endless, which is why online classes have become so popular among regular people who just want to add to their knowledge banks.

How much can you make teaching online?

Your income potential is limited only by your imagination. Some people make thousands of dollars per month through online courses. Others use their courses to generate side income in addition to their day job.

Several factors should go into your pricing structure when assessing how to make money teaching online.

  • Specificity: A course that teaches a very specific, niche-oriented skill or knowledge base might demand a higher price point than a more generic course.
  • Expertise: If you have demonstrated expertise on the topic (such as awards or a decades-long career related to it), you can typically get away with charging more.
  • Profit Margin: How much did you spend during the creation of the course? The more you spend, the more you need to charge to maintain a reasonable profit margin.

Don’t think teaching online is “easy money” though. It’s still a business with challenges but it can be lucrative when done well.

Is online teaching profitable?

Yes, you can make money teaching online and it can be profitable.

The best part about an online course is that it’s a digital product that doesn’t have to be remade when you sell to different people. That’s a clear difference than if you were selling a physical product like a bike or hand-crafted t-shirts.  

To ensure that you make money teaching online, do your best to generate revenue as soon as possible. Once you’ve earned your initial income, you can build out future marketing pipelines for future customers. 

Consider that online courses don't require office or classroom space, nor are you spending money on a daily commute. Instead, you get to create and teach from wherever you are, lowering your overhead costs and increasing your returns.

Once you've become established as a go-to resource for your subject matter and marketed your courses well (more on this in a moment!), you'll find that online teaching can be extremely lucrative.

How to teach online classes and earn money

If you want to make money teaching online courses, you need to create stellar material. This should attract attention and also prompts your customers to recommend your classes to others. 

It sounds difficult but there are a few steps you can follow to ensure you’re teaching online courses that are valuable to your students and profitable for your business.

If you’re a better online teacher, you’ll have no trouble bringing in more customers as your selection of online courses grows.

1. Decide what you want to teach

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Anyone can make money teaching online if he or she has the time and desire to do so. When you teach online courses, you spread knowledge, skills, and abilities to people who might not otherwise have access to the information in your head.

The first step to teaching a profitable online course is choosing a topic. You might find yourself interested in and educated about several topics, but choose the one that inspires you the most. Your niche will help you draw in a dedicated fan base that can’t wait for your next course to launch.

For instance, maybe you’re a portrait photographer. You make a good living shooting senior portraits, engagement sessions, and maternity events, but you want to bring in some passive income. Creating and selling an online course about portrait photography is your answer. You could even make a series of courses, then bundle them together at a lower price point.

Furthermore, if you have other photography skills, you can turn them into other courses. Photographers could create courses on technical and artistic aspects of their crafts:

  • How to set up the right lighting
  • How to compose a landscape photograph
  • When to shoot engagement portraits
  • How to get more customers as a photographer
  • Which lenses to use for which occasions

These are just a few brainstormed ideas that a photographer might use to create courses, but the process works for just about any subject and industry.

In other words, if you have specialized or interesting knowledge or abilities, you can become an online teacher.

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Does an Online Instructor Need Specific Certifications?

Online learning doesn’t impose the same restrictions as teaching at a college or university. You don’t need a master’s or doctoral-level degree to teach online. If you have one of those, that’s great. People who don’t pursue conventional education can still offer plenty of value to the marketplace.

This doesn’t mean your education can’t work to your benefit. If you’re a Ph.D. candidate, for instance, you should mention that fact as you market your course. Similarly, if you have any special trade certifications or licenses, don’t hesitate to let people know about them.

2. Develop the right skills for teaching online courses

Though you may not be a teacher by trade, there's no need to feel like an imposter

There is no standard skill set that all online instructors must possess. But you might find more success if you develop a few skills before you start to teach online classes. 

The following skills will help you connect with your students, create better materials, and market your courses more effectively.

  • Computer savviness: Since online learning takes place on the Internet, you need computer skills if you want to make your online courses a success. As long as you can use web browsers, spreadsheets, word-processing documents, and other basic software programs, you should have no problem. 
  • Marketing acumen: We’ve discovered that our Kajabi Heroes all have excellent marketing skills. They know how to use social media, blogging, email marketing, and other tools to build their audiences and engage their fan bases. Learning about these tools and strategies can help you quickly make money after you launch your first course.
  • Communication skills: Obviously, a great teacher must know how to communicate. However, figure out how you communicate best. If you’re a great orator, for instance, consider creating video and audio materials for your class. On the other hand, if you’re a better writer than speaker, text-based content might serve your courses best.
  • Ability to explain: Some people have immense talent in a particular subject, but they can’t tell you how to actually do what they do. You must be able to explain your subject matter if you want to make money teaching online. Practice writing how-to guides in the form of blog posts to craft your skills in this area. Explain your subject matter to your friends and family and ask them for feedback. 
  • Time management: It’s easy to get lost in the process of course creation, so you have to limit your time spent on each activity. Good time management skills will help you maximize your earning potential and avoid getting stuck during one phase of the process. Consider using a free project management app to help manage your tasks and time.

3. Gather the necessary equipment and technology for your online course

Some of our Kajabi Heroes don’t use any special technology at all beyond word processing and the Kajabi platform. Others use advanced video recording and editing technology. They might even visit studios to record course materials.

The technology you use depends on your comfort level and the type of course you’re making. For instance, if you want to teach people how to build furniture, video content would likely serve your customers better than written content. You want them to see you perform each step.

If you’re going to conduct live webinars or podcasts, you need a web camera and a microphone, at a minimum. Additionally, video- and sound-editing software can help you eliminate noise and other distractions from your content.

The only special technology you might need for your course would have to do with the course material itself. For instance, if you’re teaching customers how to make their own electronic music, you’ll need music-composition software and anything else that might help you demonstrate the process.

More important than technology is your teaching methodology. If you can nail the right voice, tone, and course materials, you’ll have no trouble figuring out how to teach online classes and earn money.

4. Create a profitable online course

After you've pinpointed your subject matter, honed your teaching skills, and gathered your equipment, you're ready to embark upon the crux of your journey: putting your knowledge into beautifully made, easy-to-absorb lessons.

There are lots of different methods for how to create an online course; the key is to choose the ones that are best suited to your subject, teaching style, and students. Here are a just few best practices:

  • Do some market research. Check out other people's courses in your subject matter to see how they approach the lessons, both in format as well as content.
  • Research your chosen topic and check to see which course providers are performing the best on Google, so you can figure out your own strategy to appear at the top of the results.
  • Use a variety of mediums. Consider teaching your courses using text, video, live webinars, podcasts, and other mediums that target different learning styles. Your courses will become more vibrant and engaging as a result—and you might learn a few new skills yourself!
  • Outline your lessons beforehand, so that you have a clearly defined roadmap to follow. This also saves you from potentially repeating lessons that you forgot were already accounted for!
  • Create all of your resources early on. If you're planning to include images, audio clips, statistics, and other items, have them at the ready before you start.
  • Settle on your course platform (hint: Kajabi is here to help!). 
  • Create a content schedule for yourself. Release material too quickly, and you risk overwhelming your students. Release it too slowly, and you risk them losing interest. Try releasing one class per week. Or, maybe release a couple lessons at a time if they’re shorter and easier to absorb. 
  • Anticipate roadblocks. You know your material better than anyone else. You might find areas of your online course that you know people will find complicated or confusing. Anticipate them by adding more instruction and detail, then making yourself available for consultations

Once your course is built, it’s important to keep your students happy. They’re paying good money for your course. Show them you care by:

  • Engaging with your students: The screen doesn’t have to represent a one-way portal to your customers. Engage with customers as they work through your courses, answering their questions and pointing them toward additional resources. You’ll become a person rather than just a creator to them
  • Giving feedback: As your customers learn, encourage and delight them. Let them know you’re proud of their accomplishments, and if they start to struggle, provide constructive criticism to keep them moving forward through the material.

5. Build your customer base

You know you want to teach online courses, but how do you find customers who are willing to pay for the knowledge in your head?

It’s difficult to simply throw together a course, put it online, and hope it makes money. You must market your course if you hope to attract enough customers to generate a profit.

Marketing your online course isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are a few strategies to try:

  • Blog about your topic: Create a blog with content that is optimized for search engines (SEO). You’re attracting potential customers through organic search. In other words, when they search for keywords that have to do with your topic, you want them to find your blog post, and by extension your course.
  • Create an email list: You can advertise your email newsletter or program on your blog and website. Use a simple form and ask people to leave their names and email addresses. To incentivize this process, consider offering a free gift, such as an eBook or whitepaper that can teach potential subscribers something of value.
  • Get active on social media: Many of our Kajabi Heroes have grown their businesses using social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. When you’re active on social, you can attract new customers more easily because your followers begin to look to you as a thought leader in your industry. Plus, more people will see your announcements when you advertise a new course or write a new blog post.

If you have a large existing following on social, YouTube, or your blog, take advantage of it! Give them first access to your new course. A large following can translate into dollar signs because your fans trust you and want to learn from you.

6. Market and sell your course

You’ve created a course that your customers will love. Now it's time to get your knowledge into their hands.

As mentioned above, your marketing efforts can play a significant role in your success as an online teacher. If you’re not active on social media and if you don’t bother to pursue email marketing, your dream to make money teaching online might not get the results you desire.

However, you also don’t have to turn yourself into a professional marketer to sell courses online. Set aside one hour per day for marketing purposes. Use this time to learn how to presell a product and earn income before it even hits the market. 

Take the initiative to interact with your community online, publish blog posts, send emails, respond to questions from customers and prospects, and find new groups and followers in your communities.

You might even look for partners in your industry with whom you might want to create a future course together. Use your “marketing time” to brainstorm ideas for your courses as well as to beef up your presence on the Internet.

Other marketing efforts you might take include:

  • Adding a blog to your website, which gives you even more fodder for your social channels and helps your search rankings with fresh content.
  • Hosting live classes via webinars, Facebook Live, or other platforms.
  • Appearing on podcasts (or hosting your own) with other industry professionals… the bigger the names, the better!

As your courses gain steam, ask your customers to leave online reviews to let others know what they thought of the course. Testimonials are an excellent way to generate online buzz, incoming links, and more customers.

Get expert advice on your online course

Creating an online course can quickly turn you into an authority in your industry and an overnight entrepreneur. While it takes time and effort to create a high-quality course, you’ll thank yourself when the money starts rolling in.

Using Kajabi to create, market, and promote your online course can make a huge difference in its success. Our platform offers several built-in features that allow you to focus on the part of the process that excites you the most: creating and administering online courses. We handle the technical heavy lifting.

If you’ve always wanted to teach online classes—or if the idea has just occurred to you—don’t let someone else steal your spotlight. Claim your niche and start creating course content now.

Try Kajabi free for 14 days