How to Teach Online Courses and Make Money From Home in 2017

We live in a world of do-it-yourself professionals who love to learn new skills and broaden their horizons. People who teach online courses can not only help further this trend, but also generate a healthy income.

Think about the last time a question occurred to you. Maybe you wanted to know the name of an ingredient for your grandmother’s famous spaghetti sauce, or perhaps you want to learn how to build your own bookshelves.

You likely when straight to the closest Internet-connected device and pulled up Google. Using the search engine, you found information to help you answer your question or complete your goal.

Those searches take place millions of times each day, but 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 what’s inside your head.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If you’re interested in teaching online classes, you first need to understand the ins and outs of online learning so you can succeed on your very first foray into teaching online courses.

What Is Online Learning? 

Online learning is an educational opportunity that connects online instructors with online students in a shared medium, such as Kajabi. The course creator shares pre-made course materials with his or her customers, and the customers learn based on the modules the instructor created.

In a nutshell, it’s learning that takes place via the Internet instead of through traditional channels.

Traditional education involves sitting in classrooms or conference spaces while you listen to an instructor lecture about a given subject. It’s effective for many types of material—and it’s certainly necessary for kids and young adults—but it’s not always the ideal solution for people who want to learn things fast, easily, and without much stress.

Online learning offers a sensible alternative. In fact, as of 2014, there were nearly 6 million students involved in distance education. And those were just students who had affiliations with accredited universities and colleges.

Today, that number has become much larger, thanks in part to online platforms that allow anyone to teach online courses. You don’t need to get tenure with a major university to pass on your skills to others. Instead, you just need an Internet connection and the desire to help others.

These days, online learning serves as a viable business model for many professionals who want to help others learn their skills and crafts. You can craft high-quality course materials and offer them online for a fee. Everyone wins.

Online Learning Mediums 

You can teach online courses in several ways. For instance, some professionals sell courses from their own websites or through alliances with educational institutions.

However, those solutions create a few headaches. Unless you’re familiar with coding and other technical jargon, or unless you have a contact at a university or college, you’re 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 set up drip campaigns, send out marketing emails, host your website, create a blog, and push your online courses live. 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.

Benefits of Online Learning for Entrepreneurs 

If you love the idea of setting your own hours, making your own rules, and developing your own products, entrepreneurship might fit your personality well. In fact, you might already consider yourself an entrepreneur if you’ve used your skills to create a business that supports you and your family.

When you teach online courses, you become an entrepreneur—whether for the first or the umpteenth time, depending on your background. You get to decide how much you charge for your courses, what material you include, and when to release your courses.

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.

Benefits of Online Learning for Customers 

Of course, 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. In other words, you’re not responsible for what your customers do after they take your course.

Some 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 or to change something about their lives that they don’t like.

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

Ways to Improve Online Learning

If you want to make money in 2017 and beyond, you need to create stellar online courses that not only attract attention, but that also prompt your customers to rave about your courses to their friends, family members, and online networks. It sounds difficult, but it becomes easier if you follow a few best practices to make online learning more enjoyable and less complex.

  • Find Your Niche: 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.
  • Use Multiple 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!
  • Engage 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.
  • Anticipate Potential Roadblocks: You know your material better than anyone else. You might find areas of your online course that customers will find complicated or confusing. Anticipate them by adding more instruction and detail, then making yourself available for consultations.
  • Give 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.

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

What Is an Online Instructor?

An online instructor is a professional who teaches online courses, in whatever medium he or she prefers, for the benefit of customers who pay for those lessons. Anyone can become an online instructor, but you need an entrepreneurial spirit and a slam-dunk strategy if you want to make money from your efforts.

Online teachers can come from all walks of life. Some have advanced education, even to the doctoral level, while others never ventured beyond high school. Some use their skills to teach practical knowledge, while others focus on crafts or health and wellness.

You’ll notice that our #KajabiHeroes represent all walks of life. They have different interests and passions, but they’ve all managed to generate healthy revenue by teaching online courses.

What Skills Do You Need to Teach Online Classes?

There is no standard skill set that all online instructors must possess, but you might find that you become more successful if you develop a few helpful skills before you start to teach online classes. These 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 be fine. You can also learn more advanced tools, such as Adobe Lightroom for processing photographs.
  • 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 can help you make more money and to generate income faster 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 or skill, but they can’t tell you how they actually do what they do. You must be able to explain your subject matter if you want your customers to benefit from any online course you create. Practice writing how-to guides in the form of blog posts to craft your skills in this area.
  • Time Management: It’s easy to get lost in the process of course creation or marketing, 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.

Do You Need Special Technology for Online Courses? 

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 every once in a while 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.

Otherwise, 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 attracting and retaining customers.

Does an Online Instructor Need Specific Certifications? 

You might need a master’s- or doctoral-level degree to teach at a college or university, but online learning doesn’t impose such restrictions. Most people know, by now, that 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.

How Can Online Instructors Find Customers?

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 moves like Gangbusters. You must market your course if you hope to attract enough customers to generate a profit.

However, don’t get discouraged. Online marketing isn’t as difficult as you might think.

  • Blog About Your Topic: Create a blog on Kajabi, then optimize it 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, which you can create in Kajabi, and ask people to leave their names and email addresses. To incentivize this process, consider offering a free gift, such as an ebook or white paper that can teach potential subscribers something of value.
  • Get Active on Social Media: Many of our Kajabi Heroes have vast audiences on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms. 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.

Who Can Teach Online? 

Anyone can teach 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.

You might enjoy online teaching more if you like interacting with people online, writing and talking about your favorite subject, and passing on your knowledge. Some of the best online teachers aren’t teachers by trade at all; instead, they’re industry professionals who seek new ways to monetize their skills.

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. Create an online course about portrait photography. You could even create 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.

How Much Can You Make Teaching Online? 

As with any entrepreneurial pursuit, your income potential is limited only by your imagination. Some people make thousands of dollars per month through online courses, while others use their courses to generate side income in addition to their other work.

Several factors should go into your pricing structure.

  • 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.

After pricing your course, you’ll also have to confront several things that might impact how much you earn off the products you produce.

Existing Following

If you have a large following, such as on social media, you might find it easier to bring customers to your course quickly. A large following can translate into dollar signs because your fans trust you and want to learn from you.

Available Time

It seems fairly obvious that a professional with 10 courses can generate more income than a professional with one course. Additionally, if you don’t have time to correspond with your customers or to add value to the course material, you might not generate as much money.

To increase your income potential, devote a specific amount of time to your online course business every day. Work toward a specific goal, such as creating a library of 10 courses, to meet your financial objectives.

Length of Course 

Some courses last just 20 to 30 minutes, while others can consume 10 or more hours of your customers’ time. Obviously, this all depends on the course material and its complexity, but longer courses tend to fetch higher price points. However, the profit margin declines because you’re spending more time on the creation process.

Focus on balancing course length, price, and profit margins to find the ideal income structure. You might need to experiment for a while to find your personal sweet spot, but eventually, you’ll figure out the best formula for revenue generating.

Course Reviews 

As your courses gain steam, your customers might leave online reviews to let others know what they thought of the course. This is an excellent way to generate online buzz, incoming links, and more customers. If possible, encourage your customers to leave reviews, then repurpose those reviews as testimonials on your own website.

Marketing Efforts 

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, you might not get the results you desire.

However, you also don’t have to turn yourself into a professional marketer. Set aside one hour per day for marketing purposes. Use this time 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.

Are You Ready to Teach Online? 

You’re ready to teach online if you’ve chosen a niche, found a topic for your first course, and created a course that your customers will love. It’s that simple.

At one time, starting your own business required a capital investment and tons of other difficult assets. Today, you just need Kajabi and your own personal skill set and knowledge.

Of course, you also have to prepare yourself mentally. As with any job, teaching online classes requires that you devote your time and attention to the process. If you’re distracted by other obligations, you might not generate as much income as you would otherwise.

If you’re ready to teach online, start creating your course now. The faster you push it live, the faster you can make money. After you publish your first course, get to work on the second. Volume can drastically improve your income potential and allow you to rely on the revenue you generate.

How to Create an Online Course 

Create an online course by signing up for a free trial on Kajabi and starting your first course. You can easily upload text documents, videos, audio files, and other assets, then assemble them into a course that will help your customers accomplish their goals or fix their problems.

You can even schedule your course content to “drip” to your customers at timed intervals. That way, you control the progression of the course and let your students absorb each step before moving on to the next.

Start your marketing process at the same time. Set up an email collection form so that potential customers can sign up for your newsletter or promotional emails. Get your blog up and running so you can pursue content marketing, and don’t forget to let your friends, family members, and other associates know about your course.

Conclusion 

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.

Have you ever taught online classes before? Do you have any tips for new entrepreneurs who are teaching online courses for the very first time?

 

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