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Is Selling Online Courses Profitable In 2024?


Mar 6, 2024
Read Time: X Min
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Online courses have become the go-to for people aiming to advance their careers, hobbyists, and those interested in DIY projects.

In 2016, Coursera registered 21 million students for its courses. This number steadily increased by approximately 7 million annually over the following two years.

However, new registrations skyrocketed during the pandemic, reaching 71 million in 2020 and 92 million in 2021. In 2022, the registrations peaked at 189 million users. As we enter 2024, this trend shows no signs of slowing down.

So, the demand is clearly present, and it's growing exponentially. But is creating and selling online courses a profitable venture? Does this demand translate to profits for course creators?

Are Online Courses Profitable?

To understand the profitability of online courses, let's look at some key statistics:

  • According to a study, the global e-learning market is on track to reach $336.98 billion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.1% from 2018.
  • By the end of 2022, the worldwide e-learning market was $243 billion, according to a Statista report.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly boosted global e-learning and course consumption, which experts believe will continue.

So, yes, online courses are profitable! From the numbers above, you can see that the online course market is thriving.

The remarkable growth in market size and revenue projections point to a sustained interest in and demand for online learning. This presents many opportunities for those who want to create and sell online courses.

However, as with any business venture, profitability in online courses is not a given. First, you need to know how to build and sell courses online

To achieve success, you need to navigate several key factors:

  • The high demand for online courses also means increased competition. You must offer unique value or address niche topics to stand out in a crowded market.
  • Your online course's success heavily relies on its quality and engagement rates. High-quality content, interactive elements, and an engaging teaching style are crucial to keeping learners interested.
  • Creating a course doesn't automatically attract an audience. You need effective marketing strategies to attract and retain learners. This includes SEO optimization, social media marketing, email campaigns, and leveraging networks and partnerships.
  • The e-learning field constantly evolves, with new technologies and platforms emerging regularly. You must stay on top of these changes and adapt your courses to remain relevant and appealing.
  • Determining the right price for your course is a delicate balance. It needs to reflect your value while being accessible to your target audience. Underpricing will undervalue your content while overpricing will deter potential learners.

Consider the inspiring journey of Gahmya Drummond-Bey. Like you, she started with a passion and expertise, which she transformed into a lucrative online course business using Kajabi. 

Drummond-Bey began her career as a traditional educator. Recognizing the potential of online education, she leveraged Kajabi to build a six-figure business, reaching learners in over 60 countries. 

Her success is evidence of the potential that online courses hold. With the right niche, innovative offerings, and effective use of tools like Kajabi, you, too, can build a profitable online course business.

How Much Money Can You Make Selling Online Courses?

You can earn anywhere from $0 to over $50,000 per month. Industry averages suggest that most successful course creators earn between $1,000 and $10,000 monthly. 

Annually, this translates to a range of $1,000 to over $100,000. 

Also, according to the State of Creators ‘24 Report, 40% of top earners reached six figures in less than two years.


However, it's challenging to pinpoint exactly how much you can make per year from selling online courses, as the earnings vary widely.

For example, some industries have a higher demand for online courses. Real estate, business, and personal development courses often attract many learners. High demand leads to higher enrollment numbers, thus potentially increasing earnings.

Your potential revenue also largely depends on several critical factors, such as:

  • Traffic Generation: High website traffic increases the potential number of students.
  • Conversion Rate: You are attracting visitors, but how many are you converting into paying students?
  • Course Pricing: The price of your courses significantly affects your revenue.
  • Course Quality and Relevance: The quality and relevance of your content are crucial for student retention and word-of-mouth referrals. High-quality, up-to-date, engaging content encourages students to complete courses and recommend them to others.
  • Marketing and Sales Efforts: Your marketing strategy is critical in reaching and persuading potential students. This is the most important part of starting an online course.

Courses within the technology niche tend to offer higher earning potential, reflecting the substantial interest in skills related to web and app development and various programming languages.

On the other end, categories like music and lifestyle might present more modest earning opportunities. However, these fields are often driven by passionate instructors and can attract dedicated niche audiences.

That said, if you plan to venture into these niches, don’t let the earning potential discourage you. A well-marketed course with high-quality content can earn significantly more than the average.

How To Measure Success From Online Courses?

You might argue that financial gain is a clear indicator of success, but several other metrics provide a more nuanced picture of how well your courses are performing. 

Success looks different depending on your goals. It could be a student telling you they've aced an interview thanks to your course or maybe a community member eagerly waiting for your next lesson.

Here’s how to gauge the success of your online courses:

1. Students Progression

Student progress indicates whether your students actively engage with the course and find the content compelling enough to continue. 

You can measure the progress in several ways:

  • Completion Rates: How many students complete the course from start to finish? If most students see the course through to the end, it's a strong indicator that they find the material valuable and engaging.
  • Module Progression: Are students moving through the modules at the pace you expected? If they're progressing steadily, it suggests that the course difficulty is well-calibrated and that students can follow along without becoming overwhelmed or losing interest.
  • Assessment Performance: How are students performing on quizzes, tests, or practical assessments? Improvement over time shows that they absorb the material and apply what they've learned.

Monitoring progression also lets you pinpoint where students might be struggling, allowing you to improve and adapt the course content. 

It helps you evolve your course better to meet the needs of your audience over time.

Platforms like Kajabi offer robust tools that enable you to monitor how students interact with your course material, particularly through course progress and video analytics.

With Kajabi, you can see detailed engagement and view statistics for your videos. This functionality lets you gauge how compelling your video content is and whether it's keeping students interested.

  • At a glance, you can see how your entire student body is moving through your courses and individual lessons. 
  • If you notice that a significant number of students are not progressing past a certain point, it may indicate that the content is too challenging or not engaging enough.
  • By identifying where students are struggling, you can offer tailored assistance, including additional resources, supplementary lessons, or direct communication to provide further clarification and support.

2. User Satisfaction And Reviews

Positive reviews mirror a high-quality learning experience. They suggest that your course meets or exceeds the expectations of your students.

Good reviews are also a powerful form of social proof. They greatly influence the decision-making process of potential students, directly impacting your course enrollments and sales.

Online review statistics from show that 92% of consumers will hesitate to buy a product if customers leave no reviews, and 97% of consumers report that the reviews they read influence their purchasing decisions.

So, if your students leave reviews, it’s a show of success for your course.

Now, not all feedback will be glowing, but negative reviews aren't necessarily a bad thing. They pinpoint specific areas where your course may need improvement, allowing you to refine and enhance the content.

How can you measure this user satisfaction?

  • After course completion, ask your students to fill out surveys. Tools like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey can help you create these easily.
  • If you're using a platform like Kajabi, there's likely a section for users to leave reviews. Make sure to read and analyze these reviews regularly.
  • Use the Net Promoter Score (NPS) metric to gauge the loyalty of your customer relationships. It's an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of students to recommend your course to others.
  • Sometimes, the most honest feedback comes from direct conversations. If you engage with students through email, social media, or course forums, take note of the sentiments expressed about your course.

You can then use Kajabi and a review widget from EmbedSocial to collect and show ratings and reviews directly from your site.

Use the feedback to make data-driven decisions. If certain lessons are consistently praised, consider how you can apply the elements of those lessons to other parts of your course. 

If some content is frequently criticized, consider how to address the issues.

  • Could the instructions be clearer?
  • Is the video quality lacking? 

Every piece of feedback is an opportunity to improve.

Finally, don't forget to acknowledge and thank your students for their reviews.

3. Instructor Effectiveness

Instructor effectiveness measures how well you, as the instructor, can facilitate learning, engage with students, and communicate ideas. 

Your effectiveness directly influences student satisfaction, retention rates, and the overall educational value of the course.

One of the primary indicators of instructor effectiveness is how engaged the students are. If an instructor is effective, students tend to be more interactive, participate actively in discussions, ask questions, and engage in course activities.

High completion rates often signal that the instructor is effectively keeping students interested and motivated to finish the course. 

If most students are dropping out or not completing the course, it might indicate a problem with how the course is being taught.

Also, look for comments on the instructor's teaching style, clarity of explanations, responsiveness to questions, and overall engagement with the class. Direct feedback from students can be incredibly telling.

Experiment with different engagement techniques to improve instructor effectiveness to see what resonates with your audience, such as interactive videos, live Q&A sessions, or group projects.

4. Retakes Of Final Quizzes

The rate at which students retake final quizzes can provide unique insights. 

While it might initially seem counterintuitive, analyzing the reasons and outcomes of quiz retakes is a valuable measure of the course's effectiveness and the student's commitment to learning.

Many retakes indicate areas where the course content is unclear or too challenging for students. 

This insight allows you to pinpoint specific topics needing more comprehensive explanations or additional resources.

Frequent retakes also reflect on the design of the assessment itself. It might be too difficult or not well aligned with the course content, signaling a need for revision to better evaluate student understanding.

  • If students are willing to retake quizzes to improve their scores, it demonstrates their engagement and determination to master the subject matter.
  • Improvement in scores between initial attempts and retakes can be a sign of effective learning and assimilation of content.

Why Sell Online Courses? 3 Benefits

We have seen that online courses can make you good money. But why should you choose to sell your courses online as opposed to other methods like in-person training or traditional publishing?

1. Flexibility and Scalability of Online Courses

Unlike traditional in-person training or publishing, online courses provide an adaptable platform for both educators and learners.

Online courses break geographical barriers, allowing you to reach students across the globe.

Take the example of Blaine Anderson, the CEO and founder of Dating by Blaine. If she were to conduct her coaching programs through physical workshops or traditional in-person sessions, the scope and impact of her work would likely be much more limited.

In a physical setting, Blaine's reach would be confined to her immediate geographical location or areas where she could feasibly travel.

But using the Kajabi platform to host her courses, since 2021, she has generated $3 million in revenue.

Kajabi gives her a payment gateway, CRM, analytics, and email marketing functionality, bringing all her businesses together in one place. 

In contrast, scaling up in-person sessions would often involve logistical challenges, such as finding larger venues, managing increased overhead costs, and dealing with complex scheduling.

2. High Demand For E-learning Opportunities

According to a Global Market Insights report, the e-learning market, valued at $399.3 billion in 2022, is anticipated to grow at a 14% CAGR between 2023 and 2032. 

What does this mean for you as a potential course creator?

Firstly, this growth trajectory indicates a thriving market. People worldwide are increasingly turning to online platforms for education and skill development. 

In addition, the high demand for e-learning reflects a shift in how people prefer to learn. With the convenience of accessing courses from anywhere and the flexibility to learn at their own pace, more and more people are choosing online education over traditional methods.

The growing market also suggests stability and longevity in the e-learning industry. For you, this means that investing your time and resources into creating an online course can be a sustainable venture that can yield returns well into the future.

3. Low Startup Costs And High-Profit Margins

When you set out to create an online course, the initial investments are primarily related to content creation and platform hosting.

Unlike physical businesses, there's no need for a physical storefront, inventory, or a large staff. 

Here’s a rough breakdown of potential startup costs:

  • Content Creation Tools: This includes software for video editing, graphic design, and course authoring. Some of these tools are free, while others require a one-time purchase or a subscription.
  • Course Hosting Platform: Platforms like Kajabi offer various pricing options — you can start at $149 monthly for a basic plan. This gives you tools to get your business up and running. Also, remember that Kajabi doesn’t take any percentage cut from your revenue.
  • Marketing: Initial marketing efforts might involve costs for social media ads, email marketing tools, or website hosting if you choose to market through your site.
  • Miscellaneous: Other costs include purchasing a domain name, a webcam, a microphone, or lighting equipment for high-quality video content.

Once your course is created, the cost to sell to each additional customer is relatively low. 

You don’t face the typical marginal costs of producing extra units as in a traditional product-based business.

Here’s an estimate of the average startup costs of an online course:

  • Content Creation Tools:  $150 - $300
  • Course Hosting Platform: $200 per month
  • Marketing: $200 - $500
  • Miscellaneous: $100 - $200
  • TOTAL: $650 - $1,100

Note: These costs are approximate and can vary based on your choices and the industry type.

Profitable Online Course Ideas In 2024

The State of Creators ‘24 Report found that creators making more than $100k a year usually sell many different products and don't just depend on one thing, with digital products being the highest revenue stream.

So, which are some of the best niches with the most six-figure creators, and can you combine two or more niches?

1. Business And Marketing

There's been a significant rise in entrepreneurship and small business startups, fueled by the accessibility of online platforms that make starting a business easy.

These businesses all aim to thrive.

Also, almost every business, from startups to established corporations, needs to market its products or services effectively. This creates a continuous demand for marketing education.

Create courses covering digital marketing basics, including SEO, PPC advertising, content marketing, and social media marketing. These are great for beginners and provide a solid foundation for more advanced topics.

You can also expand and offer courses that teach how to measure and analyze digital marketing efforts using tools like Google Analytics.

2. Investing And Finance

There's an increasing trend toward financial literacy and independence. People are more eager to learn how to manage their finances, invest wisely, and plan for retirement, driving them to seek relevant online courses.

This niche covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Personal finance management
  • Stock market investing
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Real estate investment
  • Retirement planning
  • Tax strategies, etc.

This niche also provides ample opportunities for affiliate marketing and partnerships with financial institutions, investment platforms, and fintech companies. 

These collaborations can enhance the value of your course and provide additional revenue streams.

3. Real Estate

Real estate remains a highly profitable niche driven by a continuous interest in property investment, buying and selling homes, commercial real estate, and property management.

From first-time homebuyers to experienced real estate investors, the audience for real estate education is diverse.

Offer courses for beginners that cover the basics of real estate investing, including:

  • Types of properties
  • Understanding the market
  • How to evaluate investment opportunities
  • The basics of property finance

Develop comprehensive guides on the home buying and selling process, including how to finance a home purchase, understanding mortgages, home inspections, and navigating the closing process.

Also, offer up-to-date, region-specific information. This sets your courses apart and makes them invaluable to your audience.

Emerging High-Growth Niches

Business and marketing, finance, and real estate remain evergreen and profitable online course ideas for 2024, but there are three niches where creators are quickly hitting six-figure incomes:

  • Beauty
  • Fitness
  • Gaming
High groeth niches according to Kajabi's State of Creators 2024 report

These areas have seen explosive growth, fueled by evolving consumer interests.

The beauty niche is wide. It covers makeup, skincare, haircare, and more. With the growing interest in personal care and appearance, online courses offering tutorials, product reviews, and beauty regimens have a broad audience.

For the fitness niche, it has expanded beyond traditional workout routines. It now includes yoga, pilates, specialized diets, and mental wellness. Also, more people are seeking home workout options.

Finally, gaming encompasses game development, streaming, and esports. With the gaming industry's growth, there’s an audience eager to learn about game design, streaming techniques, or improving gaming skills.

You can create course content focusing on:

  • Tutorials on starting a gaming channel, including streaming tips, building an audience, and monetization strategies.
  • Courses on game development using popular engines like Unity or Unreal Engine, covering everything from basic programming to advanced game design concepts.
  • Guides on improving gameplay, strategies, and skills in popular games.

Wondering how to stand out in a crowded market? Grab our free guide and learn how to find your niche in less than 10 minutes.


Final Words

Selling online courses is profitable. The key lies in your ability to impart knowledge that is both valuable and accessible.

Your unique perspective, experiences, and teaching style will differentiate your course in a crowded market.

Also, carve out a niche for your online course. Identify where your knowledge can meet market demand.

Finally, marketing is very important. Utilize various channels like social media, email marketing, content marketing, and partnerships to spread the word about your course.

Launch Your Online Course With Kajabi

To turn your expertise into a profitable online course, you can use Kajabi; a comprehensive platform that assists creators like you in managing, monetizing, and creating content online.

Our platform equips you with everything you need to build, market, and sell your online course effectively. 

  • Payment Gateway: We use popup checkout to create a seamless and consistent buying experience, directly maximizing conversions. This decreases the likelihood of cart abandonment. We also help you offer upsells and downsells seamlessly. We have seen that customers who utilize upsells and downsells earn, on average, 2X more. 
  • Automated Sales Funnels: We provide ready-made, highly effective sales funnels that are easy to automate and scale.
  • Analytics: Our analytics tools allow you to track critical metrics like revenue and subscription details and offer comprehensive sales. The ability to track student progress on courses can also inform you about your content's effectiveness and help make necessary improvements.
  • Website Builder: A well-designed website enhances your credibility and provides a central platform for your audience to learn about your courses, engage with your content, and make purchases. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to various ready-made, professional website templates to help you sell online courses from your website.

Kajabi minimizes your technical and marketing workload, allowing you to focus on creating quality content and growing your business.

Sign up and get started today for free. Try Kajabi for 14 days. Get your courses up and running, ready to sell, and profitable in no time.

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