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Online course marketplaces: should you sell on these platforms?

Create Your Product
Online course marketplaces: should you sell on these platforms?
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Read time: 5min

So, you’ve decided to sell courses online. Congratulations! There’s never been a better time to be a knowledge entrepreneur.

Making your online courses is important. But, it’s also very important to find customers to sell to. It’s natural to consider online course marketplaces like Udemy or Udacity as a place to sell your courses. Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of selling on marketplace platforms.

The value of keeping your branding and customers

Kajabi Heroes like Amy Porterfield have developed a strong brand that have led to literally millions of dollars from online courses. Whether it’s her website, her social media or her courses, Amy delivers her customers exactly the look, feel and experience she wants.

Additionally, she has a direct connection with her customers. She has their email addresses, connects with them on social media and through other channels. She doesn’t have to worry about a marketplace algorithm promoting her competitor instead of her.

You lose almost all your branding when you’re on an online course marketplace. Sure, you can add some branding in your course itself. But, when people are searching to buy courses, you’re just another thumbnail image in a marketplace.

The online course platform also retains control over the connection with the customer. You can’t easily email them with your latest offers, you have to go through the platform. Do your brand colors clash with the marketplace’s branding? There’s nothing you can do about it if you’re using their marketplace.

Bottom line: Your brand, experience and direct connection with your customers is important for your long-term success. You lose all of that when you sell courses through a marketplace.

Avoid the online course marketplace “tax”

When you sell online courses on your own website, you keep almost all the revenue. Sure, you might have to pay a transaction fee to PayPal or Stripe but more than 95% of the revenue goes into your pocket.

That’s not the case with an online course marketplace. These platforms take a giant cut of sales, eating into your revenue and profit.

In some cases, this can be up to 75% of revenue. Really. More typically, they’ll take roughly 50% for any sales generated directly through their marketplaces. These fees cover things like administrative costs and, sometimes, paid acquisition costs.

Selling courses online is much more lucrative when you keep the lion’s share of the revenue. It often does take more effort to build your audience and market to them, though. That’s why you should lean on tools like Kajabi that offer ready-made Pipelines for automated marketing campaigns and sales funnels.

Bottom line: It’s your content, you should get the money from it. Course marketplaces can take up to 75% of the revenue from sales.

The ability to be a digital business not an online course business

The best knowledge entrepreneurs run digital businesses, not “just” an online course business. That means they’re always thinking about ways to grow their business. That could be offering more products, introducing more services or increasing revenue.

For example, many Kajabi Heroes have successfully added coaching alongside their courses offering. This is a high-dollar upsell that can elevate your business. Other than coaching, you can also offer multiple upsells, cross-sells or bundles to deliver more value to your customers and more dollars in your pocket.

That’s not possible on a course marketplace. Even worse, your courses are often presented alongside the competition’s. This kills the possibility of lucrative offerings like upsells or cross-sells.

Additionally, the online course marketplaces often dictate pricing for your courses. This can include steep discounts, price caps and more. Their goal is to hit their financial targets, not for you to hit your financial targets.

Pricing is one of the most powerful levers you can pull. You want to be in complete control of this. You may want to experiment with discounts for Black Friday. You may have strong demand and want to raise your prices.

Again, you want to be in complete control of pricing. You can’t do that with an online course marketplace.

Bottom line: You want to be in control of your digital business, including your pricing and ability to offer sales packages. That’s not possible on online course marketplaces.

The benefits of online course marketplaces

There are some benefits of an online course marketplace like Udemy and Udacity.

These platforms do offer a lot of potential customers, as the marketplace is filled with those seeking online courses. This could make customer acquisition easier.

You will have to try and stand out from the crowd, though. This is challenging because you won’t have a big opportunity to showcase your branding. Typically, those who stand out on these marketplaces are already well-known or have traditional credentials like a Ph. D.

Even with easy all-in-one tools like Kajabi, you may not want to run your own Knowledge Commerce business. If you’re happy with a side hustle that makes a little bit of money over time, these online marketplaces are easy places to try out.

Bottom line: Online course marketplaces can be a good fit for you if you’re looking for a side hustle. Your financial upside will be limited because of the revenue cut, the lack of customer connection and the rules. But, it may be easier to acquire customers for your course.

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