The Ultimate Guide to Selling Courses Online

If you’re just getting started selling courses online, you should know that often creating the course itself is the easy part — here’s how to do the rest.

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Kelli Pease

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Online educational programs like courses, seminars, and workshops are currently having their moment, especially in the health and wellness community. Whether you’re already active in the online learning space, or you’re just starting out, there are a number of tools and resources available to help you sell your courses online.

Yet, building your online course is just the first step — getting it into the hands of your future clients is another thing entirely. Luckily, all the tools you need to sell and distribute your courses and workshops are already available.

To make sure you’re on the right path, we’ve put together this ultimate guide covering everything you need to know to start selling your course online.

The Marketplace for Online Fitness and Wellness Courses

The global health and wellness market has exploded over the last decade. According to data from the Global Wellness Institute, global consumer spending on health and wellness products and services was over $4 trillion by 2017, and only predicted to continue growing over the next few years.

And this was before a global pandemic forced millions of active people around the world to shift their time and spending online, making people even more eager to invest in content to improve their overall wellbeing and physical fitness at home.

How to Market and Sell Online Health and Wellness Courses

Unlike an in-person class or workshop at a physical location, online courses generally consist of packages that offer a dynamic and immersive experience to keep students engaged. The active engagement is key: there are millions of free courses online for just about anything you could possibly think of. The reason why someone is coming to your class is that it engages them — there’s something there that they want that they can’t get anywhere else.

You need to always remember that value proposition. You’re offering something unique — and in a unique way. Online courses also have a special edge in that they are convenient and flexible in a way that physical courses aren’t. Yet, that specific quality isn’t unique to just your online course — and in fact, it can be a curse as much as a blessing.

The downside to online courses is simple: with a physical course, you’re competing in your local area. When you’re online, however, everyone is fair game. When you’re building an online course, you’re really competing with everyone else, so you have to highlight the value of your course to make it stand out from the pack.

Here’s how to do that.

Start with Your Existing Audience and Community

Your first step should be to utilize your pre-existing audience. If you don’t have one, that’s okay, but we’re willing to bet that you do. Think about your wider network — too often people focus solely on their clients, forgetting about the network that they might have beyond that particular group.

Your audience is simply anyone you can get in front of — not just potential clients, but folks that can help you reach your target audience, too.

If you already have a following on social media (even if it isn’t very large), then you already have a potential customer base. Let your followers — and your network — know about what you’re building. Let them know the value that it brings to the table. Even if they might not be interested in what you’re offering right now, someone they follow might be.

You don’t want to be annoying — but you do want to be persistent.

If you don’t have an online following at all, here are three tips to get started:

  • Join professional networks and groups.

  • Conferences, local networking groups, Facebook groups — it’s all fair game. You don’t want to spam them, but making your presence known is generally fine. Your goal isn’t necessarily to convert clients from these groups — rather, it’s to network your business and further your social reach.

  • Don’t just use your social accounts for self-promotion.

  • Too often businesses use their social accounts only to promote their own business. While there isn’t anything wrong with a little self-promotion, when that’s all you’re doing, not many people are going to pay attention to you.

    Instead, considering lifting up people from within your community. Take part in relevant discussions online — especially when you can show off your expertise.

  • Understand the importance of each social network.

  • Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn — they all have their place. Do a little research and figure out which fits your business better. Where are your clients likely to be? Where are your colleagues likely to be? While you could have a presence everywhere, unless you have an unlimited amount of time, you’ll probably end up burning out.

Offer an Exclusive Pre-Sale to Your Existing Customers and Subscribers

One of the benefits of selling courses online is that unlike other products and services, you don’t have to wait until it has officially launched to start selling. In fact, pre-sales are a pretty standard practice for online courses. A pre-sale gives you the opportunity to test out your email list and social media channels as sales and marketing tools, and identify areas where you may need to make changes and improvements.

Your lists are most valuable when they consist of qualified and engaged leads that are interested and actively looking to invest in your products and services. If you’re still experimenting with pricing, a pre-sale is also a good way to test different price points.

Your presale price shouldn’t be too low, however. A common course selling myth is that lower prices translate into more sales.

Setup Dedicated Sales Pages for Your Courses and Workshops

In addition to your general website, your online course will need its own piece of real estate in order to sell, and to let you measure how well your offers are performing. Dedicated landing pages will tell you exactly where your customers are coming from so that you can tweak your marketing plan and ad programs accordingly.

The setup for a landing page is fairly straightforward. Unlike a standard page on a website which usually consists of general information about your business and services, the point of a landing page is to get people excited about a specific product or service — in this case your online course or workshop.

In exchange for an email, social media follow, and/or referral, you offer bonus content like a short video preview of a class, or an ebook sharing fitness tips, techniques, or any content that’s relevant to your brand and your online course.

You can (and should) also promote and sell your course on your website, but landing pages and dedicated sales tools are really powerful tools to get people to buy.

(Need more help setting up a blended learning workshop? Check out our guide!)

Create a Referral Program

Online education hinges on community and interactive learning experiences, especially in the health and wellness space. With so many resources and online courses to choose from, people put a lot of stock and value on the recommendations of their friends, family, co-workers, and community.

A dedicated referral program with incentives like bonus content, price discounts, or affiliate programs and partnerships allow you to capitalize on your existing network and client base without having to invest additional resources into more marketing.

Influencer Marketing

The benefits of influencer marketing can be difficult to measure accurately, but influencer marketing can be especially effective for those selling courses within the health and wellness space.

Some of the pros of influencer marketing include:

  • Reach a highly targeted audience
  • Establish brand recognition and trust in your industry
  • Expand your brand’s network and reach
  • Can be cheaper than other marketing channels
  • Piggy-back off of the influencer’s content
  • Get quicker sales than through other marketing and ad channels

That said, influencer marketing isn’t fool-proof and there are no guarantees that a large following or success for other products is going to translate into sales for you.

Some of the cons of influencer marketing include:

  • You don’t have control over the message
  • You might find out it’s a bad fit after it’s too late
  • The wrong partnership could tarnish your brand
  • Difficult to measure ROI
  • Risk of alienating customers

If you decide to try influencer marketing, make sure to carefully vet all of their social media channels, content, and general online reputation before associating them with your brand. A quick Google search can tell you if there are any negative stories or incidents in your influencer’s past. It can also help you identify trends in order to pinpoint where to find the right fit for your brand.

Take a Survey or Poll of Your Audience and Customers

Online courses and workshops are great for convenience and reach — your students don’t have to leave home (wherever home is) to learn the skills they need to succeed — or the credits they need to keep their licenses and certifications. But they’re also sacrificing some of the intimacy and community of learning within a group.

Interactive content like surveys and polls allow you to create that connection with your students online and foster a sense of connectedness while asking targeted questions that will help you customize your offers and create more targeted and relevant content for your students.

These polls can often also help you keep students engaged — and as part of your content ecosystem — allowing you to create followers of your brand.

Keep an Active, Value-Focused Blog

Blogging is still one of the most effective (and cost-effective) methods for building an audience and following, driving traffic and improving your SEO, converting leads, and generating buzz for your courses. The health and wellness space is especially saturated, and the reality is that people are constantly bombarded with misinformation and subpar content in this area. Anyone interested in selling courses in this space should make blog post writing a priority.

An informative, fresh blog with high quality content can drive brand recognition, establish you as a thought leader and expert in your field, create a network and community for your students, build your email list, grow your audience, drive media attention and backlinks, and so much more. If you focus your digital marketing efforts in one area, a good blog will deliver the most bang for your buck.

Create a Limited Enrollment Period

People just can’t seem to resist an aura of exclusivity, and that holds true for online courses and workshops. Many online course creators create enrollment windows for a finite period to create urgency and incentive students to act quickly before the window closes and they have to wait for the next enrollment period to come around.

It can be a risky strategy, but one way to hedge your bets is to tie in an exclusive offer of bonus content along with the core courses or workshops that expires after a certain amount of time.

Memberships and Subscriptions

Different levels of membership and tiered subscriptions can help you to market and sell your online content to a broader audience at different price points.

Subscriptions also generate future revenue and lock your students in for specific periods of time depending on their needs and schedules. Memberships and subscriptions also allow you to upsell your main course and to establish an ongoing relationship with your customers beyond a single transaction.

Offer Certifications

Certifications provide authenticity, professional credentials, and a sense of personal accomplishment. Offering your students the option to obtain a certification or continuing education credits after completing your course can really distinguish you from the competition and add credibility to your brand.

If you’re developing a fitness product, for example, you could also create courses designed to certify others on how to educate their own clients in this particular technique. A certification, in this case, adds serious value for anyone looking to expand their own practice.

Tie it All Together with a Learning Management System (LMS)

There are many nuts and bolts involved in selling an online course and maintaining a strong online presence and personal brand. Wrangling various social media accounts, publishing content, processing transactions, managing registrations, and focusing on marketing and SEO can take up all of your time and resources.

The truth is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to successfully juggle every aspect of managing and selling an online course. A learning management system (LMS) brings all of the different elements under one platform to streamline the process and make it as easy as possible for you to focus on creating quality content, making money, and building your health and wellness brand.

Some of the basic features of an LMS include:

  • A site branded with your look and feel
  • Ability to easily upload content and create courses
  • Tools to track users
  • E-commerce solutions to seamlessly collect and process payments
  • Testing and student assessment

The Inspire360 learning management system is an all-in-one platform that handles the creation, launch, and selling process from start to finish. In addition to the standard tools, our LMS also allows you to create courses, subscriptions, certifications and offer live training workshops for your fitness programs.

Selling your online fitness and wellness workshops and courses doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Our certification and learning management systems include all of the tools you need to create, launch, and sell your educational content. Request a demo or contact us today for more information about our features and services.