It's 2021 and e-learning is everywhere. Not only are our children doing virtual and online school, but more and more adults find themselves turning to online courses for professional development or to keep their teams engaged and up-to-date on best practices as we continue to work remotely.
Online course creation can be a great way for marketers and entrepreneurs to make extra money. An online course is also a great way to teach people how to do something or share your subject matter expertise with the world.
An online course can cost anywhere from $100 to $5,000 depending on various factors such as the time it takes to create the course, equipment costs, platform selection, hosting, advertising, and if you decide to outsource any of the work.
If you are thinking about online course development, it's important that you consider the time and money associated with creating online courses. This article will help break down all of the costs associated with online course development so there are no surprises once you get started.
Online courses are a great way for marketers and instructors to share their knowledge with people all over the world. The opportunities for course content are endless, and you have many different options when it comes to types of materials, learning platforms, and levels of depth and complexity.
They can be delivered in a variety of ways, including video tutorial courses, text-based courses, and even live webinars that your audience can attend while sitting at their desk.
Your choice of course delivery should depend upon how you want to present the course content and what equipment you plan to use. You could offer a text-based class, a video-based class, and/or an interactive lesson. Each of these types of courses has its benefits, and each will have a different cost to develop.
Mini-courses are short, engaging modules of content that can help build up your audience and capture their attention. They are great for lead generation, and many people choose to offer them for free as a way to provide value for their audience and bring them into a sales funnel.
Mini-courses can be one hour in length up to a few hours, and the course material typically covers introductory or basic concepts. They're perfect for those who want to learn more about a topic but don't have time or money for a full course. They offer more content in less time so your audience can quickly get down to business with the point of the course - which is usually practical knowledge that can be applied right away.
A mini-course will typically be the easiest to create in terms of the development process, hours and budget required, and cost to develop. If you are new to online courses, something small like this may be a great choice for your first online course.
Beginner and advanced online courses may share a similar structure as mini-courses, but the length is typically much longer than one hour, and you will need to spend more time on course development. When you develop an online course that is more in-depth and advanced, you may want to include quizzes and knowledge checks so that students can be sure of what they are learning.
For more advanced courses, costs are typically higher for creating and producing the course, which means you will want to charge more for these. Course creators tend to put much more time into these types of courses, so they may produce less of them at a higher quality and price point than they would mini-courses for lead generation.
If you're a marketer or blogger, you likely already know the power of content marketing. Online course development is one of many ways to help build your personal brand and grow your audience. But it's not just for marketers — anyone who has the knowledge to share can create an online course. Whether you want to teach a skill set, share your expertise in your industry, or even if you just want to share life lessons with others, there are plenty of reasons why creating an online course could be beneficial for you.
More and more people are looking to passive income streams as a way to make their lives easier. You can create your own course and sell it on an online course platform like Udemy or Thinkific, which means that people around the world will be able to purchase it from you online. Once you've put the work in to create the videos and quality content, you don't have to do anything else except market your course, and you have a new stream of passive income.
You'll be able to make money and take advantage of the passive income once the course is created, but it will take time and energy at the beginning in order to create the course materials.
The benefits of creating your own online course are endless: you get to set the price, choose what content is included, and teach from a topic that you're passionate about. However, you also have to create all of the material, which can be time-consuming and costly, depending on how you choose to share the information. Additionally, it can be difficult to find an audience for your course when it's not affiliated with a larger hosting platform.
Let's talk about the costs associated with creating an online course. For this article, we are going to assume that you already have a topic in mind for your course and just need to get started. If you don't yet know what you would like to teach others, there may be additional costs involved as you research the type of content you want to share.
The main thing to consider when deciding to develop an online course is the potential return on investment (ROI). You can estimate this by looking at what it will take in both time and money to create your course in relation to how much you plan to charge and how many people you estimate will pay for your course.
For example, if your development costs are around $1,000 and you have a $50 course that only one person takes each month, it would take almost two years for your course to become profitable. However, if that same course is taken by 25 people each month, you'll be making a profit in less than one month.
The more people you can reach who will buy your course, the faster you will cover your development costs and begin to make a profit.
When considering the equipment costs you will incur, you should consider how many times you can use the equipment to create multiple courses. You may be able to cover the cost of your equipment through the sales from your first course.
You may need all or some of the following equipment:
For equipment and software, you can plan to spend anywhere from $50 for a very basic course with little to no video, up to about $500 for a quality camera and lighting system that will record decent video.
The total cost of producing an online course is not just the purchase price for software and equipment, but also includes things like advertising and marketing in order to reach a wide audience; web hosting fees; content creation expenses such as graphics design tools and photography; ongoing maintenance fees (e.g., website administration); and contractor costs (e.g., editors).
You will need to advertise your online course in order to reach an audience who is willing to purchase it. Once you identify who your target audience is, you can create a strategy that will work best to reach those people. If you already have a strong email list or sales funnel, you may be able to market your course organically, without paying for advertising. If this is the case, this will essentially eliminate your advertising costs, allowing you to re-allocate that portion of your budget for higher-quality equipment.
If you don't already have a strong funnel, you'll need to pay for advertising in order to reach a larger audience. So how much does it cost to advertise online? That totally depends. You choose your budget, and typically the larger your budget, the more people you will be able to reach. If you are just getting started, budget somewhere between $200-500 for advertising costs. You can always adjust these estimates as you begin learning how much it will take to reach your ideal students.
Even if you do choose to utilize paid marketing to advertise your course, you should also take some time to focus on the process of building strong organic SEO and email lists so you can begin to eliminate this cost over time. Check out this podcast episode for tips on organic SEO and email list building.
If you are just getting started with online course creation, plan for advertising costs up to $500 for your first course.
You have many different options when it comes to choosing a learning management system or platform to host your course. Costs can vary depending on the features you need from the eLearning platform. Hosting can cost anywhere from $30-500 per month for a good hosting site or plugin so you can share your course right on your WordPress website.
Another option for hosting is to use an online course marketplace like Udemy. Again, costs will vary depending on how you choose to sell the course. If you sell the course directly you may be able to keep up to 97% of the revenue and only pay a small percentage to the hosting site. However, if the online marketplace is helping to market your course for you, you could pay anywhere from 40-75% in fees.
Whether you choose an all-in-one host platform like Kajabi, a course platform only like Thinkific, or you decide to go with an online marketplace like Udemy, you'll likely incur some sort of fee. Consider the benefits and drawbacks of each option. If an online learning marketplace with tens of thousands of followers can do the marketing for you, it may save you both time and money to allow them to do the marketing for you, rather than pay for marketing and advertising yourself. This would open up more time for you to focus on the instructional process and things like video production so you can provide a great course to your audience.
Calculate how many sales you plan to make each month from your course, and this will help you decide which route to go for hosting. Hosting costs can be anywhere from $30-500 per month OR 3-75% of the cost of your course.
The length of time required to write and produce a course varies depending on your experience with the topic. For marketers and those who are knowledgeable about teaching, it may take 1-2 days, for those who are just beginning the process, you may take weeks to create your course.
If you plan to factor in your time costs as part of your budget, figure out how much time you'll spend on research and outlining, and then multiply that by your typical hourly rate. If your rate is $100 per hour and you plan to spend 3 days on research and outlining, you can estimate $2,400 in time cost.
You don't have to do everything yourself in order to build a great online course. In fact, there are some things you may want to outsource to experts in order to ensure you have high-quality content.
Parts of the course development process you may choose to outsource include:
For some courses, more time and resources are required. For example, if you’re creating a course that features animations or a lot of videos, more time is needed to create them. When calculating the number of hours it will take for creating your course, consider the following:
So, how much does it cost to create an online course? The answer is, it depends.
Not every online course is created equally, and there are many factors that go into calculating the costs of online course creation. Your course could be an hour-long or five hours long, and this will make a difference in the number of materials you'll need to create and the costs that will go into the process.
Here are some estimates of the costs to develop a basic 2-3 hour course:
Given the example above, the total estimated cost for a 2-3 hour basic online learning course is $3,719-3,919.
These are simply estimates of the cost of creating an online course for your business. If you are just getting started, you will have a better idea of what it costs after you produce your first course.
There are a number of free resources that you can use to help reduce the costs of online course creation for your business. Check out the Online Course Igniter Facebook Group where you can connect with coaches, consultants, business experts, and audio and video creators to share resources, find training opportunities, and fast-track the process of learning to create an online course.