How much money can you make from an online course?

June 9, 2021
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Today, more and more people are looking to the Internet to make money. A lucrative trend that’s gaining popularity is selling online courses. Online courses are a great way to leverage your knowledge and sell products that relate to your expertise. Online courses can be created in any subject area.

When it comes to topics, the sky is the limit—but how much money can you make from an online course?

You can make anywhere from $500 to $50,000 and more by teaching online courses. To determine how much money you can make from online courses, all you need to know are the size of your audience, how well you can convert those people into buyers, and the price of your program. For example, an audience of 1,000 people converting at 5% at a price point of $197 would give you $9,850.

I’ll show you how to calculate these numbers later in the post. Of course, there are different scenarios for everyone. Let’s break this down step by step so you can see how much money you can make from an online course.

What goals should you set for yourself?

Dart on Dartboard with Cityscape in the Background

Before we begin, it's important that you first set some realistic expectations.

Everyone is at different places in their online business journey. Setting a monetary target will give you a benchmark for your own definition of success.

Take a moment to think about what a good goal would be for you . . .

  • Do you want to make spare money in your free time?
  • Do you want to double your take-home pay so you can quit your day job?
  • Do you want to increase your business revenue by 20%?
  • Do you want to become a millionaire and live the life of luxury?

These are all doable if you put in time, effort, and dedication. 

Take a few minutes now to think about your main goal. Then, write it down. Keep it for reference as you go through this article so you can see exactly how much you need to make selling an online course to reach that goal.

How much can you make by selling online courses?

Couple Calculating the Revenue and Profit of Their Business

Before we calculate how much you can make on online courses, you should understand the difference between revenue and profit. Revenue is how much money a business makes from its goods or services. Profit is how much the company keeps after all expenses are paid off.

While revenue and profit sound similar, they're actually quite different, especially when it comes to calculating them.

To calculate revenue, take your audience size and multiply it with your conversion rate. Then, multiply that by the price of your product.

Now, take that number and subtract how much it costs to run your business. This includes labor, materials, and overhead costs such as rent and electricity. The number you get is your profit.

Let's dive deeper into these formulas . . .

How do you calculate the revenue of your online course?

Revenue Definition Highlighted in a Dictionary

The formula to figure out how much revenue an online course looks like this:

Revenue = Audience Size x Conversion Rate x Price

Let’s look at audience size. If you want a general number, you can use the number of people on your email list or visitors who come to your website every month. If you want a more refined number, you should calculate the audience size from the number of hits on your landing page each month.

For example: let's say you have a blog that gets 100,000 visitors every month. Out of those 100,000 visitors, 1% end up on your landing page.

100,000 blog visitors / month x 0.01 (or 1%) = 1,000 landing page visitors / month

Next, you need to determine the conversion rate of turning those 1,000 landing page visitors into purchasers. If out of 1,000 landing page visitors, 10 people purchase your online course, you have a conversion rate of 1%. The math looks like this:

1,000 landing page visitors / month ÷ 10 purchasers = 1%

A 1% conversion rate is on the lower side of the scale, but this gives you a good estimate of your baseline. Conversion rates will depend on a lot of factors such as your audience, marketing, and messaging.

Here is a general scale to go by:

Conversion RateQuality of Conversion
6-10%Above Average
11% or moreExcellent

I personally know some course creators who can get up to 60% of landing page visitors to convert! That means out of 1,000 landing page visitors, 600 of them purchase a course. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but remember, it depends on a lot of factors.

Finally, you will need to determine how much your product will cost or, in other words, its price. There are a lot of opinions on how to price an online course, but I will give you a guideline for setting a specific price.

A lot of people assume that the price should depend on how long the course is or how many downloadables there are. In reality, the price is determined by the value, transformation, and results your students will get from your course.

Think about it: let’s say I had a course that was 10 minutes long but could make you an instant million dollars in the next hour. Compare that to a course that would take 100 hours and dozens of worksheets to achieve the same result. Which provides a better value? Which one should be priced higher?

Another big factor is the amount of time you’ll spend working with your students. How “hands-on” do you want to be during the course? The more time you spend working with students, the higher the value of your course.

Here are varying levels you can provide:

Price RangeApproach
$0 - $1,000“Do It Yourself” 
$1,000 - $10,000“Do It With You”
$10,000 - $100,000“Do It For You”

“Do It Yourself” online courses generally go for $50, $100, $200, $500, and $1,000. These are low-ticket courses. This type of course is usually composed of videos and downloadables. It’s understood that the student will take the course on their own without much help from anyone else, although you may choose to provide a discussion forum where students can interact with each other.

Mid-ticket courses may go for $1,000, $2,500, $5,000, or $10,000. This “Do It With You” approach includes more interaction with the instructor or the community. There may be an element of one-on-one or group coaching to the program. This raises the value of the course because more time is being spent with the students.

High-ticket courses usually start at $10,000—and there is no cap on how high this can go! These “Do It For You” programs are made to help students build their businesses. Your products or services are tailored to each student’s needs and goals.

Online Course Coach Helping Student with Their Online Program

Now that you have an idea of how to price an online course, let's go back to our examples.

Audience Size:

100,000 blog visitors / month x 1% = 1,000 landing page visitors / month

Conversion Rate:

1,000 landing page visitors / month ÷ 10 purchasers = 1%

If you price your course at $100:

Revenue = 1,000 landing page visitors / month x 1% x $100, or $1,000 / month

A lot of people would be happy to have an extra $1,000 in their bank accounts each month. But by understanding this math, you can play with the numbers to find out how you can reach your revenue goal.

Example 1 - Changing the landing page visitors per month

1,000 landing page visitors / month x 1% conversion rate x $100 = $1,000 / month

5,000 landing page visitors / month x 1% conversion rate x $100 = $5,000 / month

10,000 landing page visitors / month x 1% conversion rate x $100 = $10,000 / month

Example 2 - Changing the conversion rate

1,000 landing page visitors / month x 1% conversion rate x $100 = $1,000 / month

1,000 landing page visitors / month x 5% conversion rate x $100 = $5,000 / month

1,000 landing page visitors / month x 10% conversion rate x $100 = $10,000 / month

Example 3 - Changing the price of the online course

1,000 landing page visitors / month x 1% conversion rate x $100 = $1,000 / month

1,000 landing page visitors / month x 1% conversion rate x $500 = $5,000 / month

1,000 landing page visitors / month x 1% conversion rate x $1,000 = $10,000 / month

You can see how adding more visitors a month, increasing your conversion rates, or adjusting your price can dramatically change your monthly revenue.

If you had 10,000 landing page visitors at a 5% conversion rate and a $200 price point, you would make $100,000 a month . . . or $1.2 million a year!

Is selling online courses profitable? 

Man Calculating His Monthly Profit with a Calculator and Pen

Let’s look at profit. Remember, this is what remains after business expenses have been paid:

Profit =  Revenue - Expenses

Essentially, profit is how much money you can make from selling an online course after you have deducted all the costs it took to make the course. 

Take a moment and write down how much it costs to run your business. This can include anything from rent and electricity to advertising and the platform fees for hosting your online course.

The great thing about selling digital info products is that there aren’t a lot of overhead costs. You don’t have to worry about paying employees or purchasing goods like you would with a typical brick-and-mortar business.

To keep it simple, let's say after electricity, internet, hosting, email marketing software, and other expenses throughout the month, your average spending is $500.

If we use our original formula:

Revenue = 1,000 landing page visitors / month x 1% conversion rate x $100 = $1,000 / month

$1,000 (Revenue) - $500 (Expenses) = $500 Profit

Our profit is $500.

If you needed to make $1,000 extra per month from your online course, then you would need to get rid of all of your expenses or increase your revenue by adjusting the audience size, conversion rate, or price point.

For example:

1,000 landing page visitors / month x 2% conversion rate x $100 = $2,000 / month

$2,000 - $500 = $1,500 Profit

You can see that just by doubling your conversion rate from 1% to 2%, not only do you make your goal of $1,000—you gain an extra $500 in profit!

How can I determine how much money my online course can make?

Woman with Pink Fingernails Writing in Notebook with a Pen

Earlier, I asked you to write down your monetary goal. What was that number?

Did you want to make $100,000 in revenue every month or bring an extra $5,000 a month in take-home pay? Now you can use these two formulas to figure those out.

Revenue = Audience Size x Conversion Rate x Price

and . . .

Profit =  Revenue - Expenses

Online courses are a great product to add to your business because they have high profit margins, which means it doesn't cost a lot to run the business. You can make a lot of money by having enough people in your funnel and converting them at a great price point.

How much do online course creators make?

Course Instructor Teaching in a Classroom with Other Students

Now that you know how to calculate how much you can make from creating and selling online courses, let me give you some data from real-life course creators who have turned their expertise into their full-time business.

Teachable did a study of the top schools hosted on their platform and found that of those schools:

  • 17.9% made up to $25,000 
  • 39.4% made $25,000 to $50,000 
  • 14.7% made $50,000 to $75,000 
  • 27.9% made over $75,000

In other words, most of their top schools have made between $25,000 to $50,000 since their creation.

What would you do with an extra $25,000 - $50,000?

Online course creators can make a large profit by finding the right target audience and providing an online course with tremendous value.

In an Ask Me Anything article from 2019, Phil Ebiner showed that he had made over $1.5 million from the online course hosting platform Udemy.

Phil Ebiner Made Over One Million Dollars on the Udemy Course Platform

Phil has been a big name in the online course industry. You can see that since creating his first course back in 2012, his years of hard work have paid off. He continues to produce more courses on that platform.

It has been two years since this article was published, so it's probably safe to assume he's almost doubled that amount as he continues to add new and fresh content to the platform.

But this isn't just a one-time fluke . . . 

On my Online Course Igniter Podcast, I had the opportunity to interview some amazing guests who have surpassed over $1 million in revenue creating online courses in all types of niches.

Jacques Hopkins from Piano in 21 Days has made over $2 million teaching others his simple piano method for playing hit songs.

David Young from Drone Launch Academy has made over $1.6 million helping others get certified for piloting drones professionally.

And Daniel Walter Scott from Bring Your Own Laptop has made over $1 million on graphic design courses across multiple platforms.

There are a lot of opportunities for you to reach your goals, but you must be willing to start today!

What do you need to consider when making your online course?

Womain in Front of Camera Filming Her Online Course

Whenever you think about how much you can make from online courses, there are multiple variables you'll want to consider:

Course Value

What value does your course provide your students? Will it help them meet their goals? Will it get them the results they're looking for?

Low-Ticket vs. Mid-Ticket vs. High-Ticket Tiers

What is the price point of your course? Is it a low-ticket item where students will be required to do the lessons on their own, or will you provide a more hands-on approach to your program?

Sales Marketing Strategy 

What type of marketing strategy will you use? Are you planning on making this a set-it-and-forget-it, evergreen course? Or will you do special launches where the students will have a chance to interact with you?

Landing Page Visitors Per Month

You need to calculate how many people you can get to your landing page. These visitors can come from platforms like your blog, podcast, YouTube channel, social media, and email list. The more data you have, the more accurate your estimates can be for how much your course will earn.

Conversion Rates

What is the conversion rate for people who buy from your landing page? You can work on the images, copy, and messaging to increase your conversion rate, which will affect the overall revenue.

Additional Courses

One strategy that works for a lot of people is to add more courses to their school. Once someone enrolls in your first course, you can then market another course to them. Those who buy once will most likely buy again since that student is now warmed up to your teaching style.

Audience Demographics 

It's important to think about the demographics of your audience. You can tailor your course to cater to people of different slices of demographics such as location, education, and income. Knowing your audience can inform you of how much you should price your course.

Niche Market

Understanding the market will give you a better grasp of how much money you can expect from selling courses. How big or small is the niche? How much competition is already in that niche? What types of buyers can you find in that niche?

By answering these questions, you'll have a much better shot at reaching your income goals.

Can you really make money from online courses?

Woman in Glasses Holding Phone While Colleagues Talk in the Background

As you can see, creating an online course can dramatically change your life; it did for so many others. Whether you are looking for some extra spending money or want to buy the newest sports car, online courses are a great way to achieve your goals.

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