Top Tips on How to Price Your Online Course
For years, learners wanting to study had to purchase books, enroll in a college class, attend a conference or hire a coach. Now, learners have a plethora of additional options at their disposal. The internet has revolutionized how people study and consume content. It has transformed how coaches, experts, and thought leaders connect with their learners. This leap in technology has also transformed how speakers and coaches deliver, and charge for their expertise and content. It offers the tools to extend engagement with the audience, and provides opportunities for long-term recurring revenue.
Top tier speakers can commend a five or six figure speaking fee. The same counts for top tier coaches. That is however not a reality for most. The National Speakers Association has about 3,400 members, 761 Certified Speaking Professionals among them, and about 53,000 speakers in their community worldwide. It is estimated that there are currently 53,300 coaches, up from 47,500 part-time and full-time coaches worldwide in 2011, according to The International Coach Federation. About 92% of these coaches are active, with 33% of this group operating in the United States for a total of 17,500 coaches. Those are astounding numbers. There aren’t enough conferences and meetings in the world to sustain all of these coaches, speakers, and experts. So, how do you maximize the revenue potential of your knowledge, your expertise? Either you are going to have to work insanely hard to get booked more often, or find other revenue streams that supplement your speaking or coaching business.
Here at Ingomu Learning we are always amazed by the astonishing knowledge of our coaches, experts, and speakers. Many are well-versed in a variety of topics. They are invited to speak frequently on those topics, but their knowledge-base encompasses much more. It is a shame to have this additional expertise sit on the proverbial shelf. So how can this content be monetized? Think online coaching!
Market research firm Global Industry Analysts projected “E Learning” would reach $107 Billion in 2015. It did! Now, Research and Markets forecasts show triple the revenue of 2015 – e-learning will grow to $325 Billion by 2025. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal and study by Deloitte Global, by the end of 2018, 50 percent of adults in developed countries will have at least two online-only media subscriptions, and by the end of 2020, that average will have doubled to four. Subscription e-commerce, led by start-ups such as Dollar Shave Club and Blue Apron, has generated more than $2.6 billion in sales in 2016, up from a mere $57.0 million in 2011, according to a McKinsey & Company Study. What does this mean? More and more people are comfortable with subscribing to a wide variety of products and services online or via their smartphones, with content providers leading the way. How do you as a coach or speaker benefit from this move to subscription-based content services? It’s an incredible opportunity!
As a coach and speaker, you can now easily partner with platforms like Ingomu Learning to make your content available to a large-scale market, conduct group coaching and event one-on-one coaching sessions. You can benefit from this growing opportunity. Technology allows you to market your expertise and courses worldwide. Pricing a course however seems to be one of the most difficult decisions to make. If you don’t charge enough, your course you may be perceived as not valuable enough. Charge too much and you may have to adjust your price in order to get students to enroll. So where do you start? What is the sweet spot for your audience?
A wide variety of pricing models exist, especially when looking for online courses. From millions of free how-to videos on YouTube, to platforms featuring free or paid courses such as Thinkific, Udemy, Coursera, Khan Academy and others. In general, a coach or expert will make available content online and students will pay for access to this content. At times a free course may be used to generate leads for a paid course. Regretfully, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Each coach, expert, topic, audience can be so varied that providing a pricing formula for a course is simply impossible. The tips outlined in this post come from conversations and experiences with our coaches and experts here at Ingomu Learning, and we hope you will benefit from this article.
So here are our top 5 areas to contemplate when pricing your online course.
TOP 6 TIPS ON PRICING YOUR ONLINE COURSE
1. IT’S NOT A RACE TO THE BOTTOM
Maybe a bit out of the box, but think about your grocery shopping experience. Look at the weekly ads and you’ll see that most stores have sales on similar products. One store may sell a pound of apples for $2.00, another for $1.75, yet another for $1.69. Whole Foods will sell the same apples for $4.00 a pound. For the grocery stores selling those apples between $1.69 and $2.00 it’s a race to the bottom. They try to get you to shop at their store offering rock-bottom prices. Profit margins are so low that this race leads to a decline in service, store appearance, and other issues. At Whole Foods, your shopping experience is different. The stores look great, service is generally outstanding, and the quality of the product is excellent. The stores selling the lower priced goods have to market their products as much as the stores selling their products at a premium. So, where is the profit?
Think about your course the same way. You will have to market a low-priced course as much as a premium priced course. It will take you as much time publishing and managing a low-priced course as a premium priced course. Most of your prospect students will have a mindset around “you get what you pay for.” And, last but not least, a low-priced course will most likely be perceived as a low-quality course. Is that the image you want for your brand? Do you want to be the mass-market low-value $9.99 course, or the premium and thought-leading course priced at $500 or more?
2. ONE OF MANY, OR NICHE?
Think also about your authority in the market. What are you bringing to the table? Are you coaching in a niche market or are you one of thousands of experts in the same field? What sets you apart from the other experts and coaches? What is your background and real-world expertise? Have you published a book, written blogs, participated in podcasts, host your own podcast, spoken at conferences? Do you have credentials and awards? The better you can define yourself as an authority in your field, offering tangible benefits to your students based on real-world experience, the more you will be able to charge for your course. If you are just starting out you may not be able to charge a premium fee, until you have written a handful of blog posts, published a book, generally have had some exposure in your industry.
Do a bit of homework. Discover other experts in similar fields. See what kind of course content they may have online, and at what price point, and if people are actually buying their courses. Compare your background and target market and see how you stack up. If your background is similar, and what you offer is comparable to many other coaches with a similar price point, you may have a harder time getting your course sold, it will however validate that people are willing to purchase your type of course. If you can differentiate yourself, have the experience and content to back it up, then you may have an opportunity to stand out and charge a premium for your course. Don’t use the price of the other courses to set your price. Don’t take the price, pick a number in the middle or average it out to price your course. Use your research to validate the course, to see what takeaways are offered in the other courses, and if you can exceed those by offering add-ons such as participation in a mastermind group, a one-on-one coaching session, a digital copy of your book, or other, then price your course accordingly.
3. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
At Ingomu Learning we have coaches hosting courses of about an hour long, and others lasting more than 40 hours. The pricing of these courses is not based on the duration of the course, but rather the value of the content presented, and the background of the coach. A one-hour focused course geared towards C-level executives by a peer will generally be priced higher than a longer course targeted to a wider audience. It is vitally important to consider the value of what you present. You can’t upload a short video and hope to charge a premium. You could however offer a brief and free webinar as a lead generation tool. Paying students expect 3 to 6 hours of content, including videos, worksheets and reading materials. There are always exceptions to the rule, especially when the expert is well-known and respected or when a course is highly specialized.
As you develop your content, think about the specific takeaways for your students. Can you quantify what they will learn and how it will positively impact their life or career. If I am spending $4 on that pound of apples I know exactly what I am getting, it should be the same for your course. Quantify the outcome for your learner. Why should they invest in your course? The clearer you can be the better.
Back to the apples (OK, last grocery comparison, I promise). The premium grocery chain has positioned itself as the superior place to purchase groceries. They have created a brand that positions them as the finest option for groceries in the market. Much of that is psychological, and you can do this as well. Position yourself as the best coach with the best course in your market, and you can charge premium prices.
4. ONE OF MANY…THE TECH SIDE OF THINGS
Exploring the internet, you will find a number of platforms offering speakers, coaches and experts the opportunity to list online courses. Most of these platforms will take about anyone wanting to publish a course. Pay a monthly fee and you are in. That is not a bad business model for the software platform. Here at Ingomu Learning we believe that business model is great for the platform and a small percentage of the coaches. In our experience, many of the coaches listed have little or no sales. You are one of hundreds, even thousands of coaches available. How does a learner differentiate you from another coach? How does a learner look at a platform where one course teaches you how to cook a turkey, and the next leadership skills for the price of a fast food meal? We’re not saying there is something wrong with this, we do however believe that coaches get lost in the fray. It is information overload for prospect learners.
At Ingomu Learning, our business model is a bit different. We believe in connecting world-class thought leaders, experts and coaches in a defined set of lessons and coaching opportunities with outcomes that will benefit the life and career of the learner. We carefully select our coaches, vet them and incorporate their content is a specific track for a learner to follow. As much as we want coaches and experts to focus on quality and not quantity, we do the same by carefully selecting experts and coaches for a specific lesson or track. You and your expertise will be one of a few on our platform, and that will allow you to charge a premium for your course. You won’t compete with hundreds of other leadership coaches, wellness experts or social media whizzes. You are part of a few experts, handpicked to be part of the platform.
As a coach you will have to decide which platform better suits your need and the need of your prospect learners.
5. THIS, THERE AND EVERYWHERE
Technology allows you to be in many places at once. Some coaches and experts list their courses everywhere and at different price-points. Imagine the problem for your prospect learners. One day they may come across your course on one platform for $295, the next week on another for $345, and yet another day at $225, some may even sell it for $9.99. They are seemingly the same course. It all looks a bit desperate, muddles your brand and confuses your prospect learners. Select one platform that best suits your need and your learner’s needs. Build your course and engage with your learners. Continued engagement on one platform will let you create a community, a community that builds on itself, making it more valuable as the time passes.
6. VALUE ADDS
How do you set yourself apart? From your authority in the market to the quality of your course. What else can you add to provide more value for your learners and charge a premium enrollment fee for your course? Some courses are tied to certifications, can you do the same for yours? Can you provide Continued Education Credits? Can your course be used for professionals to gain or maintain professional certifications? Can you offer group coaching or invite your learners to book one-on-one coaching sessions with you? Can you invite your learners to participate in a mastermind group that meets virtually? How about a digital copy of your book, podcasts, virtual discussions, continued engagement with your participants?
SO, WHAT ABOUT THESE PRICES?
As mentioned earlier, there is no magical formula to set the price of your course. However, we do have some feedback based on research conducted with our coaches and learners here at Ingomu Learning.
The sweet spot for online courses appears to be between $300 and $500 for an annual subscription, or $35 to $50 for monthly subscriptions. One-on-one coaching is on average $200 per hour. Mastermind groups and group coaching is generally priced as an annual subscription, and pricing will depend on the number of meetings, and can start around $500 to the high four figures.
Complimentary courses can be used as a lead generation tool for paid courses, you will however have to engage with these learners to convert them to a paid course. Learners who do not pay or pay a heavily discounted enrollment fee tend to not finish a course, unless there is engagement by the coach. No pain no gain.
Occasionally you may want to start promoting a course before your course is ready. This could be an ideal time to launch your course’s webpage and invite prospect learners to sign up early at a pre-launch promotional price. Once the course launches the enrollment fee becomes the standard fee.
1. IT IS NOT A RACE TO THE BOTTOM
Again, you will spend as much time marketing your low-priced online course as a premium priced course. You will spend a similar amount of time developing your low or premium priced course. Your prospect learners will have a mindset of “you get what you pay for.” What image do you want for your brand? Does a low-cost course instill confidence in the corporate clients you want to get hired by? You can’t have a $9.99 course and charge a corporate client a $50,000 consulting fee.
2. ONE OF MANY?
Your authority in the market. What are you bringing to the table? Are you coaching in a niche market or are you one of thousands of experts in the same field? What sets you apart from the other experts and coaches? What is your background and real-world expertise? Have you published a book, written blogs, participated in podcasts, host your own podcast, spoken at conferences? Do you have credentials and awards? The better you can define yourself as an authority in your field, offering tangible benefits to your students based on real-world experience, the more you will be able to charge for your course.
3. VALUE ADDS
Think about how to set yourself apart? What else can you do to provide more value for your learners? Can you provide Continued Education Credits? Can you offer group coaching or invite your learners to book one-on-one coaching sessions with you? Can you invite your learners to participate in a mastermind group that meets virtually? How about a digital copy of your book, podcasts, virtual discussions, continued engagement with your participants?
Interested in a strategy conversation about your course, and want to learn more about Ingomu Learning? Connect with us here.