Have you managed to finally fulfill your dream of selling online courses? I know, the journey hasn’t been easy! Chances are you are tired and overwhelmed by everything it takes to run an online business based on knowledge. But there’s one silver lining.
Besides everything entrepreneurs have to do to sell their courses — from brainstorming ideas to writing them, to promoting them — you can rest assured that one course can become a nice passive income stream.
The idea of making money while you sleep sounds too dreamy? It’s possible, though.
You can set up systems that can help passively sell your course and let them run in the background, freeing up your time. You do need to do some upkeep time and again, but you still have the chance to benefit in the long run from a one-time-only effort.
How to passively sell your online courses
With all the work you’ve put into your product, it’s comforting to know that an online course is something you build once and then can sell over and over again. You just need to put it on as many virtual “shelves”, in front of as many people as possible and make it easy for them to buy your course.
Here are four things to consider when designing your online course so that you’ll make the most of it and round up your revenues passively:
First things first. If you want to be successful at selling a course you have to make sure of two things: 1) the content of the course is top-notch and extremely useful for your clearly defined audience and 2) your possible course buyers can actually make use of what you teach in the course at any day of the year.
Evergreen topics will be relevant for a longer period of time, up to a number of years even. Topics from creative domains, like knitting, making soap, creating sugar flowers, learning languages, and so on, are likely to be relevant today, tomorrow, next month, five or 15 years from now.
If it’s not entirely possible to choose these topics for your course, make it a habit to constantly review your content so that it’s always up to date. By doing this, you’ll have a product that is versatile enough to meet your audience’s needs at various moments in time without having to create new content.
To ensure your course is known by more and more people, you can enlist affiliates to promote your online course. The role of affiliates is to persuade the consumer to buy the product by promoting it in exchange for a portion of the revenue.
One trick to be successful is to choose those affiliates that are congruent with your course and represent a believable source for possible customers. The easiest way to do that is to reach former students that will do the job as long as they receive some incentives. Taking into account that promoting the course on your own would be time-consuming and probably more expensive, you should consider being generous with your affiliates.
Additionally, keep in mind that affiliates are not only bringing you sales, but they are also bringing you new customers. You will most probably design other courses and if you can convince your audience with the first one, you will have a loyal subscriber, so the revenue that an affiliate brings you is not only one-shot.
Read more: Why you need to master affiliate marketing
Although making YouTube videos might seem daunting, it can fill your pockets with a few extra hundred dollars a month. While this activity is not entirely passive, once you record and edit a number of videos, they will bring you money long after you post them.
Of course, you can have greater impact and, thus, more revenues, if you regularly post content on YouTube, but as long as what you post is relevant and useful to online users for a longer period of time, you can benefit from a few videos just like daily vloggers benefit from their content, except they have to post every day and their content is not likely to be revisited.
Read more: 6 Best practices on how to get a large YouTube audience
It's a well-known fact that people tend to lose interest if they have to read too much content, especially when it comes to learning. In this context, webinars come as the perfect solution to present information and promote your online course.
Read more: How to create an awesome webinar presentation
It's better to start with a live webinar, with the audience that is willing and available at the time you decide. It’s a good way to stay connected with your customers and make the learning process as real and authentic as possible.
However, there will be situations in which people may not be able to attend your scheduled webinar, because of different time zones or other personal reasons, but would really like to see a recording of it at their own pace.
Setting automated webinars to reach your audience is the best choice in this case. This also allows you to enrich your list of possible customers and maintain the ones you already have. One piece of advice, though. Be straightforward with your audience and let them know it’s a recorded version of your webinar, not a live stream, they’ll appreciate it.
Read more: Top 6 webinar mistakes for online course entrepreneurs to avoid
All in all
Doing online business doesn’t necessarily mean you have to actively work for every penny. The online environment is so permissive and it offers so many opportunities to earn money without extra work. Make sure your course is up to date or provides evergreen content that you can sell and resell throughout the year or even years at a time. Grab the chances that automated webinars, affiliates, and YouTube videos have to offer and you’ll see money coming in without actually working.
INDIE White Paper: How to build a great site for selling online courses