Focusing on the real keys to success selling online courses

By Jeff Cobb.  Last Updated on September 20, 2021

A lot of people end up on this site because they are seeking success selling online courses and usually have come across my 15 Platforms for Selling Online Courses post. As you might expect, I also get a lot of e-mails from people sharing their challenges and asking for advice. If there is one common thread that tends to run though these e-mails its this: too much focus on technology.

People want to know which platform to use. Which course tools are best. How to best host videos, or Webinars, or eBooks, or …. name your product of choice.

But the thing is, when it comes to success selling online courses, these things are not what makes the difference.

Do a little research on the wide range of platforms out there – from Thinkific, to Ruzuku, to Udemy, to whatever – and you will find success stories on each of them. The companies, of course, will ascribe that success to their platform, but that’s what company’s do. In reality, there are just four common factors that unite all successful subject matter entrepreneurs:

  1. They have something of value to say and – this is critical – they say it clearly and concisely.
    The best subject matter entrepreneurs don’t try to teach everything they know, just what is likely to produce to biggest positive change for their prospective learners
  2. They are relentless about building an audience and collecting e-mail addresses.
    This nearly always means they give away a lot of high value content for free – often some of their very best stuff. And, whenever possible, they get e-mail addresses in exchange for it. If someone tries to tell you e-mail is dead, just nod politely, and keep building your list.
  3. They recognize the real source of value in their offerings – themselves
    Very few subject matter experts have access to knowledge or practices that are truly unique. Nor are they likely to have a technology platform or a course design that completely differentiates them from all of their competitors. What they have is their own unique experiences, perspectives, and insights and they don’t shy away from telling their stories, building their brands, and developing an emotional connection with their learners.
  4. They continually test, learn, and adjust
    If something works, they build on it. If something doesn’t, they either figure out a new angle to try or they move on. They are always looking for were they can get the most leverage, the biggest return on whatever time and money they invest.

These point go beyond just success selling online courses, of course. My partner and I have built a very successful business over the past decade – one that has every prospect of continuing to thrive and grow for decades to come – and the above points are the entire “secret” to it.

We have used various types of technology. We have done online courses, offline events, consulting and a range of other activities, but everything comes down to these points.

So, don’t get bogged down with technology. Don’t insist on perfection, on finding platform that fits every last detail of your product vision. Pick something that works reasonably well for what you want to do, and get on with focusing on the points above.


Photo Credit/Copyright: svanhorn / 123RF Stock Photo

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