Which Type of Online Course Business Are You? (And Why It Matters)

Photo of man surround by question marks thinking "Which online course business type am I?"

Getting into the online course business is all the rage these days. You can find any number of newly-minted experts with advice on how to do it, and the market for platforms to help you create and sell online courses is booming.

It’s precisely because there is so much going on out there that it is important to step back and be clear about which type of online course business you represent. Doing this before starting to make critical business decisions will make your life easier in many areas, but I’m going to focus on one area in particular for this post: choosing an online course platform.

You see, choosing the right platform to sell online courses is highly dependent on identifying platforms that were actually designed to work well for the type of online course business you represent. That sounds easy enough, but it gets mucked up all the time out there on the Web.

I continually see lists and reviews that lump together platforms that were designed with very different businesses and audiences in mind. This is confusing for prospective platform customers and apparently it is even confusing for Google, which – for all its supposed smarts – doesn’t seem to know how to keep these types of misleading lists and reviews out of its top rankings.

So what are some major types of online course businesses? Currently, I put them into five categories:

  • Solo or Small Business Edupreneur
  • Traditional training firm going/expanding online
  • Trade or Professional Association
  • Continuing Education Department
  • Corporate Extended Enterprise

These aren’t meant to be exact or exhaustive, but hopefully as I provide a little more information on each, you’ll understand why it is important to distinguish among them. Keep in mind that when I say “online course business,” I am talking mainly about businesses that market and sell online learning to adult learners. So, I’m not focused corporate training departments and I am also not focused on most traditional academic programming.

Now, here’s a bit more detail on each category. [Read more…]

5 Keys to Picking the Best Online Course Platform for Your Business

Hiker at fork in road

Let’s face it – deciding on a platform for hosting and delivering your online courses can seem daunting. Even with great platforms like Thinkific  available, it’s hard to get rid of that nagging question that dedicated course entrepreneurs always have in the back of their minds: “Is this really the best online course platform for me?”

I’ve spent the past 20 years building platforms, selling platforms, implementing platforms, and most recently, helping hundreds of individuals and organizations back the right platform for their course business. Here are five key lessons I’ve learned when it comes to making the right choice: [Read more…]

5 Long-Term Challenges of the Edupreneur

Photo of open road in desert

I’m in the midst of re-thinking major aspects of my own business, and this naturally got me focusing on the major challenges we all face as we seek to grow our edubusinesses. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts in this post with the hope that they will helpful to you.

In the early days of launching an edubusiness, things are challenging, but I’d argue they are pretty clear. You need to build an audience, come up with a valid product idea, pick a platform, launch – all things that I have written extensively about on learning revolution.net and many others have written about as well.

There are many people who will never do these things, who will just never get started at all, and some who will start, but then not follow through. But it’s hard to argue that we don’t know what the steps are, even if the decisions within each step aren’t always easy.

But then what? You are out there day after day and you somehow have to keep it all going and make it work. The five areas I keep coming back to in my own business are: [Read more…]

Will your online course platform still be here tomorrow?

dropped ice cream cone at child's feet

In your search for an online course platform, you may have noticed that the market has gotten quite crowded – which means it’s time to be cautious.

I’ve seen this before – circa 1997 (dotcom days) – when tons of e-learning companies were rushing into the market and investors were throwing money at those companies. I think the frenzy is more legitimate now (and investors aren’t acting as crazy), but still, you can bet that a lot of the platform companies don’t have what it takes to survive.

If you are just dabbling, this isn’t a big deal. But if you currently sell or plan to sell online courses as a significant part of your business, you definitely don’t want to wake up one morning to find the company you depend on has shut it doors.

Now, given that a significant percentage platform companies out there right now are privately held, it’s next to impossible to tell how viable each one is financially, but here are some checks you can perform to help give you confidence your provider, or any provider you are considering, will be around for a while: [Read more…]

But do I really need an online course platform?

Most people end up on the Learning Revolution Web site because they are looking for an online course platform. And not just any online course platform – they want to be able to sell online courses.

Image of wooden platform to suggest online course platform

That’s all well and good – and I’m happy to provide what help I can – but it’s always worth pausing to ask whether you really need a specialized online course platform. [Read more…]