How to determine if your course idea will be profitable

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Not all courses are created equally, and not all courses sell equally either. Before you start building yours, it’s only natural to want confidence that your course idea will actually be profitable. But how do you know?

Certain course types will naturally sell better than others. The key is finding a topic that is both in demand and that you have the expertise to teach.

Let’s look at how you can determine which of your course ideas will sell best to your target audience.

woman holding a load of cash earned making a mycolearn online course

1. Ask your audience

If you want to know if people will buy your eLearning content, then ask them! Find your target audience and ask them if they would be interested in taking a course on the topic that you have in mind. That doesn’t mean you need to be an influencer or have a large following. If you do, you can always run some polls via your social media, but it’s not completely necessary to get some good insight.

Get involved in online communities and forums in your niche and ask there. Facebook or LinkedIn Groups containing people in your target audience are a great place to start. Float your ideas to people who are already interested in your niche. Post questions like:

  • Would you be interested in taking a course on (insert topic here)?
  • If so, how much would they be willing to pay for a course on the topic?
  • What is your biggest struggle with (insert topic here)?

You can use this strategy to see if there is interest in your course idea and determine what people are willing to pay for it as well.

2. Check out the competition

Your topic idea might be unique, but as Mark Twain said, “there is no such thing as a new idea.” Someone out there has likely created a course at least similar to the idea you had in mind. By checking out the competition you can see if courses on your topic are in demand and how much interest there is.

You can start on Google with a basic keyword search, which will show you what other courses are being sold online on your topic and how many. For example, if you want to do a course on being a vegan lifestyle coach, then search for “online vegan lifestyle coach course.”

It is also beneficial to browse through Udemy to look at courses on your topic and how high the demand is. Udemy will show you exactly how many people have taken each course so you can determine if interest exists. Plus, you’ll see what other course creators are charging. The ideal scenario for profitability is high enrolments and a high price point.

Don’t restrict your research solely to courses either. You want to determine general interest in your topic, so look into top-selling books on the subject or what content is trending on YouTube.

rabbit and tortoise natural competition

3. Test your ideas through your content

Instead of spending weeks or months of your time building a course on a topic you aren’t sure will sell, test your ideas through content. If you’ve already been creating content, whether that be an online blog, or even social media content, look at what has been receiving the most engagement. Engagement means interest, and interest means there are people who would be willing to invest.

Write blog posts on different aspects of your topic to see which posts do the best. If you have your own blog or website, you can post directly on there. If not, you can publish content on platforms like Medium. Diversify your posts on social media and keep an eye on the analytics to track likes, comments, and shares on various topics. Think of your content as a taster for what your audience can expect in your course. Test out multiple angles and choose a topic based on the content that has the highest demand.

4. How impactful is it?

The more of an impact your course will have on your customers’ life, the more profitable your course will be. You’re selling a transformation, and the reason people pay for online courses is to get from Point A to Point B in one fell swoop.

The price of your course doesn’t necessarily equal profitability. Nor does a higher price point mean that your course is more impactful. If your course teaches a skill that is in high demand because of its ROI (return on investment), then it will naturally be more profitable. Even if your course is inexpensive, if it’s selling like hotcakes, then you’ll still make a greater profit than an expensive course that doesn’t sell.

Suppose someone takes your course and gets a job promotion as a result, then your course is obviously impactful. But the ROI doesn’t need to be financial. For example, a course on vegan nutrition for weightlifters could dramatically benefit a weightlifter’s health and fitness, leading to a happier and healthier life overall.

Your course could also help your audience to save time by helping them perform specific tasks quicker. Since time is money, this could have a dramatic impact on their lives as well.

5. Don’t go too broad

You may think that by choosing a broad topic you’ll appeal to a wider audience, and therefore your course will be more profitable. But this often isn’t the case. If you’re trying to cover absolutely everything on one topic, not only will you get overwhelmed, but your audience will as well.

When people are searching for online courses, the majority are not searching for broad topics. They are looking to learn a specific skill, and they want to do so now. While you may have the odd person looking for a three-month intensive digital marketing course, it’s more likely you’ll have someone searching for “how to increase brand engagement on Instagram” or “how to do email marketing on Mailchimp.”

Also, the more you niche down, the less competition you’ll have overall, making your course more likely to sell.

Will your course idea be profitable?

Until you actually start selling your course, you won’t know with 100 percent certainty that it will sell. But you can increase your chances of choosing a profitable course idea by applying these tips before you start building your eLearning content. An online course can be a fantastic source of passive income and provide a ton of value to your audience. Stay tuned for more resources to help you optimise your own online course!

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