You know that horrible saying.. “there is more than one way to skin a cat”? Well, there is more than one way to deliver an online course too!.
Many courses about creating online courses (say that ten times fast!) suggest that there is one specific way that is more profitable than all the others. Not true.
When creating your course think about what will work for you. How available do you want to be for your members? Do you want to interact regularly? Are you at your best on webinars?
I have three types of courses that I run. I do this so I can learn as much as possible to share with my Create Your First Online Course members. Running online courses is my full-time gig and I love testing and measuring and trying new things.
Here are the different ways I deliver courses:
Monthly Membership Site
Members sign up for monthly access, kind of like a gym membership. It is fantastic for cash flow. If you have 100 members this month there is a good chance you will have at least 85% of them next month so you can predict what your income is likely to be.
The downside is that you need to offer something that keeps them as members for as long as possible. That could be new content or a private group with live Q and A etc… Engagement is important and it can be time-consuming and tiring. Without a plan to keep your members active they will soon cancel.
From a technology viewpoint you will need a system that is built to handle recurring payments automatically. It will also need to lock out anyone who has failed payments to ensure they can’t keep accessing your goodies without paying. My initial system was suppose to be able to handle this but a glitch meant that I had to manually handle payments and removing canceled customers. It was a nightmare! Trust me on that one…
I really enjoy this type of course offering but getting the sales funnel to work and finding the time and focus to continually add new content has been a difficult and I have dropped the ball on a few occasions!
- Recurring monthly revenue
- Automated sales funnel
- Low cost/low commitment for members
- Membership software needed (Membermouse, Wishlist etc)
- New content or high engagement needed to keep members
- May take a few months of membership before you can break even on ad costs
You can charge a premium price for group coaching programs as often the group is smaller and they have more access to you. I hold six-week Master Class programs where I limit the number to 10 participants. We have weekly live webinars where they can interact with me directly, have their questions answered and be kept accountable.
Group coaching members often get better results as the cost is higher (they have more skin in the game) and it is easier to keep them accountable. The high level of weekly interaction on webinars gives members the guidance and accountability to stay on track to achieving an outcome.
You don’t need a lot of techy stuff for this type of program. You will need a webinar platform like Zoom (very budget friendly!) and somewhere to host your recordings so members can access them later. A PayPal account will allow you to get paid and only takes minutes to set up.
This type of offering is usually for a fixed period with a start and end date, that means you will need to have a well planned launch which I personally find quite stressful.
Launching a group coaching program can be a great way to start your online course journey. You get to create content as you go so no need to write an entire course upfront (you will obviously need to keep at least a week ahead so you can deliver a new module each week). As you deliver content you can gauge how well your members are digesting and implementing and make adjustments as necessary.
When you’re ready to switch to an Evergreen model your course content will have been tried and tested! It is a win/win situation for everyone, you get paid while creating content and your members get your attention and support. This approach is also most likely to get you some amazing testimonials!
- Premium price
- High interaction gets results for members
- Low tech needs!
- Can be turned into Evergreen course later
- Bigger time investment to deliver content
- Not as 'leveraged' as other options as there is a limit to the number of members you can take
- Requires a fixed launch period
One Off Purchase Course – Evergreen
I won’t go too much into what an “Evergreen” course is as I don’t want to overload you with info. The most basic explanation is that Evergreen sales funnels allow people to join your course at anytime as opposed to a fixed open and close cart launch. Let’s focus on the “one off” purchase. This is where you offer a course for a one-off purchase price, the course can have a fixed or lifetime membership (although I discourage this if you want people to take action) and you can deliver in a variety of ways.
This type of course can be automated so you can create a more “passive” type of income. *A little disclaimer here* I hate the use of the term passive income. I think it is misleading. The passive part of the process is the sales funnel, you still need to build a list and create high value, awesome content to keep them engaged and excited.
A one off purchase course does need an awesome automated sales funnel and you might want to consider a Facebook members only group to give people a central place to ask questions and connect with other members. Otherwise you might find yourself inundated with the same email questions each week. You also want members to feel supported and to be able to ask questions. Your interaction in the group/forum can add huge value to your course.
- Easy to run any where and anytime
- Sales funnel is automated
- No launch stress!
- Funnels take time and patience to get working
- Members are less likely to complete content as this is usually a "learn alone" model
- Higher level of software needed for automation
Find the course type that best suits what you are trying to achieve or start with one and add another later! Your business, your choice! My best bit of advice is to start simple and get involved as much as you can so you can refine your offering and wow your members!